White House: Bowe #Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers are “swiftboating” him

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Bowe Bergdahl

US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Well, I guess I can’t really say I’m surprised with how the White House has reacted to the *unconflicting* reports about how Bowe Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers have classified him as a “deserter”, but it doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed all the same — and disgusted.


Todd confirmed in a later tweet that they did indeed use the term “swiftboating” to describe the troops who served alongside Bergdahl until he deserted them in June of 2009.

To breakdown what they’re doing here, the White House – in a nutshell – is saying that the guys who put their lives on the line in Afghanistan while stationed with Bergdahl who are making the claims about his military actions and status are playing politics over his release and the US release of the five high-level Taliban terrorists from Gitmo. In the same breath, the White House made the preposterous assertion yesterday that Bergdahl served “with honor and distinction.” If that’s the case, the words simply do not have any real meaning anymore whatsoever.

Mediaite’s Noah Rothman on the White House noise surrounding the reaction of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers:


By any means necessary, and all that. Just when you think the White House couldn’t stoop any lower …

WH apologizes for their “oversight” on Congressional oversight re: prisoner swap

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King Obama

Image via Salon.com

Wow:

The White House has apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for failing to alert her in advance of a decision to release Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay.

Feinstein told reporters that she received a call from Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken on Monday evening apologizing for what the administration is calling an “oversight.”

“I had a call from the White House last night, from Tony Blinken, apologizing for it,” she said.

 “He apologized and said it was an oversight,” she added.

Feinstein also said leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence panels were almost unanimously against a prisoner trade when it came up in 2011.

She said the chairmen and ranking Republicans of the “connected committees” spent a lot of time in 2011 reviewing the possibility of a prisoner swap and came out firmly opposed to releasing senior militants from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

“There were very strong views and they were virtually unanimous against the trade,” she said.

“I certainly want to know more about whether this man was a deserter,” she said of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released to American special forces in return for the freedom of five senior Taliban commanders.

Administration officials have said in public that they did not have time to inform Congress of the prisoner swap because Bergdahl’s life was in danger and they did not know how long the Taliban would be willing to wait to finalize the deal.

But Senator Harry Reid got a notification – not 30 days in advance, but he still got one:

At least one member of the Senate did have advance notice. “We were notified of the plan to secure Sergeant Bergdahl’s release on Friday,” said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner, however, told TIME that there was no advance notice given to the leader of the House. Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein was not informed in advance, either, and on Tuesday Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken called her to apologize for the oversight, she told reporters.

Move along here. Nothing to see…

(Hat tip: Memeorandum)

Hillary: I won’t second guess Obama’s decision to free 5 Taliban terrorists

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Hillary Clinton testifies on Benghazi

HIllary Clinton testifies on Benghazi. – January 2013

Via The Hill:

Hillary Clinton on Monday defended President Obama’s decision to swap five Guantanamo Bay prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl over the weekend.

“This young man, whatever the circumstances, was an American citizen — is an American citizen — was serving in our military,” Clinton said at an event she headlined in a Denver suburb, according to the Associated Press. “The idea that you really care for your own citizens and particularly those in uniform, I think is a very noble one.”

 Clinton didn’t explicitly say she would have pursued the same exchange, but said she doesn’t believe in “second guessing” people who have to make difficult decisions.

The former secretary of State said she understood the debate over whether it was smart to release top Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl, but noted that his life was in danger.

“You don’t want to see these five prisoners go back to combat. There’s a lot that you don’t want to have happen. On the other hand you also don’t want an American citizen, if you can avoid it, especially a solider, to die in captivity,” Clinton said. “I think we have a long way to go before we really know how this is going to play out.”

After all, what difference does it make that these five high-level Taliban terrorists will likely get right back to the brutal acts of violence and terror they were engaged in prior to their capture?  What difference does it make that numerous American soldiers lost their lives searching for a deserter and possible terrorist sympathizer  who is now free because we exchanged five Talibanis for his release?  What difference does it make that the deserter’s dad is now lobbying for the release of MORE Gitmo terrorists? What difference does it make that this “prisoner exchange” will be used as a rallying cry and recruiting tool all across the radical Islamic caves of Afghanistan and beyond?

