Since Obama released the torture memos last week there has been a lot of Monday Morning Quarterbacking and analysis of it all and I doubt my own two cents will matter much in the whole scheme of things.
We've all digressed into the merits of torture and whether or not it works, and what may or may not have been gained or lost by the release of the memos. We've even argued about whether or not it's "torture" or "extreme interrogation." I posted my opinion that I thought releasing the memos was a big mistake, and I'm probably repeating some of that here.
I've spent much of my time today reading opinions of the whole thing and on the issue of torture in general. Memeorandum has been filled with articles and postings on this topic.
What I want to do, for the moment, is to focus on the issue of the future rather than the act of torture. To me, what the release of these memos does is to absolutely cripple and handicap our military and the CIA from doing their jobs. And what do you think the result of that will be?
David Ignatius at the Washington Post wrote:
"One veteran counterterrorism operative says that agents in the field are already being more careful about using the legal findings that authorize covert action. An example is the so-called "risk of capture" interview that takes place in the first hour after a terrorism suspect is grabbed. This used to be the key window of opportunity, in which the subject was questioned aggressively and his cellphone contacts and "pocket litter" were exploited quickly.
"Now, field officers are more careful. They want guidance from headquarters. They need legal advice. I'm told that in the case of an al-Qaeda suspect seized in Iraq several weeks ago, the CIA didn't even try to interrogate him. The agency handed him over to the U.S. military.
"Agency officials also worry about the effect on foreign intelligence services that share secrets with the United States in a process politely known as "liaison." A former official who remains in close touch with key Arab allies such as Egypt and Jordan warns: 'There is a growing concern that the risk is too high to do the things with America they've done in the past.'"
His assertion that agents are "slow-rolling" isn't corroborated anywhere else and so I can't actually verity what he is saying except by my common sense.
So yeah, if I'm an agent, or a soldier, and I know that political whims shift every four or eight years, why am I going to expose myself to possible legal retaliation based on a political stunt that might come down the pike? I capture a guy in the field and rather than put myself at risk and interrogate him, let him go; turn him over to someone else... pass the buck and the responsibility to someone else.
Meanwhile, our nation becomes more vulnerable.
Another problem I see with the release of the memos is this. Our enemies got them too and they will be used against us. They'll be copied, photoshopped, reproduced, altered, and no telling what they'll say by the time the enemy gets through with them.
Yet another problem: our very own military undergoes Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training (SERE). This training includes everything the Gitmo Gang endured. They are waterboarded, deprived of sleep, forced to stand in heat and in cold, dropped in remote locations and expected to find their way out...probably even saw a caterpillar or two. None of this compares to what the North Vietnamese did to Leo Thorsness, John McCain, or any of our other POWs, by the way.
I'm not saying what they went through at Gitmo was torture or it wasn't - that's not even my point. My point is whatever was in those memos, our enemies will train and prepare for. And they will now KNOW that there is a limit to whatever they must endure and that no lasting harm will come to them.
In other words, the simple version is this.
Obama's release of these memos is devastating. He has declared open season on America. He has broadcast our weakness, our limits, and our secrets to the entire worlds. Why? Why would he do it?
The only answer so far has so the world will like us better and forgive us. That, and he promised transparency. If he wants transparency, open all the freakin' memos up, then. Show everyone about the lives that were saved from foiled plots. Show everyone the details on the plot to attack Los Angeles. If all he wants is transparency, throw the whole damn book out there! Otherwise, it's just a political stunt. It's crap.
That is total crap. Total weakness and we are so screwed. So screwed.
Torture Memo Release = Big Mistake