While the CIA is lauded for releasing 700 pages documenting some of its most egregious 1950-1970 abuses, critics say the US spy agency remains secretive about its current controversial activities, critics said.
“We don’t know everything that’s going on today. But it seems to me there’s already enough evidence to conclude that things are not so different today,” said David Barrett, political scientist at Villanova University, author of a 2005 book on the CIA and Congress in the 1940s and 1950s, speaking to the New York Times.
The unflattering report details some of the CIA’s worst historical abuses, collectively known within the agency, with more than a hint of irony, as the “family jewels.”
“This is the first voluntary CIA declassification of controversial material” in almost a decade said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a watchdog group whose 1992 Freedom of Information Act request prompted the release of the documents.
The disclosures, which were made Tuesday, were the first extensive release of original records by the spy agency. The documents are posted on the CIA’s website.
The report, which comes a decade and a half after the original request, makes many revelations that were once jealously guarded, including several CIA plots against foreign leaders.
The agency offered Mafia figures 150,000 dollars to kill Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro prior to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
The report also catalogues illegal domestic spying by the agency, and its links to the Watergate burglars whose arrests eventually toppled the presidency of Richard Nixon.
It was the CIA’s involvement on the margins of the Watergate scandal that led then-CIA director James Schlesinger to compile the “family jewels” file in 1973, asking each CIA component to send him a summary of activities it thought might have violated the law.
The document is mum however on present day activities, which some critics say are every bit as objectionable as some of the worst transgressions of the past.
Some of those have included the CIA’s controversial extraordinary rendition policy, its role in a long-running war-on-terror prison abuse scandal and secret prisons housing foreign terror suspects.
European lawmakers in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a report that accused the CIA of having run secret prisons in Poland and Romania where terror suspects were interrogated from 2003 to 2005.
The report also criticized Germany and Italy for having invoked a defense of state secrets to obstruct the investigation into the covert program.
Marty claimed that NATO and the United States had reached a secret framework deal after the September 11, 2001 attacks to allow the Central Intelligence Agency to run the covert prisons.
CIA director Michael Hayden explained that the release of the previously secret report was part of the agency’s “social contract with the American people,” which included an obligation to “share with the public the information we can.”
And, taking exception to criticism, Hayden said the CIA of old is a far cry from the agency of today.
“I don’t think Americans need to look at these documents and say, ‘Oh my God, what are they doing now?” Hayden told CNN television.