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Prevention: The Primary Goal, Neglected by Obama’s Foreign Policy

October 22nd, 2012 - 9:50 am

Last year, Interpol Secretary General Robert K. Noble also reminded the world that prevention was the most important task in the field of terrorism:

As we honor the memories of those who perished 10 years ago, it is time to ask ourselves if we have done all that we can to prevent another 9/11 or other serious attack. A great deal has been done to make us all safer, but far too little to make sure that we are safe from the global terror and criminal threat.

This 75-year-old policy aimed at preventing terrorism has changed dramatically under the Obama administration. On May 4, 2011, even the Washington Post documented that the administration was dismantling the policies for preventing terrorism on U.S. soil:

In normal times, the officials who uncovered the intelligence that led us to Osama bin Laden would get a medal. In the Obama administration, they have been given subpoenas.

The Washington Post article, titled “Obama owes thanks, and an apology, to CIA interrogators,” further stated:

On his second day in office Obama shut down the CIA’s high-value interrogation program. His Justice Department then reopened criminal investigations into the conduct of CIA interrogators — inquiries that had been closed years before by career prosecutors who concluded that there were no crimes to prosecute. In a speech at the National Archives, Obama eviscerated the men and women of the CIA, accusing them of “torture” and declaring that their work “did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts — they undermined them.”

The bankrupt government of Italy was the first to take advantage of the Obama administration’s war against the CIA. On September 2012, in what seemed to be an attempt to distract public attention from its economic troubles, Italy’s high court ruled that 23 CIA operatives and one U.S. Air Force officer should serve jail terms in Italy. The Italian government decided to enforce that decision. Their crime? They allegedly “kidnapped” Egyptian terrorist cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street in 2003.

The CIA is our first line of defense against terrorism and nuclear proliferation, and it should not be used to improve the stature of ambitious political figures. There are many ways a foreign intelligence service can lose trust, but there is nothing more devastating for it than hearing it is distrusted by its own country’s government and political leaders. Who will risk his life to confide secrets to it after that?

I know personally how difficult it is for high-ranking enemy officials to be persuaded to place their lives in the hands of an intelligence organization publicly distrusted by its own government. In 1975 I decided to defect to the CIA. As head of Romania’s foreign intelligence service, I was quite well-informed on all the counterpart services in the West, but none came even close to the CIA. I firmly trusted that organization, and I admired the efficiency of its secret war against the Soviet empire.

When I was ready to break with Communism, however, I got hit in the face by the Senate’s Church Commission reports. Frank Church, an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, had tried to restore his political stature by publicly bashing the CIA. After two years of so-called investigation, he published fourteen reports (50,000 pages of which have since been declassified) portraying the CIA as a criminal organization that cannot be trusted.

Thereupon, a cable sent to Bucharest from KGB chief Yuri Andropov triumphantly prophesied: “The CIA’s tyranny is over.” Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu popped a bottle of champagne. A couple of months later I had dinner with Janos Kadar, the ruler of Hungary, who had been the first chief of its Communist intelligence service; he raised his glass of pálinka with a toast: “To the CIA’s funeral!”

The reports of the Church Commissions froze me in place, for a while. If the U.S. government did not trust its own CIA, why should I? It took me two more years to rebuild my trust in the CIA.

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