2 Mar

Criminalizing and Banning the EITs that Have Kept America Safe

                                       

Impeach Bush. War criminals. Cheney, Halliburton and torture. Illegal war. Spying on Americans. Secret prisons. shredding of our Constitution. Sacrificed our values. Bush lied, people died. Waterboarding is torture.

Rather than seeing things in terms of “policy differences”, those further to the left of President Obama (hard to believe that’s possible, I know- but now he has to govern) still seek to appease their moveon.org base by prosecuting persecuting those they believe participated in criminal activity under the Bush Administration. They believe that Bush hurt America’s moral standing in the world.

A bit over a week ago, Bush lawyers Yoo and Bybee were cleared of any professional misconduct, which arguably is not the case for their accusers.

Also last Wednesday, while all eyes were turned to the healthcare summit, Rep. Jim McDermott tried by means of Intelligence Committee Chairman Sylvester Reyes “manager’s amendment”, to slip unnoticed into the House intelligence authorization bill a provision entitled “Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Interrogations Prohibition Act of 2010”. This amendment would criminalize future interrogators (up to including the death penalty) for what has already been abolished by President Obama: enhanced interrogations.

But thanks to bipartisan opposition and congressional Republicans led by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, they get a “D” for effort:

With no hearings or public debate, Intelligence Committee Chairman Sylvester Reyes included a provision sponsored by Rep. Jim McDermott called the “Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Interrogations Prohibition Act of 2010” in the intelligence bill, which would have banned a raft of poorly-defined interrogation techniques (including waterboarding) and specified prison sentences starting at a minimum of 15 years for intelligence officials who use them. His efforts met with instant opposition from congressional Republicans, led by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, and apparently faced opposition from the Obama administration as well. By late Thursday night the intelligence bill had been pulled.

The episode holds a few lessons: First, it is an acknowledgement by congressional Democrats that the Bush administration was right when it found that waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques were not illegal under existing U.S. laws—if they were already illegal, there would be no need to pass legislation making them illegal today.

Second, it is telling that Democrats felt they had to try to slip this provision into the intelligence bill in secret, while the whole city was otherwise occupied. The bill had no review in the intelligence committee, and the CIA was given no opportunity to examine the legislation or present its views. This shows that Democrats realize most Americans disagree with them on the question of terrorist interrogation, or else they would have no problem with open debate.

Finally, the episode raises a question: Why now? No terrorist has been waterboarded for seven years. President Obama has eliminated all enhanced interrogation techniques by executive order, and required that all interrogations follow the Army Field Manual. Pelosi and congressional Democrats did not object to waterboarding when it was taking place, but now seven years later they want to pass legislation banning it along with a raft of other techniques?

Gregory D. Lee:

Apparently, Rep. McDermott and his friends on the intelligence committee want to remove any opportunity to use EITs again. Passing a law attaching criminal penalties for using EITs would mean it would literally take an act of Congress to repeal it if this or a future president decided there was a sudden need to use them.

For example, a high-value terrorist is captured and brags to his CIA interrogators that there is a crude nuclear weapon somewhere in the U.S. that will go off tomorrow. He says he knows the exact location of the bomb, but refuses to disclose it. The terrorist agrees to take a polygraph examination to prove the veracity of his claim, and passes with flying colors. The president is informed and, like the CIA, is convinced the threat is genuine. What should the president do?

If left up to Rep. McDermott, the president could not legally order the use of EITs to extract the exact location of the nuclear weapon. In fact, if the president ordered interrogators to use EITs, whether or not he obtained the information that saved thousands of American lives, he and the interrogators would be subject to imprisonment.

To Rep. McDermott, waterboarding, placing a bug in terrorists’ confined quarters, sleep deprivation, exploiting a phobia or anything else that humanely persuades terrorists to disclose actionable intelligence, must to be outlawed. In fact, the act includes the sentence, “The moral standards that reflect the values of the United States governing appropriate tactics for interrogations do not change according to the dangers that we face as a nation” (emphasis added). Therefore, even if my scenario happened, interrogators could not use EITs without risking prison.

