Counterterrorism and the C.I.A.

David A. Korn and Roberta Cohen
Roberta Cohen Former Brookings Expert, Co-Chair Emeritus - Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

July 30, 2007

To the Editor:

In proposing that the Pentagon turn over to the Central Intelligence Agency highly mobile, highly lethal counterterrorism operations (“A War the Pentagon Can’t Win,” Op-Ed, July 24), Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon do not mention an important fact.

The Pentagon has codes of conduct for its forces and a military justice system for when they stray. The C.I.A. has little comparable accountability for its actions. Witness the secret detention centers it set up for terrorism suspects, replete with torture and other cruel, inhuman practices — despite presumed oversight.

In fighting terrorism, the United States must never lose sight of what it is fighting for. Careful checks must be introduced to ensure that America does not stoop to that netherworld of nonstandards and dirty tricks that terrorists use. America can win if only it takes the time to be true to its history and values.

Roberta Cohen
David A. Korn
Washington, July 25, 2007
The writers are, respectively, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a retired Foreign Service officer.