On the front page of friday's Akron Beacon Journal, there was a story under the headline "Bush's policies reversed," about President Obama issuing executive orders reversing President Bush's foreign policies regarding terrorism (and I predict there won't be even one charge from the media that Obama is acting as a "unitary executive.").
The Beacon Journal triumphantly relays the story like this:
President Barack Obama sent the world a clear message Thursday that he's changing course from the Bush years, ordering an end to some of the most controversial tools used against suspected terrorists and launching high-profile diplomacy in the Middle East and other hot spots around the globe. Obama signed executive orders that commanded the closing of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, outlawed aggressive interrogation techniques such as waterboarding on suspected terrorists and shut down secret CIA prisons....Obama said his actions would make Americans safer, restore a tradition of recognizing the rights even of suspected terrorists to be treated humanely and start winning back respect overrseas.
When I read these media reports, I always feel the obligation to relate "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey would say. What makes the mainstream media biased is not so much what they say as what they leave out.
For instance, on waterboarding, that technique hasn't been used since 2003. Even then, it was only used on three high-level Al Qaeda prisoners, with one being Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11. But the way the media reports it, you'd think it was standard practice, as if the guards say to the Gitmo detainees, "okay, terrorist, here's your jumpsuit, now report to room 203 for your daily waterboarding schedule." Sorry, but that's not accurate. I'm against torture in general, but I just can't bring myself to disapprove of using harsh interrogation techniques on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after 9/11, when he killed 3,000 innocent Americans. KSM recently boasted of the 30 worldwide terrorist attacks he carried out. Gaining information from him could save hundreds or thousands of lives. Furthermore, waterboarding KSM (for 90 seconds) helped authorities capture at least six major terrorists. So, I'd say that causing KSM 90 seconds of discomfort DID save innocent lives. I've felt more than 90 seconds of discomfort at the dentist's office. Maybe I should turn my dentist in as an international criminal.
“The most important source of intelligence we had after 9/11 came from the interrogation of high-value detainees,” Robert Grenier, former chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, told The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. He called KSM “the most valuable of the high-value detainees, because he had operational knowledge.”
And if waterboarding is such torture, why did we allow our own Navy Seals to be waterboarded as part of their training ? What, we can waterboard our own young men, but not KSM ?
So before you anti-Bushies get TOO righteous and indignant, I'd ask, what's worse, KSM being in discomfort for 90 seconds or the Sears Tower blowing up ? Or perhaps, as I said in a previous post, you think this is all just a game of Tiddlywinks, with no real consequences. It isn't. I think a little perspective is in order.
Let's move on to Obama ending the "secret CIA prisons." The media reports this as a Bush policy, but it is actually a counterterrorism policy known as "rendition", started by Bill Clinton in the mid-90's. Funny how nobody had a problem with it until Bush continued the policy that was already in place. The rendition program started because Clinton didn't want terrorists brought to the U.S. due to our cumbersome legal system (which it appears is exactly what Obama IS going to do with his executive orders - bring terrorists into the U.S. legal system):
Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the CIA who resigned from the agency in 2004, told Thursday's issue of the newsweekly Die Zeit that the US administration had been looking in the mid-1990s for a way to combat the terrorist threat and circumvent the cumbersome US legal system. "President Clinton, his national security advisor Sandy Berger and his terrorism advisor Richard Clark ordered the CIA in the autumn of 1995 to destroy Al-Qaeda," Scheuer said, in comments published in German. "We asked the president what we should do with the people we capture. Clinton said 'That's up to you'." Scheuer, who headed the CIA unit that tracked Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from 1996 to 1999, said that he developed and led the "renditions" program, which he said included moving prisoners without due legal process to countries without strict human rights protections.
Yet the sorry mainstream media always, always, always refers to rendition as a Bush policy, and acts like Bush is an international criminal because of it. But not a peep about Bill Clinton. No, no, no. HE'S a Democrat, that's the reason. What other reason could there possibly be ?
The change that Bush made to the rendition program was to have the U.S. start holding terrorists in places like Gitmo and Afghanistan, instead of allowing only foreign bodies to hold them, as occurred under Clinton.
I'm indifferent to closing Gitmo, because closing Gitmo isn't the issue. The real issue is, what do we do with the 245 detainees being held there ? Obama hasn't provided that answer yet. According to the Beacon Journal, Obama has set up a task force and given them 30 days to decide what to do with current and future detainees. Obama has also suspended the military commission trials for 120 days, even though Obama currently has no alternative in place for that either.
The media may be exultant about what Obama has done, but the real questions haven't been answered yet, they've just been placed in limbo.
I had to get that off my chest. Now, as part of the new unity, I'll make fun of Bush (my own Fairness Doctrine, comrades). Many of you seem to think that because I criticize the media and Democrats, that it automatically makes me some kind of Bush clone. But as Obama would say, that's the old partisan politics (well, no, Obama would only say that to keep people from disagreeing with Obama. Barack is a clever one, alright. Especially since the media never calls him on anything. Imagine what the media would have done to Bush if he pursued right-wing policies and called them "post-partisan." Crucifixion).
Now, here are some classic Bushisms, because I AM post-partisan (don't y'all agree ?):
'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'
'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'
'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'
'The future will be better tomorrow.'
'We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.'
'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.'
'We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe . We are a part of Europe.'
'A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.'
'I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them.'
'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'
'For NASA, space is still a high priority.'
'Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.'
'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
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