Senators emerged from a closed-door briefing with the CIA director on Tuesday and accused the Saudi crown prince of complicity in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In some of their strongest statements to date, lawmakers said evidence presented by the U.S. spy agency overwhelmingly pointed to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the assassination.
Thanks to an ACLU victory in federal court, we know much more about how CIA doctors violated the medical oath to “do no harm.” One of the most important lessons of the CIA’s torture program is the way it corrupted virtually every individual and institution associated with it. Over the years, we have learned how lawyers twisted the law and psychologists betrayed their ethical obligations in order to enable the brutal and unlawful torture of prisoners.
For more than a decade, the worst-kept secret in the world has been the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency owns and operates lethal drones outside of recognized battlefields abroad. Newspapers blare it from their headlines. Legislators discuss it on television. Foreign governments protest it through press releases. And, of course, human beings witness it through the death and destruction foist upon their communities.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo declared Thursday that U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russia’s interference in the 2016 American presidential election did not alter the outcome, a statement that distorted spy agency findings. His comment suggested — falsely — that a report released by U.S. intelligence agencies in January had ruled out any impact that could be attributed to a covert Russian interference campaign that involved leaks of tens of thousands of stolen emails, the flooding of social media sites with false claims and the purchase of ads on Facebook.
The C.I.A. is pushing for expanded powers to carry out covert drone strikes in Afghanistan and other active war zones, a proposal that the White House appears to favor despite the misgivings of some at the Pentagon, according to current and former intelligence and military officials. If approved by President Trump, it would mark the first time the C.I.A. has had such powers in Afghanistan, expanding beyond its existing authority to carry out covert strikes against Al Qaeda and other terrorist targets across the border in Pakistan.
All C.I.A. directors must balance the political demands of the president they serve with the agency’s avowedly apolitical idea of itself. Yet rarely has a director had to straddle so wide a breach as has Mr. Pompeo, perhaps the most openly political spy chief in a generation — and one of President Trump’s favorite cabinet members. Unlike past directors, who typically sought to avoid policy discussions, Mr. Pompeo readily joins in when the president asks for his opinion, even on matters far afield of national security, such as health care. And he brings to the table the views of a former congressman first elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 who staked out ground on the far right of the Republican Party.