In the middle of war, a key government goal should be to keep morale among the troops fighting that conflict high. It’s hard to see how the Senate Democrats’ one-sided report on CIA harsh interrogations achieves that objective.
There’s also the issue, advanced by Secretary of State John Kerry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and others, that the inflammatory details of the report might provoke our enemies to redouble efforts to attack U.S. facilities overseas and target Americans.
Then there’s the question of how it may discourage allies from cooperating with the CIA in the sometimes morally complex netherworld of spying and fighting an unconventional war against Islamist terrorism.
Why now? That’s a key question about the decision of Chairman Dianne Feinstein of the Senate Intelligence Committee to release the $40 million document about interrogation techniques that haven’t been used in at least seven years, and in some cases a decade. There’s no perfect time for something as critical as this, say President Barack Obama and other supporters of Feinstein.
That dodges the question. There are better times. For example, a better time would be when the tide of war is receding and al-Qaida is on the run, as Obama and Democrats told the country during the 2012 presidential campaign.
The report apparently was ready then. CIA Director John Brennan testified in his confirmation hearing in February of 2013 — shortly after a magazine article quoted Obama as likening ISIS to a Jayvee squad — that he had read an unreleased summary of the committee’s report.
Now ISIS and al-Qaida wreak havoc, wage war in the Middle East.
The only answer to the question of why now is a political one.