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An “opportunity for us to prove ourselves as Americans”

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:18 pm - May 2, 2011.
Filed under: Credit to Democrats,Patriotism,War On Terror

I’m with Academic Elephant on this one:

But now we have OBL, and it is an opportunity for us to prove ourselves as Americans. For those of us on the right, we should simply thank God for a CIA Director who took the time to develop the appropriate plan, a Secretary of Defense who lent him sufficient man and firepower, and a President who was decisive enough to pull the trigger at the right moment. This sort of leadership should not be parsed or resented. For their part, our fellow citizens on the left might consider giving up the relentless drumbeat of “war crimes” for those who did so much of the long and lonely work to make this possible. Even with the so-called “harsh” interrogation techniques used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it took years to put together the pieces. How many honestly regret those techniques this morning, or that we had Guantanamo to house KSM and his colleagues for further reference?

RELATED:  Did enhanced interrogation lead U.S. to Osama bin Laden? Yes, apparently they did.

UPDATE:  Jennifer Rubin:  “This is anAmerican victory, triumph shared by two presidents and a magnificent accomplishment for all the military and intelligence officials who worked to see this day.”  Ditto that.



  1. RELATED: Did enhanced interrogation lead U.S. to Osama bin Laden? Yes, apparently they did.

    This assumes that the info would not have been given via the previous treatment KSM was given. He WAS already talking after all and may have given this up in time. Remember, the justification for the “enhanced interrogation techniques” was the ticking bomb scenario. This definitely does not fit that parameter. Sorry, not a very good defense for torture or whatever you would call it..

    Comment by Sonicfrog — May 2, 2011 @ 2:59 pm - May 2, 2011

  2. Sonic, please read the article — and others on the web. Please note the first verb you use, “to assume.” Yeah, we can assume until we’re blue in the face what would have happened without these techniques.

    He may well have given up this information without them. We’ll never know.

    The facts are there. The CIA used the techniques. He gave up the information. It led to Osama. Osama sleeps with the fishes.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 2, 2011 @ 3:03 pm - May 2, 2011

  3. Here is the problem. read this sentence from this AP article very carefully:

    Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

    The problem here is that it doesn’t say that they gave the information DURING those interrogations, just that both gave info, and both were interrogated under the Bush Cheney guidelines. If it can be confirmed that they gave this and similar useful info only while being subjected to those methods, I’m prepared to back off a bit. But, it still doesn’t meet the ticking bomb scenario….

    Comment by Sonicfrog — May 2, 2011 @ 3:16 pm - May 2, 2011

  4. Granted, Sonic, it doesn’t meet that scenario. But, recall, our intelligence officials only used these techniques on three “high-value” prisoners, one of them KSM.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 2, 2011 @ 3:18 pm - May 2, 2011

  5. (and as long as they were only used in such limited circumstances, I’m okay with them.)

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 2, 2011 @ 3:22 pm - May 2, 2011

  6. Osama bin Laden sleeps with the fishes” should become an American meme for a National enemy dealt-with accordingly..and disposed-of.

    And as a warning.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — May 2, 2011 @ 3:58 pm - May 2, 2011

  7. The problem here is that it doesn’t say that they gave the information DURING those interrogations

    The problem is that your distinction is not useful. What I heard about waterboarding (very limited I admit) is that it breaks the person’s will… with the large benefits reaped after (not during).

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — May 2, 2011 @ 4:11 pm - May 2, 2011

  8. Anyway, I’m impressed that Obama was able to describe today (OBL’s death) as “a good day for America”. Given his reluctance to (for example) set American victory as a goal in any of his 3 wars, well, I didn’t know he had it in him.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — May 2, 2011 @ 4:25 pm - May 2, 2011

  9. There’s a nice big logical fallacy lurking in that quoted paragraph.

    Comment by Ken Thomas — May 3, 2011 @ 3:55 pm - May 3, 2011

  10. If there’s a logical fallacy in that, Ken, please identify it. Thanks!

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 3, 2011 @ 5:21 pm - May 3, 2011

  11. The obvious logical fallacy (as alluded to by others) lies in the fact that there is no obvious post-hoc causation from event X (waterboarding, interrogation) leading to subsequent event {Q}. Formally, we might as well focus on the denial of Crest toothpaste to detainees, and claim that “I can’t know that if we didn’t deny Crest toothpaste, we would have gotten the same information.”

