Rep. John Boehner, a Republican of Ohio, is the House minority leader.
It is no accident that our nation has not been attacked since Sept. 11, 2001. Our intelligence professionals have done a marvelous job keeping us safe. Faced with threats never before seen in our history, they have provided our troops critical information they need to fight our enemies abroad and protect our citizens here at home. They deserve our gratitude because, as Central Intelligence Director Leon Panetta said of the agency's work in a letter to its employees last Friday, "our national security depends on it."
Indeed, good intelligence equals good national security, and we should be doing everything we can to support the work of our intelligence professionals. That is why I was so alarmed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's accusations last week that CIA officials lied to Congress about its terrorist interrogation program. When asked by a reporter last Thursday whether she was accusing the CIA of lying to her at the Sept. 4, 2002 briefing she participated in with then Rep. Porter Goss, a Florida Republican, she said "yes." She then dug the hole deeper by saying "they mislead us all the time."
Accusing our intelligence professionals of lying to Congress is a very serious charge. If true, the speaker should produce evidence supporting her claim and turn it over to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. If she is unwilling to do so, then she should retract her statement and apologize to the men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting our nation. It is as simple as that, and as of this writing, the ball remains squarely in the speaker's court.
At the same press conference last Thursday, the speaker echoed Republicans' long-standing call for the CIA to release detailed briefing notes that would provide a fuller picture of who was briefed about the techniques, when the briefings occurred, and what those who received the briefings did in response. If she is serious, the speaker should publicly call on the CIA director to release those briefing notes so the American people can judge for themselves.
Let's be clear: this entire controversy never should have happened. It all began with the Obama administration's decision to selectively release some of the memos describing enhanced interrogation techniques utilized in the wake of September 11—the same techniques the speaker now acknowledges she knew about. I disagreed with this decision for two reasons.
First, it gave our enemies insight into how we are collecting crucial intelligence from some of the highest-value terrorists in our custody. And secondly, selectively releasing the memos did not provide the American people with a complete picture of our interrogation program. While the administration released excerpts of memos depicting methods used for interrogation, it did not release parts of the memos detailing exactly what information was yielded by those methods.
In the weeks since this decision was made, I've joined the House Intelligence Committee's top Republican, Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, in calling on the administration to release this critical information—a request I made in person to the president on April 23 at the White House. The president said he would consider it, but to date he has not released the rest of the information. To be clear, Republicans do not support a politically charged, so-called Truth Commission that would be granted carte blanche to take a one-sided look backwards. But if Democrats insist on pursuing this course, Republicans will continue to insist that the full story is told. The American people deserve to make their judgments about this program based on the full set of facts.
This entire imbroglio—from the selective release of the interrogation memos to the speaker's charges to the administration's decision early this year to close the Guantanamo Bay prison without a plan for what to do with the terrorists housed there—is further evidence that Washington lacks a coherent, comprehensive strategy for confronting the terrorist threat. And rest assured, friends and foes around the world are taking note.
They are taking note that the woman who is third in line to the presidency is accusing career intelligence professionals of lying to the Congress of the United States. They are taking note that the administration has parceled out bits and pieces of intelligence information to appease its political allies on the Left. They are taking note that the decision has been made to transfer terrorists out of the Guantanamo prison without a clear plan for where they ultimately will be housed. And most of all, they are taking note that Washington is consumed by finger-pointing and political maneuvering at a time when we should be working together on an overarching strategy to keep Americans safe.