Hva har skjedd med CIA-ansatte som sto for blundere som fikk tragiske følger under krigen mot terror? Associated Press har foretatt en granskning som viser at den interne justisen er tilfeldig.
Ordet accountability – ansvar – står sterkt i US government. Innen hæren får feilgrep konsekvenser, og det er mulig å se en systematikk i responsen. Men i CIA er det mer tilfeldig, og det er ofte de på lavere nivå som straffes.
Undersøkelsen AP har foretatt viser at folk som har begått grove feil har fått en mild reprimande, og har kunnet fortsette sine karrierer. Mennesker som hadde ansvar for at innsatte døde sitter i ledende stillinger.
Noen av tilfelle gjelder såkalte renditions, der terrormistenkte er pågrepet i ett land og fløyet til et annet.
Khaled el-Masri ble bortført fra en buss i Makedonia og fløyet til Afghanistan. Han skulle tilbringe de neste fem månedene i fangenskap. El-Masri var tysk borger, det gjorde hans sak følsom. Ganske snart ble amerikanerne klar over at de hadde tatt feil person. Likevel drøyde det før han ble satt fri.
Personen som utpekte el-Masri var «Freances» i Counter Terrorism Center. Anmodningen må godkjennes av en juridisk rådgiver.
Once el-Masri arrived in Afghanistan, however, questions persisted. A second detainee in U.S. custody looked at a picture of el-Masri and told CIA officers that they’d grabbed the wrong man. Perhaps most glaring, el-Masri had a German passport. The man the CIA was looking for was not a German citizen.
El-Masri says he was beaten, sodomized and drugged.
Even after the CIA confirmed that the German passport was authentic, Frances was not convinced, former officials said. She argued against freeing el-Masri, saying his phone had been linked to terrorists. For weeks, the U.S. knowingly held the wrong man, as top CIA officers tried to figure out what to do.
Five months after the abduction, the U.S. privately acknowledged to the Germans what had happened. El-Masri was quietly released.
«I was blindfolded, put back on a plane, flown to Europe and left on a hilltop in Albania — without any explanation or apology for the nightmare that I had endured,» el-Masri wrote in The Los Angeles Times in 2007.
The CIA’s inspector general opened an investigation and determined there had been no legal justification for el-Masri’s rendition. It was a startling finding. Though the inspector general does not make legal conclusions, the CIA’s watchdog had essentially said the agency acted illegally.
The document has never been released but its findings were summarized by people who have seen it. The report came down hard on Frances. She had been warned about the uncertainties surrounding el-Masri’s identity. There hadn’t been enough evidence for a rendition, the report said, but Frances pushed ahead.
«You can’t render people because they have called a bad guy or know a bad guy,» a former U.S. intelligence official said, describing the investigation’s findings on condition of anonymity because the report still has not been released. «She was convinced he was a bad guy.»
Nobody in management was singled out for discipline.
The inspector general’s report posed a dilemma for senior managers. Even before the el-Masri case, station chiefs had complained to top CIA officials raising concerns about Frances’ operational judgment. But she was one of the few analysts who had a deep knowledge of al-Qaida before 9/11, working in a former unit known as Alec Station created to track down Osama bin Laden.
In the nascent war on terrorism, Frances and her team were essential and had racked up successes. She was a tireless worker who made the wrong call under intense pressure. Would disciplining her send a message that the best way to handle a tough decision was not to make one?
Problemene er legio: hvordan bekjempe en fiende som arbeider under cover, som ingen aner hvem er? Samtidig ble mediene villige partnere i å avsløre amerikanernes på kanten-politikk. El-Masris historie ble en stor sak i Tyskland, og i utlandet.
Innad kvier ledelsen seg for å straffe. Kontraterrorisme innebærer at feil vil bli begått. For harde straffer vil lamme villigheten til å ta risikoer.
Men det som AP-journalistene avslører er den langdryge prosessen, og mangel på konsekvens. Mange avanserer som har gjort alvorlige feil, feil de ikke har stått til ansvar for. Dette undergraver moralen innad i CIA.