President Obamaís national security policy has recently become a hot topic in man-caused disasterism circles. The presidentís repeated apologies to foreign leaders for the bellicose and arrogant behavior of the Bush administration have been front-page news. And now that Top Secret national security documents have been released describing the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA, the coverage has intensified.
But the news stories and analyses have been exclusively from the American perspective Ė how we used cruel techniques such as waterboarding, why they should be eliminated, who approved them for use, which members of the Bush administration should be imprisoned, etc. Nothing has been reported from the man-caused disasterist perspective. Consequently, I conducted the following interview with a terrorist friend of mine, Hakeem Al Kaboom.
SFM. President Obama has banned torture, plans to close the GuantŠnamo Bay Detention Camp, and is considering an investigation of the inhumane interrogation methods conducted under the Bush administration. What affect will these measures have on al-Qaeda?
Hakeem. We are thrilled.
Hakeem. Under the Bush administration, OLC lawyers and high-level intelligence officials translated war powers law into clandestine and coercive policies to prevent terrorist attacks. Such policies permitted wholesale detention of captured enemy combatants and their enhanced interrogation at Gitmo. As a result, numerous terrorists were caught and their plots uncovered.
In dismantling this machinery, Obama puts the entire intelligence community, from his legal advisors down to field operatives, in an extremely untenable position. As much as they may want to prevent attacks, they have to worry about violating terrorist rights and ending up on trial or in jail themselves. And even if they employ courteous Obama-style interrogations to the letter of the law, they nevertheless have to worry about being prosecuted by a future administration.
SFM. I still donít understand why al-Qaeda would be thrilled. The Obama administration has only cut back our missile defense systems. I can see how this would thrill Iran and North Korea, but not al-Qaeda. Obama has not dismantled the PATRIOT Act or our satellite and airborne surveillance systems or our other intelligence gathering systems. So more and more enemy combatants will be removed from the battlefields.
Hakeem. Without enhanced interrogation techniques, interrogators will be unable to break the captives. You will need more and more prison space to hold them. But, instead of enlarging Gitmo, Obama is closing it down.
SFM. Donít worry about prison space. We have plenty of prisons in CONUS. Plus, the Obama administration plans to release many of the detainees.
Hakeem. We are thrilled, and amused, about that. Itís analogous to the mortgage bailout where people who make their payments are sacrificed for those who donít. Releasing terrorists sacrifices the safety of those who follow the law for the benefit of those who donít. And your compatriot Thomas Sowell went further, stating ďit sacrifices the safety of those who live within the law for the sake of self-satisfied preening, whether in editorial offices or in the White House.Ē
SFM. But that is part of the image that president Obama is creating and, in doing so, he has made major strides in improving U.S. relations abroad and promoting a global "shared hope" for peace. Many believe he has already won a moral victory by reigning in the CIA and its harsh interrogation techniques. He recently told the agency ďWhat makes the United States special and what makes you [the CIA] special is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals even when it's hard.Ē Donít you think that improving our image in the world will engender greater cooperation and, therefore, make us safer?
Hakeem. No. I think that proving to the world that you are nicer then we are is futile and will make you less safe. If you are willing to expose how your own people deal with terrorists, your allies, particularly ones with significant Muslim populations, will become uncooperative. They will do so out of fear that their cooperative arrangements with the U.S. (existing and prior deals with rendition, intelligence sharing, imprisonment, joint operations, etc.) will be similarly exposed.
In reality, Obama is in some bizarre state of denial or is afraid to get his hands dirty. The time since the 9/11 attack has dulled his sense of war. It is why he now calls the war against terrorism an overseas contingency operation. It is why Gitmo detainees can no longer be referred to as enemy combatants. His stance against torture is for narcissistic image building, not for serious war fighting. The possibility of being accused of torture (like George Bush) is more appalling to Obama than the act of torture itself.
SFM. Such an irresponsible statement couldnít be further from the truth. President Obamaís position on torture is based on morality.
Hakeem. Oh, I understand the morality argument, but not from a man who is not also against human rights violations. In his video to the Iranian people in which Obama apologized for your countryís arrogance and bad behavior, he utterly failed to even mention the human rights violations there. Surely he was promoting image over morality. And what did his mea culpa accomplish? Ayatollah Khameini responded by saying in a televised address that the U.S. is "hated in the world" and if it didn't change her ways, "divine customs and nations" would soon "change her."
