Strong Oversight At the CIA

From the NYTimes:

WASHINGTON — Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Senate Intelligence Committee believe that laws may have been broken in their bitter dispute over top secret documents relating to the C.I.A.’s detention program and who has the right to read them.

The Justice Department could settle the matter. But, according to department officials, it has little enthusiasm for wading into the middle of a politically charged battle that has raised constitutional issues about the separation of powers and the scope of congressional oversight.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. seemed to reflect his department’s ambivalence when he noted on Wednesday that it receives many criminal referrals and often declines to investigate or prosecute…

But some senior lawmakers said last week that they would support having an independent investigator examine the allegations because the Justice Department should not be mediating a dispute between the executive and legislative branch.

According to several people who have read the report, it concludes that the agency gained little valuable intelligence from its brutal questioning of Qaeda detainees, and that C.I.A. officials repeatedly misled the White House, Congress and the public about the value of the program.

The era after Sept. 11 is already one of the most closely studied periods of C.I.A. history, and it is not expected that the report will reveal previously undisclosed interrogation tactics or clandestine programs.

Rather, according to a former senior intelligence official briefed on the report, the agency’s objections have much to do with its tone, which the official described as prosecutorial…

ORLY?

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

65 replies
  1. 1
    Lurking Canadian says:

    Put down the pincers and flaming bamboo, Cardinal. The Grand Inquisitor is worried about our toneagain.

  2. 2
    Howard Beale IV says:

    When I think of this pissing match, this plays in my head.

  3. 3
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    The CIA has been a rogue agency and an ineffective money sink for years. The only recent CIA intelligence coup that I know of is the peeping of Senatorial computers. It has been comprehensively incapable of intelligence gathering in the ME to the point that drones used in that region get their targeting from a cockamamie scheme that relies on cell phone data – not gathered by the CIA either.

    The CIA is a relic of the Cold War. Obsolete, ineffective, rogue, and expensive. Time to dissolve the agency and replace it with something better.

    ETA: And nowadays Tom Clancy can’t even sing.

  4. 4
    deep says:

    And yet with some many subcontractors like Edward Snowden getting their hands on classified information, does the CIA even know what was going on? Do they even have control over their own employees?

  5. 5
    c u n d gulag says:

    It’s kind of hard to oversee an agency(ies) that knows who you’re schtupping, when, where, why, and how – and who pays you off!

  6. 6
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Howard Beale IV:

    Let’s face it; you can’t Torquemada anything.

  7. 7
    Amir Khalid says:

    The Department of Justice is itself part of the executive branch, as I understand. So I’m not surprised that AG Holder isn’t keen on it deciding a dispute between another agency in that branch and the legislative branch.

  8. 8
    jonas says:

    You think waterboarding hurts? You should try be on the receiving end of a Senate report with a sharp, prosecutorial tone.

  9. 9
    scav says:

    Tone!? Sweet bloodied Jesus those strong silent we do anything to protect blahblahblah patriot blah are fragile little dears.

  10. 10
    SRW1 says:

    According to several people who have read the report, it concludes that the agency gained little valuable intelligence from its brutal questioning of Qaeda detainees, and that C.I.A. officials repeatedly misled the White House, Congress and the public about the value of the program.

    Are they trying to say somebody fncked with Darth “Dick C” Vader and Old “Shoot’em in the Face” didn’t actually know what he was talking about?

  11. 11
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    So I’m not surprised that AG Holder isn’t keen on it deciding a dispute between another agency in that branch and the legislative branch.

    Add that to the list of things AG Holder doesn’t seem to be keen on.

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @SRW1:

    Are they trying to say somebody fncked with Darth “Dick C” Vader and Old “Shoot’em in the Face” didn’t actually know what he was talking about?

    Now, now, watch your tone when speaking of the Dark Lord.

  13. 13
    Epicurus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: “Auto da fe? What’s an “auto da fe”? It’s what you oughta not do, but you do anyway!” Thanks for brightening my morning with a little Mel Brooks. I needed it after reading the news today…

  14. 14
    Mike in NC says:

    @deep: Back when I worked inside the Beltway, I knew a bunch of people in the CIA. They cared a lot about their salaries, promotions, vacations, retirement benefits, travel opportunities overseas, etc. As far as generating meaningful intelligence data, not so much.

