Dealing with “bad guys” in intelligence gathering, OK or not?
Since the September 11 attacks, CIA officials have made it clear that to get the intelligence needed to stop terrorism attacks, U.S. intelligence agencies sometimes have to deal with “bad guys.”
The issue is again in the public eye again after The New York Times reported that the CIA has been regularly paying Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, for at least eight years for services that included helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force. The newspaper report says that Ahmed Wali Karzai is a suspected player in the illegal opium trade, which he denies.
Senator John McCain told CBS “Early Show” yesterday: “I’d heard that rumor before. I think it’s wrong. It’s wrong of the CIA to do it and I’m sure our military commanders there would disagree with it.”
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One former intelligence official, who was not commenting specifically on the Karzai brother situation, said in general it would be worrisome if the debate restarts over whether the CIA should or should not do business with “tainted individuals” when trying to prevent harm to U.S. interests.
“I’ve seen that movie too many times before,” the former official said behind a cloak of anonymity.
People cannot criticize the CIA on the one hand if it fails to get critical information in societies marked by corruption and, on the other, “express shock and dismay that it might deal with less-than-saintly individuals,” the official said.
What do you think? Is it OK for the CIA to deal with unsavory characters if it means U.S. interests are protected? Or is this a slippery slope?