The CIA Kicks Its Outgoing IG In The Nuts

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 15 2015 @ 12:07pm

I wrote a little about this yesterday, but the actual details of the fallout of the CIA’s spying on its Senate overseers are jaw-dropping. The CIA “Accountability Review Board” (try not to burst out laughing) put out a report over some Senators’ objections exonerating everyone at the CIA and castigating the CIA’s out-going inspector general, David Buckley, for finding fault with the spying on the Senate ordered by John Brennan, Obama’s duplicitous, self-serving CIA chief. Buckley announced he was quitting only last week.

So the CIA wins yet one more round against the Senate, its purported over-seer, cementing its role as the government agency in which no one is ever held accountable for anything, including torturing innocent prisoners to death:

Feinstein noted that Brennan himself had previously apologized for the actions of some CIA officials in the dispute. “The decision was made to search committee computers, and someone should be found responsible for those actions,” Feinstein said in her statement. But Bayh, in a statement, said the board found that no discipline was warranted for the five CIA employees — two of whom were lawyers — because “they acted reasonably under the complex and unprecedented circumstances.”

That would require reversing every conclusion made by the previous inspector-general; and so the report does exactly that:

The accountability board headed by Bayh and Bauer rejected nearly every finding by the inspector general. It concluded that there was “no basis” for the Justice Department referral, noting that one of the officials who oversaw the matter “reasonably believed” he was acting under the authority of Brennan himself and that the director had cautioned against intruding on the Senate’s internal work product.

The board also found there was no basis for the charges against the officials for showing a lack of candor, noting that the inspector general’s office did not record its interviews with the officials or keep a record of the questions it had asked them. Among the panel’s recommendations were that the inspector general keep “more complete records of interviews.”

So the only two men actually held accountable in any way by the CIA and the president on the issue of torture and of unconstitutionally wire-tapping the Senate staffers’ emails are the whistle-blower on torture and the very inspector-general who had the integrity to call a crime a crime. They are thorough at the CIA. Anyone guilty of war crimes must be protected at all costs; anyone who challenges that cover-up will be jailed or publicly castigated. And the president is fine with all of it. He has created precedents which essentially grant impunity to future torture, which many Republican candidates will surely want to bring back, and to future wire-tapping of Senate staffers tasked with oversight.

Obama has made torture much more likely to return – and will bequeath to his successor a CIA that knows it can do anything and no one can touch it. In this long game, the torturers have won. Because the president surrendered.