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Sunday, 2 December, 2001, 21:45 GMT
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Excellent programme. The British journalism still amazes me with its degree of impartiality and good analysis.
The notion that CIA declaring in the 90's led to the failure to prevent 9-11 is fascinating. However a much more bigger question regarding the CIA is why did they fail to pick up warnings from other national intelligence agencies ( i.e. Jordan). There are outfits there that are a lot better at what they do than the CIA ( because they have to be). Why are the CIA ignoring them?
It's a shame that the programme failed to address the major question, which is "Were the events of September 11th the ultimate dirty trick?"
Given some of the information now coming out in relation to stock market trading on United and American Airlines stocks in the days immediately before the WTC disaster, plus the Bush/Bin Laden business connections, and vested oil interests in the region of Afghanistan, one must give serious to consideration to the question of how much the US knew beforehand. If indeed the CIA did have prior knowledge of those events, was it ignored in the interests of furthering US foreign policy interests and increasing support for a previously lacklustre presidency?
"It began a decade ago with a love affair in the
Guatemalan jungle and ended in tragedy on
September 11th when Osama Bin Laden's
fanatical henchmen devastated New York and
Washington." Well, that is the sort of statement
I would have expected to read in "The Sun", not in Panorama;
are you seriously claiming that there is direct link between the
Jennifer Harbury's quest for justice and the attacks on September 11th?
Because if you are not (hopefully the case), you should
have phrased this unfortunate sentence very
Felt an excellent opportunity to fully explore CIA's involvement in undermining stability of Latin America was lost. Instead we were subjected to an all too familiar example of superficial investigative journalism. Placid interviews of ex-operatives which attempted to create an atmosphere of empathy for those dismissed for carrying out directions. Only scratching the service of what such directions entailed. Very diluted and obviously a reflection of current climate of you're either with us or against us. Programme could have exposed direct involvement and orchestration in mass atrocities.
Very interesting and well presented programme.
I am proud of what America stands for - democracy, freedom of speech etc! The Americans themselves are very nice people, fair, hard working and all that but their government foreign policies suck and have done for years. These policies are unfairly making the American people enemies all around the world and it is about time the citizens of America fight back by letting their government know that fairness and justice in their foreign policies will go a long way to reverse this hatred.
God help and bless America!
Good Show - Any secret intelligence security service, that officially exists or not, needs a 'department of dirty tricks' to be able to outsmart terrorists. The department of dirty tricks is what helped the allies to beat Hitler and his friends and thus to win World War Two. We would like to continue our gained freedom which was heavily paid for, not just with money but also with more than 50 million lives. And no one may be able to bring this freedom in jeopardy.
As long as applying dirty tricks happens in the legal common interest of the people (that is a state or alliance of states) and not in self interest of a person or a group of persons for personal gain only, than I have no problem with applying dirty tricks, for as long as they serve their communal purpose.
It is a public secret that sometimes those who are fighting a monster sometimes (double)-cross the line and become a monster themselves. This is a well calculated risk.
To minimize or completely avoid the dangers of this phenomena all case officers (should) have to switch jobs every once in a while. Some people on the job will disagree with this point of view for any more or less good reason.
But any job, dirty or not, still have to be done by someone, to ensure our common security.
Well presented programe. Very balanced and impartial. Please do one on Israel and Palestine. Please tell us how all this voilence started from start to present.
I wonder what David V. would say if Cuba bombed Miami. After all, this city harbors many anti-Cuba terrorists, that have murdered hundreds of innocent people.
I also wonder if Americans who think like him are willing to accept the logic of their positions towards this so-called war? Civilians killed in a war are labelled "collateral damage." As the hundreds of dead Afghans (soon to be millions due to starvation we forced upon them) are collateral damage, so to are the 4000 that died in NY, DC, and PA. As David V. so eloquently put it "War is dirty and 'human rights' in war amount to 'kill or be killed' - period!"
Before you label me anti-American and all the narrow-minded gibberish that goes with such thinking, know that I am proud to be an American. I love my country. And my ancestors that died in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam did so to protect freedom! And freedom without dissent, freedom of speech, and thought is dictatorship.
Not all of us are ugly Americans.
David V. is absolutely right in what he says. Nobody in Britain has any right to criticise the CIA for doing their job well. On the one hand the liberal press love to sneer about how the US has come to suffer from an over-reliance on electronic intelligence at the expense of human intelligence, whilst on the other it does everything it can to stop the US from being able to harvest such human intelligence effectively.
