February 1st, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Should CIA operatives be allowed to moonlight for private companies?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Turns out some CIA operatives are doing double duty - by working for private companies on the side. This while the country is involved in two ongoing wars in the Middle east and continues to face threats to national security at home.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/01/art.cia.jpg caption="CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia"]

It's no wonder they didn't have the time to connect the dots ahead of the botched Christmas Day bombing.

Politico reports that in some cases the CIA moonlighting policy has allowed hedge funds and financial firms to hire active-duty CIA officers to do something called "deception detection"... Teaching companies to figure out when executives my be lying based on their behavior and what they say.

Defenders of the policy say it's a key way to prevent "brain-drain"... in the past, there has been an exodus of highly trained intelligence officers to the private sector - where they make lots more money. This way they can earn more on the side while still working for the government.

One official insists the policy doesn't interfere with the CIA's work on critical national security investigations... the officers who want to moonlight must submit a detailed explanation of what they'll be doing and get permission from their bosses.

But there are a lot of unanswered questions here... including how many officers do this, how long it's been going on and what types of other jobs they're been allowed to take.

Government employees are generally allowed to moonlight in the private sector - as long as there's no conflict of interest and they get written approval.

Here’s my question to you: In light of recent national intelligence failures, should CIA operatives be allowed to moonlight for private companies?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: CIA
August 10th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Criminal investigation of CIA detainee treatment?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

At long last, we may start getting some answers. The Obama administration may be getting ready to launch a criminal investigation into the CIA's treatment of detainees during the Bush years.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/10/art.guantamo0810.gi.jpg%5D

The Los Angeles Times reports that Attorney General Eric Holder is "poised to appoint a criminal prosecutor" to look into the alleged abuses of terror suspects.

One Justice Department official says it would be a narrow investigation focusing on whether people went beyond the techniques that were authorized in Bush era memos. Some say that criminal convictions would be hard to come by because the quality of the evidence is poor and this stuff has never been tested legally.

A prosecutor could potentially investigate waterboarding. 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was reportedly waterboarded 183 times in one month, and al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in one month. Also, there are reports of prisoners being threatened with bodily harm, buried alive and threatened with a gun during interrogations.

Pres. Obama has left the door open for prosecution of those who broke the law. Both the president and Holder say they believe waterboarding is torture.

The real question is whether the administration will go after top Bush officials who may have authorized this behavior or just set out to prosecute those who carried out the orders.

Here’s my question to you: Should the Obama administration launch a criminal investigation of CIA treatment of detainees?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: CIA
June 15th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

CIA Director: Cheney almost wishing for terror attack

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

CIA Director Leon Panetta says it's almost as if former vice president Dick Cheney is wishing for another terror attack on the U.S. in order to make his point. Panetta tells The New Yorker that Cheney "smells some blood in the water" on the issue of national security.

Cafferty: Cheney has been a very vocal critic of Obama.

He suggests Cheney's actions are like "gallows politics" and also calls it "dangerous politics."

Dick Cheney - whom we barely saw or heard from for eight years - has been a very vocal critic of President Obama these past few months... especially when it comes to national security. He has said that the new president is making the U.S. less safe by rolling back Bush era policies.

Cheney has criticized President Obama for ordering the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison and for stopping the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. In a speech last month, Cheney called some of Obama's decisions "unwise in the extreme."

And guess what? Cheney's carping may be working. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll taken last month shows Cheney's favorable rating at 37-percent - that was up from 29-percent when he and President Bush left office in January. Go figure.

In response to Panetta's comments, Cheney says: "I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted. The important thing is whether the Obama administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last eight years."

Here’s my question to you: CIA Director Leon Panetta says it's "almost as if" Dick Cheney is wishing for another terrorist attack on the U.S. Do you agree?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: CIA • Dick Cheney • Leon Panetta
May 15th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Do you believe Nancy Pelosi or CIA on waterboarding?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Nancy Pelosi seems to have a new story every day when it comes to the debate over torture. In fact, more focus is now on Pelosi than on the Bush administration, which authorized the use of waterboarding in the first place.

Cafferty: House Speaker Pelosi's story keeps changing regarding what she knew about so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

The Speaker of the House is now claiming that the CIA misled her during a September 2002 briefing by telling her waterboarding hadn't been used yet on detainees. She says the CIA briefers gave her inaccurate and incomplete information when asked if they lied to her - Pelosi nodded her head 'yes'.

That's a pretty serious accusation. The CIA says: "It is not the policy of this agency to mislead the United States Congress." A former senior intelligence official says it's inconceivable that the CIA would not have talked about interrogation methods already being used.

Republicans insist that Pelosi and other Democrats knew waterboarding was being used all along, but said nothing. House Minority Leader John Boehner says Pelosi's comments "continue to raise more questions than provide answers." Rep. Peter Hoekstra calls Pelosi's account: "Version 5.0 from Nancy on what happened" in that 2002 meeting.

