Romney must capitalize
Last night, Lesley Stahl unveiled President Obama's worst nightmare. When CBS News veteran interviewed Jose Rodriguez, former chief of the CIA's Clandestine Service, a cache of knowledge was delivered. If Mitt Romney studies the interview about "enhanced interrogations," Romney can arm himself with enough wit to defeat President Obama on the subject. In fact, Romney can likely crush President Obama's entire foreign policy strategy based off this interview alone.
Mr. Rodriguez was critical about President Obama's destruction of the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. He feared the current administration would actually dismantle the CIA's Clandestine Service calling it "the Abu Ghraib effect." He had every right to fear the destruction of the Clandestine Service considering the Carter administration virtually destroyed America's Human Intelligence (HUMINT) capabilities.
The stark and alarming truths about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program were revealed by Mr. Rodriguez. Every technique was specifically outlined step-by-step and approved by the Department of Justice each and every time they were conducted on a terrorist. The program itself was only utilized to gain time sensitive intelligence and provide a "roadmap to capture key Al Qaeda leaders."
The controversial program was not about hurting anyone, but rather to "instill a sense of hopelessness." In fact, when Palestinian terrorist Abu Zubaydah was captured, he was on the brink of dying due to sustained gunshot wounds. The CIA brought in one of America's most highly trained surgeons from Johns Hopkins to save his life. That is what the CIA's enhanced interrogation program was about -- saving lives.
But saving lives is not exactly what the current administration believes in. The United States appears to no longer value taking prisoners . Under President Obama's command, the United States increased its drone strikes killing terrorists that include American citizens such as Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. He killed these American's without any due process.
To this day, the CIA's enhanced interrogation program remains a topic of debate. As Mr. Rodriguez asked, "how can it be more ethical to kill people rather than to capture them?" It's incredibly difficult collecting intelligence on the deceased. This is an intelligence dominant war and the capture of high valued targets is paramount. "Take no prisoners" is not the correct doctrine for success.
Many professionals believe we are no safer today then we were a few years ago. Some intelligence and counter-terrorism officials have actually separated from the federal government due to President Obama's constant threat of investigating and criminally charging those who serve on the front lines. As Mr. Rodriguez pointed out, President Obama has "broken the covenant that exists between the intelligence officers on the pointy end of the spear and the government that authorized and directed them to go there."
War is hell. Sometimes unique measures are needed to defeat the enemy. When it comes to enhanced interrogations, Mr. Rodriguez said it best. "We did the right thing for the right reasons and those right reasons were to protect the homeland and protect the American people."
Governor Romney needs to study this interview. Internally, our intelligence agencies have been crippled by years of torment and ridicule under the current administration. An opportunity has been opened and if Governor Romney capitalizes on that opportunity, he can easily defeat President Obama in a national security debate.
Kerry Patton, a combat service disabled veteran, is a senior analyst for WIKISTRAT and author of Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies and the children's book American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook or at www.kerry-patton.com.