Patterico's Pontifications

1/21/2009

Obama Considers Interrogation Techniques

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 3:49 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

During the Presidential campaign, Obama promised to “have the Army Field Manual govern interrogation techniques for all United States government personnel and contractors.” Thus, Obama implied he would reject the more aggressive interrogation tactics like waterboarding that had been considered and, in rare cases, used by the Bush Administration.

Now that he’s President, it appears Obama will implement his campaign promise to have the military guidelines govern interrogation techniques. However, he is also considering expanding the military guidelines to permit more aggressive techniques:

“At least two more executive orders are expected in coming days, according to two Obama officials.

One official said the first will require all U.S. personnel to follow the U.S. Army Field Manual while questioning detainees. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding, which creates the sensation of drowning and has been termed a form of torture by critics.

The second order will set up a study of interrogation methods that could be added to the Army manual, including some that may be more aggressive than those currently permitted.”

Obama’s governing style is to present himself as bipartisan by appearing even-handed, but this is also an example of how Obama’s vague campaign promises did not clarify what he might do as President. Some people may be glad he’s willing to consider Bush Administration policies, while others will be unhappy. I think this makes Obama look devious, and we don’t need another President in the mold of Richard Nixon.

— DRJ

32 Responses to “Obama Considers Interrogation Techniques”

  1. I didn’t know Nixon was a Democrat. Live and learn.

    David Ehrenstein (96f436)

  2. I don’t think it makes him look devious, DRJ, as much as it makes him look clueless.

    He spouted off about how he’d do things differently when he got to the White House. Now he’s there and he’s had a heaping bowl of Open Your Eyes, and he’s had to retreat from his earlier opinions.

    I’m just waiting for the lefties to admit that maybe Bush was doing the best thing, after all.

    Steverino (b12c49)

  3. I didn’t know Ehrenstein was still alive.

    Jim Treacher (796deb)

  4. I didn’t know Nixon was a Democrat.

    Well, Nixon founded the EPA, started Affirmative Action, and temporarily instituted wage and price controls.

    What would you call a politician like that today?

    Steverino (b12c49)

  5. Steverino,

    I guess we can’t say for sure what’s in a person’s mind but I think a clueless person would take a firm position on some subjects, if only by accident. It’s unlikely Obama could be so vague on so many subjects unless he was doing it intentionally — because he didn’t want to be pinned down. In my view, that makes him devious.

    DRJ (345e40)

  6. It will be fun to watch when reality gets in the way of the way Left agenda.

    JD (9235bf)

  7. We have already seen the Left gleefully embrace a theocrat, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Bush theocracy.

    JD (9235bf)

  8. Steverino:

    I’m just waiting for the lefties to admit that maybe Bush was doing the best thing, after all.

    I sure hope you’re not holding your breath while waiting for this to happen!

    I suspect hell will freeze over twice before you’d find any lefty admitting that President Bush did the right thing.
    .

    Kenny (76922b)

  9. It has long been my position that Baracky’s words cease having any meaning the moment that they pass by his lips.

    JD (9235bf)

  10. Kenny

    What I suspect they will do is repudiate the Bush position, then adopt the Bush position as the Obama position, and claim great moral superiority for the Obama position.

    JD (9235bf)

  11. The second order will set up a study of interrogation methods that could be added to the Army manual, including some that may be more aggressive than those currently permitted.

    The One quite reasonably wonders why the CIA gets all the fun.

    Karl (2491e1)

  12. Maybe they can play recordings of Obama’s flip flops on positions between the primaries, the general election and now the presidency as an interrogation method. That’s sure to drive anybody but his most devoted cultists crazy and begging for mercy.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  13. True, Karl. Harsh interrogations are so much better when everyone does it.

    DRJ (345e40)

  14. JD:

    What I suspect they will do is repudiate the Bush position, then adopt the Bush position as the Obama position, and claim great moral superiority for the Obama position.

    I think you’re right! And not just on interrogation techniques, but many more issues to come.

    Kenny (76922b)

  15. It’s horrible. Changing his mind like that is an early sign that he will fail woefully. Nothing good can come out of this racist, Obama presidency. This is an impeachable offence. Obama is a racist!

    Emperor7 (0c8c2c)

  16. E7…you just don’t have the chops for parody, or sarcasm.

    AD (ef385e)

  17. Three days before the coronation, 40 AQ terrorists turned up dead in the Algerian desert after a Pneumonic Plague germ weapon experiment. The leading theory is that the experiment went wrong. But, I must wonder if it went right, and jihadists sacrificed a few brothers for Allah to keep them silent before they bring a present to the Great Satan.

    Hmmmm…. a couple of folks sneaking across the border with a few thimbles of plague virus is a prospect that will knock a little undersanding of the realities of security into any idealist political messaging machine.

    Bush made his (some say also broke) his presidency reacting to an unforeseen assault. Can you imagine how irrversible the damage to Obama would be if one of his first acts limited his ability to prevent the defining tragedy of his first term? It would be far worse than Bush and Katrina — at least bush didn’t tear the levies down and guide the storm in.

    Robert C. J. Parry (c08820)

  18. No, Bush had Karl Rove and his evil mind-ray tear down the levies and guide the storm in. Sheesh.

    carlitos (05e522)

  19. “… a couple of folks sneaking across the border with a few thimbles of plague virus…”

    Plague virus is endemic among wild stuff throughout the South-West, and occassionaly spreads to humans.
    Will we find out if their virus is better than our virus?