As one spokesman said, if Bin Laden's deputy showed up and wanted to do a deal to hand over his leader and destroy his organisation he should be welcomed and used. To say that the CIA cannot use people who armchair admirals in the cosy confines of their western european homes declare to be beyond the pale is to condemn it (and MI6) to making the same mistakes that took them to September 11th.
The former CIA operative who pointed out that a communist resistance figher in Guatemala could not expect kindly treatment from his captors got it right (call me cynical but I somehow suspect that a government soldier caught by the communists wouldn't be invited to tea and cakes with the local communist party leaders). That operative has seen the front line. I bet that most commentators on this page have not. They have the luxury of seeing everything in black and white, those charged with serving them and securing their freedom from the front line do not. Let them do their job so you can sleep at night.
The more I listened to the ex CIA folk the more their outpourings sounded like Osama Bin Laden. A justification of killing, and if those killled are innocents then tough.
The premise of the programme, that sometimes the US has to do dirty things for the greater good, was upside down. They aren't doing those things to stamp out terrorism: quite the reverse. As the people of all too many Latin American, African, Middle East and South East Asian countries could tell you US governments and their agents have been among the greatest sponsors of terror since WWII. The programme might have mentioned that various Central/South American generals were trained in "disappearances", murder and torture at the US School of the Americas. When it did get on to the US arming the Taliban, there was nothing about why it interfered, and by what right.
What is with the murderous comments by people on this comments list. The CIA have murdered or through proxies caused the death of as many people, if not more than bin Laden.
America has meddled in many countries internal affairs through the CIA. Now it is reaping the wirlwind. Violence beget's Violence.
I am delighted that a BBC program has been permitted to criticise and expose the CIA to the extent that it did.
However, the findings of the Panorama researchers and the emerging details of CIA-related atrocities accross the world necessitates an urgent overhaul of the BBC's overall approach to coverage of the so-called 'War On Terrorism'. The US line must no longer be accepted as gospel truth.
If we are to create a truly free media, the BBC must urgently reassess its balance of views in its regular news reporting to reflect the very real and growing opposition the actions of the US in Afghanistan in this country.
In the Panorama programme, CIA people insinuated that it was restrictions on the more brutal, gangster-like side of traditional CIA activities that lay behind its failure to halt Al Qaeda. But no reasons were supplied for how more ruthless CIA behaviour would have benefited anyone. Look at the ever-escalating blood feud between Israelis and Palestinians to see what happens when a government's men of violence are given a free hand. On 23 November the Israelis' assassinated a key Hamas commander, knowing full well that some major outrage like this weekend's suicide bombings would come in retaliation. Wait and see if the Israelis who plotted this don't now exploit the suicide bombings to argue for even more 'dirty war', using similar rhetoric to the CIA men in the Panorama programme.
If the USA had pursued a moral and peaceful foreign policy, it would not have helped Osama Bin Laden get an armed foothold in Afghanistan in the first place - and may have averted all the consequences. Nor would it have helped Saddam Hussein during the Iran / Iraq war - and that war might have left him incapable of invading Kuwait, maybe even overthrown him.
In the Panorama programme it was appalling to see how some people seek to exploit the 11 September outrage to give the US government's men of violence even wider range than they enjoy already.
The crass and ignorant CIA operatives are shocking. The lady who married a freedom fighter is treated with utter contempt by those numbskulls. Even if her husband is a serial killer, she deserves our compassion. The west may miles ahead of the rest of the world in science and technology, but big brains do not always march hand in hand with morality.
It is true that America and the west can do pretty much do what they want to, but do not cover yourself up your shame and guilt with words like honour and freedom. Remember what Thornton wilder said about all of us who live in an age of relative prosperity and wisdom owe a huge debt to people in the past who live in stupidity, disease, and chaos.
The advanced countries of the world should have the humility to think back what they have taken out of other races and countries and try to put something back.
I have a great respect for what CIA and SIS are doing in Afghanistan, and I wonder if people directly affected by Sept 11 have a different views on human rights. After all, being blown up by a terrorist can seriously damge your civil liberties.
As a Briton I speak as a friend and ally to the US, not an enemy.
Friends have a right and a duty to speak out when they see something that they perceive as wrong. Everyone has a perspective on life, and every perspective has a value. Please do not take umbrage at constructive criticism given in good faith.
It is necessary to do something about terrorism, yes, but something must be said about the injustices and wrongs that are perpetrated in the course of pursuing our interests, if only in the name of the thousands of innocents who have died and still die as a result.
Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you like but I will say this.
The pointless killing of innocent people is wrong. The torturing of people is wrong.
Our objective in securing our democracies has at it's heart such moral imperatives. If we ignore them and the other values on which our nations are founded we are as spiritually impoverished and misguided as the lowest of terrorists and our Democracy, for all it's high sounding aims, is worthless.
The accumulated wisdom of the ages suggests that we should be aiming to avoid and prevent wrongdoing in this world and we should NOT be attempting to circumvent due process or encouraging others to do so.
Without some sense of moral value we are without hope and
we are lost.
I was glad to see that Admiral Turner, at least, seemed
(I hope) to appreciate this.
Is there a trend here? Last week Panorama "exposed" the "right wing" British National Party. This week's target was the "right wing" CIA! Next week it's the turn of the "right wing" British Police Force! Isn't it about time Panorama displayed a degree of balance by, perhaps, "exposing" the Marxist Anti Nazi League or the Marxist IRA? Or is it simply a case of Panorama and Marxism being not a million miles apart?
Your programme on the secret American organisation could not have been better timed, for those looking for the reasons why so many people are prepared to give their lives to harm the United States this programme had all the answers.
The USA has made itself very rich by exploiting other people and other nations and it has used the CIA to support corrupt and evil regimes if it meant safeguarding the flow of wealth from impoverished country's into the coffers of Wall St.
Driven by greed like the British Empire before, it has made enemies of underprivileged people all over the world both by military and economic intervention and all in the name of a God who said love thine enemy. Therein lies the only solution.
Having read the comments, there appears to be a divide between Europe and the USA. I feel the people in the USA do not realise just how little 'freedom of speech' their press has. The comments here like those of the CIA agents on the programme have assumed the same arrogance and swagger and goes to show nothing has been learned by 9/11.
There also appears to be a racial divide in that many American Africans do not support the government and as one of them put it on the programme 'War Zone' Bush was selected not elected. How democratic or liberal is that. He actually received less votes than the loser in a low turn out. Seems a case of like father like son, both appear to relish war in the most overt form as well as by proxy.
We are told by the CIA operatives that appeared in your programme that "there are pretty unsavoury individuals" in the world that have to be "dealt with". Well, is this new? Do we have to do a course in espionage to realize this? Of course not. But let me tell them that "pretty unsavoury individuals" exist in any society and we do not have to come down to the level of "rats in the sewers" to deal with them.
What may come as a surprise to your "CIA operatives" is that the world has moved on and we now have something called jurisprudence - a very important step forward in the history of Mankind. It provides excellent deterrent against "pretty unsavoury individuals" being of the types of Osama bin Laden or your standard neighbourhood serial killer.
What transpires here is that these CIA operatives and directors (as well as some government officials) want an excuse to behave like thugs for their own reasons. Well, fortunately enough, jurisprudence also has a way of dealing with them. We have moved on from the Middle Ages. But obviously not all of us.
It is essential to expose the double standards applied by the US in their use of the word 'terrorist'. Let us have a continuous spotlight on Israeli terrorism in Palestine and also on the US terrorist training camp in Georgia. We are not doing ourselves any favours by colluding with the US in applying double standards. The BBC is guilty of extreme bias in reporting middle east political events and this does nothing to further the likelihood of a peaceful outcome.
The horrifying catch 22 argument that seemed to be emerging suggests that the less effective the CIA are, the less subject to the rule of law they should be and the more resources they should be given. I was very taken with Jennifer Harbury's argument that if the CIA hawks get their way the terrorists will have won. To suggest that terrorism can be prevented by destabilising governments and political assassinations is the ultimate irony - throwing petrol on the flames will simply make a bigger bonfire.
Any restriction based on the notion that we need to take the moral high ground is ludicrous. The rules of civilization do not apply in a world of chaos. These rules degrade the ability of the CIA to acquire and disseminate the necessary information that enables it to silence foreign threats.
Bleeding heart liberals will rejoice at this very slanted depiction of our CIA. Sorry Ms Harbury but your husband made a bad choice in taking up arms with Marxist guerrillas. As the ex-CIA agent said, your parents should ask for a refund from Harvard. Our CIA must work with the dirty and the unsavoury to get at, and liquidate, the WORST of the worst.
It's obvious that radical Islamic fundamentalists despise the West and I foresee an increasing polarisation occurring in the future. I'd be interested to see just how is this going to be dealt with.
