Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, December 07, 2007

CIA Stupidity Jeopardizes War Effort

I can see why the CIA would make tapes of the Abu Zubaydah interrogations in which "severe interrogation techniques" were used -- but for cryin' out loud, how stupid of them to hold onto them for three years, disclose them, and then destroy them!

The agency's excuse, that the tapes were destroyed to protect the safety of the undercover interrogators -- doesn't pass the laugh test. Everything related to CIA undercover operatives could jeopardize their safety -- just ask Valerie Plame, right? -- so why destroy just these tapes?

And if the security of the agents really were a concern, the CIA had three years between when the tapes were made in 2002 and destroyed in 2005 to have their experts effectively mask any chance of a visual or audio identification of the interrogators.

But they destroyed them, and now you're getting comments like this:
What defines [a banana] republic? How about an executive that ignores the rule of law, commits war-crimes and then destroys the actual evidence?
Because the tapes were destroyed, the writer (Andrew Sullivan) is free to pole-vault to whatever conclusions he wants, including that the tapes showed behavior by the CIA that constitutes a war crime. Who's to rebut him?

The accounts, including Sullivan's, use the phrase "severe interrogation techniques," not torture. But that's a phrase with no limitations and no boundaries. Playing Greenday at full volume for hours is a severe interrogation technique, as is giving the prisoner a taste of his own genitals. It's a phrase laden with emotion but bereft of meaning.

The CIA may have been able to give it meaning, but its credibility on the matter is in the toilet. When I train my clients for media interviews, rule number one is always "Don't lie." Now I fully expect the CIA to lie, as in, "No I'm not an agent," and "Of course we don't have a clandestine operation in Outer Ubrokeitstan." God bless 'em for doing it to protect our country.

But lying to an intelligence oversight committee is just plain stupid, and it opens the CIA up to Kennedyesque scrutiny at a time it doesn't need more Libs with curious definitions of torture eyeballing its techniques.

Heads should roll ... figuratively, of course. Otherwise, it would be a war crime.

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