Friday, December 19, 2014

McLaughlin's Tortured Debate in CIA Torture

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California
The CIA report, released by liberal US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) criticized the agency of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques which apparently did not work.

It shows that the CIA's actions a decade ago are a stain on our value and on our history. The release of this 500-page summary cannot remove that stain, but it can and does say to our people and the world that America is big enough to admit when it's wrong and confident enough to learn from its mistakes. 

Yet the McLaughlin Group's heated discussion on the topic indicate that the subject of torture, terrorism, and the national security occlude any concerns over the humanitarian concerns, as well as the motivations and integrity of the report.

John McLaughlin
Buchanan called out the political  motivations for Feinstein's release of the report:

[She] hoped to damage the CIA, which had surveillance on her. She hoped to damage the Bush administration. 

He also slammed the one-sided nature of the report:

But I'll tell you what she did, what she's got here is really a pretty vicious attack. It's a vindictive prosecutor's document. She didn't talk to CIA people. She didn't talk to the alleged people who did these grizzly things. She talked about things we've known about for 10 years. She said it was a decade ago. 

Tom Rogan of National Review was no less condemning:

Yes, there is intelligence that was provided and the CIA has been dragged through the mud for partisan reasons. The report in my opinion is a joke. And I use that word deliberately. I know that's a serious issue, but I -- for reasons that Pat mentioned, not interviewing officers, it's slander. 

Rogan's statement was spot-on. For a member of the US Senate to denounce a key agency in the War on Terror, and just before her party would enter the minority, without any evidence or counterargument, was slander.  And where was she to condemn the President as well as the agency for spying on US Senators?

Mort Zuckerman

Even the more liberal commentator Mort Zuckerman took exception to the CIA report:

Yes, what astonishes me is somehow or other the assumption that we live in this kind of innocent world that where this kind of response in terms of trying to gain intelligence is simply off the moral table, shall we say.

I think as a country when we are up against some of the most vicious kind of people, we've got to do things like this. It's not pleasant. It's not, you know, a gentleman's games, OK? But we're not playing on those rules and nor are the people on the other side. We've got to do some things that we wouldn't like to do but are necessary.

Following his realist take on the torture report and its implications, liberal Daily Beast commentator Eleanor Clift tried to interrupt Zuckerman. Normally, she has to fight off heated disagreement from her conservative colleagues. Zuckerman rebutting her butting in, and asserted that liberal pretenses about global egalitarianism have no place, or merit, in dealing with terrorist cells, or their arrested, incarcerated accomplices.

Her vehemence on the subject, combined with the stern frustration of conservatives with Feinstein's poorly-timed release, reveal on a smaller scale the wider debate on torture to combat terrorism, and the strong views, however controversial or flawed, which the Left hold on the matter.

Clift finally shared her point, in spite of extended cross-talking:

Well, as a lone voice here on the other side, I would point out that the United States of America has signatories to a lot of international agreements. As creators of international rules, we are hardly in a position to just ignore those rules when it's inconvenient.

Secondly, the Senate staffers went over 6 million documents. They didn't talk to the CIA agents directly. They had transcripts of when those agents were interviewed and they went through every one of the cases and they found -- excuse me -- they found no basis for a piece of intelligence that came as the result of an -- excuse me -- as a result of an EIT --

John McLaughlin should be commended for allowing diverse, strong and conflicting points of view on his program. Even though  many conservatives find Clift's views execrable, they do need to be heard in a free society, where individuals can make proper choices, then resist the poor thinking and the Left's moral relativity.

On a specific note, Clift's international rationale means nothing when terrorists are attacking skyscrapers and killing thousands of people. Terrorism which morphs into state-sponsored tyranny cannot be mitigated or contained by the Gentleman's Rules of Warfare of  Carl von Clauswitz' ideological dictates on military combat.

A Cartoon Critical of American Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
Zuckerman was right to denounce the petty, amoral sensitivities of humanitarian critics, and Buchanan reminded his colleagues that Al-Qaeda operatives are trained to conduct the most vicious, serially violent attacks on innocent civilians. Besides, the enhanced techniques, from water-boarding to sleep deprivation, to aggressive pressure through exaggerated threats, are nothing compared to the unspeakable evil perpetrated by ISIS and their terrorizing allies and subsidiaries throughout the Middle East.

While arguing about the political niceties and moral complaints of this issue, the McLaughlin missed relating that the United States has maintained  the rule of law to adjudicate then condemn the terrorist suspects. This point of order led to widespread outrage with the Obama Administration when they discussed moving the 9-11 conspirators away from military tribunals to civil courts in New York City. For the record, the terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay have been on trial for more than a decade, still waiting for trial, still represented by defense council.

Because terrorism, and its long-standing impact, hit to the core of national security, and human frailty, no one should be surprised at the heated, even tortured nature of the McLaughlin Group's eventful clash on Senator Feinstein's report.

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