I think the US Government should do whatever it takes to insure and protect American liberties against the advances of domestic and international terrorists. Many Americans feel that the government could go too far and our individual rights may be violated by
their actions. I certainly do not belong to the majority on this point. I think that if the government feels it needs to be more liberal in its approach, then so be it. I certainly don't believe that my rights are going to be ignored in their efforts.
It appears that the US are preparing once again to rewrite the Geneva Convention when the going gets tough.
One thing that surprised me about the aftermath of Sept 11th was America's lack of public soul-searching as to WHY the attacks occurred in the first place. Obviously, if you have studied America's foreign policy from the 60's onwards and their meddling in Afghanistan and the rest of the region, it becomes clearer as to how they have got themselves into this mess. The use of the now infamous "Proxy" forces and their bully-boy tactics round the world, in particular in the Middle-East with its oil, and their tunnel vision in destroying the Soviets, at any cost and with utter disregard for any side-effects, has come back to haunt them now.
What the programme did expose was the moral and structural similarities between the CIA and the terrorist groups they either fight or fund. Both justify their actions by appeal to ideology, neither care very much who gets in their way - "A plague on both your houses".
It's America's policy to support nefarious regimes when it suits them, and the CIA's job to implement the policy. It seems sad to blame the agency for government policy, but I find it difficult to believe that the CIA cannot behave in a humane manner when carrying out their activities. I'm not saying they should be international police men and change the state of the countries they operate in, but I do expect them not to pull the trigger against anyone. Intelligence gathering surely must not entail the loss of human lives.
The decision to 'remove the shackles' from the CIA (and the naive comments of the CIA operatives themselves) shows that the CIA itself has no idea of the damage it does to its own intelligence effort and to the image of the USA abroad by this kind of activity - which is counter-productive to good intelligence practice. British counter terrorism has proved time and again that it is essential to win the moral high ground to limit civil support for the terrorists and isolate them as much as possible. If the CIA persists in an Israeli style 'counter terror war' it will only alienate more potential terrorists and undermine support at home and abroad.
America has become too comfortable in abusing its position in world politics. When Americans ask 'Why us?' they should realise that it is not envy of their wealth that creates enemies, but the constant abuse of human rights that US agencies commit in other countries. Creating and supporting terrorists in the name of American national security has to stop. September 11th should have been a wake-up call to review their foreign policy, but it doesn't seem likely!
Who are you (British citizens and reporters) to question
the US on how it must defend itself?
We'll do what we have to do whether you like
it or not to defend America. War is dirty
and 'human rights' in war amount
to 'kill or be killed' - period!
During the Cold War the West (Britain, etc) allowed the US to perform all sorts of deeds that could be labelled 'terrorist acts' by today standards. But, what is the excuse now to allow the US and the CIA to abuse human rights? It is about time that governments should be held into account by the rest of the democratic community. 'Plausible deniability' is a naive excuse that shouldn't work any more. We all know who is behind certain acts. The idea exposed by one of your interviewees about how to deal with Osama Bin Laden sounds outrageously similar to what the Argentinian Military dictatorship carried out during the 1970s in Argentina: a programme of mass 'removals' (desaparecidos). This was not new even then. It was also put into practice in Vietnam during the 50s and 60s under the CIA code-name of 'Operation Phoenix'. The way this operation dealt with Vietnamese dissidents (mostly communists) was to either seek their ideological conversion, disappear them or simply kill them. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives needlessly. The programme didn't work.
But, how about the victims? Like September 11 don't they count too? Well, we all know where 'Operation Phoenix' took US foreign policy later on. Come 2001 and surprise, surprise the CIA does not learn from their 'mistakes'. Why? Because they have no accountability (despite the occasional rolling of heads). So? Where does it all takes us? Unless the international community puts a stop to the workings of these so-called 'intelligence' organisations they will continue in their quest for their version of 'justice'. September 11 is no excuse for their behaviour as Vietnam, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Salvador, Uruguay, Iran were not either.
It seemed to me that the premise of the whole programme was to let the CIA off the hook and practically put the blame for 911 on the shoulders of Jennifer Harbury. You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
If tonight's Panorama was intended as a critique of the CIA as some comment here, then it was an outrageously blunted and disingenuous one: the talking heads were almost entirely comprised of CIA and ex-CIA meatheads; and there was no mention of the US's utterly ruinous interventions in Nicaragua, Chile, El Salvador et al, where the CIA's counter-terrorism forces were arguably far "dirtier" than the regimes they were up against. The interviewer was also completely toothless, although one has to suspect the CIA would not have allowed it any other way.
