Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Torture memo release: what price?


Is this what the CIA demands in order not to go rogue in response to President Obama's release of the torture memos? Marc Ambinder, the Atlantic Monthly's Washington reporter, has a list. [I've separated the items out; Ambinder had them all in one paragraph.]

I think Obama knows precisely what he did, and I think he's betting that the CIA will respond to his vision more quickly than the CIA thinks it will. But if CIA officers are willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, they will look to him for substance, not words.

Will Obama support investigations into CIA conduct?

Will he quickly wrap up ongoing investigations?

When Congress begins additional, formal investigations, will the White House intervene?

Will Obama comply with Sen. Dianne Feinstein's request and hold off making a final decision on prosecutions until the Senate completes its investigation in six months?

Will Obama preserve the State Secrets privilege?

The controversial sections of the Patriot ACT?

Will he defend CIA officials against civil suits?

Will he allow interrogation techniques that aren't in the Army Field Manual?

All of those items are worth tracking. Most of them are things that I believe the President cannot do if he is serious about this being a government of law, not all powerful men. And yes, the Agency certainly contains people who might very well act outside the law to undermine Obama if he seems a threat. After all, these are people who are in the business of overthrowing of enemy governments and knocking out bad guys; it's a lot to believe that none of them would turn their skills against their own employer.

Tuesday's New York Times headlines Pressure Grows to Investigate Interrogations. The lesson we must take from previous episodes involving authorities and countries gone terribly wrong is that people who believe in freedom can never give. Others have been here.

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The Camera Fanatic said...
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