Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 27, 2009

Fighting to Defeat a Losing Bill?

The Hill reports:

Advocates for manufacturers and small businesses are launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against climate change legislation in states represented by senators likely to determine the bill’s fate.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), groups that have historically leaned Republican, are targeting the House Waxman-Markey bill as a threat to the economy because it would raise energy costs.

“Our message to senators is that the Waxman-Markey bill is an ‘anti-jobs, anti-energy’ piece of legislation,” said Jay Timmons, NAM executive vice president.

Perhaps they know something the rest of us don’t or they suspect that as health-care reform has ground to a halt lawmakers may show renewed interest in cap-and-trade. But really, does anyone think Congress is going to pass, let alone vote on, this anytime soon? Blue Dogs in the House were left whimpering after being forced to cast a tough vote with no appeal in their home districts. Senators from energy-producing and/or Red States show no interest in the bill. Sen. Robert Byrd from coal-producing West Virginia has denounced it.

Interest groups often need to prove their relevance and show their members all the ads and mailings they are putting out to advance their cause. But on this one, business groups might save their money for the fight whose conclusion is not yet certain–healthcare reform. On cap-and-trade, I think it’s safe to say there aren’t 60 senators, and maybe not 50, to vote for it.

The Hill reports:

Advocates for manufacturers and small businesses are launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against climate change legislation in states represented by senators likely to determine the bill’s fate.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), groups that have historically leaned Republican, are targeting the House Waxman-Markey bill as a threat to the economy because it would raise energy costs.

“Our message to senators is that the Waxman-Markey bill is an ‘anti-jobs, anti-energy’ piece of legislation,” said Jay Timmons, NAM executive vice president.

Perhaps they know something the rest of us don’t or they suspect that as health-care reform has ground to a halt lawmakers may show renewed interest in cap-and-trade. But really, does anyone think Congress is going to pass, let alone vote on, this anytime soon? Blue Dogs in the House were left whimpering after being forced to cast a tough vote with no appeal in their home districts. Senators from energy-producing and/or Red States show no interest in the bill. Sen. Robert Byrd from coal-producing West Virginia has denounced it.

Interest groups often need to prove their relevance and show their members all the ads and mailings they are putting out to advance their cause. But on this one, business groups might save their money for the fight whose conclusion is not yet certain–healthcare reform. On cap-and-trade, I think it’s safe to say there aren’t 60 senators, and maybe not 50, to vote for it.

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J.S. Mill and Burma

Van Jackson, founder and executive editor of Asia Chronicle, has written a column titled “Principles impede progress for Burma,” attacking those—like a colleague of mine here at the Heritage Foundation—who have the temerity to argue that U.S. policy toward Burma should be based on principles. Jackson, by contrast, prefers the meaningless criterion of effectiveness devoid of any actual objectives.

In his pursuit of steely-eyed utilitarianism, Jackson makes the amusing claim that “British philosopher John Stuart Mill would turn over in his grave at the idea of allowing such a failed policy to continue.” Jackson appears to know just enough about Mill to be dangerous, i.e., that Mill was a utilitarian. True indeed—at least until Mill suffered from a nervous breakdown at the age of 20 and turned to the poetry of the Romantics as a relief from the dust-dry pursuit of utility. Partisans of policy without principle might take a lesson from that.

But we needn’t rely on Mill’s love of Wordsworth to make the case. One of Mill’s greatest essays was “A Few Words on Non-Intervention,” originally published in 1859. What might Mill have said about the idea that the U.S. should engage its way to good relations with a lawless dictatorship?

“To suppose . . . the same rules of international morality, can obtain between one civilized nation and another, and between civilised nations and barbarians, is a grave error, and one which no statesman can fall into, however it may be with those who, from a safe and unresponsible position, criticize statesmen. . . . [T]he rules of ordinary inter-national morality imply reciprocity. But barbarians will not reciprocate.”

Reciprocity is fundamental to diplomacy, and to international affairs more broadly. But reciprocity cannot reliably exist if one side is not governed by law. And that is why engaging with dictators is a recipe for diplomatic failure, as well as a disgrace to decent principles.

Van Jackson, founder and executive editor of Asia Chronicle, has written a column titled “Principles impede progress for Burma,” attacking those—like a colleague of mine here at the Heritage Foundation—who have the temerity to argue that U.S. policy toward Burma should be based on principles. Jackson, by contrast, prefers the meaningless criterion of effectiveness devoid of any actual objectives.

