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February 11, 2010


Suppose the White House put out a statement saying, "We may have been wrong to give the Christmas Day bomber criminal status with accompanying Miranda warning even before the questioning was complete. We are reviewing the policies and procedures that led to this decision." Obama would be widely praised (except by a few far-lefties). This issue would be behind him. He'd be praised as willing to learn from his mistakes.

Instead, as Brendan points out, he doubled down by not acknowledging the criticism as having some validity, not addressing any change in procedures, and by smearing the critic. This is bad for national security and bad for Obama's public relations.

Bush critics were called disloyal for opposing everything from tax cuts to torture, but most specifically for pointing out that the Administration was lying to our faces. Brennan is not remotely lying. The Constitution does grant protection to anyone arrested on our soil. The FBI does Mirandize everyone as a matter of procedure, the military tribunals as now constructed DO give the same protections as civil trials, and most importantly, terrorists taken into the military system have NOT given us more or better information under harsh interrogation - the opposite is true - Abdulmutallab spilled his guts before and after the reading of his rights. And the people Brennan calls out have been doing exactly as he describes; politicizing the argument and loudly proclaiming for all the world to hear that if they were in charge they would go right back to torture, black sites and the abuse of our Constitutional heritage.

I realize this is your area of interest, but I wonder if you're trying too hard to equivilize (is that a word?) the behavior. To focus on behavior misses the actual legal and policy issues at hand.

Chasm, you assert that the harsh interrogation was not effective at gaining useful information from terrorists. The CIA believes otherwise, according to an op-ed in the Washington Post:

the Justice Department memo of May 30, 2005... notes that "the CIA believes 'the intelligence acquired from these interrogations [waterboarding] has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.' . . . In particular, the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques." The memo continues: "Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, 'Soon you will find out.' " Once the techniques were applied, "interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates."


David, you assert the CIA was acting honorably and truthfully in making its statement. "The videotapes reviewed by CIA OIG in May 2003 were destroyed by the CIA in 2005." CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY’S MEMORANDUM OF LAW

Now, having addressed that complete non sequitur, let me ask Mr. Nyhan how he would propose the White House respond, if at all, to Sen. Bond, et al.?

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