After vowing not to become involved in recriminations over the Bush anti-terror policies, President Obama has allowed his attorney general, Eric Holder, to appoint a special prosecutor to dig up all the dirt he can find on the CIA and the anti-terror investigators whose aggressive questioning saved us from countless attacks.
Why the switch? Because Obama needs to do something to appease the left that elected him. After refusing to pull out of Iraq and deciding to follow the Bush timetable for withdrawing, and staying in Afghanistan and likely having to beef up our presence there, liberals might be wondering why they elected Obama. After all, his opposition to the war in Iraq and his criticism of the Bush anti-terror policies were the hallmarks of his campaign in 2008.
And, on the domestic front, Obama likely realizes that he may have to pull in his horns on health care and accept some sort of compromise that may not endear him to his constituency.
So he has decided to throw a few CIA interrogators to the wolves.
The report that Holder released to accompany his decision to name a special prosecutor itself showed the trivial nature of the charges against these patriotic anti-terror investigators. Among the allegations prominently featured in the report is that the mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole was scrubbed with a rough brush in the bath so as to cause him pain. Our heartless interrogators also threatened that they could bring in his family and parents for questioning. How do these "tortures" compare with the deaths of more than a dozen American sailors roasted to death in flames or drowned in the sea?
The CIA report, also released on Monday, demonstrates, within the limits that secrecy allows, how these very interrogations thwarted serious terrorist plots against our country.
Would the public agree that if we had Osama bin Laden in custody that it would be wrong to scrub him with a harsh brush? Or to threaten to involve his family? Or to press his carotid artery until he was on the verge of passing out? If such techniques could have averted the deaths of 3,000 Americans on 9-11, would we not all have sanctioned them?
But Obama needs political cover, so he is creating a three-ring circus for the media by naming a special prosecutor to conduct a likely leaky investigation designed to throw dirt at the CIA. The exposures he is likely to make will dominate the headlines even as Obama disingenuously retreats from his campaign commitments on Iraq and on foreign policy in general. And, the investigation may even make enough noise to permit a retreat on health care. We hope so.