Nancy Pelosi Approved Torture!? Is Barack Obama Making the Country WEAKER?

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.”
The Washington Post, December 9th, 2007.

Nancy PelosiATLANTA— As I have said before, the Obama Administration has opened a can of worms by stepping into the debate about whether or not the Bush Administration approved “torture” in the form of waterboarding.  Most Americans believe waterboarding is torture, but most Americans also supported the Bush Administration’s use of waterboarding and other harsh techniques in preventing terrorist attacks. They do not want the Bush Administration investigated.   In opening this debate, Barack Obama is making a play to the MoveOn.org left, which could come back to haunt him.

The greatest way this could haunt him is by dragging Democrats into the foray and having them be exposed as hypocrites. The biggest hypocrite of all is Nancy Pelosi.  Mrs. Pelosi has plead ignorance by trying desperately to say that in the 2002 briefing mentioned above she did not know waterboarding was already being used. Evidence released by the Obama Administration suggests otherwise.  Apparently, by the time the above briefing occurred, the CIA had already used waterboarding 83 times on one al Qaida leader.  It is reasonable to conclude that this fact was presented to Mrs. Pelosi in the above briefing.

I am strongly against an investigation into the Bush Administration.   They kept us safe for 8 years and deserve much credit for it.  I will say that I am with most Americans in believing waterboarding is a form of torture.  I think in the “spectrum” of torture, it is likely the least severe form.  But it appears to me to be torture nonetheless.

However, after a long time of wrestling over this question, I have come to believe that the Bush Administration used waterboarding appropriately in the circumstances.  From my reading, the Administration performed waterboarding on only a very limited number of al Qaida captives.  Further, it is clear they went to great pains to research relevant national and international law.  Further, in the circumstance, it appears waterboarding was highly effective, revealing much needed information that prevented further attacks.

The debate over waterboarding to me is like the debate over dropping the nuclear bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II.  The nuclear bomb is a horrific weapon- and it’s use invariably leads to the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people.  But World War II was the one circumstance in which I believe its use was justified.  Those bombings ended a much more horrific war and by most estimates, saved the lives of 100s of thousands more soldiers and civilians that would have been lost had a full scale invasion of Japan occurred.

Barack Obama is on the wrong side of history in this debate. And Nancy Pelosi’s already tarnished reputation will likely be dragged down further.  My recommendation is to stop the witch hunt and get this country focused on the future.  Barack Obama, by dismantling so much of the Bush Administration terror-fighting infrastructure and by demoralizing the CIA through this waterboarding investigation, really does risk making the country less safe, in my view.

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About Stephen VanNuys
Stephen Van Nuys is a happily married CPA who works for a large accounting firm and resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a Christian and an avid follower of politics and current events. He is also a big-time baseball fan. Stephen and his wife are runners, having completed multiple 10k’s and half-marathons between them. They place importance on being environmentally conscious and actively serving others through their church and other outlets. Mr. Van Nuys’ political leanings are socially conservative and economically libertarian. He may express his perspectives on current events strongly, but he welcomes disagreement, particularly where others believe his missives to be ill-informed or just plain wrong! He enjoys good debate and discussion and is writing here as much to express his perspectives as he is to learn about others.

19 Responses to Nancy Pelosi Approved Torture!? Is Barack Obama Making the Country WEAKER?

  1. BaldManMoody says:

    “Evidence released by the Obama Administration suggests otherwise. Apparently, by the time the above briefing occurred, the CIA had already used waterboarding 83 times on one al Qaida leader. It is reasonable to conclude that this fact was presented to Mrs. Pelosi in the above briefing.”

    It would also be reasonable to conclude that the Bush administration would have been able to have conclusive proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, right? You once convinced me that he (Bush) had to be telling the truth in his address to the nation to support the war against my better judgement. I almost guarantee you that facts were not presented completely by the CIA. Especially during the Bush administration.

    Great picture of Pelosi though. Reminds me of Skeletor. By the power of Grayskull!!!!

