Friday, April 24, 2009

Obama's Missteps, Our Future Reward... Unfortunately (Lives Lost Most Probably)

The Obama administration is backtracking on its statement that some may be open to legal prosecution for their involvement in the "torturing" three members of Al Qaeda. The problem of the Democrats is moral equivalency. While they say Republican see thing in black-and-white, and they see things in shades of grey (with thanks to Dennis Prager), they in fact see all torture techniques -- putting a guy in a small cell with bugs -- as morally wrong. They do not see gradations of "torture" like they do not see gradations between cultures and social-issues (moral equivalency of marriage, for instance).

See for instance Democrats calling our military Nazi's and Terrorists:

I can here recommend a book by Michelle Malkin entitled, "Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild"; and another book by an ex-dem entitled, "Leaving the Left: Moments in the News That Made Me Ashamed to Be a Liberal."

One reason Obama is backtracking is that his own leadership may be in jeapordy as well. Even though Nancy Pelosi may have been "dozing off when the briefers described waterboarding. Such excuses, if the expression can be excused, hold little water" (more from this article at end of blog). For instance:

Glenn Thrush's Blog:
Nancy Pelosi denies knowing U.S. officials used waterboarding — but GOP operatives are pointing to a 2007 Washington Post story which describes an hour-long 2002 briefing in which Pelosi was told about enhanced interrogation techniques in graphic detail.
Two unnamed officials told the paper that Pelosi, then a member of the Democratic minority, didn't raise substantial objections.
Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen wrote:
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), 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.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

So it seems that Democratic leadership knew well what was going on... I wonder how that sits with Code Pink. One section from the memos mention the wall that these few (handful) of terrorists were pushed up against (roughed up), let's read from it:

The memos also give the lie to a leaked 2007 report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), based exclusively on the say-so of KSM and other "high-value" detainees, that "an improvised thick collar . . . was placed around their necks and used by their interrogators to slam them against the walls."
As the Bybee memo notes, the "wall" was a "flexible false wall . . . constructed to create a loud sound"; that "it is the individual's shoulder blades that hit the wall"; and that the purpose of the collar was "to help prevent whiplash." If this is torture, the word has lost all meaning.
I am a 3-time convicted felon, and during my interrogation I wish I had a WWF wrestling floor that moved and made loud noise and a color to prevent whiplash. The summation of this line of thought at a great (must read) article from the Wall Street Journal is this:
All of this might appease the President's base, but he can't expect to satisfy them without also weakening American intelligence capabilities. The risk-averse CIA that so grievously failed in the run-up to 9/11 was a product of a spy culture that still remembered the Church Committee of the 1970s and the Iran-Contra recriminations of the 1980s. Mr. Obama needs to stop this score-settling now, and he can start by promptly releasing the documents that reveal what the CIA learned from its interrogations.
These lawyers, CIA investigators, covert military personnel, and the like have changed immediately after they were effectively told that they can be charged (if not by our government, at least civilly) for trying to gain information in the process of saving American (and others) lives -- they have cut back on what they are doing in order to gain this life saving information. Obama has immediately made this country more apt for attack by a single sentence. An editorial makes this point... focus in on the last paragraph:
Unfortunately, on April 21, Mr. Obama backtracked and opened the door to possible prosecution of Justice Department attorneys who provided legal advice with respect to the enhanced interrogations program. The president also signaled that he may support some kind of independent inquiry into the program. It seems that he has capitulated to left-wing groups and some in Congress who are demanding show trials over this program.
Members of Congress calling for an investigation of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation can't be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.
Any investigation must include this information as part of a review of those in Congress and the Bush administration who reviewed and supported this program. To get a complete picture of the enhanced interrogation program, a fair investigation will also require that the Obama administration release the memos requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney on the successes of this program.
An honest and thorough review of the enhanced interrogation program must also assess the likely damage done to U.S. national security by Mr. Obama's decision to release the memos over the objections of Mr. Panetta and four of his predecessors. Such a review should assess what this decision communicated to our enemies, and also whether it will discourage intelligence professionals from offering their frank opinions in sensitive counterterrorist cases for fear that they will be prosecuted by a future administration.
Perhaps we need an investigation not of the enhanced interrogation program, but of what the Obama administration may be doing to endanger the security our nation has enjoyed because of interrogations and other antiterrorism measures implemented since Sept. 12, 2001. (emphasis added)

Slate Magazine has a decent article on the situation as well, however, I want to focus in on why Obaman waffled back-and-forth on this issue. I will comment shortly and then post in its entirety the IBD Editorial, which is (as usual), top-notch. I think that Obama didn't think through this debacle far-enough to realize that if another attack happens, people will point to this period as a "Church Hearing" moment where the CIA "doesn't need to be handcuffed again or demoralized," again... by Democrats (referring also to the "wall" built by Democrats between the CIA and the rest of law inforcement). I will surely point to the Democrats threatning those involved in this immature release of classified documents if attacked. Now the IBD Editorial:

Fair-Weather Hawks By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, April 23, 2009

National Security: It was easy for key liberal Democrats to be tough on terrorist prisoners when 9/11 was fresh in the public's mind. Why is it so easy for them to condemn that stance today? Democrats who now itch to see Bush administration officials convicted for providing legal justification for waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques are chained at the ankle to those they want prosecuted.

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."

Then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller was there too, and top Republicans. According to the Post, "on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said."

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."

Another official present at the early briefings told the Post, "there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.'"

Only the moderate former House Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Jane Harman, D-Calif., objected, in the form of a classified letter. She would later garner Pelosi's ire for defending the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program.

The Washington Times further reported this week that the Intelligence Committee's top Democrats and Republicans "each got complete, benchmark briefings on the program" and "if Congress wanted to kill this program, all it had to do was withhold funding."

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.

Today is different. These hypocrites now smell a huge political opportunity. But if the legal architects of enhanced interrogation — and, logically, former President Bush himself and his top national security staff — are on the hook for prosecution, so are Pelosi and others who knew of the harsh techniques and never raised a peep.