    AD (ef385e)

  20. I think Obama’s vagueness is completely consistent with what he’s presented the public since the campaign began. It would be foolish to think someone different would now magically appear. Said vagueness renders him safe to throw it out there and have time to check which way the prevailing winds blow. Devious and/or clueless, either evidence a weak man unsure of himself and his beliefs. Whether one agreed with Bush or not, he was consistently decisive.

    I can’t decide if in this situation I’m glad or not that John McCain is his new BFF.

    Dana (137151)

  21. The US Army field manual was not written for a few professionally trained interrogators, but for hundreds of thousands of troops. As such it was designed to emphasize an army perspective (i.e. victory on the battlefield). This is accomplished by encouraging enemy troops to surrender (“make the enemy comfortable”, “reduce the potential for mistreatment, which can have propaganda value for the enemy”, etc). It also has the added benefit of allowing the US Army to take a moral position on torture (we don’t do it, so you should not either).

    When it comes to aggressive interrogation techniques, all kinds of interpretations become available. It will open all kinds of problems in terms of implementation and interpretation. This sounds like a policy of CYA. Not aggressive enough, then it is the troop’s fault, or too aggressive, then it is the troop’s fault. Notice how the policy-makers cannot be blamed.

    Aggressive interrogation techniques belong in the hands of the CIA or DIA (if we must). Leave the line troops out of it so they can concentrate on combat (and keep policies that encourage enemy surrenders). This also helps to ensure that policy-makers can be held accountable.

    Mr. Bush had the integrity to do this, so should President Obama. Clueless probably (my opinion, as he has stated many odd things about our military), devious, I hope not.

    Pons Asinorum (769f0f)

  22. Comment by AD — 1/21/2009 @ 4:37 pm
    Plagiarism, AD.

    Emperor7 (0c8c2c)

  23. I’m suspicious that it won’t be long before Democrats think that they have a President with less honesty than the Clintons.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  24. Comment by Emperor7 — 1/21/2009 @ 5:05 pm

    If so, not so…I just had a Biden moment.
    and you don’t have the chops.

    AD (ef385e)

  25. Comment by AD — 1/21/2009 @ 5:47 pm
    Okay, AD. Anything you say.

    Emperor7 (0c8c2c)

  26. I’ve seen reports that this is the type of interrogation that Obama (PBUH) will authorize. Pretty scary stuff, don’t let the kids watch it.

    Old Coot (543f9d)

  27. I’m afraid that Obama doesn’t have any firm convictions; he doesn’t stand for anything. And there may be a silver lining in that. If you look at his “career”, he has latched onto what has been personally expedient. Leftist ideology was an easier path to power for him. His associations with characters such as Rezko and Ayers were convient to him, not necessarily them. He also managed to keep himself somewhat clean. He chose a church which was helpful to his ambitions and when it became convenient to disown / part ways with that church, he did. People came on the bus and got thrown under when it suited him. Even Axelrod was a late pickup (previously running a campaign for Philly Mayor Street – an adventure unto itself. I’m surprised that more people have not examined that more closely).

    Here’s the potential silver lining: By having no firm convictions, he’s just trying to get along. No real agenda, just power and control for their own sakes. So any fears of ramrodding an agressive leftwing / marxist agenda may be misplaced. We’ve called his recent backpedaling a dose of reality. What if its not a dose of reality but more of what his actual positions are? He needed to separate himself from the other candidates in the primaries; so he swung far left. Once he won, he came back to the middle. It’s a good strategy, everybody expected it. Then he needed to separate himself from McCain; which he did. But after he won, he continued to go centrist when he does not need to. We may just now be seeing the “true” Obama. Not as bad as any of us feared.

    In one sense, I certainly hope this is the case. But, this is not good leadership. Would someone with no convictions be able to withstand the pressure to leave Iraq? Would a person like this be able to take a moral stand and stick with it? Would a person like this commit to a strategy like the surge and have the grit to see it through? I don’t think so. I pray that he does not have any “tough calls” to make. But he is now the President and those decisions now are his paygrade.

    rudytbone (8052af)

  28. I didn’t know Ehrenstein was still alive.

    He only comes out on special occasions, usually when teh gay is mentioned in any context.

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  29. Pons Asinorum — 1/21/2009 @ 5:00 pm,

    Interesting point. Perhaps Obama knows the brass will never agree to expand the interrogation techniques for the military as a whole. Thus, Obama can portray himself as open to a discussion of more aggressive techniques, all the while knowing it won’t happen.

    DRJ (345e40)

  30. Obama is smart, that’s his fault.

    Emperor7 (0c8c2c)

  31. #29 — DRJ

    Good point – such Executive Orders could lend themselves some devious ploy, either as you roughly outlined or in some other form. That is quite a few moves down the chessboard — for me, anyway :-) — but for certain, time will tell.

    I just hope our Country will not be regretting these orders in the future (clueless or devious).

    Pons Asinorum (769f0f)

  32. […] we have this today. During the Presidential campaign, Obama promised to “have the Army Field Manual govern […]

    Obama Changing a lot Less than You’d Think « Something should go here, maybe later. (962ecf)


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