Porter J. Goss, former CIA operative, US congressman, and director of the CIA from 2004 to 2006 published a Washington Post op-ed this weekend that ripped Congressional Democrats and Obama Administration officials determined to conduct a show trial of Bush-era CIA officials over their use of enhanced interrogation techniques on Al Qaeda prisoners:
A disturbing epidemic of amnesia seems to be plaguing my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of the committees charged with overseeing our nation’s intelligence services had no higher priority than stopping al-Qaeda. In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s “High Value Terrorist Program,” including the development of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers.
Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.
Let me be clear. It is my recollection that:
— The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.
— We understood what the CIA was doing.
— We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
— We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
— On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.
I do not recall a single objection from my colleagues. They did not vote to stop authorizing CIA funding. And for those who now reveal filed “memorandums for the record” suggesting concern, real concern should have been expressed immediately — to the committee chairs, the briefers, the House speaker or minority leader, the CIA director or the president’s national security adviser — and not quietly filed away in case the day came when the political winds shifted.
That “Gang Of Four” included Senators Pat Roberts (R), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Jay Rockefeller (D), vice-chair, and Representatives Porter J Goss (R), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and Jane Harmon (D), ranking minority member of the committee. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) and Senator Bob Graham (D) were also present during the briefings.
Here’s my prediction — the Sgt. Schultz act by Congressional Democrats will be over very quickly, once the transcripts and meeting notes of those briefings become public. The torture witch-hunt will then quietly go away, just like the once-ballyhooed Enron investigation. Remember that Congressional fishing expedition? It also quietly folded once the extent of Democratic/Clinton Administration involvement in Enron’s late 1990’s sweetheart deals became widely known.
So until that happens, just sit back and enjoy the show. Keep pushing your Senators and Representatives to demand the release of all the memos related to the CIA interrogation proceedings and Congressional briefings, and have faith that even though the interrogation techniques we used seven years ago have been discontinued and are now a matter of public record, our interrogators still have plenty of successful tricks up their sleeves for extracting information from high-value prisoners.
Lorie adds: What Porter Goss said reminded me of one of my favorite post 9/11 quotes, from humorist Dave Barry:
“The people who did this to us are monsters; the people who cheered them have hate-sickened minds. One reason they can cheer is that they know we would never do to them what their heroes did to us, even though we could, a thousand times worse. They know that when we hunt down the monsters, we will try hard not to harm the innocent. Those are the handcuffs we willingly wear, because for all our flaws, we are a decent people.” — Dave Barry
All those today who are trying so hard to muster outrage (and support for prosecution) at the Americans tasked with keeping the country safe frankly make me sick. They direct their outrage at the Bush administration while ignoring Democrats in Congress and elsewhere who wholeheartedly supported and funded the use of enhanced interrogation techniques to acquire information to prevent future attacks. Dave Barry was right. We do not condone beheading innocent women and children (or anyone for that matter), or raping people while forcing their loved ones to watch, or strapping bombs to children and brainwashing them to join jihad. Evidently it is necessary to remind Americans of the evil we are battling and that evil it is not CIA waterboarding.