03 May 2009

Hypocrisy at its Shining Best

There are times when Charles Krauthammer is at best supercilious and at worst self-absorbed, but his May 1 article, 'Pelosi: Utterly Contemptible' is the Krauthammer at his best. It's a hard-hitting look at the hypocrisy and double-dealing in Congress (particularly within the Speaker's office) over the 'torture memos' and push to investigate those involved.

Did it work? The current evidence is fairly compelling. George Tenet said that the "enhanced interrogation" program alone yielded more information than everything gotten from "the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together."

Michael Hayden, CIA director after waterboarding had been discontinued, writes (with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey) that "as late as 2006 ... fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al-Qaeda came from those interrogations." Even Dennis Blair, Obama's director of national intelligence, concurs that these interrogations yielded "high value information." So much for the lazy, mindless assertion that torture never works. ...

... Today Pelosi protests "we were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any other of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used." She imagines that this distinction between past and present, Clintonian in its parsing, is exonerating.

On the contrary. It is self-indicting. If you are told about torture that has already occurred, you might justify silence on the grounds that what's done is done and you are simply being used in a post-facto exercise to cover the CIA's rear end. The time to protest torture, if you really are as outraged as you now pretend to be, is when the CIA tells you what it is planning to do "in the future."

Krauthammer is dead on the money in this case. Rep. Pelosi is a perfect example of the CYA culture in Washington. The one where all principles are up for sale, even patriotism, and when the fact that they were sold cheap is exposed, blame someone else. I lean toward the argument, expressed in the opening paragraphs of the article, that there are unique exceptions that would permit torture for very specific goals. However, I can respect disagreement on this issue, and wouldn't condemn an opposing view. If one takes that opposing view however, it's important to ensure that one maintains it as a consistent principle. Pelosi sold out, pure and simple. She's been caught with her pants down, and now it's someone else's fault that she didn't understand future possibility versus present (apparently she skipped the lectures in school on verb tense). Krauthammer has the right of it here as well, holding Pelosi responsible for not doing everything she could to stop the CIA and the administration if she believed so strongly that these methods were absolutely and always wrong. Instead, she offered support and greater funding. She's not a liberal - she's simply a sellout.

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