Obama wants judgment by intention, not results

The latest raging debate over the CIA’s mild interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, and whether they were constitutional following 9/11 is a perfect example of the liberal desire to be judged by intentions, not by results. For the record, I would run for office on a platform of waterboarding and think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread in terms of getting information out of suspected terrorist killers.

Now, onto the story.

President Obama has reversed his decision and now states that some former Bush administration officials could be prosecuted because they allowed waterboarding to occur hundreds of times of people who want to kill you.

However, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is not backing down from waterboarding as a useful, productive form of interrogation:

(CNSNews.com) – The Central Intelligence Agency told CNSNews.com today that it stands by the assertion made in a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that the use of “enhanced techniques” of interrogation on al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) — including the use of waterboarding — caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles.

Before he was waterboarded, when KSM was asked about planned attacks on the United States, he ominously told his CIA interrogators, “Soon, you will know.”

According to the previously classified May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that was released by President Barack Obama last week, the thwarted attack — which KSM called the “Second Wave”– planned “ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.”

KSM was the mastermind of the first “hijacked-airliner” attacks on the United States, which struck the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Northern Virginia on Sept. 11, 2001.

After KSM was captured by the United States, he was not initially cooperative with CIA interrogators. Nor was another top al Qaeda leader named Zubaydah. KSM, Zubaydah, and a third terrorist named Nashiri were the only three persons ever subjected to waterboarding by the CIA. (Additional terrorist detainees were subjected to other “enhanced techniques” that included slapping, sleep deprivation, dietary limitations, and temporary confinement to small spaces — but not to water-boarding.)

This was because the CIA imposed very tight restrictions on the use of waterboarding. “The ‘waterboard,’ which is the most intense of the CIA interrogation techniques, is subject to additional limits,” explained the May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo. “It may be used on a High Value Detainee only if the CIA has ‘credible intelligence that a terrorist attack is imminent’; ‘substantial and credible indicators that the subject has actionable intelligence that can prevent, disrupt or deny this attack’; and ‘[o]ther interrogation methods have failed to elicit this information within the perceived time limit for preventing the attack.’”

The quotations in this part of the Justice memo were taken from an Aug. 2, 2004 letter that CIA Acting General Counsel John A. Rizzo sent to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Before they were subjected to “enhanced techniques” of interrogation that included waterboarding, KSM and Zubaydah were not only uncooperative but also appeared contemptuous of the will of the American people to defend themselves.

“In particular, the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including KSM and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques,” says the Justice Department memo. “Both KSM and Zubaydah had ‘expressed their belief that the general US population was ‘weak,’ lacked resilience, and would be unable to ‘do what was necessary’ to prevent the terrorists from succeeding in their goals.’ Indeed, before the CIA used enhanced techniques in its interrogation of KSM, KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will know.’”

After he was subjected to the “waterboard” technique, KSM became cooperative, providing intelligence that led to the capture of key al Qaeda allies and, eventually, the closing down of an East Asian terrorist cell that had been tasked with carrying out the 9/11-style attack on Los Angeles.

Regardless of the overwhelming success of waterboarding and the CIA’s continued defense of the mild tactic used to illicit intelligence, President Obama is taking the emotional approach to this issue:

WASHINGTON — President Obama left the door open Tuesday to creating a bipartisan commission that would investigate the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects, and did not rule out action by the Justice Department against those who fashioned the legal rationale for those techniques.

The remarks, in response to questions from reporters in the Oval Office, amounted to a shift for the White House. The president had repeatedly said that the nation should look forward rather than focusing on the past, and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said Sunday in a television interview that Mr. Obama believed that “those who devised policy” should not be prosecuted.

But under intense pressure from Democrats on Capitol Hill and human rights organizations to investigate, the president suggested Tuesday that he would not stand in the way of a full inquiry into what he has called “a dark and painful chapter” in the nation’s history.

So while President Obama may not like waterboarding because he’s kind of an emotional wimp, with all due respect, it produced solid results which is why the CIA is defending it. It doesn’t matter now though because I’m certain no interrogator wants to risk prosecution for doing his or her job and keeping America safe.

The bottom line is that despite solid, positive results, Obama wants to be judged on intention of ending waterboarding. Just like the solid, positive results of school vouchers in Washington, DC, another program Obama is ending, it doesn’t matter. Obama wants to judge intentions, not programs and policies which produce positive results.

On the flip side is the decision to close Guantanamo Bay. Again, Obama wants to be judged on the intention of closing Gitmo without having any plan of what to do with the prisoners. Doesn’t matter if Gitmo has worked for years now, what matters is Obama’s touch-feely approach in the desire to be “emotionally” correct on the issue.

So thank you President Obama, you have made the United States less safe by basically threatening CIA officials and interrogators on the issue of waterboarding. If another attack happens, it’s on your hands Mr. President.