With Eric Holder's appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture, Dick Cheney and others have raised concerns that investigating the CIA could deter or otherwise disincentivise interrogators from doing their jobs. Will it? And, if so, is that a bad thing?

  • Yes, And That Puts Us At Risk  Richard Cohen in today's Washington Post:
    No one can possibly believe that America is now safer because of the new restrictions on enhanced interrogation and the subsequent appointment of a special prosecutor. The captured terrorist of my fertile imagination, assuming he had access to an Internet cafe, knows about the special prosecutor. He knows his interrogator is under scrutiny. What person under those circumstances is going to spill his beans?
    Thomas Sowell of the National Review:
    Years from now, long after Barack Obama is gone, CIA agents dealing with hardened terrorists will have to worry about whether what they do to get information out of terrorists to save American lives will make the agents themselves liable to prosecution that can destroy their careers and ruin their lives.

    This is not simply an injustice to those who have tried to keep this country safe, it is a danger recklessly imposed on future Americans whose safety cannot always be guaranteed by sweet and gentle measures against hardened murderers.
  • Yes, And That's The Whole Point  H. Lee Sarokin, a former federal judge who writes for the Huffington Post:
    Former Vice President Dick Cheney claims that the CIA torture investigations will affect the effectiveness and morale of CIA agents. As to effectiveness, under that theory, police officers should not be investigated for the use of excessive force, because they might hesitate to use it on future occasions. Isn't that one of the very reasons why the investigations are necessary -- in order to deter such conduct in the future. And if there have been violations of the law, should we be concerned that the investigations will adversely affect the morale of those agents not involved? Are there criminal investigations that should not be pursued merely because it will dampen someone else's spirit? Should we ignore or acquiesce in torture, because to investigate it makes some angry or disheartened?
  • No, Or At Least It Shouldn't  John Cole of Balloon Juice:

    What astounds me, though, is that morale might be low at the CIA because the Justice department might prosecute people who--get this--BROKE THE LAW. Imagine that--the Justice department has duties other than politically motivated prosecutions, micromanaging US Attorneys, and stocking the department with religious nuts and gay-bashers. And what I find even more astounding is that the Republicans and Dick Cheney are, so far, successfully pivoting and presenting themselves as the defenders of the CIA, when it has been Dick Cheney and the neocon establishment that has spent the last four decades undermining, attacking, and debasing the CIA

    [...]So if morale is low at the CIA and they are feeling a little butthurt, they might want to think about how things have happened the last few decades. They aren’t in the position they are in because of Eric Holder. Far from it. And if they can’t figure this out on their own, and need me to point this crap out, then quite frankly, I don’t think they are smart enough to be handling classified intelligence in the first damned place.

    Blogger Molly McAleer posted this discussion she had with a friend:
    molly: so dick cheney is all up in obama's face about the CIA torture investigations.
    molly: apparently, he's worried that people won't "sign up" for future torture missions if we go after these guys.
    mel: I like the idea that there's a "signup" sheet on a cork board somewhere, like for glee club or the one-act play.
    molly: yeah, then they go audition in the cafetorium.
    mel: "I'll be doing the stage manager's opening from "Our Town", then kicking a hooded man in the testicles for five minutes."
    molly: then they all crowd around the cork board later to see if they got the part.
    molly: there's a lot of crying and hugging and forced congratulations.
    mel: it's just like FAME, but with more internal bleeding.