I offer this advice out of a certain terrible, detached pity. Seldom in American domestic political history have we seen a group of people manage to this thoroughly discredit their own side’s position on something. Honestly, they would have done better to sit in the corner, and shut up.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, launched a six-year, 6,000-page, $40 million investigation into the CIA interrogation program, with the goal of convincing Americans that a) the program did not work and that b) enhanced interrogations were wrong and should never again be permitted.
She failed on all counts.
Just before Christmas, a Post poll revealed the American people’s final verdict. The vast majority agree with the CIA that these techniques were necessary and justified. A majority think that Feinstein should never have released her report. And — most importantly — 76 percent said they would do it again to protect the country.
I wonder what tomorrow’s (scheduled) Senate report on waterboarding during the Bush era is actually going to say. I suspect – suspect – that it’s going to end up seriously upsetting the antiwar Left, in large part because the former administration isn’t hanging the CIA out to dry:
The report is said to assert that the C.I.A. misled Mr. Bush and his White House about the nature, extent and results of brutal techniques like waterboarding, and some of his former administration officials privately suggested seizing on that to distance themselves from the controversial program, according to people involved in the discussion. But Mr. Bush and his closest advisers decided that “we’re going to want to stand behind these guys,” as one former official put it.
Mr. Bush made that clear in an interview broadcast on Sunday. “We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the C.I.A. serving on our behalf,” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.”
Darn right I’m blaming those idiots for this: “The [HuffPo/YouGov] poll showed that 68 percent think there are some circumstances when the government is justified in using torture, including 16 percent who think it’s always justified, 33 percent who think it’s sometimes justified, and 19 percent who think it’s rarely justified. Only 22 percent of Americans think torture is never justified.” Poll here: and via Hot Air. Allahpundit at that last link is glumly surprised that a consensus persists that there’s a time and a place for torture.
Hardly a surprise on either score: after all, I’ve been telling people for years that Nancy Pelosi knew all about the waterboarding all along. So did Glenn Reynolds. So did, in fact, did a lot of other people. So the news (via Mark Thiessen) that a new book is out claiming that then-House Intelligence Ranking Member Nancy Pelosi and then-House Intelligence chair Porter Goss were fully briefed by the CIA on waterboarding as an interrogation technique in 2002 is not a surprise. If true, it’s very, very damning – the book is claiming that Pelosi declined to protest the waterboarding at all, while raising objections to another procedure (which implies that this old claim that she couldn’t protest is, well, another lie) – but not a surprise.
…and the Law of Unintended Consequences: “Former President George W. Bush has declined an invitation to join President Barack Obama at a New York City ceremony later this week marking the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, NBC News reported on Tuesday.” The – ‘ostensible’ is too strong a word; ‘primary’ probably works better – reason is that former President Bush chooses to not emulate Jimmy Carter’s horrible example by insinuating himself into national affairs; but there’s certainly speculation as to what the secondary reasons are. Allahpundit’s suggestion that Bush desires to avoid what AP didn’t, but I will, call a Wellstone funeral-style campaign op makes a certain amount of sense. Then again, so does Instapundit’s commenter’s observation that perhaps Bush didn’t feel like being insulted to his face by President Obama, in much the same way that Obama went after Rep. Paul Ryan and the US Supreme Court in venues where they had to sit there and take the hits. I favor the latter as being the secondary reason.
And that’s where the Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in. It is actually very likely that President Obama has no intention of listening to the fools on his side who want to use the event for Bush-bashing, if only because it’s not the antiwar movement that the President needs to woo right now; even their protesters are committed to voting for him*. Obama needs independents and the disaffected portion of his 2008 vote, and those two demographics like seeing their Presidents take the high road. So you’d think that he’d take it, right?
Daniel Stone of The Daily Beast is being sloppy here…
A new study by the American Red Cross obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast found that a surprising majority—almost 60 percent—of American teenagers thought things like water-boarding or sleep deprivation are sometimes acceptable. More than half also approved of killing captured enemies in cases where the enemy had killed Americans. When asked about the reverse, 41 percent thought it was permissible for American troops to be tortured overseas. In all cases, young people showed themselves to be significantly more in favor of torture than older adults.
…and you can tell by the fact that he didn’t actually directly link to the survey in question. At first glance it’s not exactly obvious why: after all, the question that was asked is potentially even more depressing. The statement that got the 59% approval was: “Torturing captured enemy soldiers or fighters in order to get important military information.” But it’s not entirely… useful to Stone, because the big question in the US government was never “Is it OK to wire up terrorists to car batteries on a regular basis?” That was easily answered with a “No.” The big question was, “Are interrogation techniques like waterboarding and sleep deprivation actually torture?” – an argument that Stone and his ilk clearly think is “Yes.”
Thanks to CPAC, I completely missed covering this (Glenn Reynolds reminded me of the story this morning):
Authors of waterboarding memos won’t be disciplined
Bush administration lawyers who wrote memos that paved the way for waterboarding of terrorism suspects and other harsh interrogation tactics “exercised poor judgment” but will not face discipline for their actions, according to long-awaited Justice Department documents released Friday.
I would have asked Abdul Ghani Baradar whether he thought that this exoneration – which is what this is – had anything to do with the administration’s decision to re-implement Clinton-era tactics of extraordinary rendition, but he could not be reached for comment.
PS: What’s that? You’re from the Left, and you gave money to Democrats because you thought that they would prosecute Yoo and Bybee for doing their jobs? And now you want that money back? Why, how profoundly silly of you. Next, you’ll be telling farmers to give milk back to the cows.
Hey, be personally grateful it’s not ‘give bacon back to the pigs.’
I think that Allahpundit is over-analyzing the reasons why support for ‘torture’ is currently polling at 54/41 in favor (God help us all). It looks fairly simple to me: the antiwar movement has spent the last five or six years attempting to equate waterboarding to torture. They even more or less succeeded – but then they made a classic mistake: they assumed that stigmatization would inevitably follow. Their thinking presumably was that if you can define X as Y, and Y is bad, then it becomes inconceivable that people could possibly support X.
Apparently, what happened instead was that they got the American people to define X as Y… and then the American people decided that perhaps this meant that Y wasn’t so bad after all. This answer allows them to keep doing X, which was after all keeping us from losing any more national landmarks and innocent civilians to terrorist attacks. Men not being angels, that’s enough for a justification right then and there.
Mind you, it’s not the waterboarding that’s the problem here: it’s that this strategy also makes it slightly easier for the CIA to feel better about handing over suspected terrorists caught abroad to say, France; who will hand them over to, say, Egypt; who will hand them over to people with car batteries. Which is bad, by the way; but it’s now also easier.
PS: Yes, all of this was incredibly stupid of the antiwar movement – not to mention morally shortsighted of them. Antiwar progressives, remember?