Trust in American intelligence agencies

February 22, 2017

The FBI was founded with the purpose to shield the American people from various types of terror. The mission constantly evolves and focuses on protection against terrorism, organized crime, cyber crime and major crimes such as murder, mass theft and corruption. Recently, though, the agency was scrutinized about links to corruption within its offices.

FBI Director James Comey released a statement two days before election day saying that he would reopen the case of Hillary Clinton’s emails surrounding Anthony Weiner, a politician involved in sexting scandals allegedly including a 15 year-old girl. During the same period, the agency was in the midst of investigating Donald Trump and his relations to Russia, yet released no statement. Hillary Clinton was cleared for the second time.

“I do not trust FBI director James Comey because I think he improperly handled the inquiries into both political campaigns this year,” senior Richard Barocas said. “I think he was unfairly critical of the Clinton campaign when we know now today that he was also investigating the Trump campaign for ties to Russia and he didn’t really talk about that publicly.”

Many believe Comey’s acts had a political bias, causing him to lose the trust of the American people. The Washington Post wrote that the director should resign after leaving the public with a distrust for one of the most important investigative agencies.

The CIA was  made to gather foreign intelligence, analyze it and inform the president and policymakers so they to could vital decisions affecting national security. They are not authorized to keep tabs on the domestic activities of Americans or be involved in assassinations, though they have been accused of both. The agency can do covert operations overseas at the president’s request.

The mistrust of the CIA dates back to 1953, in one of many scandals where the CIA supported a coup that took power from the popular Prime Minister and gave it back to the Shah of Iran, a repressive rule. The CIA has additionally been accused of planting propaganda in the media, acting out terrorist attacks in order to manipulate public opinion, spying on Americans through their phones and tax returns and more.

“It’s so secretive that most Americans don’t know what they’re up to,” senior Stephanie Navarro said. “I think they should be more transparent.”

After Watergate in 1972,  then Director James Schlesinger wrote a report on the secrets of the agency, detailing the scandals in a 693 page document. Their crimes included physically spying on journalists, nonconsensual human experiments involving LSD and several assassination plots on foreign leaders.

The NSA’s actions came into question after Edward Snowden shed light on cyber surveillance of allies or warrantless wiretapping of American citizens as part of the Patriot Act signed into law by George W. Bush in 2001.

“There’s a big controversy with the Patriot Act and a lot of people don’t like that,” senior Michael Trainor said. “I personally feel that my privacy being invaded non-publically is fine because I don’t do anything illegal and the fact they did that to try to protect me and people like me, made me feel kind of secure.”
According to Pew Research Center, only 19 percent of Americans trust the government to do the right thing always or most of the time. A historic low since polls began being taken in 1958, starting out at 75 percent and declining over the decades. The rate of people who trust the government has not passed 30 percent since 2007.

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