In virtually all previous confirmation hearings, there were no probing questions on CIA transgressions or the purpose, role, and even necessity of the CIA in the post-Cold War world. It is essential that the committee and the American public get some idea of Burns’ impressions on these important matters, particularly in view of his distinguished career and his thoughtful writings. What can be done to improve the production of strategic intelligence? What is the proper role for covert action in the 21st century? What can be done to improve oversight at the CIA and to ensure cooperation with congressional oversight?
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Breaking the Addiction to Secrets and Secrecy
There is no question that the government must protect its sources and methods in the collection of intelligence. Regarding substance, however, I believe that, with the exception of details on weapons systems as well as on sensitive negotiations, there are few legitimate secrets and almost none that must remain classified for more than ten years at most. The secrecy that surrounded the Iran-Contra affair probably saved the Reagan presidency over the short term, but greater transparency would have prevented Iran-Contra from ever getting off the ground in the first place.
Harvard’s Kennedy School: Key Part Of The Military-Industrial Complex
Harvard’s Kennedy School’s denial of a fellowship to Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, because of his criticism of Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza is only the latest example of the corporate role played by Harvard’s most prestigious think tank on public policy. Roth, who has spent the last three decades at HRW defending human rights around the world, was offered a senior fellowship at the School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. It was quickly withdrawn.