Are the Intelligence Committees Being Blackmailed?
During the Vietnam war, the NSA spied on two prominent politicians — Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker — as well as critics of government policy Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, and a Washington Post humorist.
A recently declassified history written by the NSA itself called the effort “disreputable if not outright illegal.”
They targeted Sen. Frank Church and Sen. Howard Baker. It could mean they were trying to get information or dirt on senators involved in the Church committee and Watergate committee investigations respectively – either to learn something about their investigations or to discredit them.
We still need more information about what happened then. But more critically, we need more information about what’s happening now. These revelations raise the obvious question: If the NSA was targeting people like Sen. Frank Church, who were in a position to oversee the NSA – is that happening now? That is, are people like intelligence committee chairs Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and other congressional leaders – who are supposed to be providing oversight themselves – compromised in some way by the NSA? If so, as seems quite certain from the recent Edward Snowden revelations, then how can they conduct genuine oversight of the NSA with their committees?”
If I were a member of congress, I would be terrified that NSA would do to them what J. Edgar Hoover did to members back during his time.
Maybe. But remember:
- The NSA has been tracking people’s porn in order to discredit them. The New York Times reports that this type of behavior has been going on for a long time: “J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies – really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example”.
- A high-level NSA whistleblower says that the NSA is spying on — and blackmailing — top government officials and military officers, including Supreme Court Justices, high-ranked generals, Colin Powell and other State Department personnel, and many other top officials
- Another very high-level NSA whistleblower — the head of the NSA’s global intelligence gathering operation — says that the NSA targeted CIA chief Petraeus
- Blackmail of Congress members may be common
Postscript: Of course, there’s always the carrot.