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June 20, 2007

Rizzo says CIA might have authority to detain Americans abroad

John Rizzo, the longtime CIA attorney in line to become the Agency's top lawyer, said that the CIA might have the authority to detain Americans overseas on the orders of the POTUS:

Rizzo's statement came at the end of his two-hour Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, in which he equivocated on what he thought of the Justice Department's shifting definitions of torture and whether any top al-Qaeda detainees in CIA custody were in fact abused. Responding to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) about presidential authority to order CIA to take an American citizen overseas into custody, Rizzo replied, "it would be extremely problematic in terms of the rights of an American citizen for CIA to capture him overseas."

The answer Wyden was hoping for was "no," and he didn't hear it. "But you say it could be done."

"I don't want to say it could be done," Rizzo parried.

"You just said 'extraordinary circumstances,'" Wyden replied.

"I meant it would be extraordinarily difficult in terms of the rights of a citizen for due process for the president to direct CIA to capture an American citizen overseas," Rizzo said. [TPMM]

As Rizzo's former CIA colleague A John Radsen makes clear, Rizzo is intimately acquainted with the dark side of Bush's war on terror.

For his part, Radsen hopes the Senate won't get too far into the gory details: "Although the lawyers in the CIA’s Office of General Counsel have been involved in sensitive issues, they have done so in consultation with lawyers in the White House, the Vice President’s Office, the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Justice Department. John Rizzo, whatever his role, was not the person who ultimately authorized extraordinary rendition, secret prisons, or coercive interrogations." [Emphasis added]

Despite the creepiness of the foregoing paragraph, Radsen goes on to make a very important point:

"So the Senate should ask some fundamental questions. Should the CIA’s top lawyer be an extension of the oversight committees? That is what some people thought would happen when the number of CIA lawyers expanded after Iran-Contra. Or should the General Counsel be a sort of corporate lawyer who helps the principals close their deals? That is what some policymakers prefer. Or does the CIA’s lawyer play a hybrid role between oversight and facilitation?" [Jurist]

To no one's surprise, Bush is well on his way to installing Rizzo as the Alberto Gonzales of the CIA. Rizzo's job as top lawyer won't be to make sure that the CIA follows the law, but rather to find justifications to allow the CIA to do the president's bidding.

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Comments

This isn't anything new. How else does the Bush administration force people to do their will? You either agree (get promoted, or keep your job), or you don't and get fired/have your position elimitnated. Same type of media whoring that goes on in the Washington Press club.

Why, oh why can't it be January 20, 2009 yet?

Awesome photo! (and great blog)

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