Friday, December 26, 2008

The Washington Times

Why bother debating the editorial section at the Washington Times? I don't really know. But there are some pretty amazing statements in today's Washington Times editoral from Morton Kondracke that I thought I would highlight anyway.

"But there's no need to investigate whether Mr. Bush - or Mr. Cheney -
authorized the use of "enhanced" interrogation techniques or warrantless
terrorist wiretapping or renditions ("snatching") of terrorist suspects. They
have admitted it and defended it as being necessary to defend the nation in the
aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks - and justified it by pointing out that
the homeland has not been attacked since."
"In an interview with The Washington Times on Dec. 17, Mr. Cheney said, "There were a total of about 33 [persons] who were subjected to enhanced interrogation. Only three of those who were subjected to waterboarding," including Sept. 11's top planner, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. Intelligence officials claim his subjection to simulated drowning produced important information about the al Qaeda organization and future plans."

Wow. No need to investigate whether it was right or wrong. No need to investigate the numbers given by Cheney, which I believe are gross underestimates. No need to wonder what Cheney's "enhanced interrogation" means compared to what others think it means. And even worse, no need to investigate to see if the claims that it works are true. Many intelligence officials say torture does NOT work. And anyone familiar with KSM's case knows that under torture he said an astonishing amount of untruths. One of the reasons we need an investigation is to put to bed once and for all the idea that torture works. It does not. We need to commit against torture on legal, moral, and practical levels.

Of course Kondracke has no problems at all with torture, rendition, etc.:

"The fact is, Mr. Obama does have "many problems to solve." Among them is the
possibility raised by a congressionally mandated commission - that terrorists
will use a nuclear or biological weapon somewhere in the world by 2013."
"To prevent that catastrophe, Mr. Obama might well want to order an "enhanced
interrogation," wiretap a terrorist or even kill one. If he issues the order, he
will want someone to carry it out."

Note how in support of his ideology Kondracke can summon up his own Obama. Here is the leader the conservatives are willing to like, at least when the fates of their war criminal heroes are uncertain:

"Mr. Obama should make it clear right now that he opposes such action - and also
that he opposes the "compromise" idea of a "truth commission" to investigate
alleged Bush-era wrongdoing.
The main reason has less to do with "turning the page," uniting the country and letting bygones be bygones - all good Obama impulses - than with preserving the morale of intelligence professionals in wartime.
Were a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate possible
criminality involved in detainee interrogations, "extraordinary renditions" or
terrorist surveillance, it's not only Bush-era top officials who would have to
hire lawyers to defend themselves but lower-down intelligence operatives as

Some of these "lower-down intelligence operatives" have already hired lawyers to defend themselves against the consequences of discovered renditions (ref: the case against Abu Omar). Their superiors of course have not - they have actually been promoted. One of them is currently the Deputy Director of the CIA and a candidate for CIA Director.

The country needs and deserves prosecutions and intelligence commissions. We hold our leaders accountable.

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