Updated: The Politics Of Torture

America,Barack Obama,Bush,Democrats,Foreign Policy,Homeland Security,Left-Liberalism And Progressivisim,libertarianism,Neoconservatism,Republicans,Terrorism


When I think of a libertarian-leaning patriotic warrior, I think of Michael Scheuer. The chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, Scheuer is also the man behind the enhanced interrogation methods, which the hard-left and their friends on the libertarian left would have you believe are as heinous as the war crime at Hiroshima.

Like myself, Scheuer opposed the invasion of Iraq, opposes the occupation of Afghanistan, the presence of permanent troops across the world, and the nation-building farce. Scheuer, like this classical liberal writer, has excoriated Bush as much as he has Obama (adjusted for time in office).

Scheuer told Glenn Beck (May 21) that the Clinton administration practiced exactly the same interrogation methods with terrorists—including rendition and water boarding — methods he had a hand in devising. Both Republicans and Democrats, said Scheuer, are playing politics with the security of Americans, and that includes Mr. Hannity’s hero: Dick Cheney.

I wrote this about the hysteria: “The two parties are exchanging fusillades over ten interrogation techniques deployed with fourteen ‘high value al-Qaida detainees,’ three of whom endured the most controversial method of all, because they were purported to possess ‘credible intelligence of an imminent terrorist attack,’ as well as ‘actionable intelligence’ to ‘prevent, disrupt or delay an attack.’ …
there is a vigorless, extinction-courting quality to those who squeal about placing a bug in the bug-phobic Abu Zubaydah’s ‘confinement box.’ These are just the type of insects the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would delight in squashing.”

Scheuer nails it in a Washington Post op-ed: This “episode of political theater [is] another major step in the bipartisan dismantling of America’s defenses based on the requirements of presidential ideology. George W. Bush’s democracy-spreading philosophy yielded the invasion of Iraq and set the United States at war with much of the Muslim world. Bush’s worldview thereby produced an enemy that quickly outpaced the limited but proven threat-containing capacities of the major U.S. counterterrorism programs — rendition, interrogation and unmanned aerial vehicle attacks.”

And this important insight as to the self-righteous, reality averse Utopianism which unites neoconservatives, liberals and libertarians:

“Obama now stands alongside Bush as a genuine American Jacobin, both of them seeing the world as they want it to be, not as it is. Whereas Bush saw a world of Muslims yearning to betray their God for Western secularism, Obama gazes upon a globe that he regards as largely carnivore-free and believes that remaining threats can be defused by semantic warfare; just stop saying ‘War on Terror’ and give talks in Turkey and on al-Arabiyah television, for example.”

“Incorrigibly anti-American” all.

Update (May 23): Andrew C. McCarthy (via reader Robert Glisson) raises a perfectly good point about ex post facto prosecutions, which the Constitution prohibits for obvious reasons.
The point about the Democrats conducting a political fishing expedition is true too. For, the invasion of Iraq, as I’ve said, repeatedly, not the dunking of the unlovely KSM and Abu Zubaydah, is the real issue here. You’re following the wrong scent, and I have no idea why:
“The torture kerfuffle is secondary to—and subsumed within—the broader category of an unjust war, waged by George Bush with Democratic assent.”
Given that the jack-ass Democrats welcomed the opportunity to “lug an army across the ocean to occupy a third-world country that was no danger to us and had not threatened us,” it behooves them to focus on bubkiss, minutia.
That our friend Myron is following the scent of the females and pacifists is, well, baffling. The greatest sin of all is pacifism.
I’d trust the patriotic and moral Scheuer, who knew a thing or two about the capabilities of al-Qaida, to protect me, over the Pussy Brigade (PB).
If someone suggests prosecuting Bush and the gang for invading Iraq, they’ll get my full attention. Until such an unlikely day, please spare me the self-righteous fussing over what the PB decries as torture and the loss of Our Values (what values?).

7 thoughts on “Updated: The Politics Of Torture

  1. Virgil

    Today in New York the FBI announced the arrested of four black Muslims on terrorism related charges. In this case, as with other recent cases involving domestic jihadists (Fort Dix case, JFK case, etc), there was heavy use of FBI provocateurs, the use of the Patriot Act, and other police state legislation and tactics. Now we see two different sides on this issue. On one hand we have the authoritarian right (including the neo-conservatives) which tells us that there is a serious threat of terrorism not just from foreign-based al-Qaeda, but domestic jihadists inspired by the al-Qaeda ideology (but lacking any formal connection to international jihadist groups) and that we need more police state powers to preempt this threat to security. On the other hand you have libertarians and leftists claiming that the threat is all exaggerated and that this is all an attempt for grabbing more power by the Federal government and\or to incite more fear to push for the aggressive neo-conservative foreign policy which is aimed at Muslim countries like Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Where does the truth lie in all of this? How does one balance between confronting domestic jihadists and resisting attempts by the state of expand its powers?