In his pursuit of steely-eyed utilitarianism, Jackson makes the amusing claim that “British philosopher John Stuart Mill would turn over in his grave at the idea of allowing such a failed policy to continue.” Jackson appears to know just enough about Mill to be dangerous, i.e., that Mill was a utilitarian. True indeed—at least until Mill suffered from a nervous breakdown at the age of 20 and turned to the poetry of the Romantics as a relief from the dust-dry pursuit of utility. Partisans of policy without principle might take a lesson from that.

But we needn’t rely on Mill’s love of Wordsworth to make the case. One of Mill’s greatest essays was “A Few Words on Non-Intervention,” originally published in 1859. What might Mill have said about the idea that the U.S. should engage its way to good relations with a lawless dictatorship?

“To suppose . . . the same rules of international morality, can obtain between one civilized nation and another, and between civilised nations and barbarians, is a grave error, and one which no statesman can fall into, however it may be with those who, from a safe and unresponsible position, criticize statesmen. . . . [T]he rules of ordinary inter-national morality imply reciprocity. But barbarians will not reciprocate.”

Reciprocity is fundamental to diplomacy, and to international affairs more broadly. But reciprocity cannot reliably exist if one side is not governed by law. And that is why engaging with dictators is a recipe for diplomatic failure, as well as a disgrace to decent principles.

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Not Out of Sympathy

Gallup shows Obama’s approval reaching an all-time low of 50 percent. And support for ObamaCare has disappeared. According to Rasmussen, 53 percent oppose, 43 percent approve. Other polls show a bleaker picture. Democrats, before the Kennedy funeral has even begun, are using his death to hawk ObamaCare and guilt wavering Democrats into getting on the bandwagon.

Other than displaying the poor taste we have grown accustomed to when liberal icons pass away, this seems a sign of desperation and silliness. Will independent voters rally to the cause of government-run health care because the liberals’ leader has passed away? Is Blanche Lincoln, who is facing a tough re-election bid, going to go to the floor to announce she’s changed her mind and will take one for Teddy on the “public option”? It seems far-fetched. That is not to say the arm-twisting won’t intensify and the speechifying get progressively more cloying.

But the problem for Obama is that only the far Left backs his vision of a top-to-bottom reworking of health care. Whatever one’s views on Kennedy and his legacy, voters and lawmakers (months from now, when this comes to a vote) aren’t likely to give up their deeply held beliefs or resolve their fears about rationing, deficits, and government meddling out of sympathy. Of all people, Kennedy knew that’s not the way politics works.

Gallup shows Obama’s approval reaching an all-time low of 50 percent. And support for ObamaCare has disappeared. According to Rasmussen, 53 percent oppose, 43 percent approve. Other polls show a bleaker picture. Democrats, before the Kennedy funeral has even begun, are using his death to hawk ObamaCare and guilt wavering Democrats into getting on the bandwagon.

Other than displaying the poor taste we have grown accustomed to when liberal icons pass away, this seems a sign of desperation and silliness. Will independent voters rally to the cause of government-run health care because the liberals’ leader has passed away? Is Blanche Lincoln, who is facing a tough re-election bid, going to go to the floor to announce she’s changed her mind and will take one for Teddy on the “public option”? It seems far-fetched. That is not to say the arm-twisting won’t intensify and the speechifying get progressively more cloying.

But the problem for Obama is that only the far Left backs his vision of a top-to-bottom reworking of health care. Whatever one’s views on Kennedy and his legacy, voters and lawmakers (months from now, when this comes to a vote) aren’t likely to give up their deeply held beliefs or resolve their fears about rationing, deficits, and government meddling out of sympathy. Of all people, Kennedy knew that’s not the way politics works.

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Inglourious Basterds

This is a gratifying movie that, unlike anything a Jewish filmmaker would produce, depicts the hunting and slaughter of Nazis without the slightest bit of apprehension. An American Jew would do Nazi-hunting with scenes of angst-ridden moral introspection. Tarantino does Nazi-hunting right, with panache and confidence.

But I have one complaint, and it is not really about this particular movie but about the entire genre of films in which the Nazis are presented as purely evil and those who pursue them as purely good. These films seem to be the only way that the concepts of good and evil can find expression in our popular culture today, and they come at the expense of our ability to distinguish good and evil here in our time. When President Bush called the perpetrators of 9/11 “evildoers,” he was condemned with eye-rolling and derision by enlightened people everywhere. What a simpleton to speak in such terms!

