The media, let’s face it, want Barack Obama to succeed. They’ll want him to succeed until the moment Americans start getting slaughtered again in American streets by terrorists. And then they’ll want him to succeed even more.
But we must be prepared to set the record straight.
I am deeply concerned that Leon Panetta, a man with no prior intelligence experience, is Obama’s pick for CIA. Obama was scared to make a legitimate pick because the anti-American left opposed John O. Brennan.
And it is crucial to understand this point. Whatever else the CIA may be, it’s not simple. And because the American people entrusted the presidency to someone who needs to learn on the job, we cannot afford for critical advisers to also be learning on the job.
General Michael Hayden and John O. Brennan are career guys. They are not partisans. I could not tell you if either one was a Republican or Democrat or even if they voted.
They are professionals. But because they are connected to the Bush administration and the War on Terror, Obama is throwing them out.
These are the men who have kept us safe and alive for eight years. It was not Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld forcing policy positions on the intelligence community. It was the intelligence community making recommendations that were embraced by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and ultimately the President.
Make no mistake. Leon Panetta is a good man. But the CIA is not the OMB. Lives are at stake, not dollars. It is going to be very difficult for Leon Panetta to get up to speed on the way the CIA works. Leon Panetta is a political guy, not an intelligence guy.
That Obama is sweeping out career intelligence officers is a clear sign he intends to clear out the policies these intelligence officers advocated and implemented — the very same policies that kept us safe for eight years.
But there is an additional, very serious issue at stake here.
The low level guys, the Jack Bauers if you will, are seeing all of this. They see a President right now who made tough decisions in secret and stood by those decisions when they became public, even though those decisions were hugely unpopular. The low level guys intrinsically knew they could kill bad men in undisclosed locations and be supported if the lights came on.
These same men see the incoming President unwilling to stand behind one of their own — a career CIA officer in John O. Brennan. It is an unspoken message to all of them that should they take the bold action needed to keep freedom secure, they may not be backed up by President Obama should the actions come to light.
They will therefore return to their state of being prior to 9/11. And darkness will again start creeping from the shadows.
Barack Obama is playing a dangerous game; a game that will probably see many of us killed. And we should not be shy about saying so.