Former CIA Director Michael B. Mukasey testifies to the crucial role played by mildly coercive interrogation techniques in establishing the trail that ultimately led to Osama bin Laden.
The cosmic irony is that the single greatest success of the Obama Administration resulted specifically from the policies and tactics used by the previous administration which he ran against and has since eliminated.
[T]he intelligence that led to bin Laden came… began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information—including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.
That regimen of harsh interrogation was used on KSM after another detainee, Abu Zubaydeh, was subjected to the same techniques. When he broke, he said that he and other members of al Qaeda were obligated to resist only until they could no longer do so, at which point it became permissible for them to yield. “Do this for all the brothers,” he advised his interrogators.
Abu Zubaydeh was coerced into disclosing information that led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh, another of the planners of 9/11. Bin al Shibh disclosed information that, when combined with what was learned from Abu Zubaydeh, helped lead to the capture of KSM and other senior terrorists and the disruption of follow-on plots aimed at both Europe and the United States.
Another of those gathered up later in this harvest, Abu Faraj al-Libi, also was subjected to certain of these harsh techniques and disclosed further details about bin Laden’s couriers that helped in last weekend’s achievement.
The harsh techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA. Of the thousands of unlawful combatants captured by the U.S., fewer than 100 were detained and questioned in the CIA program. Of those, fewer than one-third were subjected to any of these techniques.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has said that, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations. The Bush administration put these techniques in place only after rigorous analysis by the Justice Department, which concluded that they were lawful.
The current president ran for election on the promise to do away with them even before he became aware, if he ever did, of what they were. Days after taking office he directed that the CIA interrogation program be done away with entirely, and that interrogation be limited to the techniques set forth in the Army Field Manual, a document designed for use by even the least experienced troops. It’s available on the Internet and used by terrorists as a training manual for resisting interrogation.
In April 2009, the administration made public the previously classified Justice Department memoranda analyzing the harsh techniques, thereby disclosing them to our enemies and assuring that they could never be used effectively again. ...
Immediately following the killing of bin Laden, the issue of interrogation techniques became in some quarters the “dirty little secret” of the event. But as disclosed in the declassified memos in 2009, the techniques are neither dirty nor, as noted by Director Hayden and others, were their results little. As the memoranda concluded—and as I concluded reading them at the beginning of my tenure as attorney general in 2007—the techniques were entirely lawful as the law stood at the time the memos were written, and the disclosures they elicited were enormously important. That they are no longer secret is deeply regrettable. ...
We… need to put an end to the ongoing investigations of CIA operatives that continue to undermine intelligence community morale.
Acknowledging and meeting the need for an effective and lawful interrogation program, which we once had, and freeing CIA operatives and others to administer it under congressional oversight, would be a fitting way to mark the demise of Osama bin Laden.
Doug Ross outlines the simple facts which play havoc with one of Barack Obama’s principal campaign issues. Say, how is Eric Holder’s plan to prosecute CIA interrogators going?
1. 2003: Enhanced Interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad Results in the Nom De Guerre of bin Ladin’s Courier…
2. 2004: Enhanced Interrogation of al-Qahtani Confirms the Nom De Geure of bin Ladin’s Courier…
3. 2006 (?): Enhanced Interrogation of an Al Qaeda Captured in Iraq, Ghul, Produces the Real Name of the Courier…
4. 2006-2009: NSA Begins Furiously Intercepting Any And All Communications Made By Anyone “al-Kuwaiti” Has Ever Known…
5. Late 2010 (?): al-Kuwaiti Places a Very Ill-Advised Phone Call… “[conversing] with someone who was being monitored by U.S. intelligence… the courier [then] unknowingly led authorities to a [bizarre] compound in the northeast Pakistani town of Abbottabad…”
6. 2011: Surveying Abbottabad, We Grow Confident We’ve Found Bin Ladin’s Hideout…
7. April 29-May 1 2011: Obama’s Team Tells Him They Have High Confidence Bin Ladin (or at Least His Most Trusted Courier) is In the Compound, and Obama Agrees, and Orders the Raid; On May 1 It’s Executed By SEAL Team 6…
8. May 2011: Begin a Disinformation Campaign To Convince the Public That 2003-2008 Never Happened.
David Ignatius observes that, in the new, morally-improved age of Obama, sleep deprivation, face slaps, and body shakes are out, but sudden death by high explosive is thriving as never before.
