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"Interrogation, Inc." part II

The second story in the "Interrogation, Inc." series, by the New York Times's David Johnston and Mark Mazzetti, focuses on the CIA's secret prisons -- aka "black sites" -- and the man who was commissioned to create them. Like the interrogation "experts" profiled in yesterday's story (discussed here), this man built a fortune with the help of the extralegal aspects of the "war on terror."

The demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had transformed Mr. Foggo from a fringe player into the C.I.A.s indispensable man. Before the 9/11 attacks, the Frankfurt base was a relatively sleepy resupply center, running one or two flights a month to outlying stations. Within days of the attacks, Mr. Foggo had a budget of $7 million, which quickly tripled....He was a logical choice for the prison project: aggressive, resourceful, patriotic, ready to dispense a favor; some inside the C.I.A. jokingly compared him to Milo Minderbinder, the fictional character who rose from mess hall officer to the black-market magnate of Joseph Heller's World War II novel Catch-22.

Even his name, "Dusty Foggo," would fit right into Heller's darkly comic universe. And, in a turn of events worthy of Heller, Foggo is now serving time in prison for fraud -- but not for "wrongdoing in connection with the secret prisons." That was just his job. There's another pop-culture reference in the story I found even more chilling:

Eventually, the agencys network would encompass at least eight detention centers, including one in the Middle East, one each in Iraq and Afghanistan and a maximum-security long-term site at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, that was dubbed Strawberry Fields, officials said. (It was named after a Beatles song after C.I.A. officials joked that the detainees would be held there, as the lyric put it, forever.)

Here's hoping this new focus on the ugly facts will shame us into doing more than joking about the damage done. With reporting like this to its credit, maybe the NYT will even find the integrity to start calling torture by its proper name.UPDATE: Scott Horton -- a very valuable source of information on the ongoing investigation of the legal side of the "war on terror" -- blogs at Harper's about this story, and what it conspicuously left out.

About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.



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Reading to the end of the story, you find that the charges against Foggo were probably payback from the CIA for his efforts to reform its practices as third in command. Of course, whether "reform" of the Aegean Stables was his intent or whether it was more like payback against people who had restrained him is part of the fog of the story. The CIA itself is a black hole.

Should that be Augean Stables? Well, you get the idea.

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