The agency that committed war crimes on a vast and horrific scale has emerged from the Senate Intelligence Committee report with what it has gotten since the 1970s: total impunity and the option to reinstate torture at any time under a future president. No consequences for torture will follow – on the president’s orders. And it can come back – thanks to the president’s backing of John Brennan who does not rule it out in the future.
But there are consequences for those who violate the CIA code, even if there are none for CIA officials who violate the law. And so the only person actually prosecuted in the entire saga was a whistle-blower. So this is no big surprise either:
The CIA’s internal watchdog will resign at the end of January, a departure that comes just months after his office found that the spy agency had hacked into computers used by Senate staffers to investigate its Bush-era “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the CIA said Monday. David Buckley will leave the agency on Jan. 31 to “pursue an opportunity in the private sector,” the CIA said in a statement.
Buckley proved that John Brennan is a liar, when he denied any such hacking. And so he is now gone. As for those CIA employees who violated basic constitutional norms and hacked into the computers of their Senate over-seers, as discovered by Buckley? What will their punishment be? Well, no surprise there either:
A panel investigating the Central Intelligence Agency’s search of a computer network used by staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were looking into the C.I.A.’s use of torture will recommend against punishing anyone involved in the episode, according to current and former government officials. The panel will make that recommendation after the five C.I.A. officials who were singled out by the agency’s inspector general this year for improperly ordering and carrying out the computer searches staunchly defended their actions, saying that they were lawful and in some cases done at the behest of John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director.
Their defense is that Brennan told them to do it – and then lied about it, and then had to apologize for the lie. This is no defense. And if true, it surely requires the president to fire Brennan for both subverting the Senate’s constitutional oversight role and also lying about it. And so we end up again at Barack Obama’s desk, where he will quietly put it out with the trash. As war criminals walk the corridors at Langley and the CIA chief who defended every last one of them sails forward with impunity. And the beat goes on.
(Photo: Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan takes questions from reporters during a press conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, December 11, 2014. By Jim Watson/AFP/Getty.)