[Innocent prisoner Khaled] Masri was held for five months largely because the head of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center's al Qaeda unit "believed he was someone else," one former CIA official said. "She didn't really know. She just had a hunch."The best part? He was kidnapped (what other word is there?) from Germany! Apparently, the CIA can grab you from free, democratic countries (he was travelling to Macedonia) and send you to some dictatorial hellhole (ah, sweet Uzbekistan) where, because you aren't an American citizen, you have no rights!
Then, if you aren't actually a terrorist, you'll get sent to Gitmo.
About a dozen men have been transferred by the CIA to Guantanamo Bay, according to a Washington Post review of military tribunal testimony and other records. Some CIA officials have argued that the facility has become, as one former senior official put it, "a dumping ground" for CIA mistakes.Hey, at least you'll get a free Quran.
Ok, enough joking. As the article implies, there appears to be a disconnect in the CIA between the intelligence analysts (who seem to be by and large intelligent, careful people) and the operations group, who have been playing fast and loose. This isn't exactly a new thing. Anybody who's done any reading on the CIA's involvement in the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, or their history in Central America, is going to be familiar with the attitude of the some in the operations group. Most are careful professionals, of course: but the nature of the game means that overly enthusiastic agents can get away with a lot if it's politically justifiable.
But what is new is the appetite for flashy covert operations in the White House, and the political environment they occur in. The White House (and too much of civilian DoD) is being run by people that embrace a view of covert ops informed by Tom Clancy novels and "Plan B" paranoia. That's bad. What's worse is that the natural check on covert operations--the possibility that they'll be found out and no longer be covert--isn't really a check anymore, because the White House doesn't care and the rest of the world can't or won't do a damned thing about it.
Fortunately, Masri was released. What worries me are the ones who haven't been.
(Oh, and by the by? Secret detention and torture of Sayyid Qutb was one of the main radicalizing influences on fundamentalist Muslims in the first place. The guys who get out aren't going to be big fans of the United States.)