FROM Fred Hitz
The CIA Torture Tapes In 2005, the CIA destroyed videotape that showed interrogations of terrorist suspects. Today's New York Times reports that CIA lawyers gave written permission--despite advice from the White House and the Department of Justice, and without asking their own boss. CIA Director Michael Hayden says the objective was protecting the identities of the interrogators themselves. Today, Hayden was called to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee —behind closed doors, about why the videotapes, despite advice from the White House. Outside the closed hearing, Democrats and Republicans are among those suggesting possible crimes of torture and obstruction of justice. Might the tapes have made a difference to the 9/11 Commission , trials of accused terrorists and enactments by Congress? Are there any new lessons about the CIA and the quality of US intelligence?
The CIA Investigates Its Own Chief Watchdog The CIA is a top-secret agency, but like other government agencies, it's subject to oversight by an Inspector General, an internal watchdog with the authority to audit, inspect and investigate personnel and procedures. In his work and his reports to Congress the IG is supposed to be fair to the employees involved—and independent of the officials who call the shots. In the past few years, John Helgerson has issued scathing reports on overseas prisons, interrogations and intelligence failures. Now, CIA Director Michael Hayden is investigating Helgerson—an unprecedented review that's raised hackles on Capitol Hill. Has Helgerson been unfair to career officers, including former Director George Tenet? Will Hayden's probe intimidate whistle-blowers and compromise the Inspector General's independence?
The Stormy History of the CIA The Central Intelligence Agency was founded 60 years ago tomorrow. President Harry Truman wanted no more surprises--like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But from the beginning, the CIA has been asked to do more than gather intelligence. Subsequent presidents have demanded that secret agents also conduct secret missions, and that has corrupted the CIA's ability to speak truth to power. That's the thesis of Pulitzer-Prize winner Tim Weiner of the New York Times, whose latest book is Legacy of Ashes : The History of the CIA.
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?