Torture memos’ release to impact US counter terrorism: Stratfor

Washington, April 30 (Inditop) The Obama administration’s release of four classified memos authorising “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terror suspects has had a “chilling effect” on US clandestine services working on counter-terrorism issues, according to Stratfor.

Realistically, those most likely to face investigation and prosecution are those who wrote the memos, rather than the low-level field personnel who acted in good faith based upon the guidance the memos provided, the global intelligence company noted in an analysis Wednesday.

Despite this fact and President Barack Obama’s promise not to prosecute those who carried out such interrogations, the release of the memos has had a discernible “chilling effect” on those who work on counter-terrorism issues in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Stratfor said citing its “contacts in the intelligence community”.

Critics of the techniques, such as Senator Patrick Leahy have called for the formation of a “truth commission” to investigate the matter, and House member Jerrold Nadler has called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to launch a criminal inquiry into the matter.

According to media reports Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged Pakistani mastermind of the Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks, was waterboarded 183 times in one month by CIA interrogators. Waterboarding or simulated drowning was one of the techniques approved by the memos. Obama Wednesday said he considered waterboarding as torture.

In some ways, the debate over the morality of such interrogation techniques has distracted many observers from examining the impact that the release of these memos is having on the ability of the US government to fulfil its counter-terrorism mission, the intelligence group said.

Noting that this impact has little to do with the ability to use torture to interrogate terrorist suspects, it said: “Politics and moral arguments aside, the end effect of the memos’ release is that people who have put their lives on the line in US counter-terrorism efforts are now uncertain of whether they should be making that sacrifice.”

Stratfor said it was a lack of intelligence that helped fuel the fear that led the former President George W. Bush’s administration to authorise enhanced interrogation techniques.

Ironically, the current investigation into those techniques and other practices, such as renditions, may very well lead to significant gaps in terrorism-related intelligence from both internal and liaison sources, not primarily because of the prohibition of torture, but because of larger implications, it said.