Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In June of 2008, while campaigning for the election of President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder promised the leftist American Constitutional Society: “We owe the American people a reckoning.” Yesterday, Holder escalated his “reckoning” campaign by appointing a prosecutor to re-investigate nearly a dozen CIA interrogators and contractors alleged to have abused detainees in 2002 and 2003. This is nothing more than an all out war on the CIA by the left at a time when the President desperately needs to shore up trust with his base in the face of his declining poll numbers.
Already the White House is at pains to create the perception of distance between Holder’s announcement and President Obama’s wishes. Deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters from Martha’s Vineyard yesterday: “ultimately, the decisions on who is investigated and who is prosecuted are up to the attorney general. . . . The president thinks that Eric Holder, who he appointed as a very independent attorney general, should make those decisions.” But make no mistake. Holder works for Obama. Holder’s priorities are by definition Obama’s priorities. And the facts make it clear that this “new” investigation is nothing more than a political witch hunt:
No New Information: Depending on where you get your news you may hear today that Holder’s decision is based on “new details” about the CIA interrogation program. This is false. While the release of the 2004 CIA inspector general report has exposed some new information to the public, Holder read the report months ago. Both the Department of Justice and the leadership of the Congressional intelligence committees have had the full report since 2004, and the full committees have had the report since 2006. The only thing that has changed since both DOJ and Congress received the full report is the 2008 presidential election.
Career Justice Lawyers Already Investigated: Not only has the Department of Justice been in possession of CIA IG report since 2004, but the DOJ’s career, not political, prosecutors have already examined that document and other incidents from Iraq and Afghanistan for legal accountability. CIA Director, and former President Clinton Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta assured CIA employees yesterday that the DOJ’s career prosecutors “worked carefully and thoroughly, sometimes taking years to decide if prosecution was warranted or not. In one case, the Department obtained a criminal conviction of a CIA contractor. In other instances, after Justice chose not to pursue action in court, the Agency took disciplinary steps of its own.”
Program Worked: From the 2004 CIA IG report: “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 terrorists 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.”
A Politically Motivated Re-Investigation Can Only Harm National Security: In yesterday’s Washington Post, CIA General Counsel under the Clinton administration Jeffrey Smith explains how Holder’s reopened investigation harms our national security: “Prosecutions would set the dangerous precedent that criminal law can be used to settle policy differences at the expense of career officers. … Prosecuting CIA officers risks chilling current intelligence operations. … their colleagues will become reluctant to take risks. What confidence will they have when their senior officers say not to worry, “this has been authorized by the president and approved by Justice”? … Prosecutions could deter cooperation with other nations. It is critical that we have the close cooperation of intelligence services around the world. … The key to this cooperation is the ability of the United States to be a reliable partner and keep secrets. Prosecuting CIA officers undermines that essential element of successful intelligence liaison.”
New Interrogation Guidelines Inadequate To Protect Nation: Yesterday the Obama administration also announced that their own new program for future interrogations would be controlled by the Army Field Manual. A senior administration official tells Politico, “The practices and techniques within the Army Field Manual are currently used by law enforcement and provide adequate and effective means of conducting such interrogations.” This is just not true. Across the country law enforcement official are allowed to lie to witnesses all the time in order to extract a confession. Under the Obama administration’s new guidelines we could only tell al Qaeda the truth.
It is no accident that the United States has been free of al Qaeda attack since 9/11. The CIA played a vital role in that accomplishment. President Obama has repeatedly assured the American people he wants to “look forward, not back” on CIA interrogations.
It is time he lived up to this promise.
H/T The Heritage Foundation
Posted by Philip Faustman at 2:37 PM