Author Topic: Cool Hand Barack  (Read 6373 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Cool Hand Barack
« on: May 05, 2011, 06:02:04 am »
NEW YORK TIMES:

May 3, 2011
Cool Hand Barack
By MAUREEN DOWD
WASHINGTON

No wonder the president’s top generals call him “a Cool Hand Luke.”

After giving the order for members of a Navy Seals team to execute a fantastically daring plan to, let’s be honest, execute Osama bin Laden, Barack Obama put on a tuxedo and gave a comedy speech Saturday night in a Washington ballroom of tippling journalists and Hollywood stars.

If we could have seen everything unfolding in real time, it would have had the same dramatic effect as the intercutting in the president’s favorite movie, “The Godfather,” when Michael Corleone calmly acts as godfather at his nephew’s baptism at church, even as his lieutenants carry out the gory hits he has ordered on rival mobsters.

Just substitute “Leave the copter, take the corpse” for “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

The president’s studied cool and unreadable mien have sometimes distanced him from the public at moments of boiling crisis. But in the long-delayed showdown with Public Enemy No. 1, these qualities served him perfectly.

The timing was good, blunting the infelicitous  remarks made recently to The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza by an Obama adviser, who described the president as the un-John Wayne ushering a reviled and chastened America away from the head of the global table. The unnamed adviser described the Obama doctrine on display in Libya as “leading from behind,” which sounds rather pathetic.

But now the president has shown he can lead straight-on and that, unlike Jimmy Carter, he knows how to order up that all-important backup helicopter. He has said that those who call him a wimp are mistaken, that there is often muscular purpose beneath his diffident surface.

Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin, who was so tacky that she didn’t mention Obama’s name in her congratulations, tried to draw credit to the Bush administration.

But there can be no doubt that justice for the families of the 9/11 victims was agonizingly delayed because the Bush team took a megalomaniacal detour to Baghdad.

A pigheaded Donald Rumsfeld, overly obsessed with a light footprint, didn’t have the forces needed at Tora Bora to capture Osama after the invasion of Afghanistan. To justify the switch to Saddam and the redeployment of troops to Iraq, W. and his circle stopped mentioning Osama’s name and downplayed his importance. When the White House ceases to concentrate on something, so does the C.I.A. 

The hunt got so cold by 2005 that the Bin Laden unit at the C.I.A. was disbanded and overhauled. Four years after the monster felled the twin towers, the Bush team finally put more officers on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In his East Room address Sunday night, President Obama made it clear that he had shooed away the distracting Oedipal ghosts.

“Shortly after taking office,” he said, “I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the C.I.A., to make the killing or capture of  Bin Laden the top priority of our war against Al Qaeda.”

Many famous invaders throughout history, from Genghis Khan to Tamerlane to Babur, have marched along the same route the Navy Seals took on their moonless flight, going from Kabul to Jalalabad to Peshawar.

The mesmerizing narrative stitched together by The Times’s Mark Mazzetti, Helene Cooper and Peter Baker begins with C.I.A. agents getting the license plate of Bin Laden’s most trusted courier in Peshawar. Peshawar is the ultimate mystery town, famous for secrets and falsehoods. It’s known for its bazaars, especially the Story Tellers Bazaar.

And that is exactly where President Obama now finds himself. He will now have to sort through the bazaar of Pakistan’s deceptive stories and deal with lawmakers angry about giving $20 billion since 9/11 to a country where Osama was comfortably ensconced. For years, top Pakistanis have said that Osama was dead or in Afghanistan.

Even Condi Rice proclaimed she was shocked to find “Geronimo” settled in Abbottabad for six years, living in plain sight in a million-dollar house in an affluent suburb near a military base and the Pakistani version of West Point. As one of Osama’s neighbors put it: “It’s the closest you can be to Britain.”

 At a House homeland security subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Representative Patrick Meehan asked the question about Pakistan that is ricocheting through Washington: “Does it reflect to some extent some kind of divided loyalty or complicity in some part, or incompetence or both?”

Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation, who used to advise the U.S. military in Afghanistan on Al Qaeda, replied with equal bluntness: “Whether there was complicity, or incompetence, at the very least there has not been a high priority in targeting the senior Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan. Based on the threat streams coming from this area, those interests have to change.”




Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2011, 06:26:33 am »
DAVID EVANS:

Reggie,
 
Taking out Osama bin Laden wasn't the first time President Obama exerted his power as Commander in Chief and ordered U. S. Navy SEAL Team Six to protect American citizens from terrorists.  If you recall, on April 8, 2009 Somali pirates boarded U. S. cargo ship, Maersk Alabama, seized Captain Richard Phillips, and on April 12, 2009 were about to flee to the terra incognita of interior Somalia with him as a hostage.

Fearing for Captain Phillips' life at the hands of three nervous and heavily armed pirates in a lifeboat they had commandeered from the Maersk Alabama, President Obama issued a standing order to SEAL Team Six to take the appropriate action necessary to save the captain's life.   With precision similar to that displayed in taking out Osama bin Laden, SEAL Team Six took out the three pirates and rescued Captain Phillips.

Sounds like a Commander in Chief who can, not only receive a national security call at 3:00am, but can make one at anytime, to the appropriate agencies and staff members--and get outstanding results.

 
Best regards,



Dave

Offline supreme illuminati

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2011, 08:24:50 am »
I recalled immediately President Obama's Somalian orders (although I didn't know it was to Seal Team Six; I knew he ordered a SEAL unit to get the bad guys though) and pointed this out to some of our more hysterical,more irrational Republican Conservative dweebs who of course have been busting arteries trying to find ways to deflect the honor and respect President Obama deserves for taking out Osama and funnel it to Bush or ANYONE that's not President Obama AND who's a Republican.The tackyness,the ridiculousness,the stupidity of some of these people are...preposterous.Why can't we have more Conservatives who are capable of civil discourse,rigorous debate, rational responsible intelligent conversational capable of seeing the validity in an opinion that doesn't precisely reflect their own like our very own michaelintp?

Cool Hand Barack.All day AAANNND day.Lol.
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Offline Curtis Metcalf

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2011, 11:47:34 am »
So bin Laden has been in Pakistan for 6 years. And President Obama has been in office for 2 years and 4 months. Hmm...
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."

michaelintp

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2011, 06:55:06 am »
From Cool Hand Luke: "What we got here is... a failure to communicate." ...  

Nah ... just a different emphasis:  

Obama on Osama, Bush on Saddam:



Hmm ...

Isn't it true that the identification of the location of Osama Bin Ladin was the result of American intelligence efforts that spanned both Administrations? Why can't this be viewed as an American success? With congratulations being openly and graciously shared all around to participants past and present?

Instead, what we see is just the opposite. The persecution of members of the past Administration who played a key role in the effort to gather that intelligence. That is shameful.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/05/05/burlingame_after_meeting_with_obama_he_turned_his_back_on_me.html

Offline Curtis Metcalf

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2011, 08:00:03 am »
Isn't it true that the identification of the location of Osama Bin Ladin was the result of American intelligence efforts that spanned both Administrations? Why can't this be viewed as an American success? With congratulations being openly and graciously shared all around to participants past and present?


Fairly or unfairly, you get credit (and blame) for what happens on your watch.

Instead, what we see is just the opposite. The persecution of members of the past Administration who played a key role in the effort to gather that intelligence. That is shameful.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/05/05/burlingame_after_meeting_with_obama_he_turned_his_back_on_me.html


First of all, this video clip is from Fox News. Consider the source.
Secondly, I don't understand your accusation. What exactly is shameful?
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."

michaelintp

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2011, 11:11:24 pm »
Curtis, I am just advocating fundamental fairness, as opposed to partisan small-mindedness. To view this as an American success that transcends party lines. If a President is supposed to get credit, then credit should be given to the Bush Administration for the intelligence gathering that took place during "his watch." Just as credit should be given to the Obama Administration for the development of the leads and the courageous decision to mount the raid during "his watch."

