Having watched President Obama’s weird 100th-day-in-office press conference celebration, it is becoming increasingly self-evident that this young man is in over his head. Mr. Obama began his speech by reminding Americans to “cover your mouth when you cough” and “keep your hands washed” — silly recommendations more apt from the mother on Lassie than the commander-in-chief. Then he was asked about torture and things got interesting.
The question came from Mark Knoller of CBS and the transcript goes as follows:
Knoller: Thank you, sir. … Did you read the documents recently referred to by former Vice President Cheney and others saying that the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” not only protected the nation but saved lives?
And if part of the United States were under imminent threat, could you envision yourself ever authorizing the use of those enhanced interrogation techniques?
Obama: I have read the documents. Now they have not been officially declassified and released. And so I don’t want to go to the details of them. But here’s what I can tell you: that the public reports and the public justifications for these techniques, which is that we got information from these individuals that were subjected to these techniques, doesn’t answer the core question.
Which is, could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques? And it doesn’t answer the broader question, are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?
So when I made the decision to release these memos and when I made the decision to bar these practices, this was based on consultation with my entire national security team, and based on my understanding that ultimately I will be judged as commander-in-chief on how safe I’m keeping the American people.
That’s the responsibility I wake up with and it’s the responsibility I go to sleep with. And so I will do whatever is required to keep the American people safe. But I am absolutely convinced that the best way I can do that is to make sure that we are not taking short cuts that undermine who we are.
And there have been no circumstances during the course of this first 100 days in which I have seen information that would make me second guess the decision that I have made.
There are a few things worth noting here. First, the only reason these documents have not been “declassified and released” is that President Obama refuses to declassify and release them. Obama released the memos that described the methods used, but blacked out the pages that describe their effectiveness. Who’s politicizing intelligence now?
Second, Obama does not “want to go to the details of them” because they would likely prove precisely what Dick Cheney is saying they would prove: that these methods saved American skyscrapers and American lives.
Third, when Obama says these memos do not answer “the core question” of whether or not “we got information from these individuals” and then contends the core questions are whether or not we “could … have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques” and whether or not “[we are] safer as a consequence,” he is wrong on three counts: 1) the core question is what information we received from these individuals and it is frightening that he doesn’t realize this; 2) the memos explain in great detail that waterboarding was done to three people as a last resort; and 3) the answer to the true “core question” — what did we learn and what did we thwart? — already answers Obama’s “broader question” of whether or not these methods made us safer. This is the height of disingenuousness.