Monday, December 10, 2007

Abolish CIA

Christopher Hitchens comes from the embarrassment which the latest NIE report about Iran causes to Pres. Bush, but he has the point when he says CIA should be abolished. (‘It’s time to abolish CIA’, http://www.slate.com/id/2179593/pagenum/2/)

His partisan instincts do not blind him to see the utter irresponsible way in which CIA destroys the tapes of certain interrogation. Hitchens is right, the time has indeed come to abolish CIA. CIA did not get intelligence about Iraq right and there is no reason to believe that they could be right about Iran. And of course as Hitchens have pointed out, the illustrious history of CIA in exaggerating Soviet might is way too obvious to ignore. If CIA were a private company, it would have been forced into bankruptcy long back with this kind of record.

But in the end really the larger point is – how else CIA can account for all the moral transgressions it has done over the years in the name of American security? The numerous attempts to kill Castros of the world, the multitude of early year efforts in undermining and at times simply toppling democratically elected foreign regimes which were not suitable to the prevailing political wisdom of America and let us not even talk about the ‘interrogations’ (which by the way Cheney would approve of) it might have taken; all that is too much to ignore.

Times of India recently laments in it’s editorial about how just elections are not enough in a democracy, but we need accountability of public institutions beyond elections. (Rites of Democracy, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Rites_of_Democracy/articleshow/2612619.cms) Along those lines, CIA also needs to be accountable and this means simply abolishing it.

The real question is will Democrats now or in 2008 (when presumably they are likely to have majority in Congress and quite likely occupy White House too) will be ready to drop the short term political dividend of the CIA which can openly embarrass Bush? If Speaker Pelosi was party to CIA’s ‘interrogations’ and in a way failed to raise the issue of destroying of these tapes; then one thinks that Dems will not have certitude in demanding abolition of CIA.

Will Dems allow for a bipartisan commission to decide how best to close down the CIA shop, what charter the replacing agency or agencies would have and how that set up should be done? The interesting thing to watch will be – what do you do with the political hot potatoes which will surely surface when CIA’s skeleton needs to be buried once for all. That will be hell of a spectacle. Who in American Political Establishment have the gumption and political purity to come forward to give a peaceful burial to CIA? Obama? Or any one from GOP?

So alas Hitchens’s cry to shut down CIA shop will not be heard. So sad.

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