You can understand why the Obama administration has decided to launch a probe into the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorist detainees by the CIA. The left is restless.
So why not sicc a special prosecutor on the CIA (and maybe former Vice-President Dick Cheney) and throw some red meat to the angry lefties while the dirty work of compromise proceeds on the president's health reform?
Well, there are several reasons why not.
- Remember Last Time. Back in the 1970s Sen. Frank Church (D-ID) had a grand old time with Senate hearings on the CIA and the FBI. His Church Committee flayed the CIA and the FBI and reduced the effectiveness of the national intelligence establishment. But Frank Church was defeated in the 1978 elections.
- Are You Sure, Mr. President. No doubt a special prosecutor will satisfy the angry left for a while. But suppose there's a terrorist incident between now and the 2012 election. That could be a game changer. The reason that the Bush administration went for enhanced interrogation was because they decided that their policy should be "Never Again." I don't think I would want to be the president facing the American people after another high-profile terrorist incident on the US homeland involving thousands of casualties. Not after a special prosecutor has tamed the CIA into complete immobility.
- The CIA Isn't Defenseless. Back in the 1970s when the left last had a go at the CIA there wasn't anyone to defend it. Former President Nixon had left office in disgrace, and President Ford wasn't going to spend political capital on the Nixon era. But clearly Dick Cheney ain't gonna go quietly into the good night. In fact he is doing a bang-up job of sucking up all the oxygen in the room. He was on TV last Sunday. And on Saturday the Washington Post quietly admitted that the CIA was right to go for enhanced interrogation, to the fury of lefties like Glenn Greenwald. Let's face it. Dick Cheney is loaded for bear, and he can make things very difficult for the Obama administration.