Monday, July 20, 2009

The Latest Kerfuffle

The course of intelligence gathering never did run smooth. In the United States, this challenge is compounded by the imperfect dynamic between those tasked with protecting the country and liberal legislators who believe they are protecting the country from itself.

The latest kerfuffle has Congressional Democrats accusing the Central Intelligence Agency of having a “secret plan” to capture or kill al-Qaeda leadership. To this, any reasonable person might respond, “I should bloody well hope so!” Who doubts that eliminating Osama bin Laden would be a good thing? And as for the plan being secret, what is the CIA to do? Announce on its website that, “agents with baseball bats will be waiting for bin Laden when he comes out of 31 Flavours this evening”?

Of course, this whole issue has been constructed to protect Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the most remarkable moonbats ever to appear in American public life. Back in May, while attempting to chew her way out of a leg-trap set by her left-wing base as to whether she was aware of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation by the CIA, Pelosi accused the agency of misleading Congress “all the time.”

Folks who feign fright that the supposedly vapid Sarah Palin could have become vice president of the United States should consider that, as a Constitutional and practical matter, the Speaker of the House of Representatives wields vastly more power than the vice president does. And compared to Pelosi, Palin is Golda flippin’ Meir.

But let us return to the gravity of what Speaker Pelosi said. For Canadians who are unfamiliar with American civics, lying to Congress is not equivalent to telling your MP he can count on your vote just so he’ll get off your front porch. It is a major offense. Here, Pelosi has accused America’s flagship intelligence agency of doing so not only once, or inadvertently, but “all the time.”

Pressed for specifics, Pelosi was desolate, culminating in a painful press conference wherein the Speaker made Jon Lovitz’s truth-challenged “that’s the ticket” SNL character seem like the voice of authority.

So, unable to answer questions about these unfounded allegations, what do Pelosi and the Democrats do? They viciously accuse the CIA of doing its job. If the CIA were NOT planning to put the kibosh on terrorists who killed thousands of Americans and aspire to do so again, an overtaxed populace would wonder just what they were paying these eggheads for.

The ostensible crux of the Democrats’ complaint is that Congress was not briefed on this particular plan, which in any case never got off the drawing board. Columnist Andrew C. McCarthy has sagely advocated more judicious communication between the CIA and federal legislators, noting, “Problems arise, though, when congressional leadership goes juvenile, as has happened in recent times.”

The CIA is not perfect and its failings are highly publicized, from the inability to find WMD in Iraq to sending exploding cigars, Wile E. Coyote-style, to Fidel Castro in Cuba. But as Congressional Democrats question the agency’s honesty and candour, its operatives are risking their lives in locations around the world. There are 90 stars on a wall in Langley, Virginia, representing agents who have paid the ultimate price in defence of freedom. With this in mind, a little respect would go a long way.

Theo Caldwell is the author of Finn the half-Great.