Remind me never to vote for this woman for Commander in Chief. Oh wait, you won’t have to do that at all.

Read much more on the Bergdahl controversy here.

#Bergdahl aftermath: A chilling look at what happens when we release terrorists

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Bowe Bergdahl

US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Former President George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen pens a must-read in the Washington Post in response to the “prisoner exchange” of five high-level Taliban terrorists in Gitmo for US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, suspected of being a deserter sympathetic to the enemy (hat tip):

If anyone doubts that the five senior Taliban leaders President Obama released this weekend will return to the fight and kill more Americans, they need only look at what happened when the George W. Bush administration released a Taliban leader named Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir (a.k.a. Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul) in 2007.

Unlike the terrorists Obama just set free, Zakir was assessed by our military as only “medium risk” of returning to the fight. At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Zakir pretended to be a low-ranking conscript and told officials he simply wanted to “go back home and join my family” and promised “I [have] never been America’s enemy and I never intend to be.”

But when he returned to Afghanistan, he quickly became one of America’s fiercest enemies, directly responsible for the deaths of U.S., coalition and Afghan forces. In 2009, Zakir was appointed as the Taliban’s “surge commander” in charge of countering Obama’s new strategy to deny the Taliban safe haven in southern Afghanistan. According to the Times of London, Zakir instituted a campaign of “increasingly sophisticated [roadside] explosives attacks” that killed British and U.S. forces as well as many Afghan civilians. He waged relentless war on the United States and presided over unspeakable atrocities before stepping down from military command in April. To this day, he remains a top member of the Taliban leadership council.

The five Taliban leaders Obama released will now take up where Zakir left off. According to our own military, they are all “high risk” to return to the fight. How dangerous are these men? Here is what the U.S. military says about them, according to their leaked assessments from Guantanamo Bay.

Mullah Norullah Noori is “one of the most significant former Taliban officials detained at JTF-GTMO.” He “led troops against US and Coalition forces” and “was directly subordinate to Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar,” is “associated with members of al-Qaida” and is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes.” Noori’s “brother is currently a Taliban commander conducting operations against US and Coalition forces,” and Noori “would likely join his brother if released.”

There’s a reason we don’t negotiate with terrorists in hostage/POW situations, and Thiessen does a thorough job of explaining exactly why. Make sure to read the whole thing.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: A war hero or a deserter?

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Bowe Bergdahl

US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

In light of the “prisoner exchange” of US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five high-level Taliban Gitmo detainees, CNN”s Jake Tapper reports on claims Bergdahl’s on US soldiers who served with him are making about him (via):

(CNN) — The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him — veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose “selfish act” ended up costing the lives of better men.

“I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

Vierkant said Bergdahl needs to not only acknowledge his actions publicly but face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

[…]

Said Bergdahl’s former squad leader, Greg Leatherman: “I’m pleased to see him returned safely. From experience I hope that he receives adequate reintegration counseling. I believe that an investigation should take place as soon as healthcare professionals deem him fit to endure one.”

Another senior Defense official said Bergdahl will not likely face any punishment. “Five years is enough,” he told CNN on condition of anonymity.

Questions surround the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance. Conflicting details have since emerged about how the militants managed to capture Bergdahl. Published accounts have varied widely, from claims he walked off the post to another that he was grabbed from a latrine.

According to first-hand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera, and a diary.

At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl, and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika Province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.

Many of Bergdahl’s fellow troops — from the seven or so who knew him best in his squad, to the larger group that comprised the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — told CNN that they signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him. Some were willing to dismiss that document in hopes that the truth would come out about a soldier who they now fear is being hailed as a hero, while the men who lost their lives looking for him are ignored.

On top of this are disturbing tweets by Bergdahl’s dad Bob who is pressing to get more prisoners released from Gitmo.

On the surface, without digging into any history and just taking the release at face value, Bergdahl’s release would make everyone happy, a proud moment in American military history – but once you read who he was “traded” for, as well as the circumstances behind his alleged “capture” in the first place … and the murders of the US soldiers who searched for him, you get the sense that perhaps he wasn’t a POW at all – and instead a willing participant.

