(Sigh) Yet Another CIA Witch Hunt

Yesterday, in what appears to be so far the most obvious “Wag The Dog” political maneuver by the Obama Amateur Hour Administration, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was appointing a special prosecutor to look into alleged misconduct by CIA interrogators during the early years of the War On Terror.

John Hinderaker at PowerLine Blog has a good commentary on the merits of such an investigation that is well worth your time to read in full. As I read the news stories about the new special prosecutor appointment, a number of things (many of which are also touched on by Hinderaker) stood out to me:

First, the allegations of wrongdoing that were brought to the attention of the Justice Department in the partially redacted 2004 memo that was released yesterday (and which make up the bulk of the alleged wrongdoing that special prosecutor John Durham has been appointed to investigate) have been discussed previously. Those who have been following this story know that former VP Dick Cheney has been pushing for months to have all CIA documents pertaining to detainee interrogations released to the public. There was never any attempt to hide acknowledged criminal wrongdoing; there was only concern over matters involving national security and the fact that the effectiveness of CIA interrogations would be greatly harmed if details were leaked.

Second, it’s very significant that these memos exist at all. Their very existence illustrates that the CIA was very concerned with the ultimate safety and well-being of its prisoners. Even though the CIA allowed prisoners to be harshly interrogated, every technique had to be approved in advance by the CIA, the Pentagon, and the Justice Department. All interrogations were videotaped and reviewed by a chain of command. Medial doctors monitored the conditions of the prisoners at all times. If CIA interrogations really were, as cynics and hysterical partisans have claimed, “torture sessions” conducted by sadistic amateurs to satisfy the crazed bloodlust of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, then none of this documentation would have existed.

Third, out of the reported instances of wrongdoing listed in the memo, the Justice Department chose only two for further review and possible prosecution. Both of these instances involved the same interrogator, who was actually a “debriefer” and had not been fully trained to use enhanced interrogation methods. My guess is that in the early days of the War On Terror, when time was critical and we were desperate for information, anyone who had mastered foreign languages and could communicate with prisoners would have been cleared to participate in interrogations. This one agent was obviously not qualified to be an interrogator, and when this became evident, he was pulled out and disciplined. Again, concern for the condition of the prisoners ultimately was given precedence. Mishandling of prisoners was by far the exception, not the rule.

Finally, the exploitation of CIA agents for political purposes sets a dangerous precedent. These agents were not rogues. They were not “taking the law into their own hands.” They acted in good faith, in cooperation with the Pentagon and the Justice Department and the White House. They were assured, after careful and lengthy review, that they were not in violation of the law. Any attempt to criminalize their behavior after the fact is, as John Hinderaker asserts, “contemptible”, and it also serves to reinforce the notion that the government will not stand behind its employees if partisan political gains seem to be within the grasp of a new Presidential administration.

Without a lot of spin by the press and the White House, this story will probably quickly lose traction. And right now the Obama White House seems to be losing the adoration of the press. There are simply too many other pressing concerns (health care reform, unemployment, the possibility of tax increases, inflation woes, bank failures, Cap and Trade, etc.) for this story to remain a headline news item.

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Posted by on August 25, 2009.
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  • Still An Unrepentant Democrat

    Right wing think:

    Spend millions and millions of dollars investigating a blow job; shoot watermelons in your backyard to verify Clinton was a murderer; bring up the moral question of “personal responsibility” whenever it suits you; rationalize, justify and make excuses when the criminal Libby is found guilty; blow-off the exposure of a CIA agent when her husband disagrees with your politics; be happy that crack cocaine users are tossed in prison for multiple years but defend war crimes when it suits you; holler when convenient about enforcing the law.

    Investigate potential criminal acts by CIA personnel working under the Bush administration? Nah. That’s not necessary. We’re a land of laws when it fits our politics.

