Sunday, May 8, 2011

When it comes to torture, Bush/Cheney/Rummy can't have it all...

Paul Krugman's NY Times blog post, "Shadow of the Torturers," is a painful reminder of inconvenient truth that all Americans not molded in the model of John Wayne had to confront back in the days of Bush-Cheney: we became a country that openly endorsed torture as a national security measure.

It is interesting to note that those who endorsed the use of torture during the war on terror were also those who did anything they could to get out of serving their country during the war on Viet Nam.

In the late 1960s, when the Viet Nam war was raging, GW Bush - son of an authentic war hero - joined the National Guard, not active military duty, and in the early 1970s, apparently went AWOL and failed to fulfill his National Guard commitments.

As a young man in the 1960s, Dick Cheney pulled any string available to get out of the draft, and in return, received five draft deferments. Though eligible to serve his nation as a soldier in a time of war, he chose instead to stay home.

The two men grew up to become leaders of the most powerful nation in the world. In their roles as leaders of a nation devoted to liberty and freedom, they endorsed and employed the use of torture on military noncombatants.

Today, some of those Bush administration policy makers rue Obama's decision to move away from the use of waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques."

A Fox News interview scheduled for Mother's Day 2011 has Dick Cheney saying this:
"'I'm still concerned about the fact that, I think a lot of the techniques that we had used to keep the country safe for more than seven years are no longer available,' [Cheney] said."
In this instance, Dick Cheney is right. In 2009, at the National Archives, standing before the founding documents of our nation, President Obama categorically rejected the use of torture against enemy combatants and prisoners of war.
"I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe.  I could not disagree more.  As Commander-in-Chief, I see the intelligence.  I bear the responsibility for keeping this country safe.  And I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. What's more, they undermine the rule of law.  They alienate us in the world.  They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America.  They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured.  In short, they did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts -- they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all."
So our torture policy ended in 2009. But today, members of the Bush administration are claiming that information obtained through the use of torture during the Bush presidency was instrumental in finding Bin Laden in the age of Obama. Donald Rumsfeld, former Defense Secretary under Bush, recently went on Sean Hannity's show to claim that waterboarding (done, not at Gitmo by US military, but off-site by CIA) provided key information leading to Bin Laden in 2011.

It's been years since the US has waterboarded anyone. So if Rummy is correct, and the Bush/Cheney administration used torture to obtain vital information leading to the whereabouts of Bin Laden, why were they so unsuccessful in finding Bin Laden when they were in power?

What Cheney and Rummy seem unable to understand is that the claim that torture authorized years ago by the Bush/Cheney administration provided key information needed to take down Osama years after they left office makes the Bush administration look like incompetent failures.

If indeed the Bush administration had powerful evidence obtained through torturing "enemy combatants" that could help them find Bin Laden, why didn't they find him when they were in power?


What took so long? 

By continuing to advocate for torture - and by claiming that torture done under Bush's watch helped get Obama get Osama in 2011 - the Bush/Cheney administration once again exposes itself for what it truly is - vindictive, destructive and devoted only to the advancement of their disreputable techniques. And incompetent to the core. When handed incredible intelligence obtained through the use of torture, they were unable to accomplish a mission we so desperately needed to accomplish - they proved incapable of capturing Osama Bin Laden once and for all.

For that, we had to wait for the Obama presidency. The man Cheney, et al. consider soft on terror had the courage and audacity needed to take down America's most wanted terrorist. And in their vicious, unwarranted crowing about the value of torture, Cheney and Rummy prove once again that when it comes to courage, they are sadly lacking.

Links to related stories on torture of our "military combatants" and the military service of our former leaders...

Fox News Mother's Day 2011 interview with Dick Cheney about the death of Osama Bin Laden and President Obama's decision to move away from waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Transcript of a 12/2008 ABC interview with Dick Cheney about torture and other assorted matters

President GW Bush's military service: a critical analysis by a retired Army colonel

US News & World report story on critical gaps in Bush's National Guard service

History of an Interrogation Technique: Waterboarding, by ABC News

Guardian UK story on how "Bush administration decided not to charge Jose Padilla" because evidence against him was "extracted using torture on members of Al-Qaida..."

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