News that the Central Intelligence Agency has been abusing terror suspects hardly comes as a surprise.
The civilian spy agency has a long history of questionable behaviour that first came to light, in a big way, during the investigations into the Watergate scandal.
Back then, in the 1970s, even some members of Congress were surprised to learn that the CIA had been involved in a number of assassinations of foreign leaders, attempted assassinations, and illegal spying on American citizens.
Now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the world is beginning to learn about the CIA’s sickening treatment of detainees under President George W. Bush.
Among the latest revelations comes news that:
• CIA agents threatened to kill the children of self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
• Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a suspect in the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, was hooded, handcuffed and threatened with a gun and a revving power drill. A CIA interrogator also threatened his mother and family, implying they would be sexually abused in front of him.
• In other cases, mock executions were staged in prison cells near where suspects were being held.
President Barack Obama has signalled his government will investigate the abuse of detainees under the Bush administration, but so far it’s unclear if anyone is actually going to be prosecuted.
Virtually no one expects the investigation and possible prosecution to go all the way up the food chain to include former President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
That’s a shame because their possible involvement ought to at least be studied.
Remember, Cheney is the guy who clings to the nonsense that CIA agents are being set up as “the targets of political investigations or prosecutions.”
Could it be that he’s wary of anyone linking the misbehaviour to him? Who knows?
Americans, and people in other countless other countries, had extremely high expectations of Obama when he was first elected.
Now that he’s waffling a little on health-care reform, that optimism is subsiding slightly.
If he allows the CIA to get away with needlessly cruel and perverted tactics, then his reputation too will be soiled.
We can only hope for the best now that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has named a special prosecutor to probe CIA prisoner abuse cases.
Whatever happens, surely any future abuses during the Obama presidency won’t be any worse that those that occurred during the Bush era, will they?
Let’s hope not. The world’s policeman is already rather tarnished.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.