- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 9, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COMMENTARY:

“I am absolutely convinced [banning waterboarding] was the right thing to do,” President Obama told reporters recently, “not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways , in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.”

Once upon a time, critics of the Bush administration’s purported use of “torture” often argued that it simply does not work. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, once said, “Experts agree that you do not obtain reliable intelligence through using these tactics and you diminish our reputation in the world, which hurts the cooperation we need to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people.”

Over the objection of his CIA director, the president publicly released the so-called torture memos. They described the purportedly abusive interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration. But the president’s national intelligence director, Adm. Dennis C. Blair, recently wrote a memo to his staff. “High-value information,” he wrote, “came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” When Adm. Blair’s memo was released, that quote had been deleted.

The Blair memo also said, “I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past, but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.” Not exactly string ‘em up, trial to follow. The document release also deleted that quote.

The CIA recently said it stands by a 2005 Justice Department memo on enhanced interrogation techniques - including waterboarding - used on al Qaeda leader and mastermind of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which caused him to reveal information that allowed the government to thwart another attack. This Sept. 11-style attack - called the “second wave” - involved a plan to crash a hijacked plane into a building in Los Angeles.

Former Clinton administration deputy attorney general and current Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., in a 2002 interview, said, “One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located.”

The Geneva Conventions, Mr. Holder noted, place restrictions on interrogations. He argued that if we want our own prisoners treated well, we should treat the detainees humanely and in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions. He added, “It seems to me that given the way in which [these terrorists] have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war.”

Who said the following? “Although I am personally opposed to the use of torture, I have no doubt that any president - indeed any leader of a democratic nation - would in fact authorize some forms of torture against a captured terrorist if he believed that this was the only way of securing information necessary to prevent an imminent mass casualty attack.” - Alan Dershowitz, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Nov. 7, 2007.

Who said the following? “Every one of us can imagine the following scenario: We get lucky; we get the No. 3 guy in al Qaeda, and we know there’s a big bomb going off in America in three days and this guy knows where it is. We have the right and the responsibility to beat it out of him.” - former President Bill Clinton, Sept. 24, 2006.

Mr. Obama, after conceding that the enhanced interrogation techniques produced valuable and perhaps lifesaving intel, says we could have gotten it in other ways. Such as … ?

• Make the terrorist stand on one leg for 4 1/2 hours and sing, in Farsi, “Do the Hokey Pokey.”

• Tell the terrorist that Dick Cheney just flew into Pakistan for a little bird hunting.

• Tell the terrorist that Osama bin Laden decided to pack it in, hired the William Morris Agency and plans to host a reality show called “Dancing With the Mullahs.”

• Tell him that Osama bin Laden’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, has converted to Judaism.

• Threaten to give him two front-row tickets to a Los Angeles Clippers basketball game.

• Paste on the terrorist’s prison cell ceiling a Photoshopped picture of Helen Thomas in a thong bikini.

• Tell him that Cat Stevens has returned to Christianity and that Flavor Flav has become a Muslim.

• Make him sit through an entire Joseph R. Biden Jr. speech.

The campaign and election ended. Mr. Obama won. He serves as commander in chief in the real world. If a terrorist refuses to divulge information that could save hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of lives, what, pray tell, “other way” does the president envision?

Larry Elder is a syndicated radio talk show host and best-selling author. His latest book, “What’s Race Got to Do with It?” is available now.

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