Homeland Security

Gitmo and Promises

NASSAU, Bahamas — While taping and broadcasting our live syndicated radio and TV show from Nassau for a few days, it seems as though the people here can't talk enough about President Obama and the closing of Gitmo.

Did anyone notice the irony this week surrounding the potential closing of Guantánamo Bay and the subsequent relocation of the detainees (we call them terrorists where I come from) to our nation’s shores? I laughed out loud at how quickly Senate Democrats ran from their president when it came time to cast their lot for his half-baked idea to close the prison. Should it have surprised anyone that Obama didn’t have a plan? It certainly didn’t faze me or anyone on these islands …

The Law Professor Vs. The Defense Secretary

The famous French philosopher Blaise Pascal is best known for his “wager.” He said that while it may be impossible to rationally prove the presence of God, it was a bad wager to bet against him. His view was that while it may be a bunch of superstitious mumbo-jumbo, eternity is a long time, and to bet against the presence of God gains you nothing, but betting with Him, no matter how improbable, can earn you eternal returns.

Dick Cheney has a corollary to Pascal’s wager. His view is that it is a bad bet to do anything less than everything you can to stop terrorists from attacking America. That includes using enhanced interrogation techniques, wiretapping, and keeping them housed at Gitmo.

Torture — The Satire

If the vexing question of torture is not resolved by appropriate jurisprudence, it may meet its final demise at the hands of satire.

According to Reuters, human-rights advocates are fighting torture with unusual arguments, including the copyright laws. You read that right. Apparently, they are urging on behalf of Guantánamo prisoners that blasting loud music at prisoners for long periods is torture. I can relate to that. Been in any elevators with piped-in music, or on hold on the phone? Endless playing of Eminem’s music, one detainee related, was the hardest thing he had to endure. “After a while, I felt pretty much dead,” he is reported to have told inquirers. He began to hallucinate — “the music,” he said, “stripped away the last sanctuary you had in your mind.” Lawyers are considering suing the United States government for copyright infringement to end their use of music in their diabolical efforts.

Blues Brothers

“We are on a mission from God.” That was the first thing that crossed my mind when I got an early call this morning from a friend who works in the national security arena.

The friend tipped me off that the president is going to announce in the next couple of days that those terrorists who are now housed at Guantánamo Bay will be shipped off to an abandoned prison in Illinois.

I wonder if they are going to the old Joliet Prison, the home of Jake and Elwood Blues, from the movie “Blue Brothers.” Like the terrorists, Jake and Elwood were on a mission from God. Their mission was to raise enough money to save their grade school.

Republicans Outfox Democrats on Gitmo

In one of his first acts as president, Barack Obama delivered on his campaign promise to shut down our military prison at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, giving the Pentagon a year, until January 2010, to come up with a plan for closing the facility and transferring the remaining 240 prisoners.

But, suddenly, Senate Democrats have joined Senate Republicans in undermining his decision. Because, they say, they don’t want “terrorists” on American soil. From both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill, anguished politicians are pleading: “Please, Mr. President, don’t send those dangerous terrorists to my home state, or my congressional district.”

Torture: The Ticking-Bomb Fallacy

Most defenders of the use of torture use the ticking-bomb argument to rationalize its employment. It is a false premise.

First, as far as we know, there has not been any truly ticking-bomb situation since Sept. 11, 2001, so why rationalize all the torturing that’s gone on to date, or a continuation of the practice with that rationale? Because it might disclose a ticking bomb? In one case, waterboarding went on over a hundred times over a prolonged (many months) period. The ticking bomb would have exploded if it were truly ticking. The idea of the ticking bomb is that we know it is about to go off, and seriously hurt people — not that it might be the case; let’s see.

The Cheney Dare

This article appears originally in The Washington Times of Monday, May 18.

I have written many times in this space that I oppose any criminal prosecution of prior-administration officials on torture or other issues relating to the Iraq War and the war on terrorism, especially those CIA interrogators who relied in good faith on the instructions of policymakers and the legal opinions issued by Justice Department senior officials.

I have agreed with President Obama on the need to look forward, not backward.

Pelosi Can't Tell the Truth

Armstrong Williams says Speaker Pelosi wasn't lied to by the CIA or the Bush administration on the use of waterboarding as an interrogation tactic, but rather she is lying about what she knew.


You Can’t Blame Pelosi for Torture

In a classic “change the subject” ploy, Republicans are trying to blame the whole torture scandal on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But I think people are smart enough to recognize this for what it is: a giant, deliberate, cynical distraction.

True, Pelosi was once the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. And, as such, she was one of four congressional leaders briefed by the CIA on the interrogation of prisoners.

How About a National Student Council on the Origins of War and Torture?

The question today should not be whether torture “doesn’t work,” as several major essayists have said this past week, or whether it does, as Charles Krauthammer claims today in The Washington Post. There is never an ethical or moral basis for that discussion. It’s like asking under what situations would rape most effectively advance the opportunity for gaining good progeny. The question should now be: What have we become?