  15. 15
    srv says:

    If the NSA hasn’t done anything illegal, then I don’t see how it’s rational to assume the CIA has. Seems like some folks have weird biases for one agency over another.

  16. 16
    burnspbesq says:

    Objecting to the tone of the report? And not claiming that it is factually inaccurate?

    Hmmm …

  17. 17
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @srv:

    If the NSA hasn’t done anything illegal, then I don’t see how it’s rational to assume the CIA has.

    If the tangerine in my refrigerator isn’t spoiled then I don’t see how it’s rational to assume that the avocado in the cupboard has.

  18. 18
    burnspbesq says:

    @Mike in NC:

    So a group of Federal bureaucrats has the same issues and concerns as Federal bureaucrats in general?

    Yeah, that’s deeply troubling.

  19. 19
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I think you missed the part about their lack of interest in doing their jobs.

  20. 20
    ericblair says:

    @srv:

    If the NSA hasn’t done anything illegal, then I don’t see how it’s rational to assume the CIA has. Seems like some folks have weird biases for one agency over another.

    Maybe we look at the evidence on a case by case basis instead of broadly assuming and overgeneralizing?

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @burnspbesq: Hey, they’re taking their clue in how to respond from the vermin of the Village itself.

    It’s a good strategery for managing the fallout, after all. Spin, baby, spin!

  22. 22
    John Redford says:

    It’s not the ‘sharp tone’ that bothers people in the CIA – it’s the getting outed publicly as monsters, then getting fired, and then going to jail. Yes, they committed torture on the orders of the White House, but that’s no defense. Their only hope is to delay this long enough until the GOP takes over Congress.

  23. 23
    Eric U. says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I hope not to find out what CIA people are working on in some sort of causal setting. My experience with CIA folks has been fairly positive, but it has been a few years

    At one time it was widely recognized that the clandestine part of the agency wasn’t worth the money. They did nothing but reinforce that when Bush the lesser pumped that part of the agency up. The part of the article that says they were misleading the White House is mildly amusing, there were reports that they were getting beat-downs from Cheney if he got intelligence that didn’t fit what he wanted to hear.

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    The era after Sept. 11 is already one of the most closely studied periods of C.I.A. history,

    Is this a true statement?

  25. 25
    Shakezula says:

    I am past tired of congress-critters who claim to be shocked by the actions of the beclownshoed clown posse over at Langley. It’s what they do, it’s who they are.

  26. 26
    Cervantes says:

    @John Redford:

    Their only hope is to delay this long enough until the GOP takes over Congress.

    That’s exactly right.

    And in the many countries they ran for our corporations, hoping would not have been the only measure they took.

  27. 27
    Comrade Mary says:

    OT: Phelps is dead.

    TOPEKA, Kan (WIBW)

    Timothy Phelps, son of former Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps, told WIBW that his father died before midnight.

  28. 28
    Cervantes says:

    @deep: Snowden is known to have been hired by the NSA, not the CIA.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Eric U.:

    The part of the article that says they were misleading the White House is mildly amusing, there were reports that they were getting beat-downs from Cheney if he got intelligence that didn’t fit what he wanted to hear.

    The Dark Lord himself disdained the actual process of refining raw intel into usable intel, because in that process it killed off all the juiciest bits that fit the Dark Lord’s agenda well. So it was time to stovepipe shit directly from the wild and crazies on the ground to the Dark Lord so he could shape the narrative of the Village precisely as he wished to.

    Actual professional interrogators have no use for “advanced techniques”. They bruise the product, often to the point of uselessness. Unless, of course, it’s propaganda fodder you’re seeking. Then the techniques of Stalin’s show trials and the Hanoi Hilton are the cat’s meow.

  30. 30
    Cervantes says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    So it was time to stovepipe shit directly from the wild and crazies on the ground to the Dark Lord so he could shape the narrative of the Village precisely as he wished to.

    Slightly worse than that: some of those “wild and crazies” were doing Cheney’s bidding when they made up “intelligence” to feed us with.

  31. 31
    ruemara says:

    Tone? There needs to be polite tones, yes. Massive firings, intense prosecutions, asset seizures, independent investigation-but with the politest of tones.

