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Punishing Patriots By: Ralph Peters
New York Post | Wednesday, September 02, 2009


The Obama administration's determination to hold witch-hunt "investigations" of CIA interrogators who did their patriotic best to keep us safe endangers us all.

Castrate the CIA, and Americans will die. But the Obama White House wants vengeance against those who don't fit its ideology. Your family's safety comes a distant second.

And let's get real: Attorney General Eric Holder (whose top career achievement was finessing the presidential pardon of a criminal Clinton donor) is not acting independently.

Anyone who believes that Holder didn't pre-brief the president and get the nod prior to announcing his determination to crucify high-achieving CIA agents probably believes that government-run health care will balance the federal budget.

I followed this travesty as I worked with our military at various bases last month. I could have been listening to old BBC World Service reports from the Third World. This is the sort of politicized retribution that prevails in backwater countries when regimes change.

Our wise tradition has been for new administrations to accept that their predecessors did their best, however disagreeably, and move on. Gerald Ford sacrificed himself to that end, and even Jimmy Carter understood that presidencies are not for domestic revenge.

And the lesson the left should draw from its own wretched global history is that those who stage the show trials this time may wind up in the dock themselves when the wheel turns.

But Obama's political base wants blood. American blood. This inquisition isn't about justice. It's about punishing those who fought terror with all their might.

What have we come to when our attorney general frees terrorists, then threatens to prosecute patriots who treated butchers too harshly for left-wing tastes?

What Holder intends -- with Obama's blessing -- isn't about cleaning up a rogue agency, but cleaning out those who believed that protecting our country trumped all else in wartime. This ideological purge promises to do more damage to the intelligence community than even the crippling Carter-era shenanigans -- whose effects are still felt today.

For his part, Obama's trying to have it both ways: letting Holder wear the black hat to advance an extreme-left agenda, while the president poses as if he's a disinterested party high above the fray.

But Washington doesn't work that way. And we all know it. If the president disapproved of the Holder witch-hunt, he could fire the attorney general today.

He won't, though. Because, in this administration's hard-left cosmos, the CIA is evil. For that matter, America is evil. Americans need to be punished and forced to face the evil our country has done.

So terrorists are "liberated," Gitmo will be closed, and the careers and lives of patriots will be shattered.

This matters. After serving in and around the intelligence world for decades, I can tell you that we're far better off with intelligence operatives, from interrogators to analysts, who show too much zeal than with timid bureaucrats who dread making any slight error.

You can't do useful intelligence work on a choke-chain. Yes, the intel community needs oversight and guidance. But it's vile for armchair critics, safe at home, to damn the earnest efforts of those who broke the likes of arch-terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

And some hard-core terrorists do have to be broken. Patiently playing to the prisoner's vanity works best in run-of-the-mill interrogations, but there are always exceptions. In those cases, our intelligence warriors must feel confident that our government's behind them -- and not waving an indictment.

The American people get this. The left's obsession with the rights of terrorists finds no support among sensible citizens. But the issue's been hijacked by the America-hating zealots who shaped our president's worldview and by media scoundrels whose credo comes from Grace Slick's 1960s lyric "I'd rather have my country die for me."

For the rest of us to live in peace, patriots must stand at the edge of darkness where our enemies dwell. This is a war. And it is sometimes necessary to do evil in war to achieve a greater good. Fighting Islamist terrorism isn't about campus theories. It's about the fate of millions.

In this bitter struggle that has been forced upon us, the Obama administration stands for creeping surrender.



Ralph Peters is a New York Post Opinion columnist and the author of "Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."


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