FA Book Recommendation: “Courting Disaster”, by Marc Thiessen


Speaking at the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill, here is Marc Thiessen last November, promoting his book, Courting Disaster, released earlier this month:

I’m now about halfway through the book and highly recommend it:

There’s so much in there, I have to force myself to put it down and prioritize my day’s tasks. Remember all the liberal counter-points when the OLC memos were released and Cheney started coming out about releasing all the info? Thiessen picks those apart, including Ali Soufan’s statements. Apparently Soufan’s own FBI partner disagrees with Soufan, too.

And the amount of intell and captures leading to more intell, leading to more captures as well as plots foiled….can’t be stressed enough! It’s so easy to grow complacent and to be dismissive when nothing happens. The reason nothing’s happened is directly because of the CIA interrogations!

Waterboarding was the key to freeing the jihadis’ willingness to talk! After Zubaydah was waterboarded, he actually thanked his interrogator and said, “You must do this to all the brothers!”. That’s because it lifted a burden from him and he was able to talk freely. Apparently, his religious beliefs required him to resist up to a breaking point. Waterboarding was that breaking point and it freed him of his sense of religious moral obligation to not speak. His particular Islamic teachings allows him to speak from that point forward.

And waterboarding wasn’t used by the CIA (on only 3 terrorists) to extract confessions or get information. It was to obtain cooperation, after which de-briefing can then commence to gather information. So all the talk about “they’ll tell you anything and say anything you want them to say when tortured” is a misunderstanding of the purpose of enhanced interrogations.

But now that the OLC memos have been released and the details of the techniques used, the arguments about whether to use waterboarding or not is moot. Its effectiveness is permanently damaged because not only does al Qaeda know that actual drowning will not take place, but they also know specifically what to train against (guys like KSM have had intensive counter-interrogation training). They now know the limits of just how far we are willing and able to go morally and legally. Before the release, before the press leaks, there was the fear of the unknown and the mystique surrounding the CIA black sites and interrogations. Abd al-Hadi, when captured, didn’t have to undergo enhanced interrogations because he was scared to death by all the rumors and propaganda exaggerating CIA “torture”. Now the power of that mystique is gone; but the CIA reputation and the Bush administration’s reputation on this is still damaged in the court of public opinion belief. And al Qaeda can breathe a sigh of relief and laughter that President Obama has banned “torture”, i.e. enhanced interrogations.

This leaves us blind to developments such as the growth of al Qaeda in Yemen and the underwear bomber. We got lucky.

American lives are at stake and we have hamstrung our CIA due to misguided notions regarding “enhanced interrogations”.

As Thiessen makes clear in his book, backing up his assertions with facts, interviews with key players, and solid research, it isn’t waterboarding, Guantanamo and the Bush Administration that harmed America’s moral standing in the world. What harmed America’s moral standing and reputation are those on the anti-war left who have slandered our CIA, slandered our military, slandered our country with comparisons to Nazis, Soviet Gulags, Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge, Spanish Inquisition, etc.

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This post explains why conservatives have no credibility. Our guys writes the following:

“And al Qaeda can breathe a sigh of relief and laughter that President Obama has banned “torture”, i.e. enhanced interrogations.”

But what is actually going on on the ground? Yeah . . . the world is an Queda playground. Exccept for this:

“Evidence grows that Pakistani Taliban leader is dead”


Then there is this:

“Pakistan’s army chief seeks stable Afghanistan”


But if you were to listen only to the chicken shiit conservative cry babies, who are so afraid of al Queda because 9/11 happened on their watch, you would think that the world is coming apart at the seams. But it ain’t. The Army is doing its part, the Marines are all in, the Yemeni government is with us, and people taking up the Taliban and al Queda banner are getting snuffed in record numbers. But because you cons don’t get any more chances to get your rocks off using torture techniques on naked men, techniques that BUSH ABANDONED YEARS AGO, you are all acting like we should just give up and start speaking Arabic. Uh, not thanks, weak sisters. I like the path we are on. And that new path is a large part of the reason Obama won and your guy lost.