  • http://www.bejohngalt.com Justrand

    Left wing “think”:

    When caught using a shameless and obvious ploy to distract the media and throw tofu to their Left Wing base, while demoralizing our intelligence agencies and endangering the country…hark back to what the mean old Republicans did to Saint William.

    Whether or not the issue of Saint William getting blowjobs from interns in the Oval Office should have been investigated or not is another issue. BUT, at least the process of the investigation didn’t endanger the country…and the stains on the dress weren’t SIX YEARS OLD!

  • apb

    Left wing think:

    Obomber promised to close Gitmo, abolish enhanced interrogation, End The War, tax only the top 5%, lower the waters and make everyone like us. Then, when non of that comes to pass, remain the stupid, docile political sheep you are.

    Way to go SAUDi – our new ‘friends’ overseas are the terror regimes, Gitmo’s still open for biz, enhanced interrogation’s still the rage, not only is The War on and open for business – but the new improved war in Afghanistan’s on; we’re sitting on the huge fraud and waste of the Porkulus bill, car company ownership, the up and comer of Cap ‘n’ Tax (for the non-warming climate change) and possibly rampant future waste and fraud in the health sector – all huge tax increases on the middle class.

    Place a crowbar under your chin, and lean on it – your head should pop right out of your rear end.

  • btenney

    Holder is changing the subject for Obama’s sake.
    When it blows up he will be the one taking the blame.

  • BPG

    SAUD, meet Fisk.

    “Spend millions and millions of dollars investigating a blow job” – if I recall correctly the bj was secondary to the shady real estate deals President Clinton, his wife, and various friends and cronies were involved in.

    “shoot watermelons in your backyard to verify Clinton was a murderer” – not sure what end of your backside that came from.

    “bring up the moral question of “personal responsibility” whenever it suits you” – gee, isn’t that the justification for Obamacare?

    “rationalize, justify and make excuses when the criminal Libby is found guilty” – the funny part is that Libby didn’t out anyone, that was Dick Armitage.

    “blow-off the exposure of a CIA agent when her husband disagrees with your politics” – wow, since Valerie “My Husband is Bipartisan” Plame was a CIA employee, not agent, and was not in an undercover status. Not only that, she recommended Joseph “Yellowcake? Yes, I mean, No” Wilson for the job. Which, BTW, he was as unqualified for as anything else he’s ever done.

    “be happy that crack cocaine users are tossed in prison for multiple years but defend war crimes when it suits you” – and what war crimes would those be? You’re a Geneva Conventions expert now, are you?

    “holler when convenient about enforcing the law”. – um, yeah, ok, sure.

    “Investigate potential criminal acts by CIA personnel working under the Bush administration?” – well, funny, since they’ve been investigated, repeatedly, for 6 years and no one has yet to be charged, even though this has gone way past double jeopardy about five times over.

    You have your hands full justifying cap & tax, porkulus, and Obamacare, SAUD – stick to that.

  • GarandFan

    SAUD will be right back, soon as he contacts Howard Dean to get another package of ‘talking points’……all of which will be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

  • Harmon

    The shooting watermelons comment refers to my congresscritter, Dan Burton – R IN. He had more than a small bee in has bonnet about the Clintons. I have been voting for his ouster in the Republican primaries at every opportunity since 1982. If his opponents can get it together maybe 2010 is the year. In any event, if he wins the primary again, I will hold my nose and vote for him again. because unfortunately, any Republican, even a doofus like Burton, is still better than the “best” Dem in congress.

  • BPG

    Thanks – I did not know that. It could be worse – he could be Collins or Snowe. (Both RINO – Maine)

  • Oyster

    SAUD: you just get more comical every day. I’m cracking up over here.

  • 914

    SAUDI

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha

    You go Girl!

  • Jake

    (Sigh) I wonder where the bloggers on this site will find their moral line in the sand.

    At this point, I am really honestly wondering what it would take for any of the Wizbang crowd to say “Yeah, when we do X to prisoners in our custody, that’s unacceptable”. Threatening to kill prisoner’s children, threatening to put a drill through their head, or putting them through mock executions is apparently all in a day’s work around Wizbang.