It's amusing to see how accurately the CIA do in fact reflect the persona of two of their most influential seniors (President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld) - both are arrogant, callous and shockingly deceptive. This programme raised an important point - this is not a war based on morals, it's a war based on politics, vengeance and domestic interests. It's time we started holding governments and their representatives accountable to their actions rather than blindingly trusting the intentions behind the crimes they commit in our name whatever they are, to whomever they so wish.
A good programme definitely. But the programme simply didn't go far enough. The theme - questioning whether CIA involvement will result in human rights abuses and other such "dirtiness" - was hardly explored in any real detail. Focusing on the single case of the Harvard lawyer's guerrilla leader husband as an example of CIA-backed atrocities is much too limited. How about the tens of thousands of innocent Guatemalan peasants who were slaughtered by CIA-funded and trained army death squads? And why focus solely on Guatemala? The programme, to provide a comprehensive overview of the reality of CIA operations, should've used several cases of general CIA activity throughout Central and Latin America, .e.g. Nicaragua, Chile, and indeed throughout the world during the Cold War. American scholars such as the former State Department official William Blum, or the former CIA agent John Stockwell, have produced exhaustive documentation of the CIA's complicity in massive human rights abuses, including even genocide, simply to secure U.S. corporate interests. Available data indicates that at least 12 million people were killed by Western intelligence agencies during the Cold War as a consequence of such self-interested operations. If Panorama genuinely wants to deal with this theme, it should do so comprehensively, otherwise justice will simply not be done to the theme.
Mr Stratton from Basingstoke draws a distinction between freedom fighters and terrorists resting, it seems, on the presumption that any given conflict can be quickly broken down into clear, simple, unambiguous terms. We shouldn't allow ourselves to fall into a simplistic us-versus-them mentality, and however much we were all horrified by the images of planes crashing into the WTC and of people leaping to certain death, we should remember that this present war did not begin with the events of September 11 but arose out of years of discontent caused, in whole or in part, by Western and especially American foreign policy in collusion with intelligence agencies whose actions might not always have been as proper as we would like to think. I doubt whether the restrictions imposed on the CIA have made it a more ethical organization, and I doubt that all their intentions are pure. Should they be given free rein to commit any act which secures America's - let's be honest here - economic interests, I for one would be concerned at what could be committed, by proxy, in my name.
The Western gov'ts should work towards removing the causes of terrorism and face up to their past and what they are doing, instead of bombing them to kingdom come. They'll just create more terrorists by curtailing liberties etc.
I think America should protect itself. However if it does not want another attack it should leave the affairs of other countries alone.
The Panorama programme was ok as far as it went. The issue that it did not address was the very principle on which CIA operations are based. Ever since its beginnings as WWII was ending, what became the CIA has maintained mixed operations of intelligence gathering and covert action. The mixing of these two distinctly different types of operation has meant that CIA agents are neither one or the other. The consequence has been that it has never really developed human information gathering capacity in the near East or even in many areas of the far East.
The result has been the use of Western minds to assess dynamics in Eastern nations from a Western perspective. The consequence is that assessments of internal situations in such nations has been seriously flawed resulting in ongoing errors of judgement which in turn lead to the September 11th massacre.
First class programme which raises seminal questions about 21st century inter-national and internal relationships.
Are terrorism and democracy mutually inclusive or mutually exclusive?
There's little terrorism in a dictatorship, but lots of it in democracies with "rights" enjoyed by vulnerable citizens.
Is state terrorism an oxymoron or the usual status quo?
Brilliant programme - Congratulations Panorama.
The programme tonight clearly showed the harsh reality of war and conflict in all parts of the world. If the CIA is to be effective it must clearly show no restraint in gathering any information, and dealing with any threat to the USA.
There are too many bad things happening in the world today, most being carried out by mankind. These people have to be stopped, by all possible means. I am not sure that September 11 can be blamed on any failure of the CIA.
What a vacuous programme. I was looking forward to viewers discovering some illuminating truths about the ineptitude of the CIA.
How they justified a budget of $30 billion and were clueless about the events of Sept 11th. Surely the whole point of an intelligence service. What were they doing with that money?
How one can be seconded to the Mid East desk of the CIA and not speak Arabic, Farsi or Urdu, pretty necessary skills for such a dept.
