Green Room

The War Against the War Against Terrorism

posted at 9:37 pm on August 24, 2009 by

I stand (well, sit) in awe: I never believed that even this administration would have the huevos to immolate itself upon the altar of terrorists’ rights. But it appears that the liberal imperative to damn America and support every anti-American movement in the world — even al-Qaeda! — is stronger than any sense of political or national survival, no matter how feeble:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has decided to appoint a prosecutor to examine nearly a dozen cases in which CIA interrogators and contractors may have violated anti-torture laws and other statutes when they allegedly threatened terrorism suspects, according to two sources familiar with the move.

Holder is poised to name John Durham, a career Justice Department prosecutor from Connecticut, to lead the inquiry, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process is not complete.

I think they’ve stepped into it; Eric Holder is going to pull the trigger. He’s actually going to — let’s be brutally frank here — prosecute CIA agents for violating the rights of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaidah, and Abd Nashiri… presumably their right to keep silent about current pending terrorist attacks against the United States.

BREAKING UPDATE: ABC reports that current CIA Director (and former liberal California congressman) Leon Panetta was so enraged by the Holder decision that he threatened to resign; today, both the White House and Panetta’s office deny the published reports.

There are only three possible outcomes to such an investigation:

  1. It might, like a previous investigation during the Bush administration, result in a finding that clears CIA agents and their civilian superiors of all charges.

The earlier team of prosecutors, including Robert Spencer, who had successfully prosecuted Zacharias Moussaoui, examined 20 cases of possible illegal interrogation; it found no evidence that could justify prosecution in 19 cases. Only one accusation led to a grand jury indictment — of a CIA contractor; David A. Passaro was convicted of assault, but not murder, even though the suspect later died (the death could not positively be tied to the assault). Passaro was convicted of using a metal flashlight as a weapon against a detainee in Afghanistan.

Oddly enough, this would probably be the best outcome for Team Obamunism: Holder might have to fall on his sword, but he’s only the attorney general… he’s not critical to what Obama wants to do to the country. He could simply start appointing unconfirmed “Justice czars” to give him the legal rulings he demands, as he has already appointed numerous “foreign-policy czars” to debase and undercut Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

  1. Holder’s investigation might find a number of minor incidents that are prosecutable but nothing major, allowing both sides to claim victory.

Note that such incidents must be so clearly wrong that a majority of American voters are disgusted by them; beating a suspect to death with a flashlight is a good example. Case-2 won’t help the administration at all if, when voters hear the actual charges, they react by saying, “So what? Who the hell cares if the CIA frightened Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — a man who wanted to kill thousands of Americans?”

While such a string of legitimate but petty convictions may partially save Eric Holder’s face, it’s also likely to further damage the Obama administration’s moral credibility — and Democrats in general — by feeding the mounting impression that Democrats quite simply oppose every program to defend the nation; that they’re more concerned about our international “image” than protecting Americans from harm.

I believe folks still generally remember leftists complaining about lopsided battle victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, whining that it’s just not fair for us to use overwhelming force against our military enemies. Groups such as International ANSWER, egged on by mainstream Democrats, argued that morally, American forces ought to suffer far more casualties, so we wouldn’t look like bullies against al-Qaeda.

The spectacle of the Justice Department prosecuting interrogators for slapping, shaking, or threatening terrorists, in an effort to thwart plots of mass butchery, cannot help but fuel the belief that Democrats’ concern for terrorists’ rights is absurdly inflated, compared to the looming threat posed by militant Islamism.

  1. Or the investigation can turn into a Soviet-style show trial, where the threshold of “torture” drops lower and lower, to the point where CIA agents and contractors are being indicted and prosecuted for virtually every effective technique that has kept America safe from further terrorist attack since 2001; and the conflagration begins burning up the chain of command to drag in political appointees and even elected officials… criminalizing mere policy differences on the issue of national defense.

The third is the most likely outcome, in my opinion; when an administration appoints a special prosecutor to investigate some alleged crime, pressure becomes almost insurmountable on the appointee to find something “substantial” to justify the millions upon millions of dollars he is spending.

