It is ludicrous to suggest that a president of either party secretly wants the United States to be attacked by terrorists for his own political benefit. This is still true despite the fact that some Democrats more than suggested it — they openly declared it to be the case under President George W. Bush.
And until last week, it was equally ludicrous to suggest that a president of either party would embrace a policy that would directly lead to the death and injury of more Americans under his watch for his own political purposes. That is because before last week it was ludicrous to suggest that any president would order criminal investigations of executive branch employees for performing their duty to keep the country safe from attack.
Yet that is exactly what President Obama did when he decided to allow an investigation into the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques on high-value terrorist detainees in U.S. custody. After promising them that he was not interested in looking backwards, President Obama has now exposed every CIA operative, interrogator, and covert agent in the war on terror to prosecution for doing their job well in keeping the country safe from the plotting of al-Qaeda and its affiliates for close to eight years.
One leading explanation for what has been characterized as the president’s abrupt turnaround on criminal investigations of CIA interrogators is that it is a sop to his left-wing base, which — incredibly — is losing patience with Obama over its belief that he has governed too much from the center. That belief is symbolized best by the administration’s recent statements on health care, in which both Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and the president himself seemed to suggest that a government-run health plan was not a necessary component of a health care bill.
The left went into revolt against Obama for this heresy. Liberal members of Congress openly defied the president, declaring that a health care reform bill with no government plan was no reform at all. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sought to reassure liberals that a bill with a government-run plan would pass the House by the end of the year, Obama’s statements notwithstanding. The White House was ultimately forced to clarify that it was not abandoning the so-called “public option,” simply underscoring its support for such a plan.
Stung by the criticism, Obama sent Attorney General Eric Holder out to announce the naming of a special prosecutor to look at CIA interrogation practices. Viola, the liberal left was placated.
And al-Qaeda was put on notice: now is the time to strike America.
The result of the investigation, whatever it eventually concludes, is that interrogations of al-Qaeda terrorists have been effectively stopped in their tracks. Career CIA and FBI officers will not risk prosecution for doing their jobs, and rightfully so. Interrogators have been reduced to beggars, their hands almost literally tied behind their backs. Terrorists are now in charge of interrogations, free to wage their jihad against America from captivity without a thing to fear from the captors.
Worse, the true targets of enhanced interrogations, terrorists that are still at large plotting against America, will be emboldened by the spectacle of their enemy twisting itself in knots investigating the very methods that have foiled their every attempt to strike for close to a decade. These terrorists will not be swayed by the treatment of their brothers in captivity, no matter how humane, and no matter how much praise it generates in the salons of Western Europe.
It is a virtual certainty that President Obama’s politically motivated investigation of the CIA will reduce the amount of information gained from captured terrorists, which in turn will lead to an increase in terrorist activity around the world. Since September 11, 2001, America has lived with the notion that it was only a matter of time before the next big terrorist attack. The administration’s decision to effectively criminalize the act of protecting the nation will likely hasten that day. All in service of a health care policy that has proven itself to be broadly unpopular with the American people.
The administration tried to force-feed the bitter pill of a government takeover of heath care down the Congress’s and the American people’s throat. It has been knocked off its feet by the force with which they spit it back out. Rather than admit defeat to the voters, President Obama surrendered to captured terrorists. They get the presumption of innocence, while the actions of their CIA interrogators are deemed worthy of investigation.
If the White House follows through on its plans, it is a good bet that many thousands of Americans will be in need of the health care the administration so desperately wants to provide, right after the next al-Qaeda attack on the country.