Summing up their history of the statutory Inspector General at the CIA, the authors conclude that “The ‘independent watchdog’ of a statutory IG did not expose major shortcomings that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Nor did the watchdog play a major role in deterring institutional sloth and excess. In certain cases, however, the IG asserted independence that might not have been possible without Section 403q. Again, the results for the statutory IG may charitably be described as ‘mixed.'”
The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) excoriated the legal work done by John Yoo and Jay Bybee of the Office of Legal Counsel on the torture memos, but DOJ’s ultimate decision stopped short of referring Yoo and Bybee for professional discipline. Serious questions remain, particularly since the OPR was unable to obtain the testimony of many high-level officials who played critical roles in authorizing torture. A full-scale investigation, preferably by an independent commission not part of the very department implicated in the wrongdoing, is still necessary. Great Britain conducted such an independent inquiry into the abusive practices used against IRA prisoners in the 1970s, and the United States must do the same. The essential lesson must be that torture and cruel treatment are not policy options, even when lawyers are willing to write opinions blessing illegality.
One of the major themes of the Cyberspace Policy Review (the Review) is that a national strategy on cybersecurity must be consistent with the protection of privacy rights and civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the law. Indeed, President Obama underscored that point in announcing the Review when he said that his Administration “will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans,” reiterating the theme from his inaugural address that choosing between our safety and our ideals is a false choice. The authors of the Review are to be commended for encouraging a national dialogue on how this can be achieved while promoting national and economic security. Intelligence agencies, particularly the National Security Agency (NSA), are at the intersection of these vital interests, and intelligence lawyers face daunting but tremendously exciting and important opportunities to help ensure that their agencies operate in ways that effectively balance demands for both privacy and civil liberties and for the security of cyberspace.