This entry was posted in 9/11, ACLU, American Intelligence, CIA interrogation program, Guantanamo, War On Terror. Bookmark the permalink. Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 at 1:09 pm
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14 Responses to Criminalizing and Banning the EITs that Have Kept America Safe

  1. Now you’re just openly taunting the Paultards!

    Good!

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  2. Skookum says: 2

    Good grief, we are willing to lose Patriots like OT to avoid waterboarding or maybe have a catastrophe of epic proportions here in the US to maintain a posture that our enemies laugh at, I want to scream! We are not fighting boy scouts, these people want to kill us and rape our women and children, listen to their pep rallies, they have already proclaimed that our women and children are theirs to use as they please. Never in the history of the world has a country been so unbelievably ignorant in the political prosecution of a war. Unbelievably, we are going to win because of Patriots like OT and his crew, Yet the America haters like Obama and the Progressive Socialists could care less for the lives of our patriots.

    It is time to start the impeachment proceedings! Damn these people to Hell!

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  3. i think the republicans will have to hire underground spy to learn all the secrets laws that are being pass withouth nobody knowing something they hiding from the AMERICANS and dont care

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  4. Greg says: 4

    “The moral standards that reflect the values of the United States governing appropriate tactics for interrogations do not change according to the dangers that we face as a nation”

    I totally agree with that statement.

    Moral standards define the baselines by which conduct is measured. Once you begin resetting your baselines, you’ve started down a slippery slope without even having a fixed point by which to measure your descent. That certainly sounds like a royal road to hell to me.

    For any moral standard there are conceivable situations that might temporarily justify its abandonment. Such situations always involve a determination of a greater and a lesser evil. Individuals confronted with extreme situations–such as the ticking bomb scenario–should weight those things in the balance, knowing full well that they’re taking on the moral responsibility by doing so, and that they may later be judged based upon the unique circumstances that confronted them.

    We shouldn’t make exceptions from a standard a matter of predefined policy. We shouldn’t issue notes of carte blanche ahead of time. That can all too easily remove the sense of having final moral responsibility from anyone’s shoulders.

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  5. Mon says: 5

    U.S. citizens are tortured every day by the financial terrorism committed by the Democratic Congress. We are in a world of hurt, created by DC’s spending. That should qualify as “cruel and inhumane” treatment.

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  6. Missy says: 6

    Those lacking in morals would be the democrats that demonized the Bush Administration’s use of EITS. Marc Thiessen properly made that point in “Courting Disaster.”

    After the scurilous accusations had been tossed around for years Thiessen, using the after action reports of each incident and interviews of the CIA agents that used the techniques, compared exactly what was done to the three terrorists with the accusations of being like…..the Spanish Inquisition, Nazis, Khmer Rouge, Japan, etc. Members of Congress that were making the immoral remarks were briefed, they knew the truth but also knew the truth was classified. They played politics, and with the help of MSM demonized our war efforts and forever scarred the former administration’s reputation.

    I know Wordsmith has written about Zubaydah, to refresh, Zubaydah thanked the agents that interrogated him because he was free to release information. He resisted to his breaking point and that’s all that was required by his religion.

    KSM gave us information that stopped a number of attacks in this country, he actually held classes for our CIA agents. He used a chalkboard to outline al Qeada’s “operating structure, financing, communications, and logistics.” Identified their travel routes, safe houses, and helped our agents go through and understand the captured documents.

    Because of waterboarding we got Jose Padilla who was going to blow up apartment buildings in our country, the Southeast Asian terrorists that were going to hijack an airliner and fly it into LA’s Library Tower. Ramsi bin al-Shibh….hijack planes in Europe and fly them into Heathrow and downtown London buildings.

    EITS prevented the U.S consulate from being blown up in Karachi, also a Marine camp in Dijibouti, a cell that was developing anthrax to use in attacks in this country. And, much, much more.

