CIA Pouts

We have learned that the CIA proved itself incompetent at interrogation. Of course, they also proved themselves willing to follow the criminal (yes criminal) directives of the Bush Administration on torture. I am not a fan of Eric Holder's "Abu Ghraib solution" (stick it on the small fish) to investigation of the criminal acts of the Bush Administration on torture. I prefer a Truth Commission, so that we can stamp out, from top to bottom, the view that torture can ever be justified. But I do find it amusing that the Keystone Cop torturers at the CIA are pouting about being called out for their incompetence:

Krongard, one of the few active or retired CIA officers with direct knowledge of the program willing to voice publicly what many officers are saying privately, said agency personnel now may back away from controversial programs that could place them in personal legal jeopardy should their work be exposed. "The old saying goes, 'Big operation, big risk; small operation, small risk; no operation, no risk.'" "If you're not in the intelligence business to be forward-leaning, you might as well not be in it," Krongard said.


Krongard has to be kidding me. The CIA interrogation program was not only immoral and criminal, it was a complete failure. Ooooh, the CIA will stop failing at interrogation is their big threat. I say thank the Lord. Let the professionals do the work. The track record of the CIA on interrogation is so bad, so incompetent, that the LAST thing we want is any more "forward leaning" interrogation work by the CIA at all. Their morale is down? Then fire them. We do not need incompetent prima donnas in public service. We need people dedicated to protecting the country. There seem to be precious few patriots now at the CIA is the message I am getting.

Speaking for em only

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    My eyes stopped at "forward-leaning" (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 10:37:45 AM EST
    Maybe I've seen Brazil too many times, but this way of speaking about torture really scares the crap out of me.

    correction: (none / 0) (#19)
    by coigue on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 05:19:00 PM EST
    This type of talking about "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" scares the crap out of you.

    It just always strikes me (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by lilburro on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:27:25 AM EST
    that they simply write "guy involved with torture says punishing it is bad for the country" and never point out, well, gee - why would Krongard be concerned about the revelations about the torture program.  Is it perhaps because he was directly involved?
    It's funny how in journalism some are innocent and never proven guilty, and some are guilty never to be proven innocent.

    But Then Again (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by The Maven on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:33:30 PM EST
    if the CIA whines about being constrained in their abilities to engage in "enhanced" interrogations, there's an increasing likelihood that the process will end up farmed out to contractors.  This was the case to at least some degree at Abu Ghraib, and possibly elsewhere -- and companies like CACI International, L-3 (f/k/a Titan Corp.) and our dear friends at Xe/Blackwater are hardly any better at keeping us within the bounds of morality or domestic and international law.  Only absolute adherence to those laws and our treaty obligations is adequate, and a Truth Commission would be the minimum necessary step.

    For those who haven't seen it, today's NYT carries an op-ed piece by Joseph Finder, "The C.I.A. in Double Jeopardy," which goes once again to the disingenuous argument that all this investigation is just unfair to the well-meaning agents in the field.  The essay concludes by making one of the most dangerous and wrong-headed assertions that is so emblematic of Village thinking:

    The process that Mr. Holder has unleashed threatens to undermine one of the basic principles of our government. For a new administration to repudiate a consequential legal decision in an individual case made by the previous administration serves to delegitimize our government itself, which is, after, all premised upon institutional continuity.

    "Institutional continuity" as a basic principle of government?!  Whatever happened to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," which, the last time I checked, said nothing about the benefits of continuity.  That, indeed, would be an extremely dangerous precedent, and as observers such as Glenn Greenwald have noted, the Obama Administration seems far too eager to fall into this pattern.  It must not be allowed to happen if we have any hope of restoring our national dignity.

    I agree, if by dignity you mean (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by oldpro on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:45:11 PM EST

    You're forgetting who Krongard is (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by scribe on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 02:01:07 PM EST
    A close crony of former corrupt Congressman (and current federal inmate) Duke Cuningham, and brother of a former high-level State Department employee.  Both the Krongards, last I checked, were working for Blackwater (known this week as Xe) in pretty-high-level jobs.

    IIRC, Stae Department Krongard helped muddy the waters after Blackwater massacred 17 or so Iraqis a couple years back.

    To me, this whole PR offensive seems moe than a little bit of CYA on the part of Krongard and, doubtless, the buddies he has inside the Agency.

    And, one more point.  The time for pushback is when the illegal, criminal or corrupt operation is being presented and the place for pushback is in refusing to participate in it because it clearly crosses moral and;/or legal lines.  Calling for people who work in the agency to be openly insubordinate - as in, we're going to sit on our butts and not do any work because we might get hung out to dry for being criminals - which is what Krongard is doing, does, FWIW, fall within the statutory definition of sedition.

