By Con George-Kotzabasis
It’s amusing to see all the passionate and incorrigible haters of Cheney to have a jab at him even “posthumously” Out of Office. Emily Bazelon on Slate Magazine speaks for all these haters but the context with ‘revenge’ belies what she says about Cheney. The latter did not say at anytime that the documents on torture should be ‘declassified,’ but once they were, they should not have been declassified selectively without also revealing the positive aspects of the harsh interrogations.
The Bush-Cheney administration prudently–knowing thy enemy–unlike the imprudent Obama who apparently lacks rudimentary knowledge of the kind of enemy America is fighting, were unwilling to disclose to their Islamist enemies some of the methods by which the key holy warriors held as enemy combatants were “spilling the beans.”
Since the memos thus far released were all part of FoIA filings, it was not up to the administration to release them. Based on the Obama administration’s own FoIA policies, the memos had to be released. I might point out that Cheney’s own FoIA request is selective, listing only two documents, and then only some of the pages from those documents.
The “disclosing of interrogation methods” meme is claptrap. All of the methods the Bush administration sought to use are centuries old; SERE-derived methods are duplicates of torture used by the Chinese and North Koreans during the Korean War. There’s nothing new to disclose.
Certainly you are right that the memos according to President Obama’s FoIA policies had to be released since in January 21, 2009 he loosened Bush’s Executive order of November 2001 pursuant to national interests by repealing some provisions of the order. Cheney’s selectivity is consistent in this respect with the political acumen of the previous administration in being determined not to reveal to the enemy—even out of office– unlike Obama in office, its secret procedures in this matter.
As for the “disclosing of interrogation methods,” the sting of the “claptrap” is in you. To say, as you do, that these “methods…are centuries old…duplicates of torture used by the Chinese and North Koreans,” says more about the fertility of your imagination than of the complexity of the situation. Is it conceivable to you that Pentagon and CIA Intelligence confronting a unique enemy such as suicidal fanatical warriors would be using the same techniques and methods of the past without innovating new ones? But I suppose your intellectually barren answer would be “there is nothing new to disclose.”
It’s certain that Cheney wants to keep portions of the reports he wants released secret, but I don’t have your faith in his judgment. After all, we are talking about the man who helped create the 1976 “Team B” report on the capabilities of the USSR, which was wrong on every detail, notably the nuclear-powered laser beam weapons the Soviets were supposedly building. Cheney also thought it a good idea to undercut Gorbachev in 1989, and Brent Scowcroft and James Baker squelched him. I’d be more likely to believe that Cheney doesn’t want portions of those reports released because they might undercut his assertions.
My “infertile imagination” seeks exceptional proof in the case of exceptional claims. Nothing about Al Qaeda and its fellow travelers is unique in history. Your claim that the CIA has some “new” methods of torture – “enhanced interrogation” if you wish – is an exceptional one, and would require exceptional proof. Only disclosure would provide that. It’s far more likely, however, that your imagination is overheated.
I don’t want to go back to the past, mistakes can be made and only the Pope is infallible. And just as someone can be ‘serially’ correct in the past he is not bound to be correct all the time in the future. The same logic applies in inverse to Cheney.
But your belief is misplaced as already the portions of the reports released have “undercut” The Bush administration’s “assertions.” Cheney therefore is more concerned to prove that the “enhanced interrogation” did work in preventing the jihadists launching further attacks and releasing those memos that provide this evidence while ‘clinically’ isolating them from the overall intelligence that would be invaluable to the jihadists.
All the professionals in matters of war in contrast to laypersons consider al Qaeda to be a UNIQUE enemy. Of course there have been fanatics and their “fellow travelers” in all ages. But just give one example from ‘your own’ history where the mortal foes of a nation were operating within it clad in civilian clothes and in the carapace of cutting-edge technology and armed with the most modern deadly weapons, including potentially with nuclear ones, and crashing airbuses into the sky scrapers of a metropolis. If you cannot provide such an example of an enemy then you too must logically come to the conclusion that the holy warriors of Islam are verily unique foes.
In view of this incontrovertible fact do you consider an “exceptional claim” that needs “exceptional proof” that the intelligence services of a superpower such as America confronting such a ‘supernally’ dangerous enemy in times of asymmetrical warfare would not have developed new interrogation methods that would be appropriate in extracting vital information from their captives saving thousands of lives? It would take lukewarm imagination to have come to this deduction.