The ACLU vs. America

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Nope. Not their war against Christmas; but their war against our military:

The Obama administration is withholding hundreds, perhaps even thousands of photographs showing the U.S. government’s brutal treatment of detainees, meaning that revelations about detainee abuse could well continue, possibly compounding the outrage generated by the Senate “torture report” now in the public eye.

Some photos show American troops posing with corpses; others depict U.S. forces holding guns to people’s heads or simulating forced sodomization. All of them could be released to the public, depending on how a federal judge in New York rules—and how hard the government fights to appeal. The government has a Friday deadline to submit to that judge its evidence for why it thinks each individual photograph should continue to be kept hidden away.

The photographs are part of a collection of thousands of images from 203 investigations into detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan and represent one of the last known secret troves of evidence of detainee abuse. While the photos represent disturbing images from the Bush administration’s watch, it is the Obama administration that has allowed them to remain buried—all with the help of a willing Congress.

The president may have entered office promising a new era of transparency—and was even prepared to release at least 21 of the photos in 2009. But Obama pulled back at the last minute at the urging of his top commander in Iraq, who worried the graphic images could generate a backlash against U.S. troops.

“We’re not dismissive of the fact that some people could react badly to the publishing of the photographs,” said the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer, the lead lawyer in a decade-long legal dispute with the government over the photos. But this does not mean, he continued, that there should be a “massive heckler’s veto that terrorist organizations can wield over the public’s right to know.”

“The public has a right to know what happened in these military detention facilities,” Jaffer added, “in the same way it has a right to know about what happened at the CIA black sites.”

The Daily Beast notes that in 2009, al-Maliki warned that “Baghdad will burn” if these photos were released. But now with American (semi)withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan:

today, five years later, there are less than a tenth that number serving in those two countries. And while U.S. officials warned about reprisal attacks in response to the “torture report” and other documentation of American atrocities, that backlash has so far failed to materialize.

Abuses and atrocities are not right and bring shame and dishonor to our country. We know they’ve occurred. We’ve acknowledged that these incidents have occurred (203 investigations into alleged mistreatment of detainees, according to the Daily Beast). We’ve reprimanded, prosecuted, and court-martialed our own over substantiated cases. Of what good does it serve anyone except America’s enemies and those with a morbid abuse fetish and those with a political self-loathing of our country in releasing these photos, at this time in history? We know abuses have occurred. Releasing photos and reawakening the memories of abu Ghraib (from 10 years ago) only picks at a national scab and reignites the fevered imaginings of Islamist ire. They will not look at us and think to themselves, “America is a moral nation for releasing torture photos.”

And liberals like Greg still wonder why Jose Rodriguez (who had the legal authority to do so) had foresight and acted unilaterally in destroying 92 CIA video tapes of Zubaydah and al-Nashiri’s interrogation sessions?

Has there ever been another country that has done more moral hand-wringing and navel-gazing than ours? As if the wrongful abuses that have happened in OIF and OEF and in the GWoT are unique to America and our recent conflicts and not something pandemic to human history, in all wars and throughout all of human history?

What is unique in the annals of human history is the extent to which we western countries are willing to go in self-flagellation.

It is not Dick Cheney, John Yoo, Jose Rodriguez, Michael Hayden (current whipping boy of the torture alarmist left, who wasn’t CIA Director until May 2006 when the CIA program was temporarily suspended- and essentially ended by Dec 2007), and other Bush boogiemen who have “harmed America’s moral standing in the eyes of the world”. It is the hyperbolic hysteria and comparisons to the Khmer Rouge, Spanish Inquisition, Japanese WWII officers; the distortions and partisan howling over findings in a deeply lopsided Report that represents the weight of governmental authority because it came from the desk of a U.S. lawmaker:

These false comparisons shoot across the world on the internet and 24 hour cable news, and are taken as fact by millions. And then the same critics who spread these lies blame the CIA for undermining America’s moral standing.
-Marc Thiessen, Courting Disaster, pg 141

There are real problems with the CIA and its history. However, all the Feinstein “Torture” Report does is feed into the conspiratorial villainous nonsense that so many in the anti-American universe embrace. It confirms their worst wild imaginations.

And now it’s apparently time to throw our military under the bus and drive over them, yet again.

33 Responses to “The ACLU vs. America”

  1. 1

    Scott+in+Oklahoma

    I believe this “downgrading” of our American image is being driven by the executive branch and a complicit media. We have a president who was not raised as an American, not raised with American ideals, principles, traditions or pride, he was raised to believe communism is a better way. He was not raised with “conventional” religious beliefs, although he claims to be Christian, his actions indicate he favors Islam over all others. We have watched over the last six years as he has widened the racial divide, circumvented Congress and the Constitution, and watched as he has taken every opportunity to damage the image and effectiveness of the military, the intelligence services and local law enforcement. When will it stop? I’m not too happy with my suspicions about that.

