---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 13:09:37 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: CIA expands its watchful eye to the US
CIA expands its watchful eye to the US
December 17, 2001 edition
It will gather intelligence at home to curb terrorism. Critics see era of
By Abraham McLaughlin | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON - The Central Intelligence Agency is poised to get involved in
domestic surveillance and investigations in ways that are unprecedented in
The CIA's intelligence gathering has long been kept as separate as possible
from domestic law enforcement, which is bound by strict evidence-gathering
rules and legal safeguards protecting the rights of those investigated.
But as the nation girds itself against global terrorism carried out on
American soil, the barriers between covert, stealthy intelligence and
by-the-book domestic law enforcement investigations are beginning to melt.
Suddenly, for instance, the CIA will now have access to testimony collected
by federal grand juries.
And the CIA, FBI, and other federal agencies are, for the first time, being
allowed to share vast amounts of information ranging from phone records and
credit cards statements to profiles of suspected terrorists.
These shrinking restraints come as new antiterrorism legislation adopted
this fall grants the FBI far broader wiretapping and other investigative
And while many see the new cooperation as essential in combating the
enormous threat, for others it raises civil-liberties concerns - and
resurrects dark memories of CIA monitoring of domestic groups, including
1970s antiwar protesters.
Those domestic intrusions drove Congress and the president to tighten
restrictions dating back to the 1947 creation of the CIA that bar the agency
from any "domestic police function."
"Traditionally, there's been a sharp demarcation between FBI and CIA turf
... but now there's more ambiguity," says Loch Johnson, author of "America's
Secret Power: The CIA in a Democratic Society."
One of the most-significant changes is the CIA and other government
agencies' new access to one of the most powerful domestic investigative
tools - federal grand-jury proceedings - under the USA Patriot Act, which
passed in the wake of Sept. 11. Now, if any grand-jury investigation
involves matters of "foreign intelligence or counterintelligence" its fruits
may be shared with relevant federal agencies, the statute reads.
"That's a big change in criminal law," notes Robert Davis, founder of the
University of Mississippi's Journal of National Security Law.
Critics worry that "foreign intelligence" information is a very broad
category that extends far beyond just fighting terrorism. They also worry
the information flow won't just be one way. Instead, the CIA may eventually
suggest certain avenues for investigation.
Defenders of the change argue prosecutors will be zealous about defending
their grand-jury proceedings from outside interference.
What really worries critics is the CIA's past history of domestic
operations. In the 1960s and '70s, for instance, Operation CHAOS included
CIA involvement in spying on US citizens including antiwar protesters, black
militant groups and even congressmen.
President Nixon's White House encouraged these activities, convinced that
foreign powers stood behind anti-war radicals.
Yet advocates of the changes say the present threats on American soil differ
significantly from the domestic snooping conducted by the Nixon
In fact, supporters point out that drastic government measures - such as
Abraham Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War - have
typically been temporary. Indeed, the most-controversial elements of the USA
Patriot Act do eventually expire.
In the meantime, the stepped-up cooperation is crucial, says ex-Director
Gates, who argues the relevant historical parallel is not Operation CHAOS
but Pearl Harbor.
In 1941 - as in 2001 - "disparate government agencies had bits of
information" that pointed to an attack.
"But there was no single agency to pull everything together in a coherent
analysis of the threat," Gates says.
The new information sharing is the only way to prepare against new attacks.
The USA Patriot act allows the CIA, FBI, the Border Patrol, and the
Immigration and Naturalization Service to share information broadly. And
it's likely to lead to FBI and CIA agents working closely together here in
This greater cooperation comes at a time of significantly increased federal
investigation powers. For instance, under the PATRIOT act, law enforcement
can now more easily conduct secret searches of homes and businesses, while a
change to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act makes it easier for law
enforcement to obtain wiretaps.
Such activity may help prevent future terrorist acts. But there is also
concern that it will lead to a blending of the intelligence and
Yet there are hints it won't be so easy for the two agencies to work
together, given the history of antagonism between the two and the CIA's
reluctance to repeat its past mistakes.
Somehow, experts say, the agencies must strike a tricky balance. "The
concept of keeping them separate makes good sense in general," says
University of Virginia law professor John Norton Moore. But after Sept. 11,
"it's inconceivable not to have the two talking to each other."
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Dec 19 2001 - 01:56:57 EST