Intelligence Pathologies The Church Committee Term Paper


The Church Committee concluded that these activities made the intelligence community a secret government that was illegal, unethical, and improper and did not reflect the people or the nation of America. Secret intelligence actions were used to disrupt, harass, and destroy domestic law-abiding citizens and groups. At the time, people were spied on with excessive intrusion with the methods being illegal. In addition, the intelligence agencies carried out secret infiltration and surveillance activities of lawful groups, with mail being illegally opened (McCarthy, 2009). The recommendations to establish the FISA court and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 have failed following the aftermath of 9/11. Current intelligence agencies are once more intractable as they carry out the decisions of the executive branch of government and legislator (McCarthy, 2009). Like intelligence activities under the rule of President Nixon, intelligence agencies have searched, arrested, and detained many legal citizens and groups in the name of counter-terrorism measures. The CIA has spread its surveillance operations in nations considered terrorism strongholds like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya and made numerous arrests. Unlawful surveillance, searches of personal communication and arrests have led to unlawful detention of people considered as threats to national security at Guantanamo. The Church Committee also found that the congressional was given misleading and incomplete intelligence reports on subjects of national security by intelligence agencies like anti-Vietnam war protests and Civil Rights Movement were being controlled from overseas (McCarthy, 2009). As a result, intelligence agencies provided false information to President Nixon's administration leading to unlawful acts like intelligence spy activities on political opponents, assassination plots on foreign leaders like Fidel Castro and the use of Mafia efforts. The CIA was also instrumental in overthrowing Chile's democratic elected government.

Despite these findings, and the resulting changes, intelligence agency activities did not change. The U.S. intelligence community after 9/11 continued to operate under false assumptions and misleading intelligence reports that contravened the FISA court. President Bush's administration led the war in Iraq under intelligence reports of terrorist activities. The invasion continued under intelligence reports of the existence of weapons of mass destruction and ongoing WMD programs. The congressional committee inquiries after 2003 reveal that intelligence agencies made inaccurate analysis of Iraq's WMD programs. Secondly, the administration, especially that at the defense department augmented federal intelligence gathering and analysis methods. The investigation reports identify a support for the administration's invasion by the CIA and FBI to find evidence of a working relationship between Al-Qaida and Iraq, and the existence of active chemicals, nuclear and biological weapon programs in Iraq (McCarthy, 2009). This is evidence that intelligence agencies in America are intractable, even after the numerous congressional recommendations after Church Committee's recommendations. It is evident that Bush's administration like President Nixon's administration did not rely on established methods of intelligence analysis in WMD programs in Iraq and links with Al-Qaida. The lack of evidence indicates the result to supplementing, circumventing, and revisiting standard procedures of intelligence agencies to achieve regime change in Iraq (McCarthy, 2009). As a result, Bush's administration resulted to use all available raw evidence on Iraq to support the case against Saddam Hussein and find legitimate reasons for military action in Iraq.

It is apparent that the administration sought to find evidence of WMD programs in Iraq immediately after invading the nation with the aim of protecting existing UNSC resolutions. Moreover, the administration sought to use intelligence agencies especially the CIA to find evidence of Iraq's participation in 9/11 attacks, immediately after the attacks. This was the basis of Rumsfeld's instructions to intelligence agencies to get "best info fast" on the 9/11 attacks, and to judge if the evidence was worthy for America to go after Baghdad (McCarthy, 2009). Intelligence agencies were involved in the attack of Iraq after 9/11 as Wolfowitz's made a request to James Woolsey, the former CIA director and Defense Policy Board member to find evidence of Iraq's involvement in the attacks. Such a request saw new intelligence analysis activities taking place in the Pentagon officer under Douglas Feith, the Secretary of Defense for Policy after 9/11 (McCarthy, 2009). Feith was senior of all four under secretaries of defense, and a protege of Richard Perle, and the third in command to Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense and Paul Wolfowitz his Secretary. Feith supported the war on terror and on Iraq, consequently, leading to intelligence activities authorized by the Pentagon.

Like President Nixon's era, Feith and the Secretaries of Defense and intelligence supported the war on terror and Iraq....


