Tom Ricks's Inbox

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I've never associated Bob Dylan with issues of interrogation and intelligence-gathering, but a 1986 observation by CIA counterintelligence specialist William Johnson that I recently came across reminded me of a great line from "Absolutely Sweet Marie," 20 years earlier. "To live outside the law," Dylan sang, "you must be honest." The CIA version:

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Interrogation is such a dirty business that it should be done only by people of the cleanest character. Anyone with sadistic tendencies should not be in the business.

Johnson's comment, by the way, was quoted in a new paper by David Perry, a professor of ethics at the Army War College.

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Tom Ricks is The Post's military correspondent. This feature aims to give readers a snapshot of the conversations about Iraq, Afghanistan and other matters that play out in Ricks's e-mail inbox. Have an interesting document? Send it to

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