What To Do About the CIA
For the second time since it came into being in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency is fighting for its life. Twenty years ago, following revelations by the Church (Senate) and Pike (House) committees of the Agency’s involvement in illegal activities on U.S. territory, such as spying on American citizens opposed to the Vietnam war, there was a clamor for its abolition. The KGB added fuel to this fire by supporting and Financing disinformation purporting to show that the CIA, a painful thorn in its side, was a threat to American democracy. The Agency managed to weather the assault, only to face today an even more daunting challenge to its existence.
The current movement is inspired not by alleged illegal activities, which have not recurred since the mid-1970′s, but by the charge that the CIA has consistently provided the government with faulty assessments and tolerated inexcusable security breaches in its ranks. The main argument against it, however, is that with the collapse of the USSR the Agency has become redundant.
About the Author
Richard Pipes is professor of history emeritus at Harvard and the author most recently of Russian Conservatism and Its Critics (Yale).