Patterico's Pontifications

4/27/2009

Sympathy for the Company?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:23 am

[Posted by Karl]

On Friday, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds sardonically commented:

I’D FEEL SORRIER FOR THE C.I.A. FOLKS, if they hadn’t run a multiyear leak-war against the Bush Administration. Did they really think electing Obama would improve their situation? Once again, they don’t seem to have gamed things out to the end.

In an update, he conceded that there is a difference between the officers of the National Clandestine Service who do the hard work in the field, and the stripey-pants analysts, who second-guess things at langley.  Nevertheless, Prof. Reynolds asserts that if “CIA leadership had wanted to shut down those leaks, I think it probably could have.”  True enough, except that the Bush Administration was undermined by folks at the top of the CIA for years.  It is the entrenched bureaucracy at the CIA that ran the leak war, underwrote Bush’s opponents, and so on.

Thus, it is notable that those protesting the Obama Administration’s release of the interrogation memos include not only former Bush CIA chief Porter Goss — who was successfully resisted by the entrenched CIA bureaucracy — but also by former spies like Michael Scheuer, who was allowed to publish the book Imperial Hubris as part of the bureacracy’s anti-Bush campaign. Indeed, he penned a fairly blistering op-ed on the subject in the Washington Post yesterday.

Scheuer and his Company sponsors may deserve no sympathy.  However, we should not let schadenfreude obscure our national security concerns.  The fact that people like Scheuer are adding their voices to the criticism of these document dumps is an alarm bell, signaling just how much harm that Obama’s Leftist moral posturing is doing to our human intelligence capabilities.

–Karl

More Swine Flu Cases Stemming from Mexico

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:40 am

The AP reports more swine flu outbreaks stemming from Mexico:

New Zealand reported suspected swine flu cases Monday in a second group of teenage students returning from Mexico, as Asian nations with potent memories of SARS and bird flu outbreaks screened travelers for fever with thermal scanners.

Hong Kong assigned a team of scientists to find a quick test for the latest virus to raise global fears of a pandemic, following confirmed human cases of the disease in Mexico, United States and Canada.

More than 100 people in Mexico are believed to have died from the new flu and more than 1,600 sickened, prompting widespread school closures and other measures.

Lucky thing for us we have our border locked down tight!

L.A. Times: Our Article on the Effectiveness of Waterboarding Leaves Out the Biggest Success of Waterboarding

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:13 am

The L.A. Times had a front page article yesterday titled CIA reportedly declined to closely evaluate harsh interrogations:

The CIA used an arsenal of severe interrogation techniques on imprisoned Al Qaeda suspects for nearly seven years without seeking a rigorous assessment of whether the methods were effective or necessary, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Not mentioned, anywhere in the article, is the fact that recently declassified memos confirm that waterboarding KSM was key to disrupting a plot to fly airplanes into the tallest skyscraper in Los Angeles.

You might think that would be something that the biggest Los Angeles newspaper would care about.

You’d be wrong. The closest the paper comes to telling readers this fact is to say that in a speech,

Bush said that “alternative” interrogation methods had been crucial to getting Al Qaeda operatives, including Abu Zubaydah and self-professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, to talk.

Not good enough. What does it mean to say that we got KSM to “talk”? It means that we got him to “disclose details of massive plots against the United States.” According to the intelligence community, waterboarding KSM saved thousands of lives.

How do you make it though an entire article on the effectiveness of harsh interrogation and not even mention that little tidbit?

Ask the geniuses at the Los Angeles Times.

4/26/2009

Waterboarding Worked, Part 3: The WaPo Falls for the Lazy Argument on the Timing Issue of the Library Tower Attack

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:56 am

Today’s Washington Post runs a story about the effectiveness of harsh questioning. I consider the key issue to be the CIA claim that waterboarding helped the U.S. stop an attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles. Here is the WaPo on that issue:

A number of officials have questioned the viability of the plot in the wake of the changes in airport security after Sept. 11. And President George W. Bush, in a speech in 2007, said the plot was broken up in 2002, before Mohammed’s capture in Pakistan on March 1, 2003.

Let’s place to one side the laughable notion that we should be reassured by our wonderful airport security, and focus on the timing issue raised here. This lazy approach to the issue has been accepted at face value by Tim Noah, Andrew Sullivan, Radley Balko, and any number of other people predisposed to argue against the style of interrogation conducted by the Bushies.

