Barack Obama came into office promising to be the president of all Americans. As with his claim that his budget moves America “from an era of borrow and spend” to “save and invest,” Obama’s assurance has turned out to be fiction.
The latest example is Obama’s one-sided release of Justice Department memos revealing CIA enhanced interrogation techniques and his flip-flop on the issue of prosecuting former Bush administration officials.
On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel ruled out any such prosecutions. That caused a firestorm on the left, and Obama responded on Tuesday by explicitly raising the prospect that those who formulated the legal opinions justifying enhanced interrogation techniques could be prosecuted, if the attorney general decides it would be appropriate.
Obama knows that the notion of prosecuting lawyers who give legal opinions is absurd, particularly since they gave guidance on how not to cross the line into the legal definition of torture. But the president is too spineless to stand up to his leftist base.
In broaching the subject of prosecutions, releasing the memos on interrogation tactics, and condemning the methods used, Obama sent a chill through the intelligence community. Now intelligence officers will be loath to take risks that are necessary to penetrate the enemy.
Obama has “demoralized those members of the Clandestine Service that make enormous personal sacrifices and take tremendous risks in the fight to keep our nation safe,” Gary Berntsen, a former CIA officer, says. “After having served most of my adult life in CIA’s Clandestine Service and having led many important counterterrorism missions, I can say that the rank and file is truly horrified by President Obama’s naive decision-making.”
That political expediency was behind Obama’s decisions is highlighted by the fact that in releasing the memos describing the interrogation tactics used, the White House redacted details of deadly plots stopped as a result of information obtained by using those tactics.
Nor has Obama released the minutes of White House briefings of Nancy Pelosi and other leaders of the House and Senate detailing the interrogation tactics as they were being carried out.
During the Clinton years, the CIA became risk-averse in part because of CIA Director John Deutch’s insistence that CIA officers obtain high-level approval before recruiting assets with what were called human rights violations.
For example, a potential spy may have murdered someone. But who else would know about terrorist plots except those who were themselves involved in it? The CIA’s risk-aversion in those years contributed to the inability to uncover the 9/11 plot.
Now Obama is imposing an even more risk-averse atmosphere. Dennis Blair, his director of National Intelligence, has further demoralized the intelligence community by issuing a statement saying that while the “information gained from these [interrogation] techniques was valuable in some instances,” there is “is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means.”
In other words, the next time a nuclear attack by terrorists is feared, CIA officers should sit on their hands because years later, politicians may look back and say that leads on plots might have been obtained in a more friendly way.
The reality is that al-Qaida is plotting to wipe out America with nuclear weapons. When another attack occurs, Obama’s pandering to his leftist base will be seen as contributing to the deaths of possibly 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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