On CNN's "State of the Union" this morning with John King, I heard something that almost made me choke. King interviewed Charlie Swift, a formal Naval defense attorney, and former Bush defense policy advisor Doug "Stupidest Guy in the World" Feith about Cheney's warning to Obama about repudiating torture:
KING: Is he right? Are there Americans alive today because the Bush Administration used these controversial tactics?
SWIFT: "Who knows? See, that's the problem. No evidence is brought forth. It's said that everything that was learned is so secret that we can't tell you, and that's one of the other parts of the Obama executive order that is critical. He's asking for a complete look into the interrogation methods and what was seen.
One of the real problems with Guantanamo was the lack of transparency - we're right, you've got to trust us. And every time the administration turned out to be wrong - and they were wrong many times - then that trust was lowered each time that happened. ... It's my personal belief that it's very unlikely that enhanced interrogation techniques produced a great deal of actionable intelligence."
DF: It's quite clear that President Obama has recognized there are serious security problems involved here. This is not simply a matter of establishing civil liberties issues. It's a balancing of very important civil liberties issues against very important security issues. I think that the administration has an interest, as Mr. Swift says, in being as transparent as possible. So did the Bush administration. Reasonable people can differ about how those balances get struck, but I think this administration is going to have to take very seriously the security issues, and they're going to realize this is a problem that's not as simple as it was suggested during the campaign that it was."
Well, Dougie, I guess it depends on what you mean by "transparency." The Bush Administration used words in a peculiar way - that is, to communicate exactly the opposite. (See "Clear Skies" initiative, "No Child Left Behind Act," etc.)
For instance, George Bush signed something last year that would seem to indicate support for transparency with one caveat - when he decided it's against the interests of the country - which was, you know, always?
I don't know how any reasonable person can assert transparency as a value of this administration, but that's not really the main point here. It's that the Republicans, embracers of anti-American values like torture, are quite obviously setting the stage to pin the blame on Obama in the event of another terror attack.
The American people have made their position clear: They'll take their chances with Obama.
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