Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Tortuous Past

Obama has released the Bybee "torture" memo and a few others, succombing to pressure from the ACLU. Note the memo's preamble
Zubaydah is currently being held by the United States. The interrogation tearn is certain that he has additional information that he refuses to divulge. Specifically, he is withholding information regarding terrorist networks in the United Stares or in Saudi Arabia and information regarding plans to conduct attacks within the United States or against our interests overseas. Zubaydah has become accustomed to a certain level of treatment and displays no signs of willingness to disclose further information.

Moreover, your intelligence indicates that there is currently a level of "chatter" equal to that which preceded the September 11 attacks. In light of the information you believe Zubaydah has and the high level of threat you believe now exists, you wish to move the interrogations into what you have described as an "increased pressure phase."
Perhaps we should start by asking detractors to place themselves in the position of being Commander-In-Chief of the United States less than a year after 9/11 with an unsolved anthrax attack still pending. What would they do? Would they tell the CIA "sorry, we're toast, he won't talk and we can't make him. Give him his prayer rug and let's all hope for the best"? The CIA guys would be left to watch the evil smirk on this guy's face as the next mass casualty attack unfolded. These same men and women would likely later be hauled in front of a panty waste Congressional commission demanding to know why they didn't connect the dots.

That's not to diminish the concern. It's always been a tough call and the military's point of view is most certainly valid, as are the views of civil libertarians. But they didn't have the helm. Perhaps the best course of action for Bush would be to offer himself up for prosecution, sort of a Captain Phillips move designed to take his crew off the hook. Maybe the sight of him on the stand with an Olbermann-like prosecutor breathing down his neck would be enough to knock some sense into people, well, at least once his defense dove into the memory vault.

Such as this:
"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.
Or from a former Vice President:
The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass."
Which is precisely why Obama has done all the sunshine he'll do on this subject. Trying the previous administration in the court of public opinion--with only yahoo bloggers and Fox News providing defense--is much more effective than bringing them to court where both sides get a chance to defend their positions and bring up misty memories of this guy.

MORE 4/16/09

Tom Maguire has a very fair and balanced assessment, while professor Reynolds obviously reads this blog..heh.

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