But as I argued in this post, the timing does indeed work, because according to the memo that makes the claim, even after the initial plot was disrupted, there was a second cell devoted to the same murderous goal:


(Click to enlarge)

The existence of the other cell was documented in a Los Angeles Times article from October 2005, which typically downplayed the importance of arresting the cell because the plot was still in its early stages. (Apparently if we had stopped 9/11 in its early stages, that would not have been a notable success.)

According to the memo, when KSM was first questioned without the use of harsh techniques, he would say nothing about plots in motion other than: “Soon, you will know.” If Obama had his way, we would have learned about the Library Tower plot, not through waterboarding, but when it happened.

UPDATE: Marc Thiessen has an important update that is completely consistent with my analysis, and provides convincing detail on why Noah and Sullivan et al. are dead wrong about this. (h/t daleyrocks.)

Addressing More Lazy Assumptions About Waterboarding and Other Harsh Questioning Techniques

Filed under: General,Judiciary — Patterico @ 11:21 am

Stuart Taylor has a typically thoughtful column on the issue of harsh questioning. Because Taylor’s columns have no permanent links, I’ll quote extensively:

“A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals,” President Obama said on April 16, “and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.”

But is it really a false choice? It’s certainly tempting to think so. The fashionable assumption that coercive interrogation (up to and including torture) never saved a single life makes it easy to resolve what otherwise would be an agonizing moral quandary.

The same assumption makes it even easier for congressional Democrats, human-rights activists, and George W. Bush-hating avengers to call for prosecuting and imprisoning the former president and his entire national security team, including their lawyers. . . .

But there is a body of evidence suggesting that brutal interrogation methods may indeed have saved lives, perhaps a great many lives — and that renouncing those methods may someday end up costing many, many more.

To be sure, the evidence in the public record is not conclusive. It comes mainly from Bush appointees and Central Intelligence Agency officials with records to defend and axes to grind. There is plenty of countervailing evidence coming from critics who have less access to the classified information that tells much of the story and have their own axes to grind. There are also plausible arguments for renouncing coercive interrogation even if it does save some lives.

But it would be an abdication for the president to proceed on the facile assumption that his no-coercion executive order is cost-free.

Those on the left have been pointing to an op-ed by Ali Soufan in the New York Times from Wednesday, in which Soufan says: “There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics.” But as Tom Maguire points out, during the period of time that Zubaydah was questioned using “regular tactics,” he was “stripped, held in an icy room and jarred by earsplittingly loud music,” according to the New York Times.

Maguire concludes: “Harsher techniques were introduced in August, but the techniques before then were surely harsh.” In any event, the real debate about waterboarding centers around revelations in recent memos regarding details revealed by a different detainee, KSM, about a plot that would have killed thousands if executed: the Library Tower plot in Los Angeles (discussed in my post here). Soufan knows nothing about that, and KSM and Zubaydah are obviously different people who may have required different tactics.

Back to Taylor:

I see no reason at all to doubt the sincerity of Dennis Blair, Obama’s own national intelligence director, who said in an April 16 memo to his staff that “high value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding” of Al Qaeda.

Blair later qualified this by adding, “There is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means.” But a reasonable person might imagine that it would take more than sweet talk, mind games, and lollipops to get hardened terrorists to sing.

Blair argues that the style of interrogation we have pursued has hurt our standing in the world, to which Taylor responds:

He may be right (or wrong) about that. But even if he is right, does it make sense not only to ban the brutal Bush-Cheney brand of interrogation but also to lurch to the opposite extreme by ordering the CIA not to “threaten or coerce” any detainee in any way?

No yelling? No restricting a detainee to nutritious but unappetizing cold food until he talks? No threats of long-term incarceration, even though such are used routinely and quite legally by police all over America? Should people suspected of plotting mass death really be treated more punctiliously than people suspected of burglary?

The people who agree with the Obama approach don’t care about the evidence. They will lazily accept the premise that the timing of the KSM arrest doesn’t square with the breakup of the Library Tower plot, even though I have explained how it does. They simply have their own smug and self-righteous view about torture. That view may get us killed.

