Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


Octafish's Journal
Octafish's Journal
September 8, 2015

Between Illegality and Incompetence: Otis Pike and Exposing the NSA

by Dr. Binoy Kampmark
Scoop (New Zealand), February 7, 2014


In his ribbing, and at times abrasive questioning, Pike sought to extract a seemingly invisible National Security Agency from the budget. “Can members of Congress find the NSA in the document you prepared?” fired Pike at James T. Lynn, director of the Office of Management and Budget. The response: “It is not to be put in the budget of the United States.” No concealment, insisted Lynn, was taking place. “This is in conformance with the law.” Pike was unrelenting: “When you can’t find it in the budget, but you tell us it is there, I submit that it is legitimate to characterize that as being concealed.”

The revelations as to what the NSA was up proved juicy – and alarming. Colby conceded under questioning by Congressman Aspin that the NSA was engaged in the tapping of Americans’ phone calls. This precipitated a remarkable move – drawing the head of the hitherto invisible NSA, Lew Allen Jr., before the committee.

Allen’s conduct provided the blueprint for subsequent NSA chiefs: mendacity under fire, hedging and hair splitting qualifications. Yes, the agency was “legally” engaged in wiretapping American communications despite legal restrictions posed by such statutes as the 1934 Communications Act. No, the it was not technically eavesdropping on domestic or overseas communications because its trawling program was not “targeted”. Ever the NSA dilemma: caught between the vice of illegality and incompetence.

Dragging the NSA from the shadows of policy and cost proved a herculean task. If we are going to split hairs using the copybook of NSA directors, we might well argue that it is an unauthorised body, the vigilante on the bloc. Pike’s efforts to get the NSA to produce its “charter” – the National Security Council Intelligence Directive No. 6 in August 1975 – showed that up all too well. Even Washington’s politicians were not privy to the contents of the agency’s governing document.


It made Pike a target of opprobrium. Rogovin was incandescent. “Pike will pay for this, you wait and see – we’ll destroy him for this.” And he, and various others, did. The report was quashed in the House by a mere vote, leaving it to the mercy of selective publication. (A full copy was later published in Britain.) The Committee, along with staff, was tarnished with the brush of irresponsibility, and Pike with the mantel of a manic radical hostile to institutions. This proved an odd outcome, especially for a solid conservative who had been a stickler for propriety.



Thank you for grokking, Hassin Bin Sober! Something I've since learned since posting the OP: Mr. Pike had a reputation in Congress more as a conservative than as a liberal Democrat.

September 7, 2015

Amazing history that is never mentioned in high school or on tee vee.

Where most Americans get their knowledge of the past from, unfortunately.

Interesting who has gotten the lion's share of media attention over the past 40 years: the conservative bankster warmonger or the peace maker Liberal Democrat.

The Lost Legacy of Otis Pike

Former Rep. Otis Pike died Monday at the age of 92, stirring recollections of his courageous efforts in the 1970s to expose abuses committed by the CIA, a struggle that ultimately bogged down as defenders of state secrecy proved too strong, as ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman writes.

By Melvin A. Goodman
ConsortiumNews, January 22, 2014


The Pike and Church committees were responsible for the creation of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) in 1976 and the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in 1977. These committees took charge of congressional oversight of the intelligence community, which previously had been the responsibility of the Senate and House Armed Forces Committees, Foreign Relations Committees, and Appropriations Committees. Those committees had, in fact, been advocates for the intelligence community and had shown little interest in actual oversight. In 1980, the Carter administration created the Intelligence Oversight Act that gave exclusive jurisdiction for oversight to the SSCI and the HPSCI.

Pike and Church deserve special praise for exposing the covert role of the CIA in trying to assassinate Third World leaders and pursuing regime change. There were assassination plots against Fidel Castro in Cuba, Patrice Lumumba in Congo, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala, and Ngo Dinh Diem in Vietnam. CIA efforts were particularly clumsy in the case of political assassination, and typically other groups carried out the assassinations before the CIA could get its act together.

Like the efforts to overthrow regimes in Chile and Iran, these covert actions worsened the domestic scene in all of these target countries and created major complications in relations with the United States. Some of these complications (for example, in Cuba and Iran) are still with us.

CIA actions in Congo were directly responsible for the emergence of the worst tyrant in the history of Africa, Sese Seku Mobutu. Guatemalans continue to suffer at the hands of Guatemalan security forces created with the help of the CIA. Strategic covert failures are abundant; strategic covert success is extremely rare.

The Pike Committee also recommended the creation of a statutory Inspector General for the intelligence community, but this proposal was considered too radical at the time. In the wake of the Iran-Contra disaster, the idea of a statutory IG was revived, but CIA Director William Webster was opposed because he believed that such an office would interfere with operational activities. Senate intelligence Committee Chairman David Boren, D-Oklahoma, also was opposed because he thought the office of an IG would be a rival to his committee. Fortunately, two key members of the intelligence committee, John Glenn, D-Ohio, and Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, believed that a statutory IG was essential, and Boren had to give in.

The CIA’s Office of the IG operated effectively until recently, when the Obama administration inexplicably moved to weaken the IGs throughout the intelligence community, particularly in the CIA. The current chairman of the congressional intelligence committees, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, apparently do not understand the importance of a fully engaged IG to their own efforts to conduct genuine oversight.



PS: You are most welcome, underpants! Thank you for remembering Otis Pike!
September 7, 2015

Pike asked NSA produce its charter. He was told 'It's Top Secret' & Congress was not cleared.

