There are many besides those in the Obama administration who think this is a good idea. In fact, the New York Times and the Huffington Post are angry that these moves do not go far enough! In one scary Huffington Post article, former Washington Post blogger Dan Froomkin calls the past administration a ‘Bush torture regime’ and compares this prosecution process to the Nazi Nuremburg trials! Last time I checked waterboarding two known terrorists and verbally threatening a few others does not equal a Holocaust, but maybe I’m wrong. I think Mr. Froomkin should start shopping at the perspective store. Froomkin argues that Obama should go much further, worrying:
“The message for future federal employees faced with morally suspect orders will be clear: Do what you’re told to do, and we’ll cover your ass. And the message for future policymakers will be: If you can find someone at the Department of Justice to say it’s OK, then anything goes – literally, anything.”
Reread the last part. ‘Anything goes’. 99% of CIA, military, FBI, and government officials acted appropriately and extremely diligently to protect US civilians, but apparently the Bush administration had an ‘anything goes’ policy that only Froomkin knew about. Though not nearly preposterous as Froomkin’s ramblings was a New York Times editorial praising the Obama administration’s recent CIA exposure moves. The editorial spends quite a bit of space talking about the Bush administration’s ‘moral repugnance’ and pushing for more investigations, but at no time, not one word, mentions how these CIA investigations and releases affects US national security. It is easy to criticize an agency tasked with national security without mentioning why it did what it did in order to provide protection and whether or not its methods were effective or not. If you want to advocate a high level investigation of CIA officials and former administration members, you at least must acknowledge the national security, agency morale, and future administration ramifications.
These CIA soldiers were told what they were doing was lawful and needed to protect the United States and now they fear for their livelihood. It would be wrong to pretend that this investigation will not have its negative impact, as according to some, it already has; as one anonymous CIA official concluded about his fellow agents:
“Their view is, they policed themselves and they turned themselves in. Now they have to fight al Qaeda and the U.S. government at the same time.”
A little over dramatic, but true nonetheless. Current CIA Director Leon Panetta had this to say about the recent bad news: “This is in many ways an old story. … The use of enhanced interrogation techniques, begun when our country was responding to the horrors of Sept. 11, ended in January. For the CIA now, the challenge is not the battles of yesterday, but those of today and tomorrow. It is there that we must work to enhance the safety of our country. That is the job the American people want us to do.” The job of the CIA is to keep American citizens and interests safe, sometimes I think this is forgotten, especially if you read the aforementioned opinion pieces.
In this post, I have constantly referred to ‘President Obama’ and the ‘Obama administration’, not AG Eric Holder or the Justice Department, and I did so purposely. Though the President has tried to distance himself from these recent policy decisions, he is ‘where the buck stops’ and a decision by Eric Holder is for all purposes a decision by the President, who appointed him and could fire him at any moment. If Obama thinks this is best for our country he needs to stand up and explain why. Where’s the leadership? Where’s the Commander and Chief? Imagine if you worked for the CIA and after releasing damaging, formerly classified documents a few months ago, the President came and made a big speech about how the CIA’s integrity was vital to our national security, but just a couple months later his administration is all over you again? Would you feel safe? Trusted? An editorial by the Chicago Tribune ended poignantly:
One day, heaven forbid, there may be another attack on American soil. Once again, we will ask CIA and other agents to find out whatever they can, as quickly as possible, to defend this nation. How will they respond?