Who's Watching the Watchers?

by Robert Carl Cohen


Every time I've started to write this particular piece some new piece of information has appeared which relates so significantly that I've had to start all over again - a process which, in an attempt to be up-to-date, inhibits making any statement at all. So the reader will have to accept the possibility that, by the time this is read, current events will have passed it by. On the other hand, the older an opinion or observation becomes, the greater its value as history.

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 confidential information, acquired by accessing official computer files regarding companies facing legal action by the Justice Department, to speculators who've profited in various ways, including selling those companies' stock short. In other words, the very people whom the taxpayers have given the responsibility of protecting the public interest have abused their authority for personal gain.

This phenomenon, of the guardians themselves betraying those whom their mission is to protect, is not historically unique. For centuries Customs and Immigration Agents have, for a suitable fee, looked the other way when certain articles or individuals wished to cross their frontiers. Many a prominent figure, including chiefs of state, has been murdered when their bodyguards were paid to conveniently take sick or be otherwise distracted. Buying "Protection" - the advisibility of giving suitable demonstrations of appreciation to everyone from building inspectors to cops to high law enforcement officers to prosecutors and judges is taken for granted throughout sectors of society ranging from contractors to bar owners & bookies to major corporations, as part of "the cost of doing business." In a recent case in Boston a top FBI Agent is accused of warning gangland collaborators known to have murdered people by the dozens when potential witnesses appeared, enabling his 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 can be corrupted, and the more money involved, as in the illicit drug trade, the higher the level of corruption possible. Robert Vesco, implicated in the smuggling 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 of ENRON, whose mega-buck donations assisted George W. Bush take over the White House, enjoyed the privilege of a multitude of face to face meetings with Bush, Cheney & other high officials at the very moment ENRON's incredibly inflated stock was plummeting percipitously. Even in the case of the deadly events of September 11th, 2001, the extraordinary increases in the put-call speculation of United and American Airlines stock during the four days prior to those horrendous events can only be evidence that certain parties had foreknowledge of what was about to happen. Yet while we were immediately told that Bin Laden and his Radical Islamists were responsible, there appears to be no attempt made by our Homeland Defense authorities to identify those who profited 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 easily corrupted? Who can we empower to watch the watchers? Must we create yet another 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 their authority? Would they have the power to oversee the overseers, to investigate and prosecute corruption even at the highest levels? Where are the biblical "Ten Just Men" needed to keep the world from destroying itself? The system is in trouble. Any suggestions?


2004 - Robert Carl Cohen