Friday, April 10, 2009

CIA to Close Secret Prisons

The New York Times published two articles written by Scott Shane on the announcement from the CIA that they'd be closing the secret prisons. In the first story, which Talk Left posted about, the very important point was made that they "will no longer use contractors to conduct interrogations." The second article included the statement by agency’s director.

Leon E. Panetta, said agency officers who worked in the program “should not be investigated, let alone punished” because the Justice Department under President George W. Bush had declared their actions legal.

This would be in spite of the fact that Panetta and other top Obama administration officials have said they believe that waterboarding, the near-drowning method used in 2002 and 2003 on three prisoners, is torture, which is illegal under American and international law.

In his first week in office, President Obama banned coercive interrogations and ordered the C.I.A. program closed. Mr. Panetta said that the C.I.A. had not detained any terrorism suspects since he took office in February and added that any suspects captured in the future would be quickly turned over to the American military or to a suspect’s home country.

What do you think about this? Is the fact that torture and secret prisons are things of the past, or is it necessary to prosecute people for having been involved? Is the CIA Director right to say that his people should not be investigated or charged with wrongdoing?

Is the fact that these black sites have been closed and that torture is no longer utilized a feather in Obama's cap? Should he be credited for accomplishing this as he promised during the campaign?

What's your opinion? Please feel free to leave a comment.


  1. While I do not like to watch American news programs, the piece by Olberman was very interesting. It highlights the path America is taking towards an Imperial Presidency. One of the consequences of a having an Empire is that a country often has to give up its democracy to hold that empire together. Many academic authors have discussed the Imperial Presidency and the US Congress even wrote a 400 page report on it. I wrote about this in a blog posting back in March called Reining in the US Presidency. The US Congress can challenge it, but as the video report said, the US Congress is so partisan now, they can’t even challenge the Executive Branch because of partisan politics.
    In the discussion segment of the piece, the Newsweek guy discussed the politics of the CIA and how the Obama administration does not want to antagonize the intelligence services. What the hell is that? The Newsweek guy should have called the CIA and the intelligence services the national security state which it is. As a conservative and very smart academic scholar on American politics recently said in an interview about his new book, one of the institutions that benefited from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is the national security state.
    Believe it or not, but that is what is going on inside “the Beltway”.
    Can’t have a democracy and an Empire. Obama knows the power of the CIA and does not want to end up like JFK.

  2. MikeB,

    Perhaps Panetta has a reason to try to keep people from investigating the CIA's actions:

    Ex-CIA Big: Bill Clinton Authorized Extralegal Interrogations

    The man who ran the Central Intelligence Agency’s Bin Laden desk during the 1990s is accusing President Clinton of giving the CIA carte blanche to circumvent U.S. law and interrogate terrorist suspects in any way the agency saw fit - a directive that led to the establishment of secret CIA prisons on foreign soil

    According to an Agence France Press summary of the Die Zeit interview, Scheuer explained that the Clinton administration “had been looking in the mid-1990s for a way to combat the terrorist threat and circumvent the cumbersome US legal system.”

    The top Bin Laden hunter recalled that the extralegal directive came after “President Clinton, his national security advisor Sandy Berger and his terrorism advisor Richard Clark ordered the CIA in the autumn of 1995 to destroy Al-Qaeda.”

    Fact Sheet: Extraordinary Rendition

    Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where — in the CIA’s view — federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards. This program is commonly known as “extraordinary rendition.”

    The current policy traces its roots to the administration of former President Bill Clinton. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, what had been a limited program expanded dramatically, with some experts estimating that 150 foreign nationals have been victims of rendition in the last few years alone

    Or this one:
    EXCLUSIVE: Panetta faces rendition queries

    President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for CIA director, Leon Panetta, served as White House chief of staff during the time the Clinton administration accelerated a practice of kidnapping terrorist suspects and sending them to countries with records of torturing prisoners, human rights organizations and former U.S. officials say.

    Or from that “right wing propaganda” MotherJones

    First introduced during the Clinton administration, extraordinary renditions—in which suspected terrorists are turned over to countries known to use torture, usually for the purpose of extracting information from them—have been one of the cia’s most controversial tools in the war on terror. According to legal experts, the practice has no justification in United States law and flagrantly violates the Convention Against Torture, an international treaty that Congress ratified in 1994. Nonetheless, Congress and the American courts have essentially ignored the practice, and the Bush administration has insisted that it has never knowingly sent anyone to a place where he will be tortured.

  3. So what's your point, Bob? Because this awful business preceded Bush, no one should be held accountable?

    What about you, Prince? Should someone pay for our having had secret prisons and used torture?

  4. Mike,

    Just pointing out that Panetta has a reason to try to let people off the hook.

    As I said on OneUtah, bring on the investigation but don't stop at Bush.

    This started, the extraordinary renditions and secret prisons in the Clinton Admin.

    You don't seem to suffer from the Bush Derangement Syndrome that many do. I'll give you that.

  5. Yes, of course. Anyone who broke the law should be held accountable.

    All men are created equal. All men and women should be treated before the law.

    While speaking of the CIA lets quote the US Constitution that says that the US Congress should have be able to account for all receipts and expenditures. The secret (black) budget by the CIA violates this clause of the US Constitution. I am sure all the second amendment supporters out there would also like to see all the amendments and clauses the US Constitution has to be upheld, in addition to their cherished 2nd amendment.

    When you start picking and choosing what can be enforced like the US Constitution or who goes to jail or who is not punished, than you head down a very non democratic path.

  6. Hey MIKEB,

    When you start picking and choosing what can be enforced like the US Constitution or who goes to jail or who is not punished, than you head down a very non democratic path.

    Here that...are you willing to admit, as Il Principe states, that since you are trying to pick and choose which part of the Constitution you enforce you are heading down a very non-democratic path?

  7. Bob said, You don't seem to suffer from the Bush Derangement Syndrome that many do. I'll give you that."

    When I read that, I had the strongest jolt of Scockholm Syndrome I've felt in a long time.

  8. MikeB,

    When I read that, I had the strongest jolt of Scockholm Syndrome I've felt in a long time.

    Could you explain what you mean by this?