Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Of Course They Work

Anyone who still believes that what the CIA euphemistically calls enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) don't work needs to read this article in the Washington Post.

The anti-EIT absolutists (those who believe that EITs are always wrong and never justified) have pretty much lost the moral argument with the American people. Most of those who think about it would affirm that if their child's life could be saved by applying physical or psychological pain to those who threaten her then by all means have at it. Having failed to convince the American people that they are morally perverse for placing the well-being of their children above the well-being of a murderous thug the absolutists fall back on the argument that EITs don't work anyway and therefore should never be employed.

This argument has always carried with it more than a whiff of implausibility (after all, how do we know they don't work unless we use them?) The WaPo article, however, strongly suggests that they do indeed work. It turns out that Sheik Kalid Mohammed, the chief planner of the 9/11 attacks, after having been subjected to milder forms of interrogation to no effect, was then allowed to experience the bracing effects of sleep deprivation and waterboarding after which he pretty much ratted out the entire al Qaeda network in the U.S. Here's one relevant section of the piece:

Mohammed described plans to strike targets in Saudi Arabia, East Asia and the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, including using a network of Pakistanis "to target gas stations, railroad tracks, and the Brooklyn bridge in New York." Cross-referencing material from different detainees, and leveraging information from one to extract more detail from another, the CIA and FBI went on to round up operatives both in the United States and abroad.

"Detainees in mid-2003 helped us build a list of 70 individuals -- many of whom we had never heard of before -- that al-Qaeda deemed suitable for Western operations," according to the CIA summary.

Mohammed was an unparalleled source in deciphering al-Qaeda's strategic doctrine, key operatives and likely targets, the summary said, including describing in "considerable detail the traits and profiles" that al-Qaeda sought in Western operatives and how the terrorist organization might conduct surveillance in the United States.

All of this information and more saved countless lives, and it was only obtained because Mohammed's interrogators grew weary of politesse and decided to resort to measures calculated to more compellingly concentrate the minds of the terrorists. Of course, this won't matter to the absolutists who are apparently willing to sacrifice the lives of millions of innocents on the altar of their own narrow-minded, dogmatic concept of inviolable human rights.


Miscarriage of Justice

Why, opponents of capital punishment sometimes ask, can we not be satisfied with putting criminals in prison for life? Why must we execute them? One reason, perhaps, can be found in the case of Phillip Garrido, the man arrested for the kidnapping, imprisonment, and rape of 11 year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard 18 years ago.

It turns out that on the day of the abduction, Phillip Garrido was on parole. He had been convicted of federal and Nevada state charges in connection with a Nov. 22, 1976, incident when he was 25 and kidnapped a woman, drove her to a warehouse in Reno and sexually assaulted her. Garrido was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison and five years to life in Nevada prisons. But, after stints in federal prisons in Leavenworth, Kan., and Lompoc, as well as a Nevada state prison, he was released on lifetime parole in 1988.

Having served less than twelve years of a minimum 50 year sentence, Mr. Garrido was released to inflict more horror on a girl and her family whose lives have been ruined by this man and by a system which seems indifferent to the people who must live with such monsters among them.

Whoever was responsible for this man's release, a judge or parole board or whoever, should be held liable for his crimes. If you or I, through an exercise of poor judgment, were to be responsible for harm befalling another person we would be liable and would probably lose all we have in lawsuits brought against us. Just so it should be possible to bring suit against those whose poor judgment results in crimes against others. The best way to stop early release of criminals from prison is to hold those who make those judgments financially accountable for their decisions.


Subsidizing Abortion

We've seen that the Democrats' health care proposals, despite insistent denials, would indeed cover care for illegal aliens and would also have government bureaucrats making decisions about who gets what treatment, especially at the end of life.

Now it turns out that supporters of the Democrat plan are acknowledging that yet another serious concern about the plan is well-founded. The plan currently before Congress would, as opponents have alleged, pay for abortions.

Pro-lifer Jim Wallis, an Obama booster, claimed on CNN's Lou Dobbs show that the Congressional plan would indeed cover abortions. However, he goes on to say, incorrectly, that the President doesn't want his plan to do that. In fact, contrary to what Wallis believes, the President has made it clear that he definitely does want abortion to be covered:

One of the reasons so many people are so mistrustful of our political leadership, especially on the issues being advanced by this administration, is that it seems the claims made by supporters of the President are too frequently out of phase with the President's own words. Indeed, it's not uncommon for the President himself to contradict things he had said on previous occasions. There may be reasons for this, it may not be deliberate dishonesty, but if the President is going to regain the confidence of the people he needs to be consistent in what he says. Otherwise, confidence in his word will continue to fade among the American electorate.