Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Secret Secrets Are No Fun

Yesterday, I commented at Andy Worthington's blog about the Senate Intelligence Committee's inquiry into the CIA. My comment was that this inquiry is highly unlikely to be effective based on Senator Feinstein's biases alone - she pushed publicly for long-time CIA Operations officer Steve Kappes to take the CIA Director position, despite his ties to the rendition program and God knows what else (he was no.2 in Operations for much of the early Bush years). Feinstein was finally pleased with the actual D/CIA selection when her request that Kappes stay on was granted. So I don't imagine that Feinstein will take a very hard line against some of these CIA operatives, and it seems pretty obvious that she will not apply any broader CIA critique of the sort that I think makes sense. If you're at the top, you take responsibility for what happens at the bottom...that's the way of the world isn't it? Alternatively, you could be taken under the wing of the investigator probing the war crimes your organization (read: YOU) performed. That is also the way of the world (in the US).

Unfortunately, there are a few other reasons why this investigation tastes like weak tea. The United States Senate Armed Services Committee held open hearings for their inquiry into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody, and later published a report on what they found. Upon publication of this report, Senator Carl Levin appeared on the Rachel Maddow show and encouraged an investigation of the CIA that could lead to "indictments or civil action." You might think we were well on our way.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Reuters reports some very important (and really cowardly) differences between the Senate Intel. Committee's investigation and the Senate Armed Services Committee's investigation:

"The inquiry, to begin 'soon,' will be conducted in secret, a congressional aide
said, and it is unclear whether findings will be made public. The committee will have the power to subpoena witnesses but 'this is not a witch hunt,' the aide
said." [emphasis supplied]

We may never know! Never know the internal CIA opinion on torture, the way torture was carried out, who oversaw the programs, how it was implemented, what value it actually had (or rather was perceived to have), etc. The Congressional Intelligence Committees were mindblowingly disappointing during the Bush years. And this is just salt in the wound. How dare they call this an investigation when it seems clear that this is just going to be hanging out with their CIA buddies, shooting the sh*t about all the important stuff they used to do. If Carl Levin could publish his report, why can't Senator Feinstein publish hers? I simply do not understand why an agency that admits to waterboarding must be handled with kid gloves.

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