How the CIA has made a policy of training and supporting death squads who are supposed to be fighting 'terrorism', however end up murdering trade unionists, priests, human rights workers and peoples fighting oppression.
How they spent years installing and supporting tyrants such as Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet and Manuel Noriega. How they even supported the Taleban as part of their 'war on drugs'.
In essence, the fault of Western intelligence has not been an inability to get 'down and dirty'. But in a culture of recruiting inept people whose short sightedness and ambition has resulted in a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of the world at large, and a flagrant disregard for the fate of non Americans.
The USA have consistently used terrorist tactics to destabilise regimes that do not support American policy, especially in Latin America. Is not their hunt for terrorists a sheer act of hypocrisy when policies like structural adjustment pursued by America are believed to be causing half a million child-deaths a week in the Third World?
We have always known that the CIA was involved in dirty undercover activities in places like Chile, Nicaragua and Guatemala. It will do anything to defend what it views as its "strategic interests". What struck me forcibly was the very blinkered view of the CIA operatives who saw things only in terms of defending their operatives. This is understandable up to a point. It still begs the question, by what right have they got to interfere in the political processes of other countries? Making friends with the Northern Alliance in order to satisfy immediate requirements may well rebound on them as did arming and training the Taleban. A chilling documentary lit up be the courage and persistence of the brave Harvard-educated widow. which contrasted starkly with the cynicism of the CIA operatives but then I am just a "comfortable armchair critic".
Does any one care that the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council are also the world's leading Arms Sellers and Manufacturers. How could it be the agenda of these countries (USA, Britain, Russia, France, China) to have peace on the planet? Their Economies depend on the sells of arms. They account for 87% of the arms sold and made, 90% of the world's weapons of mass destruction owned and manufactured by them. Start waking you sleepers, stop dreaming.
The CIA, to my way of thinking, have operated as a terrorist organisation for many years. They have no respect for human life. They have supported many unsavoury fascist regimes e.g. Pinochet's. I have not forgotten the completely unjustified invasion of Grenada.
American foreign policy is still based on what's good for America. Remember the Truman Doctrine which denied support for the UK because after the second world war we elected a Labour (i.e.left-wing government) which denied us the same aid and privileges that they gave of the rest of Western Europe.
I abhor Islamic Fundamentalism but I fear that unleashing the unprincipled American war machine on the Arab world can only lead to tragedy.
The Americans are quite right and justified in seeking to destroy the perpatrators of the September 11 atrocities. However, they are not the only nation on earth with the right to defend themselves. I am certain that when Israel takes similar action in the coming week to destroy suicide bombers and their bases, the USA will condemn their actions as "excessive" and call upon them to stop.
ALL nations must be allowed to defend themselves - not just America! One hopes that the scales have finally dropped from the eyes of the American people.
I'm not sure what was more disturbing about 'Deep Down and Dirty'; the fact that it's sole purpose seemed to be to put forward the case for a return to an unscrupulous intelligence gathering policy, or that it allowed a set of disgruntled ex-CIA operatives to suggest that their organisation's spectacular failure to predict September 11th was caused by restrictions placed on them following the Guatemala case without any of them being once questioned on this assertion. What evidence is there that the CIA has ever had any intelligence in Arab terrorism? The fact that the producers of this programme chose speakers who, almost exclusively, spoke from a pro-CIA position suggests that they clearly intended the misleading suggestion that the current lack of intelligence on Arab terrorism was due to increased restrictions to be forwarded unchallenged.
If there is a drive to both clear the CIA of culpability in the World Trade Centre bombings, and to refacilitate the use of torturers, mass-killers and other assorted lunatics by CIA intelligence officers, then this should be the subject of a Panorama programme. Panorama should be there to expose issues, not to provide a mouthpiece for questionable spin operations on the part of the American secret service.
It is quite clear that successive American governments since the cold war have been, in many respects, sponsors of terrorism themselves through the use of their intelligence agencies and networks. The one fundamental question which arises is, how much can Europe and the rest of the world rely on America as a true ally? And how much of world peace is at threat as a result of American foreign policy in relation to Osama Bin Laden and his associates?
The horrible fact is the difference between the Freedom fighters and "just" revolutionaries, and the terrorists is formed only after success or defeat. For example Americas acts to end world War 2 are seen as just, while Cuba's attempt at protecting itself against American invasion during the Cuban missile crisis is seen as unjust.
From the loaded title of Panorama's crude and facile anti- American portrayal of past and present CIA activities to its one-sided linking of alleged Cold War wrongs to President George W. Bush's strong and just determination to take action against recent terrorism, this edition of your programme was inexcusably unprofessional.