Meanwhile Pelosi finally admitted she learned waterboarding was being used in 2003, but says she wasn't personally briefed on it at the time.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to waterboarding, whom do you believe: Nancy Pelosi or the CIA?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: CIA • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
January 7th, 2009
05:02 PM ET

Insider or Outsider for CIA Director?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President-elect Obama and his staff defended Obama's pick for CIA director yesterday. Word of the nomination apparently leaked before the transition team notified senior senators.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, Dianne Feinstein said she learned about it from the New York Times and made it very clear she was not happy about not being notified. Incoming Vice President Joe Biden called the lack of notification a mistake and today Feinstein said she plans to support Panetta's nomination.

But it's not just how it happened that's a problem. Leon Panetta is an outsider. Critics are quick to point out that he has no intelligence experience.

Obama was on damage control apologizing for not letting Feinstein know in advance. He said Panetta will change the practices at the CIA that have tarnished the agency. He also pointed out Panetta had to evaluate intelligence daily during his 2 years in the White House during the Clinton Administration.

Whether to pick someone from within the agency or an outsider for the post is not a new dilemma for an incoming President.

Many past CIA directors have risen through the ranks within the agency– but President Kennedy picked an outsider for the job, without spelling the end of the CIA.

Here’s my question to you: Should the director of the CIA come from within the agency or be installed from outside?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: CIA • Leon Panetta
January 10th, 2008
05:52 PM ET

Immunity & destroyed CIA tapes?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

No testimony without immunity. That's the word to Congress from the former CIA official who's said to have ordered the destruction of tapes showing controversial interrogations.

Jose Rodriguez was asked to testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week, but his lawyer wants to play "Let's Make a Deal" first.

Several high-ranking officials inside the Bush Administration, including the President's counsel, Harriet Miers, as well as a federal judge ordered the tapes not to be destroyed. They reportedly showed two key al Qaeda terror suspects being subjected to controversial interrogation techniques including waterboarding, which is considered torture by many.

Another CIA official, John Rizzo, who opposed the destruction of the tapes, has agreed to testify freely before the committee. The CIA, both houses of Congress and the Justice Department have all launched their own investigations.

Meanwhile, in a ruling yesterday, that U.S. district judge put off an inquiry into allegations that the Bush administration defied his order to preserve evidence which may have included those tapes.

Here’s my question to you: The former head of the CIA’s covert service, Jose Rodriguez, wants immunity in the destroyed tapes investigation. Should he get it?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: CIA
December 17th, 2007
04:52 PM ET

Investigating destroyed CIA tapes?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Bush doesn't want Congress and the courts investigating those destroyed CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations. What a surprise.

Nonetheless, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is pledging to move forward with his panel's probe. Congressman Peter Hoekstra says it's important to hold the CIA accountable, adding, "You've got a community that's incompetent. They are arrogant. And they are political."

On Friday, the CIA asked the Intelligence Committee to halt its investigation, saying that inquiry would interfere with an ongoing probe by the Justice Department in collaboration with the CIA.

This after Attorney General Michael Mukasey rejected demands from Congress for information about the Justice Department's inquiry. He said turning over the information might be seen as bowing to "political influence."

Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman agrees with Hoekstra that congressional inquiries should continue. She says parallel investigations have happened many times, adding, "It smells like the cover-up of the cover-up."

And, it's not just about Congress. The Justice Department is also telling a federal judge not to start his own inquiry. U.S District Judge Henry Kennedy had ordered the administration back in June 2005 to preserve evidence regarding detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. But the administration insists the CIA tapes weren't covered by that order because the detainees weren't being held at Gitmo. They were being held at a secret CIA prison overseas.

Here’s my question to you: Why would the Bush administration ask the courts and Congress to stay out of investigating those destroyed CIA tapes?

Interested to know which ones made it on air:


Filed under: CIA
December 11th, 2007
12:51 PM ET

Is waterboarding ever OK?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A former CIA officer says that waterboarding has "probably saved lives" but he now considers the tactic torture.

John Kiriakou participated in the capture and questioning of Abu Zabaydah, the first al Qaeda suspect who was waterboarded. Kiriakou says he didn't witness the waterboarding, but described Abu Zabaydah as defiant and uncooperative until the day it happened. He says after just 35 seconds of waterboarding, the terror suspect broke down and the next day told his American captors he'd tell them whatever they wanted.

Kiriakou says the technique probably disrupted "dozens" of planned al Qaeda attacks, led to the capture of other suspects and indirectly led to the capture of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed. But now he has mixed feelings about it, telling the Washington Post quote:

"Americans are better than that… Maybe that's inconsistent, but that's how I feel. It was an ugly little episode that was perhaps necessary at that time. But we've moved beyond that." unquote.

Meanwhile, CIA chief Michael Hayden is appearing before congressional intelligence committees today and tomorrow to answer questions about the agency's destruction of those videotapes showing the use of so-called "alternative" interrogation techniques of two al Qaeda suspects.

The New York Times reports that CIA lawyers gave written approval in advance for the destruction in 2005 of hundreds of hours of these videotapes.

Here’s my question to you: Are there any circumstances under which waterboarding or enhanced interrogation techniques are justified?

Interested to know which ones made it on air:


Filed under: CIA