William McSwain, a assistant U.S. attorney and executive editor of the 2005 Review of Department of Defense Detention Operations and Detainee Interrogation Techniques, commonly called the Church Report has a must read Op Ed in today’s Wall Street Journal:
President Barack Obama has reinvigorated the critics of George W. Bush’s antiterror policies by opening the door to prosecuting or sanctioning those who crafted interrogation policy in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. These critics — including the president — are laboring under numerous misconceptions. Many of them have no experience with or understanding of military or CIA interrogation, the purpose of which is to gain actionable intelligence to safeguard our country. The recently released memos by lawyers in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel were written to assist interrogators in that critical mission. The memos cannot be fairly evaluated without that mission in mind.
Military and CIA interrogators are trained to use creative means of deception, and to play on detainee emotions and fears. This can be a nasty business. People unfamiliar with it, therefore, might even view a perfectly legitimate interrogation of a prisoner of war that is in full compliance with the Geneva Conventions as abhorrent by its very nature.
But military interrogation is not akin to a friendly chat across a conference table — nor is it designed to gather evidence in a criminal trial, as an FBI interview might be. There is a fundamental distinction between law enforcement and military interrogations that we ignore at our peril.
Second-guessers can also fail to appreciate the increased importance of interrogation (and human intelligence in general) in the post 9/11 world. We face an enemy that wears no uniform, blends in with civilian populations, and operates in the shadows. This has made eliciting information from captured terrorists vital to the effort of finding other terrorists. As interrogation has become more important, drawing out useful information has become more difficult — because hardened terrorists are often trained to resist traditional U.S. interrogation methods.
I suspect by now Barack Obama regrets opening the can worms opened by the release of the EIT memos, it has turned into a veritable can of snakes and nothing good can come from it.
- 58% Say Release of CIA Memos Endangers National Security – Rasmussen Reports
- Ted Olson: “Torture” probes will never end – Byron York, Washington Examiner
- Security Before Politics – Porter J. Goss, Washington Post
- Past, President and Future – Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal