“We tortured some people.” Of all the words uttered by Obama these past few years, these are perhaps his most dangerous. Surely, our Constitutional-Scholar-in Chief understands that these words open CIA and Bush administration officials to prosecution in foreign courts for alleged “war crimes.”
All hindsight is 20/20 and it is easy for the Senate and armchair liberals to sit about today and criticize actions taken in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But at that time, there were very real threats of either a nuclear or biological attack on the United States. These threats were confirmed when a plot to explode a “dirty bomb” was exposed and anthrax mysteriously started to show up in the mail. By that time, the Bush administration began to round up known and suspected terrorists in Afghanistan.
Terrorists fully exploit the American system of justice while disdaining that very system. They have no respect for Miranda rights except that it is to their advantage. Due Process is something meted out at the end of a sword. These things are foreign to the mind of a terrorist. Likewise, but not in all cases, regular interrogation techniques turn into a game for terrorists where they string along the interrogator buying time while another plot is hatched. That is what the government was up against post-9/11. Yes- time was of the essence and sometimes other methods have to be employed to extract information.
The Senate report is alleged to say that as a result of “waterboarding” and other techniques, no information of value was obtained. However, mainstream press articles abroad indicate the opposite. For example, the German periodical Der Spiegel noted that after waterboarding, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed revealed that he had planned to bomb Heathrow Airport in London, attack an American ship docked in Dubai, and other plots. Perhaps the most notorious was the foiled “Second Wave” attack that targeted not only Washington DC again, but also Los Angeles.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed was arrested in March, 2003 by Pakistani intelligence and handed over to the CIA. They reportedly transferred him to Poland and then Guantanamo. In May of that year, Iyman Faris was arrested for planning the collapse of the Brooklyn bridge with blow torches. You do the math here. KSM was transferred to Guantanamo in 2006 which is where the waterboarding took place. During his captivity abroad, it is known that he was administered psychotropic drugs- another “enhanced interrogation technique.” At Guantanamo, he admitted to the Faris plot.
Regardless, this subject alone admitted to planning the 9/11 attacks, the Richard Reid shoe bombing incident, the Bali nightclub bombing, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the murder of Daniel Pearl. And the list goes on. Given the fact that this was the chief operations officer for Bin Laden, it would have been foolish not to use every tool at their disposal to get information out of him. Any intelligence gleaned is “valuable intelligence.” It is a glimpse into the operations of a terrorist network. Perhaps there is a case that the techniques did not result in actionable intelligence- that which could be acted upon to foil a plot- except possibly in the Faris case.
Then there is the so-called “second wave attack” directed at the West Coast and was to be carried out by an East Asian cell. Some Bush administration officials (and Bush himself) used the foiling of this attack as justification for the techniques used. Here, the Left gets a little confused. They cite chronology- that KSM’s waterboarded confession in this plot was after the fact and therefore the technique did not lead to a foiling of the attack. However, a more detailed reading of the facts indicate that the attack was foiled after Abu Zubaida was waterboarded (82 times in total), not KSM. However, KSM was certainly aware of and active in the plot.
We did not live in this country before the Civil War, so it is difficult to put ourselves in the mind and feet of Southerners who condoned slavery. I was born well after World War II so I cannot put myself in the mind and feet of those who interned Japanese-Americans. Likewise, my current neighbors and family members are not dying on the islands and ships in the Pacific at the hands of kamikazes so I cannot put myself in the mind and feet of those who decided to drop atomic bombs on Japan. All these things could be considered “sins of our past.” I tend to disagree, but that is besides the point.
Hand wringing and apologies will get you 52 American captives in Tehran for over 350 days. Apologies will get you the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and ISIS in Iraq. Hand wringing will get you emboldened foreign leaders who care less about your strategic interests in the world. And with terrorism, apologies often lead to a beheading.
The war on terrorism is like no other. There are no rules although we play by international protocols devised a century ago in response to traditional wars. We see playing by those rules as a strength while the terrorist sees it as an opportunity. While we play by the rules, they plot and kill Americans.
In the end, we have nothing to apology for and nothing over which we should wring our hands. As a true leader- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu- recently said, “A country has to do what a country has to do.” We need a leader, not an apologist.