Thursday, 23 April 2009
REP. PETER HOEKSTRA ON OBAMA'S SELECTIVE DECLASSIFICATION
Here is a commentary about the Obama administration's selective
declassification of interrogation documents, from Rep. Peter Hoekstra of
Michigan; the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on
I think Mr. Hoekstra is making perfect sense. Read his commentary
and see if you agree:
Congress Knew About the Interrogations
Obama should release the memo on
the attacks prevented.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair got
it right last week when he noted how easy it is to condemn the enhanced
interrogation program "on a bright sunny day in April 2009." Reactions to this
former CIA program, which was used against senior al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and
2003, are demonstrating how little President Barack Obama and some Democratic
members of Congress understand the dire threats to our nation.
George Tenet, who served as CIA director under
Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, believes the enhanced interrogations
program saved lives. He told CBS's "60 Minutes" in April 2007: "I know this
program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and
the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."
Last week, Mr. Blair made a similar statement in
an internal memo to his staff when he wrote that "[h]igh 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
Yet last week Mr. Obama overruled the advice of
his CIA director, Leon Panetta, and four prior CIA directors by releasing the
details of the enhanced interrogation program. Former CIA director Michael
Hayden has stated clearly that declassifying the memos will make it more
difficult for the CIA to defend the nation.
It was not necessary to release details of the
enhanced interrogation techniques, because members of Congress from both parties
have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002. We believed it
was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks
to keep our nation safe. After many long and contentious debates, Congress
repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both
Republican and Democratic Congresses.
Last week, Mr. Obama argued that those who
implemented this program should not be prosecuted -- even though the release of
the memos still places many individuals at other forms of unfair legal risk. It
appeared that Mr. Obama understood it would be unfair to prosecute U.S.
government employees for carrying out a policy that had been fully vetted and
approved by the executive branch and Congress. The president explained this
decision with these gracious words: "nothing will be gained by spending our time
and energy laying blame for the past." I agreed.
Unfortunately, on April 21, Mr. Obama backtracked
and opened the door to possible prosecution of Justice Department attorneys who
provided legal advice with respect to the enhanced interrogations program. The
president also signaled that he may support some kind of independent inquiry
into the program. It seems that he has capitulated to left-wing groups and some
in Congress who are demanding show trials over this program.
Members of Congress calling for an investigation
of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation
can't be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who
wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have
asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of
all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation
Any investigation must include this information as
part of a review of those in Congress and the Bush administration who reviewed
and supported this program. To get a complete picture of the enhanced
interrogation program, a fair investigation will also require that the Obama
administration release the memos requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney
on the successes of this program.
An honest and thorough review of the enhanced
interrogation program must also assess the likely damage done to U.S. national
security by Mr. Obama's decision to release the memos over the objections of Mr.
Panetta and four of his predecessors. Such a review should assess what this
decision communicated to our enemies, and also whether it will discourage
intelligence professionals from offering their frank opinions in sensitive
counterterrorist cases for fear that they will be prosecuted by a future
Perhaps we need an investigation not of the
enhanced interrogation program, but of what the Obama administration may be
doing to endanger the security our nation has enjoyed because of interrogations
and other antiterrorism measures implemented since Sept. 12,
STAND BY ME (AND ALL THE REST OF US)
Unfortunately, the issues I blog about these days are vastly more negative
than positive. So when I get something that provides a few moments of
release and makes me feel really good, I want to poss it along.
The video you will see by clicking here is about
5 1/2 minutes long. I absolutely guarantee you will feel better after
(Thanks Russ, for sending it my way.)
HOLDER'S HOT STEAMY LOAD
Here, from the Associated Press, is Attorney General eric holder's
answer to why the declassified "torture" documents released so far have only
indicated our interrogation techniques, not the quality of information we got
from administering them or how many lives the information may have saved:
Holder: Won't selectively
release torture memos
WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder says he
won't play "hide and seek" with secret memos about harsh interrogations of
terror suspects and their effectiveness.
Holder is testifying before the House
Appropriations Committee and says he's willing to release as much information as
possible about the interrogations.
He was asked about the fierce debate that has
erupted since the Justice Department released four memos last week detailing the
harsh techniques used on some detainees during the Bush administration.
