According to the Federation of American Scientists the US “fiscal Year 2020 budget request included $62.8 billion for the National Intelligence Program, and $22.95 billion for the Military Intelligence Program.” What, exactly, does this almost $90 billion buy us? “Details of the overall United States intelligence budget are classified,” (Wikipedia), so we can never really know what the money is spent on. “Although the government has annually released its overall level of intelligence spending since 2007, it has not divulged how it uses the money or how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress.” (The Washington Post.)
What we do know is the CIA has it’s own air force, secret air bases and landing strips all over the world and predator drones that have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen and Pakistan, to name just a few of the nations that have been subject to these attacks. Extra-judicial renditions (kidnapping) and black sites where suspects are tortured are the hall-marks of the CIA. The CIA and American democracy are simply incompatible; you can’t have an unaccountable, secret organization at the heart of government. Democracy requires transparency and public accountability.
The CIA engages in clandestine activities to subvert democratically elected governments all over the world. The American people would not countenance this as public policy if it was brought into the light of day. The worst part is the CIA is a colossal failure. Despite the hundreds of billions spent on what amounts to a covert foreign policy, the CIA has not made us, or the world, safer. The list of failures is staggering and the costs of our invading Iraq and Afghanistan incalculable. Where was the CIA when these truly ignorant and foolish decisions to invade were being made? Decisions to engage in actions that only created more terrorists and destroyed innocent lives? Iraq was never a threat to the United States. The disastrous results are with us to this day. And the greatest failure of all, 9/11. A small group of young men from Saudi Arabia is able to come to this country, go to flight school and utterly defeat the greatest military and intelligence apparatus the world has ever seen. The main finding of the 9/11 Commission: “a failure of communication,” was responsible for the success of the attacks. No one lost their job, no one was even demoted. And the CIA is still with us.