In response to Jay Carney: “Uh… er… … … “:
Joel, it’s amazing that Carney doesn’t seem to have been ready for this question. Like most of those which flummoxed Chuck Hagel, it seems predictable that someone would ask why blowing terrorists into hamburger with drone weapons (and without due process) is totally cool, but dropping a wet towel on their faces to obtain vital intelligence is not. Particularly considering how strongly Obama favors the former, and says he opposes the latter.
The passion play over waterboarding strikes me as the Left’s effort to retain some easy pose of moral superiority, even as the installation of a Democrat president prompted them to drop just about all of their other objections to the War on Terror. (Remember when warrantless wiretapping gave them screaming fits? Remember how they used to feel about unilateral military engagements, before Obama threw one in Libya?) Vehement opposition to waterboarding is pretty much all they’ve got left… and you know damn well that most of them would drop it in a hot second if Obama came out in favor of it.
One helpful attribute that recommends waterboarding as a soapbox for moralistic posturing is that it would be fairly difficult to prove that failure to use enhanced interrogation techniques on a particular prisoner directly led to some horrific catastrophe. The Left has managed to muddy the fairly clear issue of whether EIT helped bring down bin Laden; they’re comfortable that no future terror attack will be followed by confident, documented accusations that waterboarding Scumbag X would have produced intelligence that thwarted the terrorists’ plans.
It’s interesting to note that the Hollywood Left produces a steady stream of entertainment premised on the almost universal assumption that enhanced interrogation techniques do work… at least on the low-level thugs. Hardly a single action film passes by without a scene of the hero beating or terrorizing vital information from the bad guys, usually with far less humane techniques than waterboarding – an entirely psychological tactic that has no lasting physical effects. These interrogations always work; I can’t think of many films where the hero leaned on a thug and got bad intel.
The one conflicting article of Hollywood faith is that EIT never works on the primary villains – the masterminds smile in the face of aggressive interrogation, chuckling that they’ll provide vital information only when they’re good and ready. But the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad dispelled that Tinseltown chestnut; the mastermind cracked just like everybody else.