Monday, November 05, 2007

Mukasey's "tap-dance" on Waterboarding

I just read something thought provoking--even slightly entertaining--in the Yahoo opinion section. It was by Katrina vanden Heuvel. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read anything by her before, but she’s typical of the modern day haters-of-all-things-Bush.

Katrina’s column is called “Waterboarding Justice,” an almost clever play on words referring to the president’s nominee for Attorney General, Michael Mukasey. She’s not happy with Mukasey’s “tap dance,” as she calls it, around the possible legalities and illegalities of waterboarding as he interviews for the job with the various senators, all the democratic ones much intent on tripping him up.

She wants the probable future AG to come out against this relatively mild, yet extremely uncomfortable (and effective) method of interrogation. As she says, “it simulates the feeling of drowning.” If you’ve ever had water pour into your nose and mouth then you know the panic you’d feel while going through it. The mind shuts off and craves air. No one has ever died from it nor has anyone been seriously hurt. The "beauty" of it is that everyone who has gone through it has broken--no exceptions.

Even so, the CIA reports that it has only used this form of “torture,” as Ms Heuvel needs to call it, just three times in the past four years. I could add the caveat “that we know of,” but to what end? As far as I’m concerned our people should be allowed to use it as often as necessary to continue to keep the world safe from the human beasts that wish to destroy it. Read of life in Afghanistan during the Taliban to find out how they would rebuild it.

Mukasey's answers to the question of waterboarding was indeed a tap-dance, but a necessary one if he wants to be confirmed by certain key legislators. He knows good and well that keeping our war-fighting options open is what is going to continue to keep us free from more attacks. Has anyone noticed that since 9-11 we haven’t had any more terror attacks on US soil? That was due to some luck, but mostly the credit goes to this administration and its lean forward posture of preemption.

It seems that people like vanden Heuvel prefers to look at the CIA and The Justice Department as rogue organizations keen only on freewheeling torture and gratuitous spying on its citizens, all in the name of keeping us safe—banish the thought! I think Katrina has seen too many movies like Syriana and the Bourne series, all of which is mostly unadulterated anti-CIA crapola.

Mr. Mukasey understands all too well that every case requires a different level of understanding before allowing or disallowing the use of waterboarding. We waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, the brains behind 9-11, as soon as we could get our hands on him. To wait even a day to do it might have caused actionable intelligence to evaporate with time. Yet unbelievably, people like Ms. Heuvel, and even John McCain, would NOT have allowed it. Americans who understand the threat have no problems with what our people did to this guy to squeeze him. The word is that he broke in 2 and ½ minutes and what we got from him was very actionable indeed. Your comments Ms. Heuvel?

A lot of very nice people will sputter and moan over "losing our souls" as we go about using “horrible” methods of interrogation. I agree with them for the most part. We shouldn’t use it wholesale—but the thing is, we aren’t.

Here’s how I would analogize the decision-making behind when we should waterboard. On 9-11, four airplanes flew above our nation taken over by terrorists looking to kill as many of us as possible. Yet, also onboard those planes were several hundred innocent passengers, all of whom had Constitutional rights. The president had a decision to make—does he impinge on the rights of those captured citizens by killing them when ordering their planes shot down; or, does he hope for the best and continue to honor their right to live, and by doing so, possibly condemn to death thousands more? This kind of situation is exactly what Mr. Mukasey is referring to as he “tap-dances” around the senators' questions. But to Ms Heuvel everything is black and white, Bush is evil, waterboarding is wrong and always wrong, regardless of the circumstances.

I do admire Katrina’s desire that we not “damage our values” in the name of our security, and I share her concerns that we not harm relations internationally, and above all, her concern for the safety of our captured soldiers is commendable.

The fact that we are even discussing the ethics of waterboarding already speaks of our high values, and that we’ve only used it on occasion says even more. Internationally, other nations use far more physically and mentally damaging methods of extracting information, only they don’t speak of such things publicly. To do so destroys the effectiveness of the methods. The fact that we quibble over it causes them to snigger at us behind their hands. Other nations, including those in Europe claim all day long that they don’t condone torture, but they use it when they deem necessary, just as we should, when necessary.

