is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Reach him at
Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York Post, National Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.
We must not allow our reputation to be undermined by hypocrites
By BEN BOYCHUK
Manhattan Institute’s City Journal
Remember what America looked and felt like after 9/11. Nobody knew if or when another attack would come.
For a fleeting moment, the vast majority of Americans united in the cause of crushing our enemies. We wanted Osama bin Laden’s head on a pike. Above all, we wanted to go back to living our lives as we had before that day — by any means necessary.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report comes at a moment when America is a deeply divided country. Democrats, led by departing committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, have used the report to cudgel the CIA and the George W. Bush administration. Senate Republicans wanted no part of it.
Feinstein, for her part, knew what the CIA was up to. In 2002, she said the 9/11 attacks meant the United States would “have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.” Only after the gory details made the front page of The New York Times did Feinstein seem to find a conscience.
Defenders of “enhanced interrogation” insist the program yielded “actionable intelligence.” Osama bin Laden is dead. Plenty of terrorists are dead, too. Were they the right terrorists? Who knows? There seems to be no shortage of fanatics running riot in the Middle East and South Asia. And the countries we believed had been liberated are neither free nor peaceful nor especially friendly to us. President Barack Obama last year redefined the war on terror as “a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists who threaten America.” Whatever you want to call it, the war is continuing with no end in sight.
And how could there be an end when Congress and President Obama (or his predecessor, for that matter) have never defined what victory would look like?
Was it worth it? Not if the United States remains in a perpetual state of “persistent, targeted efforts.”
For all of that, however, Americans remain an exceptional, conscientious and freedom loving people. We deserve better than the fools and hypocrites who presume to govern us.
Reach Ben Boychuk at op-ed was distributed by Tribune News Service.