When Does Something Not New, Make News?
Yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of CIA interrogation abuses has provided the 7/24 news cycle with an early Christmas present. This story combines the best of everything. There is a platform for partisanship, another for pseudo patriotism, one for rewriting history, and the most important, an opportunity to reflect upon how the Government can secretly go wrong for what appear to be the right reasons. Hmmm.
Democrats want Americans to know clearly what happened under Republican President George W Bush and his Republican friends. Republicans want Americans to know that valuable information was obtained in a war time setting and that criticizing the CIA is almost treasonous.
Dick Cheney proudly put forward the words that the CIA was doing dirty work in a dirty world in their efforts to protect Americans from another 9/11. For some who have been exposed with their fingers in the cookie jar, it is a chance to “correct” the record by claiming they were acting under orders from the top.
And, those who had already known of these abuses but could not speak or write with certainty (since everything was classified), there is now a chance to explain step by step how an Administration which believed the ends justify the means could hijack the Country’s moral and ethical core.
President Bush’s naive “do what it takes” message was paid back with his subordinates not detailing what the CIA was actually doing to the President until 2006. This was clearly an attempt at protecting the President with plausible deniability.
It was the Bush Administration who hired and then fired Justice Department counsel until they found ones who believed that extreme measures (maybe short of drawing and quartering) was legal. It was the Office of the Vice President who relentlessly pushed the CIA, NSA, and others to get results. These “legal opinions” and subsequent classification that served as the cover to keep these programs secret and fully operational.
The Senate Intelligence Committee release of abusive CIA programs is really about much more.
In the business world, executives sometimes find also themselves in precarious situations. Business failure endangers both shareholders and employees. Sometimes these leaders decide that instead of running harder in their assigned lane around the track, they could cut across the infield and rejoin the track way ahead of competition. In other words, these executives believe they can suspend rules of fair (and legal) play because they “need” to protect employees or shareholders.
Beginning with the likes of Dick Cheney this attitude of justifying any means if they believed the ends were important was the start of the fast track lane to failure.
Anyone is capable of this type of leadership. Only a few are capable of leading successfully while playing by the rules.
Given the political partisan nature of the US today, it is very unlikely that prosecutions will follow. And if the prosecutions were limited to the “few bad apples” as in the Abu Greive debacle, then I would not want to see the lower operatives punished and their chain of command retire in luxury.
I wonder how long this report will last in the 7/24 news cycle?