    He should shut his mouth and go back to collecting paychecks from Erik Prince.

    And In the World of Questionable Connections (none / 0) (#15)
    by The Maven on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 02:52:21 PM EST
    it's also worth noting:

    a)  that Blackwater/Xe has been facing a number of suits pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute regarding the Mansour Square killings; and

    b)  lead counsel for Blackwater is none other than Andrew Pincus, son of Walter Pincus, who co-authored today's WaPo article.

    So much for disclosure of relevant ties (both of Krongard and Pincus himself), something the paper's ombudsman maybe ought to care about.  At least Deborah Howell isn't still filling that post, though I haven't exactly seen anything to lead me to believe that Andy Alexander is willing to take on the paper's power players.


    What should also be done (none / 0) (#23)
    by cal1942 on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:20:10 AM EST
    is stop sending public funds to Erik Prince.

    Get rid of every "Blackwater" now retained by the federal government.

    When Obama said, during the primaries, that he would retain Blackwater his blind as a bat supporters should have dumped him.  "High information voters."  Really!


    Yes. A truth Commission. But (4.00 / 3) (#5)
    by oldpro on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:13:32 PM EST
    I do not think Obama, Holder or the Democrats have the stomach for it.  They are afraid and fear is their primary motivator on all fronts.

    They are afraid, not of us, but of the Republicans and their unrelenting and vicious response to any investigation.

    These are not fighting Democrats.  That makes them the worst sort of enablers.

    Self preservation (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:23:13 PM EST
    They're afraid of the backlash true, but I think they're more afraid of the truth.

    There had to be some high ranking Democrat's that went along with all of this. I think they realize that they can't bring GWB's policies down without damage to themselves.


    Also possible. Fear is fear. n/t (none / 0) (#8)
    by oldpro on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:38:36 PM EST
    We do have reports of some within (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 08:34:09 AM EST
    the CIA voicing their disapproval of torture and also pointing out that torture doesn't work.  After all, this wasn't exactly the first time the CIA had observed the intel that torture produces.  But those in charge decided to do it anyway.  I'm sure that it is a huge shameful come to Jesus moment now when we all want to see what they gleaned, all those arguing and dissenting voices from the very near past can still be heard pretty clearly.  The dissenters are most probably still alive too.  It is all very wrong, but it is also very fresh and there is no place for anyone to hide from themselves.

    Yes, the Democrats are (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 01:33:01 PM EST
    afraid.  After all, if they look backward rather than forward, they may jeopardize Republican support for health care reform;)

    I vote for a truth commission (none / 0) (#2)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:05:36 AM EST
    I would definitely prefer a commission to investigate torture committed by any government agency. The CIA wasn't alone on this. We need to hold the people that approved this policy, accountable not just the people that did it.

    It was GWB and people within his administration that made the decision that, the end justifies any means. They not only condoned the CIA thinking of forward leaning, they encouraged it.

    Forget (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:41:52 PM EST
    the truth commission. It'll just produce a bunch of paperwork that will probably be ignored. I vote for letting the courts handle it and yes, Bush and Cheney should be put on trial for their part in it too and not just the "small fish".

    Fire the bums (none / 0) (#4)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:49:21 AM EST
    As far as firing them goes, I'm all for it. After 8 years of GWB's hiring criteria  I'd clean house in a lot of agencies!

    WOW, BTD smokin'! (none / 0) (#12)
    by pluege on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 01:34:40 PM EST
    nice post.

    This link tells a different (none / 0) (#13)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 01:51:34 PM EST
    Find some new links. (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by lilburro on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:10:03 AM EST
    See this comment for ex.

    If I may quote myself:

    So for example, CIA officer Kiriakou:

    "The next day, he told his interrogators that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate," said Kiriakou in an interview...
    "From that day on, he answered every question," Kiriakou said. "The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."

    Reality - Zubaydah didn't "break" and then "cooperate from that day on."  He was waterboarded 83 times.

    Reality 2 - Nothing came of it.

    In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida's tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida -- chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates -- was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.
    Hence the need for a Truth Commission.

    Your links is old news.  Snooze!!!


    Youir source is a link (none / 0) (#26)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 08:00:26 AM EST
    back to a WaPost article. When you read it, please note that there is a huge qualifier in the middle of it and, of course it is second hand written by someone with obvious bias.

    My link went to a first person interview by Brian Ross of ABC News. It is simple and declarative.

    The reader can choose who to believe.