Republicans have urged President Barack Obama to release other classified
reports detailing what intelligence information was gained from such
questioning. Holder said he didn't know what specific memos Republicans may be
Got that? He's not playing hide and seek. He just doesn't know
which of the documents indicate the value of information we got from our
interrogations. (No way to find that out, of course. Gee, I
guess they just don't exist.)
Yeah, sure. And the cow jumped over the moon.
If that isn't a hot steamy load of what bulls create after lunch, it is the
single greatest imitation of one I have ever seen in my life.
And if this country buys holder's hot steamy load, we are in bigger trouble than
CAPTAIN BILL PHILLIPS: A BITTERSWEET CELEBRATION
Bill Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama will be celebrated in his
home town this weekend. From the Associated Press:
A person familiar with the plans says a homecoming
party is planned this weekend in Vermont for the ship captain who was taken
hostage by pirates.
The person was not
authorized to release the information and spoke Thursday on condition of
The community celebration will be held for Richard
Phillips on Saturday at Mills Riverside Park in the town of Underhill. That's
where the 53-year-old lives with his wife and two adult children.
He and his family will attend.
Phillips is captain of the Maersk (mehrsk)
Alabama, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship that was attacked by pirates off Somalia on
He was held hostage in a lifeboat for five days
and was freed when U.S. Navy snipers killed three of his
I don't blame them at all for celebrating Captain Phillips. He is a
hero, as are the brilliant Navy Seals whose military talent and excellent
performance rescued him.
But with the greatest of respect to Mr. Phillips, a pall hangs over
that celebration. Let me paraphrase from my blog last week:
Another day has passed without the
USA acting against Somalian thugs/terrorists/pirates.
But the thugs/terrorists/pirates remain
in full operation. How long before they take another one of our
ships? And what do you think they will do with a US crew?
Every day this is allowed to
continue is a day that every American crew member on every ship
is at mortal risk.
Are we planning to act
against them where it counts - i.e. where their boats are docked? Or are
we waiting for Americans to join the nationals of so many other countries
and become hostages - or be killed outright, which is specifically
what is being threatened?
Are we waiting for the rest
of the world to act? Are we waiting for the UN? What have they
done through all the Somalian hijackings so far, besides nothing? What
will they do if an American crew is taken, besides nothing?
The time is now. Right
Send in our planes. Send in
our troops. Not to the cities, but to the ports and
contiguous areas around them.
Wipe these bastards out.
blow up every ship that cannot 100% prove it is not engaged in the
pirate/thug/terrorism trade. Put them the hell out of
And when the countries whose people are being held hostage tell us that
we're doing the wrong thing? Respond, firmly and decisively, that it is
their unwillingness to act which caused the hostage situation, not our actions
to protect US interests. Tell them that if we don't stop this right now,
there will be more hostages, not less. It has to stop, and the sooner
Then let them cry and moan about it.
That, apparently, is the extent of what they are willing to
This cannot go on any
A RADICAL ISLAMIC LOVE-FEST IN TWO PARTS
Here are two videos
for you to watch. I pulled them from www.frontpagemag.com.
The first is a speech by ziyad abu al-haj, an Islamic cleric
aligned with hamas. Get the warm fuzzies as he describes his love of
humanity and good wishes for people of the Jewish faith.
That, of course is the mindset Israel is supposed to be
making peace with.
The second is a report about the radical
Islamic training camps operating in the United States. That's right, no
typo: the United States. Watch it and bask in the warmth.
Homegrown Jihad: Terrorist Camps Around the
Is it asking too much of our brilliant head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano,
to take time out from investigating political conservatives and
the Canadian border to maybe look into this?
Another day, another round of the Obama administration selectively declassifying memos about our interrogations of al qaeda members.
In the absence of any context, the memos being declassified are as damning as they can be against the Bush administration (which, if anyone bothers to read them, and think about them, isn't very damning at all).
So far, however, no memos at all have been declassified which show the results of these interrogations -- i.e. the quality of information we learned and/or any assessment of how many US lives were saved because of that information.
Read about the administration's latest selective declassification in these excerpts from an article in today's Washington Post:
Document: Rice approved harsh tactics in 2002
Holder declassifies timeline of actions by top Bush officials on interrogationBy R. Jeffrey Smith and Peter Finn
updated 2 hours, 9 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Condoleezza Rice, John D. Ashcroft and other top Bush administration officials approved as early as the summer of 2002 the CIA's use at secret prisons of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a technique that new Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has described as illegal torture, according to a chronology prepared by the Senate intelligence committee and declassified by Holder.
