John Rizzo gave thirty-four years of service as an attorney for the Central Intelligence Agency, serving with distinction under eleven directors and rising to acting general counsel. Yuri Nosenko, who died in 2008, was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB, a Soviet defector, and suspected double agent.
What do they have in common? A late night, one-on-one, vodka-soaked discussion of Nosenko’s three years of unremitting torture by Rizzo’s employer. The torture produced nothing, neither confirmation that Nosenko was a Soviet mole nor confidence that he was not. In his new memoir, Company Man, Rizzo asserts that this meeting left an indelible impression on him as a young lawyer. But just how did he put that experience to use when he evaluated the legality of the “Enhanced Interrogation Program” that landed on his desk in the CIA General Counsel’s office after 9/11?
His answer is not found in his memoir. But he did give an answer last week, when I asked him this question at an outstanding symposium on the future of national security law held at Pepperdine Law School. The conference was organized by Professor Greg McNeal ably assisted by 3L Shelby Doyle and her team of student editors at the Pepperdine Law Review.
Comrade Nosenko’s story, and Mr. Rizzo’s answer, follow after the break. Read More