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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Defending CIA's Hard Interrogations

In the WaPo this am, the man who ran the CIA's enhanced interrogation program, Jose Rodriguez, defends it against a highly critical Senate report.  See the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/i-ran-the-cia-interrogation-program-no-matter-what-the-senate-report-says-i-know-it-worked/2014/04/04/69dd4fae-bc23-11e3-96ae-f2c36d2b1245_story.html

One takeaway from Robert Gates's memoir--see my review in an earlier post--is how psychologically affected the Bush administration was by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Gates states the administration felt it had let the country down, and it would do anything to prevent another attack.  That observation came in 2006, when he joined the government; five years later, it still weighed heavily upon the White House.  When Bush was presented with the option of approving enhanced interrogation techniques, according to his own memoir, he replied, "damn right." (Or words to that effect; I quote from memory.)  Clearly the administration was committed to do whatever it took within the law to unravel the Al Qaida network. 

Gates mentioned somewhat obliquely that it would have been beneficial if some more reflection had been undertaken to determine whether "waterboarding"--the hard technique used--was consistent with American values.  That's a legitmate point.  With the benefit of hindsight, I wonder if any of the proponents would have approved it, given the endless fuss it has caused.  It is 2014, and we are still debating a program that ended 10 years ago, was used on few people, and probably did yield some intelligence on our enemies. 

Hard interrogation was not torture.  Some Hollywood actors and journalists have willingly submitted to it.  Obviously its proponents did it to break some very tough men WITHOUT using torture.  These were men who planned and committed mass murder, without remorse.  Some people will see this issue differently, and that is their right. Glad they weren't in charge after 9/11, though.

I always thought it was somewhat telling that Leon Panetta, a liberal if ever their was one, always defended the hard interrogation program when he was CIA head. Obviously the Democrats on the Hill are attacking the CIA over this because, well, because they can.  Let's be clear: principles have nothing to do with this.  

As for American values...well.  We've always been hard on our enemies.  We are killing them now with drone strikes, and sometimes this leads to death of innocents.  (Not as many as people would suppose, though.)  This program has been undertaken by a conservative and a liberal administration.  We the People seem more than okay with it.

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