  32. 32
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Comrade Mary: Is he merely dead? Or really most sincerely dead?

  33. 33
  34. 34
    raven says:

    @Comrade Mary: xin loi mofo

  35. 35
    BobbyThomson says:

    Jason Leopold? Point and laugh. Sorry, whatever good point you were making gets lost when you cite a serial fabulist.

  36. 36
    Poopyman says:

    @Betty Cracker: It ain’t over until the Coroner sings.

  37. 37
    burnspbesq says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    I think you missed the part about their lack of interest in doing their jobs.

    No, I didn’t miss it; I think it’s bullshit. Hence the snark, which you missed.

    Look, it’s just flat absurd to expect people who commit a felony by talking to outsiders about their work to talk about the specifics of their work to outsiders. Yats doesn’t talk about specifics of his work at IRS, I didn’t do it when I worked for the Office of Chief Counsel at IRS, and it’s silly to think anyone in the intel community would do it. The things you can talk about to outsiders are the silly bureaucratic nonsense that is endemic to bureaucracies.

  38. 38
    Cervantes says:

    @BobbyThomson: It’s true; he has, as they used to say, a checkered past.

  39. 39
    Gene108 says:

    Where does ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame fit into this depiction of the CIA as out of control goons?

    Ten years ago she was depicted as a person taking some personal risks to keep America safe from terrorists, who was outed and put at risk by Bush&Co.

    If the focus is on going beyond whatever torture has been authorized it is one thing, but it seems folks now want to paint the CIA with a broad brush because of the use of torture.

  40. 40
    Cervantes says:

    @burnspbesq: But Mike in NC did not say he expected anyone to divulge classified material. What he offered was an observation that it seemed certain people “cared a lot about” X and not Y.

    Of course, one could ask how he knew what they did, or did not, care a lot about — or one could accept that it’s the impression he formed, period.

  41. 41
    Suffern ACE says:

    Yeah, but I’m not certain if I’m going to be interested in an independent investigator, either. At least I’m wary of one.

  42. 42
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Old man’s laments are predictable and irrelevant, but this list of younger man’s sanctions contains some very interesting names. Poor Medvedev, though – doesn’t rate as important enough to make the list. I wonder how that makes him feel.

  43. 43
    raven says:

    Tipoff time for the greatest four days in sports!!!!

    basketball jones

  44. 44
    Cervantes says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I wonder how that makes him feel.

    Overall? Relieved, I should think.

    (Also: I left you a note about that Andalusian fisherman.)

  45. 45
    scav says:

    @Gene108: Personally, the proportion of white hats and grey hats are probably unchanged over-all, but the unaccountable not even fit to be renta-mall-cops black-hat with delusions of patriotism faintly gilding their desire to do whatever half-baked movie-derived fantasy they please are in clearly in charge and thus set the standards. Military Brass looking similar, with a specialty leaning towards sexual abuse of underlings rather than all-rambo all-bond distilled violence all the time.

  46. 46
    Violet says:

    @Cervantes: Was thinking the same thing. He’s got to be relieved he’s not important enough to be remembered during this mess. Maybe he and his family can stay out of it.

  47. 47
    Cervantes says:

    @Violet: Here (courtesy of Steven Dennis) is the list of Americans Putin has just sanctioned.

  48. 48
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Cervantes: Dan Coates? Come on, Putin. Where’s Lyndsay Graham?

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cervantes:

    Snowden is known to have been hired by the NSA, not the CIA.

    He worked for both and has said in several interviews that it was his work for the CIA in Switzerland that originally turned him against the US and intelligence work.

    ETA: Also, technically, Snowden never worked for the NSA — he worked for an NSA contractor.

  50. 50
    Cervantes says:

    @Mnemosyne: He had a contract with Booz Allen, you’re right.

  51. 51
    gratuitous says:

    Gee, the Attorney General seems singularly uninterested in prosecutions that might be hard. All that high-flying chicanery on Wall Street was just too difficult to untangle. A stern warning not to do it again should be sufficient, right? And gee whiz, some people in the Senate say one thing, and other people in the Intelligence communities say something else, and who knows who’s telling the truth? It’s just too much like the funhouse mirrors to figure out anything definitively. Best to just let it all go and tell everyone involved to play nice from now on.