Liberal scruples about interrogation and unlimited detention and the significant percentage of released detainees returning to the jihad have very obviously modified the American approach to war. If you can’t gain any information from captured insurgents and you are going to wind up in the end playing catch-and-release, the likelihood that you are going to take any prisoners at all declines dramatically.
Most amusingly, the consciences of the intelligentsia have been found to be surprisingly comfortable with the more recent remote-killing campaign.
Every war brings its own deformations, but consider this disturbing fact about America’s war against al-Qaeda: It has become easier, politically and legally, for the United States to kill suspected terrorists than to capture and interrogate them.
Predator and Reaper drones, armed with Hellfire missiles, have become the weapons of choice against al-Qaeda operatives in the tribal areas of Pakistan. They have also been used in Yemen, and the demand for these efficient tools of war, which target enemies from 10,000 feet, is likely to grow.
The pace of drone attacks on the tribal areas has increased sharply during the Obama presidency, with more assaults in September and October of this year than in all of 2008. At the same time, efforts to capture al-Qaeda suspects have virtually stopped. Indeed, if CIA operatives were to snatch a terrorist tomorrow, the agency wouldn’t be sure where it could detain him for interrogation.
Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA, frames the puzzle this way: “Have we made detention and interrogation so legally difficult and politically risky that our default option is to kill our adversaries rather than capture and interrogate them?”
It’s curious why the American public seems so comfortable with a tactic that arguably is a form of long-range assassination, after the furor about the CIA’s use of nonlethal methods known as “enhanced interrogation.” When Israel adopted an approach of “targeted killing” against Hamas and other terrorist adversaries, it provoked an extensive debate there and abroad.
“For reasons that defy logic, people are more comfortable with drone attacks” than with killings at close range, says Robert Grenier, a former top CIA counterterrorism officer who now is a consultant with ERG Partners. “It’s something that seems so clean and antiseptic, but the moral issues are the same.”
The commentariat of the left is complaining that US forces did not stop the Iraqis from coercively interrogating enemy prisoners. The other big news is the larger involvement of Iran in the Iraq insurgency than the US government publicly reported.
WikiLeaks Bombshell: US Knew Arab Regime Tortured Citizens
Wow. this is the big deal? And what was the US supposed to do if they investigated claims that the Iraqi government tortured its citizens? Invade? Yeah, I bet Julian Assange, the hysterical Left, and their Islamist allies would love that.
It’s the problem with America haters like Assange, Chomsky, and Osama bin Laden: it’s a worldview where America is always in the wrong, no matter what we do.
When we act, it’s evidence of US Imperialism. When we don’t act, it’s evidence of the US not caring about brown people.
We’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t.
Which makes their underlying theory of cause and effect not a theory at all. First because it’s not falsifiable. Second, because all affects are attributed to the same cause.
I think the part of the story that pisses me off the most is that Assange promised us last time he’d do a better job of vetting the documents in order to protect the lives of soldiers and civilians. So, what did he do? Gave al Jazeera complete access to them.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mohammed Atta
All poor Mohamedou Ould Slahi did was recruit Mohammed Atta, Marwan al Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah, the suicide pilots of American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, and United Airlines Flight 93, for their mission on September 11, 2001.
Mr. Slahi and his defense team allege that he was tortured, i.e., beaten, exposed to uncomfortable temperatures, threatened, frightened by threats against his family, and sexually taunted by female interrogators. A DOD inquiry failed to confirm most of these allegations, but they were obviously credited, and considered to constitute torture, by the officer in charge of prosecution.
Although the treatment apparently induced Mr. Slahi’s compliance, the military prosecutor, Marine Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, determined that it constituted torture and evidence it produced could not lawfully be used against Mr. Slahi.
Col. Couch, in a March 31, 2007, Page One story in The Wall Street Journal, cited legal, professional and moral reasons for declining to prosecute.
Mr. Slahi, who was then viewed as a cooperator by interrogators, was granted various privileges at Guantánamo Bay, including his own quarters and garden to tend.
