The intelligence agencies have been in the news a lot lately — and not because they deserve praise. Recently, the FBI refused for weeks to provide the House Oversight Committee with a document that alleges a bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden during his time serving as vice president.
To avoid a contempt of Congress hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray decided, at the last minute, to allow the committee’s members to view the document in question.
The FBI’s non-compliance over the past weeks does not instill confidence that the Bureau is a competent, impartial enforcer of the law. But the intelligence agencies have long proven to be untrustworthy, and Americans must demand that Congress take action to reign them in. (RELATED: JUDGE ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO: No Warrant? No Problem … We Can Spy On You Anyway, Feds Shamelessly Reveal)
From the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, as part of a program known as COINTELPRO, the FBI spied on and persecuted various groups of U.S. citizens deemed to be subversive. The Bureau surveilled, blackmailed and harassed civil rights groups, anti-war protestors, and those suspected of being a communist.
“In addition to engaging in covert surveillance of citizens via wiretap, microphones, and breaking and entering, the FBI spread false information to attempt to destroy their targets’ personal and professional relationships, disrupt meetings, and pit organizations against one another,” write Christopher Coyne and Abigail Hall in their illuminating book, “Tyranny Comes Home.”
Among the civil rights activists harassed was Martin Luther King Jr., who the FBI even attempted to blackmail into committing suicide.
Unfortunately, the intelligence community’s domestic surveillance abuses are not an artifact of history. A report recently published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed that the intelligence agencies are purchasing vast amounts of “commercially available information” on U.S. citizens. The report ominously warns that this data “can be misused to pry into private lives, ruin reputations, and cause emotional distress and threaten the safety of individuals.”
In addition to spying on and harassing U.S. citizens, the intelligence community, disturbingly, has performed unethical experiments on Americans. During the Cold War, the CIA funded and conducted various psychological and mind control experiments as part of Project MKUltra. To provide but one example of the many troublesome activities the CIA engaged in under this project, the agency secretly slipped drugs such as LSD to unknowing Americans as part of their experimentation.
The intelligence agencies have consistently confirmed that they have a proclivity to infringe on the rights of U.S. citizens.
To the intelligence community, even the news and entertainment you consume must have their oversight. A 1977 Rolling Stone article by journalist Carl Bernstein and an investigative report in the New York Times that same year detailed the close relationships that the CIA had cultivated with the press, which it used to disseminate propaganda and influence public opinion around the world.
In 2014, a report by the Intercept confirmed that the agency continues to have extensive communications with — and influence over — journalists. And in Hollywood, the CIA advises and courts directors, producers, and actors in order to influence the production of movies and shows.
There is great danger in such powerful parts of the government attempting to control the population through covert methods. Americans cannot see much of the intelligence community’s activities, and even though some of their unscrupulous actions ultimately get revealed, they are not directly accountable to voters.
In other words, the intelligence community is in the shadows, insulated from public accountability, providing them little incentive to control their own excess.
Just last month, in addition to the FBI’s withholding of the alleged Biden-bribery document, there were multiple, salient reminders that the intelligence community is no ally of our republic.
First, it came to light that a current member of the CIA helped solicit signatures of former intelligence agents for a letter that claimed Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation. That letter originated in Joe Biden’s campaign and was used to give him a talking point in an upcoming presidential debate. The authenticity of Hunter Biden’s laptop has since been confirmed, so the letter, it turns out, was the real disinformation. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: NY Post’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Hunter Biden Email 100% Authentic, Forensic Analysis Concludes)
Then, the Durham Report, publicly released on May 15, made clear that the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign never should have been launched and documented that the FBI “discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia.”
A few days later, in a released but heavily redacted 2022 opinion from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), it was revealed that the FBI illegally searched a database close to 300,000 times in 2020 and 2021 seeking information about U.S. citizens.
The intelligence agencies do not have adequate oversight, and they have continuously, almost habitually, betrayed the trust of the American public. They are not your ally, and it’s past time Americans demand that Congress reign in the U.S. intelligence state.
Benjamin Ayanian is a contributor for Young Voices, a PR firm and talent agency for young, pro-liberty commentators. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Star Tribune, Newsweek, and more. His Twitter is @BenjaminAyanian.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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