Thursday, 28 November 2013

On rogue intelligence agencies

For a while now, the premier intelligence agency of a nuclear armed state has been conducting itself in a dangerous manner. The agency has spent enormous amounts of money to carry out terrorist activities on foreign soil, destabilise democratic governments in an attempt to increase its spheres of influence, kidnap and torture civilians without due process, and has assassinated individuals deemed unfriendly.
This agency, for all intents and purposes, has gone rogue.
The country in question itself has a tarnished record. It constantly violates human rights and international laws, has been responsible for various wars which it has many times unilaterally initiated or instigated. It also has a history of financially and politically supporting dictatorial regimes.
The rogue agency in question, is the CIA. And the country in question, is the United States of America (USA).
The tools by which we determined that the agency has gone rogue have the ones used by the US to categorise other agencies.
The US used these tools, in their most famous example, to claim that the Pakistani-run intelligence agency ISI has gone rogue. To argue their point, they have cited the following two examples, among others.
First, the US claimed that the ISI cannot be reined in by its civilian governments; that it instead jealously guards its operations and even spies on its civilian government.
Secondly, the US went as far as to say that the ISI does not even answer to the Pakistani military. The US claimed that the operations of the ISI, like allegedly supporting the Taliban and other terrorist organisations, was contrary to public statements by the Pakistani military establishment.
The US has categorically stated that as such, the ISI had become a ‘state within a state’.
The allegations, for the most part, do ring true. And they are as true for the ISI as they are for the CIA (and now the ISI).
The CIA fit both these criterion and has demonstrated its independence from the American civilian government and military, when during several congressional hearings, it has repeatedly refused to hand over control of its international drone campaign, only relenting finally to a slow transition over the course of several years. The CIA carried out drone strikes, contrary to repeated assurances by the civilian government of America’s will to adhere to international laws. And all of this comes after decades-old history of military coups, terrorism, supporting non-democratic actors and most recently, spying on American allies.
The fact that this is happening in the world’s most powerful nuclear armed state is all the more worrying.

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