Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Conservative Response

My friend Jeff, an intellectual conservative from Texas whom I had the pleasure of being on the high school debate team with, finally posted a comment to a blog I'd secretly written with him in mind. The post, as you may recall, was one of several I wrote which detailed claims that the CIA possibly lied to Congress at the direction of Dick Cheney. The blog is over a month old now, but the philosophical differences laid out between my original post and his thoughtful response are eternally relevant.

Since few people would ever see his comment deep in my archives, I've decided to go ahead and give it a more public airing with its own post. I'll eventually post a direct response to his comment, but I find the differences between our views to be a question of degrees---important degrees, but not as vast a gulf as one might presume. The post he commented on here, but that post was preceded by this and this, and had followups here and here and here. His full comment is below:

"Perhaps your morale narrative is entertaining, but it's not a convincing argument.

The problem with the witch hunt against the CIA is that it will likely cause individuals within the CIA to become more risk averse and, a result, refrain from taking actions necessary to save American lives and to protect this country.

We live in a dangerous world. In the midst of this mess, CIA agents and officers have to make difficult decisions everyday. These individuals should be given some leeway to make those decisions without some goody two-shoes coming in after the fact and second-guessing their decisions and threatening punishment or sanctions. You demand accountability. I agree we want some degree of accountability. I just don't think these issues are so black-and-white. There are many shades of grey, and particularly in that grey area, the CIA needs freedom to operate.

It's a balancing act. The political parties differ on where that balance should be struck. More likely, a lot of this is just plain politics--Democrats seeking to investigate a Republican administration.

Further evidence that everything isn't so black and white:
www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-08-18/spy-agency-fiasco/full/ "


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