Justice Department memos will have a chilling effect on US counter terrorism: Stratfor

Washington, Apr. 30 : The release of the four Department of Justice classified memos that reveal the controversial approval given by the Bush administration to torture and interrogation techniques used on GITMO detainees have had a chilling effect on US counter terrorism, believes intelligence think tank STRATFOR.

According to STRATFOR, realistically, those most likely to face investigation and prosecution are those who wrote the memos, rather than the low-level field personnel who acted in good faith based upon the guidance the memos provided, in spite of the fact that Obama has reassured that there will be no witch hunt.

The intelligence community believes the release of the memos has had a discernible "chilling effect" on those in the clandestine service who work on counter terrorism issues.

STRATFOR opines that the debate over the morality of such interrogation techniques has distracted many observers from examining the impact that the release of these memos is having on the ability of the U. S. government to fulfill its counter terrorism mission.

"Politics and moral arguments aside, the end effect of the memos' release is that people who have put their lives on the line in U. S. counter terrorism efforts are now uncertain of whether they should be making that sacrifice," says STRATFOR.

STRATFOR believes the memos' release will not have a catastrophic effect on U. S. counter terrorism efforts, as most of the information in the memos was leaked to the press years ago and has been public knowledge.

However, when the release of the memos is examined in a wider context, and combined with a few other dynamics, it appears that the U. S. counter terrorism community is quietly slipping back into an atmosphere of risk-aversion.

It says that it is very important to realize that the counter terrorism community is just one small part of the larger intelligence community that is affected by this ebb and flow of covert activity.

"Counter terrorism is considered an ancillary program that is sometimes seen as an interesting side tour of duty, but more widely seen as being outside the mainstream career path - risky and not particularly career-enhancing. This assessment is reinforced by such events as the recent release of the memos," says STRATFOR.

STRATFOR concludes by saying that it was a lack of intelligence that led the Bush administration to authorize enhanced interrogation techniques. Ironically, the current investigation into those techniques and other practices may very well lead to significant gaps in terrorism-related intelligence from both internal and liaison sources.

The U. S. counter terrorism community may soon be facing challenges even more daunting than those posed by its already difficult mission. (ANI)