Even more so, credit should certainly be given to those who gathered that intelligence. As well as, of course, the soldiers who carried out the raid.

Rather than credit, harassment has been bestowed upon those who dedicated their efforts to obtain the intelligence information that ultimately led to the termination of Bin Laden. The actions of our Attorney General will make public servants think more about what is the safest course of conduct for themselves personally, rather than doing what they sincerely believe is in the best interest of the country.

Eric Holder's bin Laden Moment
The moment has come for Mr. Holder to end his investigation of the CIA's interrogators of terrorist detainees.
by Daniel Henninger

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703937104576302890747157756.html

As the whole of America takes a bin Laden victory lap, let us pause to remember some of this celebrated event's most forgotten men: the Central Intelligence Agency officers who sit under the cloud of a criminal investigation begun in 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder into their interrogations of captured terrorists.

That's right, the Americans whose interrogation of al Qaeda operatives may have put in motion the death of this mass murderer may themselves face prosecution by the country they were trying to protect.

It is time for the Holder CIA investigation to end. The death of bin Laden 10 years after 9/11 makes the Holder investigation of the CIA interrogators politically, emotionally and morally moot.

But it lives.

In August 2009, Attorney General Holder announced that he was extending the mandate of Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham into the CIA's so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" of terrorist detainees. Former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey had appointed Mr. Durham in 2008 as a special prosecutor to look into the CIA's destruction of videotapes made during interrogations of two al Qaeda operatives. That investigation ended without charges last November.

Mr. Holder decided to push the Durham investigation into a second phase. "I have concluded," he said "that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations." Mr. Holder wasn't free-lancing; both he and Barack Obama had called waterboarding "torture."

This week the Associated Press reported that the name of bin Laden's courier may have come from CIA interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi, who received "harsh" interrogation at CIA prisons in Poland and Romania. On Tuesday, Mr. Holder said the information came from a "mosaic of sources."

Incidentally, there will be no attempt here to establish whether CIA interrogations did or did not lead to the bin Laden courier, who led our commandos to a bedroom in Abbottabad. Just as there will be no attempt here to resolve the fastidious debate unfolding over whether the Navy Seals' shooting of an unarmed Osama bin Laden was "legal." We'll leave that to the endless grinding wheels of the law journals.

If Mr. Holder has evidence of an egregious crime, he should step forward and announce it. If not, he should use this moment to put an end to the Durham investigation. Mr. Durham is not an independent counsel, whose hallowed status makes attorneys general loath to interfere. He is a special prosecutor, appointed by the attorney general and under his authority.

On June 18 last year, Mr. Holder said in a Washington speech that Mr. Durham was "close to the end of the time that he needs and will be making recommendations to me." But nothing has happened. Asked this week about the status of this investigation, a Justice Department spokesman for Mr. Durham, whose office is in Connecticut, said the project is "still ongoing."

Ironically, the CIA's contribution to bin Laden's end may ensure that its people will remain under this cloud. With President Obama elated over the success of his call to take down bin Laden, his poll numbers rising and his re-election campaign insulated from charges of Democratic softness on national security, what are the chances that his attorney general would wash away all that by announcing his intention to indict the men whose work may have sent his boss into Abbottabad, guns blazing? It is zero.

Eric Holder has taken a lot of flak over his handling of various terror issues. The point here is not to put him in the dock over another but to hope he'll make a good call. Times change. In his statement Sunday, Mr. Obama described 10 years of "heroic" work by "our counterterrorism professionals." But he also noted that the remarkable sense of national unity after 9/11 "has at times frayed." It might be truer to say it was our ever-ragged politics that frayed, not our people.

President Obama will be at Ground Zero in Manhattan today to lay a wreath. This is the same Ground Zero that on Monday morning was surrounded by young people chanting "USA" and singing "God Bless America (land that I love)." Some have asked whether Monday's chanters, barely teenagers on 9/11, were too celebratory or were in bad taste.

