Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Torture & The Democrats
Last week in a press conference President Obama let slip for the first time that an investigation into the use of "enhanced interrogation" by policy makers in the Bush administration was a possibility depending on a decision made by the Attorney General. This is a nearly unprecedented approach whereby a current administration uses its power to scrutinize the decisions made by a previous administration with the possible intent of criminal prosecution.
I believe this very well could be a disaster for the Obama presidency.
To his credit, the President seems VERY reluctant to chart this course of action knowing where such an investigation could lead and how it could impact his ability to enact legislation he seems commited to pursuing. Until recently, Obama has consistently deflected the question by repeatedly stating he was concentrating on moving forward rather than looking back and spending the time & energy needed for such an investigation to tackle the large problems currently facing our country.
A recent ABC news poll shows only 49% of Americans support his torture ban and 53% of the country supports his having released the classified CIA memos which brought this issue to the for front. In effect, its a 50 - 50 split and hardly the political numbers needed to take such a move.
So, why the sudden change by the President? The truth is that there are a number of supporters on the far left side of President Obama's base that have been pushing this issue. There is a strong desire in those circles to punish President Bush and his entourage . The image of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, and Rice riding into the sunset and not held accountable literally drives them crazy and they will have blood.
But, as the saying goes, "Careful what you wish for, you just may get it."
These angry voices need to cool their heels and take a lesson from history. It was roughly 20 years ago when another angry group of Democrats thought they had President Ronald Reagan and his entourage in their gun sights. They felt Reagan and a number of intelligence officers had circumvented the law to fund the Contras fighting the Sandanistas in Nicaragua. In the end, a number of those involved were found to have broken the law but but the accused ended up winning in the court of American public opinion. The heroic efforts of Oliver North, John Poindexter, and CIA Director William Casey were laid bare and even as they were charged on various counts, they were applauded by the American people...much to the chagrin of the Democrats.
Its with that scenario in mind that I offer a few thoughts for my Democratic friends to consider:
* Although its popular to say at dinner parties over a glass of Cabernet that "torture doesn't work" when Pandora's Box is finally opened and the memos and evidence come out, it will most likely show that lives were saved and plots were thwarted by such policies. There will be disagreements with that evidence and accusations and recriminations will fly back and forth, but there will be enough support for the policies to exonerate the actions. Both former CIA Director George Tenent as well as Former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell have released statements stating that there are people walking around alive today because of these policies. The Democrats are kidding themselves about how angry the American people are going to be when those details come to light.
* Many Democratic members of congress knew full well about the policies being implemented so when Speaker Nancy Polosi starts stating that she supports a "Truth Commission" to investigate Bush era policies, she better be ready to explain as George Will says, "how a 10 year veteran of the House Intelligence Committee is shocked and surprised about what was going on."
* Despite the Republicans minority status right now, the President is still going to need G.O.P. support for his rather ambitious social agenda. He will expend a lot of political capital to mount an investigation and will receive almost nothing in return for it save headaches and frustrations.
Although we are a nation of laws, the American people love the Rebel with A Cause. If the minority of Democrats, led by Senator Patrick Leahy, get their way and an investigation is mounted, my prediction is that more than a few "Jack Bauers" will emerge. The nameless, faceless men and women whose stories are rarely told but toil night and day to keep Americans safe will come to the surface...
...and it will drive the Dems crazy!!!