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U.S. News and Commentary



Tuesday
Feb052013

Waterboarding, rendition, drones and U.S. presidents

Harold Koh, with Obama’s State Dept., said at a 2010 press conference "cruel and inhuman" treatment would not be used "going forward." Not a single media personality has asked Koh or Obama to explain how killing someone is not a painful process. (Photo from U.S. Government)Remember the media fury about waterboarding when President Barack Obama was a junior senator seeking the U.S. presidency?

Rendition was also a hot topic, with most media blaming President George W. Bush for starting the practice of spiriting a suspect off to a foreign country for interrogation.

In the interest of cleaning up the spin, a look at past and current presidents' policy is useful because legacy media completely overlooked the Clinton era.

Obama’s  State Dept. legal adviser Harold Hongju Koh said during a press conference in 2010:

 “This president of the United States said that torture and cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment will not be used going forward with regard to interrogation practices. So there has been a clear turning of the page.”

What didn’t media and Koh mention?

Rendition didn’t start under Bush 43. President Bill Clinton first ramped up the practice that previous presidents had used sparingly. Two left of center sites, the American Civil Liberties Union and The Brookings Institution confirmed this. As Brookings disclosed:

Beginning in 1995, President Bill Clinton's administration turned up the speed with a full-fledged program to use rendition to disrupt terrorism plotting abroad. According to former director of central intelligence George J. Tenet, about 70 renditions were carried out before Sept. 11, 2001, most of them during the Clinton years.

Little has been said about the use of waterboarding prior to Bush 43, but I don’t believe the practice originated with him.

Waterboarding and rendition, however, take a back seat when it comes to drone strikes. Obama has indisputably and markedly increased drone strikes. In June, 2012, left-leaning Slate said Obama drone strikes outnumbered those of Bush 43 by “5 to 1.”

Let me point something out to low-info Democrat voters. You don’t live to talk about a drone strike.

Why bring this up?

Obama campaigned on the basis of his moral superiority, evidenced by Koh’s empty words. Where is Koh now?

Maybe Obama’s legal counsel is spinning a speech justifying the decision to kill American citizens even if they haven’t been charged with a crime. Now legacy media are telling you what many of us have told you before, as per a Justice Dept. memo:

“The condition that an operational  leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.”

And there’s this:

As in Holder’s speech, the confidential memo lays out a three-part test that would make targeted killings of American lawful:  In addition to the suspect being an imminent threat, capture of the target must be “infeasible, and the strike must be conducted according to “law of war principles.” But the memo elaborates on some of these factors in ways that go beyond what the attorney general said publicly. For example, it states that U.S. officials may consider whether an attempted capture of a suspect  would pose an “undue risk” to U.S. personnel involved in such an operation. If so, U.S. officials could determine that the capture operation of the targeted American would not be feasible, making it lawful for the U.S. government to order a killing instead, the memo concludes.

Democrats can back off their moral superiority. This president prefers the most lethal weapon in the terrorism arsenal. He’s not alone. Historically and currently when it comes to national defense, few countries could claim moral superiority.

It’s important to point out that national security in this era is a daunting task and any country’s practices warrant discussion. Why legacy media routinely lie about this president’s actions—in fact, about any Democrat’s actions—should also be a topic for discussion.

Meanwhile, despite opinions to the contrary in state-controlled media, the world doesn’t love us a morsel more than they did under Bush 43.

Hope and change are in shorter supply these days, with the U.S. Constitution under attack by Democrats and their liberal allies. Now you know a major reason the political class would like to sail that document out the door.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Feb. 5, 2013)

Related Articles

WaPo bemoans Obama’s failed transparency, catches up to ‘Reason’ and errs on praise (The US Report)

Someone Just Leaked Obama's Rules for Assassinating American Citizens (Reason)

Is Islamist unrest really about free speech with drone strikes as trigger? (The US Report)

  

 

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