In the past week, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in a television interview, that the Obama administration would not support prosecutions for "those who devised policy" regarding the CIA interrogations.
The same interrogations that President Barack Obama’s top intelligence adviser, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, recently admitted had resulted in "high-value information" as well as a "deeper understanding" of al-Qaida.
Attorney General Eric Holder offered an assurance that the CIA officials who were involved in these acts would not be targeted, as long as their actions were in line with legal advice at the time.
General Holder also told the CIA that the government would provide free legal representation to its employees in any legal proceeding or congressional investigation related to the program and would repay any financial judgment. He said, "It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department."
President Obama’s current CIA Director Leon Panetta recently wrote in a message to his employees that, “the CIA responded, as duty requires,” and the president himself said in a letter sent directly to CIA employees that the nation must protect their identity "as vigilantly as they protect our security."
These are the right responses for all the right reasons.
For example, with the exception of Rahm Emanuel, each one of these men has to lead some of the most courageous men and women in the world into an indefinite war against an evil that surpasses any enemy we have ever had to deal with before.
These agents or operatives need the inspiration and support of their leaders and their country.
They shouldn’t have to work with a fear of reprisal or criminal prosecution by politicians who are obsessed with the previous administration, particularly when their actions were deemed legal and necessary at the time and resulted in valuable intelligence that we may not have acquired otherwise.
The politicizing of this and other issues involving our national security has to stop as it is weakening our ability to protect ourselves.
It is amazing to hear our congressional leaders call for one investigation after another when in fact members of Congress repeatedly signed off on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation methods (such as waterboarding) that many of them today decry as torture.
That’s right — Director Blair recently revealed that from 2002 through 2006 when the use of these techniques ended, “the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities both to executive branch policymakers and to members of Congress, and received permission to continue to use the techniques."
Will those members of Congress too be investigated?
In their zeal to politically persecute President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and others, it appears they have lost their objectivity. It appears they have no concern over the release of national security related information, past and present, that in no way should ever be released publicly or more so to our enemies.
If Congress sincerely wants an accurate report on the National Security policies or the CIA’s interrogation methods used during the Bush administration, perhaps they should hire an independent body to do so for they can’t investigate themselves.
More importantly, we should not and cannot impede our ability to secure this country and fight the war and enemy we face.
The president said himself that he worries about “getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively, and it hampers our ability to carry out national security operations."
Perhaps Congress should take heed and stop politicizing our National Security before it is too late.
Bernard B. Kerik retired as the 40th police commissioner of New York City and was in command of the NYPD on and after Sept. 11, 2001.
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