The term Shadow Govt is outdated and is really so hooked up with contemporary conspiracy theories it’s not now useful. The quite shadowy intel world of the NSA, the CIA and so on, is of course is quite real. There is value in intelligence services but they need to be reined in pretty frequently; ideally they should be investigated with each new administration to see it hasn’t gotten up to criminality….The Church hearings of ’75 led to a lot of reforms but then Bush rolled some of the reforms back.

Like everyone else who kept up during the George W Bush years, President Obama remembers well when the Bush administration was given warnings that should have prevented 9/11–and Obama remembers that they didn’t act on them. He knows there are suitcase nukes out there somewhere.

Obama knows that there are vulnerable reservoirs and chemicals plants. He is probably still wincing from the Boston Bombing and the Benghazi sloppiness. So it’s hard for him to say no to intelligence efforts that might prevent more of that and prevent a major attack on a U.S. city. He also has data we don’t have. He may know of dangers we don’t know about. Probably does. So he gives the NSA and the CIA some slack. But that slack line is also a tightrope and it’s easy to bumble off the tightrope into excess and into programs that go into places they weren’t intended to, originally…

In fact I think there should be an Intelligence Service Review Act, that would REQUIRE an examination of CIA/NSA/DIA intel methodology and lawfulness every four years–just as a farmer checks on his watch dog to make sure it’s not killing sheep.

The body in charge of this hypothetical ISRA should be independent, and while it should be discreet about classified material, it should have the option of going public when an intelligence service commits crimes–such as torture, or excessive oversight of the American public, or suppression of human rights…

Senator Frank Church’s committee of 1975 is a kind of sketchy paradigm for an Intelligence Service Review Act…But we need something permanent, and “with teeth”.


Comments are closed.