    While our agents and the Bush Administration were working to prevent more attacks and save innocent lives, the democrats were out, in force, wreaking havoc for politics. That was what was immoral. By demonizing people that held this country’s safety first and foremost, they were the ones that damaged our country’s image and I will always believe, prolonged the WOT.

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  7. Greg says: 7

    If the waterboarding and interrogations of Abu Zubaydah were relatively benign and produced so much reliable and actionable intelligence, why on earth would the CIA have deliberately destroyed all of the classified interrogation videos? Any fool knows that video records provide a wealth of potential clues extending far beyond anything that can possibly be captured on a written transcript. Printed words are only words. A video records changing facial expressions, tone of voice, unconscious mannerisms, the promptness of responses, etc–all of which can be interpreted by a skilled observer to reveal the truth.

    We’re apparently supposed to take Cheney’s word for it that we didn’t torture in any sense of the word that we would find morally reprehensible, or think of as a stain on America’s honor. We’re supposed to accept without question that only by allowing such practices can we kept safe.

    For me, that’s too tall of an order. It’s just not enough to make me say Yeah, this was all perfectly OK. Feel completely free to continue.

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  8. Mr. Irons says: 8

    In comparison to what the enemies and allies of the United States of America does to its prisoners in both Civilian and Military issues, what we deem as “torture” hardly matches the violent and physicaly deforming practices that Saduia Arabia, Russian Federation, Pakistan, Israel, China, Iran, Ba’athist Iraq, Kuwait, and Vietnam use. Out of the choice of having a searing red hot iron bar shoved into my rectum or being waterboarded and denied rest for a few hours, I would go with waterboarding. To choose having the muscle of my fingers sheered off with a rusted or dull blade to being forced to eat meals that violate my Religon’s creed, I would rather deal with the meals. To choose being tied up with my feet sitting in a pool of water only to be shocked with jumper cables connected to a battery instead of being questioned hours without end with some pyschological humiliation, I would rather deal with the questions with pyschological humiliation.

    I am disturbed how the Intertional Red Cross turns a blind eye in how the Russian Federation treats its terrorist suspects and for that matter its citizens in terms of “torture” by such American Standards.

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  9. @Greg: No, we are NOT taking Cheney’s word for it. We have a wealth of proof that attacks which could have killed THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS were foiled because of these interrogation techniques.

    Let me ask you a question Greg: How many of these terrorist monsters were waterboarded?

    Are you willing to explain to the THOUSANDS of Americans who are alive today because we used waterboarding on (how many?) terrorists that they’d be better off dead?

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  10. Wordsmith says: 10

    @Greg:

    If the waterboarding and interrogations of Abu Zubaydah were relatively benign and produced so much reliable and actionable intelligence, why on earth would the CIA have deliberately destroyed all of the classified interrogation videos? Any fool knows that video records provide a wealth of potential clues extending far beyond anything that can possibly be captured on a written transcript.

    Very good question! Another one would be why leaders of the congressional intelligence committees knew about the tapes and the decision to destroy them, yet didn’t object.

    First of all, waterboarding isn’t “benign”. Who is saying it is? Don’t mischaracterize the point and purpose of waterboarding.

    In wake of the leaks going on (which forced Bush’s hand in 2006 to acknowledge the CIA program), and in light of how the Obama administration has disclosed (to our enemy, no less) detailed information on the program with the release of the OLC memos, if the ACLU/CCR lawyers and FoIA-lovers got their hands on those videos, it would no doubt not only kill the interrogation techniques by broadcasting it directly into the hands of our enemies (ACLU lawyers and our media are an intelligence bonanza!). Furthermore, it would endanger the lives of our CIA agents who appear in the video, and put their families’ lives at risk (recall the story of how one terrorist made such a threat toward his interrogator). Look at how John Yoo has been demonized and harrassed.