    Michael wrote: ” Those who have been following this story know that former VP Dick Cheney has been pushing for months to have all CIA documents pertaining to detainee interrogations released to the public.”

    This is utter nonsense on two counts:

    1. Cheney has NOT been pushing for “all” documents to be released, he’s been pushing for specific, small numbers that he claims make his case for him.

    2. The issue is only partially about whether it worked and kept us “safe”. It’s also about what we as a country are legally and morally allowed to do in the pursuit of our own safety. Sure, we could nuke Iraq to the ground as a way to protect our own troops, but would that be morally or legally justified? (IMO, no it wouldn’t, but I’m getting the feeling that many on Wizbang would disagree)

    Michael wrote: “There was never any attempt to hide acknowledged criminal wrongdoing; there was only concern over matters involving national security and the fact that the effectiveness of CIA interrogations would be greatly harmed if details were leaked.”

    Again, utter nonsense. You are giving MASSIVE amounts of benefit of the doubt to those involved that they are not at all concerned with potentially going to prison for their actions and are instead concerned solely on the greater good. That is a ridiculous idea if you consider human nature of anyone, Republican, Democrat, or Independent. When people are faced with prison, they tend to resist that idea.

    As far as the arguments that Holder is helping out the healthcare debate by launching an investigation – well, I’d suggest checking the timeline and the parties involved. This has been a process that started well before Obama took office and is happening to be coming to a head due to the CIA releasing a document now. If you want to accuse politicization, accuse the CIA IG office. Oh wait, the CIA is perfect and above criticism or reproach, according to Wizbangers.

  • hyperbolist

    Right. Someone asserts that the rule of law ought to be enforced, and you ridicule him/her?

    If your nation suffers any harm as a result of these investigations, you will certainly blame those who initiated and conducted the investigations, and not the perpetrators of any crimes–because you are a bunch of immoral ghouls who think patriotism has more to do with what bumper stickers are on your SUV than any actual principles. Cowards.
    depp=true
    notiz=Hyper you go over the line, do you need a shovel?

  • WildWillie

    Don’t pay taxes, forgiven with no penalties or interest. Following the law?

    When it comes to the dirty work of terrorism, I do give a huge benefit to the CIA who are americans trying to save lives. The left has no ability to put this in perspective of the times. So eager to politicize this it is just making us more unsafe. Other countries have already hinted to now helping us with intelligience if our government just openly reveals intelligience. You lefties are not only cowardly, but dispicable. ww

  • doubled

    the Clinton affair , if you will, was NOT about BJ’s at all. It was about a man in a postion of power using an underling for his personal pleasure, then throwing her under the bus when it became public. Entirely all about him and his selfish self-preservation, not one ounce of thought about Monica’s feelings at all. Dispicable.

    The Bush/Cheney affair is more about tarring the opposition party as evil than about taking the moral high ground, as what they did was for the Country, and not personal selfish gain.

    Intersting tell on what one finds important in life, bitchin’ about those who were in a tough situation trying to determine what flies in obtaining info for the safety of the populace, or bitchin about a another politician who puts their own selfish desires ahead of all else.

  • http://fullthrottle.cranialcavity.net/ Marc

    Jake – “Threatening to kill prisoner’s children, threatening to put a drill through their head, or putting them through mock executions is apparently all in a day’s work around Wizbang.”

    Considering you made it personal with the “around Wizbang” remark, PERSONALLY I’d round the bastards up and and force them to masturbate with #30 grit sandpaper, but that’s just me.

    That said, I wonder who will be whining the loudest when multiple cases of U.S. Military/CIA battlefield killings come to light because they all said “screw it, we ain’t getting anything out of’em with the new interrogation techniques and Marandizing them is horseshit.”

