Saturday, April 22, 2006

VIA CURSOR.ORG, Ken Silverstein at Harper's new blog reports a groundswell of opposition in the C.I.A. to participating in activities like renditions and coercive interrogations. It's becoming more and more of a liability to be part of the "torture is cool" crowd, given that the Bush administration is falling apart, and if the ship sinks, it won't be Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney left without a lifeboat:

With the war in Iraq an utter debacle and public opinion turned against the White House, anger within the armed forces towards Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Administration is growing, and the Pentagon is fighting back (see "Pentagon Memo Aims to Counter Rumsfeld Critics" in the April 16 New York Times). But what's been little noted thus far is what looks to be a similar revolt brewing at the CIA. An ex-senior agency officer who keeps in contact with his former peers told me that there is a "a big swing" in anti-Bush sentiment at Langley. "I've been stunned by what I'm hearing," he said. "There are people who fear that indictments and subpoenas could be coming down, and they don't want to get caught up in it."

This former senior officer said there "seems to be a quiet conspiracy by rational people" at the agency to avoid involvement in some of the particularly nasty tactics being employed by the administration, especially "renditions"-- the practice whereby the CIA sends terrorist suspects abroad to be questioned in Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, and other nations where the regimes are not squeamish about torturing detainees. My source, hardly a softie on the topic of terrorism, said of the split at the CIA: "There's an SS group within the agency that's willing to do anything and there's a Wehrmacht group that is saying, 'I'm not gonna touch this stuff'."

Scott Horton, a human rights activist who has become a principal spokesman for the New York City Bar Association in evaluating the Bush Administration's tactics, said that he's also hearing stories of growing dissent at the CIA. "When the shit hits the fan," he explained, "the administration scapegoats lower-level people. It doesn't do a lot in terms of inspiring confidence."
Today's "Wehrmacht" officers at the CIA are right to be worried about subpoenas: a legal analysis prepared by a senior FBI attorney in 2002 deemed that renditions to countries that torture detainees were illegal. The attorney concluded that such actions were designed to circumvent American laws against torture and that anyone even discussing such a plan could be found criminally liable. If the political winds shift, some "bad apples" in the CIA could find themselves indicted for torture.

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