Thursday, August 7, 2014

Truth isn’t stranger than fiction

I just finished the recent Tom Clancy novel “Support and Defend.” Like his other books there is plenty of action, intrigue, conspiracy and patriotism at play. And, to be clear, it’s a Tom Clancey novel in that it’s in his style. The man’s been dead for nearly a year. It’s the second book his collaborator Mark Greaney has published under Clancey’s aegis. No matter, the page-turning (in my case screen swiping) taught storytelling with explosions and intrigue is an amusing escape. As I clicked through to the last page I then checked a news site to discover that after months of vehement and outraged statements to the contrary, the CIA admitted to spying on the U.S. Senate.

Mediaite reports: “CIA Director John Brennan admitted that the agency had hacked into Senate computers, as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was looking into the CIA over Bush-era torture tactics. That was in stark contrast with the defiant tone Brennan struck months ago when he adamantly denied those claims.”

President Obama the next day expressed “full support” for the Director. According to the Huffington Post the President said: “Keep in mind that John Brennan was the person who called for the [inspector general] report.” 

According to a CIA Inspector General’s Office report, agency employees in 2009 hacked Senate computers being used to compile a report on the agency’s infamous detention and interrogation program -- a move that critics have characterized as a significant breach of the separation of powers.”

As mortifying as this incident is, it occurs inside of an even more important issue. The U.S. Senate, more than a dozen years after 9/11 issued a report on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. As Senate staffers were working on that report the CIA hacked into their computers to see what they were working on.

The President’s succinctly summarized the findings: “We tortured some folks.” Once in office Obama banned the practices, but despite this he justified the torture: “It is important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had.”

The point of living in a society with rules and laws and structure was that no matter how difficult a situation may be there is a code of conduct to participate in the world. A dozen years later after trillions of dollars have been spent and thousands of people have died one of the most political and insular organizations (the U.S. Senate) still found a way to get to the truth. That's how egregious the actions were. The least we can do as citizens is to hold those who breach our trust accountable, even if our leaders show those same people “support.”

The CIA broke the law. And then the broke the law again when the investigation was underway. They did so not to forward some romanticized notion of democracy, but rather to peep into what their investigators were finding out about them. The CIA chief lied repeatedly and vociferously to the Senate under oath about the breaches. There's no consequence: the President fully supports the Director. This is America? This is our ethics? This is why we go to war?  Tom Clancey the novelist would be proud. Tom Clancey the American is rolling over in his grave at this injustice for the country he loved and wrote so patriotically about.

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