Monday, December 10, 2007
That Unitary thing:
Over at the Prospect, in a review of the destruction of the CIA torture tapes, we read
An expert in organizations might tell us that one remedy ... is embracing a competing culture of professionalism. After all, it was the professional ethic (among other things) of the uniformed JAG lawyers in the Pentagon that led them to push back against Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s authorization of coercive interrogations by the military. And it was no doubt the professionalism of the many CIA officials who chafed against practices like waterboarding that forced the administration to document -- and then unsuccessfully defend -- the legal rationale for their use.
And it was the professionalism of the US Attorneys that resisted filing flimsy charges against Democrats close to an election.
The Bushies don't like professionalism because it interferes with them getting their way. How do they stamp it out? By invoking the Unitary Executive principle, which says in effect, that no matter what the professional approach is to a particular issue, it is subservient to the wishes of the president. That's what the Unitary Executive theory is all about.
In the corporate world, there is the "Records Retention Policy" adopted by many publicly traded corporations that may also serve as a "Records Destruction Policy." The Bush Administration, led by the first MBA (Harvard) President, may have picked this up from the private sector.
Maybe the story isn't getting traction because it was CIA career professionals, not administration officials, who were responsible for destroying the tapes, and also responsible for the decision to do so.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 — Lawyers within the clandestine branch of the Central Intelligence Agency gave written approval in advance to the destruction in 2005 of hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting interrogations of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda, according to a former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the episode.
The former intelligence official acknowledged that there had been nearly two years of debate among government agencies about what to do with the tapes, and that lawyers within the White House and the Justice Department had in 2003 advised against a plan to destroy them.
Here's why this story is going to die:
The liberal media never looks too closely at stories that might implicate their "sources" -- if the treasonous leakers inside the CIA were to be fired, where would they get the classified information they are so used to splashing the front pages with.
That's what this story is really about -- muted, silent rage that liberals are not going to be able to whip up another "Abu Ghraib" in an election year by having Democratic congressmen demand copies of the videotapes, then turn them over to the press.
Here's another reason why this story is going to die:
Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002
In Meetings, Spy Panels' Chiefs Did Not Protest, Officials Say
By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, December 9, 2007; A01
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.
Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.
"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.