|Who's Watching the Watchers?|
by Robert Carl Cohen
May 24, 2002 headline:
FBI Agent Arrested For Passing Information To Market Manipulators.
A present and a former FBI agent have been charged with selling confidentialinformation, acquired by accessing official computer files regarding companiesfacing legal action by the Justice Department, to speculators who've profitedin various ways, including selling those companies' stock short. In otherwords, the very people whom the taxpayers have given the responsibility ofprotecting the public interest have abused their authority for personal gain.
This phenomenon, of the guardians themselves betraying those whom theirmission is to protect, is not historically unique. For centuries Customs andImmigration Agents have, for a suitable fee, looked the other way when certainarticles or individuals wished to cross their frontiers. Many a prominentfigure, including chiefs of state, has been murdered when their bodyguardswere paid to conveniently take sick or be otherwise distracted. Buying"Protection" - the advisibility of giving suitable demonstrations ofappreciation to everyone from building inspectors to cops to high lawenforcement officers to prosecutors and judges is taken for granted throughoutsectors of society ranging from contractors to bar owners & bookies to majorcorporations, as part of "the cost of doing business." In a recent case inBoston a top FBI Agent is accused of warning gangland collaborators known tohave murdered people by the dozens when potential witnesses appeared, enablinghis mobster friends to eliminate them before their testimony could be heard.So why should anyone be surprised when similar things happen anywhere,including cyberspace?
The simple fact is that, where there's money to be made, security people canbe corrupted, and the more money involved, as in the illicit drug trade, thehigher the level of corruption possible. Robert Vesco, implicated in thesmuggling of $200,000,000 worth of heroin into the USA in the 1970s, donated$200,000 to President Nixon's campaign. More recently, the executives ofENRON, whose mega-buck donations assisted George W. Bush take over the WhiteHouse, enjoyed the privilege of a multitude of face to face meetings withBush, Cheney & other high officials at the very moment ENRON's incrediblyinflated stock was plummeting percipitously. Even in the case of the deadlyevents of September 11th, 2001, the extraordinary increases in the put-callspeculation of United and American Airlines stock during the four days priorto those horrendous events can only be evidence that certain parties hadforeknowledge of what was about to happen. Yet while we were immediately toldthat Bin Laden and his Radical Islamists were responsible, there appears to beno attempt made by our Homeland Defense authorities to identify those whoprofited monetarily from the 9-11 attacks.
What can be done? How can the public be protected, especially from those who,such as the FBI & CIA, we employ as watchman and guards, and who are,themselves, in the cases of security chiefs Ames & Hansen, apparently easilycorrupted? Who can we empower to watch the watchers? Must we create yetanother layer of security - a super-secret organization of anonymous,incorruptible, dedicated "Watcher Watchers"? Where can such non-partisan,non-influenceable persons be found? From whence would they derive theirauthority? Would they have the power to oversee the overseers, to investigateand prosecute corruption even at the highest levels? Where are the biblical"Ten Just Men" needed to keep the world from destroying itself? The system isin trouble. Any suggestions?
© 2004 - Robert Carl Cohen