- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Witnessing the current attempt by liberal Democrats in Congress to investigate CIA officers and possibly prosecute them for a covert initiative purportedly undertaken in time of war (a war that is still going on) inspires a happy thought. Perhaps these liberals have a death wish. The American people do not want another Sept. 11, 2001-type attack on our shores. They approve of operations against al Qaeda, covert or otherwise. If the liberals continue harassing the CIA for its efforts to protect American national security, for a certitude the electorate will turn these liberals out. Sayonara, my liberal friends!

If the liberals’ death wish only extends to themselves, they have my full support. Yet, it is conceivable their death wish extends to the country itself. They rarely have anything very complimentary to say about their homeland.

President Obama talks about the United States as though it were a failed state. Liberals in general talk about the United States as though it were the provenance of slavery, bigotry, male chauvinism, and — oh, yes — cowboy diplomacy. The only favorable thing about America that I have heard from the liberals recently is that America was the birthplace of Michael Jackson. In Congress, they observed a moment of silence, to commemorate his assuming room temperature.

The liberals’ present furor over the CIA’s covert operations against al Qaeda suggests they harbor a death wish not just for themselves but for the whole country. Nations at war are not supposed to divulge military or intelligence operations. Often they keep them confidential for generations. The British historian David Reynolds, in his superb book about Winston Churchill’s World War II memoirs, tells us that both Mr. Churchill and the Labor government kept state secrets hidden from the British public and from the world years after the war had ended.

Mr. Reynolds’ “In Command of History” relates how Mr. Churchill’s famous Nobel Prize-winning memoir abounds with evasions and inaccuracies, for instance, Mr. Churchill’s silence about cracking the Nazi code (Enigma) or his true assessment of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Josef Stalin. Had Mr. Churchill been forthright on these matters, the Labor government might never have allowed the volumes to be published.

Today’s liberals in Congress demand the investigation and threaten the prosecution of intelligence officers rumored to have undertaken a secret initiative to assassinate al Qaeda leaders. The initiative was supposedly authorized by the president immediately after Sept. 11. It is not clear that the initiative ever got beyond the planning stages.

Reportedly that initiative envisaged sending hit teams into al Qaeda territory to do what our Predator and Reaper drones are now doing — killing our enemies. Naturally much about the initiative is shrouded in secrecy. Yet, by charging that Congress should have been informed of the initiative, liberals are making a colossal fuss.

They claim the diabolical Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to keep the Congress in the dark. They claim the initiative was illegal. They want the whole shocking scheme out in the open. Doubtless al Qaeda does, too.

There are serious consequences to this sort of harassment of intelligence operations. Over at the CIA there are professionals today who are fearful they may soon be forced to hire lawyers to defend them against the politicians’ investigations. Uncertain whether the Obama administration will protect them, they are distracted and hunkering down. Ongoing operations are being affected.

Right now, very reliable sources tell me the CIA is aware of the presence of al Qaeda leaders in Somalia and possibly Yemen. The terrorists have moved operations there from Pakistan, but the CIA is reluctant to take action against these brutes for fear the CIA will not be supported by the government and may be exposed on Capitol Hill.

Such are the consequences of our liberals’ death wish. As I say, I do not mind them imperiling their existence. When they imperil our intelligence community’s ability to prevent another Sept. 11, 2001, it is no joke.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.


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