    • This debate is ongoing, BMM, and as I read more it turns out the CIA has documents that say they brief Pelosi on all forms of enhanced interogation that were being used.

      I think these documents, coupled with Pelosi’s being completely knocked off her game, spell trouble for the woman.

      Still stand by my missive from 2 weeks ago that opening the torture debate was one of Obama’s top 3 worst decisions. it is completely distracting him right now, and it is quickly eroding Pelosi’s political power. Will be interesting to see where she stands when the dust settles.

  2. BaldManMoody says:

    God, I can’t get over that picture. It’s horrific!!

  3. BMM: I was not for the Iraq war, but I was not sold on this idea that the Bush Admin “lied” about the WMD. From what I recall of living through the times, every nation in the world thought he had them. There was over a decades worth of UN resolutions claiming he had them and had not destroyed them. And apparently even many of Saddam’s own generals thought he had them. It just seems a little jejune to claim he was lying when presenting what everyone believed to be the best idea of truth at the time. (There are always skeptics, they typically believe Elvis still lives, aliens are real, and vote heavily for third parties) From where I sit it would be the same as calling all people liars who were teaching the sun moved around the earth just prior to the discovery of the opposite. Ill informed would be a better way to describe it.

  4. BMM and TP. You miss the point of the Iraq war. I’m sure I had to have talked to you guys about this at the time before the war I was in K-Town a good bit at that time and so was SVN and BMM.

    I remember thinking at the time that WMD’s was a good “excuse” to go into Iraq. I believed they were there as did many people, but to me it wasn’t necessary as a justification for the war. Of course Bush politically needed a justification or reason to sway the majority of American’s which is why I accepted the WMD argument (although it shouldn’t have suprised me that I politician appeared to have lied.) But to me this was never THE reason to go to war.

    Anyways, personally I believe we are at war with Islam. (Not Muslim’s in general) But the broad ideology of Jihad, the Great Satan, and this whole mentality that we should “respect” a religion that has offered nearly nothing to society in the last thousand years except war, pirates, oppression, and now terrorism.

    To me Iraq was a good target. Iran and Syria would be even better targets. But Iraq is strategically centralized to hopefully be able to spread a new evolved and shaped idiology outwards from there. Call it empire building, aggressive ideological change, or whatever but we need to some how open up the East to get our views and idologies into their society.

    Think about this. According to the LA Times over the last 1,000 years ONLY 10,000 books have been translated into Arabic. Spain ALONE translates this many new books into their language every 5 years. (I won’t use English data because that is just unfair.) Think about this… on average Islam has translated 10 books into their language every year while Spain is translating nearly 2,000. (Granted Arabic is up to 300 books annually but still compare this to Spain alone and it’s still staggering.)

    A society that has been THAT closed for THAT long has some serious cultural issues. What we need to be doing in Iraq is translating books into their language Bibles, Talmuds, Hindu text, Buddist texts, War and Peace, Crime and Punsishment, Orwell, Mark Twain, Sheakspeare, Ayn Rand, Adam Smith, Peter Drucker, Marx, Engles, Darwin, CS Lewis, Calvin, Augustine, Aquianes, etc., etc.

    Culturally and ideologically they have for 1,000s of year been at war with the west. Of course they may use the excuse of the Crusades for this I know Bin Laden does. But we all know this is bull crap.

    Islam was born out of war with a sword in it’s hand. Mohammed didn’t bring together the Arabic people with diplomacy but with the sword. After his death Islam brought war to the West FIRST. The Crusades didn’t begin until nearly 400 years into the war after Muslims had conquered nearly 2/3 of what was at the time considered ancient Christendom. I’m not justifing everything done in the Crusades. But I’m pointing out we are at war whether we like it or not and have been for millenium not by our choice but by the edict of a dangerous and sadistic religion.

    Most recently Europe has fallen. It is over run by Muslims. Tony Blair has recently admitted such when asked about Islams influence in England saying, “This is now an underground conversation.” Obama and Bush’s B.S. about Islam being a religion of peace indicates we are not far behind Europe because Islam has NEVER been a religion of peace. It was born out of war and has remained at war.

