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IPFS News Link • Central Intelligence Agency

Is the CIA America's '1984'-style 'Big Brother'?

•, By Richard Blakley

In George Orwell's famous novel, "1984," an oppressive government – symbolized by the phrase "Big Brother" – is continually spying on everyone and manipulating how and what they think.

In many ways, today's Central Intelligence Agency seems to be America's version of "Big Brother" – or perhaps even to exceed it. By multiple reliable accounts, the CIA has been involved in everything from manipulating the media, to trafficking drugs, to flipping governments, to controlling Hollywood, even to participating in the assassination of a U.S. president. And of course, spying on Americans.

Recruiting journalists for spy work
It started long ago. Operation Mockingbird was "a CIA project that recruited journalists to write fake stories promoting government ideas while dispelling communist ones" – or at least that is how it started. The operation began in the 1950s, recruiting "American journalists into a propaganda network," but was expanded to include influencing foreign media as well.

During the 1970s, the U.S. Senate established the "Church Committee" to examine potential abuses by the CIA, the NSA, the FBI and the IRS. Finally, in 2007, about 700 pages of documents pertaining to scandals and misconduct of the agencies during the 1970s were declassified and released by the CIA, and nicknamed "The Family Jewels."

1996 Senate Select Committee Intelligence Report details the use of journalists, clergymen and Peace Corps members in intelligence operations. Commenting on the report, former ABC news anchor Ted Koppel stated: "The gathering of intelligence is a difficult, dangerous, and sometimes dirty operation. That is not my judgment. That is what we have repeatedly been told by senior intelligence officers. … When, as they sometimes do, U.S. intelligence officers circumvent or even break American laws, they must reckon with the possibility that they will one day be held to account. If their arguments are persuasive … Congress can be expected to be lenient. … If the CIA must on occasion use the role of an American journalist to conceal one of its operatives and to protect the greater national interest, it will do so, regardless of what is decided by Congress. But let that continue to be in the knowledge that a free press is being endangered and that American law is being broken."