Was it too celebratory Monday when 35-year-old David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and the Dominican Republic stopped after hitting a home run to hug Army Ranger Sgt. Lucas Carr, who'd been leading the Boston crowd in "USA" chants? Mr. Ortiz said it was just about "love." That's right. Those outpourings were about love of something bigger in America than our frayed politics or even making "our values" a function of our legal procedures.

After 9/11, when the fraying started, George W. Bush passed through a seven-year political minefield of media leaks and lawsuits over the Patriot Act, surveillance, renditions, Guantanamo and CIA interrogations. Now bin Laden is dead, and Barack Obama's got the credit. We're all fine with that, just as we're fine with people chanting "USA" over the dead terrorist who tried to kill us. Now how about letting those CIA interrogators come in from the cold and join the celebration?

Obama owes thanks, and an apology, to CIA interrogators
Marc A. Thiessen
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obama-owes-thanks-and-an-apology-to-cia-interrogators/2011/05/03/AFka7tlF_story.html

In normal times, the officials who uncovered the intelligence that led us to Osama bin Laden would get a medal. In the Obama administration, they have been given subpoenas.

On his second day in office, Obama shut down the CIA’s high-value interrogation program. His Justice Department then reopened criminal investigations into the conduct of CIA interrogators — inquiries that had been closed years before by career prosecutors who concluded that there were no crimes to prosecute. In a speech at the National Archives, Obama eviscerated the men and women of the CIA, accusing them of “torture” and declaring that their work “did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts — they undermined them.”

Now, it turns out that the very CIA interrogators whose lives Obama turned upside down played a critical role in what the president rightly calls “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.”

It is time for a public apology.

U.S officials have acknowledged that the key piece of intelligence that led the CIA to bin Laden — information on the al-Qaeda leader’s principal courier — came from detainees in CIA custody. According to a senior administration official, “detainees in the post-9/11 period flagged for us individuals who may have been providing direct support to bin Laden and his deputy, [Ayman al-] Zawahiri, after their escape from Afghanistan. One courier in particular had our constant attention. Detainees gave us . . . his nickname and identified him as . . . a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.” The nickname was Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. KSM was taken into CIA custody in 2003 and refused to talk. Only after undergoing enhanced interrogation techniques did he confirm knowing al-Kuwaiti.

The following year, another senior al-Qaeda operative named Hassan Ghul was captured. U.S. officials say he told the CIA that al-Kuwaiti was close to KSM’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi — a revelation officials described as the “linchpin.” In May 2005, al-Libi was finally taken into CIA custody. After being subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, he provided credible information on al-Qaeda’s courier networks, how they chose and employed couriers, and specific individuals. But he became evasive when asked about al-Kuwaiti. Some have suggested this shows his interrogation did not work. Quite the opposite, this was a red flag that led the agency to recognize al-Kuwaiti’s importance and focus its attention on identifying and hunting him down. It took years to actually find al-Kuwaiti and follow him to bin Laden’s compound. But without the information the CIA elicited from these high-value terrorists, the agency would not have known to look for him in the first place.

Already, critics are desperately trying to play down the CIA interrogation program’s role in the bin Laden operation. Many are pointing to an Associated Press report that KSM “did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He acknowledged knowing him many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.”

This statement demonstrates ignorance of how CIA interrogations worked. Interrogators would never have asked about the names of couriers during waterboarding. As I explain in my book, “Courting Disaster,” enhanced techniques were not used to gain intelligence; they were used to elicit cooperation. According to former CIA director Mike Hayden, as enhanced techniques were applied, CIA interrogators would ask detainees questions to which the interrogators already know the answers — allowing them to judge whether the detainees had reached a level of compliance. “They are designed to create a state of cooperation, not to get specific truthful answers to a specific question,” Hayden said.

Once interrogators determined a terrorist had become cooperative, the techniques stopped and traditional, non-coercive methods of questioning were used. Moreover, the use of enhanced techniques wasn’t needed for two-thirds of the detainees in CIA custody . Just the experience of being brought into CIA custody — the “capture shock,” arrival at a sterile location, the isolation, the fact that they did not know where they were and that no one else knew they were there — as enough to persuade most of them to cooperate.

