From Obamaphiles who might be concerned that all of the sudden, their political hero doesn’t appear to be all too keen to reverse the interrogation policies that were put in place during the Bush Administration. Thus far, it hasn’t come and unless the Obamaphiles have decided that “our current interrogation policies constitute torture unless they are being implemented by the incoming Obama Administration–in which case, they constitute tough and admirable interrogation policies designed to keep a world in which gray areas far outnumber black-and-white ones safe,” they ought to be up in arms.
But somehow, they aren’t. They don’t ask whether the Director-designate of Central Intelligence authorized rendition. They certainly don’t want to draw too much attention to this story about the appointment of John Brennan as counterterrorism adviser either:
Brennan has publicly disavowed waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning that the White House authorized the CIA to use in 2002. But critics of the Bush administration’s detainee policies complained that Brennan did not repudiate as torture harsh interrogation techniques like the excessive use of isolation, sleep deprivation, cultural and sexual humiliation and other techniques in combination.
In a 2005 interview on PBS’ “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” Brennan defended rendition as “an absolutely vital tool.” In 2007, he told CBS News that the CIA’s harsh interrogation program, which included waterboarding on at least three prisoners, produced “lifesaving” intelligence.
And now, funny enough, we are being told that perhaps the Presidency has been weakened far too much and maybe some of those Bush Administration interrogation procedures aren’t that bad and should be kept around by Team Obama. Obamaphiles should be terrified and deeply upset that the Imperial Presidency may suddenly have a new lease on life but somehow . . . they just aren’t. Nor does the question of “enhanced interrogation procedures” raise as many hackles as it used to in the usual quarters.
I seriously doubt that if John McCain were elected, we would be hearing from Newsweek that perhaps the office of the Presidency needs to be strengthened. I seriously doubt that if John McCain was elected and suddenly showed ambivalence towards the question of changing the interrogation procedures put in place by the Bush Administration, the media would nod sagely and say that it’s the wise thing to do. No, quite the contrary. If John McCain won and pulled the reins on changing interrogation policies, the howls from the media and from the Left side of the Blogosphere would be vast and deafening.
The people who criticized the so-called “Imperial Presidency” during the Bush Administration were never against the augmentation of Presidential power per se. They were just against it when their side was out of office. Now that their side is back in office, enhanced interrogation is suddenly not a bad idea and the deterioration in the power of the Presidency is suddenly something to be concerned about. To be sure, there are plenty of conservatives who have suddenly become skeptics of Presidential power. They will have to reconcile their positions. But so will the Obamaphiles.
As for me, I was always in favor of a strong Presidency and read the Constitution as advocating the existence of a strong Presidency. I’m just amused, however, at the identity of some of my newfound political allies.