Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C. — The one clear achievement of the Obama administration was the killing of Osama bin Laden. But while President Obama gave the order to Navy SEALs to take him out, the CIA likely would not have located bin Laden if the agency had been restricted by the policies Obama imposed after he took office.
That’s because Obama opposed the use of enhanced interrogation techniques and banned them when he became president.
Two days after bin Laden was killed, Leon Panetta, President Obama’s choice to head the CIA, gave an interview to NBC’s Brian Williams. On "Nightly News," Panetta confirmed that the CIA obtained some of the intelligence that led to bin Laden from enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding, when George W. Bush was president.
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Moreover, by demonizing those who approved the enhanced interrogation program and allowing Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. to pursue pointless investigations of them, Obama undermined the intelligence community’s willingness to take risks in the future.
In a talk to the Association of Retired Intelligence Officers, Jose Rodriguez Jr., the former chief of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, pointed out that tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers have been waterboarded as part of their training. He said Obama broke a bond of trust between the CIA and elected leaders.
“The enhanced interrogation program was authorized and sanctioned by the government of the U.S. of America,” Rodriguez said. So, he said, “When President Obama says waterboarding is torture and that the enhanced interrogation technique undermined our values and ideals . . . he breaks the covenant that exists between CIA officers at the pointed end of the spear and the government that directed them and authorized them to be there.”
As a result, “I worry about the current and future generations of CIA leaders who will question whether the authority that they received from their president will last longer than one election cycle,” Rodriguez said. “I worry about this for the safety of our nation.”
In contrast to the campaign’s distortions, the killing of bin Laden was a real contribution to the nation’s security. While Obama’s order to kill the al-Qaida leader was commendable, that achievement would not have been possible if Obama’s policies had been in place when the CIA used enhanced interrogation to uncover clues that helped the agency uncover his location.
Instead of blaming President Bush for the state of the economy four years after he took office, Obama should be thanking him for approving policies that gave him his only significant achievement as president.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times bestselling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler — Click Here Now.
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