Thanks to President Obama, this program, which helped lead us to bin Laden, is no longer part of America’s counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, outside of the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, there have been no reported U.S. detentions of high-value terrorists since Obama took office.

Earlier this year, Umar Patek, the highest-ranking terrorist captured alive at this point in the Obama administration, was taken into custody by Pakistani authorities. Patek had traveled from Southeast Asia to Abbottabad — the same place where bin Laden was hiding. Coincidence? What was Patek doing in Abbottabad? With whom did he meet and what did they discuss? He should be in CIA custody answering such questions.

The time has come for Obama to restore the CIA interrogation program that made bin Laden’s demise possible — and to instruct Eric Holder to end his witch hunt against the heroes who helped lead us to bin Laden’s lair. That is the least Obama can do for the men and women responsible for the crowning achievement of his presidency. They don’t deserve a special prosecutor, Mr. President. They deserve the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Obama is rude and unresponsive to sister of 9/11 victim
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/obama-rude-and-unresponsive-to-sister-of-911-victim/2011/03/29/AFbOQB8F_blog.html

Cheney: Justice Probe of CIA Interrogators an 'Outrage'
http://nation.foxnews.com/dick-cheney/2011/05/09/cheney-justice-probe-cia-interrogators-outrage

Offline Curtis Metcalf

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2011, 06:34:43 am »
Curtis, I am just advocating fundamental fairness, as opposed to partisan small-mindedness.

So this president should rise above partisan politics while everyone else continues. I kind of wish we lived in that world too.
All I can say is don't hate the player, hate the game.

As for the rest, investigation does not equal prosecution much less persecution. How about we let this run its course before passing judgment? Due process and all. The fact is neither we nor the columnists you quoted know what went on.

The larger moral question is: Do the ends justify the means?

Hypothetically, imagine that the interrogators used illegal means (torture) to acquire actionable intelligence. Does getting results make it OK? Where and how do we draw the lines? Or does anything go as long as it works? These are serious and difficult questions. The answers go a long way towards defining our national character. What are we willing to do, to become?

Also, one has to consider whether other means were available that could have also been effective. I understand that these are difficult judgments to make and I am inclined to allow folks on the front line considerable leeway. But within some boundaries that we must reach agreement on. Otherwise, what makes us better?
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."

michaelintp

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2011, 07:18:41 am »
Curtis, I am just advocating fundamental fairness, as opposed to partisan small-mindedness.

So this president should rise above partisan politics while everyone else continues. I kind of wish we lived in that world too.
All I can say is don't hate the player, hate the game.

Well, I would have preferred to hear less "me me me I I I" in President Obama's speech, with more focus on the praiseworthy work of the investigators, interrogators, and soldiers who, over the years, pulled all this together. Because this did not all fall out of the sky last August. Again, contrast the tone of the Obama speech vs. the Bush speech (contrasted in the clip above). The President could have taken the high road in his speech.

As for the rest, investigation does not equal prosecution much less persecution. How about we let this run its course before passing judgment? Due process and all. The fact is neither we nor the columnists you quoted know what went on.

The larger moral question is: Do the ends justify the means?

Hypothetically, imagine that the interrogators used illegal means (torture) to acquire actionable intelligence. Does getting results make it OK? Where and how do we draw the lines? Or does anything go as long as it works? These are serious and difficult questions. The answers go a long way towards defining our national character. What are we willing to do, to become?

Also, one has to consider whether other means were available that could have also been effective. I understand that these are difficult judgments to make and I am inclined to allow folks on the front line considerable leeway. But within some boundaries that we must reach agreement on. Otherwise, what makes us better?

By your standard, President Obama and all the decision makers who ordered and implemented the targeted assassination of Osama Bin Laden, as well as the soldiers who implemented it, should be investigated. Is it torture to dip an unarmed man's head underwater, but not torture (or worse) to place a bullet in an unarmed man's head? One has to consider whether other means were available that could have also been effective. How about we let such an investigation of the assassination run its course before passing judgment? Due process and all. These are serious and difficult questions. The answers go a long way towards defining our national character. What are we willing to do, to become? 

