The attention of Americans understandably is focused on the parlous
state of our economy and on the efforts of the president and Congress to
revamp health care. But another tragedy is in the making that warrants
The New York Times reported Monday the Justice Department which has
declined to prosecute Black Panthers who intimidated voters at a polling
place in Philadelphia last year is contemplating prosecuting CIA
officers for their treatment of terror suspects during interrogations.
The Office of Professional Responsibility has recommended prosecutions
in nearly a dozen cases which the CIA's inspector general had forwarded
to Justice in 2004 for review. The Justice Department decided then that
none of the cases merited prosecution.
The recommendations may be related to the health care debate. The
moonbats are unhappy with President Obama for considering dumping the
public option from his health care plan. Prosecution of CIA officers
always a popular notion on the far Left may be an effort to throw
them a bone.
If so, it could be very costly. Already low morale at the CIA would
plunge further if the prosecutions go forward.
The war on terror continues, even if the Obama administration won't call
it that. The situation in Afghanistan is "serious and deteriorating,"
Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told
Last week bomb attacks in Iraq killed nearly 100 people, and injured
In July, seven Muslim converts in North Carolina were arrested for
plotting violent attacks on their fellow Americans. In the home of
Daniel Boyd, the group's leader, the FBI found a fatwa (religious edict)
which said Muslims have "an individual duty to kill Americans and their
In a war against al Qaida terrorists and Taliban guerrillas, good
intelligence is vital. Further depressing morale at the CIA, and making
that notoriously risk averse institution even less likely to take
chances could have bloody consequences.
Morale at the CIA already is near rock bottom thanks to a monumental
screw-up by its out of his depth director, Leon Panetta. Mr. Panetta is
an intelligent and by the lax standards of this administration an
honest man. But he has no experience in the intelligence business. It
Mr. Panetta told the House Intelligence Committee in June that for eight
years, the CIA had illegally concealed a secret terrorist assassination
This was welcome news to allies of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca),
who, after having been caught lying about having been briefed on the
enhanced interrogation techniques the CIA used on a few high level al
Qaida captives, had declared the CIA "misleads" Congress "all the time."
"The reaction was predictably explosive," wrote Joseph Finder, a former
intelligence officer turned novelist. "Here was official confirmation,
from the very top, that the CIA in the Bush years had been flagrantly
and systematically violating the National Security Act of 1947."
But Mr. Panetta was wrong. The real story, Mr. Finder said in an
article Aug. 18 on the Web site Daily Beast, is that "an inexperienced
CIA director, unfamiliar with how his vast, complicated agency works,
unable to trust senior officials within his own agency, and desperate to
keep his hands clean, screwed up."
"The consequences of his gaffe, which he's unable to admit without
damaging his own reputation further, will likely subject U.S.
intelligence capabilities to unnecessary and intrusive oversight for
years to come," Mr. Finder said.
After the excrement hit the fan, Mr. Panetta spoke to his three most
immediate predecessors Gen. Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, and George
Tenet and learned the reason Congress had never been briefed on the
assassination program is because there never was one. All there was was
a PowerPoint presentation that never came close to being implemented.
"If we briefed Congress on every single foreign intelligence collection
activity, we'd be a very small intelligence agency attached to a massive
Congressional briefing agency," Mr. Finder said a former CIA director
Without explicitly apologizing, Mr. Panetta has told his predecessors
the matter will quietly be dropped, Mr. Finder said. But it's too late
to unring the bell.
The CIA needs no further grief from the Obama administration. But it
does need a new director.