In President Bush’s new book Decision Points, the former prez. defends his decision to authorize the use of the enhanced interrogation technique called “waterboarding” in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, and while he’s been out promoting the book on various TV talk show outlets he’s continued to strongly defend that decision. The technique, used a total of 3 times between 2001 and 2005 in isolated instances – including on admitted terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – became a rallying cry for the anti-war movement in its relentless quest to have Bush and his administration tried for “war crimes” on the basis that they were gleefully violating the Geneva conventions in the pursuit of unlimited executive power.
Those calls became somewhat muted about a year after President Obama was sworn into office as the Obama DOJ made clear that no such prosecutions were going to take place. The zealous “BusHitler” crowd has been lurking in wait for that perfect opportunity to push this issue onto the front burner again, and now they think they have it. The the HuffPo reports (via Memeorandum):
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday joined a growing chorus in the human rights community calling for a special prosecutor to investigate whether former president George W. Bush violated federal statutes prohibiting torture.
In his new memoir and ensuing book tour, Bush has repeatedly admitted that he directly authorized the waterboarding of three terror suspects. Use of the waterboard, which creates the sensation of drowning, has been an iconic and almost universally condemned form of torture since the time of the Spanish Inquisition.
Except for a brief period during which a handful of Bush administration lawyers insisted that the exigencies of interrogating terror suspects justified its use, waterboarding has always been considered illegal by the Justice Department. It is also a clear violation of international torture conventions.
The ACLU is urging Attorney General Eric Holder to ask Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate Bush.
French columnist Jean-François Lisée writes if the US won’t prosecute Bush, 145 other countries should:
“Former President George W. Bush not only admits – he boasts – of having authorized the practice of known as waterboarding. A total of 145 other countries are signatories to the U.N. Convention Against Torture. And all have committed to enforcing its provisions, even against offenders residing in other territories. … If the Spain tribunal were to condemn him, even in absentia, he would then be subject to the mutual extradition treaty in force among 24 European countries.”
The ultra-far left PERRspectives website slithers into the debate:
Sadly, torture enthusiast [Rep. Peter] King has it exactly backwards. Enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding almost certainly don’t save lives, as the British government confirmed in rejecting Bush’s claims this week. And the damage done by breaking U.S. law, violating international treaty agreements, shaming the United States worldwide and providing a powerful propaganda victory for Al Qaeda will be difficult if impossible to reverse.
Because I’m anxious to get to the heart of the matter with respect to the allegations that Bush is a war criminal, I’m going to ignore the fact that there is no such thing as “almost certainly.” I’m also going to ignore the fact that the British government “confirmed” no such thing with respect to whether or not the waterboarding technique saved lives – they merely said there was “no evidence” to back up Bush’s claim (which isn’t true; I’ll get to that in a minute). I’m also going to ignore the fact that the only “propaganda victories” for Al Qaeda during the Bush administration were the ones handed to them eagerly by Bush-hating leftist nitwits like this bonehead at PERRspectives and others who painted the Bush administration – and our military men and women – as power-hungry, bloodthirsty, war-for-oil mongers whose sole purpose in waging the global war on terror was not to protect innocents here at home and abroad, but instead to satisfy their bloodlust for money, power, and vengeance … at any expense.
I’m also going to ignore the fact that no one who advocated the use of waterboarding in isolated incidents is a “torture enthusiast” any more so than leftists who support abortion are “baby-killing enthusiasts”, although in the latter instance a case could be made by some that that is an accurate description of the likes of NOW, especially when you consider the fact that a whole lot more unborn babies have been aborted than terrorists waterboarded. But I digress …
Anyway, as to the claim that waterboarding “almost certainly” does not save lives. Wrong. I wrote about this in April 2009:
Critics of EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques) like Andrew Sullivan and Slate’s Tim Noah are spreading false and/or incomplete information about the fact that the waterboarding of KSM led to the disruption of the LA Library Tower terror plot. They point to information suggesting that the plot was broken up before KSM was in US custody.
They’re right. Sort of.
In actuality, there were two plots against the LA Library Tower – it was the second one that was broken up thanks to KSM’s singing after he was waterboarded. The LA Times reported this in October 2005, but former Bush admin official Marc Thiessen, who worked in various capacities for Bush – including speechwriting – has been a pit bull on the issue, writing several times at the National Review Online site to debunk the critics who are saying that EITs “don’t work.” He also wrote a piece that appeared in the Washington Post a week ago talking about how EITs were essential in stopping the second plot against LA. Thiessen’s got even more details on the disrupted “Second Wave” plot here.
