Might Get You A Contract

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asks retired Adm. Dennis Blair about a growing intelligence problem: the rise of contractor personnel in the community, and essentially urges “a resurgence of career infrastructure.”

“Absolutely,” Blair say he’ll look at it. “The growing role of contractors, the disparity in pay that arises from it … I will look into it, and ensure that we have inherent governmental functions… My strong preference [with] interrogators in the intelligence world is that … the use of contractors be limited to times that a particular dialogue must be used or some other extraordinary circumstance.”

Whitehouse also asked about helping the committee find out the truth about torture. Blair pledged to assist the committee’s efforts. “I intend to make those efforts myself … Like you, I’ve heard anecdotes … we’ve got to sort this out, and find out what the answer is … There is this larger question … what is America’s reputation?”

That sounds like he wouldn’t have a problem with an inquiry.

Also, here’s what Blair said about the Army Field Manual on Interrogations:

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) wants to know if Blair agrees with harmonizing CIA interrogations with the Geneva-complaint Army Field Manual on interrogations. He does.

“The executive order which will be released here soon provides there will be a review of the Army Field Manual as a basis,” Blair said. “If it has my way, it won’t be called the Army Field Manual anymore, it will become the Government Field Manual on Interrogations.”

More on torture: “The president said it so elegantly in his inauguration. We reject the false choice between our safety and our ideals.” Levin makes the point that torture threatens U.S. national security, both through blowback and through “cost[ing] us allies in common causes” and “depriving us of the ability to prosecute an alleged terrorist.” Does Blair agree that torture can harm our security? He wants to look into it in his review, “but the dangers that you cite … I’m sure, have validity to them.” He’ll tell the committee what his review determines.

Dual-crossposted to The Streak.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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