“Elections have their consequences.” In countries without the democratic tradition of ours, 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.
That 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 save, even as they claimed the president 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.
“We must remain mindful that we still are very much a nation at war with terrorists who spend every hour of their day planning how to hurt America and Americans. That’s why reports that the Department of Justice has directed a special prosecutor to investigate the men and women tasked with keeping America safe is such a poor and misguided decision,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Make no mistake about it, Mr. Holder’s announcement the first time in American History, that a new administration has gone after the old and the consequences will be that the CIA will be further demoralized and our ability to protect ourselves against terrorism will be greatly damaged.
Powerline reports that the document’s released yesterday proves that the enhanced interrogations saved hundreds of lives:
One aspect of the IG’s report that has been absent from most press accounts is its account of the effectiveness of these early interrogations by the CIA:
The detention of terrorists has prevented them from engaging in further terrorist activity, and their interrogation has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists, warned of terrorist plots planned for the United States and around the world, and supported articles frequently used in the finished intelligence publications for senior policymakers and war fighters. In this regard, there is no doubt that the Program has been effective. …
Detainee information has assisted in the identification of terrorists. For example, information from Abu Zubaydah helped lead to the identification of Jose Padilla and Binyam Muhammed–operatives who had plans to detonate a uranium-topped dirty bomb in either Washington, D.C. or New York City. Riduan “Hambali” Isomuddin provided information that led to the arrest of previously unknown members of an Al Qa’ida cell in Karachi. They were designated as pilots for an aircraft attack against the United States. Many other detainees, including lower-level detainees such as Zubayr and Majid Khan, have provided leads to other terrorists, but probably the most prolific has been Khalid Shaykh Muhammad. He provided information that helped lead to the arrest of terrorists including Sayfullah Paracha and his son Uzair Paracha, businessmen whom Khalid Shaykh Muhammad planned to use to smuggle explosives into the United States; Saleh Almari, a sleeper operative in New York; and Majid Khan, an operative who could enter the United States easily and was tasked to research attacks [redacted]. Khalid Shaykh Muhammad’s information also led to the investigation and prosecution of Iyman Faris, the truck driver arrested in early 2003 in Ohio. [redacted]
Detainees, both planners and operatives, have also made the Agency aware of several plots planned for the United States and around the world. The plots identify plans to [redacted] attack the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan; hijack aircraft to fly into Heathrow Airport [redacted] loosen track spikes in an attempt to derail a train in the United States; [redacted]; blow up several U.S. gas stations to create panic and havoc; hijack and fly an airplane into the tallest building in California in a west coast version of the World Trade Center attack; cut the lines of suspension bridges in New York in an effort to make them collapse; [redacted].
This Review did not uncover any evidence that these plots were imminent. Agency senior managers believe that lives have been saved as a result of the capture and interrogation of terrorists who were planning attacks, in particular Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Abu Zubaydah, Hambali, and Al-Nashiri.
The report says that evaluating the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques, in particular waterboarding, is more “subjective,” but there doesn’t seem to be much doubt based on the facts that the Inspector General lays out: The waterboard has been used on three detainees….
Prior to the use of EITs, Abu Zubaydah provided information for [redacted] intelligence reports. Interrogators applied the waterboard to Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times during August 2002. [The report explains that each application of water is counted separately, and most of the 83 applications lasted less than ten seconds.] During the period between the end of the use of the waterboard and 30 April 2003, he provided information for approximately [redacted] intelligence reports. It is not possible to say definitively that the waterboard is the reason for Abu Zubaydah’s increased production, or if another factor, such as the length of detention, was the catalyst. Since the use of the waterboard, however, Abu Zubaydah has appeared to be cooperative.
With respect to A-Nashiri, [redacted] reported two waterboard sessions in November 2002, after which the psychologist/interrogators determined that Al-Nashiri was compliant….Because of the litany of techniques used by different interrogators over a relatively short period of time, it is difficult to identify exactly why Al-Nashiri became more willing to provide information. However, following the use of EITs, he provided information about his most current operational planning and [redacted] as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of EITs.
There is also no doubt that the action taken yesterday by Obama will hurt the morale and effectiveness of the CIA:
PANETTA VILIFIED BY LIBERAL CONTEMPT
By RICH LOWRY
PITY Leon Panetta. The CIA director counseled the Obama administration against releasing classified interrogation memos from the Bush years. And got ignored.
Then, Nancy Pelosi said his agency lied to her about post-9/11 interrogations, and Democrats rushed to try to back her up.
Now, Attorney General Eric Holder has tasked a prosecutor with looking into reopening criminal cases against CIA employees and contractors.
Such is life at Langley under an administration betraying liberalism’s typical contempt for covert action and its inevitable moral complications.
No wonder ABC News is reporting that Panetta recently uncorked a profanity-laced tirade about the Justice Department at the White House and is contemplating quitting. (The CIA denies it.)
If Panetta were shrewd, he’d make a play for a position that would command more respect — say, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Panetta has had to write another letter to CIA employees meant to keep their morale up. For those keeping count, it’s his sixth.
No matter how many missives he writes earnestly committing himself and his agency to looking ahead, the rest of his administration and party drags him back into the past.
As far as they are concerned, he’s merely a frontman for Bush-era criminality.
In response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, a judge ordered the administration to release a 2004 CIA inspector general report about interrogation practices.
Although often discomfiting reading (one incident involved a power drill), the report also outlines the CIA’s nearly obsessive quest for legal guidance and its intolerance for unauthorized methods as piddling as blowing cigar smoke at detainees.
Consider the fate of the CIA officer who used a gun to frighten Abd al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing.
He did it in 2002. The agency immediately called him back to headquarters. He faced an internal accountability board, suffered a reprimand and eventually resigned.
The Justice Department looked into the case because threatening a detainee with “imminent death” is torture, but declined to prosecute.
Proving torture in a court of law is much harder than braying about it on op-ed pages.
The CIA certainly didn’t act like an agency with a guilty conscience. It didn’t try to cover up any abuses, but undertook the inspector general investigation and forwarded the report to Congress and the Justice Department.
In one case, Justice got a conviction against a contractor who — in an obvious crime — beat a detainee to death.
But what possible public interest can be served in reopening murkier cases years after the fact, when the CIA already took internal action and career prosecutors already examined them?
The next time CIA officers are told that they have to be more aggressive in protecting their country, they could be forgiven for saying “no thanks.”
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we struggled to get the balance right between our safety and our values as an open, liberal society. It’d be nice to pretend otherwise, but there is indeed such a balance.
As the IG report makes clear, the interrogations rendered important intelligence about other terrorists and other plots.
“Whether this was the only way to obtain that information will remain a legitimate area of dispute,” Panetta writes in his latest letter.
That dispute rightly belongs in the political arena, not the courts. But who wants to listen to the CIA director, a shill for torturers almost by definition?