Again, this is not my position. I am not advocating such an investigation. I laud the killing of Bin Laden. Though I do believe it would have been preferable to take him alive while misleading the world to believing he was dead. That would by far enhance our ability to obtain every bit of intelligence information from him, maximizing his feelings of helplessness while minimizing the media circus.   

Without the efforts of the investigators and interrogators, none of this would have come to light, the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden would remain unknown to this day, and we would not even be having this conversation. 

Offline Curtis Metcalf

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2011, 07:52:50 am »
By your standard, President Obama and all the decision makers who ordered and implemented the targeted assassination of Osama Bin Laden, as well as the soldiers who implemented it, should be investigated. Is it torture to dip an unarmed man's head underwater, but not torture (or worse) to place a bullet in an unarmed man's head? One has to consider whether other means were available that could have also been effective. How about we let such an investigation of the assassination run its course before passing judgment? Due process and all. These are serious and difficult questions. The answers go a long way towards defining our national character. What are we willing to do, to become? 
Sure, if you equate a captured prisoner with a combatant in the field. Of course that's bullsh*t. 
And, frankly, I don't understand why you seem so dismissive towards the underlying moral questions. That's usually your cup of tea.

Again, this is not my position. I am not advocating such an investigation. I laud the killing of Bin Laden. Though I do believe it would have been preferable to take him alive while misleading the world to believing he was dead. That would by far enhance our ability to obtain every bit of intelligence information from him, maximizing his feelings of helplessness while minimizing the media circus. 
Well, I guess we don't know that your scenario isn't what happened... Just sayin'.  ;) 

Without the efforts of the investigators and interrogators, none of this would have come to light, the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden would remain unknown to this day, and we would not even be having this conversation. 
That's probably true. And beside the point. The investigation precedes the raid, I believe.

Anyway, I wasn't arguing the facts of the interrogation investigation since none of us know them. The moral question is what are we willing to do and where do we draw the line?
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."

michaelintp

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2011, 07:59:05 pm »
Curtis, I was addressing the "moral" questions ... using your own phrases (because they fit so well).

You appear to draw the line that killing or torture is OK so long as the "victim" or "target" is an enemy not then held in custody. There are others who are in fact calling for an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the killing of Bin Laden. For example, is it true that he was in fact unarmed, and in no position to meaningfully resist? Was he still not "in custody" because he did not waive a white flag or proclaim "I surrender"...? What if he was physically struggling but had no weapon? What if he was cowering in the corner of the room? Is there a moral issue surrounding a "kill" order (targeted assassination)? Would it have been more moral for the order to be for his detention if possible, and to kill only if necessary to prevent his escape?  Was it moral to kill him because it would be difficult to deal with the geopolitical fallout from his being in custody, or the media circus, or his treatment as a hero, or the efforts made to force his release?

Some folk, some on the Left, some Human Rights Activists and some Muslims, are asking questions and/or condemning President Obama for doing what he did. Yet you are not only drawing a line, but proclaiming that those who are asking the questions are spouting nothing but bullsh*t.  I could not agree with you more.

However, I draw another line. That interrogators who engaged in "intense" interrogation techniques, authorized by the United States Government at the time, should be left alone, or preferably granted commendations, for obtaining the information that they obtained that led to the killing of Bin Laden.

That our Attorney General feels the need to continue the investigation of the highly successful interrogators is suspect. I believe they stem from Holder's disfavor of harsh interrogation techniques that he views as "torture," a foolish self-righteousness, and also stem from a certain partisan motivation to condemn what was implemented by the Bush Administration. Continuing the investigations is highly destructive to the morale of our dedicated public servants and soldiers, who in fear of later being second-guessed by new partisans may just take the easy road when hard decisions need to be made. With lives saved by those hard decisions apparently not fitting into the equation anymore.

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2011, 08:32:47 pm »
So Michael, are you saying there is no such thing as torture?  Or is torture justified under certain circumstances?

