Robert is a freelance writer/researcher in the Seattle, WA area. He covers current political, economic, and geopolitical news.
One Tuesday night in 2019, the Statue of Liberty lost power for a couple of hours. While my friends on the Left claimed it was ironic because it was soon to be a “Day Without a Woman,” the real symbolism from our leading light of liberty in New York is that liberty is dying and privacy is dead in America.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an intelligence agency of the U.S. government. Created in 1947, the CIA grew out of the World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Previous intelligence efforts by the military and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were not enough to keep our nation safe.
Today, the CIA is a giant bureaucracy that has well over $50 billion in funding every year. And what do they do with all that cash? Spy on our enemies? Sure. Keep us safe? Maybe. Maintain a compliant public? You bet.
WikiLeaks' Vault 7
WikiLeaks released its “Vault 7” treasure trove of documents on the CIA in what has been called the greatest leak in CIA history and even more significant than the Snowden leaks on the National Security Agency (NSA). It reveals all of the CIA’s hacking tricks and also tells us that these cyberattack weapons have been lost to God knows who.
On Tuesday, March 7th, 2017, WikiLeaks began its series on leaks on the CIA, as apparently there are more to come. Editor-in-chief Julian Assange put out almost 9,000 documents and files from a network inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia. Assange goes on to say that the CIA lost control of its hacking arsenal, which includes malware, viruses, trojans, and other malware remote control systems and associated documentation. Therefore, some hacker out there or some other country now has the entire hacking capacity of the U.S. government.
Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.
— James Madison
The CIA: A State-Within-a-State
Since 9/11, the CIA has been given a wide berth to do whatever it takes to get the terrorists out there in the world. Surpassing the NSA, the CIA’s budget grew and grew until it was able to have its own drone fleet and an army of cyber-attackers. These hackers were able to do whatever they needed to wherever they needed to around the world. And now we know that. They could turn smart TVs into microphones or even cars into killing machines.
By the end of last year, WikiLeaks’ press release states, “the CIA's hacking division, which formally falls under the agency's Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other ‘weaponized’ malware. Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook.” And so, the CIA, with its massive budget and vastly inadequate oversight, was able to build up a network of hackers surpassing the world's largest social media site that could keep tabs on anyone anywhere, including Americans. Is that something we the people want our government to be able to do? Shouldn't we at least debate that?
What’s more important to you: security or liberty?
Interestingly, as part of the release, WikiLeaks posted to Twitter a password for “Vault 7” that read: “SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds.” What is the significance of this, you ask?
President John F. Kennedy’s exact words some 54 years ago, just one month before he was assassinated, were, “I will splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the wind.” Is this what Assange and WikiLeaks are attempting to do now? Or are they merely trying to inform the public of our government’s overreach?
Sam Halpern, author of The Assassination of JFK, claimed that Kennedy’s threat to the CIA stemmed from his frustration with the spy agency that JFK believed was becoming “a state within a state.” A deep state, perhaps? Specifically, Kennedy opposed Operation Northwoods, which was a CIA plan calling for “the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up of U.S. ships, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.” All of this would be done in the name of manipulating the American people into supporting a war against Cuba. Kennedy properly refused this ridiculous plan.
The Creation of the CIA: "It Was a Mistake"
The CIA’s own creator even came to regret what the spy agency had become.
“I needed … the President needed at that time a central organization that would bring all the various intelligence reports we were getting in those days, and there must have been a dozen of them, maybe more, bring them all into one organization so that the President would get one report on what was going on in various parts of the world. Now that made sense, and that's why I went ahead and set up what they called the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Okay, so that’s why it started. It makes some sense why it began but no one can deny that the agency has gotten out of hand and is far from what Truman thought it should be.
In the 1970s, Truman told his biographer, Merle Miller, that he thought the creation of the CIA “was a mistake.” Truman continued, “And if I’d know what was going to happen, I never would have done it.” Today, the CIA rivals the Pentagon and has surpassed the NSA. It is now its own government of sorts and is accountable to the president supposedly, but as we’ve seen in recent weeks, many unelected bureaucrats are lashing out at the commander in chief they cannot seem to accept as their leader. As Assange stated in a recent press conference after the big release: “It is an unusual time in the United States to see an intelligence agency so prominently involved in politics.”
The CIA is dangerous because they don’t just report on wars or track the bad guys. No, the CIA goes out and makes their own wars, according to Truman. And worst of all, “there’s nobody to keep track of what they’re up to. They spend billions of dollars on stirring up trouble so they’ll have something to report on. They’ve become… it’s become a government all of its own and all secret. They don’t have to account to anybody,” Truman stated.
