CIA Can’t Be Stopped From Working With War Crime Suspects

( Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy recently acknowledged that commando outfits like the CIA’s Zero Units in Afghanistan are not covered by a 2-decade-old law barring the US military from providing training and equipment to foreign security forces that commit human rights violations.

The Leahy Law only applies to military assistance for foreign units if that assistance that is funded through the Department of Defense or the State Department.

But now, Senator Leahy wants that law to be expanded to cover “certain counter-terrorism operations involving U.S. special forces and foreign partners.”

In an email to ProPublica, Leahy said that the law should apply to any US support for foreign security forces whether it is funded through the Pentagon, State Department, the CIA, “or other agencies.” He said every department and agency “must be subject to effective congressional oversight so when mistakes are made or crimes committed, those responsible are held accountable.”

The Senator has called on the Biden administration to apply the Leahy Law to all overseas military forces that work with any US agency “as a matter of policy.”

Not only does the CIA not fall under the Leahy Law, but its operations also do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Senate and House Armed Services committees as US military operations do.

While staffers on the House and Senate Intelligence committees have the authority to request documents and testimony from the CIA about classified missions like the support for the Zero Units under the national security law known as Title 50, congressional staffers told ProPublica that the Intelligence committees are not equipped “to monitor the complexities of paramilitary operations in foreign countries.”

Some congressional staffers told ProPublica that the failure to extend the Leahy Law to intelligence agencies wasn’t a coincidence. One staffer said the intel agencies are “designed not to have oversight.”

Senator Leahy told ProPublica that an amendment to the Leahy Law expanding the scope to include certain counterterrorism operations is in the works.