The back story to President Trump’s feud with the CIA dates back to the 1970s when CIA director William Colby navigated the aftermath of Watergate. That’s when the House and Senate Intelligence Committee’s were created, as well as the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Colby’s efforts to rehabilitate the CIA were not popular in the agency but they were necessary. Then as now, the president and the intelligence community were alienated. Colby sought to heal the breach by bringing the CIA under constitutional control. He didn’t succeed which is one reason why the country is in crisis today.
As Martin Anderson expains in Just Security Colby’s story is instructive for our time.
Perhaps most importantly in the current milieu of politicized and partisan mission creep, it was Colby who, even as the CIA reached a public and institutional nadir, navigated issues concerning the Constitutional separation of powers, while at the same time protecting the CIA’s essential mission and sources, if not methods. This he did while critics and sometimes allies in Congress and in the press pushed for the vigorous exercise of long-standing federal statutes that grant the legislative branch the absol