- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Obama administration apparently is not going to turn over the rock to investigate the misdeeds and trespasses of the intelligence community in running amok after 9/11, especially with detainees. This is in keeping with Obama’s non-confrontational "no drama" approach, but I think it is a mistake. First, it will look like the rest of the world like a cover-up. Second, I think we need to know what we’ve done, if only to avoid repeating some mistakes.
It’s not what I want to see prosecutions of intelligence officers, especially the front-line guys. Rather, I’d like to see what their chain of command told them, or didn’t tell them. So what I’d like to see is a truth and reconciliation commission, akin to the one initiated by Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Of course, to give such a commission teeth, it would have to be able to extend an amnesty to all those testifying — with the caveat that those who didn’t come forward by a certain date would indeed be liable to prosecution.
What has my back up about this today in particular is a quote from CIA chief Michael Hayden in the Washington Post article: "He’s looking forward, and that’s very appropriate." I get suspicious when someone here uses the word "appropriate" — it’s Washington’s way of telling you to move on, nothing for you little people to worry about.