Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Institutional Imperatives Trump Ephemeral Priorities

Shortly after President Nixon tried to get the CIA to take the blame for the Watergate break-in in 1972, he began to suffer from a series of bewildering (to him) political misfortunes.

Some things never change.

Dissident U.S. intelligence officers angry at former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped a European probe uncover details of secret CIA prisons in Europe, the top investigator said on Tuesday.

Swiss Senator Dick Marty, author of a Council of Europe report on the jails, said senior CIA officials disapproved of Rumsfeld's methods in hunting down terrorist suspects, and had agreed to talk to him on condition of anonymity.

"There were huge conflicts between the CIA and Rumsfeld. Many leading figures in the CIA did not accept these methods at all," Marty told European Parliament committees, defending his work against complaints it was based on unnamed sources.

The report issued last month said the Central Intelligence Agency ran secret jails in Poland and Romania, with the complicity of those governments, and transported terrorist suspects across Europe in secret flights.

Poland and Romania have repeatedly denied hosting CIA prisons on their soil.

"People in the CIA felt these things were not consonant with the sort of intelligence work they normally do," Marty said.

He said he had based his findings largely on conversations with "high officials of the CIA (and) highly placed European office-holders, who for different reasons, often honorable reasons, were ready to explain what had happened."

Since he had no power to summon witnesses, subpoena documents or search buildings, he was forced to rely on such evidence, Marty said.


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