"Closer to 9-11" Is a Pretty Damned Thin Ethical Excuse
Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002 In Meetings, Spy Panels' Chiefs Did Not Protest, Officials Say
By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, December 9, 2007; A01
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.
Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.
"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.
. . . "In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic," said one U.S. official present during the early briefings. "But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.' "
If "in fairness" actually means anything, then what's fair to decriers is fair to deniers.
The presidential gang was (and is) loaded with go-gettem types like Addington, Cheney and the missing-but-still heard voices of Wolfowitz, Gonzales (and the list goes on). They are determined, in a time when that determination is not entirely in their hands, to prevent another attack on their watch.
If this flawed president has a single line left as he exits stage-right, it will be "They never hit us again on my watch." Knowing that we will certainly be hit again somehow and someday, we can expect to hear from this ex-president in 'gotcha' tones.
No matter that he will have destroyed us constitutionally in order to save us physically. America seems to believe that's a good enough bargain.
But it quiets the opposition to find that those who oppose were those who agreed . . . and maybe that's the primary difficulty of taking (or even defining) a moral high-ground these days.
Everyone's hands are just too bloodied by their stand on the war, their umbilical attachment to K-Street or the war-profiteering going on in their own districts.