I spent much of this week reading through hundreds of pages of information. Some were resources provided to me by a former, and very senior, CIA official that gave me some profound insight to the realities decision-makers faced in the wake of 9/11.
Then I perused my old Woodward books that centered on the Bush presidency. I re-read Doug Feith’s diatribe, er… book. Re-reading George Tenet’s At the Center of the Storm (coupled with data from the aforementioned former CIA official) reminded me of his tumultuous, and critical, years as DCI.
I turned to old archived data from the Bush years for contemporaneous accounts. I reviewed MSM coverage. Then I reviewed items in Federal Register and the ever-helpful Thomas.LOC.gov site, both of which gave me ever more insight into the rampant hypocrisy and outright BS being spewed by MoCs (Members of Congress) with regard to not only EITs (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) and the alleged torture… but also with regard to the following: Darfur, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, genocide, rape as a Crime Against Humanity, orphans, child soldiers, Islamic radicals, the Janjaweed, starvation, preventable diseases, malaria, malnutrition, AIDS, HIV, epidemics, pandemics, prevention, healthcare, the absence of healthcare, financial misappropriation and malfeasance, human rights, protesters, liars, bullshitters, troops, officers, civil servant, public health, and at least a hundred other things that have been discussed but not addressed in a real way for at least a generation.
Of course, I’ve got another article on torture – and the lack thereof – partially written. But, given my passion for the issue… I decided to share some unredacted thoughts.
For those who are horrified or enthused by Shepard Smith’s “We do not fucking torture” outburst; keep your powder dry. I recall the last time Shep bought time with the Liberals. He enjoys his role as the “good” reporter at Fox News Channel. Remember him standing on the overpass after Hurricane Katrina? Hollering and cursing then-President George W. Bush. Nevermind the Constitution. Nevermind the 10th Amendment. Nevermind that then-Governor Kathleen Blanco refused to make the official request to the President for Federal Assistance, which would have facilitated access for Federal assistance. At what point is Shep, a native Mississippian, unclear on how Southern states feel about “State’s Rights” and state sovereignty?
Oh nevermind, why screw around with the facts, when throwing the F-Bomb is so much more fun?
Shepard Smith, and his sympathizers notwithstanding, the biggest problem I see with the torture issue is two-fold. First, President Obama knows for a fact that even as Commander in Chief, he will never, ever be as much a man as any one of the Clandestine Operators, Intelligence officers, Special Forces operators, or field Commanders like General David Petraeus. Not ever. No matter what.
Second, because he has no institutional knowledge (since he’s hostile to the aforementioned folks) — he is allowing his staffers to conflate the KSM (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) & Abu Zubaydah interrogators (whose average age was 43) with the enlisted kids guarding folks at Abu Gharaib in Iraq.
The former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte’s office distributed this memo, circa September 2006. Read this five-page memo for yourself by clicking HERE.
That memo is problematic for the Obama Administration, as well as Speaker Pelosi – because it confirms they have clearly never been stakeholders in national security. It also crystallizes something very important. It proves that President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and many others are ignorant, willfully so, of the facts. Only when he had his eyes on a presidential campaign did Obama “lean” to the right. (Ex: voting to confirm Condi Rice as SecState, Chertoff for DHS, and most interestingly – for John Negroponte as DNI and the re-auth of the Patriot Act & “domestic surveillance” aka FISA)
So, when it works for him to man-up, Obama does. However fleeting – he tries to play the role of Decider.
If Obama can’t get the baseline facts straight (forget the partisanship, he has that DOWN) – just plain ol’ inconvenient facts — with regard to war, the rules of war, the UN Convention Against Torture, the US Senate’s ratification & amended statements on the UNCAT, the Geneva Convention, the War Crimes Act, and other governing statutes and treaties… how are we to have confidence in his ability to deal appropriately with the issue?
If Obama does not know the difference between an idiot non-com at Abu Gharaib and a 20+ year veteran of the Clandestine service, why should we be confident in his intellectual and dispassionate mediation of the truth between the actual players, and the press?
