Missing the Point

April 22, 2009

As originally posted on the Daily Kos

The former Head of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, has publicly stated his concern that America’s allies will be reluctant to work with American intelligence agencies following the release of the OLC memos by the Obama administration. One wonders where he has been for the past five years.

America’s allies began to express concern about working closely with US intelligence agencies almost from the moment that details of America’s treatment of war on terror detainees began leaking out.

In 2005 the Italian authorities initiated a criminal investigation into the CIA-led extraordinary rendition of Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr to Egypt. The Italians issued twenty-two arrest warrants for members of the CIA team, including one for the Head of the CIA Station in Rome.

In 2006 Germany opened an investigation into the extraordinary rendition of Khaled El-Masri, a victim of mistaken identity who was tortured for five months at a CIA black site in Afghanistan. German prosecutors issued thirteen arrest warrants for US personnel involved in the case.

The former Director General of the British Security Service (MI5), Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, told a British Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) in 2007 that her organization had reevaluated the way that it worked with its US counterparts: “We certainly now have inhibitions… greater inhibitions than we once did.”

The Head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Sir John Scarlett, similarly told the ISC that his officers sought “credible assurances” from the US that any action taken on the basis of intelligence provided by UK agencies would be “humane and lawful” and that when such assurances were lacking “we cannot provide the information.”

The Canadian government has paid compensation of CDN$10.5m to another innocent victim of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, Maher Arar, who was wrongly identified as a terrorist suspect and shipped to Syria. Just last month Spain opened an investigation into the alleged torture of five Spanish nationals in US custody, naming six senior members of the Bush administration as suspects.

America’s allies have been appalled by US actions in the Global War on Terror, not by the so-called lack of discretion of the Obama administration. This is no secret. Indeed, these stories have been widely reported around the world. For a former spook General Hayden is remarkably ill-informed.