As far as the safety of our captured soldiers, our people already know that to be captured by Al Qaeda means hideous torture and an eventual brutal death, for that’s been the way of it. If we could only talk Al Qaeda into waterboarding our people instead of cutting off their fingers, toes, feet, hands and finally, their heads; now THAT would be a great accomplishment! Now, if only someone could talk Katrina vanden Heuvel into writing THAT article. How about it Ms. Heuvel?
x

13 comments:

Katana said...

I hate all things Bush... but that's cos I'm not convinced that there's any evidence of cognitive activity while he's leading the free world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

as for water boarding. I dont care. Sleep deprive them and play Barney's "I love you, you love me..." song in the back. If the fucker can strap a bomb to himself or order the killing civilians he can take some water up the nose... if they whine about it, then call them the little whiney girl that they are!

Seriously... I went through worse treatment while going through a military school.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Ok, calm down there potty mouth!

Ed Abbey said...

I always find it funny that one of the few republicans to oppose waterboarding is John McCain who was tortured in his past. I don't think it is something that any of us who haven't been tortured in ernest will ever understand.

My concern isn't waterboarding but torture in general. This administration does a tap dance every time the issue arises and never answers a question straight. So instead of coming off a country with morals and principals, we come off as being no better than everyone else. In our global world these days, perception is everything.

PhilippinesPhil said...

I'm just glad people like him are in charge instead of someone like you. You'd do well running a nice quiet town, or better yet, a cub scout pack, where no one wants to destroy you. I'm of the opinion now that with our country filled with well-meaning, yet suicidal folks like you that we should just pull back within our borders and bring all our troops home, from Korea, the Balkans, all of Europe, SW Asia, the Pacific, everywhere. Let the Chinese, the Russians and the Islamists have their way. You can't beat that "perception." Vote for Paul; that's exactly what he intends to do.

Amadeo said...

I used to listen to The Nation's Katrina when she guested in shows on cable channels, but after a while she became overly predictable.

If the other side spews it, it must be bad, evil, and wrong.

Thus, hardly realistically believable that such would be the case. So I simply stopped listening in spite of the fact that her face and demeanor come across as very agreeable and likable. I feel so sad.

Now, I'm feeling the same when I am listening to Hillary. So some things are wrong, then it must be or has to be because of Bush. Politics is so predictable in this respect.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Hillary has hair on her chest. I get the feeling she's just itching to drop some bombs on someone. She's probably more likely to start something with Iran than any of the Republicans. Truthfully, I'd rather see her as president than any of the other democratic choices.

I just don't care for her. Any of the Republicans running would be better than her, except for Ron Paul. That boy is just flaky.

I'll be relieved a little when GWB is out of office. Just the sight of him drives certain people nuts. They can't even really say why they hate him so much. All you hear are foul-mouthed epithets.

Ed Abbey said...

It is perhaps that very reason Phil why I don't have the ambition to hold high political office. Being in the middle of the road wins me no favoritism from the two main parties.

Personally I like a lot of what Ron Paul says but like you, I think he is a flake and probably certifiably crazy.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Fair enough Ed.

You know, I saw a TV pundit last week that made a casual remark about Iowans that made me think of you:

"...Well, Iowans have always been known as being a bunch of peacenicks."

Sounds good to me. That sounds like the kind of place I'd like to live! Too bad the rest of the world isn't like that though.

Kevin said...

"I'll be relieved a little when GWB is out of office. Just the sight of him drives certain people nuts. They can't even really say why they hate him so much. All you hear are foul-mouthed epithets."

Dude-
I remember thinking the same thing in '88 about Reagan. The Democratic M.O. has not changed all the while. Remember the "kinder and gentler" G.H.W. Bush? The Dems ended up beating him up on the playground and taking his lunch money. (No new taxes, then using the tax increase to crucify him.

Point is, it won't matter who's in office. Recently, President Bush was blamed for the Katrina Hurricane disaster. I remember Senator Barbara Boxer blaming "Reagan/Bush" for the Rodney King fiasco. It just never ends.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Perspective, thy name is Kevin!

Ed Abbey said...

Iowa is a confusing state in my opinion falling under the color red in the last presidential election but electing a democratic major, senate and house.

I think we have a sense of security in being anonymous among the many states. Who would waste a perfectly good suitcase nuke in rural Iowa when other jucier targets are to be had?

PhilippinesPhil said...

Maybe Howard Dean?

Ed Abbey said...

Yee Haa! :)