One of the fascinating things about government agencies is their ability to investigate themselves when they’re accused of wrongdoing. When a police officer kills it’s usually somebody from their department that investigates the incident and, not surprisingly, usually finds the officer innocent. Some time ago the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was caught spying on the congressional subcommittee tasked with overseeing it. In response the CIA put together a board to investigate the matter. Can you guess what the board’s findings were?
A CIA accountability board has cleared the spy agency of wrongdoing after CIA officials were found to have searched the files of congressional investigators tasked with reviewing the possible use of torture tactics during the Bush presidency. The board, set up by the CIA itself, published a report today that said that five agency officials made a “mistake” by searching for files used by the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the CIA, but said that their actions “did not reflect malfeasance, bad faith, or the intention to gain improper access to SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] confidential, deliberative material.”
The accountability board stressed that there were no clear rules for using the “unprecedented” RDINet, the secure network set up to allow congressional investigators to review the CIA’s files on rendition, detention, and interrogation techniques, and said that the five individuals had “acted reasonably to investigate a potential security breach.” The accountability board report overturns the conclusions of the current inspector general of the CIA, David Buckley, who said in a report last July that the five CIA officials had acted improperly by accessing the network. Buckley also found at the time that the CIA had inaccurately filed criminal referrals against congressional investigators that accused them of mishandling classified information.
That’s right, the CIA’s investigation of itself found the CIA innocent of any wrongdoing. This is why the concept of an accountable government is laughable. Since government maintains a monopoly on creating and enforcing law it can, and always does, put itself in charge of overseeing itself. Once that happens it finds itself innocent of any accusations. The only remarkable part about this is that so many people are stupid enough to agree that it’s how things should be handled.