We should not make too much of this. The "Fifth Column," whoever they were, did not give us enough information to finish off the political career of Bill Clinton, or even to achieve justice for the Waco and Oklahoma City innocents. And every agency has its factions, divisions and bifurcations. But Obama has struck at the twin engines of the CIA's institutional life force -- operational secrecy and agent anonymity. They will not forgive him easily for it, and Obama's own narcissistic egomania will likely get in the way of any true mea culpa. And the corrupt Leon Panetta, of all people, is hardly competent enough to unfornicate this. -- Mike Vanderboegh, 5 May 2009, The CIA's Fight With Obama: An Inside Baseball Story Told in a Riverfront Stadium About To Be Wrecked By the Godzilla of Events.
So I wrote more than two years ago. Panetta proved to be a much better hand at achieving a modus vivendi with the institutional forces at CIA than I thought at the time, and he has become their greatest advocate within the Obama administration. All of which was viewed with surprise and chagrin by the more doctrinaire left-collectivists in the administration such as Eric Holder. "Holder," according to one of my retired intelligence "old hand" sources speaking a few months ago when this subject came up, "thought Panetta had been kidnapped and held in thrall by trolls. He couldn't believe it. Leon was sent over there to get the CIA 'under control' and ended up taking their side. Holder thought it was the 'Stockholm Syndrome' at work."
When I made the observation highlighted at the top, I was reacting to this column by Jack Kelly, "The CIA's Fight With Obama."
Has Barack Obama made an enemy who can sabotage his presidency?
The presidency of George W. Bush began to unravel when some in high positions at the Central Intelligence Agency began waging a covert campaign against him. . .
Why would some at the CIA want to sabotage President Bush? One motive might have been to deflect blame for intelligence failures. The CIA confidently had predicted Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. But none were found. The tactical intelligence the CIA provided to the U.S. military forces invading Iraq proved nearly worthless. And the CIA was caught flat-footed by the insurgency that developed several months after Saddam's fall.
There may have been a simpler motive. The novelist Charles McCarry was a deep cover CIA operative for ten years. "I never met a stupid person in the agency," he said in a 2004 interview. "Or an assassin. Or a Republican."
The CIA's war against President Bush was motivated by ass covering, or by political partisanship. But with President Obama, it's personal.
Eight days later, as I observed here commenting on this story, the Democrats in Senate were claiming the "CIA is out to get us."
Democrats charged Tuesday that the CIA has released documents about congressional briefings on harsh interrogation techniques in order to deflect attention and blame away from itself.
So Panetta worked out his modus vivendi with the Agency, and eventually the CIA provided the coup that Obama could claim as his own, the killing of Bin Laden. Holder, for his part, continued his war on the CIA bureaucracy, albeit at a lesser decibel level. But now, under extreme threat from the Gunwalker Scandal, Holder has been forced to declare a truce.
Holder curbs his CIA investigation
U.S. Army General David Petraeus was confirmed by the Senate as the new CIA director, and Attorney General Eric Holder sent him a Washington-style concession.
The concession was found in Holder’s statement, which indirectly said his lawyers were ending their investigation of CIA officials involved in 101 interrogations of suspected jihadis.
Holder’s statement provides “clear indication that CIA interrogators who adhered to the [administration’s] enhanced interrogation policy were innocent of any wrongdoing,” said Fran Townsend, President George W. Bush’s senior counter-terrorism adviser. Townsend is now a lawyer in private practice in New York. . .
The recommendation cited by Holder that urged further investigation came from Assistant United States Attorney John Durham of the District of Connecticut. “Mr. Durham has advised me of the results of his investigation, and I have accepted his recommendation to conduct a full criminal investigation regarding the death in custody of two individuals,” said Holder’s statement.
The next sentence revealed that Holder was ending his controversial investigations of CIA interrogators begun in 2009. “The Department has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted,” said the statement.
“He buried the lede,” because Holder’s decision to end 101 interrogation-related investigations is far more important than his decision to continue two death-related inquiries, said Debra Burlingame, an activist who has campaigned against Holder’s investigation of the CIA interrogators. . .
Holder’s 2009 decision to investigate the CIA officials prompted sharp objections from many national-security experts. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney, for example, called the investigation an “outrage.” The investigation, critics said, would deter current investigation of seized jihadis, some of whom would know of planned attacks on soldiers and civilians. . .
The news was applauded at the CIA. “I welcome he news that the broader inquires are behind us,” outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta told the New York Times. “We are now finally about to close this chapter of our agency’s history.”
Panetta also pushed back against Holder’s decision to continue investigating the last two death-realted cases. “No decision has been made to bring criminal charges [and] both cases were previously reviewed by career federal prosecutors who subsequently declined prosecution,” he wrote in his June 30 letter to CIA employees.
But “the real reason they’re dropping [the 101 interrogation investigations is that President Barack] Obama practically wherever he goes, either stumping or commenting, gets his line in there ‘I killed bin Laden,’” said Burlingame. Obama “would look pretty small boasting about that while the criminal investigation of the [CIA] guys who made it possible as is still underway,” especially if the media asked Petraeus for a comment, said Burlingame, who pilot-brother was murdered on 9/11 by the jihadis.
Holder’s admission that “investigation… is not warranted” is a blow to left-wing and progressive legal groups, such as the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). The groups have argued for several years that officials working for President George W. Bush should be prosecuted for violating international laws barring interrogations deemed tough enough to be torture. “They wanted President Bush and Dick Cheney to go to jail, they wanted criminal prosecutions against the CIA… and now this going out with a whimper,” said Burlingame. The continued investigation into the two deaths, she said, “is a face-saving sop to the left.”
Burlingame is right, but this is not mostly about appearances of hypocrisy.
As one of my sources said when I asked why Holder was dropping his war on the CIA now, "Because he was ordered to by Obama. From what I hear, Holder was about as willing to do this as a rape victim." But, he added, "Holder's on the way out and everybody knows it. Your little scandal (Gunwalker) will take him down and Obama isn't interested in anything else at the moment but avoiding public responsibility for it and getting re-elected. . . There are people at CIA who know everything there is to know about (Gunwalker) and who the guilty operators are in the administration. Wouldn't you want to make those people happy if you were in his shoes?"