How many legs does a calf have, if you call the tail a leg?” Abraham Lincoln asked a congressman during a discussion of whether he had the authority to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Five,” the congressman replied.
“Four,” Lincoln corrected him. “Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee have as expansive a definition of “torture” as do those feminists who include consensual sex in their definition of “rape.”
Foremost of the “tortures” they decried in a 500-page report was the waterboarding of three senior al-Qaida leaders.
The more than 70,000 U.S. military personnel who’ve experienced it during SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) training can attest that waterboarding, which simulates drowning, is highly unpleasant.
But “there’s no pain, actually. There’s no trauma. There’s no lasting effect,” said Capt. Ken Kropkowski, a naval aviator who was waterboarded. “I don’t see how you can equate that with torture.”
Some CIA interrogators were themselves waterboarded before using the technique on terrorists. Abu Zubaydah broke after 35 seconds of waterboarding, an interrogator said.
Sleep deprivation, stress positions, liquid diets and playing loud music were other forms of “torture” the report decried.
No one at the CIA involved with enhanced interrogations was personally interviewed by the committee before the report was published. One reason is that some would have testified that information obtained from “enhanced interrogations” thwarted several terror plots, led to the capture of senior al-Qaida leaders and pointed the way to Osama bin Laden’s hideout, said former CIA Director Michael Hayden.
“Enhanced techniques made me want to tell the truth to make it stop, not to compound my situation with more lies,” said a former interrogator.
Their testimony wasn’t sought because it would have clashed with the committee’s predetermined conclusion that enhanced interrogations were ineffective, Gen. Hayden said.
The CIA ought to rough up terrorists if that’s what it takes to get them to spill the beans on terror plots, Americans think.
The CIA methods were justified, said 51 percent in a Pew poll Dec. 15. Only 29 percent said they weren’t. Respondents agreed, 56-26, that information gleaned from enhanced interrogations helped prevent terror attacks. Only 24 percent in a YouGov poll Dec. 11 said torture is “never justified.” Think what those numbers would be like if there were another terror attack on American soil.
This is not a hypothetical question, the terror standoff in Sydney last weekend reminds us. Thanks to President Barack Obama’s foreign policy blunders, the threat Islamic terrorists pose has never been greater.
With little effort to determine if the incendiary accusation was true, Rolling Stone published an article last month accusing a fraternity of using gang rape as an initiation rite. That Senate committee Democrats avoided hearing evidence that might contradict their narrative reminded him of the Rolling Stone article, said Yale law professor Stephen Carter.
The accusations in the Senate Intelligence Committee report are not new. Democrats used the torture meme to beat up the Bush administration during the 2008 elections. Why resurrect it now, when it can only hurt CIA morale, anger our allies and give aid and comfort to our enemies?
“By attempting at this late date to vilify the men and women who did the hard, dangerous and unpleasant work of keeping the rest of us safe, [committee Democrats] create, gratuitously, a real and present danger,” said Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a retired Army intelligence officer. “They have placed a higher value on the exaggerated ‘suffering’ of barely human monsters than on the safety of our diplomats, our troops, our citizens abroad and our closest allies.”
Rolling Stone’s bogus rape story backfired. So has the torture report. Publishing it has hurt the United States, said 52 percent in that YouGov poll. Only 29 percent thought “the use of torture by the American government” was more harmful.
Imagine what those numbers would be like if we stopped calling a tail a leg. Democrats will regret positioning themselves as the party that puts the comfort of terrorists ahead of the safety of Americans.