- - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The only unconscionable torture in Senator Diane Feinstein’s Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee Report is to the public forced to hear of this shameless betrayal of those who, following explicit orders from these same members of Congress, bravely did their bidding and served the country post-9/11 after the death of more than 3,000 Americans.

More than a decade later the overthrown Democratic Congress has decided to give parting shots at those it deems responsible for being tossed out of office. The Senate CIA Torture Report was picked up worldwide — unblinkingly swallowed whole – and handed to a gullible public who sees the spectacle as Pin the Blame on Another Government Scapegoat…the latest episode of the program they saw last year when it was the National Security Agency (NSA) which Congress and the White House betrayed and pilloried.

The truth – that enhanced interrogations saved lives, frightened other terrorists to not act, uncovered plots and schemes, and showed any al Qaeda wannabees that joining in would have serious personal consequences – is completely missing. Instead, it is rife with cherry-picked memos and opinions, hype, political spin, ignorance of the realities of war, devoid of a single interview with any of the CIA officers who did the work, relied on anti-CIA interrogation pseudo-experts, and stuffed with Democratic electioneering folderol.

The timing of the release had everything to do with the risks of delay: were it to be released next month on the Republican watch there would have been no report. But that did not happen. This anti-U.S. screed – from our own Congress – was released with much self-flagellating fanfare. A recurring behavioral oddity Democrats seem to enjoy…but I leave that to Freud or Krafft-Ebing.

In response, almost every recent high-ranking intelligence community official has pointed out that the report attacks faithful, unappreciated frontline officers who followed procedures and techniques CIA cleared, in advance, with the White House, these same Congressional oversight committees, internal and external legal counsels, including the Department of Justice. Now worldwide, the report inflames the same primitives who, only a few years ago, went on murderous rampages when exposed to a few Dutch cartoons. It is a venomous Feinstein Christmas present.

How quick it seems we forget the real terrors we all felt after 9/11. An event followed by anthrax-laced letters and other threatening, unsolved acts. And how quickly we forget that only the CIA was ready to immediately respond with officers covertly in Afghanistan to engage and defeat the Taliban, suffering the first casualty: Mike Spann. America quickly heals. In a way, with such speed many of us fail to recall the enormity of what we just went through.

Will this sad situation change when Republicans become the majority? Our Congress is owned by plutocrats, corporate moguls, billionaire inheritors, and others who then collude to propagandize to control voter thinking. To the rest of the world watching us, and seeing through the distorted lens of politics and our media, Americans are easily swayed by advertising and political jargonizing, no matter what the cost to the country. We allow our dedicated, trained intelligence professionals to be excoriated by politically motivated ingrates who – sitting safely, 15 years away from their secret 2001 authorizations to “do anything to stop the next wave of attacks” – find it politically expedient to publish a one-sided, shameful disavowal of the very acts they urged be conducted on their behalf.

Only our brave, underpaid military, and oft scapegoated intelligence community harbor the patriots still willing to defend us—even knowing, as they surely do now, it will not be long before they will be attacked, sued, and scorned by those who gave them their orders. An Alice in Wonderland world of illogic, deceit, and dishonesty, and the type of treachery that forever squelches trust and loyalty.

The consequences? I greatly worry about what our officers fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in the Middle East must be thinking as they read Feinstein’s malicious document. Like those post-9/11 officers, they are also following today the latest legally-screened, approved, and sanctioned procedures to keep the U.S. safe from terrorist acts. When will the political operatives on a Congressional committee turn on them and suddenly claim all those secret assurances were never made, or were imperfectly described, or only ‘partially’ authorized, and that those officers who did their bidding are now to be named in Committee Reports for acts recharacterized as criminal, inhumane, unsanctioned, never authorized, and legally actionable?

Worse, will they also be tossed to the legal wolves and be expected to defend themselves – personally, at their own expense – from the waves of lawsuits certain to follow? Is this the new American gratitude? Who would be willing to defend this country with this cycle of poor treatment? I fear for them…and now I certainly fear for us.

Gene Poteat is a retired senior CIA scientific intelligence officer. He is currently president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO.com)


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