He tends to follow leads wherever they go, and especially when they lead up the chain, rather than down; the investigation ranges farther and farther afield, sometimes even spinning out of control into an overtly political attack — as when the investigation of the Iran-Contra “scandal” by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh culminated in an “October surprise,” when Walsh indicted former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger less than a week before the 1992 election… likely playing a large role in President George H.W. Bush’s defeat by Bill Clinton.

In the present case, the dynamics of special prosecutors means that the investigation may begin with a “relatively narrow” mandate “to look at whether there is enough evidence to launch a full-scale criminal investigation of current and former CIA personnel who may have broken the law in their dealings with detainees.” But it will quickly skitter off course into an attempt to indict, to “get,” some really big fish — enumerated here in decreasing probability but increasing desire on the part of the Left to “nail” and “frogmarch into jail”:

  • The pair likeliest to be enmeshed in the spiderweb of political investigation would be former head of the Office of Legal Counsel (and now federal appellate-court judge) Jay Bybee and his top subordinate, John Yoo; they were largely responsible for producing, at White House request, a memo examining the legality of enhanced interrogation techniques; their conclusion that American law allowed many enhanced techniques is now decried by various professionally outraged left-liberal groups, and is now being investigated by Spain as a “crime against humanity.”
  • Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who accepted some of the enhanced techniques discussed in the Bybee memo and rejected others; or his Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith (author of the seminal Bush-era memoir, War and Decision).
  • Former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, former Director of Central Intelligence (then Director of the CIA, as the title reverted to its original form) Porter Goss, and former Director of the CIA (and former Director of the NSA) Gen. Michael Hayden — just because they headed up the CIA, and it’s politically impossible to charge CIA interrogators following instructions with “war crimes” without likewise indicting the agency heads.
  • Former Directors of National Intelligence John Negroponte and Mike McConnell (the latter is also a former Director of the NSA). “Just because.”
  • And of course, the big cheeses: former Vice President Dick Cheney, former President George W. Bush, and former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove — just because “everybody knows” they routinely bombed orphanages and nunneries, engaged in cannibalism, and locked completely innocent terrorists in a room with a caterpillar.

Holder’s decision to throw red meat into the maw of the special prosecutor exposes Obama and congressional Democrats to the threat of political catastrophe: If moderate American voters conclude that the investigation has turned into a “witch hunt,” where good and decent men and women are put on trial for daring to aggressively defend the United States from terrorist attack (voters already have the latent belief that the Left wants to criminalize national defense) — then the collapse of support for the administration and Democrats in Congress will be swift, thorough, and enduring.

Given the drawn-out nature of such investigations and prosecutions (“the law’s delay”), they’re likely to come to a head shortly before the 2010 elections; and a case-3 inquisition could well lead to a debacle greater than that of 1994, perhaps closer to the 1930 and 1932 elections, where Democrats gained a two-cycle total of 149 House seats and 20 Senate seats.

The current angst among voters — which has led to a stunning drop in Barack Obama’s job approval in every major poll conducted, from Gallup to Rasmussen — has so far been driven almost entirely by domestic gaffes, miscalculations, and proposed policies that are antithetical to exceptional American virtues and threaten the lifestyles, perhaps even the lives, of the American people. National-security and foreign-policy idiocies have not even entered the equation yet.

If successful CIA terrorist interrogators are indicted and put on trial for keeping us safe (against all immediate post-9/11 predictions), and if these investigations morph into a series of show trials, then fear of economic collapse will be joined by fear of dreadful terrorist attack… all due to liberal anti-business, anti-defense ideology. With that “perfect wave” of Democratic delegitimazation, all normal limits on political upheavals, carefully written into our Constitution, would be suspended. Republicans would win races they have no business winning, and the gains would last longer than they have a right to last.

Democrats would find themselves back in the wilderness, as they were from the 54th through 60th Congresses; Republican domination lasted from the 1894 to the 1908 elections in the House, and to the 1912 election in the Senate. To climb back out again, Democrats would likely have to evolve into a much more mainstream party.