    Read This Article:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090512/ap_on_re_us/us_terrorism_investigation

    Did you notice how buried the fact that those “terrorists” preparing to attack Chicago were Muslims. It’s like we’re scarred to call a “spade”… a “spade”. This whole debate over torture is ludicris. Even if Nancy didn’t know or did know doesn’t matter. She’s a liar no intelligent person would believe a single thing she says without checking the facts themselves to begin with. And we should be torturing the crap out of these evil SOB’s.

    Finally, if the CIA did lie to get us into this war or to get the authority to torture a couple dudes because they realized the cowardice and ignorance of these politicians then good for them at least somebody is looking out for our freaking interests.

    Wow, that was a rant!

    • That was a rant! I agree that fundamentalist Islam is inherently a warrior religion. It’s really hard to argue otherwise. But I also believe a good chunk of the Islamic world has rejected that view and prefers a peaceful, dummed down version of Islam. This is based on my interactions with Muslims at work, etc.

      Still, there are enough that cling to the warrior piece of the religion that it is frightening. And regardless of which branch they believe, Islam is hegemonistic and knows no distinction b/w church and state- the state is the church (thus sharia law).

      Frightening. Europe is losing its grip to Islamic encroachment. That is one of the key battles of this century, in my view.

    • Yes. I would not disagree on the point of Islamic Jihad being at war with the West. They have stated as much. But you listed the best means of confronting this issue without the need for military action. Providing knowledge, i.e. translating books.

      I figured, at the start of that war, the target of Iraq was the most justifiable. There were thirteen years of UN resolutions backing some sort of action. Technically the US had never declared an end to the first Gulf War so technically the US was still in a state of war with Saddam. So there were many legal means of making an argument for going to war with them. But I still did not think it was approriate.

      I think that because the State of Iraq had never militarily attacked the homeland of the United States. It had not mobilized any armies to make such an attack. It may have paid off covert groups to launch attacks, but from what I understand, the US does this through the CIA to other countries.

      No, while I recognize the “benefits” of the invasion of Iraq, the subsequent topple of a sworn enemy of the country, the logistic advantage of the position of Iraq on the globe, and the stern warning to its neighbors in the region, it was not, in my mind a justifiable war. An alternative could have been to spend those billions by translating, printing and distributing books and documents all over the area in such an abundance that it would become near impossible for the governments of the area to prohibit the process. Sort of an Information Bomb, an I-Bomb, if you will.

      I must note though that I was, and still remain, opposed to a premeptive hasty withdrawl of forces. The simplistic saying “you broke it, you bought it” is one way of explaining my view on this. While I disagreed with the invasion, I by no means thought the just thing to do was to “cut and run”. Any perceived “immorality” in the invasion would be far out weighed by the total lunacy of bombing the country, destroying it beyond recognition and then leaving it there to smolder and rott with no assistance whatsoever. Unfortunately that was the call of the “anti-war” left; to leave all those people in ruins with no help after we had just put them in that state. (Acknowledging too that life was no peach with Saddam, but it certainly wasn’t better with anarchy).

  5. Yes and I try to make a distinction between the person and the religion.

  6. Yes, the way to win the war is not military. This isn’t to say the military doesn’t play a role in the war.

    Dropping books on a culture that when in revolvt has been gased, that has a crazy dictator as their leader, and that controls the country I doubt would have worked. Iraq needed a push to evolve. Strategically the only time this was ever going to be justified was when Bush did it. It was never going to be justified any other time. And it was a target of opportunity.

    Having a democratically elected government that provides for a level of freedom and choice to it’s people should provide the opportunity for a culture to evolve (if it ever will). Helping establish a free Iraq that can translate it’s own books and integrate a broader culture into itself to me is one of the best bets to make and something VERY justifiable for the long term stability of the U.S. (I’m talking decades down the road if not centuries here). Of course perhaps it fails, perhaps it works but the Islamic Jihad culture never evolves, and perhaps it even back fires. But the #1 Principle of Warfare as pointed out so aptly by Neapoleon is that a battle is never one on the defense. It is much better to try to defend ourselves and push change onto Islamic Jihad then it is to wait for Islamic Jihad to come change us by the sword.

