Bob Litt is general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, but not too long ago, according to the Washington Post, he was the defense lawyer for a CIA agent accused of the 2003 rendition and brutalization of an innocent German national. Should he redact the Senate's CIA Torture Report?
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is cool with it. So is Jack Marshall, the president and founder of ProEthics Ltd., a national ethics consulting and training company that has done work for the CIA. Well, mostly cool with it:
"It does not cross the very low bar that the profession sets for an impermissible conflict of interest," Marshall explained to reporters for McClatchy this week. "But it is the kind of conflict of interest that should be avoided at all costs. The government has to be held to a higher standard."
However, another person who is more unreservedly OK with it is the Director of National Intelligence's ethics official Susan Gibson. Granted, she is Bob Litt's direct subordinate, as his principal deputy counsel at DNI—but just what are you trying to say about her? Are you saying that a strong independent person like Susan might be too afraid to stand up to her boss?
Why can't you relax about this?
Aside from representing CIA analyst Alfreda Frances Bikowsky in the aforementioned wrongful abduction and torture of German citizen Khaled el-Masri, Litt has represented several as-yet-unknown agency employees in similar legal disputes; Citing attorney-client privilege and the classified nature of some of these legal cases, he could not fully disclose the details to the intelligence committee when it began its probe back in 2009.
Litt, sufficed to say, in writing to the committee, "I represent several present and former employees of the Central Intelligence Agency in matters relating to the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists."
Sure, there has been a lot of arguing about which portions of the 510-page executive summary to the committee's classified 6,700-page "torture report" should be made public. There was that unflattering incident where the CIA lied and then was forced to admit that they had spied on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers. And the disclosure that the CIA had falsified evidence during that spying, so that they could charge congressional staffers with mishandling classified information. Yes, true, the CIA has been demanding that quite a lot of contextual details be removed, bordering on making the public version of their summary an incomprehensible miasma of moral decay and human depravity. It is also, for sure, a matter of record that very negative things pertaining to Bob Litt's former CIA clients might be appearing in this report, and he has been tasked with the job of deciding whether or not those details should be made public. Really, though: Where are you going with this?
A member of the committee, Mark Udall (D-Colo.), told reporters that he had been "concerned all along about conflicts of interest related to the declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee's study."
"I urged the president in April to have the White House lead the declassification process instead of the CIA," he said. "The redaction process has not been conducted in accordance with my request, and I remain concerned about who continues to lead and drive the process."
Is it that you agree with Senator Mark Udall, for some reason? Is that it?