Attacking Success

July 17, 2009

IBD  13 July 09

CIA: The latest media kerfuffle over the supposedly secret “plan” to kidnap or kill al-Qaida leaders shows just how pathetic our Congress has become. Gee, aren’t we supposed to kidnap or kill the enemy?

The Democrats, still stinging from the stunning revelation that Rep. Nancy Pelosi lied about being briefed by the CIA about waterboarding, have whipped up a new spy scandal to even the score against the CIA.

To make it even more damaging, they’ve thrown in former Vice President Dick Cheney for good measure, charging that he pushed a covert program to kill or capture al-Qaida’s leaders through the CIA. The plan began after 9/11, when President Bush authorized a secret program to capture or kill al-Qaida terrorists.

This is a rare two-fer for the Democrats: They protect one of their own (Pelosi) while going after the now departed bogeyman (Cheney), whom they’ve tried to build up as an archvillain who tricked Americans into deposing Iraq’s lovable Saddam Hussein.

Congressional Democrats want a full-on investigation of the CIA — and they’re likely to get it. “To have a massive program that was concealed from the leaders in Congress is not only inappropriate, it could be illegal,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

Sounds good. Righteous, even. In fact, the plan never got off the ground. Nor was it “massive,” as Durbin says. Just $1 million was spent — a pittance. So why the big deal?

This all came about after CIA Director Leon Panetta told the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that Cheney had ordered a covert program and that the CIA had lied to Congress about it for eight years.

Anyone who thinks about this for even a moment will be struck by its absurdity. After 9/11, the U.S. declared a war on terror. Who else would we target but al-Qaida’s leaders?

We’ve targeted al-Qaida’s bigwigs through the use of drones for several years. It’s been a huge success. Al-Qaida’s alpha dogs won’t show their faces in public for fear of being sent to meet their maker by a U.S.-made rocket with their name on it.

This is a bipartisan policy, by the way. Yes, it began under Bush. But as Marc Thiessen notes on the National Review Online blog, “The Obama administration itself has reportedly escalated targeted killings of al-Qaida terrorists in Pakistan using Predator and Reaper drones.”

So whether you send in a special-ops team with sniper scopes to kill someone, or do it from the sky with drones, the effect is the same: It’s an assassination. Let’s not play word games. Indeed, the only surprise in this would be if the U.S. weren’t targeting al-Qaida’s best for termination with extreme prejudice.

Even so, apart from drones, the CIA’s perfectly legitimate program never really killed anyone. It never left the planning stages. And it was canceled on June 23 by Panetta. A nonissue, in short.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder says he might appoint a special prosecutor to go after Cheney and former CIA operatives who conducted rough interrogations of al-Qaida leaders.

If only Democrats pursued al-Qaida with the same fervor as they do their political enemies, we’d all be a lot safer.

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