Powered by WebAds

Thursday, April 30, 2009

'A chilling effect on US counter-terrorism'

In its weekly report, Stratfor describes some of the effects of the release of the 'torture memos' - and potentially of a 'truth commission' - on US counter-terrorist intelligence capabilities.
Politics and moral arguments aside, the end effect of the memos’ release is that people who have put their lives on the line in U.S. counterterrorism efforts are now uncertain of whether they should be making that sacrifice. Many of these people are now questioning whether the administration that happens to be in power at any given time will recognize the fact that they were carrying out lawful orders under a previous administration. It is hard to retain officers and attract quality recruits in this kind of environment. It has become safer to work in programs other than counterterrorism.

The memos’ release will not have a catastrophic effect on U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Indeed, most of the information in the memos was leaked to the press years ago and has long been public knowledge. However, when the release of the memos is examined in a wider context, and combined with a few other dynamics, it appears that the U.S. counterterrorism community is quietly slipping back into an atmosphere of risk-aversion and malaise — an atmosphere not dissimilar to that described by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9/11 Commission) as a contributing factor to the intelligence failures that led to the 9/11 attacks.


Services like the Jordanian General Intelligence Department, the Saudi Mabahith or the Yemeni National Security Agency not only can recruit sources, but also are far more successful in using young Muslim officers to penetrate terrorist groups. In addition to their source networks and penetration operations, many of these liaison services are not at all squeamish about using extremely enhanced interrogation techniques — this is the reason many of the terrorism suspects who were the subject of rendition operations ended up in such locations. Obviously, whenever the CIA is dealing with a liaison service, the political interests and objectives of the service must be considered — as should the possibility that the liaison service is fabricating the intelligence in question for whatever reason. Still, in the end, the CIA historically has received a significant amount of important intelligence (perhaps even most of its intelligence) via liaison channels.

Another concern that arises from the call for a truth commission is the impact a commission investigation could have on the liaison services that have helped the United States in its counterterrorism efforts since 9/11. Countries that hosted CIA detention facilities or were involved in the rendition or interrogation of terrorist suspects may find themselves exposed publicly or even held up for some sort of sanction by the U.S. Congress. Such activities could have a real impact on the amount of cooperation and information the CIA receives from these intelligence services.


As we’ve previously noted, it was a lack of intelligence that helped fuel the fear that led the Bush administration to authorize enhanced interrogation techniques. Ironically, the current investigation into those techniques and other practices (such as renditions) may very well lead to significant gaps in terrorism-related intelligence from both internal and liaison sources — again, not primarily because of the prohibition of torture, but because of larger implications.

When these implications are combined with the long-standing institutional aversion of U.S. government agencies toward counterterrorism, and with the difficulty of finding and retaining good people willing to serve in counterterrorism roles, the U.S. counterterrorism community may soon be facing challenges even more daunting than those posed by its already difficult mission.
Read the whole thing.

I'd be shocked if Israel had no role to play in the United States' counter-terrorist efforts. After all, that's one of the areas in which this country specializes. Not to mention how many of those terrorists target Israel and Jews....

But don't worry. America is in good hands. The world is going to love us. What could go wrong?


At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just put all the counter-terrorism experts under the bus, babe.

At 3:41 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

If the US government sees a problem with fighting terrorism in the shadows, another 9/11 is likely to happen again in America. I do not think leftists understand either the enemy or why morally problematic methods have to be used in or to defeat them. And the enemy known as Islam has none of the moral scruples the West takes so dear to heart. Playing by Marquis Of Queensberry rules when it comes to terrorism will only ensure more innocent people will needlessly die - which is of no consequence to those who refuse to understand the necessity of trade-offs in life and the real costs of moral posturing upon their societies.


Post a Comment

<< Home