Truth is – we can’t. And the American people know it — this is why the GOP is hammering the issue. Getting into a cat-fight with Dick Cheney over national security; when he & his cadre of Ford-era behind-the-scenes players have been in the game since Obama was in short pants — well, with all that fancy-shmancy education of Obama’s – it proves you can have as many Ivy League degrees as you want — but you can’t get an academic scholarship for Common Sense.
Now – turn that lens on Africa. Does Obama have the slightest clue what is happening there? Does he understand why the Sudan is a huge problem? Does he know the history we have with Sudan? Does he understand that if Clinton had neutered UBL & his posse in The Mog – we would be in a much different world? No one would be debating the idiocy of “terrorism” versus “man-caused disasters.”
Darfur. Uganda. Somalia. Americans need a reality check with regards to the whole continent. Going to a protest and buying a (RED) t-shirt at The GAP does not a human rights advocate make. Hiring Samantha Power and Susan Rice does not a pro-Human Rights policy make. Susan Rice has a poor track record, and no one really believes the Samantha Power is making a darn bit of difference at her new office in the NSA. Not one extra mouth has been fed because of her. Not ONE.
The only sign of good news is a renewed commitment to PEPFAR appears in his FY2010 budget — but he hasn’t pushed for it. Not once. No new press releases appear at PEPFAR.gov either. So, it remains to be seen if he will ever be on par with his predecessor with regard to Africa. No American President has made more of a commitment to Africa and her people than George W. Bush. (This is the part where I refrain from making a snide comment regarding the irony there. And where I refrain from pointing out Obama’s disdain for the British as a result of his righteous indignation on behalf of his Kenyan grandfather)
Lesson number one for every American president is this: It ain’t about YOU, your family, your ancestors. It’s about selfless service to the American people at large. IF you don’t understand that… then Americans have a responsibility to hold not only the President and his Administration accountable – but also the US Congress.
President Obama, his allies, and friends in the press corps that repeat Shep Smith’s “We don’t fucking torture” mantra simply don’t get it. The legality of these issues is well laid out, ratified by the US Senate, and like everything else in the Law — it is subject to interpretation. That is a matter for another day.
I reject their self-declared moral superiority because they seek to apply standards to folks who are easy targets. Clandestine operators seldom march to the microphones and hold press conferences. Obama is not being intellectually honest, nor consistent. This affectation of moral highness is silly. He has already proven that he does not care about torture. He has done NOTHING on Darfur but appoint a neutered Scott Gration to placate anti-Genocide activists with regard to Darfur. He has glad-handed with Hugo Chavez – who uses torture, rape, and murder on his political enemies. He wants to hold hands with Iran’s Ahmadinejead, who encourages torture and imprisonment. Obama wants to play nice with North Korea where Kim Jong Il uses starvation as a weapon of choice in exacting extreme obedience via mental torture on his people. Obama bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia where women are stoned to death every week, where Female Genital Mutilation is the order of the day.
I can’t help but wonder, does President Obama see Female Genital Mutilation as torture? Or is that practice “cool?” Because that happens every day – by the thousands – all across Africa, to little girls about the age of his daughters. (and my daughter)
So yes, let us have a debate on the morality of torture with President Barack Hussein Obama. Let us have it out. Release the data. Let us discuss torture. Mental anguish. Let us talk of women all across Africa being raped, being cut, being stoned, and forced to watch their little girls and little boys starve, be raped, and die of preventable diseases. Let us talk about the moral high ground on which Barack Obama judges George W. Bush. Let us have an open and unredacted debate about a couple of caterpillars in a box with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is WORSE than any thing else.
Is President Obama really more concerned with coddling the man who brutally beheaded Danny Pearl? Has any one in his administration bothered to suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, banging his chest about being nice to KSM may cause Marianne Pearl and her son some “extreme mental anguish?”
Every time Shep Smith and Barack Obama reach for the binky and snuggie when we talk about the ugly work of Clandestine operators… I think about Marianne Pearl, and the wife of Johnny Michael Spann, and their kids… and the millions of people around the world who thank God, Allah, and every deity in the Greek Pantheon for the American Soldier. America is the beacon of hope, not Barack Obama.