Col. Couch, now in private practice in North Carolina, said Monday’s order “is one of the consequences that the decision-makers should have foreseen when they decided to adopt a policy of cruelty, and the interrogation techniques that flowed from it.”
The same Journal article informs us that he is consequently being freed to resume his former activities.
A suspected al Qaeda organizer once called “the highest value detainee” at Guantánamo Bay was ordered released by a federal judge in an order issued Monday.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi was accused in the 9/11 Commission report of helping recruit Mohammed Atta and other members of the al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, that took part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Military prosecutors suspected Mr. Slahi of links to other al Qaeda operations, and considered seeking the death penalty against him while preparing possible charges in 2003 and 2004.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson granted Mr. Slahi’s petition for habeas corpus, effectively finding the government lacked legal grounds to hold him. The order was classified, although the court said it planned to release a redacted public version in the coming weeks.
Mr. Robertson held four days of closed hearings in the Slahi case last year. Mr. Slahi testified via secure video link from Guantánamo Bay, said his attorney.
“They were considering giving him the death penalty. Now they don’t even have enough evidence to pass the test for habeas,” said the attorney, Nancy Hollander, of Albuquerque, N.M.
Spiegel did a major article in October of 2008 on Slahi.
What can one possibly say about the kind of stupidity that equates misinforming, threatening, taunting, scaring, and even roughing up or inflicting some discomfort on a mass murderer with torture? Or about the legal acumen of jurists who award habeas corpus protection to unlawful belligerents apprehended overseas during time of war?
Do you suppose they can quote “Quos Deus perdere, dementat” [Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad] in Arabic?
The Afghan Taliban’s former second in command has been “singing like a male canary” since his capture last month, officials here told The Washington Examiner.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was arrested by Pakistani security agencies in Karachi, has become “a vital asset in gathering information on the Taliban and other extremist groups operating in the region,” one Pakistani counterintelligence official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of his work. Baradar is of interest to both U.S. and Afghan authorities. It is believed that U.S. counterintelligence officials are also questioning Baradar, who has close ties to Mullah Omar and other leaders in the region.
Baradar’s information that will aide both Pakistan and the United States in the war on terror, the Pakistani officials said.
“He obviously does not want to be released under any circumstances,” one Pakistani official said. “He would not survive after the information he has given the government.”
Baradar was born in Wetmak village in the southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan into an ethnic Pashtun Popalzai clan in 1968. His arrest dealt a serious blow to the Afghan Taliban.
The Pakistani official said Islamabad “is expected to turn over Baradar to Afghan authorities after we have finished with him.”
What the article and its sources fail to discuss is the obvious consideration that, post capture, Baradar was not Mirandized, taken to Guantanamo, sent to Illinois, given a trial in Manhattan, or released in Bermuda. In fact, he was not put in US custody at all.
It is only too clear that US domestic differences concerning detainee status, interrogation, and ultimate fate have produced a state of affairs in which we have every interest in making sure that a captured terrorist in possession of valuable information wind up in somebody’s else hands rather than our own. We cannot cope with prisoners.
We can’t interrogate them. We don’t know how to try them. And we are incapable even of keeping them safe in captivity. Bring someone like Baradar into the United States, and Ivy-League-educated attorneys will come a-running to be sure that he gets the full protection of the kind of top flight legal counsel you certainly could not afford, the domestic Constitution, the Magna Carta, and the opinion pages of the Washington Post and New York Times.
In Pakistan, the ISI can apply any enhanced interrogation techniques it cares to try. No wonder Baradar is talking.
Best of all, no one is accusing Barack Obama of renditioning Baradar to Pakistan. Why, the scoundrel was captured there. It’s not Obama’s fault that he fell into the tender mercies of Pakistani intelligence.
How can a case against a foreign enemy apprehended by another government possibly be prosecuted within the rules of domestic criminal procedure? Khalid Shaikh Mohammed obviously was never Mirandized. What can Eric Holder and Barack Obama possibly be thinking? Are these people hopelessly naive?
Andrew McCarthy doesn’t think so. He thinks they know exactly what they’re doing.
