It could hardly be a coincidence that the White House chose to announce new procedures for the interrogation and transfer of suspected terrorists on Monday morning, just hours before embarrassing new revelations were expected about what the CIA did to detainees during the Bush years. If the release of the declassified 2004 CIA inspector general's report fills people with disgust at the use of power drills and mock executions in secret prisons, the Obama Administration wants them to know that Americans need no longer be embarrassed by how their government treats detainees.
The President has approved new recommendations for the interrogation and transfer of suspected terrorists, which were created by a task force he set up shortly after taking office. The big headline is the creation of an interagency team of interrogators, which will be known as the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG). It will be placed administratively within the FBI, but the National Security Council (NSC) will provide what senior officials described as "strategic policy guidance." Although the officials were at some pains to state that the CIA will "be a key player in this effort," the reporting structure of the HIG seems designed to limit the role of the agency.