Yet again an excellent program! However emphasis was needed on the policy makers/various White House administrations with diverging goals, who were/are these politicians? and what is their understanding of issues around the world? of Islam? Raj Karega Khalsa.
Does any one care that five permanent members of the UN Security Council are the worlds largest arms dealers? The US, Britain, France, China and Russia are given the responsibility to keep the peace while they sell arms and weapons of mass destruction. Wake up people. Will George W. now freeze the bank accounts of the Ku-Klux-Klan? Will Tony Blair now freeze the accounts of the BNP? Did not the Americans support the IRA for thirty years?
I find the attitude of the CIA hypocritical to say the least. Their record in instigating, funding, training terrorists is quite dreadful. Yet they now sit there and say they are fighting terrorism. The freedom loving, peace loving, USA was saying that in the open while funding and arming people like Pinochet, one of many of their puppets. They were directly responsible for the deaths of 50,000 people in Nicaragua and Chile alone. As someone else has said isn't it about time they apologised for their own terrorist activities? Currently it is a case of terrorists the US has created, turning on them. I feel deeply sorry for the American people having a govt like which behaves the way their's does.
A considerably better program than the one from Jane Corbin last week, in fact I would go so far as to say this one borders on the excellent. I thought it explained life as it is, and, I would hope, makes people realise that there is a price to be paid for any choice. In my view modern opinion equates our superior scientific knowledge compared with the past to mean that all our ideas are superior, I think not. This programme basically asks the age old question - Who Guards the Guards.
I think for once perhaps the light should be shined on the atrocities the British have done - Ireland and former colonies have the scars. The Boer Wars had the first concentration camps!
These were communist rebels fighting the government, what if that happened here in the UK? There actually is a Muslim group that believes they should break away and form their own country on this island. How would you react against these rebels? Would you offer them tea? I think not.
The frightening thing about this programme was that the CIA appears to be staffed by a bunch of thick up-market thugs. It certainly ties in with the report that only 10% of the CIA Middle East desk speaks Arabic. I do not doubt that Al Qaeda will make rings round them. Heaven help us.
What if the premise - that the CIA did not know in advance about the September 11 attacks - is false? What if Bin Laden is a CIA asset? What if Bin Laden stayed at an American hospital in July 2001? What if five of the September 11 'hijackers' were trained at secure US military bases? This programme looked like yet another example of CIA propaganda being put across by BBC journalists carefully vetted by MI5. History teaches us surely that the CIA are similar to Hitler's secret service.
My god, arrogance of the people in the programme, I think the final words sums it up very well. Stating that the CIA should not worry about history repeating itself, was perhaps the most stupid thing I have ever heard. A few common phrases, "you reap what you sow", "People who do not look at history are doomed to repeat it". Sorry if this is harsh, America created these people and they should be looking at who they recruit to do their "dirty" work, and Sept 11 should be a lesson, which I doubt they will learn. It was the fault of the hawkish people who created them, not the liberals who wanted to remove ties with such people. Until they learn this lesson they will repeat history, the only thing I am sorry about is the way that Tony Blair seems to be the "spin agent" for the Americans, it makes me sad to be British.
I have just watched the second outrageous programme in successive Sundays, claiming to be a "Panorama" programme. I seem to have a recollection of balance, care and intelligence in the earlier years. Last week's programme made a political point that will appeal to all of those who prefer shouting to thought. This week's was simply anti-American bile. We were offered the sight of a Harvard-educated idiot talking about how awful it was that her terrorist husband had been tortured and killed by the incumbent regime in Guatemala. It plainly came as a surprise also to someone by the name of Peter Taylor that this had happened. The serious point is that Panorama, and the BBC generally seems wholly to have lost any sense of balance; it is, now, the news arm of the extreme left, which is no better than being that of the extreme right. Is it possible to withdraw my licence fee, at least until someone with half a brain takes over?
I am delighted that a BBC programme has been permitted to criticise and expose the CIA to the extent Panorama did. However, the findings of the Panorama researchers and the emerging details of CIA-related atrocities across the world necessitates an urgent overhaul of the BBC's overall approach to coverage of the so-called 'War on Terrorism'. The US line must no longer be accepted as gospel truth. If we are to create a truly free media, the BBC must urgently reassess its balance of views in its regular news reporting to reflect the very real and growing opposition the actions of the US in Afghanistan in this country.