Yet one does not hear complaints from the same people as Brad Pitt carves swastikas into the foreheads of Nazis or when any number of other films depict World War II in Manichean terms. Inglourious Basterds in isolation is a tremendous movie, morally and cinematically. But it comes, like all films of its genre, at the expense of our current struggles. What would truly be brave is a film that places al-Qaeda and the U.S. military in such stark moral categories, or, God forbid, the IDF and Hezbollah. But that would require a difficult and unpopular acknowledgment from our filmmakers, that evil exists in the present and not only in the past.

Update: A friend passes along a quote from Johannes Gross, a German writer: “The resistance to Hitler and his kind is getting stronger the more the Third Reich recedes into the past.”

This is a gratifying movie that, unlike anything a Jewish filmmaker would produce, depicts the hunting and slaughter of Nazis without the slightest bit of apprehension. An American Jew would do Nazi-hunting with scenes of angst-ridden moral introspection. Tarantino does Nazi-hunting right, with panache and confidence.

But I have one complaint, and it is not really about this particular movie but about the entire genre of films in which the Nazis are presented as purely evil and those who pursue them as purely good. These films seem to be the only way that the concepts of good and evil can find expression in our popular culture today, and they come at the expense of our ability to distinguish good and evil here in our time. When President Bush called the perpetrators of 9/11 “evildoers,” he was condemned with eye-rolling and derision by enlightened people everywhere. What a simpleton to speak in such terms!

Yet one does not hear complaints from the same people as Brad Pitt carves swastikas into the foreheads of Nazis or when any number of other films depict World War II in Manichean terms. Inglourious Basterds in isolation is a tremendous movie, morally and cinematically. But it comes, like all films of its genre, at the expense of our current struggles. What would truly be brave is a film that places al-Qaeda and the U.S. military in such stark moral categories, or, God forbid, the IDF and Hezbollah. But that would require a difficult and unpopular acknowledgment from our filmmakers, that evil exists in the present and not only in the past.

Update: A friend passes along a quote from Johannes Gross, a German writer: “The resistance to Hitler and his kind is getting stronger the more the Third Reich recedes into the past.”

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Who’s Running the Show?

In an at-times-disjointed interview (no fault of his), Pat Caddell gets to the nub of the Justice Department conundrum: is Eric Holder running the administration, or is the president disingenuous when he denies responsibility for reactivating the investigation of CIA detainee-interrogation cases? Caddell goes after both Holder’s handling of the Black Panther case (dismissing a default judgment in an obvious case of physical intimidation of voters) and the naming of a special prosecutor to look at alleged detainee abuse—a move directly contrary to the president’s plea to look forward, not backward. Caddell favors the “rogue attorney general” theory.

Andy McCarthy finds it hard to believe that Obama really is all that upset with Holder. But there is a way to resolve this:

Hey, if that’s how Obama really feels about it, there’s a simple solution: He can pardon the interrogators. If he doesn’t know how to do that yet, no problem — Holder can walk him through it.

Ouch. But Caddell and McCarthy have zeroed in on the same truism: either Obama is lying about his objectives at Justice or his attorney general is seriously off the reservation. At the next prime-time press conference, someone might ask Obama who is running the show. If it’s not Obama, and if Holder can’t in good conscience follow administration policy, then the attorney general should go. And if Obama is just fine with Holder’s war on the CIA, he should stop pretending he’s an innocent bystander in his own presidency.

More important, whoever is running this show should take note that the public isn’t very pleased with the latest attack on the intelligence community:

Forty-nine percent (49%) of U.S. voters disagree with the Justice Department’s decision to investigate the treatment and possible torture of terrorists during the Bush administration, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Thirty-six percent (36%) agree with Attorney General Eric Holder’s naming of a veteran prosecutor to probe the CIA’s handling of terrorists under the previous administration. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.

So if Obama hasn’t been directing his administration’s policy on the CIA, maybe he should start doing so. The public may have a hard time believing this is not his doing—and, despite the spin, may hold him accountable.

In an at-times-disjointed interview (no fault of his), Pat Caddell gets to the nub of the Justice Department conundrum: is Eric Holder running the administration, or is the president disingenuous when he denies responsibility for reactivating the investigation of CIA detainee-interrogation cases? Caddell goes after both Holder’s handling of the Black Panther case (dismissing a default judgment in an obvious case of physical intimidation of voters) and the naming of a special prosecutor to look at alleged detainee abuse—a move directly contrary to the president’s plea to look forward, not backward. Caddell favors the “rogue attorney general” theory.

