Information Warfare: The CIA War Against American Spies

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July 19, 2007: The latest case of intelligence leaks actually makes past leaks to the press look good. In this case, CIA personnel who opposed the secret prisons for terrorists program, proceeded to assist an investigation run by the Council of Europe into the program. This is not only going to render American personnel more vulnerable to lawfare, but it will also make gathering intelligence harder - both with sources recruited by American agencies, and cooperation with other countries' intelligence agencies.

One facet of these problems is lawfare in Europe. Already, there has been a lawsuit filed in Germany by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The suit, targeting former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and former CIA Director George Tenet, is aimed at getting the German government to investigate alleged war crimes that have, to date, been shown to have little basis in reality. Germany was selected as a venue for this lawsuit due to the fact that it claims universal jurisdiction over war crimes. This means that any war crime committed by anyone anywhere on the globe can be tried in a German court. And anyone can bring a suit in a court in the Western world.

That is not the only threat. Germany is charging thirteen CIA operatives in connection with the capture of one suspected terrorist. Italy has charged 26 with the capture of another suspected terrorist. Here, the risk is that operatives trained to work in these countries can't work there - or in any country with an extradition treaty. In essence, the hundreds of thousands of dollars to train these personnel are now down the drain.

The other problem is that again, sources will get nervous. The information given to the European Union investigation could help terrorists' counterintelligence efforts. This is because they will know what the United States knows about them. This means they can figure out who is snitching and deal with the snitch. Said snitch's fate is not going to be pleasant, and it will be used to keep others from talking as well. The GRU reportedly videotaped one snitch's execution and showed it to recruits. Similarly, foreign intelligence agencies will also cut back on their information sharing. They have to protect their sources from exposure.

This is an escalation in both the leaks and the potential for lawfare. Many past leaks were to major media outlets - which are, in essence, privately-funded watchdogs on the government. They have, in the past, exposed some abuses. The leaks for the report for the Council of Europe are a different thing, though. This time, the leaks were to an entity outside the United States. Worse, some European courts have shown an inclination to pursue cases on behalf of terrorists, and American human rights groups have been trying to take advantage of that.

Lawfare has gone international, and it has the potential to not only make life miserable for American officials who go abroad, but it will also complicate relations between the United States and European allies. Worse yet, these leaks could help al-Qaeda pull off the next successful attack. In essence, terrorists' rights are being seen as more important than stopping attacks. Worse, that sort of thinking is apparently held by some in an agency whose mission is to protect the United States. - Harold C. Hutchison (haroldc.hutchison@gmail.com)

 


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