Andrew Sullivan says it best:

“In a matter of months, both leaders of the Qaeda-allied Taliban in Pakistan have been targeted and killed by US drone attacks. The latest was in retaliation for the murder of CIA officials in a suicide attack by a double agent who turned on the US. If you add this record – and there are many examples of similar surgical strikes decapitating Qaeda figures in the last year – to the ramp-up of forces in Afghanistan and overhaul of strategy there, I think you can make a very solid case that in the war on Jihadist terrorism, Obama is proving far more effective – in both soft and hard power – than the Bush administration ever was.

“The Republicans will not concede this, because their war is not really at this point on al Qaeda. It’s on Obama.”

billy bob… only now showing up? No surprise…. Especially that when you do, you avoid all pertinent threads that lead to the scene of your crime. LOL

No credibility you say? Well, can you say M-a-s-s-a-c-h-u-s-e-t-t-e-s??? Amazing how that “no credibility” transforms into liberal/indy votes, eh?

You have a serious amount of aisle clean up to do, guy. Especially before you squat and dump more political excrement in to yet even more FA aisles.

Andrew Sullivan… BWAHAHAHAHA.

Wanna do a count of AQ leaders… you know, the “ones that attacked us”, as opposed to the Taliban?…. who were eliminated in the Bush years? Or is taking a few johnny come lately Pak-Taliban replacements out enough for you to to warrant re’polishing that tarnished halo on the eunuch in chief?


I’m gonna hurry my reply here because I think it’s better if I, as a fellow liberal, call you out on one particular point….

I like the path we are on. And that new path is a large part of the reason Obama won and your guy lost.

Actually, McCain’s stance on torture is the path we’re on, and he advocated….



You’re quoting Andy “Milky Loads” Sullivan, Chief Uterus Inspector now?


Then, from what’s happening on the ground, there’s this:

Now Pakistan wants ‘moderate Taliban’ in Afghan government

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that there is no such thing as a “moderate Taliban”.

Of course Obie has already been told that:

KABUL, March 9 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposal to reach out to moderate Taliban will fail to end the Afghan insurgency as it is inflexible Taliban leaders who are orchestrating the war, not moderates, analysts said.

Obama, in an interview with the New York Times newspaper published on its website on Saturday, expressed an openness to adapting tactics in Afghanistan that had been used in Iraq to reach out to moderate elements there.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed Obama’s proposal but analysts were doubtful.

“Obama’s comment resemble a dream more than reality,” said Waheed Mozhdah, an analyst who has written a book on the Taliban.

“Where are the so-called moderate Taliban? Who are the moderate Taliban?” asked Mozhdah, who was an official in both the Taliban and the Karzai governments.

Karzai’s pro-Western administration and the growing number of foreign forces in Afghanistan have increasingly come under attack from a resurgent Taliban, with Obama now describing Afghanistan as a top foreign policy priority for his new administration.

“‘Moderate Taliban’ is like ‘moderate killer’. Is there such a thing?”, asked writer and analyst Qaseem Akhgar.

There’s this too:

We’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for news to come down from the Justice Department on what might become of John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the two Bush administration lawyers largely responsible for authoring the famous torture memos.

Well, we finally have word. And it appears that the DOJ will largely let the pair go with little more than a slap on the wrist. Click here for the story from Newsweek, which broke the news; here for a followup from over the weekend from the Washington Post.

According to a forthcoming ethics report issued by the DOJ’s ethics-watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility, Yoo and Bybee will be wrist-slapped for exercising poor judgment but will not be referred to authorities for possible sanctions.

Andy Sullivan and loony leftists hit hardest.

Of course one would be hard pressed to name a single CIA employee who has been brought up on charges for anything whatsoever in regards to the so called “torture” that supposedly took place.

It seems that what went on was not illegal after all, eh?

