Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Him Again

Over at NRO, Andrew McCarthy properly takes Senator John McCain to task for essentially libeling former Attorney General Michael Mukasey over his, Mukasey's, defense of the effectiveness of  enhanced interrogation techniques in leading us to Osama Bin Laden.

(Somebody please remind me why John McCain is a Republican, or at least why he's worth, for our side, all the trouble.)

Anyway, this debate got me thinking again about what is and what is not torture and it occurred to me that a very important distinction is being lost on McCain and the Democrats in all their grandstanding.  (Yes, that's what I think McCain is for the most part up to.)

Let's compare McCain's experience in Vietnam with that of those captured and interrogated by us in the wake of 9/11.  And, let's leave aside for a moment the ridiculously different degrees of violence inflicted.  (They are not comparable and it's dishonest to even suggest that they are.) 

It seems to me that an important difference is being missed.  What was done to McCain and his fellow POWs by the North Vietnamese was done solely to extract false confessions that could then be used to prop up their and other corrupt communist regimes, as well as to discredit the United States and thereby undermine American will.  What was done by us to the 9/11 detainees was done exclusively to extract relevant information for the purposes of prohibiting another attack and hunting down those responsible for the first.

Our interrogations, few as they were, stopped immediately when whatever intelligence the detainees had to offer was no longer relevant or actionable.  McCain's captors, by contrast, persisted in theirs for years and years, lead both by a native brutality and a hideous communist creed that instructed them that the glorious end of their imagination justified any and all means.

Insofar as our goals in the interrogations were and remained as limited and immediate as they were, I think, and I'm pretty confident that an overwhelming majority of Americans agree with me, that not only was water boarding an acceptable technique, we would have been justified in doing far more had it been necessary.

Does that make us all monsters?  No different than Nazis, the administrators of the Soviet Gulag, or Pol Pot as some would have it?

Call me a monster then, if it'll make you feel better, or superior.  Not to mention get you positive press in the pages of The Washington Post.


  1. “In a letter to McCain obtained by Reuters, CIA director Leon Panetta was equivocal about the role enhanced interrogation played in producing intelligence on bin Laden.

    ‘Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the facilitator/courier’s role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques,” Panetta wrote. But he added: ‘Whether those techniques were the ‘only timely and effective way’ to obtain such information is a matter of debate and cannot be established definitively.’"

    This is hardly the ringing denial of the use of EIT and its link to Osama’s demise that McCain led us to believe last week.

  2. It would take someone with the clairvoyance of Rasputin to fully understand McCain's motive . . . But if I had to guess, he tends to fly off the handle and respond emotionally to any threat to his reputation. He had staked quite a bit of that reputation in arguing against the Bush's administration's use of waterboarding, and probably felt that it was time to speak out after it became clear that the waterboarding of KSM and the use of rendition had helped nail Osama. It wouldn't surprise me if he had been encouraged to speak up by some of his Democratic friends, since unlike them his Vietnam experience shields him from reproach (until now). It's one issue where he gets constant kudos from the left, and it helps remove the "stain" of his selection of Palin.

    For people who pay attention to the questions surrounding the use of "enhanced interrogation," McCain has no credibility left. Michael Mukasey, who came on board as AG long after the waterboarding was halted, and who hardly adheres to a strict conservative line, is a person of great integrity. I'd take his account over McCain's any day.

  3. Hmmm? (Imagine me scratching my chin.) Most insightful sf. Thanks.