The congressmen stated that the risk of investigation and prosecution of CIA officers involved in the war on terrorism “is causing CIA officers to flee from such jobs or leave the CIA entirely.”
The lawmakers cited the Sept. 18 letter from seven former CIA directors to President Obama urging him to reverse the investigation of detainee treatment by CIA officers.
The former directors stated that intelligence successes often require surprise and deception and on creating uncertainty in the mind of the enemy.
“The administration must be mindful that public disclosure about past intelligence operations can only help Al Qaida elude US intelligence and plan future operations,” they stated. “Disclosures about CIA collection operations have and will continue to make it harder for intelligence officers to maintain the momentum of operations that have saved lives and helped protect America from further attacks.”
The former chiefs also stated that the reopening of investigations is harming U.S. intelligence efforts to counter terrorism. “Not only will some members of the intelligence community be subjected to costly financial and other burdens from what amounts to endless criminal investigations, but this approach will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country,” they said. “In our judgment such risk-taking is vital to success in the long and difficult fight against the terrorists who continue to threaten us.”
The letter was signed by Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet, John Deutch, R. James Woolsey, William Webster, and James R. Schlesinger.