In the wake of the misguided release of her committee’s one-sided, politically motivated report on the CIA’s interrogation techniques, Senator Dianne Feinstein is being forced to defend her actions; as well she should. If Feinstein’s self-righteous posturing and obvious rationalizing appear strained, it is probably because there is no defense for what she did. In fact, it is entirely appropriate to ask if releasing her report makes Feinstein a traitor. People who knowingly and willingly act in ways that benefit America’s enemies are labeled traitors. It is no stretch to suggest that releasing a highly sensitive report that could and should have been handled confidentially will benefit the terrorist organizations that seek to destroy America.
By releasing this report, Feinstein has forced the CIA to openly and publically defend itself and the techniques it has used for handling terrorists; issues that should be dealt with, if at all, in private. One thing is certain. Regardless of what one thinks about enhanced interrogation techniques, the CIA—unlike Senator Feinstein—at least has a legitimate defense for its actions. The agency did what it did to protect the American people. The functional question then becomes, why did Senator Feinstein do what she did? I delve into that question in this column, but first some background.
Here is how three former CIA Directors publically characterized the Feinstein report. George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that the report is a “one-sided study marred by errors of fact and interpretation—essentially a poorly done and partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America.” Frankly, these former CIA Directors were admirably reserved in their condemnation of Feinstein’s report, but in their defense a more accurate description of the report and its author would not have been printable in the Wall Street Journal.
Concerning Feinstein’s claim that enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) did no good, CIA Director John Brennan responded: “Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives. The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of Al Qaida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day.” The fact that Feinstein publically claims that EITs did not good just shows that she and her Democratic colleagues did exactly what they are being accused of: selectively choosing the evidence that supports their preconceived, politically biased notions and ignoring that which doesn’t.
As to why Feinstein would publically release a report that by its very nature should have been held as confidential, there are only three possible reasons. One possible reason would be to prevent further use of EITs that Senator Feinstein and her colleagues deem inappropriate. I will have more to say about the appropriateness of the techniques later in this column. For now, suffice it to say that if Senator Feinstein and her colleagues wanted to stop the CIA’s use of these techniques, the matter could have been handled more effectively in private. Feinstein is, after all chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Almost every issue her committee deals with is supposed to be confidential.
A second possible reason for releasing the report would be to bring to justice those who the committee believed were criminal in their application of enhanced interrogation techniques. This, too, could have been done without releasing the report. However, bringing CIA personnel to justice (as defined by radical leftwing politicians such as Feinstein) cannot be the reason for making the report public since the report contains no recommendations for prosecutions, nor has the Justice Department expressed any interest in reopening a criminal investigation.
This leaves the third possible reason for releasing the report, and the evidence suggests this was Feinstein’s reason: in a word, politics. In releasing a report that is highly critical of the CIA, Feinstein and company were applying the tired old Obama tactic of blaming their problems on George W. Bush and the Republican Party. Feinstein’s plan is to create a controversy concerning the use of EITs and hang that controversy around the necks of Republicans in advance of the 2016 presidential elections. She hopes to force Republican candidates who want to run for the presidency into what she believes will be a lose-lose proposition: having to either defend or reject the CIA’s interrogation techniques during presidential debates.
Politics at its worst was Feinstein’s motivation in releasing her report, but I don’t think her little political ploy is going to work. Feinstein will soon learn that as with the so-called war on women and global warming, her attack on the CIA—an agency that used EITs for the sole purpose of protecting Americans—is not going to gain the political traction she and her fellow radical liberals hope it will. Frankly, most Americans believe the CIA should have skipped the EITs and placed the captured terrorists up against a wall and shot them.
Like a lot of liberal politicians who live insular lives within the beltway and believe that Washington, D.C. is the real world, Feinstein apparently thinks that most Americans have as much sympathy for terrorists who publically behead innocent non-combatants as she does. We don’t. One of the reasons Democrats fared so badly in the 2014 mid-term elections was Barack Obama’s political miscalculation in unilaterally releasing five terrorists who should have been shot. He tried in vain to cover up his error by concocting a so-called prisoner exchange only to learn belatedly that the American soldier returned in the swap was a deserter. I believe Feinstein’s politically motivated report will just add to the Democrats woes.
A question I would like to ask Dianne Feinstein myself is this: If you knew using EITs would extract the information needed to save members of your family from being publically beheaded by terrorists, would you still oppose their use? This question—which any responsible journalist would have already asked her—will put the self-righteous Senator in the same box presidential candidate Michael Dukakis found himself in during a presidential debate with George H.W. Bush. Dukakis was asked if he would drop his objections to the death penalty if his wife was raped and murdered. He blandly and without a scrap of emotion answered, “no.” With this one answer, he lost any chance of ever being president. Every husband and wife in America—regardless of political party—found his answer disgusting.
I want to see Senator Feinstein put to the same test of her so-called convictions. If she would not approve the use EITs to save the lives of her loved ones, shame on her. Millions of Americans—including her loved ones—would pity her family and be disgusted by the Senator. If she would approve the use of EITs in such a case, the Senator is clearly a hypocrite who is willing to use extraordinary measures to save her own family but does not think they should be used to save other American families. Of course, it is a well-known fact that liberals are capable of this level of blatant hypocrisy. In fact, self-serving hypocrisy is a characteristic long associated with the left. But to have to admit their perfidy to a national audience is a proposition to be studiously avoided by those who live and die, politically speaking, according to the fickle whims of public perception.
Releasing her committee’s report on the use of EITs by the CIA was a blatant attempt at political retribution by Feinstein and her fellow Democrats in the wake of the recent mid-term elections disaster. What is even more telling than the Senator releasing a report that could and should have been handled confidentially is what her action says about the left’s attitude toward those who put their lives on the line every day to prevent the deaths of innocent Americans in terrorist attacks. Feinstein and her colleagues view the CIA and the U.S. military as the enemy and hoped by publishing the EIT report to punish these organizations. But Americans see things differently. They know that even when they make mistakes, the CIA and the military are trying to do what is necessary to protect them from another 911 attack or worse. Releasing this report is going to backfire on Feinstein, Obama, and the Democrats. It could not happen to a more deserving group.