A Modest Proposal

by digby

Nancy Pelosi says she wasn't told about waterboarding in 2002 and that the CIA misled the congress. Bob Graham says he wasn't told either. Richard Shelby says he was, sort of. Porter Goss says he wasn't but everyone thinks he said he was. The classified briefings have been sent up to Capitol Hill and Republican Senator Kit Bond, who says he has seen them, claims they prove that Pelosi is lying. (He also claims that Pelosi could have called for closed hearings on the subject, which is disputed by the rules of the House.)

Leon Panetta released a memo to his troops today which said this:

Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.” Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.

These "partisan food fights" are just so tiring. (Why can't these people just work together for the good of the American people?) Even Chris Matthews, Jim Warren and Ron Brownstein all agreed today that the partisans are out of control on this thing and the president really needs to put it all behind him and move on (especially considering that kicking the crazed hard left in the teeth is such good politics.)

It's pretty clear that all this partisan bickering means the "he said/she said" can't be solved by a truth commission or even a DOJ investigation. After all, they weren't allowed to take notes, and the CIA's records when it comes to torture can't be considered dispositive since they are just a teeny bit implicated themselves. It's a pickle.

But since they are considered by so many people to be reliable and useful, perhaps ought to consider using some enhanced interrogation techniques on the principals so we can get to the truth of this matter. After all, if they were reliable enough to keep the nation safe from evildoers, they would certainly be reliable enough to get politicians and bureaucrats to admit what happened in some CIA briefings.

And it's not like this stuff is torture or anything. It doesn't equal the pain equivalent to organ failure. It doesn't leave many marks and there is supposedly no lasting psychological damage, so it's hard to see why any of these people would object to being put to the test on the waterboard. And since we have a very complete rule book in those OLC memos, which according to numerous commenters, are very well reasoned and totally within in the purview of the president to authorize, we can use them as the guideline.

We could even stipulate that no one could be waterboarded more than 83 times or kept awake in shackles for longer than say 21 days at a stretch. (After all, politicians routinely endure sleep deprivation when they're campaign, so they've ben trained in resisting such enhanced techniques.) We could agree that if they are kept naked any videos would be destroyed and all pictures would be withheld as long as possible. (And for the good of the nation, I would have to agree that they be destroyed as well. There's only so much people can take.)

Diapering, forced enemas, walling, solitary confinement and being put in coffins with bugs will only be used if the subjects refuse to admit what they've done. (We're not completely uncivilized, after all.) (We're not sure what that is, admittedly, but it's logical that it's best discerned by who cracks last. This would work along the lines of other tried and true techniques for getting to the truth, like witch dunking.)

It's not as if these techniques are cruel or inhuman. They aren't even illegal if the president authorizes it (although we may have to conduct the interrogations on a ship at sea somewhere, just to be sure we don't violate the spirit of the constitution.) There is absolutely no reason that we can't use them to get to the truth in Washington as we used them to get to the truth in Afghanistan and Guantanamo. After all, the Obama administration is all about "what works."

So, let's "interrogate" the lot of them -- Cheney, Pelosi, Graham, Goss, Shelby, Kit Bond, the CIA briefers, anyone on the Senate and House staffs who may have been privy to these classified hearings. In my view, to fail to use these techniques is a slap in the face to all the fine American military personnel who ever went through the SERE program. As far as I'm concerned, we might as well be spitting on the troops if we don't agree to start using torture on members of the US Government.

As Dick Cheney said, "it's a no-brainer."