I am sure that The Won, the Great Constitutional Lecturer himself would hurry to get his terrorist defending AG to file some sort of charges if there was any truth to the claims.

Finally, if what the CIA engaged in was so outrageous, so reprehensible, so gut wrenching, and “illegal” then why, oh why did Granny Rictus McBotox not put a stop to it?

She put a stop to at least one useful operation back in 2004…why not the water boarding?

@Cary: … bullseye, guy. As an opposite aisle kind of guy… save for one trip off the reservation of sanity recently, LOL… you are a serious amount of cuts above that which you address.


There’s a chapter in the book where Thiessen respectfully disagrees with McCain, and points out a number of lower profile victims of torture and Vietnam POWs who disagrees with McCain that the CIA waterboarding rises to the level of torture.

Obama’s against torture.

McCain’s against torture.

Guess what?

Thiessen’s against torture.

CIA interrogators are against torture.

Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush are all against torture.

What’s in disagreement is whether or not CIA enhanced interrogations- which were lawful- fits the definition of “torture”. If so, then they would have been unlawful.


Oh yes, I can see all of that. So, everyone’s in agreement that torture = bad. The question is the definition of torture, which doesn’t seem to be as clear (in spite of what those with a strong opinion will claim!) But what I can also see is that this disagreement cannot be simplified to to a straight down the line “left vs right” argument, the way the health care bill is. I wish I could remember who the CIA interrogator was who came back from Iraq saying exactly what McCain says in the article I posted. What is clear to me is there are those who disagree on either side of this point aren’t all the likes of Pelosi and Cheney, but people with actual experience on the field.

@MataHarley: Thank you.

The edit function is available if your logged in, there is only one link on the bottom left now and its only available for 90 minutes. The old plugin screwed up the comments so that the date and time of the comment wasn’t readable so I had to change it.

Is the edit option no longer available on this thing? I see some need for grammar corrections! I guess I can’t fix it now, so I apologize and hope my meaning is clear.

@Cary: I disagreed with McCain on “torture” and told him so to his face.

He’s wrong on this one. Waterboarding isn’t torture. Besides, it was used in only THREE cases. And those three cases revealed information which saved thousands of lives.

The charge that Bush ordered the torture of detainees is FALSE and only serves to support enemy propaganda.


I wish I could remember who the CIA interrogator was who came back from Iraq saying exactly what McCain says in the article I posted.

I wish you would check out Thiessen’s book. He interviewed the CIA interrogators who were directly involved in interrogating the likes of KSM. These CIA interrogators were also put through all the techniques at their disposal, so they understood what it was like.

Mike McConnell, who had no vested interest in the CIA program when he came on board as Director of National Intelligence, and who was suspicious of the enhanced interrogations, refused to sign papers after becoming Director in 2007 that would authorize the reconstitution of the CIA interrogation program. He refused to do so unless he was taken by the hand and walked through the techniques and their effectiveness, step by step. He also met with the interrogators, the medical observers, and the legal reviewers. All of these people are trained and put there so insure that we didn’t cross the line into torture. The OLC “torture” memos are actually “how not to torture” memos. So after all of this review (by which time Bush already decided to take waterboarding out due to the political heat), McConnell said this: “I played grade school and high school football, and playing high school football subjects you to more danger than these techniques.”


Is it lonely there in the land of Oz? So the press suddenly notices a few targets being taken out by drones. This was going on before the Zero’s inauguration as well. there has also been a marked increase in the number of successful attacks against us. Afghanistan, the war the Zero campaigned on as being the right war, has deteriorated under his watch. to compound matters, he dithered for months on sending more troops into the theater. While he procrastinated on that actually important decision, (and still managed to short the request by 10,000,) he spent his time trying to rush two unread bills through congress, neither of which would take effect until 2013. By any possible measure, this man is a clown of epic proportions. the electorate realizes it as well, and will state so in November of this year. Personally, I can’t wait.