Wallace: We’ll stipulate — I think we’ll all stipulate — that bin Laden was a monster, but why is shooting an unarmed man in the face legal and proper while enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding of a detainee under very strict controls and limits — why is that over the line?
Donilon: Well, let me talk first about the first half of the statement that you made. Again, the president met with the operators yesterday at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and here are the facts. We are at war with al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is the emir or commander, indeed the only leader of al-Qaeda in its 22 year history. This was his residence and operational compound. Our forces entered that compound and were fired upon in the pitch black. It’s an organization that uses IEDs and suicide vests and booby traps and all manner of other kinds of destructive capabilities.
Wallace: Mr. Donilon, let me just make my point. I’m not asking you why it was OK to shoot Osama bin Laden. I fully understand the threat. And I’m not second-guessing the SEALs. What I am second guessing is, if that’s OK, why can’t you do waterboarding? Why can’t you do enhanced interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was just as bad an operator as Osama bin Laden?
Donilon: Because, well, our judgment is that it’s not consistent with our values, not consistent and not necessary in terms of getting the kind of intelligence that we need.
Wallace: But shooting bin Laden in the head is consistent with our values?
Donilon: We are at war with Osama bin Laden.
Wallace: We’re at war with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Donilon: It was a military operation, right? It was absolutely appropriate for the SEALs to take the action — for the forces to take the action that they took in this military operation against a military target.
Wallace: But why is it inappropriate to get information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
Donilon: I didn’t say it was inappropriate to get information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Wallace: You said it was against our values.
Donilon: I think that the techniques are something that there’s been a policy debate about, and our administration has made our views known on that.
In related news, US AG Eric Holder reaffirmed yesterday the administration’s commitment to closing down Gitmo Bay, in spite of the treasure trove of information that came from it that led us to OBL’s whereabouts:
(Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday the United States would close the Guantanamo Bay facility holding terrorism suspects in Cuba, despite missing a previous deadline to do so.
On an official visit to Paris, Holder stressed what he called unprecedented intelligence-sharing ties between France and the United States against a united enemy, al Qaeda, that he said still held the two countries and its allies in its sights.
The recent killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was unlikely to affect the timing of the closure of the Guantanamo facility, Holder said.
“Although we have not closed Guantanamo within the time period that we initially indicated … it is still the intention of the president, and it is still my intention, to close the facility that exists in Guantanamo,” Holder told a joint news briefing with French Interior Minister Claude Gueant.
“We think that by closing that facility the national security of the United States will be enhanced,” he added.
Yet the vital information on OBL’s courier (not to mention the thwarted terrorist attack on the LA Library Tower) likely wouldn’t have been learned had it not been, in part, for Gitmo. I won’t hold my breath waiting for the nitwit ideologues in this administration to admit that, though. As Campaign 2012 gets ready to kick into high gear, it’s time for President Obama to shore up his pre-9/11 mentality creds with his base and what better way to do it than to dish out reassurances about the closing of Gitmo?
To hell with our national security. It’s time to try and get re-elected.