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O'Reilly and Burton: FBI, CIA and Other Agents are Fleeing the Business, Lost Without Torture

Reported by Ellen - May 1, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

Another night of The O'Reilly Factor, another night of a whole lot of “I think” and “maybe” and “I'm sure,” and a whole lot of nothing in terms of facts and substantiation. On Thursday's Factor (4/30/09), O'Reilly hosted Fred Burton, VP counter-terrorism and corporate security, and Reva Bhalla, Director of Analysis, from Stratfor.com to comment on the “Barack Obama proclamations.” With video.

While Bhalla didn't really seem to have a dog in this fight, O'Reilly and Burton got right down to business.

“Are you convinced,” asked O'Reilly, “that Barack Obama's policies are downgrading our terrorism . . . you know, our counter-terrorism efforts.”

Burton didn't need to be invited twice: “It's going to have a chilling effect upon the actual counter-terrorism agents' work in the field.” Who? Name three. Name one. Give us something here.

He continued, “The kind of signal that's being sent through the counter-terrorism ranks down in the weeds, these are the agents that are actually doing the interviews . . . that's where the problem rests because it's going to be a lot easier for your career to choose a simpler path . . . .” Damn, boys, what are we gonna do now? We can't torture any more? Let's go find us some good drug crimes.

“Why would you want to put your career in jeopardy by trying to work on the counter-terrorism mission if you don't have your headquarters backing you . . . .” I'm still waiting, Burton, for you to produce one of these agents who feel his or her career is “in jeopardy” if they can't torture any more.

O'Reilly interrupted, “Are you talking specifically about the FBI now?”

“I'm talking about the CIA case officers, your FBI special agents, your State Department special agents that are out in the field . . . .” All of those people, all of those officers from all of those different agencies, and suddenly they can't do their jobs because the Bush Administration's torture regime has now become public and President Obama has called a halt to torture. And you can't name one of them?

O'Reilly jumped in eagerly, “You're telling me, based upon your investigation, that field operatives for the United States are nervous about the Barack Obama proclamations – releasing the memos, stopping the enhanced interrogation – they're nervous about this.” Who the hell is “they?” Bring 'em out.

Burton stated, “I'm saying they're more than nervous . . . that they're really looking at this in the context of, maybe it's time to get out of the business . . . Look, nobody wants to be prosecuted for trying to do a good job and going after a terrorist suspect.” Wait, what? Prosecuted for doing a good job? Let's not confuse this Administration with the last – back then, people got kudos for doing a good job of torturing, but, Burton, there's a new sheriff in town.

“Do you think Leon Panetta knows that?” O'Reilly asked, “The new CIA chief?”

“I'm sure he probably does,” Burton said, to which O'Reilly interrupted, “But he would never say it – nobody's gonna ever say it.” Bring him on! Let him say it! Quote him, show a video clip, a sound bite, give me something.

Burton continued, “The point is . . . we have a duty in the counter-terrorism arena but you also operate under some guidance and some framework and one of the basic tenets is that your boss has your back.”

Ramming it home, Burton said, “This is going to have a tremendous effect on our counter-terrorism mission.”

Don't tell me, they're gonna end this segment – the music's coming up now – without hearing from the hordes of disenfranchised operatives.

“Grim,” said O'Reilly.

Damn straight.