  2. Bob Schaefer

    Scheuer’s piece in the Post is on the money. Thanks for calling attention to it.

    He writes: “Obama and his team will ‘reluctantly’ agree to a congressional investigation of former Bush officials and serving CIA officers, politically targeted indictments from Holder’s minions and perhaps even a truth commission to prove that even the United States can aspire to be a half-baked Third World country.”

    [I cringe every time I read the words “truth commission” and “hate crime.” What is this country coming to?]

    Sadly, Scheuer said tonight on Glenn Beck that, due to his actions during the Clinton administration, he himself may be subject to federal indictment or interrogation by government truth squaders.


  3. Myron Pauli

    (1) Behind Scheuer’s writings is a desire to protect the agency (CIA); however, the country does not exist for the purpose of serving the CIA. Nevertheless, I can see why he or other intelligence professionals don’t wish to be scapegoated for trying to satisfy the erratic ideological whims of political schnooks like Bush, Obama, Pelosi et al. (2) Political trials are generally bad ideas and often the techniques of the Stalinists, etc. – a show trial of idiots like John Yoo would serve no purpose and would turn him and their ilk into political martyrs. It is quite likely that in the 5 years that some “Special Prosecutor” does the usual prosecutorial abuses, some jackass Abdul will kill some folks at a 7-11 in Omaha and the neo-con Hannities will say “this only happened because Obama stopped torture…”. (3) You are absolutely correct that the Iraq war and the lack of any exit criteria in Afghanistan/Pakistan is a far bigger crime than the abuse of prisoners. (4) However, we have not had ANY nuclear bombs under Manhattan – theoretical “what-ifs” do not justify enhanced interrogation. One shouldn’t trample principles of justice to make life easier for cops and CIA agents.

    [The reason I mentioned Scheuer is because his motives are not purely to protect his agency. I would not have dredged his work up were he an agency Zombie like Jack Bauer.]

  4. Robert Glisson

    One of the things I read about this subject is that: A. It was done when it was legal. B. When “enhanced interrogation” came up for voting in Congress, as to whether to add it to the list of no-nos in the Military Justice Code, the Democrats wanted Waterboarding included as being a violation but the Republicans voted against it being included, and waterboarding was not listed as a violation of the Military Legal Code because it was not listed among the restrictions, however, the Military and CIA did not use it after the matter came up for vote. The Democrats gained the majority in Congress within six months of the matter having come up, and could have revived it but didn’t. They never brought the subject up again until now and to date, to my knowledge, Waterboarding is still legal. Something the Democrats have failed to mention. How can they charge a person with committing a crime, if it is not a crime? Only Congress knows. If I am incorrect, please delete, not everything I read is true.

    [The problem with what you’ve written is that you offer no links or proof to support what you allege. Please provide links.]

  5. Robert Glisson

    Sorry about not quoting my source, I’m not all that good at this. I know to quote or add reference locations on essays, but was unaware of the requirement for comments. Until now, that is. The statement that I referred to reading in a previous post came from “Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review Online.” The article was titled “A Dishonest Debate,” dated 4-28-09. I hope this is sufficient. Please have a good weekend.

    [Thanks for the link]

  6. Myron Pauli

    With respect to Robert Glisson’s posts (from McCarthy) – I find it interesting that McCarthy is worried about the Constitutional rights of the accused torturers but no one else’s rights, morality , or anything else. As for the “national emergency” – it is still necessary to deny any due process to people 8 years after apprehending them??!! When the hell does this emergency ever end? Also – just because Democrats/Republicans are odious or hypocritical in no way justifies the abuse of government power by the rival gang of Republicans/Democrats.
    By the way, my grandfather was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques AND no nuclear weapon was dropped on Nazi Germany so I guess we can say that the enhanced interrogation techniques “worked” – at least this would be the Cheney logic.

  7. Frank Brady

    With respect, any “enhanced interrogation technique” that uses pain as a means of extracting “information” (whether or not it meets the legal definition of torture) crosses an important Bright Line, for practical as well as moral reasons.

    1. The end does NOT justify the means. To practice moral relativism places one on a very slippery slope.

    2. “Information” obtained as a consequence of such techniques is notoriously unreliable. Those being interrogated–even the innocent–will ultimately say anything to make the pain stop–including implicating others who may also be innocent. This sets up a chain that leads to bad outcomes.


Comments are closed.