In yet another slap at civil libertarians and the rule of law, the Obama Administration has promoted the CIA officer responsible for one of the most embarrassing scandals of the Bush Administration: the kidnapping and abuse of Khaled el-Masri.
It remains one of the most embarrassing acts of abuse internationally and the officer was recommended for punishment. However, the Obama Administration decided to promote her to one of the top positions at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.
The article identifies the agent only by her middle name: Frances.
The article notes that, while the Administration and prior Administration quiet critics by saying that abusive officers are being investigated, they are often later promoted as in the case of two officers accused in the death of a prisoner in Afghanistan.
While the AP agreed to withhold last names, CIA spokesman George Little still called the AP’s decision to inform the public of the promotions and their first names as “nothing short of reckless.”
What is particularly striking is how such questions of discipline were reviewed and rejected by former CIA official Kyle “Dusty” Foggo — who was later imprisoned in an unrelated corruption case.
Of these cases the bungled and abusive case of el-Masri is the standout. El-Masri claimed to have been beaten, sodomized and drugged after his kidnapping but was barred from being able to sue over his treatment. Here is a copy of his complaint: El-Masri Complaint
While others doubted el-Masri was a terrorist, Frances pushed for his rendition despite her lack of field experience. After he was kidnapped and sent to Afghanistan, others continued to raise concerns that he was innocent and he notably held a German passport when the man who they were looking for was not a German citizen.
Even with growing proof that she had pushed for the kidnapping of an innocent man, Frances fought efforts to release him. It took five months to release him. Even the CIA inspector general found no basis for the rendition and even called the actions illegal. Also faulted was an attorney identified as Elizabeth for flawed legal analysis allowing these abuses to occur. My neighbor, former CIA director Michael Hayden, allowed a reprimand of the lawyer but blocked any disciplining of Frances. Notably, he himself has been named by civil libertarians for his participation in alleged crimes and he also claims that he was just following the legal advice of his lawyers. Thus, his actions reinforced his own personal claim of innocence.
By the way, Elizabeth was also promoted and is now legal adviser to the CIA’s Near East division. Thus, the lawyer (who advised that one of the most gruesome and outrageous abuses of the last decade could occur) has been promoted to give advice to the entire Near East division.
The decision of the Obama Administration to promote such officials is entirely consistent with the President’s policies of adopting and expanding Bush policies in the area while blocking public interest cases. It is also consistent with Obama’s assurance soon after his election that no CIA officer would be punished for torturing citizens or non-citizens. What he did not mention is that his Administration would promote officials involved in abuses.
The message is obvious for personnel in seeking advancement.