    BRIAN ROSS: And did it make a difference in terms of--
    JOHN: It did. The threat information that he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.
    BRIAN ROSS: No doubt about that? That's not some--
    JOHN: No doubt.
    BRIAN ROSS: --hype?
    JOHN: No, no question. No question.
    BRIAN ROSS: And in terms of the actual planned future attacks?
    JOHN: Yeah, we disrupted a lot of them.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=3978231&page=2">Link to ABC News


    Yeah i'm gonna believe (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by lilburro on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 09:14:36 AM EST
    the guy that went on TV and said we only waterboarded Zubaydah once for 35 seconds.  Suuuurrre...

    If you read (none / 0) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:53:00 AM EST
    the whole he does say that he was not involved in the waterboarding and left the CIA soon afterwards..

    UPDATE: U.S. Government documents released in April 2009 indicate that Kiriakou's account that Abu Zubaydah broke after only one water boarding session was incorrect. According to a footnote in newly released, previously classified "Top Secret" memos, the CIA used the water board "at least 83 times during August 2002 in the interrogation of Zubaydah."

    Following the release of the documents, Kiriakou said: "When I spoke to ABC News in December 2007 I was aware of Abu Zubaydah being water boarded on one occasion. It was after this one occasion that he revealed information related to a planned terrorist attack. As I said in the original interview, my information was second-hand. I never participated in the use of enhanced techniques on Abu Zubaydah or on any other prisoner, nor did I witness the use of such techniques."

    ABC News Link

    You can choose to disbelieve but, if you consider waterboarding as torture and oppose it under all circumstances then does it matter what was learned and/or accomplished?


    BTD, let me clue you in. (none / 0) (#16)
    by cpinva on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 03:27:30 PM EST
    the CIA, from its inception, has pretty much always been incompetent. they've either initiated operations resulting in scumbags being placed in power, or totally missed events about to happen, resulting in our gov't being caught completely off guard.

    see: chile, nicaruaga, iran, etc., etc., etc.

    they are jimmy breslin's "the gang that couldn't shoot straight": arrogant and clueless, a heady (and very dangerous) combination.

    nothing they do, or fail to do, should come as any surprise.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#24)
    by cal1942 on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:28:53 AM EST
    for a really good look at the CIA over the years read "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA" by Tim Weiner.

    You won't know whether to laugh, cry or bang your head on the desk.


    How would it sound (none / 0) (#17)
    by Zorba on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 04:26:34 PM EST
    if a retired Nazi had said, "personnel now may back away from controversial programs that could place them in personal legal jeopardy should their work be exposed," about the guards and supervisors at Auschwitz, Sobibor, Treblinka, Buchenwald, etc when the Nuremberg Trials began?  The low-level operatives are certainly not the only ones guilty, but the "I was only following orders" defense was not acceptable at Nuremberg, and should not be acceptable now.  Of course, I'd like the "big guys" investigated and brought to justice as well, but that doesn't let the field operatives off the hook, and "Buzzy" Krongard can go get stuffed.

    I thought they outsourced the risk (none / 0) (#18)
    by coigue on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 05:17:37 PM EST
    to Blackwater, Inc.

    I try to keep up (none / 0) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 09:27:07 AM EST
    I don't know how often contractors were used after Abu Ghraib, but CACI seems to have been the interrogator for hire of choice.  I don't have any evidence that we contracted torture out after that.  I think there was even a CACI interrogator displayed in some of the Abu Ghraib photos but there's nothing to see here....move along

    sounds like plamegate (none / 0) (#20)
    by diogenes on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 08:37:18 PM EST
    No one was convicted of an actual crime then.  I wonder if all the Fitz grand juries and then court trials would actually convict anyone of a crime in these CIA matters except for a contrived perjury trap a la Scooter Libby.

    Except for the truth commission idea (none / 0) (#21)
    by Edger on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 10:47:46 PM EST
    if you had a rec button for this post I'd click it repeatedly.

    Investigations and prosecutions and convictions and sentencing of the order givers, all the way up to and especially including Bush and Cheney, are what is needed to stamp out, from top to bottom, the view that torture can ever be justified.

    I'm pretty confident that we'd see both Bush and Cheney, along with everyone else involved all the way down to CIA interrogators, start to loudly and enthusiastically embrace the truth commission idea the more and more likely prosecutions became.

    Think Jimmy Swaggert.

    I don't like what happened to the (none / 0) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 08:27:30 AM EST
    Abu Ghraib soldiers, but after the scandal I was grateful that the little soldier in the big pond wasn't likely going to help anyone torture anyone any longer.  They got it, nobody had their back on this no matter how high up the lawlessness went. It seems to me that it drove military torture underground and of course I have disliked that a whole lot!  It did end the feeling of ease though that it seemed the military had about torturing.  And if this is the best we can get at this time it can only benefit the CIA in the same fashion.