Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I think I'd be a quercus rubra...

One of the dumber articles I have seen in a while came from CNN. I don't write about my political views often, because I think most people know where I stand on most issues, and what many people call debate is just two people screaming at each other to see who can shout the loudest, as an expression of how they are correct.

Still, Peter Goss, head of the CIA, comes out with this gem:

Al Qaeda leaders bin Laden and al-Zarqawi haven't been found "primarily because they don't want us to find them and they're going to great lengths to make sure we don't find them," Goss said in the interview broadcast Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

You're right. They sure would be easier to find if they wanted to be found. Brilliant!

I liked this quote as well:

Even with the CIA's mistakes, Goss said, the agency is "the gold standard by any measure" in terms of human intelligence.
"We don't get it right every time," he said, "but I don't think there's anybody who could even come close."

I'm no expert (I'll leave that to my friend Eric), but I would say the Israeli Secret Service is pretty close on more than one point. A country whose internal security service (allegedly) assassinated Palestinian bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash, aka "The Engineer", with an exploding cell phone in 1996...

This was interesting, too:
"What we do does not come close to torture," Goss said, though he declined to elaborate on the agency's interrogation techniques.

If it doesn't "come close to torture", why can't/won't they say what it is? Again, I'm no expert (Again, I'll leave that to my friend Eric), but I don't think we get to call ourselves the good guys if we're tortuing people. And, I don't think we get to call ourselves the good guys if we condone or advocate this, either.

The thing that gets me about discussions like this one, is the recent focus on torture and its effectiveness. McCain and his group say torture should be outlawed because it's not effective. Rush and his people argue that it is effective, saying But the American left with the avid support of the American media is placing those constraints, and the fact that more and more people seem to be willing to have those constraints placed is really troubling.

Effective? Not effective? What's missing from the discussion, in my mind, is whether or not it is right.

Respectfully submitted with my friend Eric (USAF), and his brothers and sisters who serve in the Armed Forces to defend my right to print things like this, in mind.


Eric Oliver said...

You are spot on with your Mossad (http://www.fas.org/irp/world/israel/mossad/) comment. Everyone should fear them, and that's not just my paranoid alterego speaking.

The torture discussion is a question where there are no easy answers and our adversaries are using that to their advantage. Read Al Queda's training manuals and you will quickly realize a few things:
1) They know they win if they can split American public opinion on any matter that relates to them - torture included
2) They are specifically taught to allege abuse at every opportunity
3) They are vigorously trained in torture resistance techniques.

Torture: right or wrong? As I said, I don't think there is any easy answer to that question. I don't think there is a bright line that defines the moral right and wrong bounds of what constitiutes torture and what constitutes acceptable pressure on a hardened adversary. Absent any moral imperative on where the boundary exists, we have only legal precedent and the court of public opinion (aka our collective moral conscience) to guide us. So far, Al Queda is winning in the court of public opinion. Perhaps that is becaused they are all trained.

If we are torturing prisoners, my personal opinion is we are playing into our adversary's hands. By that I mean: if we have tortured prisoners and obtained useful intelligence (I have no way of knowing) I argue that we have won a battle but are risking losing the war. Why? In democracy, national security strategy is a function of public opinion and will. We don't have the unity of purpose that Al Queda does. Anything that further divides our national will reduces their chances of losing...

Hmm...I'm making a habit of hijacking your BLOG. Perhaps I should get my own... :-)

FishrCutB8 said...

Don't you dare. Your comments are one of the things that keep my blog moving forward. Sure e-mail is easier, but then you wouldn't get to see Eddie the cat every day.

Thanks for your insights.

eric oliver said...

Although not always entirely balanced (the author,
Robert Spencer, never dissects Christianity or Judaism as carefully as he dissects Islam) I recommend you periodically read http://www.jihadwatch.org/ to get a good sense for some of the violent and repressive Islamic societies that can result from a literalist reading of the Qur'an.

The Qur'an is opaque enough, confusing enough and contradictory enough that just about any life philosophy can be validated by selecting and interpreting specific passages.

The problem is: in Spencer's often one-sided site, Christianity and Judaism do not come in for a similar criticism. Just like Muslims, there are Christians and Jews who pursue a fundamentalist, highly-repressive and freedom-hating agenda supported by selective reading of their Bible or Torah. Just like Muslims there are Christians and Jews who would destroy art and culture in the pursuance of not offending their god.

And just like Muslims the vast majority of Christian and Jewish adherents favor a more enlightened interpretation of scripture.

But Spencer has an agenda of his own, and that is to show that Islam is at its basis inherently evil and Christianity, with is Judaic roots, is inherently good. In this he is, at best, only half right.

Having said that, it is still worth reading to find the nuggets of truth that are there. The idea of religious freedom shares nothing with the radical Islamic ideal, which is all people either being converted, subjugated or eliminated. Remember, if just one percent of Islamic followers wants to kill you, that's some 10 million people worldwide.

Oops, my paranoid side is showing again...