Thursday, May 28, 2015

Whether in the USSR or USSA, Politicians Come and Go — But the Security Organs Remain

-Will Grigg
“Hey, guys, we’ll be here long after you are gone,” gloated a high-ranking CIA official during a hearing of the US Senate’s “Church Committee” investigation of illegal domestic intelligence operations forty years ago. What this meant, according to Peter Fenn, Senator Church’s Chief of Staff, “was, `we’ll wait you out.'”

Church, an Idaho Democrat who briefly ran for his party’s presidential nomination in 1976, had served in Army Intelligence during World War II and had supported the disastrous Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1965. As today’s Idaho Statesman recounts, Church took the initiative in creating the Senate panel — formally known as the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities — after reading Seymour Hersh’s December 1974 revelations regarding the CIA’s criminal conduct on the domestic front.

Rod Gramer, author of a biography of Church, points out that the senator was outraged to see the US government “engaging in tactics he associated with the Soviet KGB.

“He used to say that when we start acting like our enemies, we start looking like our enemies,” Gramer recalls.

Decades before the heroic and self-sacrificing disclosures by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Church’s panel “shed more light on the agency than any prior inquiry, including the existence of a program called Project Shamrock, which intercepted all telegraphs entering or leaving the country,” relates the Statesman. “The NSA had spied on Church for years as a part of Project Minaret, a warrantless electronic surveillance program it operated in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Minaret spied on Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and several journalists, all without warrants. The senators the NSA spied on included Howard Baker, R-Tenn., who later served as White House chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan. The NSA fought to keep the identities of those it spied on secret until 2013.”