OK, I’m against torture - real torture - mainly because I think we’re better than that. However, I’ll get back to you on making some terrorist with information we need to save lives uncomfortable or distressed.
That said, I’m looking at what seems to be coming down the pike and I’m asking “Do we really want to go there?”
Do we really want a full-scale congressional “investigation” (circus would be a better description) into who was responsible for the enhanced interrogation techniques that were used on prisoners after “9/11”?
Noting the current political tone in D.C., does anyone believe that such an “investigation” or the findings of a “truth commission” would produce anything that would be accepted by the nation at large?
Sorry. Not a prayer.
There will be neither resolution nor any satisfying answers. There will only be more of what we’ve already had too much of - pure political theater. And it would be expensive, but poorly acted theater at that.
As a minor aside, the words “truth” and “congress” should never be used in the same sentence as they could cause any sane individual’s head to explode. As one of a bottomless well of examples to explain this, think “Social Security Lock Box.”
The use of these enhanced interrogation techniques started after “9/11.” We lost a lot of people that day. Many of us also lost friends. My friend was “Chic” Burlingame - the pilot of the airliner that was flown into the Pentagon. To say that we were angry would be understating things by about a mile.
There was a phrase that described General Robert E. Lee when he was in an aggressive frame of mind. “His blood’s up” is what they’d say about him when he’d do things that, in a calmer mood, he might not have done. Ordering “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg is an example.
But such things can happen when we’re thrust into war. Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeus corpus several times during the Civil War. Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Japanese citizens into camps after the outbreak of World War II.
Well, after watching rerun after rerun of airliners crashing into the towers. After seeing any number of people jump to their deaths. After listening to the hundreds of emergency beepers attached to now dead firefighters chirping from the rubble. After hearing about unarmed passengers on another airliner preventing even more carnage, as a nation, our blood was up and we were ready for a fight. Too, our leaders were very justifiably worried about further attacks and were looking for information.
In that atmosphere, I doubt that any of our leaders (in any party) would’ve stood up and said of the interrogation methods to be used on certain prisoners, “Hold on a minute. We’re going to do what to get information out of these folks?”
In the news that I’m reading from such hard-core, right-wing, conservative sources like The Washington Post, members of congress were well briefed on what was going to be done.
“Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.
‘The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough,’ said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.”
Which means that if we start hauling people in front of an inquisition, there will surely be some pretty high ranking Democrats also standing tall. And high on that list would likely be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who, by the way, should be considered for the role of the French prefect of police, Captain Renault, in any remake of the movie “Casablanca.”
After her recent performance in telling us - with a straight face, mind you - that she was (paraphrasing here) “shocked, shocked to find that torture was going on out there,” she’d be my hands down favorite for the part.
However, I digress.
President Obama should stick with his initial instincts on this one.
Put a stop, as he already has, to the practices believed to be illegal and let the Senate Intelligence Committee handle further inquiries into this matter (and this would be extremely important) in closed sessions.
If we go the other way, the results will make the current partisan bickering look like a Sunday afternoon church social.
And that’s something we really don’t need just now.