Since 9/11, US government officials have frequently fought national security excesses. They will likely do so againby Rupert Stone / November 21, 2016 / Leave a comment
Donald Trump’s election victory has caused widespread alarm. The Republican candidate who called for torture, the murder of terrorists’ family members, military tribunals for American citizens, surveillance of Muslims, bombing “the shit” out of ISIS, mass deportations and other harsh measures will soon be president.
Concerns about the future of American democracy are, of course, understandable. But, if the past is anything to go by, Trump may well struggle to implement his proposals. Since 9/11, US government officials have repeatedly challenged overweening national security policies by protesting internally or leaking to media outlets.
Let’s take a look at the Bush administration. Soon after 9/11 the CIA embarked on a secret programme to capture terror suspects and torture them using so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. Problems started soon after the agency detained its first prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, in 2002, when former FBI agent Ali Soufan objected to the harsh methods being used and withdrew his participation. Government attorneys had approved the CIA techniques in a notorious series of legal opinions, but Jack Goldsmith, a senior lawyer in the Justice Department, disagreed and eventually revoked those opinions before resigning his position in 2004. Around the same time CIA Inspector General John Helgerson issued an explosive report raising doubts about the legality and effectiveness of the interrogation regimen.