Thus Eric Holder’s mad, political payback against America’s first line of defense against attack could actually achieve what Republicans themselves could only dream of: finally make plain to voters just how radical and anti-American the Democratic Party has become.

I have never supported the scheme of anti-liberals voting for liberal, even radical Democrats like the Obamacle; the theory is that the Left will inevitably overreach, horrify the electorate, and precipitate a backlash that will sweep Republicans (some of whom are conservative) back into power. But my objection was never that there wouldn’t be a backlash; it’s that the damage caused in the interim, while liberals control all the levers of power, may well be irreversible. Even if the rosy scenario of movement conservatives comes true, the country may already be so ravaged by the insanity of the taxaholic, technophobic, and terrorist appeasing New Left that we can never recover even to the point we were before the debacles of 2006 and 2008.

That said, now that we’re already in the terrible position we are, I would obviously rather see the reign of President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry “Pinky” Reid (D-Caesar’s Palace, 70%), and Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%), quickly truncated than see them abide on and on. I also believe that no prosecutions will succeed, except perhaps for obvious cases of abuse by peripheral characters; the political show trials will serve only to damage the administration, not the freedom or reputation of CIA agents — and certainly not of Bush-administration lawyers, cabinet members, or the president and vice president themselves, who demanded that the CIA protect the United States as aggressively as legally allowed.

The electoral damage is already done, and the best strategy going forward is to end the nightmare as quickly as possible.

Therefore, I rejoice that the attorney general has chosen to sacrifice the remaining shreds of the administration’s credibility in a futile, thuggish attempt to punish its predecessor for successful national defense. Go ahead, try to pin that tar baby with a flying tackle; dig that political hole so deep, you’ll see darkness at noon.

In other words, bring it on.

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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Distraction. While we’re all fussing about this (which will go nowhere), Obama will continue to replace Congress with Czars, push through bills, etc.

Daggett on August 24, 2009 at 10:02 PM

I dont think Holder will go for Option #3; even these ideologues in their lefty bubble understand what that would bring about. Or rather, Holder & Pelosi may go for it but Obama will rein them in. He’s clueless about some things but he can see that far down the road, especially in the wake of the Teaparty anti-Obamacare movement. I think Holder might begin by aiming for #3 but settle for #2.

However if they just feel their oats and throw caution to the wind…. #3 would provide the McCarthyite moment I have been hoping for since Obama’s attempt to sic the DoJ on McCain last summer, through the Chrysler bondholder arm-twisting, the czars, the AF1 flyover, refusal to condemn the Iran repression, support of Zelaya, smearing of Walpin, Crowley …

“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

YehuditTX on August 25, 2009 at 12:33 AM

I think it will be door #3. They always believe they can come through with no trouble sticking, there is always another crises to divert attention if this gets rough, and they can depend on the MSM to not report what you don’t need to know. Against all odds, all sanity even, the O administration always doubles down.

odannyboy on August 25, 2009 at 9:08 AM

and is now being investigated by Spain as a “crime against humanity.”

Well, I guess Spain is a pretty clear example of what you get when you have a country that would eschew EITs. I’m sure all those victims’ families are proud that Spain would instead allow AQ free reign in their country.

Speaking of which, Spain is now the exemplar of virtue charge with prosecuting evil doers, huh? Well, I guess we can be thankful the Euros didn’t choose Germany or Belgium (see Belgian Congo). Also, when will Castro and Chavez be charged?

18-1 on August 25, 2009 at 11:51 AM

quickly truncated than see them abide on and on.

I like that.

Sept.11th is just around the corner. And Holder is dead set in time to blame America first; Obama seconding the motion with executive orders to mandate penance from Americans for bringing all this trouble for him to inherit.

Obama’s release of the Afghan terrorist as a peace offering for al Qaeda and the Taliban to celebrate Ramadan reeks particularly since the terrorist is bound to kill more Americans, more of Obama’s troops. Twisted potus.

