Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sowell: Obama Interrogation Talk “Scary”

In his latest column Thomas Sowell says:

It is scary when the President of the United States is not being serious about matters of life and death, saying that there are "other ways" of getting information from terrorists.

Maybe this is a step up from the previous talking point that "torture" had not gotten any important information out of terrorists. Only after this had been shown to be a flat-out lie did Barack Obama shift his rhetoric to the lame assertion that unspecified "other ways" could have been used.

For a man whose whole life has been based on style rather than substance, on rhetoric rather than reality, perhaps nothing better could have been expected.

But that the media and the public would have become so mesmerized by the Obama cult that they could not see through this to think of their own survival, or that of this nation, is truly a chilling thought . . . .
Sowell’s entire column’s here.

President Obama’s talk and actions with regard to national security intelligence matters are, to say the least, “scary.” But I think the principal reason so many in media and the public have gone along with him has less to do with mesmerization and more to do with self-righteous hypocrisy.

For media-based political partisans like Andrew Sullivans, Frank Richs and Keith Olbermanns, enhanced interrogation techniques as used by the CIA represent an opportunity to preen self-righteously as they go about their real work: attacking President Bush and his administration.

For them and others, opposition to “torture” is just a no-cost, feel-good, look righteous opportunity.

Such people remind me of those in New York who say they’re “outraged” by cab drivers who won’t at night take fares to Harlem, but who themselves wouldn’t do so, either.


Anonymous said...


Your point about the New Yorkers who rail about cab drivers who won't take night fares to Harlem and who wouldnt drive there themselves either is on point. What gets me about those who suggest there must be some other way to get information (kindler, gentler?) is that they have no example of what can be done - just that there must be some way. THat is the same as telling a teacher that there has to be some other way to get a child to learn how to write his letters other than having him practice them over and over by putting pencil to paper. Sure, there conceivably be another way, but in all the years that people have been writing, no other way has been found effective. Thus, every child starts school life learning how to make the circles and straight lines with a pencil administered to a Red Chief tablet of lined paper.
It would be nice if there were no terrorists (though I would be willing to wager if Keith Olberman thought he could get wawy with it he would say that the fact there are terrorists is the fault of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Republican party) and that all people behaved in a civilized manner towards one another. If that were the case, then there would be no necessity for "enhanced interrogation " measures - or for that matter, interrogation in any form. But that is not the way of the world. Our country - our way of life - is despised by those elements who are boun and determined to bring the country down and destroy the way of life that we live. The assaults come daily (large and small)in ways that we can easily see (bombings, threats) and in ways that we only realize after the fact (allowing Muslim women to remain veiled for the drivers license photo so that their identity is very difficult to determine is just one example).
I find it increasingly hard to remain optimistic about the long term survival of this country as a bastion of democracy. As long as we elect leaders who are naieve in the workings of the world and who are oblivious to history and we have pundits who praise uncritically ssaid administrations, then we will continue to slide down that slippery slope of appeasement and denial that the world did when dealing with Hitler - I do not see any politician, like Churchill, who is willing to stand up and forthrightly declare that desperate occasions really call for the need to use enhanced means to keep our nation safe.

Anonymous said...

I have been schooled in the intelligence craft and have put in three decades-plus in the field. I have observed and taken part in interrogations of captured guerillas and espionage agents (during my time, we weren't fighting terrorists openly). I agree there are ways other than outright torture to bring information out of the subject. The problem with most of these methods is the time involved. It can take up to a year to cajole and schmooze the subject to the point where he is willing to give up the information. And not all subjects can be so maneuvered. I have encountered many "hard cases" who were so convinced and dedicated that nothing short of inflicting physical pain would get them to speak. And, admittedly, sometimes even those admissions were not true. There are some people who can't be broken by any means.
Which brings us to the subject of tactics like waterboarding. Although I have never used the tactic and have never witnessed its use, I know from colleagues that it works and it's relatively quick. Best of all, it doesn't really endanger the subject's life and leaves no marks. The people whom I have heard running their mouths about how terrible waterboarding is and how it is outside our traditions of fair play have had zero experience in the craft of interrogations and I would guess most of them have never been in harm's way in defense of their country. I suggest that the critics of our interrogation policies put on the uniform and gear of a combat soldier or Marine, go to Afghanistan, and show us how brave they are when the throat-slitters are breathing down their necks.
I feel much better now.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

Tarheel Hawkeye:

I have the greatest respect for you and all those who have served, and continue to serve (my baby brother is in that number) in the defense of this country. I would hope that those whose job it is to ferret out information about possible attacks against this nation would do what is necessary (without killing, maiming) to secure the information necessary to insure that we as a nation (and by extension our troops) are safe.
I know, from the little that another of my brothers who was a Ranger, told me (and this was years ago) that the enhancced interrogation techniques that were used on them was much worse than any waterboarding, sleep deprivation, or a caterpillar in the cell.