The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
A Despicable Act (continued)
In any case, the guillotines are being erected even as we speak. They seem to have forgotten what their own hard-left spokespersons were saying back in 2001.
I got really angry about this the other day, and my feelings about the depravity of Obama's actions have not subsided.
Here is the rub: if Obama's goal here is really only about getting to "the truth", then why hasn't Obama also authorized the release of the intelligence that was gathered as a result of the "enhanced" interrogations? Hmmm??
And then--insult to injury--to see Hillary Clinton up there calling out Cheney today was enough to activate my acid reflux. Good grief.
Andy McCarthy has it about right:
If the Secretary of State really doesn't think Vice President Cheney is a reliable source, she is smart enough to know the obvious thing to do: declassify and disclose the intelligence reports he's talking about so all the world can see exactly how unreliable he is. Here's her big chance to put her money where her mouth is and truly embarrass the guy she so effortlessly trashed in a public hearing today.
Gee, I wonder why she doesn't seem to want to do that? She sure talks a good game. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that every knowledgeable intelligence chief to weigh in on the subject (including Obama's own intelligence chief) says exactly what Vice President Cheney said: namely, that the interrogation program yielded valuable information that saved American lives. Why would anyone suppose that the CIA's reports reflect what the intelligence chiefs have been saying and what the Vice President who read them remembers reading? What a crazy, unreliable notion. Let's get the truth out — after all, as Secretary Clinton assured us, President Obama is determined to get to the bottom of this.
An even stronger take--without the obvious anger that was in my own post on the subject--comes from the Editors of Wall Street Journal (excerpted below):
Mark down the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is the moment that any chance of a new era of bipartisan respect in Washington ended. By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their antiterror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret. ....
.... Policy disputes, often bitter, are the stuff of democratic politics. Elections settle those battles, at least for a time, and Mr. Obama's victory in November has given him the right to change policies on interrogations, Guantanamo, or anything on which he can muster enough support. But at least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.
If this analogy seems excessive, consider how Mr. Obama has framed the issue. He has absolved CIA operatives of any legal jeopardy, no doubt because his intelligence advisers told him how damaging that would be to CIA morale when Mr. Obama needs the agency to protect the country. But he has pointedly invited investigations against Republican legal advisers who offered their best advice at the request of CIA officials. ........ So the CIA requests a legal review at a moment of heightened danger, the Justice Department obliges with an exceedingly detailed analysis of the law and interrogation practices -- and, seven years later, Mr. Obama says only the legal advisers who are no longer in government should be investigated. The political convenience of this distinction for Mr. Obama betrays its basic injustice. And by the way, everyone agrees that senior officials, including President Bush, approved these interrogations. Is this President going to put his predecessor in the dock too?
The Editors' conclusion is inarguable:
Those officials won't be the only ones who suffer if all of this goes forward. Congress will face questions about what the Members knew and when, especially Nancy Pelosi when she was on the House Intelligence Committee in 2002. The Speaker now says she remembers hearing about waterboarding, though not that it would actually be used. Does anyone believe that? Porter Goss, her GOP counterpart at the time, says he knew exactly what he was hearing and that, if anything, Ms. Pelosi worried the CIA wasn't doing enough to stop another attack. By all means, put her under oath.
Mr. Obama may think he can soar above all of this, but he'll soon learn otherwise. The Beltway's political energy will focus more on the spectacle of revenge, and less on his agenda. The CIA will have its reputation smeared, and its agents second-guessing themselves. And if there is another terror attack against Americans, Mr. Obama will have set himself up for the argument that his campaign against the Bush policies is partly to blame.
Above all, the exercise will only embitter Republicans, including the moderates and national-security hawks Mr. Obama may need in the next four years. As patriotic officials who acted in good faith are indicted, smeared, impeached from judgeships or stripped of their academic tenure, the partisan anger and backlash will grow. ....
Mr. Obama is more popular than his policies, due in part to his personal charm and his seeming goodwill. By indulging his party's desire to criminalize policy advice, he has unleashed furies that will haunt his Presidency.
Another excellent read: don't miss David Ignatius' take on the impact that Obama's betrayal will have on our intelligence agencies in todays Washington Post:
At the Central Intelligence Agency, it's known as "slow rolling." That's what agency officers sometimes do on politically sensitive assignments. They go through the motions; they pass cables back and forth; they take other jobs out of the danger zone; they cover their backsides.And open the country to more attacks... (read the whole thing).
Sad to say, it's slow roll time at Langley after the release of interrogation memos that, in the words of one veteran officer, "hit the agency like a car bomb in the driveway." President Obama promised CIA officers that they won't be prosecuted for carrying out lawful orders, but the people on the firing line don't believe him. They think the memos have opened a new season of investigation and retribution.
The lesson for younger officers is obvious: Keep your head down. Duck the assignments that carry political risk. Stay away from a counterterrorism program that has become a career hazard.
Even the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby--himself no fan of torture--thinks the Democrats are barking up the wrong tree:
Rereading those columns amid the tumult over the Justice Department "torture memos" released last week, I see little that I would change. I am still convinced, as I wrote in 2005, that interrogation techniques amounting to torture "cross the line that separates us from the enemy we are trying to defeat."
Yet the Bush-era memos strike me as much more thoughtful than most of the moral preening and tendentious grandstanding they set off. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, apoplectically declares that the memos not only authorized torture "without a shadow of a doubt," they "gave explicit instruction on how to carry it out." The New York Times pronounces them "a journey into depravity." A petition at Democrats.com urges the appointment of a special prosecutor for "torture . . . and other heinous crimes of the Bush Administration."
What's missing from all this sanctimony and censure is any acknowledgment of the circumstances under which the CIA interrogations took place, let alone the successes with which they have been credited. That may be a good way to score easy political points. It doesn't add much to the public discourse.
Context matters. Actions that are indisputably beyond the pale under normal conditions - waterboarding a prisoner, for example - can take on a very different aspect when conditions are abnormal, as they surely were in the terrifying wake of 9/11.
"We did not have a clear understanding of the enemy we were dealing with," recalled Dennis Blair, the Obama administration's director of national intelligence, in his statement accompanying the declassified memos last week. "Our every effort was focused on preventing further attacks that would kill more Americans." Knowing little about Al Qaeda's capabilities, desperately seeking to head off another slaughter, fearing the worst, the government's highest priority was to extract critical intelligence from Al Qaeda detainees.
That was the state of affairs when the CIA sought legal approval to use harsher interrogation methods. "Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing," Blair's statement said. But there was nothing sunny or safe about the post-9/11 emergency in which they were used. Any honest discussion of the memos authorizing them ought to say so.
Particularly when those memos indicate that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" saved lives. According to Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven Bradbury's memo dated May 30, 2005, "intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why Al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West" since 9/11. Senior terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at first "resisted giving any answers" when asked about future attacks, but waterboarding led him to divulge "specific, actionable intelligence." One result was the foiling of Al Qaeda's planned "Second Wave" - a 9/11-like plot to crash a hijacked airliner into a Los Angeles skyscraper.
But what if it hadn't been foiled? Suppose the CIA had been denied permission to use brutal interrogation tactics, and Al Qaeda had consequently gone on to murder thousands of additional victims in California. What kind of conversation would we be having once it became known that the refusal to subject KSM to waterboarding had come at so steep a price? How many of those now blasting the Bush administration for allowing torture would be blasting it instead for not preventing a second bloodbath?
Either way, whether the explosion comes from our enemies outside or from of a seismic shift within our own Republic, there will only be Obama and the bloodlust of the Democrats to blame.
And at that point, the consequences won't be pretty.