Monday, April 20, 2009

Gen. Hayden on Declassifying "Torture Memos" (UPDATED)

This past week-end, former CIA Director General Michael Hayden appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. It was 15 minutes of pure gold, in which he laid out most eloquently the multitude of reasons why the Obama Administration's decision to release its so-called "torture memos" was such a blindingly bad idea. Opposed by current CIA Director Panetta, as well as four of his predecessors, this release of operational details concerning past and potential methods of intelligence gathering has given a tremendous gift to the enemies of this Nation, and has unquestionably made us less safe.

The President is the ultimate arbiter of classification, as Gen. Hayden points out, so there was nothing done here which exceeds Presidential authority. It is the judgment of this particular POTUS which has been called into serious question. In pandering to the ACLU and to international critics, Obama has committed a grievous blow to the spirit of his responsibilities as Commander In Chief during an on-going war. He has sacrificed a measure of our security for the sake of some chimera of goodwill, whose fruits it is difficult to imagine being worth the potential cost.

It was a foolish and reckless move, and I hope most fervently that we manage to dodge the bullets which it invites.

UPDATE: Here's Rich Lowry from NRO, bringing this matter of torture into much-needed perspective:
Rightly considered, the memos should be a source of pride. They represent a nation of laws struggling to defend itself against a savage, lawless enemy while adhering to its legal commitments and norms. Most societies throughout human history wouldn’t have bothered.
Indeed.

UPDATE 2: And for those in the "'torture' doesn't work anyway" camp, here's Marc Thiessen in the WaPo.

4 comments:

Mike said...

I am forced to agree with you here, but for different reasons. This is a case where the administration needed to shit or get off the pot and it chose to do neither, thus pissing everybody off.

They should either not have released the info at all or prosecuted those responsible. By releasing the info and not prosecuting they've accomplished nothing but damage.

This kind of behavior from this administration really disappoints me. I was expecting all manner of wrong-headed but well meaning crap from Obama (of which I've gotten plenty), but this is just plain dumb and I wasn't expecting that from him.

As for the efficacy of torture, think of it this way: it's a toss of the dice. You're either getting useful intelligence, useless bullshit, or very dangerous misinformation. In some cases you can check, in others you simply can't. Information warfare is a tricky thing.

And regardless of what kind of info you're getting, you're giving up all pretense of even resembling a benevolent force in any way.

Noocyte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noocyte said...

As for the efficacy of torture, think of it this way: it's a toss of the dice. You're either getting useful intelligence, useless bullshit, or very dangerous misinformation. In some cases you can check, in others you simply can't. Information warfare is a tricky thing.

True. There is always risk. But the proof of the pudding (mmmm pudding...) is in the eating; just from what I can glean from the declassified bits, it's pretty clear that thousands of lives have been saved, and AQ as an organization was far better understood (albeit inexcusably belatedly, thanks a whole bunch to the gutting of our Intelligence apparatus under Clinton) as a result of these miscreants' acute discomfort.

Apparently they not only have ways of making them talk, but of filtering the felgercarb.

And regardless of what kind of info you're getting, you're giving up all pretense of even resembling a benevolent force in any way.

Oh, what utter hogwash.

Less than two years after 3000 citizens of this Nation were butchered, pulverized and incinerated by an organization whose members were still at large, plotting still more attacks, we captured some top dogs of said organization.

Did we hang them by the fingernails, apply liquid nitrogen to their nads or lock them in a small room with a hungry ferret (while slathered in bacon grease, or course)? Or did we go through meticulous legal review of every technique beyond polite conversation, crafting each and every one in such a way that no permanent harm would be done (slamming their towel-swaddled heads against flexible false walls, no less).

Many more reporters and other grandstanding lefties have been waterboarded than have AQ terrorists (to say nothing of the many hundreds of Special Forces operators undergoing SERE training).

Only those for whom anti-Americanism is a premise, not a conclusion could look at the conduct of our Intelligence agencies' operatives in the context in which they were working and view it as anything but praiseworthy adherence to the rule of law under the most dire circumstances.

Frankly, The US can't afford to give a donkey's duodenum what such people think about our "benevolence." This is not a popularity contest (the craven kowtowing of our Apologizer-in-Chief notwithstanding).

Mike said...

I had written the first draft of a standard point-by-point type reply to your last comment. I was starting my first revision when I realized a crucial fact: I was arguing seriously with someone who is advocating torture. Much as I enjoy arguing, that's just beyond the pale.

Do me a favor: Look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I advocate torture," and try not to intellectualize it for just 5 minutes. If you can keep doing so after that, by all means go ahead. I'll refrain from commenting on such posts in the future.