Homeland Security

Cheney Cherry-Picks Again

Well, Dick Cheney is almost pathological. As we all know, he cherry-picked intelligence as he led us into war in Iraq — from yellowcake uranium to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons hanging over our heads; from metal tubes to mobile labs, you name it, he manufactured it.

Now Cheney is at it again, flailing around on Fox when he is not closeting himself in his bat cave writing his book to justify the disasters of the last eight years. But what I love is the transition from “We don’t torture” to “Well, torture worked!” And now he wants two memos released, one 12 pages and one 19 pages, to justify his actions. So Cheney wants once more to cherry-pick to try and make his point.

The Torture Questions

It seems to this observer that the four questions being raised about torture have clear answers. Only the experts and commentators are arguing about them. The public is not. The political leaders ought to lead, not speculate as to what the public desires, and do the right thing.

1. Torture is Illegal and Immoral. The practices should be stopped and condemned. This is the case. Let’s forget the what-if-your-child-were-kidnapped scenarios. They do not help set public policy, ever. The administration has taken the correct position by outlawing torture as an “investigative” technique.

President Clinton: Obama Made Right Call on Torture Memos

The following appears originally in The Washington Times of Monday, April 27.

I was planning to write today's column assessing President Obama's first 100 days. But in the middle of writing that column on a quiet Saturday afternoon (I was going to give him an A-minus — surprise), my phone rang and it was former President Bill Clinton, whom I first met in fall 1970, a few months after I graduated from Yale Law School.

Torture and the Rule of Law: Think Nelson Mandela

Attorney General Eric Holder should complete a full report about the conduct that would legally be called torture, about the facts of the cases — from the legality of the acts committed to whether major terrorist plots were foiled by this — and make recommendations regarding prosecution. Until then the president and his entire administration should declare a complete moratorium on all public opining about this subject.

Whatever is right, the president has lost control over the issue. He has now reversed his views, in a matter of days, first on whether prosecution of higher-ups should be pursued and second on the merits of a Truth Commission. The torture proponents on the right — and while they deny it they are torture proponents under commonly accepted law — are in full-throated anger mode. And the issue has become hyper-politicized while most people on all sides lack many key facts of the matter.

Torture: To Discuss Freedom is to be Free

After the abuses at Abu Ghraib were revealed, The New York Times and other major newspapers and the networks opened their op-ed pages to a congenial and brotherly discussion of torture. Torture then had binary parts: those sort-of-for and those sort-of-against — this is a sort of Hegelian dialectic ensuring the establishment of torture in one realm or another and to a degree to which it has never existed in our republic before. It is a complete compromise of character by the weakling, cowardly and appeasing voice of the horde, today's mainstream journalists who stood on the front of M1A1 Abrams battle tanks and M2A3 Bradley fighting vehicles, hair in the wind, leading the invasion of Iraq.

Tortured Torture Policy

I can see why our intelligence officials were so opposed to the release of those memos. Without a doubt, they were embarrassed.

Not by the admissions that U.S. interrogators tortured the prisoners; we knew that. If I were them, I'd be mortified that the public knew how pathetic the torture was. 

No wonder there were so few redactions. What's to redact? I mean, putting a major terrorist in a small box with insects? In most American cities that would be called renting an apartment. Maybe he thought the CIA agent was his landlord.


Lost Our Moral Bearings

CARY, N.C. — A quick review of The Associated Press a few moments ago had rendered me momentarily speechless. One item notes that the president is "Open to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terror-suspect interrogations, saying the United States lost 'our moral bearings' with the use of the tactics."

This just two days after White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told reporters that the administration had no interest in prosecuting CIA officials and one day after the president himself traveled to the CIA to stage a photo opportunity for himself where he assured the CIA employees he "had their back." The audacity of the president is seemingly endless.


I am against torture. Torture is what the Gestapo did in World War II. Torture is what the Japanese did in the movie “The Bridge Over the River Kwai.” Torture is what they did in the Middle Ages. Remember the rack?

President Bush said repeatedly that America doesn't do torture. Well, in my book, putting somebody in a little box and filling it up with insects is torture. Waterboarding is torture. You can’t parse your way out of that one. Sorry.

We lose the moral high ground when we condone torture. And I believe that the moral high ground is a useful space to occupy.

'Man-Caused Disasters'

I have refrained until now from being overly critical of the Obama administration as it completes its early days in office. Back in 2001, I remember, it took us a few months to get the kinks out and streamline our operations in the Bush administration, so I've afforded Obama's team a certain level of professional courtesy.

Now, however, I'm wondering if they have any idea what steps must be taken to secure the country from those who seek to harm us. Lost in the discussion of the stimulus bill, the pork-laden omnibus bill and President Obama's new budget is the lack of focus on national security issues. Why is the president seeking to cut funding to the military when every other domestic pork project seems to prosper under his watch?

Immigration Without Representation

The twin specters of terrorism and tough economic times have brought the immigration debate to the forefront of American politics in a big way. The average citizen sees the flood of immigrants entering the country as a symbol of the lack of border security in the midst of a particularly dangerous time for America. In addition, the growth in illegal immigration is seen as diluting the value of citizenship, cheapening the labor pool and leading to a lower standard of living for actual citizens.

Some of the rhetoric surrounding the debate has unfortunately resorted to ethnic bigotry, but the fundamentals come down to jobs and security. Thus, the reaction to the current wave of immigration has been similar to those of prior waves of migration: The new lumps in our stew froth and steam, and sometime bubble over, in the melting process that is American society.