Patrick Skinner Op-Ed in TIME: This Disaster Happened Because the CIA Outsourced Accountability

December 10, 2014

This Disaster Happened Because the CIA Outsourced Accountability

By: Patrick Skinner


A former case officer on why, at the most critical hour for the agency, the leadership decided to outsource its most important responsibility to unqualified contractors.

It’s terrible for anyone to read the Senate report. The actions detailed are as repulsive as they were ineffective and damaging. As a former CIA case officer, it’s particularly maddening to read the report. Throughout the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, the reader can see where CIA Headquarters overruled the assessments of its own staff personnel that were at the various “black sites,” conducting—or, more often, witnessing—interrogations done by contractors. At numerous times throughout the interrogations of Abu Zubayda, Abd al-Rahman al-Nashiri, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, agency officers communicated back to headquarters their assessment that the subject was cooperating or had no more information of value that warranted additional pressure. And virtually every time, headquarters came back with a more definitive assessment that they knew the subject was withholding more vital information.

Where did this certainty come from?

Part of the answer is that it wasn’t CIA personnel actually running the program, even if they were ultimately responsible for it…


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