Eichmann in Washington

by Hanna Rosin

The New York Times spin on the CIA revelations usefully recalls Hannah Arendt's on the Eichmann trials

The first news reports this week about hundreds of pages of newly released documents on the C.I.A. program focused on aberrations in the field: threats of execution by handgun or assault by power drill...

But the strong impression that emerges from the documents.. is by no means one of gung-ho operatives running wild. It is a portrait of overwhelming control exercised from C.I.A. headquarters and the Department of Justice control Bush administration officials say was intended to ensure that the program was safe and legal.

"Safe and legal." Under control. Perfectly normal. The judges in the Eichmann trial, Arendt wrote, "missed the greatest moral and legal challenge of the whole case" because they refused to believe that a person who was "neither feeble-minded not indocrinated nor cynical" could be capable of such evil. A warning to future investigators.