Monday, April 11, 2011

Aw, No Fun At All

In one of those Good New/Bad News articles in the Los Angeles Times this morning, I learned that President Obama has kept one promise: he's reined in the CIA a little. The agency is no longer able to kidnap and then beat the crap out of detainees in order to get "information."

...Under Obama, the CIA has killed more people than it has captured, mainly through drone missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas. At the same time, it has stopped trying to detain or interrogate suspects caught abroad, except those captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The CIA is out of the detention and interrogation business," said a U.S. official who is familiar with intelligence operations but was not authorized to speak publicly.

Several factors are behind the change.

Widespread criticism of Bush administration interrogation and detention policies as brutal and degrading led Obama to stop sending suspected terrorists to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Public exposure also forced the CIA to close a network of secret prisons. That left U.S. officials with no obvious place to hold new captives.

In January 2009, Obama ordered the CIA to abide by the interrogation rules of the U.S. Army Field Manual, which guides military interrogators and includes prohibitions on the use of physical force against detainees. Critics warn that Al Qaeda operatives could study the manual, which is available on the Internet, to learn how to resist its techniques, although no evidence has emerged suggesting that has happened.

Of course, this doesn't make some members of Congress very happy. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) believe the CIA has been hamstrung to the nation's detriment by forcing the agency to comply with international law. No surprise there.

And the CIA also is a bit miffed, or at the very least, a little nervous, for all sorts of reasons:

...some CIA officers are spooked by a long-running criminal investigation by a Washington special prosecutor into whether CIA officers broke the law by conducting brutal interrogations of suspected terrorists during the Bush administration.

So, is the nation now in grave danger because the CIA can't torture kidnapped "detainees?"

Not hardly. The CIA is still passing along tips to other countries about would-be terrorists, and once those alleged miscreants have been picked up by, say, Indonesia, the CIA also access to information gleaned by the holding country. US agents can even sit in on the questioning.

There is a downside, however. The CIA has switched its emphasis from torture to outright killing. Instead of kidnapping, the agency has used drones to target those believed to not have the US interests at heart.

What a country.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well then I guess the next question is Who's taking over the detention and interrogation business? Prolly whatever military units happen to be on hand ....

4:47 AM  

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