Obama executes prisoner of war enemy combatant criminal, John McCain criticizes waterboarding, Long term consequences
From John Hammer of the Rhinoceros Times, May 12, 2011, in print in NC.
“President Barack Hussein Obama has been out campaigning this week. The 2012 presidential election is well underway and the president has been out making campaign speeches and raising money, as he will be for the next 18 months.
Whenever a president gets out on the campaign trail there is criticism because people don’t think their president should be political. But that is how they got to be president, by being politicians. We are now in the stage of the political process where the campaign staff starts having more and more say about the president’s actions.
In light of that, consider the current situation that Obama finds himself in. His approval ratings continue to trend downward. The approval ratings are the difference between those who “strongly approve” and “strongly disapprove” of the president’s actions.
There are bumps, but right now it appears the longer he remains in office the less he is liked by the American people. In January of 2009 his approval ratings were as high as plus 30; by March of 2011 his approval ratings had fallen to a low of minus 22. In April Obama’s approval ratings hovered between minus 15 and minus 20. It makes sense for a candidate to try to do something to get those ratings up.
Two things have happened recently that should have improved his poor approval ratings and have had some effect, but it appears that it is temporary.
First was the release of his birth certificate. There is no doubt that this was an event completely orchestrated by his staff. Obama could have released his birth certificate at any point in the past three years. He could have produced it, like Sen. John McCain did early in the campaign in 2008. Instead, Obama spent as much as $2 million in legal fees to keep from releasing it. But then came a constant barrage of demands to release it from a celebrity who can wave his hand and be surrounded by a sea of cameras – Donald Trump.
The Donald, as seems to have already been forgotten, was leading the polls as the Republican presidential opponent and was beating Obama every day with the birth certificate stick. So it made political sense for Obama to take the stick away from Trump and force Trump to find something else to beat him with. As a political move it made a lot of sense, but it didn’t provide Obama with a sustainable improvement in his approval numbers.
If you look at it as a campaign move, going after Osama bin Laden also makes sense. The reports say that they knew where Bin Laden was hiding out since August 2010. The raid took time to plan, but it didn’t take nine months. They had certainly established that Bin Laden wasn’t going anywhere and, no doubt, for a pacifist like Obama, it was not easy to order a raid where the goal was to assassinate a terrorist.
It sounds harsh to imply that the death of Bin Laden was orchestrated in an attempt to get Obama’s approval ratings up, but it makes sense from a political point of view. And in the coming months the political point of view is going to become not just the dominant point of view in the White House but very nearly the only point of view. The main job that Obama has for the next 18 months is to get reelected. If he doesn’t, not only is he out of a job but all the people who work for him are out of jobs as well, and his wife loses her Air Force jet.
The military and intelligence community had no doubt been pushing for the attack, with the hold up being the president.
Looking at it from a political standpoint also explains some things like the staged photo of Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Vice President Joe Biden and others on the national security team watching television in the White House situation room. According to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, they could have been watching a lot of different things, but they weren’t watching live footage of the raid on the Bin Laden compound because it wasn’t available. It’s a great photo and would have remained great if Panetta hadn’t spilled the beans.
The most interesting question about that photo, aside from what they were really watching on the screen, concerns that woman who is trying to squeeze in between a couple of men in the back. It turns out she is the director for counterterrorism, Audrey Tomason. She happens to be the only woman in the room other than Clinton, and appears to be the youngest person in the room as well.”
John McCain, who was held prisoner and tortured by the Viet Cong, has referred to waterboarding as torture and stated that it played no part in finding Osama Bin Laden.
From the LA Times May 12, 2011.
“Former Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey is taking issue with Sen. John McCain’s characterization of his account of whether information from detainees who were subjected to harsh techniques helped lead to Osama bin Laden.
“Sen. McCain described as ‘false’ my statement that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed broke under harsh interrogation that included waterboarding and disclosed a torrent of information that included the nickname of Osama bin Laden’s courier” — Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — Mukasey said in a statement. “He strongly implied … that this harsh interrogation was not only useless but also illegal. He is simply incorrect on all three counts.”
Mukasey added: “KSM disclosed the nickname — Al-Kuwaiti — along with a wealth of other information, some of which was used to stop terror plots then in progress. He did so after refusing to answer questions and, when asked if further plots were afoot, that his interrogators would eventually find out. Another detainee, captured in Iraq, disclosed that al-Kuwaiti was a trusted operative of KSM’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libbi. When Al-Libbi went so far as to deny even knowing the man, his importance became obvious.
“Both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence Adm. Michael McConnell have acknowledged repeatedly that up to 2006, many of the valuable leads pursued by the intelligence community came from the three prisoners who were subjected to harsh techniques that included waterboarding in order to secure their cooperation.”
John McCain, knows what real torture is and yet believes waterboarding is torture. Does McCain believe that executing a prisoner is legal?
War criminals responsible for the deaths of millions in World War II were captured and tried. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber was captured and tried.
I believe, as John Hammer has stated, that the execution of Bin Laden was done for political expediency.
I have concerns that the excution of an unarmed captured prisoner will set a dangerous precedent. What will stop our enemies from executing our captured soldiers? Yes, I know that it has already happened. But now they can point to our actions as justification.
Perhaps Bin Laden, already suffering from health issues, set us up for this.