"Put yourself in the shoes of the people who were asked to interrogate
al-Qaeda prisoners in 2002. One former officer told me he declined the job, not
because he thought the program was wrong but because he knew it would blow up.
'We all knew the political wind would change eventually,' he recalled. Other
officers who didn't make that cynical but correct calculation are now 'broken
and bewildered,' says the former operative.
For a taste of what's ahead, recall the chilling effects of past CIA
scandals. In 1995, then-Director John Deutch ordered a 'scrub' of the agency's
assets after revelations of past links to Guatemalan death squads. Officers were
told they shouldn't jettison sources who had provided truly valuable
intelligence. But the practical message, recalls one former division chief, was:
'Don't deal with assets who could pose political risks.' A similar signal is
being sent now, he warns."
How hard is this? What does a scrub of the CIA's Guatemalan contacts have to do with this one simple message: DO NOT TORTURE. That's all. That's the only messsage. DO NOT TORTURE AND DO NOT SEND PEOPLE TO BE TORTURED.
And I wonder why these officers involved with torture interrogations are broken and bewildered. Is it perhaps because they...tortured?
But David Ignatius has a point. No, not a good point, just that he structured his entire editorial to get to his point - that conservative elements in the CIA must be constantly fellated and that a commission that reviews Bushco policy should be done "behind closed doors" and prepare a tidy little report to us. Because nothing will discourage us from going through this entire mess again like a secret commission.
There was not one single source in his editorial that approved of Obama's recent activies - that is, unless you count the masses quoted in David Ignatius' piece as "hooting and hollering" during Obama's speech. But apparently they don't count.
IMO, the best way to raise the CIA's morale is to ensure we never put them in a position where they commit war crimes again. Hopefully that is what we are on the way to doing. I am sure there are people in the CIA that understand that.
Update: From Jeff Stein, the crushing low morale:
"Fans began lining up four hours before Obama's con --, er, speech, Meek reported
late Tuesday afternoon in the D.C. bureau's always entertaining "Mouth of the Potomac" blog.
'Agency workers began lining up at noon for a chance to see the rock
star of public life. And when Obama entered the room, a cheer exploded that was
as shrill and ear-piercing as it was long: about 80 seconds. Think the Beatles,
Michael Jackson, Mick and the boys. Definitely not George W. Bush.'"