In 1996, the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a congressional report estimating that the clandestine service part of the intelligence community "easily" breaks "extremely serious laws" in countries around the world, 100,000 times every year.
According to the report, DO (Directorate of Operations) officers engage in highly illegal activities not only risk political embarrassment to his country and President, but also endanger the freedom of the clandestine officer himself. Regarded the facts and recent history, the case officers are held accountable for overseeing the Clandestine Service (CS) and the Director's of Central Intelligence (DCI) must work closely with the Director of the CS and directly responsible for him.
A pejorative term for people who work for the CIA or other intelligence agencies is often "spook." Another occasionally used phrase to refer to CIA officers, "Virginia farmboys," is incorrectly believed to be in reference to the Langley, VA headquarters. In fact, the term comes from one of the CIA's training facility for clandestine officers, Camp Peary, also known as "The Farm."
Accusations have repeatedly been made that the CIA has been involved in drug trafficking to fund illegal operations. For example, In 1996, journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of exposés for the San Jose Mercury News, entitled "Dark Alliance", in which he alleged the use of CIA aircraft, which had ferried arms to the Contras, to ship cocaine to the United States during the return flights.
Webb also alleged that Central American narcotics traffickers could import cocaine to U.S. cities in the 1980s without the interference of normal law enforcement agencies. He claimed that this led, in part, to the crack cocaine epidemic, especially in poor neighborhoods of Los Angeles, and that the CIA intervened to prevent the prosecution of drug dealers who were helping to fund the Contras. Faced with Congressional and other media criticism (especially the Los Angeles Times), the San Jose Mercury News retracted Webb's conclusions and Webb was prevented from conducting any more investigative reporting. Webb was transferred to cover non-controversial suburban stories and gave up journalism.
After the Gary Webb report in the Mercury News, the CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz was assigned to investigate these allegations. In 1998 the new CIA director, George Tenet declared that he was releasing the report.
The report and Hitz's testimony showed that the "CIA did not 'expeditiously' cut off relations with alleged drug traffickers" and "the CIA was aware of allegations that 'dozens of people and a number of companies connected in some fashion to the contra program' were involved in drug trafficking".
Hitz also said that under an agreement in 1982 between Ronald Reagan's Attorney General William French Smith and the CIA, agency officers were not required to report allegations of drug trafficking involving non-employees, which was defined as meaning paid and non-paid "assets [meaning agents], pilots who ferried supplies to the contras, as well as contra officials and others.
This agreement, which had not previously been revealed, came at a time when there were allegations that the CIA was using drug dealers in its controversial covert operation to bring down the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Only after Congressional funds were restored in 1986 was the agreement modified to require the CIA to stop paying agents whom it believed were involved in the drug trade.
Kerry Committee report
In 1998 Representative Maxine Waters testified to Congress:
Senator Kerry and his Senate investigation found drug traffickers had used the Contra war and tie to the Contra leadership to help this deadly trade. Among their devastating findings, the Kerry committee investigators found that major drug lords used the Contra supply networks and the traffickers provided support for Contras in return. The CIA of course, created, trained, supported, and directed the Contras and were involved in every level of their war.
The Kerry Committee report found that the U.S. State Department had paid drug traffickers. Some of these payments were after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges or while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies. The report declared, "It is clear that individuals who provided support for the Contras were involved in drug trafficking...and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers."
Drugs in Asia
It has also been alleged that the CIA was involved in the opium/heroin trade in Asia, which was the focus of Alfred W. McCoy's book, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, an earlier edition of which had already been subjected to an attempted CIA suppression.
The CIA's operation, Air America, has also been accused of transporting drugs.
Mafia connections and assassination plots
The United States government has conspired with organized crime figures to assassinate foreign heads of state. The CIA has been linked to several assassination attempts on foreign leaders, including first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo Patrice Lumumba, former leader of Panama Omar Torrijos and the President of Cuba, Fidel Castro. Between August 1960, and April 1961, the CIA with the help of the Mafia assassins pursued a series of plots to poison or shoot Castro according to the assassination plots proposed by Colonel Sheffield Edwards, director of the CIA's Office of Security.
Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey, counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, states that the CIA withheld information from the Warren Commission and frustrated the efforts of the Congressional Committee he represented.
According to a 1997 New York Times article, the CIA conducted a covert propaganda campaign to squelch criticism of the Warren Report. The CIA urged its field stations to use their "propaganda assets" to attack those who didn't agree with the Warren Report. In a dispatch from CIA headquarters, the Agency instructed its stations around the world to:
- counteract the "new wave of books and articles criticizing the [Warren] Commission's findings...[and] conspiracy theories ...[that] have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization";
- "discuss the publicity problem with liaison and friendly elite contacts, especially politicians and editors;" and
- "employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics. ... Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose. ... The aim of this dispatch is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists..."
On January 13, 2006, the CIA launched an airstrike on Damadola, a Pakistani village near the Afghan border, where they believed Ayman al-Zawahiri was located. The airstrike killed a number of civilians but al-Zawahiri apparently was not among them. The Pakistani government issued a strong protest against the US attack, considered a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. However, several legal experts argue that this cannot be considered an assassination attempt as al-Zawahiri is named as terrorist and an enemy combatant by the United States, and therefore this targeted killing is not covered under Executive Order 12333, which banned assassinations.