In surprisingly good English, the captive quietly answers: ‘Yes, all thanks to God, I do know when the mujaheddin will, with God’s permission, detonate a nuclear weapon in the United States, and I also know how many and in which cities.” Startled, the CIA interrogators quickly demand more detail. Smiling his trademark shy smile, the captive says nothing. Reporting the interrogation’s results to the White House, the CIA director can only shrug when the president asks: “What can we do to make Osama bin Laden talk?”
Americans should keep this worst-case scenario in mind as they watch the tragicomic spectacle taking place in the wake of the publication of the Justice Department’s interrogation memos. It will help them recognize this episode of political theater as another major step in the bipartisan dismantling of America’s defenses based on the requirements of presidential ideology. George W. Bush’s democracy-spreading philosophy yielded the invasion of Iraq and set the United States at war with much of the Muslim world. Bush’s worldview thereby produced an enemy that quickly outpaced the limited but proven threat-containing capacities of the major U.S. counterterrorism programs — rendition, interrogation and unmanned aerial vehicle attacks.
Now, in a single week, President Obama has eliminated two-thirds of that successful-but-not-sufficient national defense troika because his personal ideology — a fair gist of which is “If the world likes us more we are more secure” — cannot tolerate harsh interrogation techniques, torture or coercive interviews, call them what you will. Surprisingly, Obama now stands alongside Bush as a genuine American Jacobin, both of them seeing the world as they want it to be, not as it is. Whereas Bush saw a world of Muslims yearning to betray their God for Western secularism, Obama gazes upon a globe that he regards as largely carnivore-free and believes that remaining threats can be defused by semantic warfare; just stop saying “War on Terror” and give talks in Turkey and on al-Arabiyah television, for example.
By Michael Scheuer
The Washington Post
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Read the rest:
Editorial, April 20, 2009
New York Post
If nothing else, President Obama’s decision to overrule his own intelligence officials and release Bush-era legal memos justifying what The New York Times sanctimoniously described as the CIA’s “brutal” interrogation techniques proves what a bunch of pushovers we Americans are.
Al Qaeda kidnaps Americans, tortures them, then decapitates them on TV.
We deprive captives of sleep, push them into walls and put harmless caterpillars that we say are poisonous in their cells.
Then we’re the ones who are condemned as the worst human-rights violators on the planet.
To be sure, Obama did promise that no one who undertook such practices would be prosecuted — though he pointedly refused to make such guarantees for those who authorized the work.
It took literally minutes before Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) was demanding a South Africa-style “truth commission” to probe such techniques. And the ACLU, whose lawsuit provoked the memos’ release, wants a special prosecutor appointed.
The White House insisted Obama “thought very long and hard” about releasing the memos as he tried to balance “the impact on national security” with “his belief in transparency.”
Sad to say, national security lost out.
Or, as former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, the net “effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on Sept. 11, 2001.”
In fact, as they also noted, these techniques worked — and yielded information that not only led to the arrest of al Qaeda leaders Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi bin al Shibh, but also disrupted numerous terrorist plots aimed at both America and Europe.
So why did Obama feel the need to release these memos, which spell out in excruciating detail the limits of past US resolve to protect the homeland?
As National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair tellingly noted, the memos were written as the CIA was trying to prevent a repeat of 9/11 — a task at which the Bush administration notably succeeded.
Still, he added, “those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing.”
There you go: The dark post-9/11 days are gone and everything is “bright, sunny [and] safe.” America no longer needs such techniques because there is no more threat, no more terrorism.
We hope and pray that Obama & Co. will not be forced to eat those words.