And what if torture generates unreliable data?  Is it worth the moral erosion?

michaelintp

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2011, 10:53:32 pm »
So Michael, are you saying there is no such thing as torture?  Or is torture justified under certain circumstances?
And what if torture generates unreliable data?  Is it worth the moral erosion?

First, the assertion that "torture" generates unreliable data is a dogma expounded by those who seek to avoid the hard moral question. It is the rhetorical cop-out. Obviously, if "torture" does not work, there is no reason to use it. But it does work. As do intense techniques that do not rise to the level of "torture." See references in the article above, regarding breaking the will of the captive and eliciting true cooperation and the revelation of useful information.

One must consider the value of the information sought: the harm that may occur if the information is not obtained, the harm that can be prevented if it is obtained. In a world in which weaponry can kill hundreds if not thousands or tens of thousands, the moral calculus favors erring on the side of "caution" ... and obtaining the information.

As to the intensity of the interrogation ... there are degrees, I suppose. Harsh speech, production of discomfort, sleep deprivation, bright lights, forced prolonged discomfort, to more intense experiences such as simulated drowning, or other experiences that do not produce lasting physical harm but are extremely uncomfortable, then physical harm, then to classic torture, such as severe beating, burning, mutilation and other forms of what everyone used to think of as "real" torture. On top of all this, there are the psychological games played, such as making the target think more is going on than actually is going on, on so forth.  

It is a facts and circumstances question. The further down the spectrum you go, the more reluctant one should be to employ the technique (in order not to produce what you refer to as a moral erosion ... the severe torture of anyone at the drop of a hat). But it is a facts and circumstances question, and selectively applied to senior terrorist leaders with significant information, or in a true emergency situation (such as the ticking time bomb), intense measures are warranted, in my opinion. I would think use of "real" torture would almost never be warranted, because of the moral erosion risk that you raise, which I do not discount. (The only reason I'm not being absolute here is that one can imagine some extreme hypotheticals).

Though that is not the real issue here. That's not what we are really talking about. We are talking about one Administration, reaping the benefits of the efforts of its predecessor (in part, I'm not discounting its own contributions), while threatening and harassing those very persons who, in compliance with the prior Administration's mandate, obtained the critical information.

There is good reason to believe that Osama Bin Laden would not have been located had intensive interrogations not taken place. See the articles, above and below.

All those who are celebrating Osama's "elimination" need to think about their own standards and what they are, in reality, willing to live with.


« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 07:17:46 am by michaelintp »

michaelintp

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2011, 11:49:22 pm »
Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden's most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ikAZCh0ww4Y1tnn_VhV3j8H5GTEg?docId=64273c49498c4331bd1c50206122d760

A declassified May 30, 2005, Justice Department memo states: “Before the CIA used enhanced [interrogation] techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/20/AR2009042002818.html?sub=AR

Actual plots were revealed as a result, including the (close to home for you Reginald) L.A. Library Towers plot. http://www.cnsnews.com/node/46949

The following is a very informative article that I urge you to read:

The Waterboarding Trail to bin Laden
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said that as late as 2006 fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from harsh interrogations.


By MICHAEL B. MUKASEY

Osama bin Laden was killed by Americans, based on intelligence developed by Americans. That should bring great satisfaction to our citizens and elicit praise for our intelligence community. Seized along with bin Laden's corpse was a trove of documents and electronic devices that should yield intelligence that could help us capture or kill other terrorists and further degrade the capabilities of those who remain at large.

But policies put in place by the very administration that presided over this splendid success promise fewer such successes in the future. Those policies make it unlikely that we'll be able to get information from those whose identities are disclosed by the material seized from bin Laden. The administration also hounds our intelligence gatherers in ways that can only demoralize them.

Consider how the intelligence that led to bin Laden came to hand. It began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information—including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.

That regimen of harsh interrogation was used on KSM after another detainee, Abu Zubaydeh, was subjected to the same techniques. When he broke, he said that he and other members of al Qaeda were obligated to resist only until they could no longer do so, at which point it became permissible for them to yield. "Do this for all the brothers," he advised his interrogators.

