24 May 2013

About F%$#ing Time

In a shift, America's premier spy agency had decided to start spying again:
For more than seven years, Mike — a lean, chain-smoking officer at the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Virginia — has managed the agency’s deadly campaign of armed drone strikes. As the head of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, Mike wielded tremendous power in hundreds of decisions over who lived and died in far-off lands.

But under a new plan outlined by the Obama administration on Thursday, the Counterterrorism Center over time would cease to be the hub of America’s targeted killing operations in Pakistan, Yemen and other places where presidents might choose to wage war in the future. Already, the C.I.A.’s director, John O. Brennan, has passed over Mike, an undercover officer whose full name is being withheld, for a promotion to run the agency’s clandestine service.

It is a sign that Mr. Brennan is trying to shift the C.I.A.’s focus back toward traditional spying and strategic analysis, but that is not an easy task.
Missing from the story is why the CIA moved from intelligence business into the murder business.

It happened because the CIA was not constrained by treaty, law, or culture in the same way that the military was. It was another Guantanamo style black hole, and this was reinforced the fact that the CIA is by design far more opaque than the military, and far more Contemptuous of congressional oversight.

The CIA got into the wholesale murder business because it was a conscious decision made by the Bush administration to avoid the rule of law and public disclosure. This decision has been and embraced and extended by the Obama administration, at least until recently.


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