After a closely watched investigation of nearly three years, the decision by a special federal prosecutor is the latest example of Justice Department officials’ declining to seek criminal penalties for some of the controversial episodes in the C.I.A.’s now defunct detention and interrogation program.Those tapes should have never been made in the first place, and those who destroyed them rightly recognized that they'd be a bonanza for anti-American propaganda should they become public.
Mr. Rodriguez [the key CIA officer involved] had argued that “the heat” agency officials would take over destroying the tapes “is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into the public domain.”Details of CIA interrogation tactics should have remained secret. It's bad enough that so many details were released to the public as it is. But actual video would be even worse. Rodriguez and his associates should be commended for their actions, not investigated for prosecution. As his attorney says,
Mr. Rodriguez told another top C.I.A. official that if the images were disclosed “out of context, they would make us look terrible; it would be ‘devastating’ to us,” an e-mail said. The tapes showed hours of interrogation of the two detainees, including the infliction of a technique called waterboarding that simulates drowning.
Rodriguez is “a hero and a patriot, who simply wanted to protect his people and his country,”As I've pointed out many times before, intelligence agencies do all sorts of ugly things for national security purposes, many of which would be illegal if done in any other context. That's why we have restrictions on what the CIA can do inside the U.S. The very idea that we would prosecute a CIA officer for making sure that information damaging to America remains secret is crazy, and is typical of a blind legalistic attitude found among those who think nothing of crippling U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities. Fortunately even the Obama Justice Department has enough sense not subscribe to such an idea.