Progress In Peril | Main | Another Obama Administration Flip-Flop
April 22, 2009

Lawfare is Sabotaging U.S. Intelligence Agencies

An op-ed from the Washington Post describes the problem:

Put yourself in the shoes of the people who were asked to interrogate al-Qaeda prisoners in 2002. One former officer told me he declined the job, not because he thought the program was wrong but because he knew it would blow up. "We all knew the political wind would change eventually," he recalled. Other officers who didn't make that cynical but correct calculation are now "broken and bewildered," says the former operative. [...]

One veteran counterterrorism operative says that agents in the field are already being more careful about using the legal findings that authorize covert action. An example is the so-called "risk of capture" interview that takes place in the first hour after a terrorism suspect is grabbed. This used to be the key window of opportunity, in which the subject was questioned aggressively and his cellphone contacts and "pocket litter" were exploited quickly.

Now, field officers are more careful. They want guidance from headquarters. They need legal advice. I'm told that in the case of an al-Qaeda suspect seized in Iraq several weeks ago, the CIA didn't even try to interrogate him. The agency handed him over to the U.S. military.

Click over and read the whole thing.

Obama thought that releasing the "torture" memos would help his credibility problem with the far-left "human rights" groups which felt betrayed by his pro-Bush support for warrantless wiretaping, secret evidence, and state secrets doctrine. They took it as a signal to press for "Truth" commissions and prosecutions.

Now the President is in a spot. His political decision--release the memos, look good on TV--conflicts with his stated presidential policy--no prosecutions, no investigations, move forward. In other words, he flip-flopped. Again.

The first casualty of his mixed message is the CIA. I doubt it will be the last.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:17 AM

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