In the beginning, President Obama said he wanted to make us safer by letting potential terrorists know that we do not engage in torture. The idea was that sending that message would deprive terrorists of a recruiting tool.
So, even though enhanced interrogation techniques had not been employed since 2003, and Michael Hayden as CIA director banned their use three years later, Obama said he was stopping them.
Then Obama released Justice Department memos describing the enhanced interrogation techniques that had been used on three terrorists. In doing so, despite his claim that he did not want to do so, Obama provided terrorists with ammunition to recruit more terrorists.
At the same time, Obama chose not to release CIA documents showing that the interrogations provided leads that rolled up terrorist plots, saving thousands of American lives. The White House even went so far as to edit out a statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair that enhanced interrogations provided valuable information.
As Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has told me, Obama has been “cherry picking” what he releases for political purposes. See video of Ron kessler's interview with Sen. Kit Bond — Click Here Now.
Obama’s action in releasing the memos, in turn, spurred House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deny that she knew anything about use of the techniques, even though the CIA had briefed her on them in September 2002. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., then asked the CIA to pinpoint when Pelosi and other congressional leaders had been briefed. When a CIA memo showed that Pelosi had dissembled about not being told of enhanced interrogation, she issued contradictory statements in an attempt to cloud the issue.
In the meantime, despite President Obama's claim that he did not want to provide ammunition to terrorists so they could recruit more terrorists, he said he would release photos showing abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He finally backed down on releasing the photos. But having said he saw no harm in releasing them, he undermined the legal case for keeping them secret under the Freedom of Information Act.
Now that their own actions have backfired, congressional Democrats have decided that it was all a plot by the CIA. Despite the fact that the CIA prepared a listing of the briefings in response to a request by a member of Congress, Democrats are blaming the agency for releasing the details of the briefings to the Hill.
Charging that the CIA deliberately foisted the problem on Democrats, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who was briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques five times between 2006 and 2007 as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said, “I think there is so much embarrassment in some quarters [of the CIA] that people are going to try to shift some of the responsibility to others . . .”
Focusing on the timing of the release of the CIA memo listing the congressional briefings, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he finds it “interesting” that a document detailing congressional briefings was released just as “some of the groups that have been responsible for these interrogation techniques were taking the most criticism.”
When asked by a reporter whether she thought the CIA was seeking political cover by releasing the documents, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the intelligence committee, said “Sure it is.”
Not quite. It was Obama who started the chain of events that is now boomeranging on Democrats. By releasing the CIA memos and pointing the finger of blame for what he has called a mistake, Obama targeted CIA officers for recrimination.
What’s more important, it is Obama — along with congressional Democrats — who has made the CIA risk-averse. Together, they have done that by demonstrating to CIA officers that when asked to engage in a risky venture that has been approved by the president, the Justice Department, and key members of Congress, they may suffer consequences if they trust those assurances.
As former Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss has said, “It is certainly not trust that is fostered when intelligence officers are told one day ‘I have your back’ only to learn a day later that a knife is being held to it.”
Thus, as detailed in the Newsmax story Obama Has Paralyzed the CIA, at a time when al-Qaida is plotting to wipe us out with a nuclear attack, Obama and the Democrats have jeopardized our safety by returning the CIA to a pre-9/11 risk-averse mentality.
Democrats’ effort to blame it all on the CIA shows they have no shame.
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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