    We have the pen AND the sword. Islam has only a sword. And you are correct the pen will always be mighter then the sword but I think one should use all the tools available to them. I think the war was justified with or without WMD (although I was kind of surprised they never found any) to Syria’s benefit unfortunately.

    • FT: While I agree it was opportune, it still doesn’t make it right in my point of view. It is terrible that their leader was an ass. But I don’t think that is justification for invading the country and taking massive military action. If so, then why not North Korea? That country has all the same precursors and is actually more of a threat than Iraq ever was. And at what point does it stop? What level of anti-Americanism is allowable. What level of “unjust” rule is tolerable?

    • The palestinians have a democratically elected government. Hitler was elected. Hugo Chavez was elected. A democratically elected government does not guarantee just or proper rule. It’s sad to say, but it is true.

  7. TP, your right on there! Excellent point which is why I also stated the war cannot be won by the sword. I agree 100% that just because we “liberate” the country doesn’t mean we have won the war.

    Vast amounts of research has shown that the most dangerous time for a soldier or a police officer is when the battle is won or the criminal is arrested. The soldier and police officer are trained for warfare or a gun fight – they know how to handle this. After the battle is when it becomes dangerous or when the criminal in the back the car has had time to let reality sink in. Great bodies of evidence show the advantage of counter-strikes and injured policemen leading the criminal up the steps of the jail. Our guard is down if we think setting up a democracy is the only step we need to take. I don’t think our militaries guard is down though they are building hospitals, schools, libraries, and many things in Iraq let’s hope it works.

    Personally, on the North Korea question I do not think it has the same precursors of Islam. It is a bankrupt nation and yes they have WMDs (for sure this time). But culturally the culture of the Korean people has not declared war on the West. Kim Jong Ill has declared war on the west. Don’t forget I don’t think WMDs were needed to justify the war in the west TO ME. It may have been needed for others but not myself. Hundreds of years from now North Korea will not be a cultural threat to freedom. Hundreds of years from now the Jihadist culture of Islam will be a threat if we don’t do something.

    And at what point does it stop? What level of anti-Americanism is allowable. What level of “unjust” rule is tolerable?

    It never stops. The cost of freedom is vigilence! As long as the idea of “Americanism” is an ideal based on truth, liberty and justice no “anti-Americanism” should be tolerated because all it takes for the evil and unjust to succeed is for the good to do nothing. Why would we tolerate evil. If your neighbor beats his wife would you not call the police? If your neighbor pulls out a sword to kill you would you not fight back? If you see men in a car outside you house put on ski masks and begin loading guns would you wait until the physically break down your door to call the police or would you PREMEMPTIVELY call the police?

  8. BaldManMoody

    I almost guarantee you that facts were not presented completely by the CIA. Especially during the Bush administration.

    It is Nancy herself that is lying. If the facts were not presented completely by the CIA why does Nancy keep completely changing her story?

    First – “I’ve NEVER been brief.”
    Second – “I was never briefed on these specific issues.”
    Third – “I was never briefed on waterboarding specifically.”
    Fourth – “I was briefed on things some of which I’m not sure of and some of which were misleading.”
    Now – “I was lied to by the CIA.”

    I can grant the CIA may present things in whatever light they want to present them. The issue here is Nancy though! Regardless of what the CIA did Nancy has lied through her teeth. (But what would you expect from a politician). And regardless of how the CIA presents things a politician should be intelligent enough to see through the B.S. and ask the right questions?

  9. “If you see men in a car outside you house put on ski masks and begin loading guns would you wait until the physically break down your door to call the police or would you PREMEMPTIVELY call the police?”

    I’d call the police. What I wouldn’t do is PREMEMPTIVELY blow the crap out of them as soon as I saw the ski masks.

