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National Security

Why We Need Enhanced Interrogation

Until the threat of jihadist-inspired terrorism is ended.

Harold Hutchison · Dec. 2, 2016

Some American heroes can be recognized relatively quickly for their accomplishments in time of war, like Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss, the subject of the film “Hacksaw Ridge.” The successes of others, however, like Navy codebreaker Joe Rochefort, may need to be kept hidden for a while — simply because recognizing them would hurt the war effort. Rochefort’s formal recognition took more than four decades, because the secrets of codebreaking had to be kept.

The enhanced interrogation program was a clear case of the latter. When it comes to obtaining intelligence in peacetime or at war (especially the latter), the methods of gathering intelligence and the sources of intelligence must be protected. Unfortunately, since January 2009, neither the methods used nor those who obtained the intelligence was safeguarded.

For many among Democrat Party leadership, the betrayal of American Patriots was simply a means to cozy up to its leftist base. Witness Dianne Feinstein, as the lame-duck chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, rushing out a half-baked and easily rebutted report damning the CIA’s program after falling all over herself in 2002 to support the CIA. The report’s flaws are no surprise, given that Feinstein’s lackeys didn’t bother to interview anyone involved in the program during her Star Chamber-esque process. Then, to double down on their betrayal, they tied the hands of any intelligence agency by limiting them to publicly available techniques that anyone with an Amazon account or an Internet connection could review.

To be blunt, that is stupid. It’s a safe bet that this info is already in the hands of leading terrorist groups. While General James Mattis (Donald Trump’s pick for defense secretary) may be right that he never found enhanced interrogation techniques to be effective or useful, his interrogators weren’t dealing with high-level committed jihadists like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM). A number of former directors and deputy directors at the agency that did, the Central Intelligence Agency, are telling a very different story. So does Jose Rodriguez, who directed the CIA’s counter-terrorism program. Marc Theissen, who wrote the 2006 speech in which President George W. Bush revealed some of the measures, wrote the outstanding book “Courting Disaster,” which defended not only the CIA’s detainee program but also called out the “Gitmo bar” for opposing it.

Now we can add the man who actually broke KSM, Dr. James Mitchell, to that list. Earlier this week, Theissen noted that once those interrogations ended, Mitchell spent hours talking with the al-Qaida mastermind. Not only does Mitchell describe how the terrorist bragged about personally decapitating Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, he reveals both the depth KSM’s commitment to his cause and his surprise when Bush vigorously led America in a military campaign.

Clearly, this was not a guy who’d roll over for beer and cigarettes. And those like KSM exist not only in al-Qaida, but in Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and elsewhere — and we need a way to make them talk. But if not through enhanced interrogation, then how? While the military, police, firefighters and paramedics (among others) have volunteered to risk their lives, most American citizens haven’t. Thus, we have a moral obligation to our citizenry that overrides the rights of those like KSM — to say nothing of our moral obligation to those who protect us.

If Hanoi Jane Fonda is considered a traitor for her wartime fraternization with our Viet Cong enemy, then “treason” could also apply to those who use our own legal system to assist terrorists in harassing and persecuting those who worked to prevent attacks. Given the media’s outrage over the “outing” of CIA bureaucrat Valerie Plame in 2003, doesn’t “treason” accurately describe the Left’s effort to out those CIA personnel who got KSM and other high-ranking terrorists to talk?

The fact remains, until the threat of jihadist-inspired terrorism is ended, we will need to have enhanced interrogation techniques as an option. Unless, of course, you think tying our hands behind our back is a good idea.

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