Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crippling the CIA

The Washington Post reports that CIA officials are expressing concerns about the conditions under which they now have to operate.  That's not surprising, since we are currently seeing a major effort to cripple the CIA, similar in some ways to the Church Committee back in the 1970s. Most of the people attacking the CIA, and imposing new restrictions on its activities, either don't understand or don't care that the secret arm of the organization exists to carry out illegal activities. As the article notes, "senior CIA officials" are
questioning whether agency personnel can conduct interrogations effectively under rules set out for the U.S. military
It should be obvious that the CIA differs from the military, and that different rules should apply -- as they have in the past. The idiocy of the restrictions and their inapplicability to CIA operations can be seen in the following passage from the Army Field Manual, which the CIA has been ordered to use.
Its section on interrogation bans "violence, threats, or impermissible or unlawful physical contact," without specifying what is sanctioned. The manual also says an interrogator cannot threaten "the removal of protections afforded by law."

Threats are allowed even in civilian interrogations. There's always the threat of jail or other punishment hanging over civilian prisoners who refuse to cooperate. But the CIA isn't even allowed to threaten a terrorist prisoner? How ridiculous is that? And what is "unlawful physical contact"? And it should go without saying that terrorists shouldn't be entitled to any "protections" from the law.

As a CIA officer said, "Will I be in trouble five years from now for what I agree to do today?" That's the attitude that we are fostering at the CIA. Operatives now have to worry more about getting in trouble than doing their jobs.

Another official pointed out that

waterboarding and other harsh techniques "were meant to get hardened terrorists to a point where they were willing to answer questions." That capability, the official said, "is now gone
Why is that capability gone? It's gone because of people who are more concerned with the imaginary rights of terrorists than with U.S. national security. The same people have no clue why we even have a CIA in the first place. Since it doesn't conform to their moralistic and legalistic ideals, they've decided to cripple it.

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