We are now going to have a trial that never had to happen for defendants who have no defense. And when defendants have no defense for their own actions, there is only one thing for their lawyers to do: put the government on trial in hopes of getting the jury (and the media) spun up over government errors, abuses and incompetence. That is what is going to happen in the trial of KSM et al. It will be a soapbox for al-Qaeda’s case against America. Since that will be their “defense,” the defendants will demand every bit of information they can get about interrogations, renditions, secret prisons, undercover operations targeting Muslims and mosques, etc., and — depending on what judge catches the case — they are likely to be given a lot of it. The administration will be able to claim that the judge, not the administration, is responsible for the exposure of our defense secrets. And the circus will be played out for all to see — in the middle of the war. It will provide endless fodder for the transnational Left to press its case that actions taken in America’s defense are violations of international law that must be addressed by foreign courts. And the intelligence bounty will make our enemies more efficient at killing us.
With just two weeks of training, or about half the time it takes to become a truck driver, the CIA certified its spies as interrogation experts after 9/11 and handed them the keys to the most coercive tactics in the agency’s arsenal.
Can you imagine? Just because some Muslim terrorists killed a lousy 3000 Americans and produced some mere billions of dollars worth of physical destruction and economic disruption, the Bush Administration actually allowed people with only two weeks of federal training to slap terrorists, pour water on them, and (worst of all) to expose them to caterpillar attack.
Hat tip to Stephen Frankel.
Unlike the US, Al Qaeda provided appropriately thorough training. They even produced a manual.
As Stephen Hayes describes, first you make sure that US forces Mirandize captured enemy fighters.
When 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was captured on March 1, 2003, he was not cooperative. “I’ll talk to you guys after I get to New York and see my lawyer,” he said, according to former CIA Director George Tenet.
Of course, KSM did not get a lawyer until months later, after his interrogation was completed, and Tenet says that the information the CIA obtained from him disrupted plots and saved lives. “I believe none of these successes would have happened if we had had to treat KSM like a white-collar criminal—read him his Miranda rights and get him a lawyer who surely would have insisted that his client simply shut up,” Tenet wrote in his memoirs.
If Tenet is right, it’s a good thing KSM was captured before Barack Obama became president. For, the Obama Justice Department has quietly ordered FBI agents to read Miranda rights to high value detainees captured and held at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan, according a senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
Then, you arrange $11.1 million a head retirement packages to the South Seas for your prisoners. Yes, 17 Uighurs into $200 million comes to $11.1 million semolians.
Palau says its decision to temporarily take the 17 Uighurs, or Chinese Muslims, being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison was a “humanitarian gesture.”
But the South Pacific island may have been motivated more by 200 million other reasons.
Two U.S. officials told the Associated Press that the U.S. was prepared to give Palau up to $200 million in return for accepting the Uighurs and as part of a mutual defense and cooperation treaty that is due to be renegotiated this year.
Figures on Palau’s federal budget weren’t immediately available, but if it is close to its size in 1999, when it was $71 million, the deal with the U.S. would in effect more than double the nation’s spending and make it the fastest growing economy in the world.
Frankly, I bet you could get very close to every terrorist simply to put down his AK-47 and retire for a considerably smaller one-time payment.
Of course, it’s hard to imagine a more effective recruiting promotional deal. I can see Achmed the al Qaeda recruiter delivering his spiel even now, “And if the soldiers of the great Shaitan capture you, they will only provide you with attorneys from Sherman & Sterling before funding your retirement to a life of leisure in a tropical paradise surrounded by beautiful maidens serving you Mai Tais. Inshallah!”
And, my, oh my, the democrats did not like that, and they don’t want you to hear about it.
The Hill reports on democrat efforts to stonewall and obfuscate.
In the bowels of the Capitol Visitor Center, members of the (House Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations) gathered behind locked doors on Thursday morning to begin a series of hearings on the interrogation of terrorism suspects.
What began as a remarkably quiet and secretive hearing had, within a matter of hours, exploded into a political brawl over intelligence matters and national security.
Despite the weeks-long furor over how the Central Intelligence Agency came to use enhanced interrogation techniques, and what members of Congress were told about their development and implementation, the committee’s first hearing on the issue during the 111th Congress almost came and went without notice. The hearing was announced publicly but was not open to the public.
According to Republicans, that was by design.
“Democrats weren’t sure what they were going to get,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (Mich.), ranking Republican on the Intelligence panel, referring to information on the merits of enhanced interrogation techniques. “Now that they know what they’ve got, they don’t want to talk about it.”
