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'Torricelli Principle' ties CIA agents' hands
| Paul Mulshine
Posted on 09/13/2001 3:09:04 PM PDT by Liz
A lot of people are blaming the CIA for failing to penetrate whatever terrorist group coordinated Tuesday's attacks. But how can the CIA penetrate terrorist groups when its agents are prohibited from employing terrorists as sources?
That may sound absurd, but it's the current CIA policy. It was implemented in 1996 by the Clinton administration thanks to the urgings of our own Bob Torricelli, then a representative and now a senator. The so-called "Torricelli Principle" was implemented by John Deutch, then the CIA director, after Torricelli got involved with a conspiracy theory regarding the CIA's activities in Guatemala.
The conspiracy theory concerned the CIA's supposed illegal funding of the Guatemalan army in its fight against guerrilla groups. As it turned out, the CIA wasn't funding the Guatemalans. It was simply paying a Guatemalan officer for information on drug smuggling. But the conspiracy buffs managed to convince Torricelli to buy their theory about the back-channel funding and the informant's role in killing an American citizen.
Torricelli released the colonel's name, though it was highly classified, and held a press conference at which he said the CIA "continued financial payments to him and did nothing to bring him to justice, although they knew he killed an American."
In fact, he hadn't killed an American. The killers had already been caught and sentenced long before Torricelli got involved. And there was no illegal effort to fund the Guatemalan army, as a later report by a congressional panel showed.
But that didn't stop the Clinton people from implementing a rule banning CIA agents from employing any sources who may have done anything illegal. This is like telling FBI agents they must infiltrate the Mafia without talking to any mafiosos.
The restriction had a negative effect on CIA morale and on spy operations, according to James Woolsey, the CIA director who preceded Deutch. Just last week Woolsey blasted the Torricelli Principle before a Senate panel on bio-terrorism.
"These rules make absolutely no sense with respect to terrorist groups because the only people who are in terrorist groups are people who want to be terrorists," Woolsey testified. "That means they have a background in violence and human rights violations.
"If you make it difficult for a CIA case officer in, say, Beirut, to recruit spies with this sort of background, he'll be able to do a dandy job for you, telling you what's going on inside, for example, the churches and the chambers of commerce of Beirut, but we don't really care what's going on there. He'll have no idea, however, what's going on inside Hezbollah."
Woolsey has also noted that no other country restricts its intelligence services to what has been lampooned as "politically correct spying."
Gary Richter, a physicist who works on anti-terrorism strategies for Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., notes that in many cases virtually every member of a terrorist group will be guilty of some sort of illicit activity that would preclude him from being recruited as a CIA source.
"Members of these organizations are by their very nature unsavory characters," Richter told me. "We have known for some time there was a risk of this, but now that the shock has hit us, we may be willing to put up with more unsavory types."
Richter said most CIA agents are patriotic people who have taken low-paying jobs. Many agents feel that the principle could get them fined or jailed for pursuing terrorists too zealously.
"Look at it from the point of view of the people who are involved in these types of operations," he said. "It has a chilling effect on your work if you feel you are going to be prosecuted for doing your job. It's hard to describe from an insider's perspective just how chilling an effect it can have on you. What if the source is someone who was involved in something you didn't know about? Should you have known of it?"
Richter noted that U.S. intelligence has headed off many terrorist attacks -- "more than you're aware of" -- but that the Bush administration needs to get rid of the Torricelli Principle if it intends to get serious about terrorism. That's likely to happen.
The National Commission on Terrorism last year proposed scrapping the Torricelli principle. The rule had its basis in a left-wing conspiracy theory picked up by an ambitious congressman. Conspiracy theories may be fun, but some conspiracies are real.
TOPICS: Breaking News; Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events
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posted on 09/13/2001 3:09:04 PM PDT
Further to my conversation w/ D re: cuffed agencies and kangaroo courts.
posted on 09/13/2001 3:14:38 PM PDT
Yeah, those will be great sources. S***bird bastard terrorist scum who are looking for a dime from Uncle Sam. I'm sure they'll only provide us with top-quality, grade-A intelligence. As with criminal informants, the paid ones quite often just take law enforcement for a ride, saying what their paymasters want to hear. Then, to add insult to injury, your tax dollars are in the hands of some terrorist a-hole who will use them to buy ammo or something else. Conspiracy theory aside, this just sounds like a stupid idea.
