Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Prosecuting Bush Aides Over Water Boarding

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

This whole flap over whether to prosecute members of the Bush administration over the water boarding of (3) al-Qaeda terrorists is leaving me more disgusted every day. First President Obama rules out prosecution-then he flip-flops and says a prosecution of higher-ups may still be possible but not against those who actually carried out the water-boarding. Leaving aside the obvious lack of decisiveness of the President, it strikes me that Obama is playing politics with an issue that concerns our national security.

Whether or not one feels that water-boarding is a form of torture-as opposed say to pulling out ones fingernails- it has to be acknowledged that the motivation for such action was to save innocent lives by the thousands in the wake of 9-11. It was not done to persecute George W Bush's political opponents, as most dictatorships would have done.

Nonetheless, some say, America should never practice torture or any other harsh interrogation methods. The saving lives argument is countered by these folks when they claim that torture never produces truthful information. Never? Apparently, not only does Dick Cheney disagree, but so do folks in the CIA, who have stated that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed spilled his guts about future attacks when water boarded. Cheney is demanding that internal memos to that effect be released by the present administration.

The most outrageous news coming out this week is that Obama's own National Intelligence Director, Dennis Blair, had made statements defending those involved in the decision to water board in a memo to the White House, which proceeded to redact that portion of said memo as it was releasing previous memos from the Bush administration. So now it appears that Obama is dilly-dallying with the fate of Bush administration aides who were involved in the decision to employ water-boarding while suppressing memos that would defend the practice.

Defend water boarding, you say? Yes. If there are memos out there that report that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed refused to answer questions until he was water boarded then gave up a pending plot to fly plane)s) into downtown Los Angeles, then that strikes me as all the justification in the world once we had already been subjected to 9-11. This begs the question to those who say water boarding could never be justified: How many innocent deaths does it take before you change your mind?

The officials who made the decision to authorize water boarding or other mild forms of "torture" such as slapping with an open hand, placing insects in a cell, sleep deprivation, etc. were acting not out of sadism, but out of a concern to prevent more terrorist attacks. Should they not be afforded the benefit of the doubt?

President Obama should stop playing politics with this issue once and for all. And Dennis Blair should resign in protest.

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