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Now that he is officially sworn in as the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden plans to build a vast domestic spying network that will pry into the lives of most Americans around the clock.
President George W. Bush told Hayden to "take whatever steps necessary" to monitor Americans 24/7 by listening in on their phone calls, bugging their homes and offices, probing their private lives, snooping into their financial records and watching their travel habits.
Can I prove this in a court of law? No. Do I know it is happening? Yes, without a doubt. Enough sources within the CIA, FBI, NSA and Pentagon have come forward in recent days to warn about Hayden’s plans for an expanded, consolidated spy network aimed at Americans, not terrorists, and violating numerous laws that prohibit such activities against citizens of this country.
"What Hayden plans to do is not only illegal, it is immoral," says a longtime CIA operative who may retire early rather than participate in what he sees as an illegal extension of the spy agency’s activities.
Hayden, who oversaw the National Security Agency’s questionable monitoring of phone calls and emails of Americas, plans to consolidate much of the country’s domestic spying into a new desk at the CIA, calling it a "domestic terrorism prevention" operation.
The desk will oversee not only NSA’s increased monitoring of electronic communications by Americans but also the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s "terrorist information awareness" program that monitors travel and financial activities by Americans by gathering real-time data from banks, airlines, travel agencies and credit card companies.
The CIA operation will also coordinate with the Pentagon’s domestic spying program that monitors activities of anti-war groups, organizations critical of the Bush administrations and others tagged as enemies of the state.
FBI agents will step up monitoring of journalists to identify leaks of stories embarrassing to the government. The bureau is already monitoring phone calls and emails by reporters on a routine basis and has increased surveillance of writers for major news organizations and monitoring of travel and financial records using the DARPA computers.
"This is not ‘total information awareness’ but ‘total information control’ aimed at watching Americans fulltime and ignoring the protections that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Constitution," says an FBI agent familiar with the programs. "I didn’t sign on for this and I’m getting the hell out."
In fact, resignations at major U.S. spy agencies are at an all-time high. Exact numbers are classified but sources say field agents, data analysts and others are leaving in droves rather than join the frenzy to spy on Americans.
Hayden sailed through the Senate confirmation process defending his domestic spying program at NSA, claiming it was legal. Privacy experts and Constitutional law professors say otherwise but the Senate rubber-stamped Bush’s choice anyway, choosing to ignore the threats to freedom.
Hayden will have little problem concealing the operation from the public and Congress. Many of the CIA’s programs are classified and the agency has, in the past, concealed programs even from the intelligence committees in both the House and Senate. The DARPA project and the Pentagon domestic spying programs are "black bag" operations that do not require Congressional approval or oversight.
Likewise, many of the details of the NSA domestic spying program were withheld from Congress and escaped public notice until media reports unearthed them and the Bush administration now threatens to jail the reporters who broke the story.
I wish I could prove this. I wish one, just one, source on the inside was willing to come forward and allow his or her name to be used but those who might be tempted see what happened to Mary McCarthy, the CIA employee fired and under threat of prosecution for leaking information about CIA torture camps in Europe.
But I know it is happening. People I’ve known for years and trust tell me it is happening and the past record of spying, lies and deceit by the Bush administration point to just such an operation.
This nation is under attack. We, the people, are under attack. And the enemy in this case is not an Islamic radical hiding in a cave in Afghanistan but a cabal of truly evil men and women at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and on Capitol Hill aided by carefully-picked, law-ignoring appointees at the Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a black glass-walled building at Fort Meade, MD, and a complex in Langley, Virginia.