Revolt of the Professionals

REVOLT OF THE PROFESSIONALS….David Ignatius writes today about the “Revolt of the Professionals,” career military and intelligence officers who are happy to see the jury-rigged emergency structure put in place after 9/11 slowly being replaced by serious debate about the best way to fight a long-term war against terrorism:

I met this week with a senior intelligence official who has spent much of his career pursuing terrorist targets. I asked him what he thought, watching the emergency structure come down around him. “We all knew it would,” he said. The interim structure was inherently unsustainable….As we learned after Sept. 11, a frightened nation loses its sense of balance. Now that the nation feels more secure, we insist anew on the rule of law.

Over at American Footprints, Nadezhda has a good comment on Ignatius’s column:

Many of the actions taken in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 may have made some sense at the time, but they were not well-thought through as long-term policy shifts. Since 9/11, however, the dominating fear of another attack has kept the White House focused on not losing the next skirmish rather than promoting the nation’s long-term interests.

….The pros have been trying to push the system back toward a more sensible, balanced and, in the long-run, more sustainable approach to strategy, operations and practices. The recent revolts by a number of Senators and Congressmen who are long known as strong advocates of the military and intelligence communities have been a clear signal that the pros have failed to get their message through to the White House, so they’ve decided that Congress must at least hear the full story.

If this is really a multi-decade project, we need laws and policies in place that we’re comfortable sustaining for decades. And those laws and policies need to be debated openly and approved by Congress and the courts. We should learn from the mistakes of the past, not repeat them.