The hearing was publicly described only as a subcommittee hearing on “Interrogations.” A committee spokeswoman would not comment on whether the development and use of controversial interrogation tactics were discussed.
But Republicans on the panel said that not only did the use of interrogation techniques come up Thursday, but that the data shared about those techniques proved they had led to valuable information that in some instances prevented terrorist attacks.
Hoekstra did not attend the hearing, but said he later spoke with Republicans on the subcommittee who did. He said he came away with even more proof that the enhanced interrogation techniques employed by the CIA proved effective.
“I think the people who were at the hearing, in my opinion, clearly indicated that the enhanced interrogation techniques worked,” Hoekstra said.
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), a member of the subcommittee who attended the hearing, concurred with Hoekstra.
“The hearing did address the enhanced interrogation techniques that have been much in the news lately,” Kline said, noting that he was intentionally choosing his words carefully in observance of the committee rules and the nature of the information presented.
“Based on what I heard and the documents I have seen, I came away with a very clear impression that we did gather information that did disrupt terrorist plots,” Kline said.
Neither Hoekstra nor Kline revealed details about the specifics of what they were told Thursday or the identity of the briefers.
Democrats lambasted their Republican counterparts for discussing the information that was provided behind locked doors.
“I am absolutely shocked that members of the Intelligence committee who attended a closed-door hearing… then walked out that hearing – early, by the way – and characterized anything that happened in that hearing,” said Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). “My understanding is that’s a violation of the rules. It may be more than that.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) said, “Members on both sides need to watch what they say.”
Both Schakowsky and Reyes accused GOP members of playing politics with national security.
“I think they are playing a very dangerous game when it comes to the discussion of matters that were sensitive enough to be part of a closed hearing,” Schakowsky said.
Asked about the validity of Republican contentions that information shared in Thursday’s hearing showed the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques, Schakowsky said she could not comment on what was discussed at a closed hearing.
Reyes responded by saying he did not attend the entire hearing.
“I wasn’t at the whole hearing,” Reyes said. “As the chairman my view is we need to get the facts about how the enhanced interrogation techniques came about, not just the results.”
Put Barack Obama in front of a Tele PrompTer and one thing is certain—he’ll make himself appear the most reasonable person in the room.
Rhetorically, he is in the middle of any debate, perpetually surrounded by finger-pointing extremists who can’t get over their reflexive combativeness and ideological fixations to acknowledge his surpassing thoughtfulness and grace. ...
It’s natural, then, that his speech at the National Archives on national security should superficially sound soothing, reasonable and even a little put upon (oh, what President Obama has to endure from all those finger-pointing extremists).
But beneath its surface, the speech—given heavy play in the press as an implicit debate with former Vice President Dick Cheney, who spoke on the same topic at a different venue immediately afterward—revealed something else: a president who has great difficulty admitting error; who can’t discuss the position of his opponents without resorting to rank caricature, and who adopts an off-putting pose of above-it-all righteousness.
David Kahane, at National Review Online, finds fuel for the next box office blockbuster in some recent headline.
[W]e still can’t sell scripts about “Muslim terrorists,” but a celebrity death match between the Central Intelligence Agency and the person who stands second to the vice president in the line of succession to the White House should any, you know, unfortunate accident befall the leader of the free world, is right up our alley. Which is why I was first off the mark last week when Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi, the flower of Baltimore and the pride of San Francisco, accidentally pulled the pin on a live hand grenade in front of the fiercely independent Washington press corps and blew herself up.
She wasn’t trying to, of course. She was trying to explain to a bunch of less-than-enchanted media stenographers who would rather be covering Michelle Obama’s workout, or even Bo the dog’s breakfast, that the nasty, un-American CIA has deliberately “misled” her when discussing just precisely how they were going to insert bamboo shoots under the fingernails of a caterpillar that they would then waterboard and introduce into the cell of some totally innocent mujahedin caught up in the lawless Bush-Cheney dragnet during the hysteria that followed the inside job that was 9/11 and . . .
