Is The Enemy Really Us?

September 22, 2009

Is The Enemy Really Us?


War On Terror: The arrest of a suspected father-and-son al-Qaida cell near Denver is a reminder that the bad guys remain among us. Why is the Justice Department hunting the good guys?

Read More: Global War On Terror

Twenty-four-year-old Afghan native Najibullah Zazi, his father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, 53, and an associate from New York City were arrested Saturday at what by all appearances was a quintessential suburban residence in Aurora, Colorado. Zazi’s computer reportedly contained a handwritten formula for an explosive device.

All three are either naturalized U.S. citizens or legal resident immigrants. And all three are under FBI investigation as operatives in what could have been the first successful al-Qaida plot within the homeland since 2001. Three Queens, N.Y., apartments have also been raided.

It may be eight years now since 9/11, but eternal vigilance is clearly as necessary as ever. Federal investigators and law enforcement personnel found the Zazis & Co. But how many others remain out there?

Terrorists remain at war with us. But do we remain at war with them?

At the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder is undertaking a different war — one that undermines the real war effort. The AG has reopened criminal investigations into post-9/11 interrogations conducted by the CIA.

A U.S. attorney supervised an investigation of those interrogations four years ago. The result was one conviction and internal disciplinary steps against other personnel who overstepped their legal authority.

What Holder is doing will send a loud-and-clear message to our enemies around the world that the U.S. is cannibalistically punishing those who protect our own country.

Other self-destructive results were eloquently outlined in one of the most extraordinary letters ever sent to a sitting president of the United States.

Seven former CIA directors exhorted President Obama to “exercise your authority to reverse” Holder’s witch hunt. The document was signed by John Deutch and James Woolsey, who served under Bill Clinton; George Tenet, who served under both Clinton and George W. Bush; Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, both under Bush; William Webster, FBI director under Ronald Reagan and CIA director under both Reagan and George H.W. Bush; even James Schlesinger, who ran the CIA under Nixon and was so hated within the agency for firing hundreds of clandestine operatives that he received anonymous death threats.

The seven issued multiple warnings of grave concern to national security. If completed and closed criminal investigations “can so easily be reopened” by a succeeding administration, then “declinations of prosecution will be rendered meaningless,” they noted.

“Those men and women who undertake difficult intelligence assignments in the aftermath of an attack such as September 11 must believe there is permanence in the legal rules that govern their actions,” they added. Moreover, a new criminal probe “will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country” in the future, the seven warned.

Even more dire, “public disclosure about past intelligence operations can only help al-Qaida elude US intelligence and plan future operations,” the former CIA directors wrote. “Disclosures about CIA collection operations have and will continue to make it harder for intelligence officers to maintain the momentum of operations that have saved lives and helped protect America from further attacks.”

Finally, the seven warned that foreign intelligence agencies that have helped the U.S. fight terrorism in the past “rightly fear that, through these additional investigations and the court proceedings that could follow, terrorists may learn how other countries came to our assistance in a time of peril.” They added that “many countries may decide that they can no longer safely share intelligence or cooperate with us on future counter-terrorist operations” because they “simply cannot rely on our promises of secrecy.”

The president’s reaction was to tell CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he does not plan to stop Holder as the attorney general goes after these heroes who saved countless lives by extracting information from terrorist prisoners.

“We have met the enemy, and he is us” was a slogan coined 40 years ago. Has the U.S. government now perversely adopted it as the motto of what has become a non-war on terror?


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