Andy McCarthy finds it hard to believe that Obama really is all that upset with Holder. But there is a way to resolve this:

Hey, if that’s how Obama really feels about it, there’s a simple solution: He can pardon the interrogators. If he doesn’t know how to do that yet, no problem — Holder can walk him through it.

Ouch. But Caddell and McCarthy have zeroed in on the same truism: either Obama is lying about his objectives at Justice or his attorney general is seriously off the reservation. At the next prime-time press conference, someone might ask Obama who is running the show. If it’s not Obama, and if Holder can’t in good conscience follow administration policy, then the attorney general should go. And if Obama is just fine with Holder’s war on the CIA, he should stop pretending he’s an innocent bystander in his own presidency.

More important, whoever is running this show should take note that the public isn’t very pleased with the latest attack on the intelligence community:

Forty-nine percent (49%) of U.S. voters disagree with the Justice Department’s decision to investigate the treatment and possible torture of terrorists during the Bush administration, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Thirty-six percent (36%) agree with Attorney General Eric Holder’s naming of a veteran prosecutor to probe the CIA’s handling of terrorists under the previous administration. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.

So if Obama hasn’t been directing his administration’s policy on the CIA, maybe he should start doing so. The public may have a hard time believing this is not his doing—and, despite the spin, may hold him accountable.

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Obama’s Mideast Vision: Confusion

An excellent column today from Michael Young in the Lebanon Daily Star:

Obama feels that an America forever signaling its desire to go home will make things better by making America more likable. That’s not how the Middle East works. Politics abhor a vacuum, and as everyone sees how eager the US is to leave, the more they will try to fill the ensuing vacuum to their advantage, and the more intransigent they will be when Washington seeks political solutions to prepare its getaway.

Those political solutions, as Young points out, are not the products of a coherent strategy but instead are insular policies, each one crafted seemingly as a rebuttal to the Bush administration. It is a mistake to view the Middle East as a European-style system, but it is also a mistake not to recognize that when one country seeks to dominate the region, the strategy crafted to prevent that domination must be coherent and consistently applied. Instead, we have an Obama administration in which one policy is undermining the next:

Obama is exerting considerable political capital to confront Israel, but it may be capital wasted at a moment when Hamas can still veto any breakthrough from the Palestinian side. In other words, Washington is working on a narrow front whereas its failure to weaken Hamas may render the whole enterprise meaningless. But how can the US weaken Hamas when improving relations with the movement’s main regional sponsors, Iran and Syria, remains a centerpiece of American efforts?

This might be because of simple incompetence. It might also be because the Obama administration doesn’t really care to stand in the way of Iran’s encroachments.

An excellent column today from Michael Young in the Lebanon Daily Star:

Obama feels that an America forever signaling its desire to go home will make things better by making America more likable. That’s not how the Middle East works. Politics abhor a vacuum, and as everyone sees how eager the US is to leave, the more they will try to fill the ensuing vacuum to their advantage, and the more intransigent they will be when Washington seeks political solutions to prepare its getaway.

Those political solutions, as Young points out, are not the products of a coherent strategy but instead are insular policies, each one crafted seemingly as a rebuttal to the Bush administration. It is a mistake to view the Middle East as a European-style system, but it is also a mistake not to recognize that when one country seeks to dominate the region, the strategy crafted to prevent that domination must be coherent and consistently applied. Instead, we have an Obama administration in which one policy is undermining the next:

Obama is exerting considerable political capital to confront Israel, but it may be capital wasted at a moment when Hamas can still veto any breakthrough from the Palestinian side. In other words, Washington is working on a narrow front whereas its failure to weaken Hamas may render the whole enterprise meaningless. But how can the US weaken Hamas when improving relations with the movement’s main regional sponsors, Iran and Syria, remains a centerpiece of American efforts?

This might be because of simple incompetence. It might also be because the Obama administration doesn’t really care to stand in the way of Iran’s encroachments.

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Iraqi Elections a Success

That Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and his Dawa Party would not agree to contest the next election in combination with the other major Shiite parties—notably the late Abdel Aziz al-Hakim’s Islamic
Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and Moqtada al Sadr’s dwindling band of supporters—is good news.

