Monday, May 21, 2012

Follow up on torture and leadership

I talked about the relationship between the two in this post from last week. Here is Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who interrogated some accused terrorists, talking about Jose Rodriguez's claims about torture:

Is there a cultural difference between the F.B.I. and C.I.A. that played into decisions about torture and civil liberties? As Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker, you also learned, after 9/11, that failures in intelligence—particularly in the investigation of the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, which you led—may have cost us a chance to stop the attacks. Is the situation better?

As we discussed, there’s no difference between the views of the C.I.A. and F.B.I. professionals in the field, who know what works and what doesn’t. My colleagues and I in the F.B.I., however, were fortunate to have leadership that shared our views, with the Assistant Director of the F.B.I., Pat D’Amuro, saying to Director Robert Mueller, “We don’t do that,” and Mueller agreeing. Many of my colleagues in the C.I.A. turned to their C.I.A. Inspector General to complain about what was happening—which led to the eventual shelving of the program, in 2005.

Regarding 9/11, I outline that sequence of events in “The Black Banners,” and it’s tragic. The 9/11 Commission listed that investigation as one of the best chances to stop 9/11. I often wonder how different the last decade would have been if we had been given the information we requested.

I’m out of the government now, but I sincerely hope the situation is better today.

Here's what I said about people knowing what their leaders want of them:

After you establish the punishment, you have to set forth a clear policy against torture from the top on down. You have to educate people as to what is appropriate in every situation and then hold them accountable for straying from the set policy.

Soufan and his colleagues had a clear understanding of what their bosses wanted from them and knew to go to them when those policies weren't being upheld. Given that Rodriguez is going around making money of the bad policy it doesn't seem like that last part about accountability is being upheld. But part of what prevented more torture and ending it was the leadership present at the FBI and to some extent at the CIA.

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