16 Dec 2009

The Liberal War on the CIA

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Arhur Herman, in Commentary, describes the left’s 35 year old war on the CIA, the agency’s discrediting during the Nixon years, its emasculation by Jimmy Carter, revival under Ronald Reagan, and renewed paralysis under William Clinton leading to 9/11. Herman warns that the liberal obsession with destroying American Intelligence capabilities is really an expression of its own self-destructive impulses.

When your own outfit is trying to put you in jail, it’s time to go.” Those are the words of Robert Baer, once a CIA operative in the Middle East, describing the days in 1995 when he found himself under investigation by the Clinton administration, the FBI, and the CIA’s own inspector general. Baer’s crime? Daring to talk to Iraqi dissidents who were plotting to assassinate Saddam Hussein.

CIA officers in 2009 who are living with a Sword of Damocles hovering over their heads—in the form of a special prosecutor appointed by Barack Obama’s attorney general in August to probe allegations of torture during interrogations of al-Qaeda members and other suspects—now know how Baer felt. In September, every living former director of Central Intelligence (except Robert Gates, the current defense secretary) signed a letter to President Obama asking him to halt the special-prosecutor proceedings for the sake of the future of the agency. The president did not respond. …

The appointment of a special prosecutor is just one of a series of administration attacks on the CIA. …

This assault on the CIA might seem strange considering that just two years ago, Democrats and the media were expressing outrage over the Bush administration’s alleged “outing” of a supposedly covert operative named Valerie Plame. A special prosecutor was then tasked with finding out who had been so “un-American” (as Senator John Kerry termed it) as to leak the name of a CIA employee. Now we have a special prosecutor who may not only “out” CIA interrogators but also work hard to throw them into prison.

So what if the 2004 Inspector General’s Report explicitly states that the waterboarding and other fully authorized techniques used on al-Qaeda detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were effective and yielded valuable, actionable information that may have saved thousands of lives? Never mind that when Justice Department career lawyers scrutinized the Inspector General’s Report in 2006 looking for evidence of wrongdoing worthy of prosecution, they could find none. The argument that the United States and those in the government’s employ behaved in reprehensible ways in the aftermath of 9/11 deserving of legal sanction has become standard issue among Democrats and liberals, and when a Democratic liberal ascended to the White House, it was no longer an argument. It is now policy.

In all this, Obama and the Democrats are not just attempting to delegitimize the conduct of the past eight years. They are also reverting to type. For the past 35 years, American liberals have attacked and vilified the CIA with a fervency that borders on holy war.

Read the whole thing.

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