In the other corner we have the Central Intelligence Agency, which we in Tinseltown have been depicting for years as just about the most malevolent organization in the world, outside of the Catholic Church, the Club for Growth, and the Cheney family. In movie after movie, the shadowy CIA guy always wound up as the villain in the last reel. So imagine our surprise when, during the Bushitler interregnum, we discovered that the CIA is on our side, and has been for decades! Screwed up the whole Shah of Iran thing and opened the way for the mullahs? Check! Consistently overrated and then failed to forecast the sudden disintegration of the Soviet Union? Check!! Never did quite figure out what Osama bin Laden was up to? Check
To top it all off, along came super-top-secret agent/Vanity Fair babe Valerie Plame and her dashing, Graydon-Carter-tressed hubby, Joe Wilson, running a sting operation against the hapless Bush White House, whipsawing the president and the veep with Joe’s unprovoked New York Times tale of sipping mint tea with Colonel Kurtz up the Congo and all of sudden there’s shouting about the “sixteen words” in Chimpy’s State of the Union address and Valerie is outed by Cheney flunky Scooter Libby — okay, by Colin Powell flunky Dick Armitage, same thing — and then Judy Miller goes to jail and . . .
[H]ere’s the script that just made me a cool $1.5 mil plus five monkey points plus two first-class tickets to the premiere: Three Days of the Dodo Bird.
We open in Abu Ghraib prison, post-“Mission Accomplished,” where a SHADOWY CIA AGENT gets the bright idea to strike fear into the hearts of America’s “enemies” by photographing completely innocent prisoners in outrageous situations (piled naked on top of each other, led around on a dog leash by a woman, forced to wear panties on their heads) calculated to offend and inflame the sensibilities of the Religion of Peace. Now, you and I both know that these kinds of things happen every week at the right Hollywood parties, and they’re tons of fun, but for some weird cultural reason the photos are deemed offensive, the super-top-secret psy-war campaign winds up on the front page of the Times every day for a year, and the Shi’ites hit the fan.
Noemie Emery, at the SF Chronicle, thinks the way Nancy Pelosi’s pious grandstanding over enhanced interrogation techniques backfired on her was pretty funny.
It was always quite clear that liberals’ efforts to wreak vengeance on President George W. Bush for his (successful) terror-war strategy would hurt Democrats more than it hurt him, but who ever dreamed it would become quite so funny this fast?
Minutes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave her news conference on the subject of “torture,” she, and not Bush, was the issue and story; she was at war with the CIA and Director Leon Panetta; she was at war with House Whip Steney Hoyer, who wants to succeed her; and she had become a huge problem for President Barack Obama — or as he might say, a “distraction” — who had trouble enough trying to reconcile his rhetoric with the demands of his office, and his responsibilities to protect the country with the addled demands of his frenetic admirers. Not bad for a 25-minute presser. And this was just the first day.
This knowledge that the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate had known of and approved at last tacitly the “harsh” techniques sanctioned by the Bush administration in the grim days after 9/11 was the more explosive on the heels of the news that many Bush-era tactics — detainment, rendition, Club Gitmo — were being endorsed by their president.
The problem is that like the CIA, the entire government is now in the hands of the Democrats, who now have the job of protecting the country, not under past conditions, not under conditions they like to imagine, but conditions that really exist. The conditions that exist are those in which small groups of people, undeterred by threats or the prospect of dying, are able to inflict immense harm.
Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack, but it took place thousands of miles from the mainland and was an assault on the Armed Forces. The 9/11 attacks were an assault on the mainland, on unarmed civilians who were going to work. In conditions like this, nice people from Chicago and Texas, who find themselves charged with protecting the lives of 300 million, may find themselves employing “enhanced information techniques” seldom used in the days of orthodox warfare.
This may cost them the good will of the chattering classes of the East and West coasts and most cities in Europe, but, as Scrappleface puts it, “crashing hijacked planes into buildings full of noncombatant civilians is one of several ‘enhanced immolation techniques’ forbidden under U.S. and international law.”
Trying to square their need to trash Bush for his successful deterrence agenda with their need to escape blame if harm comes if his acts are reversed by their people, liberals react with the perfect lucidity that has long been their main trait. Eugene Robinson insists that because it can’t be proved beyond doubt that any technique used by the Bush administration stopped any specific attack from occurring, it proves beyond doubt that none did.