I’ve a lot of military who read this blog, and I’m very interested in reading your thoughts.

9-11 Truthers Ed Asner, Martin Sheen urge Oscar voters to shun “Zero Dark Thirty”

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The NYT’s Carpetbagger blog reports on a growing movement of stuffy, clueless liberal Hollywood elitists who are taking the rare – and controversial – step of urging Oscar voters to not vote for the movie Zero Dark Thirty – which roughly documented how the US eventually found and killed the 9-11 instigator and mastermind Osama bin Laden – in any of the categories for which it was nominated. Why? Because, in their view, the movie condones ‘torture’:

“I would like to condemn the movie” for making it appear that torture was effective in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Ed Asner said in a telephone interview on Sunday morning. Mr. Asner said he and fellow actor Martin Sheen planned to join in a letter, drafted by yet another actor, David Clennon, asking fellow members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to factor in matters of conscience when casting awards votes.

“We hope that ‘Zero’ will not be honored by Academy (or Guild) members,” said a draft of the letter, which was provided by Mr. Clennon on Sunday morning.

He had already spoken publicly about the planned campaign at a Friday protest by members of the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.

His remarks prompted a sharp response from Amy Pascal, the co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is releasing “Zero Dark Thirty.” “To punish an artist’s right of expression is abhorrent,” said Ms. Pascal in a statement. She also stressed, as has Kathryn Bigelow, who directed “Zero Dark Thirty,” and Mark Boal, who wrote it, that the film portrays torture, but does not advocate it.

Fox News has more:

Some say it is because Bigelow incorporated controversial scenes of enhanced interrogation. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) member David Clennon, an actor best known for his portrayal of Miles Drentel in the ABC series “thirtysomething,” a role he reprised on “Once and Again,” wrote an op-ed on the Truth-Out.org website announcing his intention not to vote for the film in any Academy Awards category.

“Everyone who contributes skill and energy to a motion picture – including actors – shares responsibility for the impressions the picture makes and the ideas it expresses,” he said. “There’s plenty of ‘Oscar buzz’ around ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ Several associations of film critics have awarded it their highest honors. I have watched the film (2 hours, 37 minutes). Torture is an appalling crime under any circumstances. ‘Zero’ never acknowledges that torture is immoral and criminal.”

Clennon is apparently not alone. The actor issued a press release that said actor Martin Sheen and the former head of the Screen Actors Guild, Ed Asner, were joining his call to boycott the movie and are encouraging other Academy members to take action as well. Asner also reportedly said in Clennon’s statement that “one of the brightest female directors in the business is in danger of becoming part of the system.”

[…]

But Bigelow wasn’t the only director left out of the Oscar’s Best Director lineup. Ben Affleck too was left off the nominations list for his widely-acclaimed direction of “Argo,” which also told a based-on-true-events story of a secret CIA operation, this one to extract six American diplomats out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Despite missing out on the Oscar nod, Affleck won Best Director at both the Golden Globes and last week’s Critics Choice Awards, and both he and Bigelow are up for Director’s Guild of America (DGA) Awards.

Bigelow and Affleck’s twin Oscar snubs have prompted some to wonder whether there is a broader anti-American position at play among Academy voters, and scores of fans have taken to Twitter to weigh in on the debate.

There is no “wondering” about it. There is indeed a widespread anti-American stench amongst far leftists in Hollywood, and has been for quite some time. It’s just that shunning issues like this bring it to the forefront in a way that “low information voter” types can’t ignore.

Too bad Asner, Clennon, and Sheen have their heads too far up their willfully ignorant a**es to be able to admit that enhanced interrogation techniques did indeed lead to the eventual finding and killing of Public Enemy Number One: OBL. And it all started with the water boarding of so-called 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which also stopped the LA Library Tower plot. It’s practically a matter of record, even though anti-EIT Democrats – including a gloating President Obama – desperately tried to avoid probing questions about the issue at the time.

