Monday, April 27, 2009

what the supposed "tell-all-ers" aren't telling us


As should probably come to no surprise, Sojo has voiced it's opinions of the latest "Blame all the world's problems on the Bush administration" antics by the current administration. In this case, it's about the ways used to get information from captured terrorists.

Torture Memos: ‘What Is Done in the Dark’

Some things they aren't telling us, though, are...

First, that many of their own lib leaders were in the know on what was going on, and were not only not unhappy about it, but even encouraged it.

Fair-Weather Hawks

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then on the House Intelligence Committee, and others knew of the tough methods as long ago as 2002. A December 2007 Washington Post story revealed that in September of that year, Pelosi attended an hour-long meeting in which she "was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk."

In fact, top Democrats like Pelosi and Rockefeller sat in on about 30 such bipartisan private briefings. One of those in attendance, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman and former CIA Director Porter Goss, remembered: "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing." According to the onetime Florida GOP congressman, "the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."

Statements from Pelosi and other Democrats suggest maybe they were dozing off when the briefers described waterboarding. Such excuses, if the expression can be excused, hold little water.

The fact is clear: Top Democrats in Congress chose not to object to getting tough with terrorist prisoners because the poll ratings told them it was politically dangerous not to be an anti-terrorist hawk in 2002 and 2003.

Second, that such tactics may have succeeded at getting important information.

Extraordinary redaction

President Obama's national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.

"High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa'ida organization that was attacking this country," Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.

Admiral Blair sent his memo on the same day the administration publicly released secret Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of interrogation methods that the Obama White House has deemed to be illegal torture. Among other things, the Bush administration memos revealed that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to a form of near-drowning known as waterboarding a total of 266 times.

For my part, I'm willing to agree that there may be a need for more consideration in regards to what is acceptable and what not in regards to ways of getting information from these terrorists. I suppose all of us would agree there are lines that should not be crossed. The problems come when we try to consider what would be acceptable.

For example, there are people out there who would likely consider a parent spanking a child a form of torture. Making those kinds happy would likely only involve making sure the terrorists have cozy cells and satellite TV access. These would be justly laughed out of the discussion.

Equally bad would be the "anything goes" types. A "whatever works" mindset may lead to some ugly abuses.

But my own thought is that politics is going to play too big a part in the discussion. It's going to be about painting the last administration in a bad light, and not about really fixing anything.

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