CIA Trials Would Be a Dangerous Mistake

Is this deja vu all over again? Already?

An unpopular war. A president hunkered down and hounded from office. Senators and Congressman calling for investigations into CIA "abuses." Intelligence community secrets exposed, sources and methods revealed. American spy networks around the world dry up. American security compromised. Make no mistake, if the Pelosi-Reid gang get their way, we're headed in this direction again.

As a junior National Security Council staffer in 1975-76, I watched as some of the government's most to sensitive files were turned over to Congressional Committees and released to the public with much fanfare. What the public didn't know were the consequences of the CIA witch hunt: foreign intelligence services suddenly stopped sharing information with us, foreigners who spied for us were assassinated when their names were made public, U.S. intelligence personnel suddenly became risk averse bureaucrats instead of cunning intelligence gatherers.

The result? America's intelligence services, which had always relied on both high tech and human intelligence to figure out what our adversaries were doing, were eviscerated. The consequence? We never saw the growth of the Islamic jihad movement and, even worse, we didn't see Al Qaeda coming.

Satellites are great at seeing nuclear enrichment plants or tanks or inter-continental ballistic missiles. They're lousy at seeing guys in caves in Afghanistan plotting to blow up the World Trade Center and sending messages by courier on donkeys.

If we do to the intelligence community today what we did to it thirty years ago we risk compromising human intelligence gathering once again, and being blind, once again, to the next terrorist attack. We're never going to see a dirty bomb in a locker in lower Manhattan from satellites. We're only going to know about if we've got the spies on the ground to uncover the plot beforehand.

Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan Administrations. She is a Senior Advisor to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and the author of DEFCON-3 by KT, a FOX video blog.