Oversight Of Mk Ultra And Prism Essay

3293 words - 13 pages


As technology continues to advance at lightning speed, the world as we used to know it is beginning to disappear. Publically available data has replaced much of the espionage tactics that the CIA depended on after WWII and into the Cold War. Information that used to take years to obtain through covert missions is now readily available on social media, commercial databases, or through Signals intelligence (SIGINT). As the world becomes more technologically advanced and intelligence sources display new opportunities, the Intelligence Community (IC) has been there to exploit the data to gain the upper hand on the enemy, and support decision makers. Advancements in technology have made the IC what it is today, however, the path of learning the correct methods of exploitation is littered with abuses. In the 1950’s and 60’s, the CIA’s newest technology was a proposed mind control drug, and project MK-ULTRA was born. The Central intelligence Agency (CIA) performed rogue tests on an unknowing public without their knowledge and severely tainted the image of the agency. In 2013, the public found out about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Top Secret PRISM program that obtained the phone and internet records of the public without their consent. These two programs were separated by decades, yet the similarities are undeniable. Both MK-ULTRA and PRISM resulted in intelligence oversight reforms aimed at managing these types of operations before they occur. While the government does not always have the ability to foresee how advancements in technology will affect the public, intelligence oversight mechanisms over the past 20 years provide the necessary safeguards that are needed to protect each American’s privacy, provide for their national security, and avoid the atrocities of the past.
In order to see how far the intelligence community, and particularly oversight, has come in recent years, it is important to understand the failures of the past. In the final days before the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were scavenging the German hillsides on a treasure hunt. The treasure they were seeking was not gold or jewels, it was information. They were looking for new aircraft designs, medical techniques, and electronics, but the most coveted spoil of war were the scientists, engineers, and intelligence officers of the Nazi War Machine . In September of 1946, President Harry Truman authorized Operation Paperclip, which authorized the recruitment of select top tier German Scientists in order to help America against the Soviets in the coming cold war. In a statement, President Truman made it very clear that the scientists and engineers would be investigated and if they were found to be more than a “nominal participant” in Nazi activities, they were to be excluded from participation in the operation .
Working under the authority of the president without any oversight, military officials began to obtain clearances for...

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