It means that Maliki will run as a nationalist, not a sectarian candidate, and it will further the trend seen in the last provincial elections of ethno-sectarian allegiances becoming less important to Iraqi voters. Assuming the trend continues, it will mark an important step in Iraq’s development as a more durable and mature democracy.

But of course we shouldn’t be sanguine: there are plenty of dangers still ahead for this troubled land, notably Arab-Kurd divisions, Iranian interference, and Sunni extremist terrorism. Still, notwithstanding horrific acts of terrorism, Iraq continues to make slow and halting progress—which suggests that President Bush’s vision of nurturing an Arab democracy was not such a crazy brainstorm after all.

That Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and his Dawa Party would not agree to contest the next election in combination with the other major Shiite parties—notably the late Abdel Aziz al-Hakim’s Islamic
Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and Moqtada al Sadr’s dwindling band of supporters—is good news.

It means that Maliki will run as a nationalist, not a sectarian candidate, and it will further the trend seen in the last provincial elections of ethno-sectarian allegiances becoming less important to Iraqi voters. Assuming the trend continues, it will mark an important step in Iraq’s development as a more durable and mature democracy.

But of course we shouldn’t be sanguine: there are plenty of dangers still ahead for this troubled land, notably Arab-Kurd divisions, Iranian interference, and Sunni extremist terrorism. Still, notwithstanding horrific acts of terrorism, Iraq continues to make slow and halting progress—which suggests that President Bush’s vision of nurturing an Arab democracy was not such a crazy brainstorm after all.

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Would a GOP Congress Help?

Erick Erickson and Mickey Kaus mull over whether losing Congress would be a good thing for Obama. The president himself certainly doesn’t think so. His agenda and political instincts show no fondness for the political center. Moderation was a campaign tool, not a political disposition. And at least for now, he’s shown no interest in reaching out substantively to conservatives or moderates on health care, the stimulus, or any other initiative. Not only is there no sign he’d be comfortable with a Republican Congress, there’s nothing to suggest he’d be very good at working with it. He’s no John McCain. His list of bipartisan legislative accomplishments as a senator is thin if not nonexistent.

Whether it would be good for him and his presidency is another story. Plainly he and the Democrats lack the internal discipline to come off the left ledge of their party. The gap between the still center-right public and the president is vast. So the theory goes, better to have moderation “forced” upon him.

But divided government, as we saw following the Republicans’ losses in 2006, doesn’t necessarily make for a successful period of governance for the president. Obama can’t be forced to be an effective chief executive. It is easy to imagine an increasingly irritated and beleaguered Obama in a constant political food fight with Congress if Republicans roar back in 2010.

The bottom line then is that Obama may get a Republican Congress, or at least one lacking an effective liberal majority. And then he’ll have to decide if he will pout or do what he has never done in his political career—disappoint his left-wing base. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, Obama has his hands full trying to get his agenda passed with the largest Democratic majority in a generation. If he can’t do that, the 2010 election may be the least of his worries.

Erick Erickson and Mickey Kaus mull over whether losing Congress would be a good thing for Obama. The president himself certainly doesn’t think so. His agenda and political instincts show no fondness for the political center. Moderation was a campaign tool, not a political disposition. And at least for now, he’s shown no interest in reaching out substantively to conservatives or moderates on health care, the stimulus, or any other initiative. Not only is there no sign he’d be comfortable with a Republican Congress, there’s nothing to suggest he’d be very good at working with it. He’s no John McCain. His list of bipartisan legislative accomplishments as a senator is thin if not nonexistent.

Whether it would be good for him and his presidency is another story. Plainly he and the Democrats lack the internal discipline to come off the left ledge of their party. The gap between the still center-right public and the president is vast. So the theory goes, better to have moderation “forced” upon him.

But divided government, as we saw following the Republicans’ losses in 2006, doesn’t necessarily make for a successful period of governance for the president. Obama can’t be forced to be an effective chief executive. It is easy to imagine an increasingly irritated and beleaguered Obama in a constant political food fight with Congress if Republicans roar back in 2010.

The bottom line then is that Obama may get a Republican Congress, or at least one lacking an effective liberal majority. And then he’ll have to decide if he will pout or do what he has never done in his political career—disappoint his left-wing base. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, Obama has his hands full trying to get his agenda passed with the largest Democratic majority in a generation. If he can’t do that, the 2010 election may be the least of his worries.

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In Case You Had Any Doubts

The Wall Street Journal editors in a helpful summary make two key points about the newly released CIA documents.

