Monday, March 23, 2009

The Endless B.S. of the CIA

Reading this article from the ACLU Blog of Rights I was reminded of something. I thought to myself, hey, weren't people excited by the potential upside of the revelation that the CIA had 92 (not two: they forgot the "9," apparently, honest mistake) interrogation tapes? And yeah, they were (from mcjoan):

"The most encouraging bit from the letter: 'The CIA intends to produce all of the information requested to the Court and to produce as much information as possible on the public record to the Plaintiffs.' It would appear that the CIA under Panetta intends to cooperate fully in this."

Yeah...well, that didn't actually happen:

"Today we were expecting a list of documents pertaining to the contents of
the interrogation tapes destroyed by the CIA. We’ve been waiting for it all day,
and at 5:20 p.m., we got zilch, save a letter from the DOJ telling the Judge presiding over the case that they won’t turn over anything.

These 3,000 documents include summaries, transcripts, reconstructions
and memoranda relating to the destruction of the tapes. Also withheld: the list
of witnesses who may have viewed the tapes or had custody of the tapes before
their destruction."

The material will be reviewed, but in private, for the protection of the CIA.

The CIA destroyed evidence of criminal acts, and the evidence of that evidence is being held out of our reach - by the Obama Administration.

I think it is important to keep track of the steady stream of B.S. on accountability and general detention/interrogation issues from the Obama Administration because there is almost certainly a strategy behind it. Is it a coincidence that news of three new torture memos coming out follows directly on the witholding of 3,000 documents? We know Obama does not care about investigating Bush, and his administration does not seem morally squeamish about using the "you were just following orders" excuse. What is frustrating is that the Obama Administration doesn't mind revealing the legal frameworks for torture - documentation for the record books, I suppose - but they are totally unable to come to grips with the actual torture done to detainees. Let's throw out Binyam's case. Hide the actual evidence. Deny habeas corpus to non-Afghanis that are to this day held at Bagram.

This quote has left a great impression on me, from ex-CIA John Gannon regarding the interrogation tapes: "'To a spectator it would look like torture,' he said. 'And torture is wrong.'”

Gannon did not actually view these tapes - this is his speculation. Knowing what we know though, especially about the particular detainees on the tapes, what he says is most likely the case. And that question - who could look at those tapes and think this was the right thing to do? - is not one we seem collectively willing to answer. So I guess it can just happen again. "Oh well."

It is wrong that the CIA destroyed evidence, and it is wrong that they tortured (and tortured and tortured and tortured...). But let's give 'em a pass huh? Hey Mr. Obama - that's not right either.

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