Yesterday’s Washington Post ran a column by Porter Goss, director of the CIA from September 2004 to May 2006 and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 1997 to 2004, regarding the release of interrogation memos by President Obama. His view is that the information was made public for partisan reasons–President Obama was hoping to gain political advantage.
Mr. Goss recalls that in the fall of 2002, senior members of Congress were specifically briefed on the interrogation techniques that had been developed and would be used. The Chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were briefed and understood what the CIA was doing, gave bipartisan support, and gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
Mr. Goss points out:
“Our enemies do not subscribe to the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury. “Name, rank and serial number” does not apply to non-state actors but is, regrettably, the only question this administration wants us to ask. Instead of taking risks, our intelligence officers will soon resort to wordsmithing cables to headquarters while opportunities to neutralize brutal radicals are lost.”
I am truly sorry President Obama chose to release the secret documents on questioning terrorists. We need to remember that we were dealing with known terrorists (very few people were subject to intense questioning–it was used only on people we knew had planned and orchestrated previous attacks). We need to consider whether the discomfort of a terrorist is more serious than the loss of thousands of innocent people in a terrorist attack. We can call it noble to spare the terrorist any discomfort, but what will we say to the families of those who die because we decide to be ‘noble’?