Monday, December 10, 2007

Destroying evidence at CIA?

From BoingBoing today: The CIA may have destroyed a videotape of a particularly, um, "aggressive" interrogation of a couple of AQ suspects. The reason given for the alleged destruction of evidence is to "protect agency operatives from legal consequences".


Let's get a couple of things out of the way first, shall we?

First, our intelligence agencies use interrogation tactics which I think we can all agree constitute "torture". If you aren't sure waterboarding is torture, I invite you to read Andy McNab's latest, wherein his protagonist undergoes a waterboarding session, described in McNab's hallmark vivid prose.

It's torture. It may not be a Sears Die Hard hooked up to your naughty bits, but it's torture.

Second, not all that many of us would have thought this was a bad idea on Sept 12, 2001. I'm not saying torture is not a bad idea. And don't get all defensive about this either. Think about it - would you REALLY have objected so strongly to fake-drowning Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the day after his boys killed 3,000 Americans? Or would you have volunteered to fill the buckets? Be honest, now.

Third, AQ giggles their fanatical little aces off whenever we get our knickers in a twist over "aggressive interrogations". Ask the Russians about the respectful and subtle interrogation methods the mujaheddin used on their prisoners back in the 80s (you know, when Osama and Omar were collecting the CIA's "SAMs and Semtex" Happy Meal toys). If you can find anyone with first-hand experience. Ask the KBR truck drivers who get lifted in Iraq or the NGO reps who never come home from Somalia how much AQ and its franchisees care for their prisoners.

I'm not saying two wrongs make a right. I'm just saying the other guys are not exactly constrained by morality on this matter.

Glad we got those things out of the way.

This accusation, if true, is one of the most disturbing things I've heard since Iran-Contra. In fact, I'm trying to think of anything more disturbing since Iran-Contra and coming up blank.

God Almighty.

Either this is a country ruled by law or it isn't. If it is ruled by law, then the law applies to all. You don't get to set it aside because you think someone is trying to kill you.

Wait a second. Yes, you do. It's called self-defense. Is that the rationalization?

Maybe so, but it sure doesn't explain the destruction of evidence. The Bloated Irishman from Hyannisport compares this egregious disregard for our nation's laws to the gap in the Watergate tapes, and he's right. This is simple and blatant cover-up, clearly actions intended to avoid prosecution and legal recourse against the participants.

I can go with you, a little, on the torture bit. I've said it before - the CIA has the toughest job I can think of this side of Israeli policeman. On the day after the next terrorist attack on the US, we'll all ask the boys and girls in Langley what they did to prevent that attack, and the only screams will come when they admit they didn't lean on their prisoners enough.

It's the obstruction bit I can't abide...

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