  2. 3

    retire05

    @Scott+in+Oklahoma: @Scott+in+Oklahoma:

    We have a president who was not raised as an American, not raised with American ideals, principles, traditions or pride, he was raised to believe communism is a better way. He was not raised with “conventional” religious beliefs, although he claims to be Christian, his actions indicate he favors Islam over all others.

    Obama’s formative years were spent with a Communist mother and an Islamic step-father. When he went back to live with his grandparents, it would seem his grandfather was a just a gigantic loser and the grandmother was the one who supported the entire family. Yet, the one person that gave stability to Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.’s live he referred to as a “typical white woman” showing disdain for her. That disdain was visible when she fell ill, right before she died, and he refused to stop his campaign long enough to go see her.

    And when Obama did accept Christianity, who did he turn to? A radical Black Liberation Theologian by the name of Wright. Hardly a legitimate form of Christianity.

    The actions of the Democrats, and the howling left, remind me that we seem to be in the days before Pearl Harbor. We are rolling over on our backs and exposing our bellies to our enemies.

    There are no more Democrats, Scott. They are all just hard core Socialists who would destroy this nation in order to foist their Socialists beliefs on the rest of us. Remember, Socialism only affects the proletariat, never the politburo.

  3. 4

    Scott+in+Oklahoma

    @retire05, I have no illusions about the direction the liberal progressives of both parties want to take us, and I am extremely disappointed by the number of people who are so willing to follow them. I’m not sure we can turn the ship before it goes crashing over the falls…

  4. 5

    Greg

    @Scott+in+Oklahoma, #1:

    I believe this “downgrading” of our American image is being driven by the executive branch and a complicit media.

    It wasn’t the Obama administration that set up and ran a secret “enhanced interrogation” program.

  5. 6

    john

    “Baghdad will burn”
    That city in case you haven’t noticed as been toast since 2004
    Everyone in any muslim country has been well aware of what happened with or without pics
    The torture was a secret, but really only from Americams. Just as Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia wasn’t really much of a secret from the Cambodians
    “then you will know the truth and that shall set you free”
    Secrets are pretty much a thing of the past. Would you rather have them come out now? or in x years.
    When Ronald Reagan signed the Anti Torture Treaty he promised that the USA would never torture and that it would prosecute anyone anywhere who did

  6. 7

    Bill

    Why hide or disguise it? We are in a war with animals. When we have soldiers that have defeated the enemy, surrounded by enemy corpses, publish pictures of them dumping swine guts on them, defecating on them, urinating on them. Show pictures of our women soldiers holding guns on prisoners or desecrating their worthless corpses. Good Lord, are we at war or at a tennis match?

    Propagandize what will happen to them, living or dead, when they encounter the American soldier. We ARE invincible and we WILL annihilate them, desecrate their corpses and they will NOT get their virgins or whatever their eternal reward might be. When they begin to wonder what will happen to them in the hereafter, perhaps we can begin to terrorize the terrorists and cause them second thoughts before joining a jihad to murder, rape and torture for their reward in Heaven.

    Halsey said after Pearl Harbor that “when we are done, the only place where the Japanese language will be spoken is in Hell.” Until we establish, accept and employ that attitude, we will nit-pick terrorists for a hundred years and never solve the problem.

  7. 8

    another+vet

    The left is up in arms about this. They say treating the killing machines who are trying to wipe us out “badly” is “Not who we are.” They believe we need to treat them with respect and dignity. The last few years we’ve seen over 100 Vets die in our VA healthcare system and many more suffer from much worse than sleep deprivation. It hasn’t stopped. A friend of mine, who is also a Vet, went to the VA a few weeks ago because he had lots of pain in his left foot. The VA told him it was gout, failed to perform any tests including a simple x-ray, and sent him home. The next two days the pain was so unbearable he had a friend take him to the ER of a local hospital. Eight days later when he awoke from his coma he found out that the bones in his left foot were shattered and that he had developed sepsis and almost died because the poison got into his blood stream. This former Marine experienced more pain and suffering than any of these terrorists. No outrage from the left on this because it didn’t occur under the right administration (R).

    The left is outraged at the harsh treatment of the terrorists but doesn’t care about or appreciate those who put their asses on the line to protect them nor do they care about the suffering of our Vets at the hands of our government (at least under this administration). And that is who they are.

