By Rady Ananda
Seven former Central Intelligence Agency directors released a letter today warning President Obama to rein in Attorney General Eric Holder. The CIA does not want torture investigated, saying the case was already opened and shut by the previous attorney general. You know, the one who thinks the U.S. Constitution and Geneva Conventions are “quaint.”
Does any normal human being with an intact ability to empathize think that rape, waterboarding, beatings and the murder of suspects are Constitutional and in compliance with international treaties, let alone human decency?
The former directors all wave the al Qaeda bogeyman, despite numerous reports that these are CIA assets. Puh-leeze. We have a whistleblower report saying Osama bin Laden worked for the CIA as late as September 10th, 2001. The CIA scares and terrorizes far more people and far more often than the bogeyman it (and corporate media) created to scare us into backing more resource wars. The CIA’s very existence as part of the National Security State is a blot on human history – that apparatus shares company with witchburners, genius-killers, and the Spanish Inquisition. And they do it for the same reason: greed.
“[R]isk-taking is vital to success in the long and difficult fight against the terrorists who continue to threaten us.”
The CIA asserts that if we prosecute crimes against humanity, its agents will become unwilling to take risks to protect the USA. What risks? The risk of committing egregious crimes and getting caught and punished for it? This implies that kidnap and torture protects Americans. It does not. Torture produces faulty intelligence. Any human who is tortured will say anything you want to hear to get you to stop. Any normal human knows this.
The CIA also whined their legal defense would be too expensive. That’s what public defenders are for. Get in line. Get to know what it’s like to be a real American. Can you imagine telling the local district attorney not to prosecute you for that weed in your wagon because you can’t afford to defend yourself?
Finally, they absurdly assert that foreign governments won’t trust them if CIA operations are exposed. Hm. If part of the national security apparatus is disabled because of crimes against humanity it committed, then the security of all people is heightened. In fact, foreign governments and foreign people will be better able to trust the US government if it dismantles and removes rotten pieces of infrastructure.
The entire issue keeps coming back to September 11, 2001, as the CIA raises in its first paragraph. Who knew what when? The informed public knows 3,500 Americans died on September 11th, and that over a million people have been killed in retaliation.
That any part of the US government continues to assert the false flag of “terrorism” justifying government domestic spying, kidnapping, rendition to secret prisons, torture, loss of access to legal counsel, breach of habeas corpus… proves the need for full investigation. Attorneys who draft legal justification – which is acted on – for unspeakable acts should be disbarred and convicted of crimes against humanity. Everyone who justifies hiding the truth needs to be fully investigated, as well. Yoo, too.
These acts are heinous and no government run by mentally normal humans would create such horrors. Eight year old terrorists? So, they are sodomized and beat? What terrorist attacks did you prevent by these acts? What terrorism did you wreak? What insanity.
Society needs to be protected from such derangement. The only way to do that is to investigate and report to the public who did what when, in gruesome detail. Remove the perps from power; protect humanity.
We demand and require a full and impartial investigation and report to the American public, and to the world. We say this partly because Obama is merely extending the heinous reign of George W. Bush – by expanding illegal resource wars, domestic surveillance, billionaire debts foisted on the public, and with a Latin American coup under his belt while building up military bases in another Latin American nation.
This is the brief NPR report (h/t to CLG), followed by the full CIA letter:
By Frank James
Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to order a review of the controversial interrogation techniques used by Central Intelligence Agency employees on high-value terrorist detainees during the prior administration has drawn a cautionary letter to President Barack Obama from seven former CIA directors.
NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly had the following report for the network’s newscast:
Holder’s decision to review possible CIA abuses after 9/11 was greeted with dismay at (the intelligence agency’s) headquarters.
In the letter to President Obama, the seven former directors argue that it creates, “an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy.”
The former directors write, “those men and women who undertake difficult intelligence assignments in the aftermath of an attack such as September 11 must believe there is permanence in the legal rules that govern their action.”
They also argue the inquiry will make CIA spies less likely to take risks and that foreign spy agencies will be less likely to cooperate with the U.S.
The letter is signed by General Mike Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet, John Deutch, Jim Woolsey, William Webster and James Schlesinger.
September 18, 2009
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
We have served as Directors of Central Intelligence or Directors of the CIA for Presidents reaching back over 35 years. We respectfully urge you to exercise your authority to reverse Attorney General Holder’s August 24 decision to re-open the criminal investigation of CIA interrogations that took place following the attacks of September 11.
Our reasons for making this recommendation are as follows.
The post-September 11 interrogations for which the Attorney General is opening an inquiry were investigated four years ago by career prosecutors. The CIA, at its own initiative, forwarded fewer than 20 instances where Agency officers appeared to have acted beyond their existing legal authorities. Career prosecutors under the supervision of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia determined that one prosecution (of a CIA contractor) was warranted. A conviction was later obtained. They determined that prosecutions were not warranted in the other cases. In a number of these cases the CIA subsequently took administrative disciplinary steps against the individuals involved. Attorney General Holder’s decision to re-open the criminal investigation creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy for those whose cases the Department of Justice had previously declined to prosecute. Moreover, there is no reason to expect that the re-opened criminal investigation will remain narrowly focused.
If criminal investigations closed by career prosecutors during one administration can so easily be reopened at the direction of political appointees in the next, declinations of prosecution will be rendered meaningless. Those men and women who undertake difficult intelligence assignments in the aftermath of an attack such as September 11 must believe there is permanence in the legal rules that govern their actions. They must be free, as the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Senator Lieberman, has put it: “to do their dangerous and critical jobs without worrying that years from now a future Attorney General will authorize a criminal investigation of them for behavior that a previous Attorney General concluded was authorized and legal.” Similar deference needs to be shown to fact-based decisions made by career prosecutors years ago.
Not only will some members of the intelligence community be subjected to costly financial and other burdens from what amounts to endless criminal investigations, but this approach will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country. In our judgment such risk-taking is vital to success in the long and difficult fight against the terrorists who continue to threaten us.
Success in intelligence often depends on surprise and deception and on creating uncertainty in the mind of an enemy. As President you have the authority to make decisions restricting substantive interrogation or any other intelligence collection method, based on legal analyses and policy recommendations. But, the administration must be mindful that public disclosure about past intelligence operations can only help Al Qaeda elude US intelligence and plan future operations. Disclosures about CIA collection operations have and will continue to make it harder for intelligence officers to maintain the momentum of operations that have saved lives and helped protect America from further attacks.
Finally, another certain result of these reopened investigations is the serious damage done to our intelligence community’s ability to obtain the cooperation of foreign intelligence agencies. Foreign services are already greatly concerned about the United States’ inability to maintain any secrets. They rightly fear that, through these additional investigations and the court proceedings that could follow, terrorists may learn how other countries came to our assistance in a time of peril. The United States promised these foreign countries that their cooperation would never be disclosed. As a result of the zeal on the part of some to uncover every action taken in the post-9/11 period, many countries may decide that they can no longer safely share intelligence or cooperate with us on future counter-terrorist operations. They simply cannot rely on our promises of secrecy.
We support your stated commitment, Mr. President, to look to the future regarding these important issues. In our judgment the only way that is possible is if the criminal investigation of these interrogations that Attorney General Holder has re-opened is now re-closed.
R. James Woolsey
James R. Schlesinger