White House seeking immunity for previous detainee treatment?
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 - The White House has all but abandoned its effort to persuade Senator John McCain to exempt Central Intelligence Agency employees from legislation barring inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners in American custody. But a top presidential aide continued to negotiate a deal on Tuesday that would offer covert officers some protection from prosecution, administration and Senate officials said.....
Mr. McCain is balking at agreeing to any kind of exemption for intelligence officials, members of his staff say. Instead, he has offered to include some language, modeled after military standards, under which soldiers can provide a defense if a "reasonable" person could have concluded that he or she was following a lawful order about how to treat prisoners. The senator's offer was first reported Saturday by The Wall Street Journal.
Is the point of these negotiations to obtain immunity for CIA personnel, and, in turn, legal protection for the administration officials who signed off on the detainee practices?
McCain is pushing to allow a nearly Nuremburg defense. The CIA agents in jeopardy could be cleared if they offer a defense that they were following what they believed to be lawful orders. By the nature of that defense, they would have to reveal the source of the "lawful orders" that could lead right up the chain.
Watch these negotiations closely.
(LATER) I think one thing we can gather from this is that both sides of this negotiation have a tacit understanding that some CIA officers, perhaps unknowingly, broke the law on orders from above.