    There is a big difference between aligning your defense in preparing for an attack, and launching an attack. When I see the men preparing, I prepare. When I see the men attacking, I defend.

    As for my initial questions, those were a lead into the “slippery slope.” At some point restraint must be applied. You can’t “fight” people into liking you.

  10. I love this conversation. I find common ground with you and I also disagree. True reasoned debate is so hard to find.

    I submit this. Calling the police is what Bush & the congress did. They of course didn’t personally blow the crap out of the bad guys coming they called in the professionals that do that kind of thing!

    There is a big difference between aligning your defense in preparing for an attack, and launching an attack. When I see the men preparing, I prepare. When I see the men attacking, I defend.

    I understand this; but how do you win the war if all you do is defend? The police would never get the bad guys out of the car if they just set in the car shouting at them over their speaker phones without overwhelming fire power, a blockade and a undeatable siege of the car.

    One of the greatest modern military strategists was Alfred Mahan who served in the Civil War and later wrote broadly on navel military strategy. His ideologies influenced much of our navel fleet prior to WWI and enabled us to have a strong upper in that war (he is still studied broadly today at the navel academy). Alfred was the person that originally termed the phrase “Middle East”. One of his most famous sayings was

    War once declared must be waged offensively, aggressively! The enemy must not be fended off, but smitten down.

    As for what you were saying,

    As for my initial questions, those were a lead into the “slippery slope.” At some point restraint must be applied. You can’t “fight” people into liking you.

    I completely agree with you here. Although perhaps I miss the “slippery slope” part. I realize you can’t “fight” people into liking you. One of the MOST famous strategist who helped in the defeat of Neopolean was Carl von Clausewitz a Prussian who went to Russia to work to defeat Neopleon he had three keys to conducting the offensive actions of war:

    (a) To conquer and destroy the armed power of the enemy;

    (b) To take possession of his material and other sources of strength, and

    (c) To gain public opinion.

    Now, I’m not an expert but I study this stuff for business. I’ve been studying the Sun Tzu and the minds that have followed him since high school. It is my understanding that these principles in coordination with another principle (the principle of the objective specifically) are in order of importance.

    Notice the third principle. It is inline with what you’re saying. So the question is how does one gain public opinion?

    Clausewitz theorized that to gain public opinion one had to win great victories (shock and awe, not his words but it does correlate) and one had to occupy the enemies capitol. Now, I understand that Bagdad isn’t the capitol of Islam so we’re kind of in a different realm here but it is a first step I think.

    I would theorize that in defeating fasiscm (many of the Islamic countries are a new type of fasiscm in my view) controling the capitol is more critical then in a war over resources or territory or some such tangible thing. WWII being a prime example of this necessity. Germany didn’t fall until the very end and Japan, well, we didn’t occupy the capitol we had to do something much harder and worse…

    Why is this? Think about the root of fascism it is seated in a belief that their ideology or race or whatever is superior and because of this they can’t be defeated… The only way to defeat fasicsm therefore is to completely defeat the enemy as long as they stand their “ideology” is self-fulfilling. It won’t self defeat because it is rooted in it’s belief of superiority. It is not based on reason. You can’t culturaly debate it until you physically defeat it and they are forced to look for a reason for their defeat.

    I’d be interested in hearing more on your views on how to win the cultural war against Islam. Do you know of any historically similar victory? A victory where an ideology similar to that of militant Islam was defeated without offensive aggression?

    I put this to you. IF Islam was ever able to unite again under a common banner (al la, a new Salidin or Mohammed) we would be in serious trouble. Bin Laden of course thought that this would be him thankful it wasn’t.

    • how do you win the war if all you do is defend”

      Isn’t this war ultimately about ideology? It is a clash of world views. Nearly all against one. It is amazing to live through to say you were there but the truth of the matter seems to be a rallying call to get all the world against one ideology and that is identified as Islamic Jihad. To ultimately defeat them you will have to live out what you say. You will have to practice the opposite of what they do. Yes, there is a time to defend using military. My arguement is, this was not the place.

