Monday, April 27, 2009

Hitchens: Disgrace and Incompetence at the CIA

I've been waiting to see what Christopher Hitchens was going to say about the torture memos. He comes out punching in Slate.

Here is a seldom-mentioned reason why the CIA might go crazy in this way, to the point where even the FBI and other agencies were cripplingly (for us) reluctant to cooperate with it. On 9/11, according to Bob Woodward, George Tenet audibly hoped that the suicide-murderers of al-Qaida were not connected to the shady-looking pupils at those flight schools in the Midwest. The schools, that is to say, about which only the CIA knew! In other words, and not for the first time, the CIA (which disbelieved the evidence of Saddam's plan to attack Kuwait in 1990 and continually excused him as a "secularist") had left us defenseless and ignorant. Unprofessional and hysterical methods of interrogation, therefore, were unleashed in part to overcompensate for—and to cover up—a general lack of professionalism at every level of the agency from the top down. The case for closing and padlocking Langley and starting all over again with an attempt at a serious national intelligence body becomes more persuasive by the day.


... But if this emergency rule-bending is then institutionalized, and kept a secret from Congress and the courts and the voters, and becomes a regular bureaucratic practice known only to an unelected and unaccountable few, then you have created a secret state within the state and are well on the road to becoming a banana republic. The next stage, very often, is that certain inconveniently damaged secret prisoners have to be made to "disappear," as in the death-squad regimes of Latin America in the days when the CIA ruled that roost as well. I am very much afraid that this will be the next awful disclosure we read about.

Definitely read the whole thing. I think Hitchens had the one of the most salient point after 9-11: Why wasn't anybody in the intelligence community fired? Reading this now in 2009, the situation has festered to a point where the country has almost lost control of the CIA by the democratic government. How many more disgraces are to come?

1 comment:

  1. "The CIA told us everything we needed to know about the Soviet Union, except that they were about to collapse". Senator Daniel Moynihan.