Tortured and Fatuous
Chuck Todd is all confused today about the "touchy situation" with the constitution and the legal opinions on torture but he knows one thing: this is now a food fight between the hard left and the hard right. Of course Andrea Mitchell agrees characterizing the issue as "some in the liberal blogosphere" forcing Obama's hand, which may actually be true this time. (But then I thought from the beginning they may have been wanting us to "make them do it.") However, when you even have people like Philip Zelikow from the Bush administration itself asking for investigations, this isn't a "food fight." It's a deadly serious reaction to extreme misdeeds on the part of America's leadership.
These are the people who fetishize bipartisanship and yet they are constitutionally incapable of seeing any issue in other than partisan terms. It's infuriating.
Dday linki to Joe Klein's Swampland post in his piece below, but I wanted to highlight a different aspect of it than he does. Klein makes an explicit call for the "clandestine" services to be allowed to break the law, pretty much defining it by the fact that it is a lawbreaking entity saying that it cannot exist without being "extra-legal" in nature.
Setting aside that larger question (for now) it seems to me that when it comes to interrogation, this is very simply addressed. The CIA simply has no business conducting them. Until the GWOT, it was always an FBI function. They have vast experience. They are used to operating within the legal framework and get very good results. The CIA should stick to what they do well which is cultivating sources and infiltrating foreign governments to gather information and then analyzing it. Their attempts at illegal and violent work to affect events is almost always counterproductive and usually ineffective.
This torture mess was the result of a bureaucratic turf war. We do not know if Cheney was the chicken or the egg, but we do know that he and his bloodthirsty henchmen were determined to "take the gloves off" and evidently felt that the FBI was too soft to get the job done. (Whether the toady Tenent was tugging on his forelock and begging for the opportunity to get tough is unknown.)
If the Bush administration had allowed the poeple who know what they are doing to do their jobs we would not be having this argument today. They empowered the CIA because they had a couple of nutballs who said they could turn the SERE training program (which was based upon old KGB techniques) on terrorists. And the insecure, one percent solution, pants wetting sadists running the show got very excited about doing that.
And they are still out there making their ridiculous arguments:
Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that "Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable." The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely. This is the secret to the program's success.
It just doesn't get any more fatuous (and immoral) than this. The torturers were actually "helping" the prisoners "safely" do their duty. Honestly, it's a wonder that the country survived at all under the leadership of people like this.
Apparently, this former Bush adminstration official thinks there is something unusual about this "odd" Muslim notion that one should only resist as far as one is able and then may be forgiven for breaking under torture. Evidently nobody has ever pointed out to him that many Americans like Senator John McCain also broke under torture. And just like those wacky Muslims, American POWs are also expected to resist to the extent they can and then are allowed to do whatever is necessary to survive intact. There is nothing peculiar or unique about this. It's called being human and it certainly is not a rationale for torture.
The idea that torturing these people is a way for them to feel safe about telling what they know is so twisted, I think this person should be prosecuted for committing intellectual torture.