SFM. I donít think that President Obama worries too much about what Iran thinks our image in the world is. And citing Iranian human rights violations against women, homosexuals, non-Muslims, students and political prisoners is moral quibbling. He has little control over such violations and who is to say they outnumber the hundreds of Gitmo detainees now freed from enhanced interrogation?
Hakeem. Well, if itís numeric morality you are after, only three Gitmo detainees have been water boarded, each of whom divulged information that saved many American lives. And surely abortion is not quibbling. Each year in your country well over one million abortions are performed Ė several thousands of them are late term abortions. In how many of these cases did Obama and your countryís females try to ďuphold [your] values and [your] ideals even when it's hardĒ?
Most of these abortions are performed for no other reason than to make it easy for everyone but the fetus. And the majority of late term abortions are performed on healthy women with healthy fetuses 20 or more weeks along in development. Indeed, one could argue that the procedure used, called dilation and evacuation, is torture.
SFM. I doubt very much that anyone but you could call it torture.
Hakeem. You may be right, but the procedure involves inserting a 13Ē stainless steel Sopher clamp into the uterus to grasp, twist and tear away whatever parts of the fetus will fit in itís 2 Ĺ inch jaws. The process is continued until the childís entire body (arms, legs, spine, lungs, intestines, etc.) is removed from the womb. The skull, by the way, must be crushed or punctured to facilitate its removal. The entire procedure takes 15 minutes to complete. As you know from our Internet videos, our beheadings take less than a minute.
SFM. I doubt very much that doctors would perform such a procedure if it were as bad as a beheading.
Hakeem. A 24-week-old fetus has no knowledge of death, but it can feel pain. After all, it is fully developed - itís just a smaller version of the child that would be delivered only 12 weeks later. Letís say that you and the fetus could somehow communicate with each other. In this imaginary dialogue, describe to him dilation and evacuation abortion and water boarding. Then tell him he has to have one or the other done to him. Which one do you think he will pick?
One is moral or is not. One cannot be appalled by torture and not be appalled by abortion.
SFM. We are straying from the subject. Letís get back to the impact on al-Qaeda of President Obamaís national security policy. He has reached out to Americaís most staunch critics and apologized to allies and adversaries alike for our misdeeds. Even at the G-20 Summit, rather than defend American capitalism, he acquiesced that America bears most of the blame for the degradation of the global financial system. Are you afraid that President Obamaís contrite endearment approach will improve our image and elicit reciprocity, thereby adversely affecting world opinion of al-Qaeda and reducing support for its cause?
Hakeem. No. These are naÔve panderings that influence only those who believe that some sort of ideal, harmonious world is somehow possible. They serve principally to confuse and hamstring wealthy nations.
SFM. Judging by the applause President Obama has received during his visits to Europe and Latin America, I have to say you are wrong.
Hakeem. All countries operate out of self-interest. Receiving accolades for embracing their priorities while criticizing those of your own country is hardly achievement. No country respects another simply because its leader is popular. As the applause fades, these countries will see tangible security interests (theirs and the United Statesí) as subordinate to Obamaís need to ingratiate himself with the hosts of the next country on has itinerary. They will see weakness and indecisiveness. Al Qaeda is not afraid. To the contrary, we welcome the instability that is sure to follow.
By the way, you forgot to mention Obamaís bowing to King Abdullah.
SFM. George Bush kissed him.
Hakeem. A kiss symbolizes respect and affection. A bow symbolizes subservience and submission.
SFM. We are getting off subject again. Is torture an effective means of extracting information?
Hakeem. Of course it is. It is the most effective means. Thatís why torture has been used for thousands of years. Do you think it would have had such a long and enduring history if it didnít work?
SFM. But many experts now say that it doesnít work Ė that it produces unreliable information or that the desired information can be extracted by more humane methods.
Hakeem. Please! Who are these experts - politicians, academics, Hollywood Rambos? Ask a torturer. They know how to get information. And they know if it is reliable. Thatís what professional interrogators do. Who would employ them if they failed to obtain good information or succeeded only in obtaining unreliable information?
And ask yourself. If you had information, how many fingernails or fingers would you give up before revealing it? How many beatings or electro-shocks could you take? How many days in a cold cell or a sweatbox could you endure?
