Here’s the interesting quandary: the left, including our President, has railed against “enhanced interrogation techniques” for years. Obama even moved to prosecute those who engaged in using such techniques to extract pertinent information from terrorist detainees:
President Barack Obama left the door open Tuesday to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terrorism-suspect interrogations, saying the United States lost “our moral bearings” with use of the tactics.
The question of whether to bring charges against those who devised justification for the methods “is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws and I don’t want to prejudge that,” Obama said.
Said the President previously on interrogation:
“We must send a message to the world that America is a nation of laws, and a nation that stands against torture. As President I will abide by statutory prohibitions, and have the Army Field Manual govern interrogation techniques for all United States Government personnel and contractors.”
So now the President must find himself in a difficult position, after railing so hard against interrogation techniques for so long, he can’t claim victory for bin Laden’s death without ceding a major part of that victory to the techniques he opposed which were curated under his predecessor.
The trail that led to the doorstep of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan began years earlier with aggressive interrogations of al-Qaida detainees at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and CIA “black site” prisons overseas, according to U.S. officials.
It was those sometimes controversial interrogations that first produced descriptions of members of bin Laden’s courier network, including one critical Middle Eastern courier who along with his brother was protecting bin Laden at his heavily fortified compound in Abbottabad on Sunday. Both the courier and his brother were among those killed, along with bin Laden, in the dramatic raid by U.S. special forces.
A member of the US Senate Intelligence Committee has told CNBC that the death of Osama Bin Laden was a direct result of enhanced interrogations.
“The information that eventually led us to this compound was the direct result of enhanced interrogations; one can conclude if we had not used enhanced interrogations, we would not have come to yesterday’s action,” US Senator Richard Burr in a telephone interview with CNBC.
Since the media began politicizing the event almost immediately following the news of bin Laden’s death, the above must be pointed out to keep them honest.
Matt Yglesias politicized it with a post (I’m waiting for his rationale explaining how you can celebrate a victory that came by way of techniques you so rabidly opposed).
DNC head Debbie Wasserman-Schultz also claimed credit:
The incoming chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said President Obama deserves credit for the killing on Sunday of Osama bin Laden.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) praised Obama and specifically credited Obama for “refocusing” U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which Wasserman Schultz asserted led to bin Laden’s death.
Except none of the intelligence reports cite her reasons – and in fact, invalidate them. We now know that the interrogation of KSM and the nickname of the courier that the CIA was ultimately able to track was obtained before Obama even began campaigning.
But a former top intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, asserted that Bush routinely asked him about bin Laden during Thursday morning briefings about CIA operations.
“I’d walk in there and he would just say, ‘So where are we on bin Laden?’” the official said. “He was very focused on it – this was always a top priority. I’d think, ‘Oh, hell – he asked me that again.’”
Democrats, notoriously weak on foreign policy, are spinning:
But one Democratic communications hand sent advice to a slew of other Democratic operatives in the wake of the announcement hammering on the need to make sure Obama comes out on top.
“In your day jobs, do not let Republicans turn this into continuing the Bush legacy. This has to be about Obama’s decisive leadership,” the guidance said. “He is the one who oversaw bringing bin Laden to justice, much like how Bush failed to do so at Tora Bora and then claimed Osama wasn’t a priority.”
For Democrats, the argument is critical because they don’t want to let credibility on national security issues slip back into their post-Vietnam home in the Republican Party. And they need to fight the insinuation, fed by recent NATO action in Libya that one official characterized as “leading from behind,” that Obama is a weak leader.
They have help from MSNBC:
A couple of years ago, Seymour Hersh called the very group that took out bin Laden an “assassination ring.”
The left wanted to try Bush and Cheney as war criminals. Maddow seemed to be one such supporter – “Bush … the torture-approver-in-chief” – though I wonder if she celebrated or condemned the killing of bin Laden considering the interrogation techniques used to locate him. I also wonder if she’ll condemn President Obama for how bin Laden was located with the very techniques she so strongly opposed in this clip.
Obama alleged that those who participated in interrogation practices had “lost their moral bearings.”
I give some credit to Obama for finally demonstrating some leadership with the decision to send in a special forces team to take out bin Laden instead of bombing the compound (and in doing so give Obama more credit than he and his party are willing to give his predecessor) . I also give credit to Bush for standing by the interrogation practices which delivered the clue that the CIA and military used to track bin Laden to his million-dollar compound.
But for the left and its media to ignore the reason why the action is impossible is petty and demonstrates more allegiance to party than country. The biggest obstacle to killing bin Laden was the left themselves. Had we gone their way instead of staying the course, bin Laden would likely still be alive.