FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Obama caught between rock and a hard place on ‘torture.’
Or, why the Romans did that "Remember, thou art mortal" thing*.
Rep Peter Hoekstra of Michigan would like to remind people in general – and the White House in particular – that the events of the last eight years didn’t actually occur in a vacuum:
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair got it right last week when he noted how easy it is to condemn the enhanced interrogation program “on a bright sunny day in April 2009.” Reactions to this former CIA program, which was used against senior al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003, are demonstrating how little President Barack Obama and some Democratic members of Congress understand the dire threats to our nation.
It was not necessary to release details of the enhanced interrogation techniques, because members of Congress from both parties have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002. We believed it was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to keep our nation safe. After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses.
Rep Hoesktra goes on with this shot across the administration’s bow: “I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.” That being, of course, the thing that the White House probably doesn’t want publicized. It also doesn’t want it publicized that it doesn’t want it publicized, but that’s normal for administrations in the middle of an embarrassment.
You don’t really have to read past the title of this Politico piece (“Obama muddles torture message“), but do it anyway. Its central point – that the President has attempted to have it every which way at once, only to discover that neither side of the dispute is particularly interested in hearing equivocations – is summed up nicely by Ed Morrissey:
When he released the memos, Obama apparently didn’t anticipate that calling the OLC complicit in a war crime would generate two reactions. The first would criticize Obama for failing to prosecute people who he thinks committed crimes, and the second would get angry over Obama only telling part of the story. Before the release, he only had a small group of people criticizing him for putting the issue in the past, and now he has everyone angry over his dishonest approach to the issue.
This is only to be expected, really. The current President is one of the most inexperienced that we have ever elected, if not the most inexperienced; he’s certainly one of the youngest, and up to this point he has led what has been by all accounts a fairly sheltered life. It is thus probably unfair to expect President Obama to be able to navigate tricky ideological waters with the polished skill of a Bill Clinton – or the stubborn integrity of a George W Bush – given that up until now he has had no real need to.
On the other hand, nobody pointed a gun at his head and made him run for President of the United States, so perhaps it is time that he learned the basic skill set.
*Please note: I have not looked it up to determine whether the Romans did or did not in fact do that thing. If it turns out that they didn’t… well, they should have.
Crossposted on Moe Lane.