SFM. What if the individual being tortured doesnít have the information being sought?
Hakeem. You donít want to be that person. No matter what you tell them, many interrogators will keep torturing you. Highly skilled and experienced interrogators, however, will quickly determine that you do not possess the information they seek. With others, it will take much longer. Cruel and brutal interrogators Ė and you know of whom I speak Ė will continue the torture indefinitely whether they believe you have relevant information or not.
SFM. It sounds like you just stated a pretty good argument for banning torture. Since many captives probably donít have information, there is a high risk of unnecessary torture.
Hakeem. Not at all Ė it is a risk you have to take. Letís say that through methods such as wiretaps, informants and satellite surveillance, you knew another 9/11 attack was coming and that you had an individual in custody thought to hold information that could be used to prevent it. It would be nice if he readily divulged the details or if he were the type of person who would eventually reveal the details through rapport-based interrogations.
But a mujihadeen with knowledge of when, where and how an attack of such magnitude would be executed would not be so cooperative, especially if the attack was imminent. Then you would torture him.
SFM. I wouldnít do it.
Hakeem. Itís good then that you arenít one of the people with which your country has entrusted its safety. But, seriously, if you found yourself in that situation, you would do whatever it took. You would be morally obligated to do so. Compare living with yourself knowing that you treated a fellow human being inhumanely with foregoing torture and living with yourself knowing that you could have saved the lives of thousands.
SFM. By the way, in referring to cruel and brutal interrogators, you indicated that I knew who they were. Assuming you were talking about present-day torture, Russia, England, France, Spain, Israel, most Asian countries, most Latin American countries, most African countries, and all Muslim countries come to mind. There are many more, but did I omit any conspicuous ones?
SFM. Not even the United States?
Hakeem. Correct. The United States tortures people, but it is not in the same league as these other regimes. The degree and frequency with which the United States employs torture is greatly exaggerated by human rights activists, the MSM and groups such as the ACLU. Of course, we are even guiltier of the exploitation. We have aggressively created this perception in the Muslim world as a recruiting tool. Abu Ghraib was a gold mine.
SFM. Were you ever imprisoned at Abu Ghraib?
Hakeem . Yes! And it was a most horrible experience for me, and my brother Abdul. American devils grilled me to identify freedom fighters that were building IEDís to kill and maim innocent women and children. I held out for as long as I could. Then I gave them the name of my brother, Abdul.
SFM. So you gave interrogators your brotherís name just to stop the pain and sent them on a wild goose chase.
Hakeem. Yes, to stop the pain, but Allah forgive me, Abdul was indeed our neighborhood IED maker.
SFM. It must have been excruciating pain for you to turn in your own brother. And I hate to ask you to relive such a dreadful experience, but how were they able to break you?
Hakeem (becoming distraught). You know the inhumane things they did to me. They stood me against a wall and stripped the garments from my body. A vicious dog growled and barked at me. Then they placed a womanís Ö I cannot speak more of my shame and horror.
SFM. Is this when they put a pair of panties on your head?
Hakeem. Yes. Allah protect me. Naked, and with my head adorned in this way, I could hold out no longer. Allah took my voice and it spoke: ďAbdul, Abdul, it was my brother Abdul. Take Abdul. Heís the one you want.Ē
SFM. But now that Abu Ghraib has been closed and president Obama has banned torture, has al-Qaeda recruitment become more difficult?
Hakeem. No. It has increased our numbers.
SFM. Please elaborate.
Hakeem. By eliminating waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques and releasing the documents that define what can be used, our jihadists are as enthusiastic as ever.
SFM. I donít understand. I thought you said al-Qaeda used the fact that the U.S. tortured detainees to increase recruitment. Now you are saying al-Qaeda uses the fact that the U.S. does not torture to increase recruitment. You are having it both ways?
Hakeem. Yes. Let me explain. We used the MSM to exaggerate Abu Ghraib. This inflamed many brothers enough to join. Surely, you can see this. Look what we did with the Muhammad cartoons. Then, after Obama banned torture, he released national security documents to the MSM defining the interrogation techniques that could be used and their limits. Since none of these techniques were as harsh as even water boarding, our recruiting offices have become overrun with brave jihadists.
SFM. I still donít understand.
Hakeem. Let me put it this way: Next time they catch me, I ainít telling Ďem shit.