Jennifer Harbury has engaged in fasts and other public manifestations, in Guatemala and in Washington, to discover her husband's fate. The CIA always knew, then the State Department, but no-one had the mercy to tell her until Congressman Robert Torricelli found out recently and gave her the news.
This raises the question--for the hundredth time since 1970-- why do we need the CIA? And if we don't, why do we tolerate it? Public information about the CIA only represents a tiny fraction of what goes on there, but think about what we know.
When we did have the Soviet threat as our justification, we still disregarded the moral implication of our means of self-defense. As I have said in another context (about the Israelis), when self-defense involves the abandonment of human rights and all other values, and gives free reign to hatred and sadism, there is nothing left to defend.
Even if we actually get any benefit from the agency, what kind of a benefit justifies torture and murder? Imagine if you visited an eccentric millionaire who had just moved in to your neighborhood. He walks you through his fifty room mansion, showing you the room where new ideas are freely debated, the room where children are fed and taught, the room where important decisions are made affecting the public interest, and then you pass by a closed door which he casually describes as "the room where people are chopped up." Would you go back again?
There is no moral calculus that says that if you have fed and clothed one thousand needy people you are entitled to commit one murder. It logically follows that we are judged by the sum of all our acts, not merely our best ones; and the worst must be assigned more significance than the best, lest we fall into the trap of thinking that the moral calculus exists. The CIA's support of torture and murder in foreign countries sets the level for the rest of American democracy. We have set a serial killer in the basement of government, and unless we root him out he will drag us all down.
On April 25, 1995, the New York Times reported that since 1987, six CIA station chiefs have been removed from their posts in Latin American countries, for acts such as sexual harassment, threatening underlings at gunpoint, allowing a ton of cocaine to be "accidentally" shipped into the U.S., and "sloppy bookkeeping" involving $1 million U.S. Additionally, the Guatemala station chief was relieved of his post this spring, not only for fouling up the Harbury/Devine cases but because he kept silent about a Guatemalan military plot to humiliate and discredit the U.S. ambassador with false accusations about her private life--"showing a stronger affinity for his contacts in the Guatemalan military than he had for the Ambassador."