If the Administration really wants to maintain the authority to use coercive techniques against terrorist detainees, it should consider sharing some evidence of the techniques’ success.
I support the government having some limited form of coercive techniques at its disposal because the Administration has claimed that it has received vital intelligence from high-level Al Qaeda figures — information that has disrupted major terror plots. Bush has at least strongly implied that this information was obtained as a result of some form of coercive interrogation.
If this is true, he should reveal details about it. I don’t recommend precipitiously making everything public. I recommend going to selected Senators first, and showing them in detail why these techniques are necessary.
For example, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner are not members of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. I don’t know the extent to which the members of that committee are privy to top-secret details of the interrogations of detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But it seems to me that the members of that committee, at a minimum, should be provided that information — and perhaps Senators McCain, Graham, and Warner should receive it as well.
If the information is truly as compelling as Bush says it is, these Senators would presumably change their tune upon being informed of the specifics. I despise John McCain, but I believe he and the other men are patriots, and would not cast our country’s safety aside if there were clear evidence that these techniques are necessary.
And if they didn’t change their tune, even in the face of compelling evidence, Bush could declassify the information and go public with the details — and these men would suffer grevious hits to their political standing.
Sure, we don’t want to declassify such information if we can avoid it. But the government is running the risk of losing these techniques entirely. If the techniques are truly critical, then it seems to me there would be little harm in sharing the specifics with these Senators. (I’m assuming that this hasn’t already happened, although I don’t know this to be the case.) If push comes to shove, a selective declassification may well be a lesser evil than losing these techniques entirely.
Of course, it could be that no such compelling information exists, and that Bush is simply playing politics with the issue — in which case he would not follow my suggestion. But if the evidence is really there, shouldn’t he take the steps I have described?