April 17, 2009
WAR: Obama National Intelligence Director Declares Terrorist Threat Over
What was more interesting was the accompanying statement by the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, trying to justify Obama's decision--or at least put it "into perspective." The perspective, the context, is that in the months after 9/11, "we did not have a clear understanding of the enemy we were dealing with, and our every effort was focused on preventing further attacks that would kill more Americans. It was during these months that the CIA was struggling to obtain critical information from captured al Qaida leaders, and requested permission to use harsher interrogation methods. The OLC memos make clear that senior legal officials judged the harsher methods to be legal."
Blair continues: "Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing. As the President has made clear, and as both CIA Director Panetta and I have stated, we will not use those techniques in the future. But we will absolutely defend those who relied on these memos and those guidelines."
So: We were once in danger. Now we live in "a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009." Now, in April 2009, Obama's Director of National Intelligence seems to be saying, we're safe.
Yes, September 11 was a bright, sunny day too - and too many of us thought we were safe then as well. Now, it's true that in the rapid, multifaceted mobilization against terrorism that took place in late 2001 and early 2002, there were a vast number of decisions made quickly on the basis of incomplete information; it's only natural that as the anti-terror effort has become part of the permanent institutions of government, there would be some rethinking of which of those emergency measures to make permanent and which to put back on the shelf. Maybe exposing detainees to caterpillars or pushing them against a "fake, flexible wall" or "Grasping the individual with both hands, one hand on each side of the collar opening, in a controlled and quick motion" are horrors beyond our imagining these days - as opposed to things most of us would associate with grammar school - but it's far more frightening to me to hear the DNI telling us that we're too safe these days to worry anymore about the need to get intelligence quickly out of captured terrorists.
They simply have no clue what they are doing. Lets just pretend that problems don't exist-you know like the Clinton Admin 1993-2001. If we only talk to countries like Cuba and Iran, because no one has ever done that before, we can somehow seduce them.
Crank, you bring a perspective to the discussion that most do not. We were not in downtown NY on 9/11 and can not imagine the horrors associated with that day. Thanks for helping us remember.
It wasn't just another bright, sunny day, either. It was perfect weather. I was at my desk thinking it's too nice to be indoors. When we looked outside and saw that something had hit the tower, I told the boss we ought to pack it in, nothing would be done that day. I think he attributed my thinking to the perfect weather.
I remember walking out of the dust and into the most excellent sunlight, and people were thrusting bottled water at us and toweling us off.
Tell me guys, how much intelligence was "quickly" gathered by waterboarding a guy 183 times in a month after he told you everything he knew months earlier in completely legal interrogations?
I was a New Yorker back in 2001 with an office directly across the river in DUMBO. I had the good fortune of flying home from my honeymoon that morning instead of standing dumbfounded and horrified in my window, but that really doesn't have anything to do with this, now does it?
The problem isn't that a guy like KSM got roughed up in his cell, it's this became standard operating procedure. Used, undoubtedly against innocent captives, and even with actual terrorists produced little or dubious results.
There was no ticking time bomb scenario in these situations, and this even if there were, those JAck Bauer scenarios should force a tough decision to exceed legal and moral limits with a clear understanding that a price might be paid for that action—"Saving L.A. from a nuke? I'll take my chances before a jury—they'll acquit me, I'll be pardoned, or I'll sit in my cell knowing I did the right thing."
But creating a bogus framework where illegal interrogation methods are now the first tool out of the box? How can it not be abused and misdirected?