After President Bush gave his 2003 State of the Union address, the press attacked him mercilessly for weeks over his 16-word statement that the British government had learned that Saddam Hussein sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
After the British House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee reviewed the MI6 intelligence about the claim involving Niger, it concluded in September 2003 that the British intelligence service MI6 was justified in continuing to say that Hussein had tried to obtain uranium from that country.
Even though Bush’s statement about Niger was true, it set off a cascade of efforts in the press and among Democrats to show it was false. Now Barack Obama has unleashed a string of distortions about the war on terror, but the press has yet to excoriate him.
Obama said the Bush administration made “hasty decisions” in devising the war on terror. Quite the contrary: The strategy was plotted carefully. In developing enhanced interrogation techniques, the CIA and the White House consulted with a string of lawyers, doctors, and psychologists.
As outlined in my book, “The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack,” before confronting a terrorist, each interrogator was given 250 hours of specialized training. In addition to the interrogators, detainees were questioned by experts with years of experience in studying and tracking al-Qaida. That expertise allowed them to fire rapid questions at detainees, to follow up on their answers, and to verify their truthfulness quickly.
In Obama's speech at the National Archives, the president referred to waterboarding as a “brutal” tactic. In fact, waterboarding inflicts no pain. If it were brutal, we would not subject our own special forces to waterboarding during training.
Obama said he rejects the notion that waterboarding is the most effective means of interrogation. Yet no one has said that. The CIA would far prefer to obtain cooperation from detainees without resorting to coercive tactics. But when terrorists were not talking and the threat of another attack was deemed imminent, the CIA used waterboarding, which led the CIA to terrorists who revealed details of plots that would have killed thousands of Americans.
Obama said he wants to promote transparency. Yet he never mentioned the fact that he is suppressing CIA reports showing that waterboarding was effective in rolling up plots. Nor did he explain why the White House redacted the reference to those successes in a memo National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair sent to employees.
Obama said Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al-Qaida recruit terrorists to its cause. Yet he never mentioned that, while al-Qaida uses dozens of symbols of America to recruit terrorists, the fact is America has not been successfully attacked in nearly eight years.
Obama also said enhanced interrogation has been used as a recruitment tool. Yet after Obama’s speech, former CIA Director Michael Hayden told me, “There are a variety of things that motivate al-Qaida recruits. There is no evidence from intelligence that the CIA’s narrowly focused program of interrogation has been one of them.”
Obama condemned finger-pointing, the politicization of national security issues, and looking back in time to relitigate the policies of the past eight years. Yet that is exactly what Obama did in his speech, pointing the finger of blame more than two dozen times at the Bush administration.
Obama said he would not release detainees from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay into America to endanger national security. Yet he never referred to FBI Director Robert Mueller’s statement that any transfer of detainees to U.S. soil would pose a range of risks, including attracting terrorist financing, radicalizing others in prison, and the “potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States.”
When the respected British House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee released its report supporting MI6 intelligence on Niger, only one newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, ran a full story on it. At the same time, while the media constantly ran former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV’s public claim that he told the CIA that Hussein was not trying to obtain uranium from Niger, the press rarely reported that Wilson actually reported to the CIA that he obtained support for the claim.
The lack of press criticism of Obama’s speech shows that that same media bias is evident today, preventing Americans from learning the truth about the war on terror and the tools and policies needed to continue to keep us safe.
More disturbing, Obama’s effort to politicize and downplay the war on terror is undermining that effort, risking another successful 9/11-like attack and jeopardizing our national security.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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