First, Nancy Pelosi did indeed lie. She was briefed on the enhanced interrogation techniques:

The IG report belies House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claims that she wasn’t told about all this. “In the fall of 2002, the Agency briefed the leadership of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of both standard techniques and EITs. . . . Representatives . . . continued to brief the leadership of the Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of EITs and detentions in February and March 2003. The [CIA] General Counsel says that none of the participants expressed any concern about the techniques or the Program . . . .” Ditto in September 2003.

And second, the interrogation techniques worked:

The most revealing portion of the IG report documents the program’s results. The CIA’s “detention and interrogation of terrorists has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists and warned of terrorist plots planned for the United States and around the world.” That included the identification of Jose Padilla and Binyam Muhammed, who planned to detonate a dirty bomb, and the arrest of previously unknown members of an al Qaeda cell in Karachi, Pakistan, designated to pilot an aircraft attack in the U.S. The information also made the CIA aware of plots to attack the U.S. consulate in Karachi, hijack aircraft to fly into Heathrow, loosen track spikes to derail a U.S. train, blow up U.S. gas stations, fly an airplane into a California building, and cut the lines of suspension bridges in New York.

The same is true of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who planned the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who directed the 9/11 attacks. They didn’t talk before the enhanced interrogation techniques. They did after. And we got essential information. You decide if the techniques “worked.”

So naturally, we are reinvestigating the CIA. In a sane world, Pelosi would be on the hot seat, the grandstanders who decried Bush’s antiterror policies would be discredited, and Dick Cheney would be taking a victory lap. But we have long since passed the point at which facts matter. The Obama team shamelessly airbrushes the past, rejects the techniques that kept us safe, and continues with full prosecutorial zeal against what it perceives as the real enemies—the intelligence operatives and Bush officials who successfully extracted key information.

The American people haven’t shown much interest in the netroot inquests, don’t like the idea of closing Guantanamo, and, I suspect, would be horrified if CIA employees were ever tried. At some point the politically obsessed Obama White House may realize they’ve embarked on a foolhardy course of action. Not out of decency or a revived sense of concern for national security, but for the sake of their own political survival, they may eventually decide that enough is enough. But we aren’t there yet.

The Wall Street Journal editors in a helpful summary make two key points about the newly released CIA documents.

First, Nancy Pelosi did indeed lie. She was briefed on the enhanced interrogation techniques:

The IG report belies House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claims that she wasn’t told about all this. “In the fall of 2002, the Agency briefed the leadership of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of both standard techniques and EITs. . . . Representatives . . . continued to brief the leadership of the Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of EITs and detentions in February and March 2003. The [CIA] General Counsel says that none of the participants expressed any concern about the techniques or the Program . . . .” Ditto in September 2003.

And second, the interrogation techniques worked:

The most revealing portion of the IG report documents the program’s results. The CIA’s “detention and interrogation of terrorists has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists and warned of terrorist plots planned for the United States and around the world.” That included the identification of Jose Padilla and Binyam Muhammed, who planned to detonate a dirty bomb, and the arrest of previously unknown members of an al Qaeda cell in Karachi, Pakistan, designated to pilot an aircraft attack in the U.S. The information also made the CIA aware of plots to attack the U.S. consulate in Karachi, hijack aircraft to fly into Heathrow, loosen track spikes to derail a U.S. train, blow up U.S. gas stations, fly an airplane into a California building, and cut the lines of suspension bridges in New York.

The same is true of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who planned the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who directed the 9/11 attacks. They didn’t talk before the enhanced interrogation techniques. They did after. And we got essential information. You decide if the techniques “worked.”

So naturally, we are reinvestigating the CIA. In a sane world, Pelosi would be on the hot seat, the grandstanders who decried Bush’s antiterror policies would be discredited, and Dick Cheney would be taking a victory lap. But we have long since passed the point at which facts matter. The Obama team shamelessly airbrushes the past, rejects the techniques that kept us safe, and continues with full prosecutorial zeal against what it perceives as the real enemies—the intelligence operatives and Bush officials who successfully extracted key information.

The American people haven’t shown much interest in the netroot inquests, don’t like the idea of closing Guantanamo, and, I suspect, would be horrified if CIA employees were ever tried. At some point the politically obsessed Obama White House may realize they’ve embarked on a foolhardy course of action. Not out of decency or a revived sense of concern for national security, but for the sake of their own political survival, they may eventually decide that enough is enough. But we aren’t there yet.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Blanche Lincoln and Harry Reid may have re-election problems.