We need to be able to turn bad guys to be able to find out what's going on inside terrorist groups and criminal organizations to save lives. The Bob Torricelli principle is mindlessly stupid. It has sacrificed live breathing people for the sake of an abstract principle. I'm sure Sen. Torricelli will take a moment to explain why we couldn't recruit people inside the terrorist group that took down the WTC which would have a saved a lot of innocent people. He should try explaining all this moral hairsplitting to the victims families. We need info to stop terrorist attacks any way we can get it.
posted on 09/13/2001 3:27:38 PM PDT
Do you have any idea of all else that has gone in Guatemala and the rest of Central America-not to mention Chile and Argentina?
To: ELS, Black Agnes, teacup, Exit148
posted on 09/13/2001 3:46:42 PM PDT
I guess that was when Bob was sleeping with Bianca Jager.
I thought this thread had to do with barometers before I read it; you know, the "Torricelli Principle" discovered by Evangelista Torricelli, 1608-1647 who invented the mercury barometer and the mercury-powered vacuum pump to evacuate the device.
posted on 09/13/2001 4:12:15 PM PDT
It's going to take us years to recover from their handy work let alone terrorists.
Everything you said is true, and is known by those who run spy agencies. And none of it changes the fact that the only way to get human intel on these guys is to employ those kind of scumbags. It's up to the people who analize the data they get from them to determine what's real and what's bogus.
Take Aldrich Aimes; a total scumbag traitor, and also a gold mine for the Russians. Too bad the KGB didn't share your opinion.
posted on 09/13/2001 4:18:52 PM PDT
Your point is well taken, especially with regard to Ames. I just have concerns about the quality of intel you get from these guys, particularly when the agent running that informant isn't alert to the fact that the informant could just be stringing him along.
Actually, the complete failure of Echelon to detect any preparation for this attack does point to a massive overreliance on and overinvestment in SIGINT and a massive failure of HUMINT.
This article doesn't point out that a fairly large number of good CIA officers, some quite senior, lost their employment as a result of Deutch's politically correct reforms. The very strong message Deutch sent out was that he wanted no "embarrassments" during Clinton's watch. Deutch also insisted that the CIA start promoting females and so today the CIA has senior management female officers, most of whom have never worked an operational assignment in their lives. Deutch, in my opinion, was either purposely out to destroy the CIA or was just unbelievably stupid... and since nobody can be that stupid I have to believe he was purposely destroying the CIA on Clinton's orders. Our national security is too important to use the Intel Community and our armed forces as laboratories for social experiments... yet this is what the Clintonistas did for 8 years, along with cutting the budget. The Clintonistas got all the information they wanted in mainstream media and spent their time making money, not in assuring our nation's safety. The Clinton buzzards have come home to roost in this terrorist attack. I pray there will be no more, for we are certainly weak when it comes to the organizations which have protected the United States in the past.
posted on 09/13/2001 4:27:10 PM PDT
How far is your head up your ass. Grow up.
posted on 09/13/2001 4:42:46 PM PDT
Wouldn't you like to see a reporter shove a mike in front of Clinton and ask him about it?
I don't think that's a line we want to cross. A quick review of the cases the FBI prosecuted during the civil rights movement shows what dangerous ground that is. Most of the time the FBI was getting information after the fact, not soon enough to stop it, but enough to get convictions. Often that information came from informants "at the scene". In other words these were people that were already feeding the FBI info, but they still went along with their racist budies to commit the crime. Because they were informants they weren't prosecuted, often the FBI went out of their way to "prove" that their informant was there but did not "participate". Getting a group of "our scumbags" just is not the right answer. We don't need the return of "Iranian moderates". We need to get more intel and these guys, but there are lines we shouldn't cross. Paying the participants is very high on that list.
posted on 09/13/2001 5:05:46 PM PDT
The so-called "Torricelli Principle" was implemented by John Deutch, then the CIA director, after Torricelli got involved with a conspiracy theory regarding the CIA's activities in Guatemala.
Wasn't that during the time 'the Torch' was lip locking Bianca Jagger? I guess he just want to impress his girlfriend. What a twit!!
posted on 09/13/2001 5:13:05 PM PDT
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