It is clear that Asner, Sheen, and other extremist left wing nitwits in Hollywood are against what they call the “torture” of high-value terrorist detainees (even though the water boarding procedure was only used a whopping total of three times), and are in closed-minded denial about how those tactics led to the eventual demise of OBL. But even if they could be convinced that the techniques worked, they’d still be against them on “human rights” grounds – meaning that while they stood on their idiotic high horses, the LA Library Tower plot likely would have been carried out, killing an untold number of innocents in the process, and giving them a chance to do what liberals in Hollywood and outside of it do best: Blame Bush.

Which is, startlingly enough (or perhaps not so startlingly), what they’ve done with 9-11 itself: Blame Bush. Oh, you didn’t know Sheen and Asner were part of a group of Hollywood Truthers? They sure are – to the point both of them, alongside fellow Truther and actor Woody Harrelson – are starring in an upcoming moving called “September Morn” (movie poster here) which they hope will give credence to long discredited conspiracy claims about the US government being behind 9-11:

Sheen, who starred in Apocalypse Now and television’s The West Wing, has long questioned whether Islamist hijackers single-handedly brought down the Twin Towers, killing 2,605 people.

“I did not want to believe that my government could possibly be involved in such a thing, I could not live in a country that I thought could do that – that would be the ultimate betrayal,” he told an interviewer in 2007.

Sheen grew suspicious after his son Charlie, also an actor, alerted him to apparent contradictions, such as how a structure known as “Building 7” fell.

He said: “However, there have been so many revelations that now I have my doubts, and chief among them is Building 7 – how did they rig that building so that it came down on the evening of the day?”

Asner, who has won seven Emmys, has several times urged a new investigation into 9/11. In 2010, he told an interviewer: “This country – which is the greatest, strongest country that ever existed in the world, in terms of power – supposedly had a defence that could not be penetrated all these years. But all of that was eradicated by 19 Saudi Arabians, supposedly. Some of whom didn’t even know how to fly.”

Let’s sum up: It’s a “matter of conscience” for them as “artists” to spread outright lies involving bullsh*t conspiracy theories involving 9-11 by way of a movie, but on the other hand it’s not for Kathryn Bigelow (nor Ben Affleck, for that matter) as a movie director to include references to “controversial” events that actually happened that led up to our finding and ridding the world of OBL – you know, the actual thug behind 9-11 (not the government, which was not).

The words” absolute moral bankruptcy” don’t even begin to cover these clueless, reprehensible jack asses.

Phineas Butts In: As ST mentions above, Los Angeles (where yours truly lives) was the target of a planned second wave 9/11-style attack, which could have again killed thousands — including me and people I know. The only reason it was averted was the capture and subsequent waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. He wasn’t talking prior to the use of “enhanced interrogation.” Asner and Sheen and all the other nitwits preening themselves over their self-proclaimed moral superiority can go to the Devil as far as I’m concerned. Question for Ed and Martin and the rest: How many of us were you willing to see die to keep your consciences lily-white? Sanctimonious jackasses.

(Related: The Truth About Torture)

#Gitmo: Def. attorney for 9/11 terrorist asks women to “cover up” out of “respect”

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Via Fox News:

The defense attorney who wore a traditional Islamic outfit during the rowdy arraignment of the accused Sept. 11 terrorists is defending her courtroom appeal that other women in the room wear more “appropriate” clothing to the proceedings — out of respect for her client’s Muslim beliefs.

Cheryl Bormann, counsel for defendant Walid bin Attash, attended the arraignment Saturday dressed in a hijab, apparently because her client insisted on it. She further requested that the court order other women to follow that example so that the defendants do not have to avert their eyes “for fear of committing a sin under their faith.”

At a press conference Sunday at Guantanamo Bay, Bormann said she dresses in a hijab at “all times” when she meets with her client “out of respect” for his beliefs. Asked why she requested other women do the same, Bormann said, “When you’re on trial for your life, you need to be focused.”

Bormann, who is not Muslim, claimed the issue came up several years ago, when a paralegal wore “very short skirts” and it became a distraction for the defendants. She said that on Saturday, “somebody” was also dressed “in a way that was not in keeping with my client’s religious beliefs.”

“If because of someone’s religious beliefs, they can’t focus when somebody in the courtroom is dressed in a particular way, I feel it is incumbent upon myself as a counsel to point that out and ask for some consideration from the prosecution,” she said. “Suffice to say it was distracting to members of the accused.”

