Investigation of past CIA activities proves counterproductive

September 9, 2009 — by Mira Chaykin and Ben Clement

With bipartisan tensions at the forefront of political news, the Democrats, in quintessential political fashion, have decided to throw more fuel on the fire by initiating an investigation of CIA interrogation techniques under the Bush administration.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. began the review following a recommendation from the Justice Department’s ethics office. Holder, backed by the Obama administration, is blatantly undercutting bipartisan relationships by investigating CIA actions before a consensus of what entails illegality is attained.

Under Sen. Diane Feinstein, the Intelligence Committee recently neared the completion of a study of torture techniques with input from both parties. The Obama administration is choosing to continue the CIA investigation before an agreement is forged over what constitutes torture, encouraging suspicion of political motivation.

Obama’s policies have already faced a great deal of scrutiny from conservatives since he took office earlier this year and with health care and other controversial topics dominating the Democratic agenda, the Democrats cannot afford to lose any support they may have generated from within the Republican Party. This recent move by the Justice Department is politically counter-productive and will only create more bad blood between the parties.

Even if there was a consensus on what would be considered torture, the Obama administration would have to prosecute on a much wider scale rather than just punishing the men who actually did the dirty work. If the people who initiated these morally repugnant interrogations are to be disciplined, the government should also be obligated to prosecute every individual involved in the illegalities, which includes several powerful members of the Bush administration.

In a recent interview with Fox News, former vice president Dick Cheney staunchly defended the actions of CIA intelligence officers, maintaining that the exposed methods of interrogation are “legal and crucial” elements of the war on terror. This ideology undoubtedly contributed to the choices made by CIA interrogators because it implied that their actions were permissible by the government and that they would not be held accountable. These senior members of the Bush administration, though partially responsible, will not be punished unless the Obama administration is willing to irreparably damage its relationship with the GOP.

Despite the detrimental repercussions of the government’s actions, the administration is now under obligation to follow through with the prosecutions. Actions performed by the U.S. military and intelligence centers under the Bush administration have already harmed America’s global reputation. With anti-American sentiments already prominent on the world stage, the Obama administration would only worsen America’s image abroad by beginning a risky investigation and then deciding not to pursue it. The American people can only hope that the administration uses this misstep as a lesson to prioritize partisan relationships in the future.

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