Who Investigates the FBI and DHS?

For years, ever since Herbert Hoover, the FBI has been a sovereign unelected agency without oversight, whom no one has the power to investigate. The same will be true of the CIA and what we call the ETC., the departments few or none even know about. If one submits an inquiry then regarding FBI files, they can say there is nothing, while these are actually in the ETC. Congress has done little or nothing to oversee these agencies since the Church Committee investigations of the Seventies, and the members get all touchy, as though national security depended upon rogue agents being able to torture and do absolutely anything at whim, because you know one just cannot be too sure.

A few years ago, when we were not so paranoid- scared into believing that national security depends upon the suspension of the Fourth Amendment- our political science textbook had some interesting things to say about the Department of Justice and the FBI. The text is Cummings and Wise, Democracy Under Pressure, 2005. Here are some samples:

Senate and House investigations of the FBI during the seventies, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, revealed that for years- while the FBI enjoyed a highly favorable public image- the bureau had systematically engaged in illegal activities that violated the constitutional rights of American citizens. FBI agents, for example, engaged in hundreds of burglaries of individuals and groups to plant microphones or to photograph documents. From 1956-1971, the bureau, through its counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO), harassed American citizens and disrupted their organizations through a wide variety of clandestine techniques, some of which broke up marriages or endangered lives.

Moreover, it was disclosed that since the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the FBI had gathered intelligence on domestic groups and individuals with only the shakiest legal authority to do so. It had files on entertainers…even on justices of the U. S. Supreme Court. For years the bureau compiled various indexes or lists of people it considered politically unreliable who were to be rounded up in an emergency. And as the congressional investigations also disclosed, the FBI opened first class mail in violation of the law.

Even presidents respected Hoover’s power, and under his reign the FBI, although an arm of the Justice Department, became largely independent of the attorney general…

…other Americans worried about the concentration of power in the hands of the FBI, and they feared that its wiretaps and dossiers might be used for political ends, or to enhance the power of the director. Because Hoover’s political views were generally conservative, liberals feared that the FBI was more concerned about pursuing domestic radicals than organized crime…

…in prosecuting anti-war protesters, the government sometimes relied on informers who encouraged or committed the same acts for which their associates were later tried. During the same period, federal grand juries were used to gather intelligence against the peace movement and to suppress political dissent. And as mentioned earlier, through COINTELPRO, its domestic counterintelligence program, the FBI secretly harassed American citizens and in some cases even endangered lives…

Clearly the role and power of a secretive police agency raises disturbing problems in a democracy …

…or indeed in any free nation, especially a representative democracy.

Now, do you think, without any significant oversight from Congress, and with the President himself dependent upon the agencies for intelligence, things have become better in these respects, or worse? And do you seriously believe the door busting agents perspective that such things are necessary for national security? For God’s sake, Congress, grow some Kahunas and some subtlety of intellect to secure American liberty before it is simply too late! National security requires, in fact that these agencies not, for example, harbor KKK members or Nazis, and that the good cops be able to enforce the law to clear out the bad cops, who will do anything, without being told why they are doing it. Do mobsters peddle oxy and Heroin for the Russians, or vice versa, without asking what political scheme their little capitalist project is a part? And having softened up America for them, it will be too late by the time they realize their new obligation to bow toward Moscow or Mecca. Typical capitalists, forgetful of the political context of money-making. Machiavellianism assured of itself as the possessor of the philosophic truth about national security is again one of those tragic ironies, and will destroy security in a big and decisive way while appearing to preserve national security in some small way. Was John Lennon good or bad for America? And who was ever held accountable for what was done to Martin Luther King? And what are they doing now to the very citizens on whom American liberty depends, because they are not selected especially for their being able to tell the difference?

Get a Warrant!

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