A couple of days ago I posted the Hiroshima history inspired by the Daily Show. May was on the show to talk about the memos and whether the United States tortured anyone. Dude said that Obama had a point and I rejoined that Obama was being disingenuous.
Here are some of May's points:
Obama's top intelligence official, Admiral Dennis Blair, says these techniques produced "high-value information" that gave the U.S. government "a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country."
Former CIA director, Gen. Michael Hayden, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey recently wrote: "As late as 2006, fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of Al Qaeda came from those [coercive] interrogations."
Former CIA Director George Tenet has said, "I know that this program has saved lives. I know we've disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than [what] the FBI, the [CIA], and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."
Former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has said, "We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened."
Many other top intelligence officials say the same: coercive interrogations are the only way we have to get life-saving information out of trained, hardened al-Qaeda terrorists.
I think the evidence is clear. But if others do not, let's release the "effectiveness memos" as former Vice President Cheney has requested and let's release other data on this question. Perhaps at this point we need a national debate on security and morality.
By not releasing the memos, Obama and company can make people think the worst instead of analyzing the actual events. His supporters have been yelling torture since before the 2004 election and they won't be happy with a conclusion that says otherwise so therefore the memos and an honest discussion on the issue cannot take place.
Look, we know this: Khalid Sheikh Mohamed was captured. He said: "I want a lawyer." He didn't get one - I know some people think he deserved one but he's not a criminal defendant or an honorable prisoner of war. The Geneva Convention does not cover him - even Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder has said that.
Later, they asked KSM over and over: "Will there be another attack?" He would just smile and say: "Soon you will see."
Now maybe you think asking him again and adding pretty please with a cherry on top would have produced results in time. The intelligence officials didn't think that. They went to the Justice Department and said: "What can we do? How far can we go to save lives?" And they got the information they needed -- and we haven't had another attack on American soil since.
And after being waterboarded and suffering other coercive methods in 2002, Abu Zubaydah explained that he and his "brothers" were permitted to give up information - only once interrogators pushed them to the limit of their endurance. At that point, he provided information that helped the CIA capture terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh.
The current administration appears to have ruled out any coercive techniques: No sleep deprivation - not even for a night. No loud music - it drives the terrorists crazy! So it's torture! Better to let the attack proceed. The victims and their families surely will understand.
We basically have three weapons against terrorists: capture them, interrogate them, kill them. But there's no point in capturing if you can't effectively interrogate, so that leaves just killing. How do you justify that? How do you say, yes you can hit that terrorist with a Predator missile but you can't make him listen to Shady Slim?
I would hope that President Obama would change his mind. I would hope he would say to his advisors: "Give me a list of all the techniques that are effective. I'll take a red pen and cross out the ones we will never use no matter what. But I'll circle the ones that may be used if I'm asked -- and if I give specific authorization. As for other techniques that are clearly not torture but may inflict discomfort, there will be detailed guidelines and I want the director of the CIA to sign off every time they are used.
This sounds reasonable to me. Since we rarely have a debate on here I welcome Dude to identify the chicanery in May's depiction or conclusions.
The TV debate was more rancorous. Here it is:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 1|