The far left’s arguments go something like this: Waterboarding is “torture” and “torture” is forbidden by the Geneva conventions. And even if it wasn’t forbidden by the Geneva conventions, it doesn’t work.
Well, I know – and you know – for a fact that it does indeed work, as the case of KSM clearly demonstrates. Also, think about this: Remember that “memo” that the left crowed about for years that Bush received prior to 9-11, the so-called “smoking gun memo” that allegedly proved (in reality, it didn’t) that “Bush knew” and did nothing to stop 9-11? Then think about the plots on the LA Library Tower and how they were disrupted, one of them thanks to a “controversial” technique authorized by the Bush administration to use in rare instances where the interrogators believed they could effectively get information from a suspect with the use of that technique in the event that other techniques didn’t work. What would have happened had the attack taken place, with thousands more killed? The left would have looked for “smoking gun” evidence again that “Bush knew” and did nothing. Fortunately, thanks to his authorization of the use of the waterboarding technique, the US government DID KNOW. And they stopped it. But don’t tell that to far leftists. You just can’t win with these clueless idiots. You really can’t.
As to whether or not waterboarding is indeed “illegal” under the Geneva conventions, I’ll leave that to the experts to debate. But let’s assume for five minutes that the authorization of the use of waterboarding was “illegal.” I’m sure I’ve not been the first to ask this but “Who cares?” (Yeah, liberals – you can quote me on that.) When it comes to the safety and security of our nation, a Commander in Chief’s PRIMARY responsibility is to protect US citizens from foreign aggressions, and sometimes that’s going to mean that he may feel its necessary to step outside of the bounds of “international law” when “international law” interferes with his chief obligation under US law to protect this country. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t try to follow the “rules of war” as we expect other countries to do, but it IS to say that the CIC is not always going to bind himself 100% to any so-called “international law” that he feels could inadvertently cause harm to the American people.
Contra to the left’s absurd claims about how the Bush administration, specifically the DOJ and other admin legal advisers, excitedly recommended any controversial counterterrorism technique in the name of bloodlust and power, there was actually an extensive debate within as to how to effectively and legally prosecute the war on terror both home and abroad within the bounds of the President’s authority as the Commander in Chief and First Defender of the United States. Some techniques were rejected. Some were accepted and authorized. The adminstration even unofficially stopped the use of waterboarding after 2005 (which hasn’t stopped the left from demagoguing them about it). And one thing that cannot be overstated in all of this is the timeframe these discussions were being held: in the months and years after 9-11, when all that was on anyone’s mind was preventing another horrific terror attack on American citizens.
George W. Bush had to wake up every morning after 9-11 knowing that 3,000 innocents were savagely murdered on American soil on his watch on a beautiful September morning. God knows he wasn’t perfect in the aftermath of 9-11, and some of the decisions he and his administration made were not always the right ones, but anyone not swimming in the hate cesspool and who even has half a brain can see that everything that both he and his administration tried to do after 9-11 was done solely with the intent to protect you, me, and millions of innocents -not just here, but all over the world. This is what real leaders do during a crisis. They lead. They decide. And then they act.
Contrast President Bush’s actions and alleged “violations of international law” with the actions of the great FDR, who interned over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII, and Honest Abe, who suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Both of these were blatant violations of US law – aka the CONSTITUTION – yet history has not, in retrospect, judged these men as “war criminals” but instead as great wartime leaders who acted in the best interests of the American people even though some of their decisions were not always right nor legal.
The same will be said one day about George W. Bush. But don’t hold your breath waiting for it to be said by “historians” and “experts” and Harvard-esque “professors” and “human rights” advocates. Today, as has been the case from day one of the Bush adminstration, they’ve never, ever let the a pesky thing like the facts get in the way of a good old-fashioned hate-filled extremist rant. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for history to do its thing in order for us to judge these self-important nitwits, do we?
Phineas jumps in: ST has ably skewered the “Bush is a war criminal” nonsense, and I have little to add. However, the issue of using waterboarding to uncover the “second wave” attacks, the planning of which were well underway, is a personal one for me, since I live in the intended target: Los Angeles. I will, however, link to a post I wrote last year that may be of interest: I’m glad they tortured him. (And I still am, too.)