Support for ObamaCare is at 25 percent. 25 percent? That’s worse than Nancy Pelosi.

Two board members of Human Rights Watch have had enough of the organization’s anti-Israel bias.

I concur on the observations of James Taranto and Roger Kimball on Edward Kennedy.

Even now George W. Bush extends kindness and consideration to the Kennedys. Somehow that never figured into Kennedy’s political calculations or bitter denunciations of Bush.

Reminding us that Obama is proposing a $622B cut in Medicaid and Medicare (yes, imagine if a Republican did that), Karl Rove observes: “The problem for Mr. Obama is that he lacks credibility when he asserts his plan won’t add to the deficit or won’t lead to rationing; that people can keep their health plans; that every family’s health care will be better, not worse; and that a government run plan isn’t a threat to private insurance. A large number of Americans don’t believe the president on this. With this week’s $2 trillion upward revision in the White House’s deficit projections, August has been the cruelest month for Mr. Obama.” Still, he’s right to caution that ObamaCare isn’t dead quite yet.

While the Obama team goes after CIA operatives, this poll reminds us that Americans don’t have much patience with Obama’s national-security stunts: “Seventy-five percent (75%) of U.S. voters are at least somewhat concerned that dangerous terrorists will be set free if the Guantanamo prison camp is closed and some prisoners are transferred to other countries. Fifty-six percent (56%) are very concerned.”

Howard Dean at Jim Moran’s health-care town hall: “The reason tort reform is not in the [health care] bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on. And that’s the plain and simple truth.” Nice to know.

In case you need further reason to oppose ObamaCare, you need look no further than Rahm Emanuel’s brother: “As a bioethicist, he has written extensively about who should get medical care, who should decide, and whose life is worth saving. Dr. Emanuel is part of a school of thought that redefines a physician’s duty, insisting that it includes working for the greater good of society instead of focusing only on a patient’s needs. Many physicians find that view dangerous, and most Americans are likely to agree. The health bills being pushed through Congress put important decisions in the hands of presidential appointees like Dr. Emanuel. They will decide what insurance plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have, and what seniors get under Medicare.”

Blanche Lincoln and Harry Reid may have re-election problems.

Support for ObamaCare is at 25 percent. 25 percent? That’s worse than Nancy Pelosi.

Two board members of Human Rights Watch have had enough of the organization’s anti-Israel bias.

I concur on the observations of James Taranto and Roger Kimball on Edward Kennedy.

Even now George W. Bush extends kindness and consideration to the Kennedys. Somehow that never figured into Kennedy’s political calculations or bitter denunciations of Bush.

Reminding us that Obama is proposing a $622B cut in Medicaid and Medicare (yes, imagine if a Republican did that), Karl Rove observes: “The problem for Mr. Obama is that he lacks credibility when he asserts his plan won’t add to the deficit or won’t lead to rationing; that people can keep their health plans; that every family’s health care will be better, not worse; and that a government run plan isn’t a threat to private insurance. A large number of Americans don’t believe the president on this. With this week’s $2 trillion upward revision in the White House’s deficit projections, August has been the cruelest month for Mr. Obama.” Still, he’s right to caution that ObamaCare isn’t dead quite yet.

While the Obama team goes after CIA operatives, this poll reminds us that Americans don’t have much patience with Obama’s national-security stunts: “Seventy-five percent (75%) of U.S. voters are at least somewhat concerned that dangerous terrorists will be set free if the Guantanamo prison camp is closed and some prisoners are transferred to other countries. Fifty-six percent (56%) are very concerned.”

Howard Dean at Jim Moran’s health-care town hall: “The reason tort reform is not in the [health care] bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on. And that’s the plain and simple truth.” Nice to know.

In case you need further reason to oppose ObamaCare, you need look no further than Rahm Emanuel’s brother: “As a bioethicist, he has written extensively about who should get medical care, who should decide, and whose life is worth saving. Dr. Emanuel is part of a school of thought that redefines a physician’s duty, insisting that it includes working for the greater good of society instead of focusing only on a patient’s needs. Many physicians find that view dangerous, and most Americans are likely to agree. The health bills being pushed through Congress put important decisions in the hands of presidential appointees like Dr. Emanuel. They will decide what insurance plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have, and what seniors get under Medicare.”

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