  • JustRuss

    If America were as evil as those who threaten us, if America were going to bomb innocents simply because we have the oppurtunity and because we have no other weapons. If another country captured out soldiers and interrogated / lightly tortured them for info to save lives. Then I would be pissed off, but I would understand.

    When they torture our people, or behead them on camera, it is only to prove that they can. It is the only way they can get any notoriety at all.

    In our country, if we capture someone who is thought to have information that will save American lives, then we can pursuade them any way necessary to give up that info.

    That said, none of the “torture” that the CIA performed was anything like the torture someone like John McKain (an example, not an endorsement of him) underwent.

    We did not poke them with sharp spears, we did not put them in little boxes for days on end, we did not starve them past healthy points. We did not tear out fingernails or cut their skin. Yes, we made them think they might die, but what do these people care, most of them would gladly strap a bomb on themselves and blow themselves up as a Martyr.

    Our definition of true torture has been severely pussified by the left. From the descriptions we have heard I underwent worse when I got hazed as a camp councilor at 4-H camp! Granted I was never in fear of my life, but I had the waterboarding. I was blindfolded and made to walk an optical course where I fell off logs from heights which left bruises, I got a bloody nose from being repeatedly run into trees. By the lefts definition I was tortured.

    I do understand that hazing implies some level of consent and torture does not. But honestly people, if “torturing” a hundred of these people in such ways saved a single life then I am glad they did it. And as stated above, if the tables were turned I would not be happy about it, but I would expect the same from any Government trying to protect its people.

    If indeed these people sought clarification of their orders and documented everything to cover their own asses according to the law at the time. They should not be prosecuted. If one or two jokers went overboard a bit then they should be reprimanded (and they have) but not prosecuted.

    Raising these issues specifically at this time is too much of a coincidence not to be planned. The releasing of these documents was done at this time to cause a stir and redirect the attention of the American People.

    Unfortunately the American People have developed an attention span and an interest in every day dealings in DC. They won’t respond to the “Oh Shiney!” any longer.

    Bring out Michelle in some dazy dukes or something next! Put his kids in green peace T-Shirts or something. Anything to keep the American public from noticing what is really happening at the moment.

    There will be a slew of these types of scandals and blustering in the recess to try to make us forget the bills in question. It wont work.

    Unfortunately for the Left they still think that they won because we chose them. The American People did not vote for Democrats because they believed in them, they did so to teach the Conservatives a lesson about listening to your constituents. The Progressives are going to feel that same pitchfork next year.

    Why? Because a large number of people did in fact, only vote for the first Black President. There is no such stake in this election and thus most of those people, mostly young people, are going to stay home.

  • hyperbolist

    Russ: whether or not Americans (CIA, military) are justified in using torture to extract information from suspected terrorists has FUCK ALL to do with how American soldiers/citizens are treated by terrorists.

    If that’s your moral barometer, then you definitely aren’t on the side of the proverbial angels. You’re an unprincipled moral relativist.

  • http://fullthrottle.cranialcavity.net/ Marc

    hyper – “Russ: whether or not Americans (CIA, military) are justified in using torture to extract information from suspected terrorists has FUCK ALL to do with how American soldiers/citizens are treated by terrorists.”

    The “moral barometer” went off the scale long before Bush was a twinkle in his fathers eye. I’d suggest you contact McCain about any connection to U.S. torture in recent years and it’s relation to his time as a prisoner of war.

    You might also check on the Japanese torture of U.S. service members.

  • http://fullthrottle.cranialcavity.net/ Marc

    BTW hyper, your moral authority as a Canadian means less than zip to many here.

    Terror suspects ‘tortured,’ lawyers say
    Jun. 12, 2006. 07:36 PM
    CANADIAN PRESS

    Tiny solitary cells under constant illumination, a mere 20 minutes of fresh air daily, and beatings at the hands of guards are indicative of the “torture” endured by some of the 17 people accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Canada, lawyers for the group said Monday.

