In the past several weeks, both the FBI and CIA have scored startling successes, but you would never know it by listening to President Barack Obama.
The FBI arrested five men in separate alleged plots to blow up federal buildings or subways, attack Americans, and create mass destruction. All the plotters shared allegiance to radical jihad and devotion to al-Qaida. The CIA, meanwhile, pinpointed an underground uranium enrichment facility Iran has been secretly building.
Along with much of the media, Obama has made a career of bashing the CIA and second-guessing interrogations that led to the roll-up of plots that would have killed thousands of Americans. Eric Holder Jr., Obama’s attorney general, has decided to reopen criminal investigations of CIA officials involved in the interrogations, sending a message to CIA officers that they may suffer consequences if they take risks to uncover new terrorist plots.
According to the Washington Post, before he decided to reopen the cases, “Holder did not read detailed memos that prosecutors drafted and placed in files to explain their decision to decline prosecutions.”
Why should he bother? During his confirmation hearings, Holder made it clear he had already concluded that “waterboarding is torture.” Never mind that we subject our own troops to the technique during training.
Meanwhile, the FBI’s roundup of terrorist suspects involved in different plots demonstrates how successful the bureau has been at pinpointing possible threats and patiently watching suspects whose actions may lead agents to more plotters.
While the FBI had him under surveillance since January, the bureau decided to move fast to arrest Najibullah Zazi, 24, before he went ahead with his alleged plans to detonate bombs in New York City subways. The FBI then decided to arrest others who were under surveillance and might have become jittery after learning of Zazi’s arrest, possibly prompting them to try to leave the country.
As explained in my book “The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack,” the FBI has changed its thinking on when to arrest a terrorist suspect. When an agent says he wants to take down a suspect, Arthur Cummings, who is in charge of the ongoing terrorist investigations, tells the agent: “So you’re telling me you’ve done your job, you know everything there is to know about him, his organization, everything around him, all his travel, all his friends, and all family members? He’s not a viable source, and he’s not producing any productive intelligence whatsoever?”
Often, the response is silence.
Cummings says to the agent, “This is a deliberate judgment you have to make. Your objective is not to make the arrest. Your objective is to make that suspect our collection platform. That guy now is going to tell us just how big and broad the threat might be. He now becomes a means to collection, instead of the target of collection. I want you to understand his entire universe.” Then, Cummings tells the agent, “If he’s not a viable source, and his intelligence isn’t productive, then knock yourself out and use your law enforcement powers to make that arrest.”
It’s no accident that we have not had another terrorist attack since 9/11. It is because of the hard work of FBI agents and CIA officers. In turn, by uncovering the secret Iranian uranium enrichment facility, the CIA showed how good the agency really is.
But you will never hear that from Obama.
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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