Earlier this month,
I wrote a column outlining two exceptions
to the no-torture rule:
the ticking time bomb scenario
and its less extreme variant in which a high-value terrorist refuses
to divulge crucial information that could save innocent lives.
The column elicited protest and opposition that were, shall we say, spirited.
And occasionally stupid.
Dan Froomkin, writing for washingtonpost.com
and echoing a common meme among my critics,
asserted that "the ticking time bomb scenario only exists in two places:
On TV and in the dark fantasies of power-crazed and morally deficient authoritarians."
(He later helpfully suggested that my moral deficiencies derived
from "watching TV and fantasizing about being Jack Bauer.")
On Oct. 9, 1994, Israeli Cpl. Nachshon Waxman was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. The Israelis captured the driver of the car. He was interrogated with methods so brutal that they violated Israel's existing 1987 interrogation guidelines, which themselves were revoked in 1999 by the Israeli Supreme Court as unconscionably harsh. The Israeli prime minister who ordered, as we now say, this enhanced interrogation explained without apology: "If we'd been so careful to follow the ('87) Landau Commission (guidelines), we would never have found out where Waxman was being held."
Who was that prime minister? Yitzhak Rabin, Nobel Peace laureate. (The fact that Waxman died in the rescue raid compounds the tragedy but changes nothing of Rabin's moral calculus.)
That moral calculus is important. Even John McCain says that in ticking time bomb scenarios you "do what you have to do." The no-torture principle is not inviolable. One therefore has to think about what kind of transgressive interrogation might be permissible in the less pristine circumstance of the high-value terrorist who knows about less imminent attacks. (By the way, I've never seen five seconds of "24.")
My column also pointed out the contemptible hypocrisy of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is feigning outrage now about techniques that she knew about and did nothing to stop at the time.
My critics say: So what if Pelosi is a hypocrite? Her behavior doesn't change the truth about torture.
But it does. The fact that Pelosi (and her intelligence aide) and then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss and dozens of other members of Congress knew about the enhanced interrogation and said nothing, and did nothing to cut off the funding, tells us something very important.
Our jurisprudence has the "reasonable man" standard. A jury is asked to consider what a reasonable person would do under certain urgent circumstances.
On the morality of waterboarding and other "torture," Pelosi and other senior and expert members of Congress represented their colleagues, and indeed the entire American people, in rendering the reasonable person verdict. What did they do? They gave tacit approval. In fact, according to Goss, they offered encouragement. Given the existing circumstances, they clearly deemed the interrogations warranted.
Moreover, the circle of approval was wider than that. As Slate's Jacob Weisberg points out, those favoring harsh interrogation at the time included Alan Dershowitz, Mark Bowden and Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. In November 2001, Alter suggested we consider "transferring some suspects to our less squeamish allies" (i.e. those that torture). And, as Weisberg notes, these were just the liberals.
So what happened? The reason Pelosi raised no objection to waterboarding at the time, the reason the American people (who by 2004 knew what was going on) strongly re-elected the man who ordered these interrogations, is not because she and the rest of the American people suffered a years-long moral psychosis from which they have just now awoken. It is because at that time they were aware of the existing conditions -- our blindness to al-Qaeda's plans, the urgency of the threat, the magnitude of the suffering that might be caused by a second 9/11, the likelihood that the interrogation would extract intelligence that President Obama's own director of national intelligence now tells us was indeed "high-value information" -- and concluded that on balance it was a reasonable response to a terrible threat.
And they were right.
You can believe that Pelosi and the whole American public underwent a radical transformation from moral normality to complicity with war criminality back to normality. Or you can believe that their personalities and moral compasses have remained steady throughout the years, but changes in circumstances (threat, knowledge, imminence) alter the moral calculus attached to any interrogation technique.
You don't need a psychiatrist to tell you which of these theories is utterly fantastical.
THE TORTURE DEBATE, CONTINUED
Friday, May 15, 2009
by Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award
winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
Nobody's having more fun
watching Nancy Pelosi squirm
than the ants in her pants.
The dowager queen of Capitol Hill was shocked
shocked! - by what's been going on at Guantanamo,
and reveled in telling everyone so.
Now it turns out that maybe she wasn't so shocked after all.
When she was told soon after 9/11
that some of the prisoners there had been deprived of sleep and "waterboarded"
she did not object.
Like everyone else back in the day,
she was terrified that 9/11 was merely a prelude to something really, really bad.
Torture as a surefire issue looked irresistible to congressional Democrats only the day before yesterday. Who but Republicans would fancy driving burning splinters under the fingernails of the innocent? Torture bad, Democrats good.