At a time when the Justice Department is deciding whether former officials who set interrogation policy or formulated the legal justifications for it should be investigated for possible crimes, the timeline lists at least a dozen members of the Bush administration who were present when the CIA's director or others explained exactly which questioning techniques were to be used and how those sessions proceeded.
Rice gave a key early green light when, as President George W. Bush's national security adviser, she met on July 17, 2002, with the CIA's then-director, George J. Tenet, and "advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation of Abu Zubaida," subject to approval by the Justice Department, according to the timeline.
Abu Zubaida, a Saudi-born Palestinian whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, was captured in Pakistan in March 2002. He was the first high-value detainee in CIA custody, and the agency believed that the al-Qaeda associate was "withholding imminent threat information," according to the timeline.
Rice and four other administration officials were first briefed in May 2002 on "alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding," the timeline shows. Waterboarding is a technique that simulates drowning.
A year later, in July 2003, the CIA briefed Rice, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Attorney General Ashcroft, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and National Security Council legal adviser John B. Bellinger III on the use of waterboarding and other methods, the timeline states. They "reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy."
"This was not an abstract discussion. These were very detailed and specific conversations," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. "And it's further evidence of the role that senior administration officials had."
At that point, the United States had also captured Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, who was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, according to recently released Justice Department documents.
"This chronology is misleading and incomplete and does not reflect the NSC review process or the information presented to the NSC," said a former White House official involved in the deliberations.
Cheney has said repeatedly that the CIA program was legal and critical in breaking up a series of planned terrorist attacks. He has called on the Obama administration to declassify memos examining the effectiveness of the interrogation policies he supported.
In the fall of 2002, four senior members of Congress, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), now speaker of the House, were secretly briefed on interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, according to U.S. officials. Pelosi has confirmed that she was then "briefed on interrogation techniques the administration was considering using in the future. The administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Justice Department had concluded that the techniques were legal."
In early 2004, a comprehensive report by the CIA inspector general raised new questions about the program, including queries about the waterboarding of three detainees. It said the interrogations were not clearly legal under an international treaty the United States had signed known as the Convention Against Torture, which bars cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that falls short of torture.
A fresh legal review by the Justice Department prompted Ashcroft to inform the CIA in writing on July 22, 2004, that its interrogation methods except waterboarding were legal. The following month, the head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel added that even waterboarding would be legal if it were carried out with a series of safeguards according to CIA plans. By May 2005, the department had completed two more reviews of the program that came to the same conclusion. Those were among the memos President Obama released last week.
Nice of the Post to have buried, in the middle of the article, the fact that Nancy Pelosi knew about these exact same interrogation techniques almost 7 years ago. She didn't raise any objections to them at that time (but I wouldn't put it past her to claim otherwise now, because I wouldn't put anything past Nancy Pelosi).
And Pelosi was far from the only Democrat - even California Democrat - who had no problem at all with what we did at that time. Now, however, when there is political benefit to being appalled by our actions, they are shocked - shocked. God, what toads these people are.
If you like a political witch hunt - one that will dramatically damage our ability to extract information from enemies of the USA who want either to put us under shari'a law or kill us outright - you must be deliriously gleeful over what the Obama administration is doing.
And if you feel this way, you probably also love the fact that eric holder, the Attorney General running this circus, is also the guy who, as Deputy AG, gave his go-ahead for Bill Clinton to pardon and free terrorists as he was leaving office.
But if you care about the security of this country? I expect that it is just as disturbing, even scary, to you as it is to me.
Yet who will President Obama and eric holder and Nancy Pelosi blame the next time we are hit? Bush?
Count on it.
THE TALIBAN 5% STRIKE AGAIN
Joe Biden has assured us that only 5% of the taliban is incorrigible.
Evidently they are having some kind of convention near Islamabad, Pakistan.
From Bill Roggio at www.longwarjournal.com:
Taliban advance eastward, threaten
Click map for
full view. Taliban presence, by district and tribal agency, in the
Northwest Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal
Agencies. Information on Taliban presence obtained from open source and
derived by The Long War Journal based on the presence of Taliban
shadow governments, levels of fighting, and reports from the region. Map
created by Bill Raymond for The Long War Journal. Last updated:
April 14, 2009.
