EDITOR’S NOTE: The following commentary appears only on our website.
President Bush nominated General Hayden as CIA director. Due to his link to the president’s illegal surveillance operations some object. He defended circumventing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act stating that compliance involved too much “looping paperwork.” He appears to have no problem with the fourth amendment. His ability to break the law and then to defend these actions before the press and congress make him the perfect candidate. The CIA has institutionalized law breaking and it needs a director who can continue this record. A brief look at CIA history is illustrative.
The CIA has been repeatedly involved in regime change. In 1953 it overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran. In 1954 the CIA ousted the Guatemalan president. In 1963 and then again in 1968 the CIA sponsored coups that brought the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein to power in Iraq. In 1965 the CIA brought General Suharto to power in Indonesia. Immediately after this coup over 500,000 Indonesians were massacred. In 1973 the CIA assisted General Pinochet in overthrowing the elected government of Chile. Of course these coups were only a small fraction of the regime changes fostered illegally by the CIA.
The CIA has regularly participated in assassinations. In Operation Phoenix according to a 1971 congressional report, the CIA assisted South Vietnam to murder about 20,000 Vietnamese opponents of the South Vietnam regime. In the Congo, Patrice Lumumba was murdered. In both the Iraqi coups and the coup in Indonesia, the CIA furnished lists of “leftists” to the death squads.
The CIA has also been involved in covert wars in Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Central and South America, Africa, etc. which have resulted in the deaths of millions.
And let us not forget about the CIA’s domestic activities. In Operation CHAOS the CIA infiltrated the anti-war and civil rights movements. It regularly opened domestic and foreign mail and conducted domestic spying.
The CIA has not only violated the fourth amendment, but also the first amendment guarantee of a free press. In Operation Mockingbird the CIA recruited news organizations and journalists to become spies and to disseminate propaganda. Some 25 news organizations and 400 journalists became CIA assets as a result.
The above are just a tiny fraction of the CIA’s criminal past but they show why General Hayden is the right man for the job. He will not be bothered by any “looping paperwork” such as the constitution.
Kenneth J. Theisen is an Oakland resident.