  8. 10

    Randy

    @Greg: Again you missed the point of the post. Did you forget the apology tour? Did you forget the bowing to foreign leaders? I guess you miss quite a lot that happens every day or maybe you can not realize the significance of Obama’s mistakes actions.

  9. 11

    another+vet

    @Bill:Indeed that’s who they are. They either are too stupid or naïve to know who our enemies are or they sympathize with them. I’m beginning to believe it is the latter.

  10. 12

    Tom

    @another+vet:

    @Bill:Indeed that’s who they are. They either are too stupid or naïve to know who our enemies are or they sympathize with them. I’m beginning to believe it is the latter.

    It could be that, or it could be there are citizens who don’t believe we should emulate the worst practices of our enemies, for both moral and practical reasons. For all the uncountable good deeds done by thousands of American soldiers and Marines in the Middle East since 9/11, half the world will point to “torture” or Abu Ghraib as the defining moments of American involvement in that part of the world. These moral debacles have enormous, incalculable costs. There is the damage to our standing amongst our allies. And there is the provision to our enemies of recruitment propaganda that will be all over the internet for years to come. So it’s perfectly human in the face of a disaster to ask “why?” This idea that we should just all shut up about it, or be complicit in covering it up, that doesn’t strike me as a very American idea. The Senate has an oversight function. The press has the freedom to report. Americans have the freedom to hold an opinion and call it wrong and counterproductive as they see fit. Labeling someone a traitor for not supporting autocratic power abuses and secrecy doesn’t strike me as a very American idea either.

    Apologists for”enhanced interrogation” want us to simultaneously believe contradictory claims: it hardly even happened; but it worked enormously well. It wasn’t illegal; but we stopped doing it anyway ten years ago. it wasn’t really that bad; but please stop talking about it, because we don’t want anyone to know. They want us to blame Dianne Feinstein and the ACLU for “inflaming” terrorists and poking old wounds without an acknowledgement that pretending something didn’t happen is another way of ensuring it will happen again.

  11. 13

    Tom

    Jonathan Chait

    Three decades ago, right-wing French intellectual Jean-François Revel published a call to arms entitled How Democracies Perish, which quickly became a key text of the neoconservative movement and an ideological blueprint for the Reagan administration. Revel argued that the Soviet Union’s brutality and immunity from internal criticism gave it an inherent advantage over the democratic West — the United States and Europe were too liberal, too open, too humane, too soft to defeat the resolute men of the Iron Curtain.

    “Unlike the Western leadership, which is tormented by remorse and a sense of guilt,” wrote Revel, “Soviet leaders’ consciences are perfectly clear, which allows them to use brute force with utter serenity both to preserve their power at home and to extend it abroad.” Even though Revel’s prediction that the Soviet Union would outlast the West was falsified within a few years, conservatives continue to tout its wisdom. And even as Revel’s name has faded further into the backdrop, recent events have revealed the continuing influence of his ideas.

    The ongoing Russian crisis has given American conservatives the chance to reprise in miniature their mistaken overestimation of communism’s power. When Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, the right lamented Barack Obama’s slow, contemplative diplomacy, which was no match for Vladimir Putin’s autocratic will. Rudy Giuliani practically lusted after the Russian dictator. “Putin decides what he wants to do, and he does it in half a day. Right? He decided he had to go to their parliament, he went to their parliament, he got permission in fifteen minutes,” swooned the admired foreign-policy strategist. “That’s what you call a leader.” Other conservatives echoed Giuliani’s praise for Putin’s will to power.

    Today Putin’s economy is on the brink of collapse — in part, as Michael Crowley explains, as a result of American-led sanctions. This is not any special vindication of Obama’s foreign-policy acumen, but simply a reflection of the fact that Putin miscalculated badly. He gambled that oil, a commodity in which his economy is heavily reliant, would remain expensive, and he badly underestimated the effect of economic sanctions and other blowback. His confident assertiveness and ability to bend his parliament to approve a war of conquest in 15 minutes, when longer consideration may have rallied skeptics, turned out to be liabilities rather than advantages.

    Admiration for the methods used by totalitarian states is likewise embedded in the torture program created by the Bush administration. The CIA, seized by fear, scrambling for interrogation methods, and deprived of both law and a tradition of torture, wound up borrowing techniques from the communist world. Elite military units have long undergone “Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape” training designed to help them withstand the torture methods used by China and North Korea in the 1950s. These methods were largely designed to produce false confessions for propaganda purposes. By mimicking the methods American soldiers were trained to resist, the U.S. thereby imported torture practices from its most vile totalitarian foes.