The politically correct brigade and their "rights" should be ignored. There are "rights" and what is right! The two are not the same. What about the rights of citizens rights to walk and work without fear. The perpetrators of crime are given more consideration than victims. Did the terrorist husband of this Harvard lawyer consider the "rights" of those he killed? I doubt he did.
I was appalled by the non-answer of the ex-CIA officer when asked if human rights was more important than results. Also the statement that human rights was for H.R. Watch and not the CIA. It is this attitude that breeds anti-American hate/Terrorism in almost all the countries on this planet.
The episode brought up some very uncomfortable issues.
As Europeans, we have not meddled in the affairs of others. I for one see ourselves as the land of the free. The current issues occurring in the United States including arrest of Arabs without trial, military courts and possible human rights violations are again America turns into what it was in the 1950s - paranoid and willing to take any action necessary. Yes, I believe there should be action to stop al Qaeda BUT not at the expense of allowing torture. In this instance, the UK should ensure we only help America so far. If they are indeed willing to go to torture and other means then we should say enough is enough and stand up for what is right.
Good programme as far as it went. Off on the wrong premise concerning 911. After 6,000,000 man-hours of FBI investigation there is NO evidence linking Bin Laden to 911.
Investigate claims that the CIA DID KNOW but did nothing, claims that Mossad were involved, claims of a cover-up, JFK-style. Call it "Who are the real 'evil ones'?"
Either this programme was a genuine effort at impartial reporting about the CIA tactics to allow it to play dirty or the programme itself was "used" by the CIA to soften up European public about its future tactics.
The fact that you had so many ex CIA people on the programme would have meant they must have had CIA clearance/approval about what they said on the programme.
I personally felt the programme insulted every well educated viewer. America's involvement in central America is full of horror stories. The gloves have always been off. Peter - your report could have featured the CIA funded contras alone. Now that is a story of state orchestrated terrorism.
Once again the US does the dirty work for the rest of the world! Who else is strong enough to step up and fight the communist machine. I find it humorous that the rest of the world is always into our business. Perhaps other countries should get off their behind and try to really make a difference for democracy.
While I thought tonight's Panorama presented a reasonable analysis of the difficulties facing the CIA, I would have liked to have seen greater emphasis placed on decisions taken during the period of the Carter presidency when human rights issues were first brought into this sensitive arena. Jimmy Carter's moral foreign policy has already cost a lot of lives - there may be greater losses yet to come. However much we want to correct past errors so much of the damage caused by human rights activists is irretrievable.
I believe America and the West ignore Human Rights in general. As much as I sympathise with the victims of September 11, I think the time has come for America to apologise for the atrocities it has committed all over the world (even now as it continues to do in Afghanistan). This cycle will continue unless America and Britain learn not pay lip service to issues like the Palestinian problem. This problem only comes to the fore when there is a crisis in which the Israeli co-operation is needed.
I pay my taxes and I expect my government to protect me. If they fail then I potentially end up with no human rights at all, because a terrorist has taken my life. We as a country have to grasp the nettle and give our security services the freedom to act as they know best.
If they (MI5, MI6) go OTT every now and again, so what! We are talking about a fundamental threat to our way of life.
Is this a war on terrorism or a war on Islam. US has a new enemy Islam as it threatens its existence like the USSR did. My point will the IRA be targeted, and then will the State of Israel - for it has terrorised the land owners (Palestinians) for nearly half a century. Hence, will the US take these two next?
The CIA and all other agencies, whether US or from other countries should have a "gloves-off" terms of reference for hunting terrorists following the events of September 11th. All of this talk about Human Rights is absolute rubbish, terrorists do not deserve the protection of HR laws as they lose them by joining terrorist groups. However, I am very critical of the actions of the CIA in Guatemala as reported in tonight's programme. The problem here is one of definition of "terrorist". Maya Indians fighting against an evil Right Wing Military Dictatorship, installed following a CIA backed coup, are not terrorists but merely fighting for their own protection. I often recall the saying that was used about the US attitude to terrorists and freedom fighters: What is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? Answer: Freedom fighters are supported by the CIA.
I support the killing of terrorists, but not of impoverished villagers fighting against Right Wing Dictatorships.
Good programme as usual, high quality, in depth and analytical - kind of. But, the whole programme was based on that ugly assumption that Osama Bin Laden was behind The WTC attacks, and considering 'EVIDENCE' for this is somewhat non-existent, I think they should have critically looked at that assumption.
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