American Elephants


Liz Cheney takes on the “torture” controversy and Norah McDonald as well, and wins. by The Elephant's Child

Liz Cheney, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, is here interviewed on MSNBC, on the interrogation memos and the question of “torture.” Norah McDonald gives a wonderful example of media bias. She can’t quite believe that anyone would have the gall to disagree with President Obama. For an example of disagreeing with a president, see “Afterburner“, a video we posted earlier. Hilarious.



The West Coast Plot and “criminal prosecutions:” A study in political inexperience. by The Elephant's Child

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“The Obama administration is confused.” writes Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard.

The president says harsh interrogation techniques “do not make us safer,” but his top intelligence adviser says the same techniques produced “high-value information” that gave the U.S. government “a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.

Obama White House officials routinely boast that theirs is “the most transparent administration in history,” but then they release Justice Department memos about the interrogations in which the assessments confirming the value of those techniques are blacked out.

Attorney General Eric Holder tells a congressional committee that he is unaware of memos about the information gleaned in harsh interrogations that have been requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney, but his boss, the president, not only knows about those memos but also describes their contents to members of Congress.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the administration could support an independent investigation of interrogation techniques based on the 9/11 Commission.  Then he says that Obama decided long ago that such an investigation would be too political.

In the National Journal Stuart Taylor Jr. says “The review should start by taking seriously the views of the people with the most-detailed knowledge.  They say that the coercive interrogation program was highly effective.

Michael Hayden, Bush’s last CIA director and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey recently wrote, “As late as 2006, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.” Former CIA Director George Tenent has said,”I know that this program has saved lives.  I know we’ve disrupted plots.  I know this program is worth more than [what] the FBI, the [CIA], and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.” Former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has said, “We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened.”

Marc Thiessen notes that: Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’

to use East Asian East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast.  The memo explains that “information obtained from KSM also led to  the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the ‘Second Wave’.”In other words, without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York.

“Admiral Dennis Blair, the top intelligence official in the United States” says Stephen Hayes,

believes that the coercive interrogation methods outlawed by his boss produced “high-value information” and gave the U.S. government “a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” He included those assessments in a letter distributed inside the intelligence community last Thursday, the same day Obama declassified and released portions of Justice Department memos setting out guidelines for those interrogations.

That letter from Blair served as the basis for a public statement that his office put out that same day.  But the DNI’s conclusions about the results of coercive interrogations — in effect, that they worked — were taken out of Blair’s public statement. …

The letter included this language: “From 2002 through 2006 when the use of these techniques ended, the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities both to Executive Branch policy makers and to members of Congress and received permission granted by “members of Congress” — permission that came from members of Obama’s own party.

Dick Cheney: “This is the first time that I can recall that we’ve had an administration come in, take power, and then suggest using the power of the government against their predecessors, from a legal standpoint.  Criminal prosecution of lawyers in the Justice Department whose opinions they disagreed with on an impor”crimitant issue.  Criminal prosecutions.  When was the last time that happened?”

Porter J. Goss, former CIA director: “Since leaving my post as CIA director almost three years ago, I have remained largely silent on the public stage. I am speaking out now because I feel our government has crossed the red line between properly protecting our national security and trying to gain partisan political advantage.  We can’t have a secret intelligence service if we keep giving away all the secrets.”

It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.  In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.

The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.

  • We understood what the CIA was doing.
  • We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
  • We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
  • On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.

Should the winner of a  presidential election attempt to use the enormous powers of his office to investigate and prosecute his political adversaries? Will this begin a cycle of retribution in which policy disputes are to be criminalized?   And will this tear the country apart?



Transparency, truthtelling and torture. by The Elephant's Child
April 25, 2009, 6:03 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Law, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , , ,

Today’s tremendous, essential, must-read article is from Noemi Emery in the Weekly Standard.

Some Democrats, from the White House on down, are pushing the idea of a “truth commission,” à la South Africa, to deal with the “harsh measures” used by the Bush administration in interrogating al Qaeda detainees.  Good.  Let’s have lots of truthtelling.  Please bring it on. [...]

Also dropped down the memory hole — along with the names of all the Democrats who thought Saddam was a menace who cried out for removal — is what the ambience was like in late 2001 and 2002, when fears of anthrax and suitcase bombs ran rampant, and people on all sides tried to seem tough.  Let’s tell the truth about all the liberals who went on record supporting real torture, not to mention the Democrats in Congress, when it was cool to want to seem tough on our enemies, who couldn’t be too warlike.  Then war and tough measures stopped being cool, and “world opinion” became more important.  Nothing like statements under oath to revive ancient memories! And rewind the tapes.

