CIA concerned it can't do its job on interrogations

Is this the price we pay for an "open society" where all our dirty laundry is aired and a microscrope applied to the most secret areas of our government?

Or is it just plain nuts to spill our secrets all over the press and give our intel pros the idea that someone is constantly looking over their shoulder?

The CIA thinks that the brouhaha over torture has made it next to impossible to do the job we are asking them to do; interrogate terrorsts to try and discover their plans.

Walter Pincus has the story at the Washington Post:

Battered by recriminations over waterboarding and other harsh techniques sanctioned by the Bush administration, the CIA is girding itself for more public scrutiny and is questioning whether agency personnel can conduct interrogations effectively under rules set out for the U.S. military, according to senior intelligence officials.

Harsh interrogations were only one part of its clandestine activities against al-Qaeda and other enemies, and agency members are worried that other operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan will come under review, the officials said.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said he has established a group at the agency to handle requests for documents by Congress, the prosecutors and any "truth commission." The agency is facing a dispute with  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over how much agency officials told congressional overseers about the harsh techniques.

The agency's defensiveness in part reflects a conviction that it is being forced to take the blame for actions approved by elected officials that have since fallen into disfavor. Former CIA director Michael V. Hayden said in an interview that CIA managers and operations officers have again been put "in a horrible position." Hayden recalled an officer asking, "Will I be in trouble five years from now for what I agree to do today?"

Since Congress - both Democrats and Republicans - approved these techniques in the aftermath of 9/11, the CIA is wondering what other procedures they had the go-ahead to follow might later be considered criminal.

This is a consequence of the Democrats playing politics with national security. They wanted their last pound of flesh from the Bush administration and have ended up severely damaging the confidence of our intel agencies.

This issue is far from being settled. Pelosi will be forced to make good on her charges and the Democrats may very well set up some kind of commission to look at the CIA. The problem with that is inquiries like this never stop at their mandate - they usually go beyond it and get into areas they were not originally authorized to look at.

With the left salivating at the chance to haul Bush era officials before Congress, the spectacle will not be an edifying one for the CIA or any one else who cares about our national security.