During his interview with Chris Wallace today, former Vice President Dick Cheney was asked about the effect of Attorney General Holder’s investigation of the CIA and enhanced interrorgation techniques:
Well, you think, for example, in the intelligence arena. We ask those people to do some very difficult things. Sometimes, that put their own lives at risk. They do so at the direction of the president, and they do so with the — in this case, we had specific legal authority from the Justice Department. And if they are now going to be subject to being investigated and prosecuted by the next administration, nobody’s going to sign up for those kinds of missions.
It’s a very, very devastating, I think, effect that it has on morale inside the intelligence community. If they assume that they’re going to have to be dealing with the political consequences — and it’s clearly a political move. I mean, there’s no other rationale for why they’re doing this — then they’ll be very reluctant in the future to do that.
It may already be too late, a Washington Post report indicates morale in the CIA is plummeting:
A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard, the third-ranking CIA official at the time of the use of harsh interrogation practices, said that although vigorous oversight is crucial, the public airing of once-classified internal assessments and the prospect of further investigation are damaging the agency. “Morale at the agency is down to minus 50,” he said.
At the same time, former inspector general John L. Helgerson, whose review of the program was largely declassified Monday, said that the release, though painful, would ensure that the agency confronts difficult issues head on, instead of ignoring or trying to bury them.
Helgerson also said it would be “very difficult” to mount a successful prosecution of any of the individuals who participated in the program. The Bush-era Justice Department “approved the program orally and in writing; the agency’s chain of command was involved. There would be no jury appeal, and I do not believe there was any criminal intent among those involved,” Helgerson said.
So if it is “difficult to mount a successful prosecution” there is no other reason to mount it except to give President Obama a way to placate his liberal friends.
Krongard, one of the few active or retired CIA officers with direct knowledge of the program willing to voice publicly what many officers are saying privately, said agency personnel now may back away from controversial programs that could place them in personal legal jeopardy should their work be exposed. “The old saying goes, ‘Big operation, big risk; small operation, small risk; no operation, no risk.’ ” “If you’re not in the intelligence business to be forward-leaning, you might as well not be in it,” Krongard said.
CIA Agents are busily hiring lawyers and looking for new jobs.
A retired former senior CIA official said that since the announcement that the Justice Department would investigate the agency’s interrogation tactics, he has received many calls from serving intelligence officers, some in high management positions, seeking advice about new jobs or lawyers. “This is a bad one,” he said.
As he tends to do often, the Potus did not think about (or care) about the implications of his actions when he set the ball rolling with the release of CIA memos nine months ago:
One former senior official said President Obama was warned in December that release of the Justice Department memos sanctioning harsh interrogation methods would create an uproar that could not be contained. “They [the White House] thought that it would be a two-day story; they were wrong,” this official said.
A much-discussed question is whether the legal reassurances of one administration carry over to its successor. “When a previous administration says something was legal, and the next says it doesn’t matter, the result is hesitancy to take on cutting-edge missions,” the former senior official warned.
What Holder and Obama do not acknowledge is when it was needed, the CIA policed itself. For example, that published report about holding a gun and a drill to a terrorist’s head:
One former official cited the case of an officer who threatened a nude and hooded al-Qaeda member, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, by holding a gun to his head and later a hand drill.
“A security officer reported the gun to head that day,” he said. The next day, that officer was flown back home and action was taken, he added.
“Elections have their consequences.” In countries without the democratic tradition of America, those consequences may include putting the former leaders in jail, or worse. But that has never been the tradition in the US.
The history of America has been that those consequences have been political, a change in policy, appointment of advisers who were hated by the old regime, etc.
But has not been the Obama way. Since his election, Obama and his team have attempted to appease their political left by publicly denouncing the Bush Administration’s national security policies which kept us safe, even as they claimed Obama wants to look forward.Their disparagement has only fed the fueled the liberal demand for Bush prosecutions and lead to the announcement by Mr. Holder to appoint a prosecutor, even though the records show the CIA has done a good job of punishing people who “crossed the line.”
If the President really felt (as he said) “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” Holder would not have made his announcement of an investigation. This is a case of the President placing politics in front of protecting the life and limb of American Citizens. I shudder at the thought of what this will lead to.