Supporters of rights for terrorists won a minor victory today as the Obama administration complied with a court order to release classified CIA documents on interrogations. Although the Obama administration was too spineless to stand firm against this attack on the CIA , at least the president stated that there will be no prosecutions of the operatives involved in the interrogations. But even a minor victory can cause damage.
Not only should there be no prosecution of those who were doing the difficult and dirty job of trying to extract intelligence from terrorists, but the administration should have refused to release the documents on grounds of national security. What's the point of classifying documents in the first place if they are just going to be made public a few years later? The idiotic efforts to expose secret CIA operations, combined with shortsighted attempts to impose crippling legal restrictions will invariably damage intelligence-gathering. Actually, they probably already have. Almost everyone agrees that intelligence is the first line of defense against terrorism. Terrorists are difficult or impossible to deter. They have to be apprehended, eliminated, or disrupted before they strike. Many of the operations designed to serve these functions require secrecy in order to be effective. Efforts aimed at breaking down the secrecy of the CIA and revealing operational details strike at the heart of our anti-terrorist defenses. We need the executive branch to stand firm against such attacks, even if they come from other branches of the government.