Oh, bite me, woman. As I said on Twitter earlier, if I could get to these trials I would make it a point to wear the most offensive thing possible in front of the “defendants” – not because I’m the flashy type but because I despise Islam’s oppressive, violent treatment of women and Islam’s deadly disdain for western culture.

Screw them!

CIA “deniers” are the new birthers

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**Posted by Phineas

Leftist critics of rough interrogation techniques continue to deny –in the face of all evidence– that the techniques used at Guantanamo Bay and in the CIA’s “black prisons” in Eastern Europe contributed in any meaningful way to the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Marc Thiessen disagrees, and he cites a source Lefties will have a hard time denying:

The evidence that CIA interrogations played a key role in the operation that got Osama bin Laden is overwhelming. Countless intelligence officials, including CIA Director Leon Panetta, have confirmed that detainees interrogated by the CIA provided information that helped lead us to bin Laden. But the CIA deniers continue to insist it is all a “big lie.” Despite this testimony, and the mountains of documents declassified by the Obama administration in 2009, they contend that CIA interrogations did not work.

Well, if they won’t believe these sources, perhaps they’ll believe WikiLeaks.

I doubt it was Julian Assange’s intent to provide still additional evidence of the effectiveness of CIA interrogations, but that is precisely what WikiLeaks’ “Gitmo Files” do. Take, for example, the file on Abu Faraj al-Libi — one of several CIA detainees who helped lead the agency to bin Laden’s courier. The document describes Abu Faraj as the “communications gateway” to bin Laden who once in custody “reported on al-Qai’das methods for choosing and employing couriers, as well as preferred communications means.” Based on intelligence obtained from Abu Faraj and other CIA detainees, it states that “in July 2003, [Abu Faraj] received a letter from UBL’s designated courier” (to whom he referred by a false name, Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan) in which “UBL stated [Abu Faraj] would be the official messenger between UBL and others in Pakistan.” The file also notes a vital piece of intelligence: To better carry out his new duties “in mid-2003, [Abu Faraj] moved his family to Abbottabad” — the city where bin Laden eventually met his end — “and worked between Abbottabad and Peshawar.” And the file reveals that “in mid-April 2005, [Abu Faraj] began arranging for a store front to be used as a meeting place and drop point for messages he wanted to exchange” with bin Laden’s courier and was captured while waiting to meet him.

It is a miracle that al-Qaeda leaders did not read this classified document before bin Laden was killed. If they had, they would have been alerted to the fact that the CIA was on the trail of bin Laden’s courier, and they would had made the connection between the courier, bin Laden and Abbottabad — which could have blown the bin Laden operation.

In other words, waterboarding worked and, again, saved lives.

That sound you hear is the sound of heads exploding all over MSNBC… .

LINKS: My blog-buddy ST on an earlier Thiessen article.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Chris Wallace zings NSA Director Tom Donilon on waterboarding double standards

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Sit back, watch, and smile.  Transcript below (via Greg Pollowitz & RCP). 

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.

Thiessen: US EITs were used to ‘elicit cooperation’ rather than gain intelligence

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In light of all the back and forth that has taken place in the aftermath of the bin Laden termination, specifically the renewed debate on the effectiveness of aggressive interrogations, Bush-era administration official and counterterrorism expert Marc Thiessen explains in a great column in the Washington Post what the enhanced interrogation techniques used by US intelligence agencies were actually designed to do (bolded emphasis added by me):

Already, critics are desperately trying to play down the CIA interrogation program’s role in the bin Laden operation. Many are pointing to an Associated Press report that KSM “did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He acknowledged knowing him many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.”

This statement demonstrates ignorance of how CIA interrogations worked. Interrogators would never have asked about the names of couriers during waterboarding. As I explain in my book, “Courting Disaster,” enhanced techniques were not used to gain intelligence; they were used to elicit cooperation. According to former CIA director Mike Hayden, as enhanced techniques were applied, CIA interrogators would ask detainees questions to which the interrogators already know the answers — allowing them to judge whether the detainees had reached a level of compliance. “They are designed to create a state of cooperation, not to get specific truthful answers to a specific question,” Hayden said.

