Monday, November 05, 2007

Right From Wrong

A number of former intelligence professionals have written to Senators Leahy and Specter asking that the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey be held until Mukasey declares "himself on whether he believes the practice of waterboarding is legal." Not all the names on the list are familiar to the public, but some are. They include:

  • Larry Johnson
    Intelligence analysis and operations officer, CIA; Deputy Director, Office of Counter Terrorism, Department of State
  • Mary McCarthy
    National Intelligence Officer for Warning; Senior Director for Intelligence Programs, National Security Council
  • Ray McGovern
    Intelligence Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA; morning briefer, The President’s Daily Brief; chair of National Intelligence Estimates; Co-founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
  • Sam Provance
    U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst, Germany and Iraq (Abu Ghraib); Whistleblower
  • Joseph Wilson
    Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Ambassador and Director of Africa, National Security Council.
  • Valerie Plame Wilson
    Operations Officer, Directorate of Operations

When Charles Schumer and Diane Feinstein suddenly changed their tune on the subject of Mukasey's confirmation, not a few suspected that more than a change of heart was involved. Politics, as usual, was suspected of playing a part. And although many of the intelligence professionals opposing Mukasey may have deep moral misgivings about waterboarding I wonder to what extent politics figured as a factor. Two of the most popular games in Washington appear to be Cover Your Ass and Gotcha!. The DNR Online wry notes how these games segue one into the other.

This is a multiple choice question. Who was it that said these words about torture?

“I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never ever be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake. . . . It is easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used, but when you are in the foxhole it is a very different deal. And I respect, I think we all respect, the fact that the president is in the foxhole every day.”

Those very true words were spoken by New York Sen. Charles Schumer back in 2004. Yes, the president is in that foxhole every day. In the debate about attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey and waterboarding, the foxhole analogy is something that a few Democrats seem to have forgotten.

Yet in the Sept. 26th Democratic debate, NBC’s Tim Russert asked if torture should be used if we had captured the No. 3 leader of al-Qaida and he had knowledge of a bomb going off in three days.

Sen. Barack Obama replied he was against torture as a matter of policy but “there are going to be all sorts of hypotheticals, an emergency situation, and I will make that judgment at that time.”

Which is exactly what President George Bush wants to do.

During the same debate Sen. Hillary Clinton also emphasized she was against torture “as a matter of policy.” (Yes, aren’t we all?) But in earlier statement she wisely left an opening saying severe interrogation methods might be necessary in cases involving an “imminent threat to Americans.”

A cynic might argue that the debate over waterboarding revolves as much around perceived political advantage on either side of the aisle as it does anything else. But I hope I'm wrong.


Blogger Bill said...

A nice list of the usual suspects, flawed political appointed or connected former pseudo-spooks.They are putty in the hands of the left.
In the Old Testament, King Jehosaphat asked , after hearing the deceptions of false prophets; "Isn't there a prophet of the Lord here?'
Isn't there a genuine intelligence officer here, to raise their voice?

11/05/2007 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

You're not wrong.

Waterboarding: A Tool of Political Gotcha

Waterboarding Has Its Benefits

11/05/2007 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Notorious rascals, all.

11/05/2007 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

It's odd that the people behind this didn't understand that, in terms of political impact, the inclusion of Valerie Plame Wilson's name instantly neuters this move. The effect is about the same as if Dan Rather had signed it.

11/05/2007 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Look at the Wikipedia article on Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, and consider the mocking irony of his own description of his academic performance as an undergraduate. (Because of its “open architecture” which allows ***anyone*** to edit many articles, it must be assumed that his supporters and admirers are keeping the biography pristine and free of unverifiable detractions...)

Then consider the deeply selfless and spiritual path he chose immediately upon achieving the notoriety conferred upon him by the bald-face lies he spewed in his New York Times Op-Ed piece, then the further martyr-status from the alleged "outing" of his celebrity undercover intelligence-aparat spouse.

That is, he pranced over and signed a contract with the Greater Talent Network Speakers Bureau, to exclusively handle the avalanche of requests to pay him pots of money to brag and swagger and strut about his bravery in spitting in the eye of BusHitler and his cronies.

There are too many people who earned their posts in the foreign service by diligent academic work and years of steeping themselves in other cultures, to accept the charade of a lowlife like Wilson as a person to respect. Like Sandy Berger, who may actually on a time have done some selfless public service, Wilson will be listed among the small-beer fabricators and shabby charlatans on the sordid side of history.

I find it hard to grasp how anyone would want to be found among the pathetickers of that list --- Remember: THESE are the folks that emasculated our country’s intelligence capability, eviscerated the military, and caved in to our country’s enemies for the eight years of the Clinton Administration.

Does anyone remember, just for instance, that the Stinking Democrats did their level best for the first YEAR of the Bush administration to block every appointment he made that required Congressional Approval? While Osama and his fellows were sharpening their box cutters, the Democrats were busy holding their collective breath and standing astride the path, tossing a vast tantrum over losing the 2000 election. There are still idiots out there who haven’t heard from the NYTimes that Bush actually--- dammit --- WON.

It would be interesting to see a full listing of the extraordinary obstructionist crap the Democrats pulled out of sheer partisan spite. Maybe the coming election would be a proper time to re-examine their behavior to see if they should be entrusted with the fate of a burnt match, much less the future of the nation.

11/05/2007 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

If the first name belongs to the nut case Larry Johnson who used to post on the Motley Fool’s Political Asylum then I cannot respect any of the “intelligence professionals” on that panel.

Larry Johnson is nothing but a self-promoting partisan shill.

He has a worse record than Mary McCarthy (assuming he actually did any meaningful work for the CIA – which is still in question).

If you give Larry Johnson three minutes of your time he will waste it. I will not waste my time listening to any of them.

11/06/2007 02:05:00 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I've always wondered whether it was Wilson's advice that we tell Hussein that the Kuwaiti oil field claims were an internal matter that the U.S. had no opinion on.

11/06/2007 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Whatever happened to good, old truth serum, sodium pentathol? I'm sure the CIA has even more effective modern versions of that, but the only time I ever heard it mentioned was when some crazy leftist lumped it in with "torture".

Apparently, we're supposed to respect the terrorist's "right to privacy".

11/06/2007 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

"When Charles Schumer and Diane Feinstein suddenly changed their tune on the subject of Mukasey's confirmation, not a few suspected that more than a change of heart was involved."

Maybe they were waterboarded.

11/06/2007 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger dobson said...

Just curious - I wonder where Belmont Clubbers stand on the basic questions:

Is water-boarding a form of torture?

If so, is it okay to torture somebody that you suspect may know something about a criminal activity - e.g. terrorism?

Do we feel that these techniques produce viable or flawed intelligence?

Should there be any limits on the kinds of interrogation techniques that American operatives can use?


11/07/2007 04:14:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

Crevat: I don't actually know what constitutes "waterboarding" as used against KVM. However, from the (possibly incorrect) information I have, my answers are:

#1 No it's not torture.

#2 is thus moot. (But I consider terrorism more serious than "criminal activity", I consider terrorism Acts of War, so the rules are different.)

#3 apparently waterboarding produces viable intel.

#4 Real torture, medieval and it's modern developments, are time consuming and unreliable. That's why the West abandoned torture to begin with. Coercive interrogation, stress techniques, are not torture, despite what the useful tools say, and actually work. When lives are at stake, they are certainly justified.

11/07/2007 06:44:00 AM  

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