The Taliban are pushing past the districts of Swat
and Buner and are threatening Islamabad, a senior Islamist member of parliament
said at a briefing.
The Taliban have consolidated control over the district of Buner and are moving on Mansehra and Haripur. These two regions, which are
just on the outskirts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, have been relatively spared
from the violent Taliban insurgency that has plagued the Northwest.
The Taliban have entered the district of Mansehra
and are threatening to take control of the Tarbela Dam in neighboring Haripur
district, said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
Fazl, an Islamist political party, during a debate in parliament.
"If the Taliban continue to move at this pace,
they will soon be knocking at the doors of Islamabad as the Margala Hills seem
to be the only hurdle in their march towards the federal capital," Fazl said,
according to a report in The
News. "After occupying Buner,
they have reached Kala Dhaka and may also be taking over the water reservoir of
the Tarbela Dam."
I don't understand. According to the Vice President of the United States,
only one in twenty taliban is incorrigible. So how are they doing
And didn't President Obama say he'd be conciliatory with the "moderate
taliban" (That must be the other 95%)? So how come they aren't streaming
to Islamabad to defend it from the 5% incorrigibles?
Tra-la, tra-la, tra-la-la-la.
Ok, on to reality: Swat, Buner and now
Islamabad demonstrate with perfect clarity how ridiculously naive both Mr.
Obama and Mr. Biden are about the taliban. I can only hope the
taliban's actions will bust through the combined ego of Obama/Biden and
force them to deal with reality instead of childish fantasy.
Unfortunately, I'm not counting on it. At least not
CAMPUS LEFTISTS AND FREE SPEECH
Here is an article from today's Wall Street Journal about how the leftists
who dominate our university system prevent the exercise of free speech.
It is written by David Horowitz, who certainly knows whereof he
speaks. In his youth Mr. Horowitz was a communist and 60's radical.
Today he is politically conservative and pro-Israel, thus he is almost
always attacked when he tries to speak at universities, and often is
prevented from speaking at at all.
That's what I call someone who, to paraphrase Joni Mitchell has "looked at
leftists from both sides now":
By David Horowitz
Leftists Don't Believe in Free Speech
Wall Street Journal |
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I arrived in Austin, Texas, one evening recently to give
a speech about academic freedom at the university there. Entering the hall where
I was to give my speech, I was greeted -- if that's the word -- by a raucous
protest organized by a professor and self-styled Bolshevik, Dana Cloud. Forty
protesters hoisted placards high in the air and robotically chanted "Down With
Horowitz," "Racist Go Home," and "No More Witch-hunts."
Fortunately, a spokesperson for the administration was
present to threaten the disrupters with arrest if they continued on this course.
(The threat was administered very carefully, with three formal warnings before
any action could be taken.) This quieted the crowd enough that I could begin my
talk, which proceeded without further serious incident.
Even so, there were occasional heckles and demonstrative
cheers from the group when I mentioned the name of Sami Al-Arian ( whose
organization, Palestine Islamic Jihad, is responsible for the deaths of more
than 100 innocent victims in the Middle East), Black Panther Huey Newton
(convicted of killing an Oakland police officer in 1967, although he was
eventually released on a technicality), or when I uttered the word "communist"
-- even though I did so to remind the audience that communists killed 120
million people in the last century trying to implement Marx's ideas.
Among the organizations participating in these outbursts
were the International Socialist Organization, whose goal is the establishment
of a "dictatorship of the proletariat" in the United States; Iranians for Peace
and Justice, supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas; and Campus Progress, the
unofficial college arm of the Democratic Party.
One of the local members of Campus Progress had
written a column in the campus newspaper attacking me in advance of my talk, and
defending Sami Al-Arian as a victim of political persecution. The conservative
students who invited me to the University of Texas told me that organizations
such as the Muslim Students Association routinely join with College Democrats in
protests against the state of Israel.
At the end of the evening, Prof. Cloud stepped up
to the microphone to ask a question, which was actually a little speech. Even
though the protocol for such occasions restricts audience participants from
making their own speeches, I did her the courtesy she tried to deny me by
letting her talk.
She presented herself as a devoted teacher and
mother who was obviously harmless. Then she accused me of being a McCarthyite
menace. Disregarding the facts I had laid out in my talk -- that I have publicly
defended the right of University of Colorado's radical professor Ward Churchill
to hold reprehensible views and not be fired for them, and that I supported the
leftist dean of the law school at UC Irvine when his appointment was withdrawn
for political reasons -- she accused me of whipping up a "witch-hunting
hysteria" that made her and her faculty comrades feel threatened.