The first congressman to battle the NSA is dead.

No-one noticed, no-one cares.

By Mark Ames
Pando, written on February 4, 2014


It was Pike’s committee that got the first ever admission—from CIA director William Colby—that the NSA was routinely tapping Americans' phone calls. Days after that stunning confession, Pike succeeded in getting the head of the NSA, Lew Allen Jr., to testify in public before his committee—the first time in history that an NSA chief publicly testified. It was the first time that the NSA publicly maintained that it was legally entitled to wiretap Americans’ communications overseas, in spite of the 1934 Communications Act and other legal restrictions placed on other intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

It was also the first time an NSA chief publicly lied to Congress, claiming it was not eavesdropping on domestic or overseas phone calls involving American citizens. (Technically, legalistically, the NSA argued that it hadn't lied—the reason being that since Americans weren’t specifically “targeted” in the NSA's vast data-vacuuming programs in the 1970s, recording and storing every phone call and telex cable in computers which were then data-mined for keywords, that therefore they weren’t technically eavesdropping on Americans who just happened to be swept up into the wiretapping vacuum.)

Pike quickly discovered the fundamental problem with the NSA: It was by far the largest intelligence agency, and yet it was birthed unlike any other, as a series of murky executive orders under Truman at the peak of Cold War hysteria. Digging into the NSA’s murky beginnings, it quickly became clear that the agency was explicitly chartered in such a way that placed it beyond legal accountability, out of reach of the other branches of government. Unlike the CIA, which came into being under an act of Congress, the NSA’s founding charter was a national secret.


In early August, 1975, Pike ordered the NSA to produce its “charter” document, National Security Council Intelligence Directive No. 6. The Pentagon’s intelligence czar, Albert Hall, appeared before the Pike Committee that day—but without the classified NSA charter. Hall reminded Pike that the Ford White House had offered to show the NSA charter document to Pike’s committee just as it had done with Church’s Senate Committee members, who had agreed to merely view the charter at a government location outside of Congress, without entering the secret document into the Senate record. Officially, publicly, it still didn’t exist. Pike refused to accept that:

“You’re talking about the document that set up the entire N.S.A., it’s one which all members [of Congress] are entitled to see without shuttling back and forth downtown to look at.”

Assistant Defense Secretary Hall told an incredulous Pike that he hadn’t brought the NSA charter with him as he’d been told to, and that he couldn’t because “I need clearance” and the charter “has secret material in it.”

Pike exploded:

“It seems incredible to me, very frankly, that we are asked to appropriate large amounts of money for that agency which employs large numbers of people without being provided a copy of the piece of paper by which the agency is authorized.”



This history from way back when is why the in-crowd occupying Wall Street-on-the-Potomac are doing swell, while most of the rest of the country can get tossed out of their homes without anyone really doing anything about it.
September 7, 2015

When the CIA’s Empire Struck Back

Rep. Otis Pike (D-NY) wanted his colleagues in Congress to investigate the secret government and show who's boss.

Guess who won?

When the CIA’s Empire Struck Back

Exclusive: In the mid-1970s, Rep. Otis Pike led a brave inquiry to rein in the excesses of the national security state. But the CIA and its defenders accused Pike of recklessness and vowed retaliation, assigning him to a political obscurity that continued to his recent death, as Lisa Pease recounts.

By Lisa Pease
ConsortiumNews, February 6, 2014


Punishing Pike


Mitchell Rogovin, the CIA’s Special Counsel for Legal Affairs, threatened Pike’s staff director, saying, “Pike will pay for this, you wait and see … We [the CIA] will destroy him for this. … There will be political retaliation. Any political ambitions in New York that Pike had are through. We will destroy him for this.”


But what did Pike’s report say that was so important to generate such hostility? The answer can be summed up with the opening line from the report: “If this Committee’s recent experience is any test, intelligence agencies that are to be controlled by Congressional lawmaking are, today, beyond the lawmaker’s scrutiny.”


As Pike’s committee report stated: “These secret agencies have interests that inherently conflict with the open accountability of a political body, and there are many tools and tactics to block and deceive conventional Congressional checks. Added to this are the unique attributes of intelligence — notably, ‘national security,’ in its cloak of secrecy and mystery — to intimidate Congress and erode fragile support for sensitive inquiries.


The Pike report revealed the tactics that the intelligence agencies had used to prevent oversight, noting the language was “always the language of cooperation” but the result was too often “non-production.” In other words, the agencies assured Congress of cooperation, while stalling, moving slowly, and literally letting the clock run out on the investigation.

The Pike Committee, alone among the other investigations, refused to sign secrecy agreements with the CIA, charging that as the representatives of the people they had authority over the CIA, not the other way around.



PS: Waiting out the clock is easy to do for the well-stocked and well-greased.
September 1, 2015

TIME magazine gave McAdams all the oxygen during the 50th anniversary of JFK assassination.

Even though all the authorities on the subject at Duquesne, including Dr. Larry Sabato, disagreed with his lone nut conclusion. Their work was not mentioned, at all, by TIME, the magazine whose owner published frames from the Zapruder film in reverse to create the false impression JFK was shot from behind.


My own perspective is that the President's murderers are still at large.

You are most welcome, malaise! Thank you for grokking the Manchurian nutjobs.
September 1, 2015

Lone Nutter Supreme John McAdams is crying.

The Oswald-did-it authority "taught" Scott Walker at Marquette.

Case of true love or something.


Profile Information

Gender: Male
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 55,745

Journal Entries

Latest Discussions»Octafish's Journal