    Whether consciously or not, that decision vindicated Revel’s vision of a more brutal West willing to play by the Soviets’ own rules. Bret Stephens, writing in The Wall Street Journal editorial page, dismisses any concerns about torture — even torture of innocent people! — as “moral preening.” Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin straightforwardly dismisses the American aspiration to hold itself to a higher standard than its enemies as hopelessly naïve. “Americans have always clung to the notion that they never had to stoop to the level of their enemies to win wars even if that was always a myth. … ” he writes. “The tactics aren’t easy to look at, but as he can rightly assert, the only thing in war that counts in the long run is the results.”

    The only thing that counts is the results. Morality is a hypocritical pretext; the winners write the history books. This is the familiar philosophy of the dictator, at home within a major American political party.

  12. 14

    another+vet

    @Tom:

    It could be that, or it could be there are citizens who don’t believe we should emulate the worst practices of our enemies, for both moral and practical reasons.

    If you think sleep deprivation (something everyone goes through in BCT in the military to get them use to the stresses of combat) or standing naked on a chair with dogs barking at you compares to beheadings, castration, electrocution, feeding people alive to animals, and other assorted atrocities are in the same ballpark they’re not. Like I said, our Vets have endured more pain and suffering at the hands of our government officials than these terrorists have and even provided a recent, personal example. These people hate us and want us dead. They are killing machines who have no regard for human life, theirs or anyone elses. If these were innocent civilians or members of a foreign military we were talking about it would be different. These killing machines don’t care about your politics or morals as shown by the fact that they attacked this country under conservative presidents (Reagan, GWB), left-wing presidents (Obama), and everyone in between (GHWB, Clinton). They want all of us dead and that includes you.

  13. 15

    Bill

    @Tom: Abu Ghraib, as you may or may not know, was not something that was an officially sanctioned means of interrogation. Furthermore, the participants in the Abu Ghraib abuses (hardly torture) were punished appropriately. You might think about focusing your comments on the types of events that the “terror report” describes.

    Apologists for”enhanced interrogation” want us to simultaneously believe contradictory claims: it hardly even happened; but it worked enormously well.

    If you paid attention to what those other than the ax grinders had to say, you would realize a couple of important details. One, not every single prisoner was subjected to intense interrogation. However, when employed on the high-value prisoners, the results were very positive. So, you do not have to be an “apologist” to admit the simple truth that, for instance, the intelligence that led to bin Laden was derived through enhanced methods. This, in addition to stopping plots which saved lives.

    Not surprisingly, Dianne did not include this opinion of Eric Holder in her one-sided version:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/181884/holder-waterboarding-proving-its-not-torture-while-insisting-it-andrew-c-mccarthy

    Here, Holder admits that if the methods are not employed in order to cause harm, damage or terror then it is not torture; it’s the intent that makes the difference.. Do you have examples where EIP was used for the simple fun of it (and not punished)?

    Had Dianne included more facts and less ideology and agenda, she probably would not have released the report at all; it would not serve the purpose she desired.

  14. 16

    Tom

    @another+vet:

    If you think sleep deprivation (something everyone goes through in BCT in the military to get them use to the stresses of combat) or standing naked on a chair with dogs barking at you compares to beheadings, castration, electrocution, feeding people alive to animals, and other assorted atrocities are in the same ballpark they’re not.

    I’m pretty sure I didn’t make that comparison. And I’m pretty sure we’re not only talking about sleep deprivation. We’re talking about about a program authorized at the highest levels of civilian government that didn’t do much to help our American militarily do their jobs, but has done a ton to hamper them and make their lives more dangerous. I sincerely wish the lasting image of the American militarily presence in the Middle East over the past decade plus was you and your fellow active duty personnel on the ground, what you accomplished, the sacrifices and the good deeds. Not Dick Cheney saying he’s fine with innocent people being tortured. Hind sight is 20/20, but there is nothing good to say about this program. If there were, Dick Cheney would have told us specifically all about it this past weekend when he did the rounds. Instead, all he could muster was “9/11!”. It was a shitty, immoral, idea. From a cold-blooded practical standpoint, it’s done nothing but hurt our national interests. I assume what’s right and wrong, and what helps and hurts our national interests, are important considerations, not just defending your partisan political interests to the end of time?

    These killing machines don’t care about your politics or morals as shown by the fact that they attacked this country under conservative presidents (Reagan, GWB), left-wing presidents (Obama), and everyone in between (GHWB, Clinton). They want all of us dead and that includes you.

