Just as Gruber testimony is set to begin. Hmmmmm.
The whole “torture” narrative was always political, so it makes perfect sense that Senate Democrats would choose to release their report on the matter just as the politics of the situation demand it. It also makes sense that they would do so at a time when it will quite possibly put U.S. troops in harm’s way overseas, because since when do Democrats care about that?
They’re about to lose their hold on the Senate, so their chance is slipping away. And hearings involving Jonathan Gruber and other ObamaCare architects are about to start, so Democrats desperately need a distraction.
Release the hounds! Why not? Actually, there are a lot of reasons why not, especially the risks Michael Gerson outlines in his Washington Post column today:
The U.S. response in the war against terrorism has been dramatically more selective and focused on combatants. Even so, the CIA is often forced to operate at the edge of the United States’ acceptable response — currently with drone strikes and a variety of activities to degrade and dismantle the Islamic State. The avoidance of “boots on the ground” in the Middle East has placed an additional burden on intelligence services to work with (often flawed) allies, target enemies and strike from afar. Political leaders, once again, urge intelligence officials to do what is necessary.
So the Feinstein report would come in the middle of a war, targeting many Americans who are still engaged in it. It would be an act of exceptional congressional recklessness. Democratic senators on the Intelligence Committee interviewed none of the key figures in the program, yet fought for months to make it easier to identify the targets of their report. “Those personnel,” said (soon to be former) Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), “if they have that worry, can be given some legitimate security.” This is clearly what some committee members intended: exposure and a bodyguard.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the outgoing chair of the committee, was thought to be more responsible. But her legacy may be a massive dump of intelligence details useful to the enemy in a time of war. And she knows the likely results. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed the concerns of alliesabout increased violence. A National Intelligence Council report warned of threats to embassies, installations and individuals, and explored how partners would react to the disclosure.
When even John Kerry is acknowledging the risks of a baldly political move like this, you know you’ve got a problem on your hands.
But in the minds of Democrats, they’ve got an even bigger problem, which is that they’re at a low point in the public’s eyes. When better to fall back on the phoniest of phony narratives, which is what the “torture” nonsense always was?
Let’s remember: After 19 Islamic terrorists hijacked U.S. jetliners and murdered 3,000 Americans on our soil, the mindset of the nation changed dramatically. Suddenly we took the threat of such attacks seriously and we were over the niceties of following “international law” and not upsetting people in our manner of protecting ourselves. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were clearly resolved to do whatever it took to prevent another such attack from happening (which they did successfully), and the public was behind them. If that meant a terrorist had information about impending attacks or would-be attackers, and wouldn’t give it up, then waterboard, strap jumper cables to his genitals . . . do what you have to do. Their supposed right not to be tortured would not come before innocent Americans’ right not to be killed.
Don’t like it? Too damn bad.
That was the mindset of Americans at the time, and it drove Democrats bananas. They tried for awhile to feign strength on national security, but that is not them and they couldn’t fake it for long. Democrats are the party of international weakness, wanting to withdraw from the world and put their focus on confiscating the resources of the private sector to put to use in redistributing wealth and regulating every minute detail of American life. Yet Democrats were completely out of power – having lost the White House and both houses of Congress – and as long as Americans were cheering for toughness in the fight against terrorists, they were not going to get any of that power back.
So they invented outrage over the treatment of detainees. OMG! Waterboarding! It’s torture! We’re better than that! Gitmo! It’s unfair! We’re squandering the goodwill of our allies!
The media hated the post-9/11 mindset of the nation too, and was more than willing to trumpet the Democrats’ torture narrative. Bush was more concerned with stopping attacks than with the political debate – a consistent tendency of his that helped make him a good president but also handed Democrats a lot of unnecessary rhetorical victories. The result was that the hearings staged by Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin resonated, but the release of this report still presented problems because, as Gerson points out, it’s actually going after members of the U.S. Armed Forces at a time of war, people who are still out there fighting.
And once the Democrats recaptured the White House, the national security problems became their problems, and suddenly a cretin like John Kerry – who would never hestitate for a second to attack American troops if it benefited him politically – is urging restraint.
You can count on the media going to town on this for a few days. You’ll see the familiar images of waterboarding, along with the lectures of how we stepped over the line and how this made us no better than the terrorists themselves. The Democrats have to try something, what with ObamaCare dragging them down, even if it further complicates global turmoil taking place on their watch and in large part as a result of their foolish foreign policy.
I’d like to say the release of this report won’t change anything, but that’s not true. It could get some of our servicemen and servicewomen killed. That would be a change, all right. I guess Democrats think it’s worth it if that’s what it takes to change their political fortunes, even if only for a moment.