Intelligence: Blame The Messenger

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April 11, 2009: The CIA has been ordered to get rid of contract interrogators, and secret locations overseas where terrorist suspects were imprisoned and interrogated. This is all because, during the past eight years, opposition politicians in the U.S. accused the CIA of torturing terrorist suspects, to obtain information about attacks being planned. The interrogations worked, and there was very little of what one could call torture. However, the matter became a political issue, and the definition of torture was broadened to include things that are done regularly by Western police, including those in the United States.

The contract interrogators were people who had special language, cultural awareness and interrogation skills needed to get the job done. Most were former military, CIA or police interrogators, and a few were from foreign countries. These skills were particularly useful, because most of the terrorist suspects were from exotic, for most American interrogators, cultures. Having specialized knowledge was key to getting information out of many of these terrorists.

The CIA has put a brave, and career preserving, face on all this and declared that they have sufficient CIA employees to replace all the contract interrogators. They don't, and are hoping they can quietly slip into Congress or the White House and, in a classified briefing, scare the politicians sufficiently to bring in a contract interrogator for crucial situations. If not, and there's another attack in the United States that could have been provided by a competent interrogation, the blame will be shifted or, as a last resort, the CIA will have to take the blame. Thus the cycle that began in the 1940s when, right after World War II, the predecessor of the CIA, the wartime OSS (Office of Strategic Services) was disbanded for being politically incorrect and stepping on the wrong toes, repeats itself.  When the Soviet threat was realized shortly thereafter, the OSS was quickly resurrected as the CIA. But it all happened again in the 1970s, when the CIA was punished and reformed for real or imagined misbehavior during the Vietnam war.

In the aftermath of these cleansing events, competent people stay away from the CIA, more problems  arise, and desperate politicians  demand something be done, no questions asked. But many potential espionage professionals will remember, and only the most courageous and self-sacrificing will step forward.

 

 


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