Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Scott Horton notes the increasing reluctance on the part of the Obama administration to get to the bottom of the torture that was ordered by senior members of the Bush administration. In this article he explains how Republicans in the Senate are threatening to derail Obama administration appointments to prevent the release of three key memos authored by the OLC in the early days of the war on terror. Today he links to this article in the Daily Beast by John Sifton, who says that Obama's new CIA director, Leon Panetta, may himself have very compelling reasons for not wanting to get to the bottom of the CIA's role in torturing detainees:

The New York Times reported that Leon Panetta, the current CIA director, has taken the position that “no one who took actions based on legal guidance from the Department of Justice at the time should be investigated, let alone punished.” Yet a number of CIA officials implicated in the torture program not only remain at the highest levels of the agency, but are also advising Panetta. Panetta’s attempt to suppress the issue is making Bush’s policy into the Obama administration’s dirty laundry.

Take Stephen Kappes. At the time of the worst torture sessions outlined in the ICRC report, Kappes served as a senior official in the Directorate of Operations—the operational part of the CIA that oversees paramilitary operations as well as the high-value detention program. (The directorate of operations is now known as the National Clandestine Service.) Panetta has kept Kappes as deputy director of the CIA—the number two official in the agency. One of Kappes’ deputies from 2002-2004, Michael Sulick, is now director of the National Clandestine Service—the de facto number three in the agency. Panetta’s refusal to investigate may be intended to protect his deputies. Since the basic facts about their involvement in the CIA interrogation program are now known, Panetta’s actions are increasingly looking like a cover-up.

As far as I'm concerned, they can burn the CIA down if that's what it takes to get to the bottom of the torture scandal. As useless as that organization has been in recent years, it'd be no great loss and there'd be a substantial upside; a final reckoning on what government officials did to detainees in our custody during the "war on terror". I won't stand for this stonewalling and neither should you, and you can tell the White House what you think about it yourself here.

UPDATE: And then there's the whole NSA surveillance/state secrets privilege thing, which you should probably save for a separate email to the White House just to make sure you get your point across.

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