Monday, August 24, 2009

War Against the CIA Heats Up

 Terrorist rights supporters have conducted an extensive campaign to cripple the CIA.Their efforts will get a big boost when, as reported, Attorney General Eric Holder names a special prosecutor to investigate supposed abuses during prisoner interrogations. The Obama administration is full of bad ideas, but this is by far one of the stupidest and most dangerous. 

Actions taken by the CIA should by their very nature be kept secret, particularly methods used to interrogate prisoners, the identity of operatives, and the details of operations. Making such information public automatically diminishes the CIA, limits its flexibility, and constrains future operations. Digging up past actions and looking for violations that can be prosecuted is pointless and counterproductive. CIA operatives who violate agency rules should be dealt with within the organization, by whatever administrative punishment is appropriate. If the government at large believes that the agency is unresponsive and unwilling to police its own, the CIA leadership should be held responsible. Having an outside agency such as the Justice Department investigate individual CIA operatives strikes at the heart of the agency's function as a secret intelligence organization, destroys its cohesion and status, and inhibits current & future intelligence gathering.

The CIA and other spy agencies exist in large part in order to break laws. Actions such as eavesdropping, fraud, blackmail, extortion, forgery, sabotage, bribery, soliciting treason, kidnapping, assassination and many othes tend to be illegal. This is one of the main reasons that the CIA's actions within the U.S. are tightly restricted. When operating abroad, the CIA has & needs much wider latitude because of its very nature. It is not the military, or a law enforcement body. It's an intelligence agency. If it's chained down with legal restrictions, with operatives who need to check with a lawyer before they can do anything, it will become more or less useless. 

It is possible that President Obama will try to distance himself from his Justice Department's actions, by pretending that Holder has the sole authority to make such a decision. This is of course nonsense, since Holder works for Obama. The president could shut down any investigation, if necessary by firing the attorney general -- which is exactly what he should do. 


  1. Concerning your last point, Obama is indeed attempting to distance himself from this policy and all the upheaval it will lead to. As you point out, this is utterly ridiculous and it will be the job of the media to show that this is simply not true. Judging the NYTimes article announcing this policy decision, most media outlets will try to protect Obama, but I see this, just like the backlash against Obamacare, as not working very well with the general publich. Though the issue is not as highly sensitive with the US population, I think there'll be a backlash against all these prosecutions. I mean, when is Obama going to start this 'post-partisan', 'pragmatic' agenda we kept hearing about during the campaign. I think these very left policies he's been behind might actually lead to a one-term presidency (though the GOP needs to have a very good alternative, Pawlenty?), which is hard to believe. You always hear how Obama's so smart, but he really seems to believe that America favors these liberal policies, when polls for years have shown the opposite, and that could lead to his political destruction. That's not to smart. Did he learn anything from Clinton?

  2. Yeah, I don't know how as president you can distance yourself from the actions of one of your own cabinet members.

    " I mean, when is Obama going to start this 'post-partisan', 'pragmatic' agenda we kept hearing about during the campaign."

    I'm not holding my breath.

    "I think these very left policies he's been behind might actually lead to a one-term presidency"

    We can only hope. But Obama can do a lot of damage even in one term. He hasn't even been in a year yet.