    The allegations of “cruel and unusual punishment” came as the court imposed a blanket publication ban on the legal proceedings, preventing the public from learning of any further evidence in a case of stunning allegations that has captured headlines around the world.

    The treatment of the suspects, accused of plotting a number of terrorist strikes in Ontario that allegedly included bombings and taking senior politicians hostage, “constitutes torture,” lawyer Rocco Galati said outside the court.

    “That torture includes being kept in a room that’s lit 24 hours a day, being woken up every half-hour, being beaten by the guards, on and on and on,” said Galati, who represents Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, a 21-year-old health sciences graduate of McMaster University.

    The solitary confinement cells in which the men and youths are housed at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton are a scant 3.4 metres by 1.8 metres, are sealed by a concrete door with only a small slit for meal delivery, and have no windows, said lawyer David Kolinsky.

    Twenty-year-old terror suspect Zakaria Amara was beaten by a guard after he giggled because he felt ticklish while being searched, alleged Kolinsky, who said the guard pinned his client to the ground, drilled his knuckle into the man’s cheek and said, “Is this funny?”

    Many of the conditions outlined by lawyers are standard practice, said Community Safety and Correctional Services Ministry spokeswoman Julia Noonan.

    “All our institutions are lit 24 hours a day,” said Noonan, who added the lights are dimmed in the evenings. “For security reasons, we need to ensure that proper supervision is possible.”

    Twenty minutes of “fresh air and/or exercise” is also standard, and the “standard dimension” solitary cells are expressly built for “one person.”

    Physical abuse, however, is not tolerated by the ministry, she said.

    Two of the terror suspects, Mohammed Dirie and Yasim Mohamed, are already in prison on weapons charges. Fifteen others were rounded up by police June 2 in a co-ordinated sweep, followed the next day by a news conference in which authorities displayed various items that they alleged were to be used in terrorist attacks.

    Stunning allegations contained in a Crown synopsis, and shared with the media by defence lawyer Gary Batasar outside the court last week, said that 25-year-old restaurant worker Steven Chand personally wanted to behead Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

    The 17 suspects face a variety of charges including knowingly participating in or contributing to terrorist activity, providing or receiving training for terrorist purposes and providing or making available property for a terrorist activity.

  • Jake

    Strangely, what you’re talking about isn’t about interrogation, it’s about vengeance and anger. After all, “they” are already “guilty” since I’m assuming you’re not saying you’d round up Muslims generally, right? You are talking about those that your own standards of guilt application have branded “guilty”?

    Marc: “Considering you made it personal with the “around Wizbang” remark, PERSONALLY I’d round the bastards up and and force them to masturbate with #30 grit sandpaper, but that’s just me.”

    Very Christian of you.

  • pvd

    Jake,

    My moral line in the sand would be throwing people into wood chippers, beheading them, flawing their feet for losing a soccer match, stoning rape victims. That’s turture and inmumane treatment.

    Waterboarding isn’t torture. Nor is threatening behavior, deprivation of rations or sleep for several days. Intimidation is perfectly acceptable to me.

    I expect that you will comdemn Obama’s DOJ appointment as the President clearly promised to look forward, not backward.

    Also, in your opinion, will the CIA be strengthened or weakened as a early warning system for the United States by the actions of this administration?

  • JLawson

    Hyper -

    “Russ: whether or not Americans (CIA, military) are justified in using torture to extract information from suspected terrorists has FUCK ALL to do with how American soldiers/citizens are treated by terrorists.”

    You’re right. Their heads are chopped whether we’re exceedingly nice or exceedingly nasty. And you know, I guess I’m just not enlightened at all – but after 9/11 I’ve got no problems with coercing information out of terrorists by frightening them, putting them in duress positions, or just plain beating the crap out of them. (With soft pillows, of course.) If it was good enough for the likes of Jane Fonda to endorse the ways the sainted North Vietnamese got info out of US aircrews, (thought it could be argued she was using the “I didn’t see it so it didn’t happen” defense…) then the ways should STILL be perfectly acceptable to the left.

