A man who once parachuted into Nazi-occupied France for Operation Jedburgh, former Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer John K. Singlaub is eminently qualified to answer questions about the historical precedent of prosecuting intelligence officers during a time of war. If he or his men had been captured by the enemy, they would have been tortured and executed. Many of his friends suffered that fate. NOw a retired Army major general, Singlaub's career in intelligence began before the CIA or many of its officers were even born. Recently questioned about the idea of prosecuting agents during wartime, he paused and said, "If we prosecute anyone, we need to go after Jimmy Carter and his appointee to head (the) CIA, Adm. Stansfield Turner. (No one) has done us more harm. Turner gutted covert-action capabilities when he reduced the Directorate of Operations by a thousand experienced officers in 1977, and exposed the United States to crises which continue to haunt us 30 years later: Afghanistan and Iran."
It was a loaded question. I already knew there was no precedent for the steps Attorney General Eric Holder had taken in reopening in 2009 a criminal investigation of CIA operations. Eugene Poteat, the President of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), himself a 30-year CIA man, had already set me straight. "Nope, there is no precedent," he explained. "Even the worst mistake in CIA history, the Bay of Pigs invasion under President Kennedy, had no criminal investigation. Men were fired, including my boss, but no one was tried as a criminal."