Let’s get at the truth too about the word “torture,” which to different people, means different things.  Some think “torture” means standing on the 98th floor of a burning skyscraper and realizing you have a choice between jumping and being incinerated.  Some think torture is being crushed when a building implodes around you.  Some think torture is not thinking you might drown for several minutes, but looking at burning buildings on television and knowing that people you love are inside them.  They remember that being crushed, incinerated, or killed in a jump from the 98th story happened to almost 3,000 blameless Americans (as well as a number of foreigners), and that 125 Pentagon employees were killed at their desks, while many survivors suffered terrible burns.  They think the choice between stopping this from happening again by slapping around or scaring the hell out of a cluster of brigands, or leaving the brigands alone and letting it happen again, is a no-brainer.

I remember the members of Congress standing, quaking, on the steps of the Capitol building and spontaneously singing “God Bless America” in quavering voices, a bipartisan moment not seen since.  Nancy Pelosi has conveniently forgotten what she was told about interrogation, and many Democrats also conveniently suffer from selective memory.  Lets have a truthtelling session.  After all, this was supposed to be the most transparent administration in history.

Do read the whole thing. My excerpts don’t begin to capture the whole article.  Noemie Emery is a gem.



MSM Deathwatch by American Elephant
April 25, 2009, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Media Bias, News | Tags: , ,

The New York Times is now $1.26 billion in the hole.



American voters think that Obama damages national security. by The Elephant's Child
April 25, 2009, 12:59 am
Filed under: National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

A new Rasmussen survey suggests that the Democrats have overreached with their obsessive interest in the waterboarding of the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  Voters are just unimpressed with the “torture” theme.

58 percent of voters say that the Obama administration’s release of Department of Justice memos “endangers the national security of the United States.”  Less than half as many think that it “helps America’s image abroad.”

70 percent say that America’s legal system either does a good job of weighing security needs against individual rights, or that it puts too much emphasis on individual rights at the expense of national security.  Only a bare 21 percent say that the legal system is “too concerned about protecting national security.

58 percent said that the Obama administration should not investigate the Bush administration on interrogations, while only 28 percent wanted investigations.  Only 22 percent of independents wanted investigations.  Even democrats, by a tiny margin felt that the release damaged national security.  Independents by an overwhelming majority believe Obama damaged national security — 65 percent to 23 percent.

Americans in every demographic are more inclined to believe that the legal system worries way too much about individual rights rather than national security.

This may suggest that Obama’s apology tour may not have been especially well-received.

Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay is now disapproved of by a 46 to 36 margin, with declining support for Obama’s actions.



Here come the Uighurs, we just don’t know where yet. by The Elephant's Child
April 25, 2009, 12:19 am
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

After the Inauguration, President Obama was very anxious to appear to “hit the ground running.”  He hastened to sign all sorts of Executive Orders to undo whatever George Bush did. Believing that one reason for anti-Americanism in the world, was international disapproval  of our detention center at Guantanamo Bay, he ordered Guantanamo to be closed within a year.  Unfortunately, he had no idea what to do with the detainees.

We have released many of the detainees, those who were thought to be less dangerous.  It has been widely stated that those who are left are the “worst of the worst.”  Aside from the fulminations of the human rights crowd, and the not very believable claims of the detainees themselves through their court-assigned lawyers; there have been many visitors to the detention center who describe the place as a model prison run with extreme care for the rights of the detainees.

The Uighurs are Chinese Muslim jihadists, trained in explosives and assassination tactics, and anxious enough to be trained that they traveled from China to Afghanistan to become more effectively lethal.  They were trained by Abdul Haq, a member of al Qaeda’s inner circle.  They were sent to Guantanamo in 2002 after being captured in Pakistan.  Some former U.S. officials have said that government information indicates that the Uighurs may pose a danger if released.  Other officials and human rights organizations insist they pose no threat to Americans.

They cannot be returned to China; they oppose the Chinese government, and presumably the Chinese government returns the favor.  The position of “detainee” is apparently incomprehensible.  (The idea is to keep them from returning to jihadism and killing Americans).

Guantanamo Bay was chosen and developed as the best possible solution to a difficult problem, after a great deal of searching and study.   I find the administration’s exquisitely delicate feelings for the opinions of European journalists a little hard to stomach.

The Uighurs are to be released in this country, probably in Virginia suburbs where some Uighur immigrants from China have settled.  The thought is that they should be near others who speak their language and understand their customs.  I don’t know if anyone has asked the immigrants if they want the detainees.

This is now Obama’s problem, and his risk.




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