If we don’t have anyone keeping the CIA in line then how do we know what they are doing? We the people have a right to know what our spies are up to because we are funding them. They work for us. Not the other way around.
The CIA has become an organization in opposition to our founding principles as a country. Secrecy and liberty do not mix. Freedom and constant surveillance cannot coexist.
President Kennedy said he wanted “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” And he tried. Sadly, he was assassinated before he could accomplish much.
Is there a way to drain the Deep Swamp? Do we have a chance to bring privacy back to America? Are there reasons for Donald Trump to be fearful for his life and to question who he should trust?
Draining the Deep Swamp
Raul Meijer’s recent article in The Automatic Earth summarizes the CIA’s paranoia best, when he wrote, “the CIA is still a club that sees enemies behind every tree, and behind every TV set too.” Like Cuba in the 1960s and now with Russia today, the CIA and the Deep State are attempting to make enemies when they are in short supply. ISIS is not enough. We need states that can be seen as the boogeyman to which we must counter at every turn and increase our military budget in order to keep up.
Because of this kind of manipulation by our intelligence agencies and our acquiescent and incurious mainstream media, people like Vladimir Putin are seen as evil despite the fact that America accounts for 37% of all of the world’s military expenditures. If Putin is such a threat to the U.S., then why is he working day and night to destroy ISIS, an organization Trump demonizes almost daily and calls the scourge of the Earth?
But what is truly frightening is not what is going on abroad but here at home. How can we know what is a truly credible threat and what is not these days? As revealed in the latest leaks, the CIA can hack into someone or some organization and make it look like an attack from another country, such as Russia. Per WikiLeaks: the “CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.” This is a mind-blowing fact that the CIA can “misdirect attribution by leaving behind the ‘fingerprints’ of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.”
Therefore, as tech entrepreneur and skilled hacker Kim Dotcom said on Twitter: “CIA uses techniques to make cyber attacks look like they originated from enemy state. It turns DNC/Russia hack allegation by CIA into a JOKE.” It certainly does. If the CIA can make it look like the Russians hacked into the DNC and coordinated with Trump to “steal” the election from Hillary Clinton last year, then why wouldn’t they? Clearly the Deep State wanted someone like Clinton, a status quo big government neoconservative Democrat who would’ve given the CIA everything they wanted and more without any questions asked over such a big unknown like Donald Trump.
There are powerful people in the CIA who do not like President Trump as there were many who did not take kindly to President Kennedy.
Unelected bureaucrats at the CIA, FBI, and NSA cannot be allowed to decide what to tell us and what not to. Sure, there are things that should be confidential and national secrets that should not be divulged. But, I dare one to make the case to me as to why the NSA should be spying on the American people or why the CIA should turn your phones, TVs, and cars into objects that can be used against you. This cannot happen in America.
If power can be abused, it will. If agencies like the CIA have the chance to keep tabs on the entire world, including Americans, damn the law, they’ll do it anyway. Obama gave in to the CIA, probably for fear of ending up like JFK. Will Trump be able to take the CIA on and continue JFK’s unfinished work? Or will he cave like Obama?
Trump is likely America’s best chance at putting a stop to this silent revolution from the CIA and others opposing the Republican president. We should not lock up and go after our whistleblowers for bringing to light what should not have been kept in the dark in the first place. We need to debate whether or not we want the CIA to be able to do things like this or whether or not we need a CIA at all.
Trump needs to find out who his real friends are and fast. He will be going up against not just the Democrats and some Republicans, but also the Deep State consisting of CIA and NSA operatives looking to hold onto their power in this time of political transition.
The CIA cannot continue to run as its own government. It should be dismantled or drastically rolled back to protect American citizens by identifying external threats to the homeland. The Deep Swamp must be drained in addition to the Swamp that is Washington DC.
Good luck, Mr. President.
- The CIA has become a state within a state and after the Vault 7 leaks from WikiLeaks, we now know the full extent of their hacking capabilities, which have now been lost to some other state or non-state actor.
- President Truman, who created the CIA right after WWII, came to call starting the spy agency a mistake, saying its gone far past its original intention and the unelected bureaucrats are now creating wars in the absence of bad guys to scare the American pubic over.
- President Trump is under fire from the Deep State which includes much of the CIA’s senior level officials, he must be careful now in his early days in the White House because JFK tried to take the CIA on, and he wound up assassinated.