Prosecuting our Protectors

Prosecuting our Protectors

By Vasko Kohlmayer
Who would have ever thought that we would seriously debate whether to prosecute those who have kept us safe since 9/11?

Most of us can still recall the fear and uncertainty of the days and weeks that followed. Shell-shocked and frightened, we lived in imminent expectation of further attacks. Few would have bet a dime that in the next seven years we wouldn’t be hit again. That it did not happened is almost difficult to believe, since the hijackers’ spectacular success inspired jihadists far and wide. Every year since they would promise an even greater slaughter with blood running down the streets and American mothers veiling in despair. That those threats never materialized has surely not been due to a lack of trying on their part, but to the vigilance of George W. Bush and those in his administration who devoted themselves to protecting this country. The fact that they managed to keep us safe is a remarkable achievement and something we should all be grateful for.


Protecting America against Islamic jihadists is an enormously complex and difficult task, because this enemy is unlike any other we ever faced. For one thing, he is hard to even identify, since he has no visible armies, no firm command structures or uniformed warriors. The foe we face is a stealth one, and one that operates insidiously from within the very population it seeks to destroy. 


Because of this, the most important and effective weapon against this furtive adversary is not numerical advantage or raw power but intelligence. It is intelligence that makes it possible to identify enemy operatives and disrupt their plots and plans. The best and most reliable sources of such intelligence are captured terrorists themselves, because they have firsthand knowledge of the secretive networks in which they operate.


The problem is that once apprehended they are not inclined to voluntarily divulge the information they posses. The only way to extract it is by subjecting them to some form of pressure. The process of applying that pressure is referred to as “enhanced” or “coercive” interrogation.


As the recently released documents show, coercive interrogation approved by the Bush administration consisted largely of procedures such as grabbing terrorists by the collar and giving them a shake, pushing them against a flexible wall, depriving them of sleep, and forcing them to endure uncomfortable physical positions. In a few cases, the interrogators considered such unusual – and according to some “inhuman” – methods as placing a non-stinging caterpillar in the terrorist’s cell.


The harshest form of interrogation authorized by the administration was waterboarding, a procedure that induces a drowning sensation in the subject. By utilizing this very effective method, our interrogators were able to extract priceless information from several high ranking al-Qaeda operatives. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the organization’s number three and the mastermind of 9/11 and other atrocities. Because of his high position, Mohammed was privy to a great deal of crucial information about al-Qaeda personnel as well as its plans and operations. Although he was initially reluctant to speak, he changed his mind during a waterboarding session. The particulars he provided were promptly used to foil terrorist plots and save American lives.


It should be noted that waterboarding usually takes less than 90 seconds and has been used only in a handful of cases. Furthermore, the procedure leaves no long-term – or even short term – consequences. The subject recovers within moments and fifteen minutes later no one could tell that waterboarding has been applied, except perhaps for his wet hair.


The discussion we are now having about the possible prosecution of those who obtained crucial intelligence by means of coercive interrogation is symptomatic of our national decline. It is an indication that as a nation we are losing both common sense and moral bearings, for it shows that some of us are more concerned about temporarily discomforting terrorists than about preserving our way of life and the lives of fellow citizens. To be sure, there have always been people like this in America, but they used to be only on the fringes. Today many of them are in positions of power.


History clearly teaches that great civilizations are not brought down by their external enemies, but that they undermine themselves from within. In other words, they essentially commit suicide. Islamists could never bring down an America determined to defend itself. We can, however, be toppled if refuse to take the commonsense measures necessary to safeguard our survival. Choosing not to obtain critical intelligence about impending attacks against our country is the equivalent of committing national suicide.


Our security personnel are not only justified, but have an absolute moral obligation to use whatever means necessary to extract vital information from terrorists in our custody. Those in government who deem the short term distress of a murderous fanatic more precious than the lives of innocent Americans are complicit in the atrocities that will inevitably take place as a result of their laxness. When this happens, they should be held to account accordingly.

Page Printed from: at May 08, 2009 – 12:07:06 AM EDT

Colin Powell’s RINO Virus

Colin Powell’s RINO Virus

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, May 06, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Politics: Our former secretary of state savages as “mean-spirited” and “driven by social conservatism” the party that gave him prominence. Americans, don’t you know, really want more taxes and more government.

Read More: General Politics


Seems there’s no shortage of advice these days from inside and outside the GOP on what the Republican Party needs to do to return to power. Colin Powell is no exception as he continues to snipe at the party that, thanks to appointments by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush, made him a national icon.

“The Republican Party is in deep trouble,” the former general and secretary of state told corporate security executives at a conference Monday in Washington, D.C.

Powell: Still at war with the GOP.

Powell: Still at war with the GOP.

Powell said he told 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain last summer that the party had developed a reputation for being mean-spirited and was driven more by social conservatism than the economic problems America faced.

Perhaps, if all you watch is MSNBC.

Powell opined that the country had changed, but not the GOP. “Americans do want to pay taxes for services,” he said. “Americans are looking for more government in their lives, not less.”

Really? They certainly weren’t looking for more taxes at the tea-parties that dotted the nation last month. But, according to Powell, wanting to keep more of what you earn is mean-spirited.

Last November, many Americans may have been enthralled by dazzling promises of hope and change. But they are not now enthralled by the saddling of their children and grandchildren with another $10 trillion in debt from bloated budgets and stimulus packages that don’t stimulate anything but the growth of government.

They want services, yes, but services they’ve already paid for and those defined in the U.S. Constitution, not the Democratic Caucus. They want their borders secure, and their nation defended against enemies foreign and domestic. They want a society where success is not punished and failure is not rewarded. They do not want higher taxes. They do not want to pay their neighbor’s mortgage.

If this is mean-spirited to say, so be it. It’s not quite as mean-spirited as the Democrats’ embrace of George Soros, whose paid for a full-page ad calling soldier and patriot Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of victory in Iraq, “Gen. Betray-us” and then refused to condemn that monumental act of character assassination. Remember that, Gen. Powell?

Powell also blasted Rush Limbaugh, saying: “I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without.”

To paraphrase President Harry Truman, Limbaugh tells the truth. Powell just thinks it’s nasty. Limbaugh’s rhetoric was instrumental in helping bring the GOP back to power in 1994. How many Republicans has Powell helped get elected?

Powell also had unkind words for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential candidate. Last fall, he told the nation she wasn’t ready to be president. This week, he told the conference she’s “a very polarizing figure.” Compared to whom? Nancy Pelosi?

Palin took such polarizing positions as advocating lower taxes and the development of domestic energy. Perhaps Powell prefers the likes of Maine’s two senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who abandoned their party to make America more dependent on government.

Palin wasn’t the reason John McCain’s political version of “New Coke” failed to sell. The GOP needs to return to Ronald Reagan’s original formula, which consisted of just three things — cutting taxes, shrinking government and beefing up defense spending.

Before the election, we wondered how the man who served Reagan as he fought the Cold War, George H. W. Bush as he fought the Gulf War and George W. Bush as he fought the global war on terror, could support a Democrat who promised he would “slow our development of future combat systems” and would engage in “direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.”

Now we just wonder why Arlen Specter didn’t take Colin Powell with him