    I agree. And I want them dead too. It’s too bad Cheney and his EI has helped to swell their ranks while souring our allies toward our cause. You’re smart enough to know that matters. This was a badly designed, ill-supervised program with results that didn’t come close to outweighing the subsequent costs. Innocent people were tortured; at least one man died. If your argument is at least we’re not as bad as these sadistic terrorist murderers, that is pretty sad. They are people who murder children and we are people who build schools. We should hold ourselves to a much higher standard.

  15. 17

    Tom

    @another+vet:

    By the way, since you like to lump all liberals and Democrats together as terrorists sympathizers, can I assume you include Democratic Rep Seth Moulton? Now I don’t profess to know how liberal Seth is, but he did run in Massachusetts as a Democrat against an openly gay Republican, so I think he probably falls within your definition. Here’s a little about Seth:http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/17/moulton-underplays-military-service/lY9FfmOrviwL2LAFHr61dO/story.html

    The American political graveyard has more than a few monuments to politicians and public officials who embellished details of their military service, in some cases laying claim to medals for heroism or other military honors they never received.

    And then, uniquely, there is Seth W. Moulton, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the Sixth Congressional District, a former Marine who saw fierce combat for months and months in Iraq. But Moulton chose not to publicly disclose that he was twice decorated for heroism until pressed by the Globe.

    In 2003 and 2004, during weeks-long battles with Iraqi insurgents, then-Lieutenant Moulton “fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire” while leading his platoon during pitched battles for control of Nasiriyah and Najaf south of Baghdad, according to citations for the medals that the Globe requested from the campaign.

    The Globe learned of the awards — the Bronze Star medal for valor and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal for valor — after reviewing an official summary of Moulton’s five years of service, in which they were noted in military argot.

    In an interview, Moulton said he considers it unseemly to discuss his own awards for valor. “There is a healthy disrespect among veterans who served on the front lines for people who walk around telling war stories,’’ he said. What’s more, Moulton said he is uncomfortable calling attention to his own awards out of respect to “many others who did heroic things and received no awards at all.’’

    My friendly advice, please be careful about negative generalizations of this sort. Just because someone doesn’t share your exact opinion doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it does.

  16. 18

    another+vet

    @Tom:

    We’re talking about about a program authorized at the highest levels of civilian government that didn’t do much to help our American militarily do their jobs, but has done a ton to hamper them and make their lives more dangerous.

    The ones who didn’t help us do our jobs were those on the left who openly spouted off against our mission and the troops. See comments made by Durbin, Kennedy, and Kerry to name a few. Their statements gave hope to our enemies. Want specific examples? Our interpreters were extremely worried that Kerry was going to be the next POTUS because they believed he was going to cut and run thus leaving them to the wolves. One of my buds who was in Afghanistan as an SF Team Sergeant in 2006 told me how the Taliban was celebrating when the results of the 2006 Mid-Terms came out. Check out the when the increase in Green on Blue attacks in Afghanistan happened. It was after Obama made the announcement of the withdrawl date. Again getting back to my buddy, he said it was used as a recruiting tool by the Taliban and AQ. They told those who supported us that we were going to desert them and it would be in their best interests to come over to their side because the Americans wouldn’t be there to protect them. How about providing some specific examples of how this program did a ton to hamper the military? If it did that much damage, it should be very easy to provide some specifics.

    My friendly advice, please be careful about negative generalizations of this sort.

    Not all Democrats bashed the war and the troops. However, just about everyone I can think of who bashed the war and the troops were Democrats. I’ve made reference to Joe Lieberman multiple times in the past. He was run out of the party for supporting our efforts. Remember Moveon.org? How about Code Pink? Which party did they support? Who supported all of those war protestors? I respect Moulton’s service. Obviously he wasn’t a basher of the troops and the war unlike the majority of the party he chose. He’s not the norm however.

    I sincerely wish the lasting image of the American militarily presence in the Middle East over the past decade plus was you and your fellow active duty personnel on the ground, what you accomplished, the sacrifices and the good deeds.

    The sacrifices were not or will not be squandered because of the way anyone was treated while in captivity, but rather by the failed policies of this President. He declared GWOT to be over with when it wasn’t, ignored the generals in Iraq thus allowing for a security vacuum to develop, and told AQ and the Taliban in Afghanistan that we were leaving regardless of the situation on the ground. AQ and its affiliates are far stronger now than they were before. ISIS for example now holds a swath of land the size of Great Britain. No wonder two of the three former SecDef’s (one a lifelong dem) have bashed his policies. I’m sure Hagel will be the third. Rest assured, the top level generals are biting their tongues.

