Made In America

You Never Hear It Coming

Officers are concerned that public revelation of the CTC (Counterterrorist Center) program will seriously damage Agency officers’ reputations, as well as the reputation and effectiveness of the Agency itself . . .

According to a number of those [analysts] interviewed for this Review, the Agency’s intelligence on Al-Qa’ida was limited to prior to the initiation of the CTC Interrogation Program. The Agency lacked adequate linguists or subject matter experts and had very little hard knowledge of what particular Al-Qai’da leaders – who later became detainees – knew. This lack of knowledge led analysts to speculate about what a detainee “should know”, vice information the analysts could objectively demonstrate the detainee did know. . .

When a detainee did not respond to a question posed to him, the assumption at Headquarters was that the detainee was holding back and knew more; consequently Headquarters recommended resumption of EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques].

Those nuggets, buried within the released CIA IG Report, are all you really need to know. The rest is dressage. The Report like most well crafted government documents obeys certain forms and rituals. The damning truth above is embedded — like steganography; there was and is no professional intelligence justification for any of it. The Report also confirms what we’ve known, the Agency’s Office of General Counsel was an active participant in shaping and distorting information (such as hiding the SERE proponents’ lack of credentials or skills from the Agency’s Office of Medical Services, etc.) As a lurid distraction, we are also treated to the utterly disheartening spectacle of Agency officers or contractors role playing like unusually dim Chekists in Lubyanka’s basement.

Writing a report like this as noted is a stylized ritual like a waltz. Even with the black out this is an intricate and synchronized affair. Major FCC Orders recite a factual record similarly but on a more mundane level (and oddly are as opaque on pages as the black out).

The IG’s Office (and we’ve personally known and respected senior personnel in that office) weave a tapestry around the wreckage that shields but does not contradict this devastating, damning finding. For example, the Report notes that valuable information did indeed come from detainees while carefully noting the information obtained was not due to torture and emphasizing the disorganized program can not demonstrate any clear cut instance where the torture produced uniquely helpful information [we will eschew Cofer Black's et. al preferred faux macho euphemism 'enhanced interrogation techniques'].

The Scott Horton types justifiably will be up in arms about the human rights abuses and torture. There is also a more nuanced discussion to be had about the corruption of the intelligence product cycle, as well as continued human capital problems. And as you know, we continue to believe the Nation and currently serving personnel would be better off starting clean and letting CIA’s corpse be interred.

We can’t think of any platform where this more serious conversation could occur, especially sans tired culprits like John McLaughlin stroking The Beard in his comedic ‘Situation Room’. Perhaps Rachel Maddow can help out.

We doubt much will come from any of this (particularly the glaring collapse of congressional oversight). With Obama’s promise of non-prosecution for any officer or contractor who acted within the four corners of the absurd OLC memos Holder is free to go after the few, new Lynndie Englands. If they play their cards right, they will position themselves as martyrs, get book deals, air time on Fox and then become senior fellows with that titan of international policy analysis, Cliff May. Embedding the rendition and detainee program with Brennan in the White House would not have occurred to Terry Gilliam even with ether and a Samoan attorney.

Sad times for the Stiftung. We used to pride ourselves as being different. We *were* different. One more thing destroyed by Tenet, Black et al.