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Monday, April 27, 2009

READ THIS NOW!...In Case You Forgot

Security Before Politics

By Porter J. Goss
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Followed by an excellent commentary by Ed Kilbane

Since leaving my post as CIA director almost three years ago, I have
remained largely silent on the public stage. I am speaking out now because I
feel our government has crossed the red line between properly protecting our
national security and trying to gain partisan political advantage. We can't
have a secret intelligence service if we keep giving away all the secrets.
Americans have to decide now.

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. And shifted they have.

Circuses are not new in Washington, and I can see preparations being made
for tents from the Capitol straight down Pennsylvania Avenue. The CIA has
been pulled into the center ring before. The result this time will be the
same: a hollowed-out service of diminished capabilities. After Sept. 11, the
general outcry was, "Why don't we have better overseas capabilities?" I
fear that in the years to come this refrain will be heard again: once a
threat -- or God forbid, another successful attack -- captures our attention and
sends the pendulum swinging back. There is only one person who can shut
down this dangerous show: President Obama.

Unfortunately, much of the damage to our capabilities has already been
done. It is certainly not trust that is fostered when intelligence officers
are told one day "I have your back" only to learn a day later that a knife is
being held to it. After the events of this week, morale at the CIA has
been shaken to its foundation.

We must not forget: Our intelligence allies overseas view our inability to
maintain secrecy as a reason to question our worthiness as a partner.
These allies have been vital in almost every capture of a terrorist.

The suggestion that we are safer now because information about
interrogation techniques is in the public domain conjures up images of unicorns and
fairy dust. We have given our enemy invaluable information about the rules by
which we operate. The terrorists captured by the CIA perfected the act of
beheading innocents using dull knives. Khalid Sheik Mohammed boasted of the
tactic of placing explosives high enough in a building to ensure that
innocents trapped above would die if they tried to escape through windows.
There is
simply no comparison between our professionalism and their brutality.

Our enemies do not subscribe to the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury.
"Name, rank and serial number" does not apply to non-state actors but is,
regrettably, the only question this administration wants us to ask. Instead of
taking risks, our intelligence officers will soon resort to wordsmithing
cables to headquarters while opportunities to neutralize brutal radicals
are lost.

The days of fortress America are gone. We are the world's superpower. We
can sit on our hands or we can become engaged to improve global human
conditions. The bottom line is that we cannot succeed unless we have good
intelligence. Trading security for partisan political popularity will ensure that
our secrets are not secret and that our intelligence is destined to fail

The writer, a Republican, was director of the CIA from September 2004 to
May 2006 and was chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence from 1997 to 2004.

Please take the time to cut and paste this article and email it to your Senators and Congressman with your take on it. Here's mine.

We wholeheartedly agree with the premise of this article by Porter Goss. Please use your influence to put a stop to these political "gotcha games". Go back and look at the pictures of the trade towers, look at the poor people, jumping hand-in-hand from them to their death in order to escape the searing heat and end their misery. Look at the Berg and Pearl beheading video's.
Enhanced interrogation techniques didn't cause this, they prevented more of it.

I guess you can't say it any better then that. Thanks Ed.

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