The CIA spying scandal, Watergate and the decay of American democracy [World Socialist Website]

20 March 2014

In the nine days since Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency had spied on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers investigating CIA torture programs, the issue has been all but dropped by the political establishment and the media.

The White House and Congress, including Feinstein herself, are seeking to move any further discussion of the matter behind closed doors. The aim is to prevent any broader public airing of the fundamental democratic issues at stake in both the spying and the underlying crime, torture, which the CIA and the Obama administration are seeking to cover up.

Involved are impeachable offenses implicating the intelligence agencies and top officials in the administration, including the president. In her remarks on the Senate floor last week, Feinstein charged that the CIA violated the “separation of powers” principle embedded in the US Constitution as well as the Fourth Amendment and legal prohibitions against domestic spying. Since these remarks, the White House has publicly defended CIA Director John Brennan and acknowledged that the Obama administration deliberately withheld documents relating to the Senate investigation.

It is instructive to compare the actions of the CIA and the White House today to the Articles of Impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon approved by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 1974. Nixon was accused of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to steal Democratic Party documents relating to the 1972 elections from an office in the Watergate Hotel. He used the CIA and other intelligence agencies to cover up the break-in and intimidate political opponents in order to obstruct the investigation into the incident.

The Articles of Impeachment included the charge that Nixon “engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation” of the Watergate break-in so as to “cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.”

In pursuit of this cover-up, the House committee charged, Nixon was involved, among other things, in “withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;” “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations” by government bodies; “endeavoring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency;” and “making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to the allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch…”

Changing what needs to be changed, the same accusations can be leveled at Obama and the White House today. Evidence of criminality, including videotapes of CIA torture of terrorist suspects, was destroyed by Bush administration officials, and the Obama administration has assisted in the cover-up by “withholding relevant and material evidence,” including thousands of pages of documents. The administration is “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations” by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and is working with the CIA to “conceal the existence and scope” of illegal activities…

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/03/20/pers-m20.html

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