Public Is Better Off With CIA Tapes Destroyed

Commentator Tony Blankley argues that the destruction of the CIA tapes was a good thing, because if those tapes were released and seen on YouTube or Al-Jazeera, the fallout would have been worse than that following Abu Ghraib.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

The House Intelligence Committee wants to question the man who ordered the destruction of videotapes that recorded the questioning of two terror suspects. They have sent a letter to the CIA, requesting that Jose Rodriguez come to Capitol Hill next week. This is one of multiple investigations of the destruction of the tapes. But not everyone is upset about it.

Commentator Tony Blankley argues that the action saved the U.S. from worst reaction than the one after Abu Ghraib.

TONY BLANKLEY: The political fight over the CIA's decision to destroy its waterboarding video is shaping up as yet another example of Washington getting so lost in politics and legalisms that the national interest gets overlooked almost entirely.

As soon as I heard about the destruction of that video, my first thought was, well, finally the CIA has done something right. All I could imagine was that video being leaked to al-Jazeera and from there YouTube and into the eyes and minds of hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world.

Seeing in video action the actual waterboarding would inflame more passion in the Islamic world than the still photographs of Abu Ghraib prison. Ask former senator, George "Macaca" Allen, how much greater the impact is when the embarrassing words and actions stream in living color and full action into the minds of the world via YouTube and similar sites.

It would have constituted a catastrophic propaganda defeat for us that would make it yet harder to begin the long process of winning the hearts and minds of currently non-violent Muslims.

And, I suppose it needs to be repeated, the threat of radical Islamic terror attacks will be with us even after George W. Bush has retired. The danger is real, not withstanding all the partisan passions which currently discount that danger. And the necessary early step in a very long path back to safety requires that we begin to convince the Muslim world we are not their enemy.

How would the release of such an inflammatory video help in that vital effort? How can anyone believe that it is in our national security interest to let such a video be seen by the world, and does anyone seriously think that if a thing existed it would not have been leaked by some CIA employee, whether well intentioned or malicious?

What has happened to common sense? The lawyers in the hearings will, I suppose, sought out whether the CIA was permitted to destroy that incubus of disaster. But whoever did it, he's owed a debt of gratitude. He or she applied common sense for our common defense. And, rather than jerking in for yet another round over short-term Washington political advantage, it is time, and well past time, for everyone in Washington to start doing what that CIA employee did. Think and act for the country. Forget the battle for your power in Washington and start fighting the battle for our survival in the world.

SIEGEL: Tony Blankley is an executive vice president with Edelman Public Relations and a syndicated columnist for "The Washington Times."

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