23 Apr 2009

“Like a Car Bomb in the Driveway”

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David Ignatius predicts that US counter-terrorism operations will be focused on the avoidance of domestic political jeopardy rather than serious results for a long time to come. The CIA is going into into self defense mode again, as once again democrats politicize Intelligence and threats of investigations and prosecutions are in the air.

At the Central Intelligence Agency, it’s known as “slow rolling.” That’s what agency officers sometimes do on politically sensitive assignments. They go through the motions; they pass cables back and forth; they take other jobs out of the danger zone; they cover their backsides.

Sad to say, it’s slow roll time at Langley after the release of interrogation memos that, in the words of one veteran officer, “hit the agency like a car bomb in the driveway.” President Obama promised CIA officers that they won’t be prosecuted for carrying out lawful orders, but the people on the firing line don’t believe him. They think the memos have opened a new season of investigation and retribution.

The lesson for younger officers is obvious: Keep your head down. Duck the assignments that carry political risk. Stay away from a counterterrorism program that has become a career hazard.

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