Continuing Failed Policies
This is the InsideSTL.com article from 4/27/09. Please visit www.insidestl.com and participate in the debate raging in the comments section each week. As always, thank you to InsideSTL.com for publishing my articles every Monday.
Since hinting that Attorney General Eric Holder would be unleashed on the previous administration over allegations of torture, it’s been confirmed that the CIA briefed members of both parties in Congress over 30 times about their “enhanced interrogation” programs. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi has denied these reports as she calls for investigations while claiming, “We were not – I repeat – were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used.” Despite her insistence to the contrary, the Washington Post ran an article in 2007 which placed Pelosi, who was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee at the time, in a 2002 secret CIA briefing where four members of Congress were briefed in explicit detail about interrogation methods to be used on terrorist suspects and given a virtual tour of detention centers. The article stated that no one in attendance voiced opposition to the program and “at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder.” Either Pelosi or the Post is lying, both can’t be correct. While current pressing issues are placed aside so Democrats can pursue political vengeance, one question is rarely asked; did the United States torture detainees in the “Overseas Contingency Operation,” formerly known as the “War on Terror?” Hardly anyone seems concerned with the details of the programs that could cost several former government officials their freedom.
Make no mistake, the enhanced interrogation methods employed by our intelligence community were not pleasant by any means. Waterboarding is a particularly horrifying experience which is why it was so effective. While being placed on their back, detainees would have their backs placed in water with their feet at a higher elevation than their head. The interrogators placed a cloth over the subject’s face and then would pour water onto the cloth over their airways, making it very difficult or impossible to breathe. This causes an increase in carbon dioxide in the blood and an immediate physiological reflex causing a panicked feeling of certain death by drowning. Water would be poured from a height of one to two feet for no longer than 40 seconds at a time. Afterwards, the cloth was removed and the detainee would breathe unimpeded for three to four minutes. No detainee could be under the wet cloth for more than 12 minutes a day for a total of five days in the 30-day period for which it was approved. This method was used on three high-value detainees and was always subject to these restrictions which Congress was briefed about. Since the detainee’s lungs were elevated above their head, there was no danger of breathing water into their lungs and there was no risk of death or long-term physical harm. It would definitely be a horrifying experience to endure. However, is it actually torture?
In an internal memo, Dennis Blair, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, wrote that it was easy to condemn the decisions made by the Bush administration “on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009.” His memo also stated, “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 the country.” Blair’s comment was also echoed by Clinton-appointed CIA director, George Tenet who stated that he knew that the harsh interrogations saved lives. He was quoted as saying, “I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.” Four previous CIA directors along with Obama’s own appointee, Leon Panetta, advised against the release of the interrogation memos. The actions of the administration are purely based on political bloodlust and the nation will be left more vulnerable while Democrats seek to placate their far-left base.
In an interview with Fox News, Vice President Dick Cheney said that the Obama administration needs to release the internal intelligence memos which show the program’s success in order for the American people to be fully informed. When asked about Cheney’s request during a House subcommittee hearing, in true “truth-seeking” spirit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded, “It won’t surprise you that I don’t consider him a particularly reliable source.” (To be fair, many independent investigators have said the same thing about her.) Later, in a press conference, B. Hussein Obama explained that he had already reviewed the memos Cheney requested and determined that there was nothing of public interest in them. Something seems a tad unjust when the accuser is also the gatekeeper of any evidence released to support or negate their own claims. Perhaps it slightly warps the basic foundation of American criminal law that places the burden of proof on the state? Not to mention a slight thumbing-of-the-nose at the assumption of innocence?
While attention and resources have been diverted to this witch hunt, jobless claims continue to increase beyond expectations, Pakistan is being threatened by the Taliban, and the Secretary of Home Land Security publically stated that illegal immigration “is not a crime per se.” There are much more pressing issues than continuing the quest for the “Liberal Holy Grail” of seeing Bush and Cheney paraded before the nation in show trials. When the current Speaker of the House can’t seem to reconcile her version of events with the public record, it might be advisable to at least let her figure out her story before issuing the subpoenas. It would be very embarrassing to collect a prominent Democrat leader in the investigations.
Along with the name of the conflict, the Obama administration has changed the methods the nation will use to keep a vigil for terrorist activities, or as they are now called by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano “man-caused” disasters. This is their prerogative. However, no one possesses the ability to see into the future. If the nation does end up falling victim to another attack (God forbid) the Obama administration could face their own precedent of “truth commissions” from the next administration about the decision to declassify very top secret information on an effective intelligence-gathering program. This is the danger of even entertaining this vendetta. It could set in motion a perpetual routine of post-election criminalization of hard decisions which are ultimately made in times when decisive leadership is needed most.
After taking power in 2006, Congress initiated over 600 investigations into alleged crimes committed by the Bush administration. In fact, during this timeframe, the only body of government with approval ratings that were lower than George W. Bush’s was the Democrat-controlled Congress which saw its ratings fall into the single-digits. As many prominent Democrats talk about ending the “failed policies of the Bush administration,” it appears that they are continuing their own failed policies while neglecting present serious issues which still need to be adequately addressed. Could Obama have been on to something when he originally said it was time to move on?