Via Greg Djerejian, Robin Wright reports that “More than two dozen Iranian American and human rights groups have launched an appeal to Congress to reduce or eliminate new financial support of up to $75 million aimed at promoting democracy inside Iran.” Predictably, the Bush administration’s efforts to co-opt the Iranian democracy movement and fold it into the American right’s bizarre geopolitical schemes has tended to backfire and displease actual Iranians and human rights advocates.
The CIA’s Inspector General (IG) has investigated some of the Bush administration’s most controversial programs, includings its detainee torture policies. In 2004, IG John L. Helgerson issued a report warning “that some C.I.A.-approved interrogation procedures appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as defined by the international Convention Against Torture.”
The New York Times reports today that CIA Director Michael Hayden, who has been unhappy with Helgerson’s aggressive oversight, has ordered an internal investigation into Helgerson. The move is “unusual, if not unprecedented, and would threaten to undermine the independence of the office.”
Helgerson wasn’t the only government official concerned with the Bush administration’s torture policies. Harper’s Ken Silverstein reports today that “several sources” have told him that a senior CIA legal official quit in protest of such “enhanced interrogations” policies:
[I]t turns out that a former senior CIA legal official quit in protest over the administration’s use of “enhanced interrogations.” This official, whose name I have promised not to publish, previously worked as a deputy IG for investigations under Frederick Hitz, who served as CIA IG between 1990 and 1998. From there, the official moved on the CIA’s Office of General Counsel.
What’s interesting is that this official was generally known as something of a hardliner. I haven’t been able to pin down the date of his departure, which may have occurred a year ago or more. However, the sources tell me he couldn’t stomach what he deemed to be abuses by the Bush Administration and stepped down from his post.
Silverstein also reported in April 2006 that there was “a quiet conspiracy by rational people” at the CIA to “avoid involvement” in some of the Bush administration’s most objectionable policies, such as rendition.
UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman has House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes’s (D-TX) reaction to Hayden’s investigation of Helgerson HERE.
I think there’s pretty good reason to believe that Mitt Romney’s conduct of foreign policy would be better than Rudy Giuliani’s, which is precisely what makes the kind of rank ignorance on display here so frightening:
The idea that we should be laying awake at night afraid that a group of at most several thousand people who control almost no territory or valuable military equipment might establish a universal caliphate or “collapse freedom loving nations like us” is ridiculous. Al-Qaeda’s goals are absurd, and obviously so, and one ought to say so confidently. The fact that a relatively small group of people with lunatic goals can nevertheless knock down giant office buildings and murder a huge number of people is, indeed, something to be afraid of but not nearly on the grand geopolitical level Romney is postulating here.
On top of that what does this have to do with Iran?
Josh Marshall has some apposite remarks of the announcement that Rudy Giuliani has signed Michael Rubin on as an advisor. I must say, though, that I think remarks like “You really might as well put Ahmed Chalabi as your top Mideast or Iran advisor” do a disservice to Chalabi. After all, even though at the end of the day Chalabi didn’t succeed in getting the United States to install him as President for Life of Iraq, he did come damn close.
If you look at where Chalabi was in, say, 1993 and where he wound up in 2003, you’ve got to admit that you’re looking at a shrewd and effective operator. His American allies — guys like Rubin, in short — just look like dupes or maniacs or whatever.