Obama DNI Chief Rationalizes Torture
Greg Sargent and Steve Benen do some incredible contortions to try and spin Obama Administration Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair's inaccurate and inexcusable rationalization for torture. Blair wrote a memo that states:
“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country,” Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.
. . . “I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past,” he wrote, “but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.”
(Emphasis supplied.) Blair becomes the first witness for the defense of those who enacted the torture policies, and Sargent and Benen can not wish that away. For Blair, the use of torture is just a "policy difference," proving John Hinderaker of Powerline right. The fact is Blair is unfit to serve. He should resign. More . . .
Blair basically defends the decision to enact torture policies. He does so based on very flawed thinking. Let's start with the first problem - torture is illegal and a war crime. Whether Blair believes torture worked or not, it is a war crime and a violation of US law. How can Blair "not find fault" with the actions of war criminals? Does Blair "find fault" when it is Americans that are tortured?
Secondly, Blair is simply wrong on the efficacy of torture. As the NYTimes reports in a different article today:
According to several former top officials involved in the discussions seven years ago, they did not know that the military training program, called SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, had been created decades earlier to give American pilots and soldiers a sample of the torture methods used by Communists in the Korean War, methods that had wrung false confessions from Americans.
. . . They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned in internal memorandums that, morality aside, the methods were ineffective.
(Emphasis supplied.) In a bitterly ironic passage, Philip Zelikow, a Bush administration official who dissented from the torture policies, states:
“Competent staff work could have quickly canvassed relevant history, insights from the best law enforcement and military interrogators, and lessons from the painful British and Israeli experience,” Mr. Zelikow said. “Especially in a time of great stress, walking into this minefield, the president was entitled to get the most thoughtful and searching analysis our government could muster.”
(Emphasis supplied.) In the clear light of 2009, Dennis Blair is incapable of giving such counsel to President Obama. How likely will he be able to do so in a "time of stress?" That is the story here. Greg Sargent's attempt to spin this is pathetic:
Will the media clearly report Blair’s actual views about torture? Blair released a statement late yesterday in which he clearly stated that there is no way of knowing whether means other than torture would have obtained the same info. More important, he said the damage done to us by torture “far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.” Blair has outlined these views elsewhere.
This is really not complicated: Blair believes that some valuable info was collected via torture, but that torture is not essential to our security and has done far more harm than good.
(Emphasis supplied.) What hooey. Blair says that torture worked, and we do not know if other techniques would have worked and he would not fault anyone who approved of torture. Those are his views. To attempt to spin it otherwise as Sargent does is simply pathetic.
It is simple Greg - a torture apologist serves as President Obama's Director of National Intelligence. That is unacceptable. Blair should resign.
Speaking for me only
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