    The only difference is who uses them on whom, isn’t it?

  • TinaS

    Even though the CIA allowed prisoners to be harshly interrogated, every technique had to be approved in advance by the CIA, the Pentagon, and the Justice Department.

    Michael Laprarie, what do you suppose should be done when people use non-approved techniques? It sounds like you are arguing that we should turn our backs to it.

  • TinaS

    I’ve got no problems with coercing information out of terrorists by frightening them, putting them in duress positions, or just plain beating the crap out of them.

    Do you have a problem with most experts in interroragation techniques sayin those techniques don’t work so well?

    In the wake of 9-11 it became critical that we have experts on interrogation techniques in charge of our interrogation program. Read the link to earn about the architects ot the interrogation program.

    interrogation program architects

  • JLawson

    TinaS -

    “The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda. This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. These detainees also, according to the documents, played a role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002,” Cheney said in a statement issued late Monday.

    I’m tired as hell of the rules being different depending which side you morally handicapped idiots on the left support. If they can cut off heads without condemnation by the folks who hyperventilate about us daring to SCARE them, then I don’t see the problem with using enhanced interrogations.

    When you’re as pissed off about car bombing fanatics, when you’re as angry about people intentionally targeting children on busses with bombs, when you’re as upset with heads being chopped off as you are about enhanced interrogrations, then maybe you’ll have a shred of credibility. But you’ve got a hell of a long way to go to earn it.

    Have a nice night.

  • hcddbz

    We have men who believe that Americans must die because American troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia as guest of the Saudi Government. They target men women and children as the rule in their attacks. They refuse to wear uniforms when they engage Uniform troops to increase civilian death. These people love to behead and mutilate people who they have captured. The demand force conversion of faith and when people do not convert they chop their heads off.

    These people knew that they would be captured by Americans and they wrote training manuals explaining how to exploit the American Judicial systems in ways to delay information and to make public any information.

    The CIA and Bush administration changed the game plan on them and were able to get information that saved American lives.
    Unlike these POS we treated them like humans. People who devote there lives to terror attacks on others should be able take some mental terror themselves. I mean they are willing to die and kill others for their beliefs.

    We were willing to threaten them to save Lives.
    We are the better people.
    To think otherwise is to be tool for the enemy.

    We tired to treat terrorism as law enforcement and culmination of that was 9/11.

    The CIA should be praised.

  • hyperbolist

    JLawson, I would expect better from you than this:

    I’m tired as hell of the rules being different depending which side you morally handicapped idiots on the left support. If they can cut off heads without condemnation by the folks who hyperventilate about us daring to SCARE them, then I don’t see the problem with using enhanced interrogations.

    I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that it had to be said that beheading people, mutilating prisoners, and targeting civilians is evil.

    Your argument is this: if what the enemy does, or has done, makes what we do to them pale in comparison, then what we do to them cannot be evil.

    As a moral argument, it fails. As a practical argument, it’s a non-starter because there is no reason–no evidence–to believe that these techniques worked. Dick Cheney disagrees but he’s a liar and a disgrace.

  • http://www.wizbangblog.com maggie

    Jake,
    Broadbrushing to include the site Wizbang in
    your diagreeing with an editor is just that
    generic. The site is not guilty of anything
    just because you don’t like the posts of one
    editor. How about putting up the broad brush before you find it replaced with a shovel.

  • TinaS

    JLawson,

    1. Interroragation is not about exacting revenge. It is about getting information that saves lives.

    2. You merely quoted Cheney saying that the documents support his point of view.

    3. The argument is not whether any valuable information was obtained through enhanced interroragation. The argument is which interroragation methods are more affective.

  • http://fullthrottle.cranialcavity.net/ Marc

    Jake – “Very Christian of you.”

    As is your want, you make things up to fit any and all preconceived notions you have.

    Of course if you can prove I’m Christian, or not one, I’ll gladly retract the following:

    FOAD.