    As for our image, on my first tour in Iraq some Iraqis told me they were surprised at how nice the Americans were. They weren’t expecting that. They said the image they had of Americans was one of people who do drugs, have constant sex, and kill each other. That they said came from American movies and television. Between that and the constant anti-American propaganda in that part of the world, our “image” there was trashed long before we stepped foot in the country. Put everything in a time line and you’ll see the way these people were treated had nothing to do with our image in that part of the world.

  17. 19

    Bill

    @Tom:

    didn’t do much to help our American militarily do their jobs, but has done a ton to hamper them and make their lives more dangerous.

    Much has been offered showing that the EIP program enhanced our intelligence capabilities and prevented terror attacks. I have seen nothing where any of our interrogation efforts put anyone at any additional harm or threat until Feinstein conducted her little grandstanding performance. What might you have that backs up this claim?

    By the way, since you like to lump all liberals and Democrats together as terrorists sympathizers

    There can always be an exception or two to every rule, but as a rule, the left if pretty uniform in using whatever they can to damage Republicans, up to and including risking national security and the lives and health of those in harm’s way.

  18. 20

    Tom

    @another+vet:

    The ones who didn’t help us do our jobs were those on the left who openly spouted off against our mission and the troops. See comments made by Durbin, Kennedy, and Kerry to name a few. Their statements gave hope to our enemies.

    I agree that politicians should weigh carefully their words in public and their impact. And I appreciate your specific examples. I don’t see, however, a real difference between the parties in terms of the concept of partisanship ending at the water’s edge. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, to name two prominent examples, criticize the current POTUS’s foreign policy every day, on cable news, on Twitter, you name it. Republican’s cheered for Vladamir Putin’s no-nonsense aggression while mocking Obama, even though they knew there was no immediate answers do in Ukraine.

    How about providing some specific examples of how this program did a ton to hamper the military? If it did that much damage, it should be very easy to provide some specifics.

    The big issue is that the program is a recruiting tool and a propaganda machine for terrorists. Obviously, that’s not very specific, but it’s real. More specifically, the report reveals that interrogations lead to false confessions that lead to dead end leads.

    However, just about everyone I can think of who bashed the war and the troops were Democrats

    I think Ron Paul went much farther than any Democrat I can think of, practically into 9/11 conspiracy. I get your point, but people in a country such as ours are going to debate a long and costly war. While you’ve given me a glimpse into the downside, I don’t think stifling debate is the answer.

    As for our image, on my first tour in Iraq some Iraqis told me they were surprised at how nice the Americans were. They weren’t expecting that.

    And that’s exactly where my concerns lie. The PR war. Does it make a soldiers life a bit easier in a foreign land when the population has a true picture rather than a distorted one?

    I appreciate you taking the time to share the perspective of someone who was there. There is no substitute for these real anecdotes and insights.

  19. 21

    Tom

    @Bill:

    Much has been offered showing that the EIP program enhanced our intelligence capabilities and prevented terror attacks

    if that’s the case, why didn’t Dick Cheney share some of those specific success stories when he was on Meet the Press for fifteen minutes? It would have been the perfect opportunity for him to specifically refute the report, which debunked most of those claims you reference. Cheney said several times that “it worked” but offered no specifics outside of his claim that the program lead to the capture of Bin Laden, which the report claims is not true.

    As far as the claim that the program has prevented another mass casualty event – again another opportunity for Cheney to elaborate that he didn’t take – my understanding is that most of the aggressive techniques, including water boarding, were abandoned after 2003, so that’s 11 years ago. Here is a serious question for you: if these techniques worked so well, and were so vital to our national interests, why did the CIA pull the plug?

  20. 22

    another+vet

    @Tom: I wouldn’t get too wrapped around the “damage” this may or may not cause to our image especially considering the stakes at hand. When you look back at history there have been much more real and widespread abuses than what occurred here, some to American citizens. In the end, it is the outcome of the war that matters most to how history will judge the current state of affairs, not rare isolated incidents. The Civil War was known for keeping the Union together not places like Andersonville in the South or Fort Delaware in the North. WWII was known for our defeating the Axis Powers not our Japanese internment camps or our troops carrying around the skulls of dead Japanese soldiers on their jeeps. Vietnam damaged our image because we failed to achieve our objective not because of Mai Li. The same will go for the current war (yes we’re still at war with these animals regardless of what is said). America’s image will be strengthened or weakened based on whether or not we prevail not whether or not we waterboarded some terrorists.