And the British press report the British populace wanting to pull out of Afghanistan come a year’s end, abandoning their commitment with us and with NATO. Their media are hitting hard the “it’s just not worth it” heart strings that strike home hard, giving politicians reason to back out come the end of another year.

THE TIMES

The Electoral Commission in Kabul said that early estimates of voting in the former Taleban stronghold of Babaji, north of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, indicated that few exercised their right to vote last Thursday. Several thousand people could have voted.

Just 150 Afghan voters dared to go to the ballot box in the area of Helmand province where British soldiers sacrificed their lives to secure a safe election day, it was revealed yesterday.

The figures were released as the British Ambassador to Kabul admitted that troops could be engaged in combat in Afghanistan for five more years.

maverick muse on August 27, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Obama/Soros has succeeded in transforming the DHS from its established purpose into an unchecked espionage force against American citizens. He has also reignited what used to be professional jealousies into a raging bonfire between the CIA and the FBI in order to meddle himself into their micromanager. Does Obama disdain Napolitano with the same contempt that he has for Hillary, that he would feel the need to micromanage DHS? He knows he’s incompetent, so he appoints czars to oversee the Director of this and the Secretary of that. Such debt. So many favors to repay.

Eric Holder himself has a conflict of interests and should not be the Director of the Department of Justice. His law firm defended and is yet defending the 9/11 Terrorists. Holder is prosecuting the government instead of the terrorists. Assbackwards, and so long as he’s in office, he’ll go all the way. And so long as Obama is not impeached, Holder stays put, preventing/impeding any impeachment procedure.

Pelosi has made her position clear, to destroy the CIA.

Overlooked Nugget: IG Report Confirms Nancy Pelosi Did in Fact Lie About Not Being Briefed on EITs
—Ace

The IG report belies House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claims that she wasn’t told about all this. “In the fall of 2002, the Agency briefed the leadership of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of both standard techniques and EITs. . . . Representatives . . . continued to brief the leadership of the Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of EITs and detentions in February and March 2003. The [CIA] General Counsel says that none of the participants expressed any concern about the techniques or the Program . . . .” Ditto in September 2003.–Jennifer Rubin, “In Case You Had Any Doubts,” Commentary

“The Real CIA News,” WSJ

The two CIA papers don’t discuss enhanced interrogation, though the IG report suggests that KSM provided little of this information prior to his waterboarding. Some will argue that these details could have been elicited without enhanced techniques. We’ll never know. The question is whether Attorney General Eric Holder and his new special counsel intend to second-guess the decisions of CIA officials who were operating in the shadow of 9/11 and who, we now know, successfully unraveled terror plots and saved lives.
***

Which brings us to another salient part of the IG report: CIA officials well understood that they might be second-guessed years later by politicians. “During the course of this review, a number of Agency officers expressed unsolicited concern about the possibility of recrimination or legal action resulting from their participation. . . . officers expressed concern that a human rights group might pursue them for activities . . . they feared that the Agency would not stand behind them.” Another said, “Ten years from now we’re going to be sorry we’re doing this . . . [but] it has to be done.”

The outrage here isn’t that government officials used sometimes rough interrogation methods to break our enemies. The outrage is that, years later, when the political winds have shifted and there hasn’t been another attack, our politicians would punish the men and women who did their best to protect Americans in a time of peril.

Anyone can see that GITMO serves a specific need, and that our current prison system stateside is already overloaded, prisoners rioting, judges demanding that convicted felons be released prior to serving sentences, regardless of parole protocol, in order to lower prison population by 20+%.

And the Secret Service have made their position clear; it is the Department of Homeland Security that is enhancing the threats upon this presidential administration, not the Secret Service’s fault. They claim that the DHS follows the desires of politicians against the advice of traditional safety protocol.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Obama’s breaking up NASA and our military, simultaneously, enhancing Russia’s space and missile options.

Never to waste the opportunity that any crisis creates, what a convenient cover Teddy’s final services will provide the gathering power mongers with whom Emanuel privately arranges meetings.

National defense, Ramadan, and 9/11. Now we hear of Obama’s plot to assault Israel at the UN.

maverick muse on August 27, 2009 at 2:19 PM