After the 9/11 attacks, Democrats spent years knocking the Bush administration for not doing enough to protect us. In particular, they supported the 9/11 commission’s conclusion that the CIA had become risk averse.
Now the Democrats are busy undercutting improvements made since the 9/11 attacks, including by returning the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community to an even more risk-averse mode than existed before the attacks.
The latest example is the political circus Democrats planned to put on in connection with President Obama’s nomination of Philip Mudd to be the chief of intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security.
Previously deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, Mudd has been detailed to the FBI, in charge of the bureau’s national security analytical programs. Besides being tremendously knowledgeable, Mudd is known for being open-minded and non-partisan.
Yet as Mudd was about to undergo questioning by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, it became clear that Democrats planned to use him as a whipping boy for Bush administration policies, especially enhanced interrogation. Other Democrats did not want to re-visit House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that she knew nothing about enhanced interrogation, even though the CIA briefed her on the operation in September 2002.
As Hill staffers investigated Mudd, they found that his name appeared in CIA documents listing those who briefed members of Congress about the interrogation techniques. Regardless of what his personal views may have been, Mudd of course touted the coercive techniques based on their success at rolling up plots, as did key members of Congress like Pelosi. Indeed, she and other members of Congress asked if the CIA should be doing even more to extract intelligence from terrorists about possible plots.
When Mudd’s nomination ran into political headwinds, Obama was willing to toss one of the country’s most respected intelligence professionals, depriving Homeland Security of expertise in a position that is vital to protecting the country. In withdrawing his name from consideration, Mudd said, “I know that this position will require the full cooperation with Congress, and I believe that if I continue to move forward, I will become a distraction to the president and his vital agenda.”
The lesson for the intelligence community is simple: If you follow instructions approved by the president, members of Congress, and the Justice Department to carry out sensitive operations to gather intelligence, you could well be punished for it.
That comes on top of the risk-averse atmosphere produced by President Obama’s decision to release memos on CIA interrogation techniques and his condemnation of those methods even though they led to plots being thwarted. As detailed in the Newsmax story "Obama Has Paralyzed the CIA", CIA officers feel betrayed by Obama and members of Congress who pretend they knew nothing about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation.
“The lesson officers are learning is when you are asked to do anything that entails risk — whether it has to do with the reputation of the agency, the risk of personal failure, or the possibility of criminal liability because people will revisit all the assurances they gave you up front — the lesson is, Don’t take those risks to protect America,” says a former CIA officer who was involved in the interrogations. “Find a way not to do it, or you’ll be sorry.”
“Phil Mudd epitomizes the best of CIA,” Charles Allen, who began with the CIA in 1958 and was Homeland Security's intelligence chief until January, told me when Mudd withdraw from consideration. “The men and women of the agency work at great risk at times to keep the country safe, and this is a very sad day. When you have a dedicated public servant having to withdraw, it speaks of whether our executive and legislative branches can function effectively.”
Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the failed nomination was “the latest political casualty of a terror-fighting program no one in Congress objected to until it became politically risky.”
How can Democrats be so foolhardy as to risk being wiped out, along with their family members and friends, by undercutting the country’s ability to fight terrorism? The same way Gov. Jon Corzine went barreling down a New Jersey highway at more than 90 miles per hour with no seat belt on, leading to an accident that almost killed him.
The difference is that Corzine risked killing only himself and those around him. If al-Qaida is able to carry out plots it is planning, the Democrats risk killing tens of thousands of Americans.
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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