    The people who put out this one sided report are the same ones who regard FDR as one of our greatest Presidents. He was the one who ordered American citizens of Japanese decent into internment camps. It was under his administration that blacks were made human subjects of government experiments involving VD. While the left will criticize those two sorry chapters in American history, they won’t criticize FDR for it despite the fact that they were done against U.S. citizens who were no threat to the U.S. unlike the killing machines in question here. Two different standards. Why? It’s just an extension of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

  21. 23

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @Tom #12:

    Apologists for”enhanced interrogation” want us to simultaneously believe contradictory claims: it hardly even happened; but it worked enormously well.

    Hah…”apologist”….I make no apologies for my lack of appall over the Feinstein Report.

    Prior to the capture of Zubaydah and subsequently KSM, we knew very little about how al Qaeda operated. By 2006, over half to 2/3rds of what we knew about the organization arose out of the CIA program- how it moved money, communicated, recruited, etc. Not everything was about EITs. It was merely part of the overall program- and one that was a key which helped to unlock a cascade of information, leads, and further captures. Do you follow? An al Qaeda operative who may have been captured, never subjected to EITs, but spilled some beans (Thiessen describes how only a third of the HVDs in CIA custody received EITs and some captured terrorists would say something to the effect of, “You’re CIA? I’ll tell you everything you want to know”. Why? Because of the scary reputation and myth surrounding the CIA renditions and black sites and what CIA were capable of doing). Some operatives were willing to cooperate without the need for EITs. Now, just because these HVDs were not subjected to EITs, what led to their capture in the first place? Go far enough up the chain and you might be able to trace it all the way back to the interrogation (and EITs) of KSM and Zubaydah. A ripple effect. EITs were the key.

    @Tom #20:

    The big issue is that the program is a recruiting tool and a propaganda machine for terrorists. Obviously, that’s not very specific, but it’s real. More specifically, the report reveals that interrogations lead to false confessions that lead to dead end leads.

    Can you track down a specific passage for me? I didn’t bookmark that. From what I recall from reading, KSM became cooperative after EITs…then was given “soft cell” treatment and debriefing…..then subsequent to that, gave misleading information. Okay, I think I found it, from page 79:

    According to Feinstein’s report, KSM was in a phase of clamming up; then was given the softball approach, after which he appeared to be cooperative. He wasn’t. He misled them into the detention of two innocent individuals. Was that the fault of the “hard cell” or the “soft cell” approach?

    KSM, however, is also said to have been a fountain of good intelligence. He was very proud, very arrogant of what he knew and is said to have conducted classes for CIA officials, complete with chalkboard.

    The CIA, btw, do not simply blindly accept what an HVD tells them as factual. Information is cross-referenced; and during EIT application, questions aren’t being asked of a detainee that they don’t already know the answers to. Questions are asked in order to determine if the HVT has been brought into a state of compliance. Intell is gathered during debriefing.

    Did you have a chance to read “Jason Beale”?

    One of the most prevalent criticisms of the efficacy of the program– which is expressed time and again by individuals opposed to the use of EITs – is that “people will say anything to make it stop.” Each time I hear that phrase glibly tossed about by the politicians, pundits, and “experts” describing their opposition to EITs, I am left with the same thought: Only if you let them. I wonder if it is truly that drastic an intellectual leap to consider for a moment the notion that the professional interrogators employing those techniques would be acutely aware of that possibility, and prepared to counter it? If every former-interrogator, FBI agent, politician, administration official, columnist and man on the street opposed to EIT interrogation can cite this notion as a central tenet of their ineffectiveness argument, can we not reasonably conclude that a CIA interrogator actually employing those techniques would be equally attuned to signs of such behavior?

  22. 24

    Bill

    @Tom:

    John McCain and Lindsey Graham, to name two prominent examples, criticize the current POTUS’s foreign policy every day, on cable news, on Twitter, you name it. Republican’s cheered for Vladamir Putin’s no-nonsense aggression while mocking Obama, even though they knew there was no immediate answers do in Ukraine.

    So, you feel it quite alright for Democrats to call Bush a liar on the floor of Congress (for doing what many of them voted to do) and accuse him and our military of war crimes while we fought a war on terror, but no one is allowed to criticize this failure of a foreign policy which has put us at greater risk than we ever were before 9/11? And, please, tell me who has cheered Putin’s aggression which, while there was no immediate response to it but was caused by Obama showing nothing but weakness to our foreign advisories? Provide those examples.

    if that’s the case, why didn’t Dick Cheney share some of those specific success stories when he was on Meet the Press for fifteen minutes? It would have been the perfect opportunity for him to specifically refute the report, which debunked most of those claims you reference. Cheney said several times that “it worked” but offered no specifics outside of his claim that the program lead to the capture of Bin Laden, which the report claims is not true.

