Some additional musings about Fred Thompson’s comments regarding defending Americans from terrorists.
As a proud member of the Jack Bauer caucus (h/t Perfunction), it is so refreshing to see a candidate say that he would do whatever it takes to defend the lives of Americans who are at risk of imminent attack, as Fred Thompson recently stated on the Charlie Rose Show. Any candidate who does not take such a position is not qualified to be president of the United States, IMO.
We will from hear liberals and squishy Republicans on the issue who will opine about “how we are losing our moral authority around the world” and we are “violating human rights” and we “don’t torture”, etc., but these objectsions are easily refutable if we closely examine their presuppositions. Firstly, we don’t need to be lectured by Russia, China, post-Christian Europe, the Middle East, or rogue regimes about our “moral authority”, or lack thereof, when these countries have little or none to begin with. Second, our country does not gratuitously violate human rights like these other countries do on a regular basis- on the contrary, we are the their guarantor, and we actively safeguard and protect those human rights by any means necessary. We have every right to protect ourselves against individuals who want to terrorize Americans in a multiplicity of ways, regardless of whether these terrorists or rogue regimes want to engage in murder, terrorist attacks, or worse- we reserve the right to squeeze information from terrorist proxies just like we did Khalid-Sheik Mohammed. Anyone who says we shouldn’t have waterboarded the 9-11 terrorists on 9-10, or used other means at our disposal to prevent this attack, is simply kidding themselves, and unfit to be president.
Thirdly, as to the assertion that we “don’t torture”- first and foremost, waterboarding has been around for decades, it was not invented by the Bush administration, as much as Democrats would love for you to believe. Whether the technique even ranks as “torture” compared to some of the more crude and brutal techniques that are known to exist is also a matter of opinion and debate. We don’t know how many times the technique has been used in the field, but I would wager that it was used during the Cold War on more than one occasion, in addition to the fact that Khalid Sheik-Mohammed was submitted to the technique.
What critics fail to acknowledge, and what is demonstrably different about our use of stress techniques or other “enhanced interrogation techniques” to extract information versus the random use of torture by tyrants, is the fact that we do not gratuitously torture innocent individuals for no reason- the sine qua non of despotic regimes. We can only imagine what barbaric techniques are used in China, the Middle East, Russia, or North Korea, that would never, ever be considered by free and humane societies. The United States does not randomly imprison individuals and torture them either for sport or some other depraved motive, and there are strict rules governing when certain techniques may even be considered, let alone used.
We should however reserve the right to use certain techniques, some of which may sound harsh to civilians, to break individuals who have formed an evil intent to kill Americans, who have information which could prevent a terror attack, and would otherwise be undeterable. What’s more, if the terrorist in question broke down and divulged everything they knew, our side would not unnecessarily use these techniques, some of which may be defined as “Torture” (again, many would disagree about the definition). Our intelligence experts know that different kinds of techniques, some of which do not involve physical contact, will work with different types of personalities- but we should not discount the fact that certain enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, will coerce suspected terrorists to divulge information that they would not have under ordinary circumstances, as it did with Khalid-Sheik Mohammed.
No matter how John McCain or other liberals claim that we are “losing our moral authority” because we occasionally have to defend ourselves from grave threats, I believe that these assertions simply don’t accord with reality. John McCain speaks with much conviction about the brutal techniques used upon him by his captors, and his service and dedication to this country are beyond reproach; but what he fails to realize is the fact that there will always be evil in the world who will truly use techniques that are true forms of torture, regardless of our response to such evil. In a perfect world, we would never have to consider coercing information from a terrorist by using means which many may view as harsh, but that is not the world we live in. Simply because we wish to defend ourselves from the evil with which terrorists want to visit upon us, we are NOT descending to their level merely because we waterboard suspected terrorists who want to engage in mass murder. Just the opposite- we are defending human rights and civilization from a darkened mindset that lusts for abject oppression and tyranny.
Our moral authority derives from the fact that we have established a Republic free from tyranny, we recognize the inherent dignity of the individual, we recognize that the rights of Man which come from God, and not from Government, and we spread and promote these truths worldwide. Our moral authority does not derive from the fact that we are compassionate or soft towards terror groups and regimes which plot death and destruction against our people or our way of life, which ultimately serves as the foundation upon which all of the rights we enjoy and our moral authority as a nation stands upon.
Don’t believe me? Perhaps then you should ask the Mossad about what sorts of techniques they use to coerce information from a hardened enemy. I can only hope that collectively we will wisen up to the evil that seeks to commit acts of mass terror against us.