Once interrogators determined a terrorist had become cooperative, the techniques stopped and traditional, non-coercive methods of questioning were used. Moreover, the use of enhanced techniques wasn’t needed for two-thirds of the detainees in CIA custody.  Just the experience of being brought into CIA custody — the “capture shock,” arrival at a sterile location, the isolation, the fact that they did not know where they were and that no one else knew they were there — was enough to persuade most of them to cooperate.

Thanks to President Obama, this program, which helped lead us to bin Laden, is no longer part of America’s counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, outside of the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, there have been no reported U.S. detentions of high-value terrorists since Obama took office. Earlier this year, Umar Patek, the highest-ranking terrorist captured alive at this point in the Obama administration, was taken into custody by Pakistani authorities. Patek had traveled from Southeast Asia to Abbottabad — the same place where bin Laden was hiding. Coincidence? What was Patek doing in Abbottabad? With whom did he meet and what did they discuss? He should be in CIA custody answering such questions.

Absolutely, but that’s something this administration will never admit.  President Bush took a lot of bashing during his 8 years in office over his reluctance to admit mistakes, but President Obama – unsurprisingly – has pretty much gotten a pass on that same reluctance.  Bush eventually admitted he made mistakes with respect to post-war Iraq, wishing there were things he had done differently, lamenting the fact that there were people in his inner circle who he should have listened to but didn’t. 

On the other hand, grave, deadly mistakes in judgment by our celebrity President date back for years, most notably in 2008 over his outright refusal as the Democrat nominee for President to admit that the surge in Iraq – which he strongly opposed as a junior Senator from Illinois – had resulted in less violence in Iraq, which greatly aided in paving the way for civil, structural, and political progress.  This, too, is yet another example of this President’s absolute shameless hypocrisy and self-serving posturing and grandstanding.  He and his administration have been taking credit for the progress made in Iraq over the last few years when more or less all they have done is presided over the natural course of events that have taken place as a result of the success of the surge that President Bush authorized and put into place – a surge Bush once opposed but came around to support, and eventually implement.  This is what effective, mature leaders do.  They learn from their mistakes, try to make up for them, and move forward –  hoping for the best outcome.

Sadly, our current President is not that kind of leader – not that we didn’t know this well before he was elected to the WH, of course.  No doubt President Obama will finish out his first term – and if elected again, his second – without ever admitting that the most significant, high value, much-sought-after enemy termination in modern US history, if ever, came in part as a direct result of the use of aggressive counterterrorism techniques in secured overseas facilities – both of which he strongly condemned on both ideological and so-called “principled” grounds going back to his time in the Illinois state senate.  Yet, as recent history has shown us, while he openly denounces Bush’s wartime and counterterrorism policies, Obama surely has not minded reaping the rewards that have come of them.   What does this tell us about the character of the “leader of the free world”?  Quite a bit – none of it good.

In light of all this, it makes sense that President Bush decided against accepting President Obama’s invitation to join him today at Ground Zero, especially if this news story is accurate (hat tip):

WASHINGTON – George W. Bush won’t be at Ground Zero with President Obama Thursday in part because he feels his team is getting short shrift in the decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden.

“[Bush] viewed this as an Obama victory lap,” a highly-placed source told the Daily News Wednesday.

Bush’s visit to the rubble after the 9/11 attacks was the emotional high point of his presidency, but associates say the invitation to return with his successor was a non-starter.

“He doesn’t feel personally snubbed and appreciates the invitation, but Obama’s claiming all the credit and a lot of other people deserve some of it,” the source added.

“Obama gave no credit whatsoever to the intelligence infrastructure the Bush administration set up that is being hailed from the left and right as setting in motion the operation that got Bin Laden. It rubbed Bush the wrong way.”

Bush spokesman David Sherzer said Bush “appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight.”

Associates familiar with his thinking say Bush does not believe Obama or his handlers wanted to exploit his presence. But the tag-team idea “was for the benefit of Obama, and Obama withheld credit from people Bush believes deserved it,” a source said.

Can’t say as I blame W.  He’s been a post-presidential class act all the way.  The guy who took his place, on the other hand, well, unfortunately – that’s a different matter altogether.