On Monday a smiling President Barack Obama stopped by CIA headquarters for the first time since taking office. It was a charm offensive to give the agency a pep talk to help stave off low morale issues.
This comes after he released, just last Thursday, four Office of the Legal Counsel memos classified “Top Secret,” that were authored by John C. Yoo, Jay S. Bybee and Steven G. Bradbury.
The first document was dated August 1, 2002, two were dated May 10, 2005, and a fourth was from May 30, 2005. They laid-out the argument that certain interrogation techniques used by the CIA on suspected al Qa’ida terrorist detainees were legal.
Missing among the documents is the information as to when high-ranking members of Congress were briefed on these activities.
The release of the 124 pages is the latest in a series of affronts that amount to a breach of faith and trust with the men and women who are tasked with protecting us from danger and harm. This has been done solely for political gain – and to run a stick in the eye of the previous administration as a function of a “We Won” personal vendetta.
Whispers in the hallways indicate that as a result of this latest round of cutting the CIA off at the knees has resulted in serious morale problems at the agency with many dedicated members of the (once)elite arm of our frontline national defense force looking for the door.
Well, duh. Unless you are a risk-averse, mid-level Remington-raider, or a wonk in the upper floor offices sipping bottled water in the comfort of a conference room, why in the world would you want to stay?
On its face value, releasing the “Top Secret” documents further politicizes the agency and erodes confidence.
However, what it seriously signals to all those who protect us, civilian and military, is that if you happen to be putting your life on the line on a high-risk assignment in a dangerous part of the world, there is a clear and present danger that you will be left twisting in the wind should “change” occur in Washington.
I could not agree more with what The Wall Street Journal said on January 4, 2008, in another matter involving the CIA:
“So here we go again, ringing up CIA agents who thought they were acting in good faith to keep the country safe… why should any future agent take any risks to gather information, or pursue an enemy, if he thinks he is likely to have to answer to some future prosecutor for his every action?”
One can only wonder how long it will take for future “Top Secret” documents to be released whenever expedient.
Or how the public and the elite media would have reacted if the Bush administration had released enabling “Top Secret” memos from the Clinton administration?
In essence, the President of the United States threw the agency under a bus to appease his base support on the left.
As the previously marked “Top Secret” memos were released, President Obama said that no charges will be filed against CIA agents who were operating “in good faith,” in accordance with the dictates of the memos.
Yeah, well, that’s re-assuring. Perhaps, another memo to that affect needs to be sent to the banana-republic-Democrat congressional leaders who are hell-bent to criminalize a public policy dispute, carried out in a time of national emergency after the heinous terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Sometimes you have to shake your head and wonder what in the world the Obama Administration is thinking.
For anyone who knows anything about history, why would any administration, Republican or Democrat, ever even consider criminalizing a public policy from a previous administration?
That is unless, the popular populist Obama Administration thinks it will govern for life. Don’t they consider the ramifications? How would this administration like to have much of what it is currently doing be examined with a fine-tooth comb by any successor administration, just itching for something, anything, for which to criminalize?
For those who disagree with much of the Obama Administration’s policies, and look forward to a day when sanity returns to the White House, it is hoped that when the next conservative government takes its place – that it look forward and are not pathologically pre-occupied with vilifying and criminalizing the actions of the Obama officials.
All of which begs the question, one wonders what President Obama will do if he should learn that plans to kill and maim Americans are being withheld by some bad actor already in custody?
Of course, as President Obama is hopefully learning, governing is a far cry from campaigning, and by now he must – we hope – be learning that once one sits in the Oval Office, things look different when it comes to matters of national security.
Well, maybe not.
On Monday President Obama said at CIA headquarters: “Don’t be discouraged by what’s happened in the last few weeks … Don’t be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we’ve made some mistakes. That’s how we learn. But the fact that we are willing to acknowledge them and then move forward, that is precisely why I am proud to be President of the United States and that’s why you should be proud to be members of the CIA.”
Of course, it all reminds me of the old song from 1971 written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong and recorded by “The Undisputed Truth,” a Motown group that saw the song become a top 40 single.
“Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend. Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within. Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes they don't tell the truth, uh. Smiling faces, smiling faces tell lies.”
Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.