Torture Insurance: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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CIA officers are getting--and the government is paying for–insurance to cover their legal costs and any civil judgments should they get sued by people alleging they were abused in secret agency prisons (or, presumably, not-so-secret facilities like Baghram and Abu Ghraib). Granted, so far the only CIA-related case along those lines was that of David Passaro, a private contractor found guilty of killing an Afghan detainee who died after being severely beaten with a flashlight. But many at Langley are worried, reports the Washington Post, that a Justice Department that encouraged them to stretch the law won’t be there for them when the hammer comes down from the courts or Congress (something our own Jim Ridgeway suggests could happen on a number of scores).

“There are a lot of people who think that subpoenas could be coming” from Congress after the November elections or from federal prosecutors if Democrats capture the White House in 2008, said a retired senior intelligence officer who remains in contact with former colleagues in the agency’s Directorate of Operations, which ran the secret prisons.

“People are worried about a pendulum swing” that could lead to accusations of wrongdoing, said another former CIA officer.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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