If We’re Nice to Them, Maybe They’ll Kill Us Last (A Continuing Series)

Filed under: Political Correctness — Jack Dunphy @ 12:28 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Canadian journalists Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant were recent guests on Milt Rosenberg’s program on Chicago’s WGN radio. They discussed their respective encounters with the kangaroo courts that are Canada’s “human rights tribunals.” Their alleged crimes: offending Muslims by means of published materials. Steyn did so in a series of articles published in Maclean’s magazine, the Canadian newsweekly (as Steyn puts it, like Time or Newsweek, only better). As for Levant, he had the temerity to publish those Danish cartoons that had so many Muslim knickers all in a bunch back in 2005. Mr. Rosenberg’s show is always interesting, and this one was exceptionally so. It’s available for a free podcast here.

In the video below, Ezra Levant is shown under interrogation by some bureaucrat intent on determining whether his state of mind is such that he is deserving of censure by the Canadian government for “hate speech.” Rather than bowing and scraping and begging for forgiveness, Levant lets the woman know what he thinks of her inquiry. All I can say is, Bravo.

–Jack Dunphy

4/25/2009

Founding Bloggers Fights Back

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:12 pm

At Copyrights and Campaigns, Ben Sheffner reports that the folks at Founding Bloggers are taking on CNN:

Founding Bloggers, the conservative web site that had its video critical of CNN’s reporting on a Chicago “tea party” removed by YouTube after the cable network sent a DMCA takedown notice, is not backing down. On Thursday, Founding Bloggers submitted a DMCA counternotice to YouTube, starting the clock ticking toward a possible re-posting by YouTube — or a lawsuit that could establish important legal precedent regarding the contours of copyright law’s fair use doctrine, especially as it applies to use of news video by political bloggers. “We’re not going to let this just go away,” Andrew Marcus of Founding Bloggers told C&C in an interview earlier today.

Nice.

Ben was a driving force behind this effort, and was the one who first told me about it, so he deserves a lot of credit.

Meanwhile, Founding Bloggers has uploaded a new in-depth report of the Chicago Tea Party, together with the offending footage:

More on that here.

Finally, Andrew Marcus of Founding Bloggers sent me a nice note, thanking me for my role in publicizing their fight with CNN. Happy to be a part of it, but the real credit goes to Founding Bloggers for their excellent video, and to Ben Sheffner for getting out the word and doing the legal analysis.

No, Obama Is Not Trying to Take Away Criminals’ Right to Representation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:17 pm

In a post headlined Obama to end representation in interrogations?, Ed Morrissey says:

The Obama administration has argued for the end of the Michigan v Jackson ruling that requires police to provide an attorney for a suspect once one has been requested.

No, that’s not what the ruling says, and that’s not what the Justice Department is requesting in its brief. The Obama administration has not argued that the police should not provide lawyers to criminal suspects, or anything like it.

Michigan v. Jackson covers what happens after the defendant gets to court — namely, the following situation:

Defendant is arraigned in court and asserts his right to counsel. Police then approach him and advise him of his Miranda rights. He waives them. They advise him that he has a right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment. He waives it. He then voluntarily provides a confession to the crime. (You can even assume that the confession is recorded, so that we know all these waivers were properly obtained, and there was no coercion involved.)

A court will still suppress that voluntary confession., because of Michigan v. Jackson, which says that any confession resulting from interrogation initiated by the police must be suppressed if the right to counsel has been asserted by the defendant at his arraignment.

The Justice Department is simply arguing that a defendant should be able to waive these rights and give a voluntary confession that won’t be suppressed. Horrors!

Ed claims that the Justice Department’s brief shows that we have an “autocratic administration determined to wipe out civil rights.” We may have such an administration, but this legal position is not evidence of it.

More detail in the extended entry.

(more…)

Liz Cheney on Waterboarding/Harsh Interrogation Tactics

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:49 am

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (and Dick Cheney daughter) Liz Cheney rips Norah O’Donnell to shreds on waterboarding/harsh interrogation tactics in this clip:

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

(h/t daleyrocks and Power Line.)

Note O’Donnell’s Roesgen-like attack dog tactics: “Let me just finish my point.”

Coach Bill Barnes, RIP

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 9:56 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

The Divine Mrs. Dunphy points out this morning that sometimes you read an obituary and say to yourself, “I wish I had known that man.” You may have that reaction in reading about former UCLA football coach Bill Barnes, who passed away Thursday at age 91. We were blessed indeed to know him, and we will miss him. Few men as kind as he have ever lived.

–Jack Dunphy

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