Thursday, 23 April 2009


Ken Berwitz

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 Intelligence.

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 country."

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 techniques.

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 administration.

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, 2001.


Ken Berwitz

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 playing it.


(Thanks Russ, for sending it my way.)


Ken Berwitz

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 referring to.

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 I thought.

free` I don't understand, if water boarding is torture, why does it matter what info was gathered from it? I don't see why it matters. My personal opinion is that it is torture and i am OK with using it on KNOWN terrorists but not suspected terrorists. (04/23/09)


Ken Berwitz

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 anonymity.

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 April 8.

He was held hostage in a lifeboat for five days and was freed when U.S. Navy snipers killed three of his captors.

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 now. 

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 business.

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 the better.

Then let them cry and moan about it.  That, apparently, is the extent of what they are willing to do.

This cannot go on any longer.  Period.


Ken Berwitz

Here are two videos for you to watch.  I pulled them from

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.


Video of the Day


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 U.S.



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? 

free` Another excellent posting. To bad the MSM refuses to report on this. Thanks Ken. (04/23/09)


Ken Berwitz

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 interrogation

By 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.


Ken Berwitz

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

Taliban advance eastward, threaten Islamabad

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 this?

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 yet.

Zeke Subject: Obama wants to deal with the MODERATE Time: 1240538535 Obama wants to deal with the MODERATE Taliban. The EXTREMIST Taliban hang people upside down, and then cut off their heads. The MODERATE Taliban are more compassionate -- the victims are not hung upside down, before being beheaded. ()


Ken Berwitz

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":

Campus Leftists Don't Believe in Free Speech  
By David Horowitz
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, 2009).

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 country.


Ken Berwitz

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

Glenn Thrush of 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:

So let me get this right. Obama has ordered the killing of teenage pirates and authorized military strikes on dozens or more of suspected terrorists leaving them dead or maimed, and that's fine with everyone. But we dunk some captured terrorists and get some water up their nose (that leads to savings American lives) and everyone is screaming and Pelosi and other politicians are running for cover and lying about what/when they knew? What is wrong with this picture? Have we gone crazy? With this kind of cowardice from our so-called leaders it won't we long until we're hit again. Sad that our country has deteriorated so far in such a short time.

Posted By: Ferrier | April 23, 2009 at 08:41 PM 

Does Ferrier nail it, or what?

free` well put. (04/23/09)


Ken Berwitz

This insomnial interlude comes to us from

Barack-a-Bye Baby -- Obama Advisor Nods Off

Barack Obama wants change -- his top economic advisor just wants a nap.

Barack Obama

Just moments ago, Lawrence Summers, Director of the White House's National Economic Council, was caught dozing off during a meeting with
credit card officials.

I guess it must have been the low interest rate........


Ken Berwitz

Janet Napolitano is now running the Department of Homeland Security.  To some degree, therefore, she is what stands between us and domestic terrorism.

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 board

National Post  Published: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, in January 2009.Chip 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 call-in yahoo.

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 quickly debunked.

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 it?

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 document.


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