Steven Hayes notes the Obama Administration is confused:
The president says harsh interrogation techniques "do not make us safer," but his top intelligence adviser says the same techniques produced "high-value information" that gave the U.S. government "a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country."
Obama White House officials routinely boast that theirs is "the most transparent administration in history," but then they release Justice Department memos about the interrogations in which the assessments confirming the value of those techniques are blacked out.
Attorney General Eric Holder tells a congressional committee that he is unaware of memos about the information gleaned in harsh interrogations that have been requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney, but his boss, the president, not only knows about those memos but also describes their contents to members of Congress.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the administration could support an independent investigation of interrogation techniques based on the 9/11 Commission. Then he says that Obama decided long ago that such an investigation would be too political.
Such evidence of confusion is abundant. But nowhere is it more pronounced than on the question of possible criminal prosecutions related to coercive interrogations. Administration officials, including the president, have gone out of their way to leave open the possibility of prosecuting those responsible for the interrogation techniques.
Noemey Emery thinks "truth commission" hearings are a good idea:
Let's tell the truth about Bush's conduct of the war on terror, which is that it's been a success. His ultimate legacy hasn't been written--Iraq is improved, but not out of danger--but the one thing that can be said without reservation is that the country was kept safe. He delivered on the main charge of his office in time of emergency, in a crisis without guidelines or precedent. Attacks took place in Spain, and in London, in Indonesia and India, but not on American soil, which was the obvious target of choice. Bush couldn't say this before he left office, for obvious reasons, and after he left, attention switched to the new president. This little fact dropped down the memory hole, but with all this discussion, it will rise to the surface. Let the hearings begin!
Also dropped down the memory hole--along with the names of all the Democrats who thought Saddam was a menace who cried out for removal--is what the ambience was like in late 2001 and 2002, when fears of anthrax and suitcase bombs ran rampant, and people on all sides tried to seem tough. Let's tell the truth about all the liberals who went on record supporting real torture, not to mention the Democrats in Congress, when it was cool to want to seem tough on our enemies, who couldn't be too warlike. Then war and tough measures stopped being cool, and "world opinion" became more important. Nothing like statements under oath to revive ancient memories! And rewind the tapes.
Let's get at the truth too about the word "torture," which to different people, means different things. Some think "torture" means standing on the 98th floor of a burning skyscraper and realizing you have a choice between jumping and being incinerated.
"We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history," President Obama said when he ordered the release of the Justice Department interrogation memos. Actually, no. Not at all. We were attacked on 9/11. We responded to that attack with remarkable restraint in the use of force, respect for civil liberties, and even solicitude for those who might inadvertently be offended, let alone harmed, by our policies. We've fought a war on jihadist terror in a civilized, even legalized, way. Those who have been on the front and rear lines of that war--in the military and the intelligence agencies, at the Justice Department and, yes, in the White House--have much to be proud of. The rest of us, who've been asked to do little, should be grateful.
The dark and painful chapter we have to fear is rather the one President Obama may be ushering in. This would be a chapter in which politicians preen moralistically as they throw patriotic officials, who helped keep this country safe, to the wolves, and in which national leaders posture politically while endangering the nation's security.
Indeed. From the outset, we've been careful to avoid the sort of large-scale retaliation against Arabs and Muslims that could easily have taken place, and that would have taken place in many countries. For all the cries of "Islamophobia", there has been almost no real "Islamophobia" to be found.
But Robert Ringer's "You Won't Get Credit For It Theory" seems to apply. It must be awfully tempting to show people what a real civil rights violation would look like.
And it's vital to prevent the next 9/11 attack. After a second one, the country may not be nearly as restrained as it's been.