From the Washington Post we have this Op-Ed. Jeffery H. Smith is of the opinion that prosecuting criminal wrong-doing by the CIA and contractors will be bad for America. Interesting opinions by Mr. Smith, and some simple -minded refutations/reflections.
From Mr. Smith: “First, these techniques were authorized by the president and approved by the Justice Department. The relevant committees of Congress were briefed. Although the Justice Department’s initial legal opinions were badly flawed, the fact remains that the agency responsible for interpreting and enforcing the law said the techniques were “legal.” That alone will make prosecutions very difficult.”
From the Nixon era: “If the President does it, it must be legal.” That did work real well, before, didn’t it? Well, maybe not. This fundametnally assumes that the president and other government officials cannot break the law. Th0se of us who lived through the 1970’s , may have a different idea.
“Second, the CIA provided the inspector general’s report to the Justice Department in 2004. Justice has not prosecuted any CIA officers but did successfully prosecute a contractor who beat a detainee to death, an incident that was initially reported to the department by the CIA. What has changed that makes prosecution advisable now? No administration is above the law. But the decision of one administration to prosecute career officers for acts committed under a policy of a previous administration must be taken with the greatest care. Prosecutions would set the dangerous precedent that criminal law can be used to settle policy differences at the expense of career officers.”
This point assumes that politics supercedes the authority of law. I know some Republicans who wish this was reality, but, sorry folks, it is not… And never has been [period].
“Third, after Justice declined to prosecute, the CIA took administrative action, including disciplinary action against those officers whose conduct it deemed warranted such responses. This is standard procedure; reports of possible criminal activity must be referred to Justice. If it declines to prosecute, the matter is sent back to the CIA for appropriate administrative action.”
A tennis match between Justice and CIA, that is so much better than the investigations that are needed…
“Fourth, prosecuting CIA officers risks chilling current intelligence operations. This country faces an array of serious threats. A prosecution or extensive investigation will be an unmanageable expense for most CIA officers. More significant, their colleagues will become reluctant to take risks. What confidence will they have when their senior officers say not to worry, “this has been authorized by the president and approved by Justice”? And such reactions would be magnified if prosecutions focus only on the lower-ranking officers, not those in the chain of command. Such prosecutions are likely to create cynicism in the clandestine service, which is deeply corrosive to any professional service.”
Oh no…. we definitely do not want our intelligence services staff to follow the law. Such would be sooooo… inconvenient and maybe dangerous [see Bush re-election, 2004].
Fifth, prosecutions could deter cooperation with other nations. It is critical that we have the close cooperation of intelligence services around the world. Nations often work together through their intelligence services on matters of mutual interest, such as combating terrorism, even if political relations are strained or nonexistent. The key to this cooperation is the ability of the United States to be a reliable partner and keep secrets. Prosecuting CIA officers undermines that essential element of successful intelligence liaison.
This silly idea assumes that our alliances have a vested interest in us lying about what we are doing. I am willing to pose the really stupid idea that this is might not be the case.
Sixth, President Obama has decisively changed the policies that caused so much damage. He recognizes that it is vital to our security to have an effective intelligence community that is not distracted by looking backward and coping with congressional investigations and grand jury subpoenas.
The central assumption here is that we have to ignore of criminal wrong-doings to move forward. I thought one had to confess one’s sins to move forward; please quote the Bible verse that claims otherwise…
Shaking my head; can’t you guys do better than this?