December 21, 2014
Common Dreams
by Robert C. Koehler

The question is, what do we do with this moment of national self-awareness? Beyond demanding the prosecution of high-level perps, how about really changing the game? (Image: Common Dreams)

The shock resonating from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report isn’t due so much to the revelations themselves, grotesque as the details are, but to the fact that they’re now officially public. National spokespersons (except for Dick Cheney) can no longer deny, quite so glibly, that the United States is what it claims its enemies to be.

We’re responsible for the worst sort of abuses of our fellow human beings: A half-naked man freezes to death. A detainee is chained to the wall in a standing position for 17 days. The stories have no saving grace, not even “good intelligence.”

The Axis of Evil smiles, yawns: It’s home.

The question is, what do we do with this moment of national self-awareness? Beyond demanding the prosecution of high-level perps, how about really changing the game? I suggest reviving S. 126, a bill introduced into the U.S. Senate on Jan. 4, 1995 by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, titled: Abolition of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Abolish the agency that has secretly stirred up hell on earth. Its sins go far beyond torturing suspected terrorists. This agency, with its annual budget (in 2013) of nearly $15 billion, has covertly carried out the bidding of special economic and political interests since its founding, orchestrating, among much else, the overthrow of democratically elected, populist governments in Iran, Guatemala and Chile because the U.S. couldn’t control them. In each case, the regime that followed was darkly repressive, murderous; the blood of their victims is also on American hands.

The abolition of the CIA could be a conscious step in tearing our government out of the grip of the war consensus — this unelected force that feeds on perpetual global mistrust and hatred, the exact opposite of what true security requires.

In Moynihan’s speech introducing the bill to the Senate, he declared that the end of the Cold War “was a victory achieved by openness, not secrecy. By frankness, not intrigue.

“The Soviet Empire,” he continued, “did not fall apart because the spooks had bugged the men’s room in the Kremlin or put broken glass in Mrs. Brezhnev’s bath, but because running a huge closed repressive society in the 1980s had become — economically, socially and militarily, and technologically — impossible.”

A U.S. senator took a stand for openness and common sense. He noted that the Information Security Oversight Office, which monitors how many secrets are classified each year, “reported that in 1993 the United States created 6,408,688 secrets. Absurd. While each agency has different procedures and criteria for classifying documents, all seem to operate under the assumption that classification is preferable to disclosure.

“Secrecy,” Moynihan proclaimed, “is a disease. It causes hardening of the arteries of the mind.”

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