Friday, December 19, 2008

Torture or Interrogation -- It's not black & white

The New York Times December 18, 2008 editorial, The Torture Report, sent shivers up and down my spine because of the implications that the Times' views, if accepted without comment or disagreement, would have on our security. Thank heaven for The Wall Street Journal.

In its editorial, the Times stated that a "bipartisan" report issued by the
Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

These policies have deeply harmed America’s image as a nation of laws and may make it impossible to bring dangerous men to real justice. The report said the interrogation techniques were ineffective, despite the administration’s repeated claims to the contrary.

Hogwash. The Times continues to recognize the existence of a legitimate debate as to what constitutes torture.

Comes today The Wall Street Journal to the rescue with The Real 'Torture' Disgrace.
The release of Carl Levin's report on the Bush Administration's alleged "torture" policies was a formality: The Senator's conclusions were politically predetermined long ago. Still, the credulity and acclaim that has greeted this agitprop is embarrassing, even by Washington standards.
According to the familiar "torture narrative" that Mr. Levin sanctifies, President Bush and senior officials sanctioned detainee abuse, first by refusing to accord al Qaeda members Geneva Convention rights, and second by conspiring to rewrite the legal definition of torture. The new practices were then imposed on military leaders and spread through the chain of command. Therefore, Mr. Bush, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their deputies are morally -- and legally -- responsible for all prisoner abuse since 9/11, not least Abu Ghraib.
Nearly every element of this narrative is dishonest.
Mr. Levin claims that Bush interrogation programs "damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives." The truth is closer to the opposite. The second-guessing of Democrats is likely to lead to a risk-averse mindset at the CIA and elsewhere that compromises the ability of terror fighters to break the next KSM. The political winds always shift, but terrorists are as dangerous as ever.
In 1997 I wrote Israel's Fine Line, it appeared in The New York Times. I argued that the interrogation of captured terrorists requires investigators to act in ways that may not be appropriate in symmetrical warfare. Terrorism by its nature asymmetrical as the victims are civilians and the perpetrators most often hide in civilian clothes and behind civilians.

Although the Times will have us believe the opposite, it's not enough to ask "pretty please" when dealing with these murderers.

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