Abu Zubaydeh was coerced into disclosing information that led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh, another of the planners of 9/11. Bin al Shibh disclosed information that, when combined with what was learned from Abu Zubaydeh, helped lead to the capture of KSM and other senior terrorists and the disruption of follow-on plots aimed at both Europe and the United States.

Another of those gathered up later in this harvest, Abu Faraj al-Libi, also was subjected to certain of these harsh techniques and disclosed further details about bin Laden's couriers that helped in last weekend's achievement.

The harsh techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA. Of the thousands of unlawful combatants captured by the U.S., fewer than 100 were detained and questioned in the CIA program. Of those, fewer than one-third were subjected to any of these techniques.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has said that, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations. The Bush administration put these techniques in place only after rigorous analysis by the Justice Department, which concluded that they were lawful. Regrettably, that same administration gave them a name—"enhanced interrogation techniques"—so absurdly antiseptic as to imply that it must conceal something unlawful.

The current president ran for election on the promise to do away with them even before he became aware, if he ever did, of what they were. Days after taking office he directed that the CIA interrogation program be done away with entirely, and that interrogation be limited to the techniques set forth in the Army Field Manual, a document designed for use by even the least experienced troops. It's available on the Internet and used by terrorists as a training manual for resisting interrogation.

In April 2009, the administration made public the previously classified Justice Department memoranda analyzing the harsh techniques, thereby disclosing them to our enemies and assuring that they could never be used effectively again. Meanwhile, the administration announced its intentions to replace the CIA interrogation program with one administered by the FBI. In December 2009, Omar Faruq Abdulmutallab was caught in an airplane over Detroit trying to detonate a bomb concealed in his underwear. He was warned after apprehension of his Miranda rights, and it was later disclosed that no one had yet gotten around to implementing the new program.

Yet the Justice Department, revealing its priorities, had gotten around to reopening investigations into the conduct of a half-dozen CIA employees alleged to have used undue force against suspected terrorists. I say "reopening" advisedly because those investigations had all been formally closed by the end of 2007, with detailed memoranda prepared by career Justice Department prosecutors explaining why no charges were warranted. Attorney General Eric Holder conceded that he had ordered the investigations reopened in September 2009 without reading those memoranda. The investigations have now dragged on for years with prosecutors chasing allegations down rabbit holes, with the CIA along with the rest of the intelligence community left demoralized.

Immediately following the killing of bin Laden, the issue of interrogation techniques became in some quarters the "dirty little secret" of the event. But as disclosed in the declassified memos in 2009, the techniques are neither dirty nor, as noted by Director Hayden and others, were their results little. As the memoranda concluded—and as I concluded reading them at the beginning of my tenure as attorney general in 2007—the techniques were entirely lawful as the law stood at the time the memos were written, and the disclosures they elicited were enormously important. That they are no longer secret is deeply regrettable.

It is debatable whether the same techniques would be lawful under statutes passed in 2005 and 2006—phrased in highly abstract terms such as "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment—that some claimed were intended to ban waterboarding even though the Senate twice voted down proposals to ban the technique specifically. It is, however, certain that intelligence-gathering rather than prosecution must be the first priority, and that we need a classified interrogation program administered by the agency best equipped to administer it: the CIA.

We also need to put an end to the ongoing investigations of CIA operatives that continue to undermine intelligence community morale.

Acknowledging and meeting the need for an effective and lawful interrogation program, which we once had, and freeing CIA operatives and others to administer it under congressional oversight, would be a fitting way to mark the demise of Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Mukasey was attorney general of the United States from 2007 to 2009.

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: Cool Hand Barack
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2011, 11:19:30 pm »
So, bottom line, you're okay with torture.  The ends justify the means to you.  The phrase "intense interrogations" is bullsh*t to me.  Look, I like watching 24 as much as the next man. But it's not a joke.  Anyone who has been waterboarded says it's torture.  Don't play word games.