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The abyss

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I was never a fan of Senator Frank Church, an insufferably tiresome, sanctimonious blowhard, who did great damage to our CIA and reduced the capacity of that Agency from being one charged with spearheading the front lines of the “great twilight struggle,” about which Jack Kennedy spoke so eloquently and reduced that Agency instead to the level of an effeminate, lazy, useless, paper-shuffling enterprise, no different from the Department of Environmental Services.


That said, there were times when Church had it right.

Frank Church speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Photograph courtesy the Frank Church Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Boise State University.

There were times when he spoke about the terrible possibility of domestic tyranny emanating from our security services.


Specifically, on August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency:


In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.


If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.


I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss.

That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
Well said, Frank, well said indeed.
Of course, that was a one-offer, as Frank, so true to form, left that inspired moment behind to return to this sort of nonsense, which was his true forte:
He and Henry chatted about “corrupt capitalism.”
Oh! mais oui, bien sûr!!

Then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, with Sen. Frank Church, who cited the shame of ‘corrupt capitalism’ in a 1976 speech. Associated Press

Yes, that’s much more like our Frank.
Much more like.