      The police would never get the bad guys out of the car if they just set in the car shouting at them over their speaker phones without overwhelming fire power

      Well the premise, as I understood it, premeptive was defined as calling the police. Do I, as a person, viewing the actions of those near me, prepare for a possible attack by calling the police to alert them, and by preparing my house, family, and/or belongings? Or do I just attack them as soon as I see the face masks? No action by said group or persons has been enacted upon me but they appear threatening, I am not comfortable, Attack or prepare for defense? I say, Prepare for defense.

      “War once declared must be waged offensively, aggressively! The enemy must not be fended off, but smitten down”

      I agree, but the justification for declaring war is the question. And after this the means of prosecuting a war can vary.

      Clausewitz theorized that to gain public opinion one had to win great victories (shock and awe, not his words but it does correlate) and one had to occupy the enemies capitol.

      I would question the definition of “great victory”, in my opinion it is not always necessary to occupy the enemies capitol. A great victory could be defined as winning the intellectual war.

      Japan, well, we didn’t occupy the capitol we had to do something much harder and worse

      From what I understand, invading the capital would have been much harder and worse…

      Think about the root of fascism it is seated in a belief that their ideology or race or whatever is superior and because of this they can’t be defeated… The only way to defeat fasicsm therefore is to completely defeat the enemy as long as they stand their “ideology” is self-fulfilling. It won’t self defeat because it is rooted in it’s belief of superiority. It is not based on reason. You can’t culturaly debate it until you physically defeat it and they are forced to look for a reason for their defeat.

      I don’t know, it sounds like you are saying the only way to convince some one of a new idea, or to abandon an ideology, as fascism is held by people as an ideology, is to physically beat it into their head? To that I’d disagree. It would seem to me that if the battle was a battle of ideologies, then living said ideology as a witness would do more to win over the individuals of facism. An ideology still maintains a sense of self-defense. The self-defense can be acted out. The means of self-defense is at question here. The reasoning behind using the means is the ultimate question. I disagree with the reasoning to use military force to fight this current battle of ideologies. I do not disagree with the right of self-defense. I do not disagree with the use of a military (as many I have met do not believe a “peacefull” country should even maintain a war complex). I disagree with the justification of the means for this particular occassion.

  11. We disagree on the justification issue and perhaps it’s just nature, me being a bit more hawkish.

    However, I would like to point out one thing.

    It sounds like you are saying the only way to convince some one of a new idea, or to abandon an ideology, as fascism is held by people as an ideology, is to physically beat it into their head?

    This is not exactly true. It’s defining me more broadly then what I’m trying to say. I’m speaking specifically of the idea of fascism as encapsulated in Jihadist Islam not broadly “new ideas” or various “ideologies”. I recognize that fascism is an “ideology” but it is a very specific ideology.

    My question is specifically how do you defeat political fascism specifically? Even Marxism, socialism, etc which I disagree with are based on theortically sound logic meaning they are open to ideological change and debate. (Russia and China being examples)

    What did it take to get Hitler or the Emporer of Japan to lay down their arms and abandon their ideology? This I believe is the question we need to ask of Sunni and Shia Islam (i.e. Jihadist Islam and i.e. 99% of Islamic sects). What will it take for them to lay down their arms and abandon their core ideologies?

    There are many ideologies out their but few that teach that one people are superior then another. If somebody holds a view (not based on fact but faith) that they are superior then you and you owe them your life and subservience how do you convince them that they are not superior? You can’t deal with fact because they aren’t dealing with fact. So, I wouldn’t say it’s a “physically beating it into their head” but more of a physical taking of their foundation of faith. You have to take away what they are basing that faith of superiority on so that they are forced not to rely on the faith of superiority but to logically question that superiority.

    Also, as an aside I recognize that we have excellent examples of winning in a non-violent way. Jesus Christ, Mahtma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. being the the classic examples. This is a hard balance to strike. Especially in the context of Islam’s 1400 years of agression and war against the West. Fourteen hundred years of aggression raises concerns of their willingness for ideological change.

  12. Pingback: Simply Islam « The Freedom Thinker

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