The CIA may be our first line of defense against another terrorist attack, but President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have found a far more handy use for it: political retribution against the Bush administration.
First, Obama released Justice Department memos on CIA interrogation methods used under President Bush without releasing documents that portray how valuable the interrogations were in rolling up plots. Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the CIA of routinely lying to Congress.
More recently, Democrats in Congress have manufactured a scandal out of a CIA program during the Bush administration that explored whether to use employees of Blackwater USA to locate terrorist suspects.
While the press has portrayed the program as an assassination effort, whether to capture or kill terrorists who might have been located was left to the president.
As a rule, the CIA enlists the help of other foreign intelligence services or tries to develop agents who might provide leads on the location of terrorists. The idea behind the yet-to-be-named CIA program was to supplement those efforts with an effort that was entirely under the control of the agency.
The concept of an independent program became even more appealing after disclosures about so-called secret CIA prisons in foreign countries resulted in some intelligence services refusing to work with the agency.
Under the proposed program, Blackwater employees would have been given false identities and cover.
“The idea was to be able to move in closer, to have direct eyes on the target, as opposed to using cutouts or sources,” says a former CIA officer who was involved in the program. “What we wanted to do was develop an in-house capability but not have any real ties back to the agency, so that they could deploy on a rapid basis and not be traced back. But that never got to its initiation stage. In fact, we were barely in the beginning of the effort to identify potential team members.
“We’re only talking maybe a half a dozen people. We really didn’t have a name for it. We were just sort of in the process of putting it together.”
Now President Obama is releasing a 2004 CIA inspector general’s report on the interrogation of terrorist suspects, further undercutting the CIA’s efforts to keep us safe. The Justice Department, President Bush, and key members of Congress, including now-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, approved or raised no objection to the interrogation methods the CIA used.
The Justice Department has since reviewed the inspector general’s findings and, with one exception, has declined to prosecute anyone. The exception is contract employee David Passaro, who was found guilty in 2007 in the beating death of a prisoner in Afghanistan.
By releasing the report and its criticism of the methods used, Obama is undermining the morale of CIA officers and sending a message that they may not be supported if they carry out risky tasks that have been approved at the highest levels of the government.
In another prong to the witch hunt, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. is considering overturning previous Justice Department decisions not to prosecute.
By its very nature, the work of the CIA entails risk. Intelligence officers who obtain secrets of other countries or of terrorist organizations meet with terrorists in dark alleys to try to enlist them to spy for the agency.
They break into foreign embassies to steal secret codes and install listening devices in homes of terrorists. They pick up top secret military plans from clandestine hiding places. They recruit arms dealers to report on efforts to steal nuclear weapons. If their work is uncovered, they may be arrested by a foreign power or murdered by a terrorist.
As former CIA Director Michael Hayden said after Obama decided to release the Justice Department memos about interrogation tactics, the effect of the release is to “invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on Sept. 11, 2001.”
As Hayden pointed out, releasing such information discourages foreign intelligence services from cooperating with the CIA for fear their cooperation will be exposed.
As result of actions of Obama’s and Democrats’ actions, “We are going to have people who are going to hesitate to undertake risky assignments because they will think to themselves, ‘Now I’m told I’m sanctioned to do it and I have the legal authority, but in five years, am I going to be told that I committed a crime?’” says a former CIA officer.
Al-Qaida’s goal is to wipe out the U.S. with nuclear weapons. The witch hunt against the CIA being conducted by Obama and fellow Democrats brings us closer to the day when that could happen.
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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