The CIA’s budget is hidden. So, how could a President cut it? (The same is true of the NSA: “No Such Agency.”)
The CIA is not allowed to operate inside the USA. How is this law enforced? By whom?
The events of 9/11 changed the “good old days.”
No longer would the Pentagon and the CIA have to keep secret their torture and assassination programs. Like their counterparts in Latin America and the Middle East, they could now be open and above board, at least with respect to wielding such powers, if not also the exercise of them.
The Constitution, of course, does not delegate to the federal government the powers to take people into custody, torture and abuse them, and kill them. There is also no power to assassinate people. In fact, the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, trial by jury, right to counsel, and other such procedures. It also protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures, especially without judicially issued warrants. It guarantees speedy trials and prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.
So, how did the CIA and the Pentagon acquire such powers? No, there was no constitutional amendment. They simply assumed the powers, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. That was the secret pact between them and the American people during the Cold War. “We now wield these powers that the Constitution prohibits us from exercising,” U.S. officials effectively said, “but we must exercise them to keep you safe from the communists. Don’t worry: we will exercise them secretly and surreptitiously so that it will appear that nothing has changed in a fundamental way.”
Thus, throughout the Cold War Americans continued innocently believing that they were living in a free country, one in which the government’s powers were limited by the Constitution, even though deep down everyone knew that the government was now secretly wielding powers that were inherent to brutal dictatorships.
Then came 9/11, the critical event that enabled the secret arrangement to now be made public. The Pentagon and the CIA were now on the same level as the dictatorships that they had long supported and trained. Like their counterparts in those regimes, they could now be as open about their powers as their foreign dictatorships had been. 9/11 enabled the Pentagon and the CIA to not only openly disclose that they wielded such powers, it also enabled them to openly exercise them without any fear or concern that they might ultimately be held criminally liable.
For decades, Americans lived under the quaint notion that the national-security state would exercise such powers only against foreigners. With the arrest, torture, and assassination of Americans in the post-9/11 era, it’s finally starting to dawn on many Americans that they stand in no different position, in principle, from the citizenry in those U.S.-supported dictatorships in Latin America and the Middle East.