Because our Founders understood very well what fates awaited them had the Revolution not ended in victory, Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution draws a crucial definition very narrowly: ‘Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”
This week, and by any reasonable measure, the lame-duck Democratic majority of the United States Senate gave our enemies aid and comfort. If you doubt that, then you haven’t been paying attention to the outraged howls of the jihadis or the stern school-marm lectures delivered from the unlikeliest of places: Russia, China and even the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights. Red Foxx was right: Life is hard but it’s ever harder if you’re stupid.
Meanwhile, our press establishments delivered holier-than-thou lectures that betrayed the double standards they learned in journalism school. Equally compelling: Their all-pervasive ignorance of war and history, particularly the already forgotten post-9/11 history.
An especially low point was reached when my former NBC News colleague Brian Williams interrogated another old friend, former CIA Director Michael Hayden. Mr. Williams had either the temerity or the lapsed judgment to ask how General Hayden would have felt if members of his family had received the same rough treatment being inflicted on prisoners held by the CIA while Hayden was its director. General Hayden restrained himself more effectively than I would have, replying calmly that none of his family was responsible for three thousand American deaths on 9/11.
Having known General Hayden for over a quarter-century, he has always set the standard for keeping his various chains of command exquisitely well-informed. As Director of the National Security Agency or the Central Intelligence Agency, and whether briefing his superiors in the White House or the select committees of Congress, it would have been his practice to keep precise and detailed records. Bottom lines: Who he briefed, When and about What, including copies of his briefing slides.
You see, all intelligence offices remember the Curse of Cassandra, the legendary prophetess of Troy gifted by the gods with second sight but also cursed when her prophecies were fated to be ignored or disbelieved. If for no other reason than self-preservation, information-age intelligence officers understand the value of having documentary back-up, accurate records being an essential insurance policy when historical memories fade. Or else, as was clearly the case this week, are re-interpreted for purely political reasons.
That truth is part of the reason why General Hayden, two of his predecessors and three of their deputies published a detailed rebuttal in the Wall Street Journal, arguing that the CIA interrogation program was legally vetted, operationally effective and explicitly authorized by the chain of command on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Democratic lame ducks such as Mark Udall and Carl Levin took a final opportunity to deliver their invective. Udall insisted that the CIA is “still lying” while Levin resurrected an old canard that President George W. Bush had consciously misled the nation during the run-up to the second Gulf War.
Actually, Senator Levin also knows a thing or two about misleading the public. As Rowan Scarborough reported in a Washington Times story in November, 2011, “The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is intervening with a Pentagon investigator to influence the final wording of a report that exonerates George W. Bush-era officials who gave war briefings to retired military TV and radio commentators.” Senator Levin had been one of the Congressional Democrats who prompted that ill-advised investigation and simply could not tolerate being conclusively proven wrong. Thanks to Mr. Scarborough’s courageous reporting, we know that a powerful Democratic senator tried his best to cook the books, the precise equivalent of jury-tampering.
Full disclosure: I was one of those military TV commentators who knew at first-hand that Scarborough’s reporting was accurate, that my colleagues and I were innocent and Carl Levin was dead-wrong. So it is easy to recognize what General Hayden and his CIA colleagues are enduring at this very moment. The same enemies, the same lies, and the same ingratitude - gratuitously and shamelessly extended to patriots who placed their lives and reputations on the line in order to serve a sometimes forgetful nation.
By their deplorable conduct, the Senate Democrats not only aided our enemies but also undermined a tradition of bipartisan trust that has been the bedrock of intelligence oversight for more than a generation. Our recent elections have only begun the longer and more difficult process of putting things right.
Ken Allard, a retired Army colonel, is a military analyst and author on national-security issues.