"Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
George Orwell's truth comes to mind as one reads that Eric Holder has named a special prosecutor to go after the "rough men" who, to keep us sleeping peacefully at night, went too far in frightening Khalid Sheik Muhammad, the engineer of the September massacres.
Yet, it seems now indisputable that those CIA interrogators, with their rough methods, got vital intelligence that saved American lives, as Dick Cheney has consistently contended.
According to The Washington Times, which reviewed the newly declassified CIA documents, those interrogators "produced life-saving intelligence that disrupted numerous terrorist plots."
They elicited the names of al-Qaida agents who planned anthrax attacks on Westerners and a massive bombing of Camp Lemonier, the U.S. base in East Africa. They got the names of 70 recruits al-Qaida deemed "suitable for Western attacks" and of the men who made the bomb used on the U.S. consulate in Karachi.
Iyman Faris, an al-Qaeda sleeper agent and truck driver in Ohio, is serving 20 years because of information the CIA got from KSM and associates. Other operations aborted include al-Qaida "plots to fly airliners into buildings on the West Coast, setting off bombs in U.S. cities and planning to employ a network of Pakistanis to target gas stations, railroad tracks and the Brooklyn Bridge."
What were the "inhumane" techniques CIA interrogators used to uncover these plans for the mass murder of Americans?
"Interrogators lifted one detainee off the floor by his arms, while they were bound behind his back with a belt," reports The Washington Post. "Another interrogator used a stiff brush to clean a detainee, scrubbing so roughly that his legs were raw with abrasions. Another squeezed a detainee's neck at his carotid artery until he began to pass out."
The CIA, we are told, used mock executions to frighten captives and threatened to kill KSM's children and rape his mother. Power drills were brandished in interrogation rooms.
Were any children killed? No. Was anyone's mother raped? No. Was the power drill used? No.
Was anyone executed in front of a witness to make him talk? No. It was faked, as Sean Connery faked it in "The Untouchables" to get an underling to blab to Eliot Ness, aka Kevin Costner, about how he could take down Al Capone's mob.
As for threatening to kill the children of our enemies, we did not do that in "The Good War." Instead, what we did was kill them in the thousands every night in air raids over Germany and Japan.
In the Tokyo firestorm of February 1945, the Dresden raid in March, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, we killed grandparents, mothers, fathers, wives, sisters, daughters and sons of the enemy in the scores of thousands on each of those days.
Can it be that the same United States that honored Col. Paul Tibbets and put his Enola Gay, which dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, on display in its Air and Space Museum is going to prosecute a CIA agent for faking an execution and threatening, but never intending, to kill the children of Khalid Sheik Muhammad?
Why is Barack Obama allowing these prosecutions to proceed?
In 2004, career lawyers at Justice looked over the same reports and concluded that prosecutions would not serve the national interest. Obama has himself said he wants to move on.
Now, he and Holder may not like what was done back then, but who does? And where is the criminal intent? These agents are not sadists. They were trying to get intel to abort plots and apprehend terrorists to prevent them from killing us. And they succeeded. Not a single terrorist attack on the United States in eight years.
Do we the people, some of whom may be alive because of what those CIA men did, want them disgraced, prosecuted and punished for not going strictly by the book in protecting us from terrorists?
In its lead editorial Tuesday, "Following the Torture Trail," The Washington Post declaims, "The real culprits in this sordid story are the higher-ups, starting with former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Richard Cheney who led America down the degraded path of state-sponsored torture."
But why is Obama yielding to the clamor of a left that will not be satiated until Cheney and Bush are indicted as Class A war criminals? Is that in the national interest? Is it in Obama's interest to tear his country apart to expose and punish these CIA agents?
In the 1960s, Robert Kennedy and the boys at Justice set up a "Get Hoffa Squad" to take down Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. It was a vendetta that succeeded.
This vendetta will not. For, on the issue of national security, as Barack will painfully discover, he is not more trusted than Dick Cheney or the rough men at the CIA who did the harsh interrogations of terrorists, to keep us sleeping peacefully at night.