Barack Obama made decrying harsh questioning of the Islamic terrorists the centerpiece of his campaign, promising to treat terrorist suspects with love, understanding and apologies. Now that he's actually the man in charge he still gives with the apologies, but he doesn't want to talk about torture because he, too, will probably have to resort to it eventually. Maybe he already has.
The president's friends in Congress, on the other hand, have continued to parade their good intentions with pride and pomposity in the familiar liberal's game of "you show me yours, and I'll show you mine." Who knew so many of our congresspersons were such stainless exemplars of rigid virtue? But rigid virtue, alas, sometimes dissolves under heat.
The speaker has told so many versions of what she knew about what was going on at Guantanamo, and when she knew it, that all we know now is that she can't keep her stories straight. Flustered to the point of panic, she insisted Monday that the CIA lied to her: "My statement is clear, and let me read it again. Uh, I'm sorry. I have to find the page ... When, um, when, when my staff person - I'm sorry, the page is out of order ..."
None of the members who served with her on the House Intelligence Committee support Miz Pelosi's remarkable claim of brainwashing. Other congressional colleagues, trying to defend her, have had to clarify their clarifications about what they said about her imaginative stories. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic majority leader, first said that maybe Congress should look into who knew what, and when, and get a straight story: "The facts need to come out."
Even from the speaker. But then the nanny of the House, embarrassed by what "the facts" said about her, called Mr. Hoyer in for a spanking. The pain in the seat of his pants was harder on him than it was on the ants. He had quit preachin' and gone to meddlin'; he dispatched aides to do his 'splainin'. When he said "the facts need to come out," he didn't mean all the facts, just the facts that could be spun against the Republicans - "not about what leading Democrats were told about the legal justification and use of controversial interrogation techniques."
Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, attempted to defend the speaker with the argument that what someone said seven years ago must be measured against the temperature of the times in the wake of 9/11, when nearly everyone was terrified of a "second wave" of attacks. But Democrats have to be careful with this line of argument, lest they arouse speculation about just why there has been no "second wave." Could it be because someone named George did what was necessary, even introducing vicious terrorists to good bathing hygiene, to prevent that "second wave"?
Even the most partisan of Democrats are sometimes capable of lapsing into good sense.
Here's Chuck Schumer, the highly partisan senator from New York, talking about "torture" at a Senate hearing: "I'd like to interject a note of balance here ... I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake. Take the hypothetical: If we knew there was a nuclear bomb hidden in an American city and we believed that some kind of torture, fairly severe maybe, would give us a chance of finding that bomb before it went off, my guess is that most Americans and most senators, maybe all, would say: 'Do what you have to do.' "
But that was in 2004, before common sense in the party of FDR, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy suffered grievous wounds.
THE LADY HAS ANTS IN HER PANTS
by Wesley Pruden
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.
Barry Soetoro aka Barack Hussein Obama
because he is not eligible to be President of the United States
because he is not a Natural Born Citizen
as required by Article Two, Section One, Clause Five
of the United States Constitution.
This is a fact regardless of
where he was born (Mombassa, Hawaii, Chicago, or Mars).
He is not a Natural Born Citizen
because he was not born of
BOTH OF WHOM WERE UNITED STATES CITIZENS
at the time of his birth.
His father was a subject/ciitizen
of Kenya/Great Britain at the time of his birth and afterwards.
His mother was too young to pass on her US citizenship
according to the law in effect when he was born.
Check it out:
His usurpation cannot be corrected by Congress,
it can only be corrected by his resignation, his removal
by an amendment to the Constitution
which will never happen.
- Leo Rugiens
WASHINGTON D.C., April 1, 2009: In a move certain to fuel the debate over Obama's qualifications for the presidency, the group "Americans for Freedom of Information" has released copies of President Obama's college transcripts from Occidental College. Released today, the transcript indicates that Obama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate at the school. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Obama (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship. This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Obama's detractors have been seeking.
The news has created a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about Obama's legitimacy and qualification to serve as president. When reached for comment in London, where he has been in meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Obama smiled but refused comment on the issue. Meanwhile, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs scoffed at the report stating that this was obviously another attempt by a right-wing conservative group to discredit the president and undermine the administration's efforts to move the country in a new direction.
Britain's Daily Mail has also carried the story in a front-page article titled, "Obama Eligibility Questioned", leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Obama's first official visit to the U.K.
In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama's legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey. This lawsuit claims Obama's dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio's case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of Obama's citizenship or qualification to serve as president.
Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Obama's campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still ongoing but that the final report will be provided to the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder has refused to comment on the matter.
According to Associated Press story shown below, Obama's tramscripts from Occidential College show that he was an undergradraduate at the school under the name Barry Soetoro, and received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia. I did a search using "Smoking gun finally found."
Here are a few of the websites that came up. None said it was false.