Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Left Puts The CIA In A "Horrible Position"

The CIA is, rightly, worried about the future and the restrictions being placed upon them that render their job very difficult if not impossible. And they are rightly upset with:

(H/T Hot Air)
They are making their discontent public today - in the Washington Post.

This from the Washington Post:

Battered by recriminations over waterboarding and other harsh techniques . . ., the CIA is girding itself for more public scrutiny and is questioning whether agency personnel can conduct interrogations effectively under rules set out for the U.S. military, according to senior intelligence officials.

Harsh interrogations were only one part of its clandestine activities against al-Qaeda and other enemies, and agency members are worried that other operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan will come under review, the officials said.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said he has established a group at the agency to handle requests for documents by Congress, the prosecutors and any "truth commission." The agency is facing a dispute with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over how much agency officials told congressional overseers about the harsh techniques.

The agency's defensiveness in part reflects a conviction that it is being forced to take the blame for actions approved by elected officials that have since fallen into disfavor. Former CIA director Michael V. Hayden said in an interview that CIA managers and operations officers have again been put "in a horrible position." Hayden recalled an officer asking, "Will I be in trouble five years from now for what I agree to do today?"

Although President Obama has said no CIA officers will be prosecuted for their roles in harsh interrogations if they remained within Justice Department guidelines in effect at the time, agency personnel still face subpoenas and testimony under oath before criminal, civil and congressional bodies.

As part of an ongoing criminal inquiry into the CIA's destruction of videotapes depicting waterboarding, CIA personnel will appear before a grand jury this week, according to two sources familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is continuing. The Senate intelligence committee is pursuing its investigation into whether harsh interrogations, including waterboarding, brought forward worthwhile intelligence, as agency and Bush administration officials have maintained. . . .

The Obama administration's decisions to close the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, make public Justice Department memos sanctioning harsh interrogation, and ban techniques authorized by the Bush administration are affecting the agency's operations.

Agency officials said they will carry out any future debriefings or interrogations under provisions of the 2006 version of the Army Field Manual. . . .

Under an executive order signed by Obama on Jan. 20, the Field Manual is "the law of the land. . . . There is nothing outside it now," one intelligence official said. But according to several past agency and military officials, the Field Manual is sometimes so broad as to be unclear.

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."

. . . The Field Manual, which was published in 2006, says that "direct approach" interrogation operations in World War II had a 90 percent effectiveness, and those in Vietnam, Kuwait and Iraq had a success rate of 95 percent. Afghanistan since 2002 and Iraq since 2003 are still being studied. "However," it adds, "unofficial studies indicate that in these operations, the direct approach has been dramatically less successful."

Another intelligence official, who also asked not to be identified, said 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." . . .

Read the entire article.

Its clear that the sum of the left's - and particularly Obama's and Pelosi's actions - have seriously undermined morale at the CIA and reduced their effectiveness. Of particular concern is the fact that we now have no tools reasonably expected to make captured terrorists willing to talk.

As Michael Sheuer wrote, Obama's decision to write into law his own "ideological beliefs" as regards coercive interrogation was a "breathtaking display of self-righteousness and intellectual arrogance." The U.S. Army Interrogation Manual's list of non-coercive measures now exclusively allowed by Obama are ineffective in interrogation of al Qaeda and radical Islamists. There is an excellent article on this from 2004 that you can find in City Journal.

Additionally, if you're in the CIA, you have to be effected by Obama and the left's silence in regards to charges that the CIA lied to Nancy Pelosi in 2002. It really is a travesty that Nancy Pelosi attacks the CIA while Obama and the left sit on the sidelines, doing nothing to protect the CIA or to insure that the truth is told, and either Pelosi or the CIA vindicated. If, as seems almost certain, the CIA has proof that Pelosi was briefed in 2002 that waterboarding had been used, Obama is doing a tremendous disservice to the CIA by keeping that from the public.

And a final thought. Does anyone doubt that the smartest man at the CIA is the guy who, two years ago, listening to the moralizing outrage of the left, had the foresight to destroy the tapes of the waterboarding. The fact that he did it speaks volumes about the lack of trust the CIA has for our political class - and the far left in particular. The fact that he, today, seems well advised to have done so speaks volumes about how politicized the CIA has already become under the Obama administration.

God help us if we need the CIA over the next decade or so.


suek said...

It also certainly means that there really isn't any point in taking terrorists prisoners.

And the logical conclusion at that point is obvious.

Dinah Lord said...

That appears the road we're heading down, suek.