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By: John LeBoutillier

CIA Director George Tenet testified yesterday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Tenet – the only Clinton Cabinet officer remaining in his original post – has been able to artfully avoid having the CIA take the blame for sloppy and poor intelligence work leading up to 9-11.

In fact, because of his good personal relationship with both George Bushes, Tenet has twice since 9-11 been able to secure increases in the CIA budget.

In October, President Bush granted an emergency budget increase of $1 billion to the CIA. And now, in his fiscal 2003 budget, the President has proposed another $1.5 billion increase – that we know of. In fact, the overall intelligence budget is highly classified – and ‘hidden’ in the budgets of other federal departments. Only a handful of Congressmen and Senators know the ‘actual’ amount.

It is also believed that even more money is secretly spent on intelligence than even these select members of the House and Senate are aware of. ‘Black funds’ exist – off-the-books accounts that CIA, NSA, DIA and the service Intel agencies have access to.

All of this is to point out that whatever happened on 9-11 is not the result of too little money being spent on intelligence gathering. No, the problem is how that money is spent.

Over the past thirty years our Intel agencies have fallen in love with satellites, eaves-dropping equipment and high tech means of ‘listening’ to our enemies – and our friends, too.

‘HUMINT’ – the gathering of intelligence through human beings on-the-ground infiltrating and getting up-close-and-personal – has taken a back seat to this fascination with high tech means.

Thus you get the odd occurrence: John ‘Taliban’ Walker can get into the Taliban and Al Qaeda – even meet Osama bin Laden – and yet our own agents could not get any where near Osama, Mullah Omar or the Taliban/Al Qaeda leadership before 9-11.

What has happened over the years to the CIA?

They have become a government inside a government.

The CIA – and this may shock many of you - spies on its own government!

Yes, for a fact, CIA places ‘agents’ into other federal departments and on the staffs of House and Senate committees to “keep an eye on things.”

Every congressional committee that oversees intelligence activities has CIA staff on its staff! That way Langley can keep track of trouble brewing it its own backyard.

That’s like having the fox ‘guarding’ the chicken coop.

This is the biggest – and so far unreported – scandal in the US today. Bigger than Enron, bigger than anything else. The very fact that the CIA is an uncontrollable agency operating outside the Constitution – and getting away with it – is something that one day is going to blow open and cause big trouble.

A small – but meaningful – example: in the mid-1980’s, then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage personally arranged for a uniformed military officer to be detailed to temporary White House duty. This officer had some innocuous job description. In reality his assignment was simple: to spy on the inner workings of the presidential office. Get the daily schedule of the senior staff, listen in on as many conversations as possible, find out what was ‘brewing’ before others knew – and then report all of this daily back to Armitage.

A career CIA man, Armitage wanted to know what was happening at the White House so that the Pentagon – and the CIA – could be ‘ahead of the curve.’

Armitage today is Deputy Secretary of State and may very well have a similar ‘operative’ placed in the White House and National Security Council.

This is plain out-and-out wrong.

Federal agencies should not be expending taxpayers’ money ‘spying’ on each other. But they do!

And that is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the enormous leeway the CIA has – because of the very nature of its’ ‘secretive’ mission – to do what it wants.

It is also protected by federal judges strategically placed on the federal bench who are pro-CIA – (some used to work for the CIA) – who will always get the CIA off the hook in case something bad happens. A case in point involved 7 World Trade Center. Crushed in the 9-11 attack, this building housed several federal offices, including CIA’s NY office. Furthermore, CIA was performing an illegal domestic operation on September 11 when the attack occurred. (By law, the CIA is prohibited from operating inside the US other than recruiting.)

When the building was smashed, CIA lost control of the evidence of their illegal activity. They rushed to a ‘friendly’ federal judge who granted a secret motion that has placed the CIA in charge of the excavation and search of 7 World Trade Center. All the workers, bulldozer operators and diggers on that particular site work for the CIA, not New York City or anyone else.

The so-called mainstream news media has missed this story.

My source: a federal judge in New York.

We are left to wonder what the ‘illegal domestic operation’ was – and how we have come to allow a secret US agency to have such unbridled power.

This is a huge scandal waiting to explode.

John LeBoutillier is a former U.S. Congressman and a nationally recognized political commentator. He has been a frequent guest on many national talk show programs and is author of the book Harvard Hates America. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

John LeBoutillier can be reached at: johnlebout@johnlebout.com

He keeps an archive of his articles at: JohnLeBout.com

Published in the February 14, 2002 issue of  Ether Zone.
Copyright 1997 - 2002 Ether Zone.

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