The prospect of revenge and justice against the kidnappers and torturers of the Bush administration have been prime drivers for many Obama activists which explains the huge cloud of disillusionment that is spreading across Washington. The activists could stand a rollback on the Iraqi withdrawal, a troop build up in Afghanistan, even the unwillingness to seek the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. But the final straw has come with the confirmation hearing of Leon Panetta, the incoming head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
It was the CIA who kidnapped people off the streets of foreign capitals, hid them away in secret prisons where they were tortured or sent them to third countries where other brutal regimes could do the torturing on America's behalf. When Leon Panetta was announced as the nominee for the CIA, there was cheering among the rank and file and a frisson of fear at CIA headquarters at Langley. After all, Panetta had been one of the fiercest critics of the torture and rendition program which he described repeatedly as clearly illegal. Here, at last, the activists thought, someone would be held accountable. But at his confirmation hearings last week Panetta said that no action will be taken against anyone who might have carried out what he and others considered illegal acts in the Bush years.
This has produced sighs of relief in the intelligence community where many feared they might become embroiled in a long and legally expensive witch hunt that would derail their careers and jeopardize their freedoms.
Panetta also made clear that much of the torture business will continue
as usual and nobody from the Bush years will be held accountable. While
waterboarding has been banned, CIA agents will still be allowed to
kidnap suspects and hold them for an undefined time without trial. The
Red Cross will be given access to the suspects but when and under what
circumstances is not clear.
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