National Security is the singular issue where I just climb a tree. I admit it. I’m not a neocon. I’m not a “national security” mom. I am definitely not a dove. Nor am I a hawk, or any other damn bird. What I am: a supporter of the experts in our Clandestine service, our special forces, our CIA & FBI interrogators, the greater intelligence community – with special recognition for Great Britain, Israel & France. Those folks – along with our active duty & reserve military – keep us alive, free and safe under the blanket that is the US Constitution.
President Barack Obama is a man of his word. He said he would meet with dictators and tyrants “without preconditions.” And so he has. It’s all sweetness and light with his book club buddy Hugo Chavez. It’s cigars all around with Cuba’s Castro Brothers. It’s Imadinnerjacket and ready for drinks with Iran’s Ahmadinejead. During the first YouTube debate, hosted by Anderson Cooper, Obama went on to say,”I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them…” (see video below)
Earlier this month, he authorized the disclosure of several Bush-era memos regarding torture. Notably, formerVice President Cheney has also requested the release of memos demonstrating the intelligence we DID gather as a result of enhanced interrogations. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
The release of these opinions was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy. Its effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on Sept. 11, 2001.
Proponents of the release have argued that the techniques have been abandoned and thus there is no point in keeping them secret any longer; that they were in any event ineffective; that their disclosure was somehow legally compelled; and that they cost us more in the coin of world opinion than they were worth. None of these claims survives scrutiny.
Former Vice President Cheney isn’t quite so kind, and much more to the point in an interview with Sean Hannity on FNC:
“I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country,” Cheney said on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.” “If we’re going to have this debate, let’s have an honest debate.”
After Obama’s appearance earlier today at CIA headquarters, aka the George H. W. Bush Center for Central Intelligence, I realized that despite his vote in support of FISA last year, and repeated calls for bi-partisanship and post-partisanship (claims I believe he genuinely wants to bear fruit) — either he, or his advisors remain beholden to the ACLU and a deep suspicion of those who choose to be on the tip of the spear. Bipartisanship is not just about listening and working out a compromise – it is also about not being arrogant. It’s about an open willingness to admit we are wrong. It’s about being a gracious winner – and loser, not only of elections but also of intellectual, political, and policy debates.
Unfortunately, it appears the only folks President Obama exempts from his “without preconditions” doctrine are our own clandestine operators, special forces, interrogators and other heroes of the intelligence industry.