This support led to the setting up of a unit in Feith's Department on October 2001, to analyze documents and reports from various intelligence agencies like the NSA, CIA, DIA, and other agencies on terrorism. The analysis was trying to find evidence of a link between the terrorist organizations and countries, especially of Al-Qaida and Iraq. This unit referred to as the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group that presented a report on terrorist networks in 2001 and a second report on Al-Qaida and Iraq in August of 2002 (Auerswald & Campbell, 2012). The intelligence agencies were involved in presenting misleading and inaccurate intelligence reports to congress. This is because the reports by CTEG were presented by Feith and the DIA director to George Tenet the CIA director, Stephen Hadley the Deputy National Security Advisor and Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby. The intelligence briefing was also given to the Office of the Vice President and the National Security Council. After the CTEG was disbanded, Wolfowitz crated the Office of Special Plans (OSP) (Auerswald & Campbell, 2012). The group explored policy issues around the planning of Iraq, coordinated options with the Department of Defense across inter-agencies, implemented defense policy and recommended a course of action. The OSP created tensions between the administration and the CIA, for it's appeared to carry out the role of the CIA in such missions.
The administration especially under President Bush abused the intelligence agencies resources, and for this reason, the tensions between the administration and CIA. Under the executive authority of President Bush, intelligence agencies carried out intelligence activities in America like wiretapping, creation of secret prisons abroad, preventing White House staff from testifying to congressional oversight committees (Auerswald & Campbell, 2012). The President also authorized the use of enhanced interrogation or torture on terrorists, extraordinary rendition involving the capture and transportation of terrorist suspects to undisclosed prisons in foreign nations for enhanced interrogation. These executive orders gave intelligence agencies power as the President interpreted several sections and provisions of the law as he saw fit by signing statements (Auerswald & Campbell, 2012). The intelligence agencies received power from the executive authority, which pushed back congress against executive power. In addition, intelligence agencies had more executive power to carry out intelligence activities and execute the law domestically as well as abroad, especially in terrorist prone nations since the President had pushed for a revision of FISA. Congress under executive authority was made to revise FISA to give additional guidelines on warrantless surveillance and prevent decisions by federal courts from constraining executive power in wartime.

President Bush, like President Nixon increased the responsibility and role of the intelligence agencies at the height of their administration making them intractable. President Bush made huge expansions to the intelligence community. This is seen in the incorporation and creation of added intelligence organizations and groups within the intelligence system (Auerswald & Campbell, 2012). after 9/11 and by 2009, there were 1,271 government organizations and 2,000 private contractors working on counterterrorism efforts at home and abroad, especially in terrorist friendly nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. The efforts to fight terrorism saw the homeland security and intelligence agencies carry out intelligence activities in over 10,000 locations nationally and internationally (Auerswald & Campbell, 2012). The problem with this system as was seen with the Church commission is redundancy and waste arising from security and intelligence agencies carrying out the same work. In addition, President Bush's administration and congress gave intelligence agencies more funds at two and half more times previous budgets after 9/11 (Auerswald & Campbell, 2012). Though his successor President Obama dismantled some, his administration maintained many of the security agencies. President Obama gave a legal basis for the CIA's global activities by retaining and maintaining 14 intelligence orders from the previous administration.

The research finds that the recommendations made by the Church Committee in the 1970s concerning intelligence agencies have been overlooked. As President Nixon's administration gave more executive power to intelligence agencies during his reign, so did President Bush. Intelligence agencies acquired executive authority after 9/11 are founded on the rhetoric of the war on terrorism, finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and identifying the link between Iraq and Al-Qaida. It is evident these executive power has made intelligence agencies intractable after 9/11 as they were in the post cold war era. This executive power has made intelligence checkpoints like the congressional oversight committees, FISA court and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act invaluable.

Sources Used in Documents:


Auerswald, D.P., Campbell, C.C. (2012). Congress and the Politics of National Security. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Best, R.B., Jr. (2011, Dec 16). Director of National Intelligence Statutory Authorities: Status and Proposals. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, 7-5700, RL34231.

Dale, C., Serafino, N.M., & Towell, P. (2008, Dec 16). Organizing the U.S. Government for National Security: Overview of the Interagency Reform Debates. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, 7-5700, RL34455.

Halchin, L.E., & Kaiser, F.M. (2012, May 14). Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, 7-5700, RL32525.

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