Yet there is no question that the release of these documents and the ongoing debate over whether to prosecute government functionaries involved in the Bush administration's treatment of terrorists has hurt our intelligence community, both at home and abroad. Intelligence officers within our service have been intimidated by our own government. Foreign intelligence officers who have been sharing intelligence with us abroad are going to be much less forthcoming. It is a good thing that the administration has determined that America is now secure from terrorist threats.
This is not the first time liberal politicians have put the clamps on our intelligence services' ability to protect the country. In 1975, the Church Committee investigated both the CIA and the FBI, with the consequence that congressional oversight committees were set up, which, in the aftermath of 9/11, were accused of inhibiting our intelligence services from pursuing al-Qaida aggressively in the 1990s. Now, apparently, with the war on terror won, we can go back to those blissful days.
Yet frankly, I am uneasy about this new climate here in Washington. Historically, intelligence documents have been kept from the public eye, not only here but also throughout the Western world. The idea is that we do not want our enemies to be informed of what we know. In David Reynolds' stupendous book ("In Command of History") on how Winston Churchill wrote his World War II memoirs, Reynolds shows over and again Churchill and his opponents in the Labour government cooperating to keep British secrets from the public. British intelligence techniques, in particular, were not divulged. That President Obama's administration, in the first 100 days of its existence, would expose the intelligence techniques used by his predecessor strikes me as reckless. Yet, on the other hand, the global war on terror is over, so maybe everything is going to be OK. I do, however, wonder how President Barack Obama managed to win the war so quickly. Was it just a matter of retiring the hellish Bush from the White House, or is there more to it?
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