    Printed words are only words. A video records changing facial expressions, tone of voice, unconscious mannerisms, the promptness of responses, etc–all of which can be interpreted by a skilled observer to reveal the truth.

    Which CIA interrogators no doubt are well versed in. So besides getting the “they’ll tell you and confess to anything when tortured” argument misplaced when arguing against waterboarding (used to obtain cooperation, not to illicit information), detractors also seem to think our CIA are grossly naive and so unsophisticated as to not be able to distinguish lies and cross-reference against false information.

    We’re apparently supposed to take Cheney’s word for it that we didn’t torture in any sense of the word that we would find morally reprehensible, or think of as a stain on America’s honor. We’re supposed to accept without question that only by allowing such practices can we kept safe.

    For me, that’s too tall of an order. It’s just not enough to make me say Yeah, this was all perfectly OK. Feel completely free to continue.

    No one’s asked you to “accept without question”. But open your eyes to the other side of the coin- the side that has not been able to defend itself for the last few yrs. There’s a reason why the CIA has not been able to effectively defend itself and that’s because knowledge of the CIA program was supposed to be kept secret as a matter of national security. Disclosures like this only benefits the enemy. When the left let their imaginations run wild with no proof, comparing CIA waterboarding to the Spanish Inquisition and such, the CIA could not come out and speak to defend itself or its record. Now, thanks to Obama’s release of the OLC memos (a grave mistake), we now have more information to defend against the wild speculations from the rabid left.

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  11. Wordsmith says: 11

    As part of the rigorous review that has defined the detention program, the Office of General Counsel examined the tapes and determined that they showed lawful methods of questioning. The Office of Inspector General also examined the tapes in 2003 as part of its look at the Agency’s detention and interrogation practices. Beyond their lack of intelligence value — as the interrogation sessions had already been exhaustively detailed in written channels — and the absence of any legal or internal reason to keep them, the tapes posed a serious security risk. Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the program, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qa’ida and its sympathizers.

    These decisions were made years ago. But it is my responsibility, as Director today, to explain to you what was done, and why. What matters here is that it was done in line with the law. Over the course of its life, the Agency’s interrogation program has been of great value to our country. It has helped disrupt terrorist operations and save lives. It was built on a solid foundation of legal review. It has been conducted with careful supervision. If the story of these tapes is told fairly, it will underscore those facts.

    Mike Hayden

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  12. Greg says: 12

    “Were they ever to leak, they would…”

    He’s suggesting that the CIA’s own internal security protocols were deemed inadequate to the task of keeping a classified video in their own possession from leaking?

    How reassuring. I presume the CIA might currently be holding a few additional documents that could cause serious trouble if leaked. Maybe they should consider buying a safe.

    (Reading this comment over, I’m irritated by my own sarcasm. Sorry about that. Its just that I found Hayden’s explanation a little hard to swallow.)

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  13. Old Trooper 2 says: 13

    Greg, I’m afraid that you missed the point On Gen. Hayden’s quotes. The leaking of identity of the CIA Operatives and their sources would do the genuine harm. Have no doubt that if Laws were broken, after all of the scrutiny that these transcripts of interrogations have already undergone, there would have been charges filed already.

    National Security info is Classified for reasons other than hiding criminal actions committed by agents. You can rest assured that the new CIA Director would have cleaned house and filed charges as he saw fit. If you have concerns regarding criminal activity perhaps you should take a close look at Pelosi’s “Most Ethical Congress Ever”, Rep. Rangel’s ethics violations or Sec Geithner or Sec Sibelius’s tax issues.

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  14. Wordsmith says: 14

    @Greg:

    He’s suggesting that the CIA’s own internal security protocols were deemed inadequate to the task of keeping a classified video in their own possession from leaking?

    Greg,

    Who leaked information to the NYTimes and WaPo and USA Today regarding the NSA Surveillance program? CIA black sites? NSA data-mining?

    Yes, security leaks happened and did us damage. And there apparently were those within the agency who leaked such information out of political partisanship over professional impartiality.

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