The Phaserl


The CIA Is An Ethics-Free Zone

from, The News Doctors:

The CIA was vastly different back then from the agency that emerged in the days after the 9/11 attacks. And it was a far cry from the flawed and confused organization it is today.

One reason for those flaws — and for the convulsions the agency has experienced over the past decade and a half — is its utter lack of ethics in intelligence operations.

It’s no secret that the CIA has gone through periods where violating U.S. law and basic ethics were standard operating procedure. During the Cold War, the agency assassinated foreign leaders,toppled governmentsspied on American citizens, and conducted operations with no legal authority to do so. That’s an historical fact.

I liked to think that things had changed by the time I worked there. CIA officers, I believed, were taught about legal limits to their operations — they learned what was and wasn’t permitted by law.

After 9/11, the CIA seemed to believe the rules of engagement had fundamentally changed. But when it came to prohibitions against torture, assassination, and other rights violations, they hadn’t. We had to fight al-Qaeda, but we should have done it within the law.

All CIA officers should have been trained in carrying out intelligence operations ethically. That never happened — and today we can see the results.

Let’s say you’re a CIA officer and you’ve recruited an amazing source. Your source has direct access to the leadership of the Islamic State, and everything he’s reported to you so far has checked out. You’ve vetted him, so you know he’s telling you the truth about the details of his access.

One day you’re meeting with him. He tells you that he’s done everything you’ve asked and he feels that you “owe” him. He says that he wants a prostitute, and if you don’t get him one, he’s going to stop cooperating.

Would you?

Frankly, just about every case officer I’ve ever known would. But what if he asks you to get him achildprostitute? Would you do it?

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