    It’s just correlation, at best.

    The debate over “torture” (so-called advanced interrogation techniques) is complex– not simple. I’m not willing to go to the extreme opposite, and say there’s no value. But what we miss in the “bomb is about to explode, any means necessary” hypotheticals, is how much we don’t know and can’t be sure of.

    On my part, I would worry more that this debate (and actual practices) distracts and subtracts from consideration of the effectiveness of alternative techniques– from the use of drugs such as sodium amytal (one of the basics in our arsenal) and more sophisticated manipulation and deception.

    In the end, I’m not hostile to “any means necessary” in dire circumstances. I’m also aware that the toolbox of what the US has used, is probably quite more sophisticated than publicly known.

    The problem is that, from what we know, the techniques used in aggregate, have been rather blunt-force “force” in many cases. Harsh, brutal techniques– the debate has focused on the “morality” of these, and tried to justify them by results that are hard to measure, and often shied away from the far more difficult question, not of whether we have the will to “do what is necessary” in the sense of applying “torture,” but the will to evaluate what is effective and engage in the very difficult work of refining disciplined, scientific or other techniques to extract information– as well as, to support and develop and intelligence apparatus capable of employing such techniques in place of brute torture.

    I do not mean to forward such concerns as a “liberal” criticism of or opposition to torture or any other method. Rather my concern is that we have not striven to objectively evaluate options and methods, and that this has resulted in loss of lives, as well as weakened us and our strategic position.

    Comment by Kenneth Thomas — May 4, 2011 @ 3:35 am - May 4, 2011

  12. Kenneth, I don’t see that as a logical fallacy. Here’s what we do know. Khalid Sheik Mohammed was waterboarded. He provided information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden.

    Therefore, it appears waterboarding was effective.

    Now, you raise a good point. Would alternative techniques have worked? We don’t know. As CIA Director Panetta said, “the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always going to be an open question.” I agree. It is an open question.

    That said, these facts are not open for debate: waterboarding was used. We got the bad guy.

    And recall that media hyperventilating notwithstanding, these techniques were only used in limited circumstances, that is, it was not the general practice to use them on all detainees, but only high-value ones.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 4, 2011 @ 3:48 am - May 4, 2011

  13. Well, I was going to append “post hoc, ergo…”

    I agree that the debate is open, — very open I think, on “alternative techniques.”

    The ‘debate,’ however, to me is one that is highly polarizing and distracting. The ‘Left’ (for lack of more specificity) focuses on ‘torture’ (itself a chosen term and construction to fit a narrative) and proving that certain actions are inhumane; the ‘Right’ (again, an overgeneralizaton) reacts with counter-arguments based on results…

    In this form of the debate, ‘alternative techniques’ turns in to a battle about ‘weaker’ or ‘softer’ or ‘less harsh’ techniques, with “human rights” as the centerpiece. As an old debater, that sounds a lot to me like surrendering the terms of the debate– to the Left.

    As someone who saw bodies in front of him during the bombing of St. Michel in 1995, and having thought about that incident in depth, I believe in the moral character of the United States and that human rights are important. I am not willing to cede them a central place in the debate.

    More important is effectiveness on all levels, from “what will be the most effective interrogation technique?” to broader questions of our intelligence apparatus. Some of these debates will necessarily remain inside the doors of the CIA and other agencies– however, it does seem to have been reported, that in regards to interrogation techniques, the US was simply unprepared (to try to use a neutral word).

    Equally reports seem to indicate that our intelligence apparatus was weakened under Clinton, a claim that, if approached at all, is, like so much, part of a bi-partisan debate and blame-laying.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around, but in the end, bi-partisan positions whose ultimate goal is to defend entrenched positions do not save lives or stop attacks. Effective planning and intelligence gathering and, in the end, preparation and action on the ground, including sacrifice, prevent attacks.

    The latter is something that from my perspective the United States remains notably ineffective about, and my general point is that the renewal of the bickering about “torture” is largely distracting from defining what needs to be done and delivering it.

    And on the latter, I’ll admit I’m not Obama fan– the United States seems to lack the leadership and the will.

    Comment by Kenneth Thomas — May 4, 2011 @ 4:27 pm - May 4, 2011

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