    Whew! Glad that’s all settled. Oh, and if you draw the conclusion that by making your special crime complicated enough you can escape all the unpleasant consequences, well, we’d rather you didn’t think that. Pretty please?

    Totally unrelated, but it’s nice to see that there’s one other person who heard the Buffalo Springfield album, Higgs Boson’s Mate.

  52. 52
    lol says:

    @Gene108:

    10 years ago, a heroic patriotic hero blew the whistle on nepotism at the CIA.

  53. 53
    liberal says:

    @gratuitous:
    Buffalo Sp. is teh awesome.

    As for Wall St, OK, essentially no one was prosecuted, but what’s important is that a framework, Dodd-Frank, has been constructed so a crash like that cannot happen again. Not.

  54. 54
    raven says:

    @Suffern ACE: He’s already banned for, ummmm, obvious reasons.

  55. 55
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @liberal: As for Wall St, OK, essentially no one was prosecuted

    Preet Bharara has been both busy and astoundingly successful.

  56. 56
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Their history of racism — which, like the FBI, makes them vulnerable to affiliation fraud, the con that allowed Richard Hansen to get away with it for years — completely crippled them during the “war on terror”. Expensive, ineffective, and still run like the WASP anglo old boy’s club that Dulles shaped it into after the toffs wrested the agency away from the peasants who ran the Army so they could play superspy with their old school chums in MI-whatever. I read this great book, AFL-CIA, ostensibly about the CIA’s payments to AFL for their overseas anti-Communist union solidarity activities but really more about the CIA’s extensive history of suck. Good read, would recommend.

  57. 57
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mike in NC: “If I told you what I do, I’d have to kill you, because, woo, if word got out, the American Taxpayer would be marching to Northern Virginia with pitchforks.”

  58. 58
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @burnspbesq: You disappoint me burnsy. Don’t you know any lawyers at Justice? I do. They are passionate about their jobs.

  59. 59
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @gratuitous: Your deranged Holder hate is noted.

    I find it amusing that so many soi-disant liberals just assume that Wall Street was doing something illegal to crash the economy. If so, where are the lawsuits from investors? No, most of what they did was totally legal; the crash was baked in the cake by selling volumes of derivatives on a bubble market that couldn’t be paid out when the bill came due. Too big to fail? Clinton and Bush created it by declining to regulate these markets–in fact, they deregulated, sweeping away old post-1929 reforms that aimed to prevent a crash like 2008. Oh well.

    And Holder is doing great stuff, if, say, you are a person of color in a hostile state that wants to vote.

    Holder is one of the most misestimated men in US politics.

  60. 60
    brantl says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    I find it amusing that so many soi-disant liberals just assume that Wall Street was doing something illegal to crash the economy

    They did, they consistently, batantly lied about the value of those mortgages.

  61. 61
    danielx says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Add that to the list of things AG Holder doesn’t seem to be keen on.

    Chief among them being investigating and prosecuting Wall Street plutocrats. Difficulty in proving cases, my ass – if the feds want to put somebody away, they’ll find a reason and a way to do so, never mind what the real motivation is for doing so, and most especially if the person they want is already involved in shady activities. It’s not like it’s a new tactic, for chrissakes; they ended up putting Al Capone away for tax evasion and that was way far from the worst thing he’d done.

  62. 62
    MomSense says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The whole point of waterboarding is to torture people until they tell you what you want to hear–to make it fucking stop! It is not an effective means of getting credible information.

    The darklord had a bunch of death eaters who were perfectly willing to go along with his sadistic charade in order to fuel the war on terror.

  63. 63
    Anne Laurie says:

    @BobbyThomson: Jason Leopold didn’t write the USAToday op-ed, nor the NYTimes report. Unless you have reason to believe ‘Dean Boyd, CIA Public Affairs Director’ is his pseudonym, all Leopold did was tweet a link.

  64. 64
    Bob In Portland says:

    Throughout its history the CIA has had an okeydoke where they plead incompetence and get more funds.

  65. 65
    rhoda in the valley says:

    @Bobby Thomson: jason leopold has been doing the most important work on the Freedom of information Act. Using an eight year old story to discredit a person whose work over the past eight years has been nothing short of amazing is just wrong.

Comments are closed.