Cal Thomas: Why release a report on the CIA in wartime?

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Saturday, December 13, 2014 6:35pm
  • Opinion

What good purpose is served by releasing a report on CIA enhanced interrogation techniques while we are still at war with an enemy whose techniques include beheading Americans?

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her Democratic colleagues say that the CIA lied about their tactics and exceeded their authority while seeking to obtain information from suspected terrorists.

There is a dispute among politicians and intelligence experts as to whether these tactics resulted in any information that was helpful in defending the U.S. from another terrorist attack. In a recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, former CIA Directors Michael Hayden, George J. Tenet and Porter J. Goss claim enhanced interrogation did provide useful information, which ultimately led to finding Osama bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan. The CIA maintains the tactics, the use of which ended more than seven years ago, prevented new attacks and were responsible for gaining intelligence information from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Jose Rodriguez Jr. is the former head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service and author of “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.” He says, “No matter what the Senate report says, I know it worked.”

Whatever the ultimate truth contained in the 528-page document, which cost more than $40 million to produce, our enemies are bound to be encouraged and even more motivated. CIA agents are likely to be targeted. Demonstrations will occur throughout the world by people who enjoy the blessings of freedom without ever having to pay its price. And America will again be diminished in the eyes of some while the Taliban, al-Qaida and ISIS — unrestrained by any laws or rules of engagement — continue to sever heads and kill those, including women and children, who won’t submit to their tyranny.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says the interrogation tactics were reviewed by the Justice Department and were declared legal and that if he had to do it all over again, he would do the same thing.

Ah, but isn’t America better than this, goes the argument by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and others? Don’t we set a bad example when we behave like our enemies? If good American behavior made our enemy engage in similar behavior, that might be a rational argument, but nothing we do short of killing them is likely to deter them from their goal.

In his eagerness to close Guantanamo prison, President Obama has sent six prisoners to Uruguay, of all places. The Uruguayan government says it will treat the men as “refugees” and not monitor their movements.

Justin Fishel and Jennifer Griffin of Fox News.com, spoke with senior defense and intelligence officials, and found that “Of the 620 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, 180 have returned or are suspected to have returned to the battlefield. Of those 180, sources say 20 to 30 have either joined ISIS or other militants groups in Syria, or are participating with these groups from outside countries. Officials say most of those 20 to 30 are operating inside Syria.”

Adding to the confusion over whether we are in this war to win it, is Hillary Clinton’s stunning remark that we need to “understand” our enemy and even have “empathy” for them. Good to know before we consider electing her president.

There is one enhanced tactic most people might agree should be used — winning this long war. We should commit ourselves to that, defeating those who wish to obliterate us, instead of worrying about whether or not we feel good about ourselves while we’re doing it.

Email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.

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