Nothing in American politics is quite so intriguing as the Central Intelligence Agency. There is a certain mystique surrounding this agency, almost wholly because it has proven to be quite good at keeping secrets. Thus, whenever the actions of the CIA are widely reported in the media, the story typically becomes a fixation for many news outlets - and any former agent who is able to shed light on these actions are usually well-received. But even here, the media has limits. Take Michael Scheuer, for example. He began as an outspoken critic of President Clinton’s leadership during the CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden. Later, Scheuer became a very vocal critic of the Iraq war, and of President Bush’s foreign policy also broadcast throughout the mainstream media. For a media that claim to love bipartisanship, one might think that Scheuer would be on the verge of permanent punditry. But while Scheuer is an equal-opportunity critic of missteps by Democratic and Republican administrations, the broadcast news media seem to draw the line at allowing him on air to find fault with President Obama. Scheuer wrote a column in Sunday’s Washington Post, daring to claim that the president’s actions in publishing the so-called CIA torture memos were morally reprehensible:
Americans should be clear on what Obama has done. In a breathtaking display of self-righteousness and intellectual arrogance, the president told Americans that his personal beliefs are more important than protecting their country, their homes and their families. The interrogation techniques in question, the president asserted, are a sign that Americans have lost their "moral compass," a compliment similar to Attorney General Eric Holder's identifying them as "moral cowards." Mulling Obama's claim, one can wonder what could be more moral for a president than doing all that is needed to defend America and its citizens? Or, asked another way, is it moral for the president of the United States to abandon intelligence tools that have saved the lives and property of Americans and their allies in favor of his own ideological beliefs?
This article, which Scheuer discussed on this morning’s Fox and Friends, is not devoid of criticism of President Bush’s policies. Chris Matthews, ever the highly-informed Obama acolyte, ignored this fact to call Scheuer an “...ideologue, a hard-right neocon.” In fact, the column leads off with the idea that:
It will help them recognize this episode of political theater as another major step in the bipartisan dismantling of America's defenses based on the requirements of presidential ideology. George W. Bush's democracy-spreading philosophy yielded the invasion of Iraq and set the United States at war with much of the Muslim world. Bush's worldview thereby produced an enemy that quickly outpaced the limited but proven threat-containing capacities of the major U.S. counterterrorism programs -- rendition, interrogation and unmanned aerial vehicle attacks.
And lest there be any doubt, NewsBusters has noted several media incidents involving Scheuer. Where, then, is this vaunted ex-CIA official on the major media tour? The simple answer is, he isn’t. Despite knowing vast amounts of information about terrorism, al-Qaeda, enhanced interrogation techniques, the circumstances surrounding these interrogations, to whom they were applied, and the history of CIA interaction with al-Qaeda since the Clinton administration, Scheuer is nowhere to be found. For a CIA operative so easy to find, the media are having unsurprising difficulty locating him.