We All Must Keep Bringing It Up Again and Again
Within C.I.A., Growing Worry of Prosecution
By DOUGLAS JEHL and DAVID JOHNSTON Published: February 27, 2005
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 - There is widening unease within the Central Intelligence Agency over the possibility that career officers could be prosecuted or otherwise punished for their conduct during interrogations and detention of terrorism suspects, according to current and former government officials.
Until now, only one C.I.A. employee, a contract worker from North Carolina, has been charged with a crime in connection with the treatment of prisoners, stemming from a death in Afghanistan in 2003. But the officials confirmed that the agency had asked the Justice Department to review at least one other case, from Iraq, to determine if a C.I.A. officer and interpreter should face prosecution.
In addition, the current and former government officials said the agency's inspector general was now reviewing at least a half-dozen other cases, and perhaps many more, in what they described as an expanding circle of inquiries to determine whether C.I.A. employees had been involved in any misconduct.
Previously, intelligence officials have acknowledged only that "several" cases were under review by the agency's inspector general. But one government official said, "There's a lot more out there than has generally been recognized, and people at the agency are worried."
Of particular concern, the officials said, is the possibility that C.I.A. officers using interrogation techniques that the government ruled as permissible after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks might now be punished, or even prosecuted, for their actions in the line of duty.
I hold no brief to argue that only the employees should be punished and not the leaders who gave them carte blanche to murder and torture. If there is a de facto amnesty for the leaders, because they can hide behind a wall of secrecy and "executive privilege", then there should also be a de jure amnesty for the followers under their orders.
But the torturing must stop.