Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Transparency and National Security

Within the next few weeks, the Senate Intelligence Committee is due to disclose an extensive report on CIA torture to the public. An article in the Guardian details the recent controversy leading up to this important event.

The illegal operations of the CIA have been largely exposed to the public over the past few years, leaving the agency scrambling to fix what’s turning out to be public relations nightmare. CIA director John Brennan is well aware of the importance of securing the confidence of the American people. “I certainly believe having the public’s trust makes all of our jobs much easier and better” remarked Brennan at a recent intelligence conference. But in a rather ironic turn of events, it has been revealed that CIA officials have hacked the committee investigator’s computers in order to view the details of the inquiry. Brennan maintains no misconduct was committed. 

The CIA is obviously not too fond of this investigation. For too long the agency has been able to act completely unaccounted for in the name of national security. This lack of oversight has lead to policies such as torture and ‘extraordinary rendition,’ which is a flagrant violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. More shockingly, as the article reports, ‘The Senate report… found post-9/11 CIA torture to be more brutal and less effective than it portrayed.  

It is important that this investigation gets carried out and released without any interference. Transparency is the most effective safeguard we have against the abuse of power-which was understood by our Founding Fathers, hence the checks and balances system established by our constitution.  No agency or person should be exempt from oversight or review. Yes, it is important to take certain measures for the sake of national security; however there is no reason why these measures should be conducted outside the norms of international law. If we continue down this path, what message are we sending to the rest of the world?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Spies, Assassins and Cyber-Warriors - HONR 300/POLI 439

This blog will be used during the Fall, 2014, to expose legal, legitimacy and ethical issues arising from modern national security controversies.  Students will be posting short entries on current controversies throughout the semester.  The older stories on this blog are from previous classes, such as POLI 337, Comparative Justice in 2010.