    Cheney is no longer a spokesperson for the government and is not at liberty to reveal the specifics; after all, he is not one of the failure liberals that need every opportunity to grandstand, especially when someone else had done all the heavy lifting.

    When the administration was busy revealing intelligence details in the past years, some of what came out revealed that it was the EIP that led to bin Laden. You can’t really hang your hat on the Feinstein hit piece to prove there WAS no benefit since, obviously, that report did not include any data from the other side of the discussion. Further, let me make another point. While a movie is not usually a reliable source, the makers of “Zero Dark Thirty” were given unprecedented access to the intelligence data of the investigation and raid that nailed bin Laden. These Hollywood pin heads are no fan of Bush, the war or the EIP, yet (much to the chagrin of the administration and all the liberals that were hoping for a wonderful cheerleading piece for Obama and a denunciation of the EIP) apparently the intelligence they had access to showed the EIP led to bin Laden.

    From the CIA (who had to make their own report since the Feinstein report interviewed NOT A ONE:

    The report defies credulity by saying that the interrogation program did not produce any intelligence value. In fact, the program led to the capture of senior al Qaida leaders, including helping to find Usama bin Ladin, and resulted in operations that led to the disruption of terrorist plots that saved thousands of American and allied lives.

  23. 26

    another+vet

    @Rich+Wheeler:Per my comment in number 18:

    Not all Democrats bashed the war and the troops. However, just about everyone I can think of who bashed the war and the troops were Democrats.

    Reading comprehension problem today?

  24. 28

    another+vet

    @Rich+Wheeler: Webb would make a good 3rd party candidate. He’d never make it out of the primaries in either of the main two. He’s not conservative enough for Republicans and is too conservative for the Democrats. He was highly critical of both Bush and Obama, the main reason he ran in 2006 as a Democrat and probably the main reason he chose not to seek re-election as a Democrat. Perhaps him and Rand Paul can run as a ticket. They seem to think alike on enough issues.

    I like Ron Paul on most issues as he is really a Libertarian. Unfortunately, he is so far gone on national security issues we would be at risk for another attack. I too wish we could just flip off the rest of the world and live in our own little world and let the rest of the world kill each other off. Being practical, that just isn’t going to happen. 9/11 was launched before we invaded Afghanistan, before we invaded Iraq, and before waterboarding. These animals hate us period and hiding in a closet isn’t going to make them change their minds.

  25. 29

    Rich+Wheeler

    @another+vet: I’d vote for a Jim Webb, Rand Paul ticket I like em both. Think Paul has a punchers chance of getting Repub. nod and winning the Presidency. Webb appears to not have the stomach for politics. He is a true maverick.
    C

  26. 30

    another+vet

    @Rich+Wheeler:

    Webb appears to not have the stomach for politics.

    Can you blame him? I quit going to my VFW because of that. They are worse than a bunch of high school girls trying to be “most popular”.

  27. 32

    another+vet

    @Rich+Wheeler: I think the primary voters will be looking for a non-establishment Republican given the last two establishment picks lost. Someone seen as an outsider meaning a successful conservative governor. Christie has been anti-gun which won’t play well. He’s been trying to tone it down but it won’t work so I doubt it he’ll get the nod. Paul is too dovish on national security which will hamper him but he could be the spoiler. Ryan is good but will better serve the Republicans in the House. He’s also too establishment given he was Romney’s running mate. Rubio would be good as a VP. Given his age and the Obama experience, he’ll probably be seen as too young for the top slot. Perry, Kasich, and Scott would all meet the criteria of being successful conservative governors who are outsiders. If Bush throws in, he’ll probably be the frontrunner. Romney could also throw in again as the “I told you so” candidate.

    On the dem side, it looks like Hillary and Warren. The Democrats will play the gender card in 2016 just the way the played the race card in 2008. Forget Biden. In 2016, unless something drastically changes, the people will have Obama fatigue just like they had Bush fatigue in 2008. Biden has the closest ties. Webb is too moderate which is where the Democrats need to go if they want to recoop their losses.

    Too bad Petraeus had his affair so soon in the recent past. He would be an excellent choice right now. Kind of like an Ike. The country needs someone who can unite it rather than divide it which is what happened the last 14 years. Some of it unintentional (the debate over the war, in particular Iraq) the rest intentional (Obama’s purposeful divisiveness).

  28. 33

    Rich+Wheeler

    @another+vet: I’ve always liked Petraeus==As Ohio goes— That’s why Kasich a smart pick. Doubt HRC gets a serious challenge–Think Kasich or Paul best chance of beating her—slim though I WON’T BE VOTING FOR HER.

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