George Graham

Time to Clean House

cia torture worthless

I usually agree with President Obama, but when he insists that the CIA does a great job, I wonder what he’s talking about. America’s intelligence agencies are the most costly – by far – in the world, and it seems to me they do a lousy job.

And it’s not just because they have engaged in such loathsome practices as torture, although that alone should disqualify them from any kind of praise.

Their record stinks.

They missed Nine-Eleven. They missed ISIS.  They were wrong about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. They messed up in Benghazi…

Indeed, it’s hard to come up with anything they’ve done right.

As Spencer Ackerman wrote in The Nation back in 2008, America’s intelligence community is “a sprawling apparatus devoted to covert action, subterfuge, disinformation and lawlessness.”

If I were President Obama, I would be ready to clean house. It’s time to start over.

Recent revelations about  the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program are almost too horrific to be believed.

Imagine hiring two psychologists (and paying them millions) to devise and inflict the most fiendish kinds of torture on suspected terrorists.

Yet that’s one way the intelligence community spent American tax dollars.

To compound their offensive conduct, the CIA has repeatedly lied to Congress about the program and its ineffectiveness.

The President should heed Senator Mark Udall’s advice and weed out the intelligence officials who were involved in the horrific torture scandal. It’s shocking that some of these monsters are still getting paid with taxes from the people they shamed.

A thorough review of America’s intelligence operations seems long overdue. The President owes it not only to the people of America but also to an outraged world.

Of course, this would go only part of the way to addressing the global outcry. There remains the question of accountability at the highest levels of government.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some international agency were to initiate judicial proceedings against the Bush Administration officials who authorized the program. And I wonder how the American justice system will deal with the repugnant revelations that are making headlines around the world.

Click for Senator Udall’s speech.

Click for more on the torture consultants.

Click for more on the CIA’s failures.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for