When Ms. Cloud finished, I pointed out that
organizing mobs to scream epithets at invited speakers fit the category of
"McCarthyite" a lot more snugly than my support for a pluralism of views in
university classrooms. I gestured toward the armed officers in the room -- the
university had assigned six or seven to keep the peace -- and introduced my own
bodyguard, who regularly accompanies other conservative speakers when they visit
universities. In the past, I felt uncomfortable about taking protection to a
college campus until a series of physical attacks at universities persuaded me
that such precautions were necessary. (When I spoke at the University of Texas
two years ago, Ms. Cloud and her disciples had to be removed by the police in
order for the talk to proceed.)
I don't know of a single leftist speaker among the
thousands who visit campuses every term who has been obstructed or attacked by
conservative students, who are too decent and too tolerant to do that. The
entire evening in Texas reminded me of the late Orianna Fallaci's observation
that what we are facing in the post-9/11 world is not a "clash of
civilizations," but a clash of civilization versus barbarism.
Mr. Horowitz is the author, most recently,
of "One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America's Top Colleges Are
Indoctrinating Students and Undermining Our Democracy" (Crown Forum,
I keep hoping against hope that one day free speech will be restored to our
university system. I do so more because I am an eternal optimist than
because of any real expectation it is going to happen.
Too bad -- both for the university system and for the
GUEST COMMENTARY BY "FERRIER"
I have no idea who "Ferrier" is, or even whether it is a real name. All
I know is that it is the ID being used by a commenter at www.politico.com.
Glenn Thrush of politico.com has a blog up about Nancy Pelosi's
unbelievably ludicrous claim that, while she was the ranking
Democrat on the house intelligence committee and privvy to every
briefing about our interrogation techniques, she didn't know waterboarding
was being used.
Not surprisingly, there are hundreds of comments about this remarkable
claim. The vast majority call her out as the liar she is.
But the best of them all was Ferrier's. And that is why I am putting it
up as a guest commentary:
Posted By: Ferrier | April 23, 2009 at
Does Ferrier nail it, or what?
This insomnial interlude comes to us from www.tmz.com:
Barack-a-Bye Baby -- Obama Advisor Nods
Barack Obama wants change -- his top economic advisor just wants a nap.
Just moments ago, Lawrence Summers, Director of the White House's National
Economic Council, was caught dozing off during a meeting with credit
I guess it must have been the low interest rate........
JANET NAPOLITANO: IN CHARGE OF PROTECTING US
Janet Napolitano is now running the Department of Homeland Security. To
some degree, therefore, she is what stands between us and domestic
So how is she doing? Here's an opinion from Canada's National
Post. See if you agree:
The border for dummies
National Post editorial
Somodevilla/Getty ImagesU.S. Secretary of Homeland
Security, Janet Napolitano, in January 2009.
Can someone please tell
us how U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano got her job? She
appears to be about as knowledgeable about border issues as a late-night radio
In an interview broadcast Monday on the CBC, Ms.
Napolitano attempted to justify her call for stricter border security on the
premise that "suspected or known terrorists" have entered the U. S. across the
Canadian border, including the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack.
All the 9/11 terrorists, of course, entered the
United States directly from overseas. The notion that some arrived via Canada is
a myth that briefly popped up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and was then
Informed of her error, Ms. Napolitano blustered:
"I can't talk to that. I can talk about the future. And here's the future. The
future is we have borders."
Just what does that mean, exactly?
Just a few weeks ago, Ms. Napolitano equated
Canada's border to Mexico's, suggesting they deserved the same treatment. Mexico
is engulfed in a drug war that left more than 5,000 dead last year, and which is
spawning a spillover kidnapping epidemic in Arizona. So many Mexicans enter the
United States illegally that a multi-billion-dollar barrier has been built from
Texas to California to keep them out.
In Canada, on the other hand, the main problem is
congestion resulting from cross-border trade. Not quite the same thing, is
Maybe, instead of declassifying selected documents relating to our
interrogation techniques for political gain, the Obama administration should
release the transcript of Napolitano's confirmation hearing when she was
asked what she knew about homeland security.
Look at the bright side; it is bound to be an extremely short