Pundits Whitewash Torture
On the Sunday morning news programs, several pundits went out of their way to either endorse waterboarding and other techniques endorsed in the torture memos - or to dismiss the idea of holding their authors responsible. (H/t FireDogLake)
On ABC News' "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," George Will echoed several Bush officials when he criticized the release of the memos, saying "The problem with transparency is that it's transparent for the terrorists as well." Will expressed concern about the cost of letting "the bad guys" know what techniques, such as waterboarding, will be used on them. He went on to add, as noted by HuffPost's Jason Linkins, that "intelligent people of good will" believe the President of the United States can do whatever he wants to "defend the country."
Peggy Noonan went even further, articulating a position that upends George Santayana's famous quote: "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
"Some things in life need to be mysterious," said Noonan, adding, "Sometimes you need to just keep walking."
She also added:
"It's hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that."
On "Meet The Press," the assembled panel agreed with Obama's decision not to prosecute former CIA officials or employees.
Time magazine's managing editor Rick Stengel compared Obama to Nelson Mandela, who established a truth and reconciliation commission responsible for discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by South Africa's apartheid government.
Former Congressman Harold Ford and Nina Easton, the Washington editor of Fortune magazine, seemed to agree with that assessment:
MR. STENGEL: Congressman, you--but you--he's basically saying let bygones be bygones. He's not prosecuting anybody. He could prosecute people. He could prosecute the former CIA director. I mean, he's very Mandelalike in the sense that he's saying let the past be the past and let us move into the future...
HAROLD FORD: After September the 11th we asked men and women in this country serving in our military and our intelligence agencies to go out and find bad guys. I'm always a little hesitant afterwards when we try to judge the kinds of things they did. That being said, we are America and we got to live up to a certain standard, and I think what the president did was strike the right balance in how they went about dealing with this...
NINA EASTON: And so while he says there aren't going to be prosecutions, there could very well be John Conyer's investigating the authors of these legal memos on, on these--and I just wanted to point out one thing. Dennis Blair, the director of National Intelligence, said in, in one very telling quote, "It's very easy to look back on this safe, warm April 2009 day and second guess a lot of these decisions."
Over at "Fox News Sunday," some members of the panel jousted after the program aired, to prove how much they agreed with the Bush administration's torture policies, along with slamming the administration's decision to release the memos.
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol started things off by saying: "I'm not confident that forswearing the use of these techniques is prudent."
Then Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume took it a step further by emphasizing that Obama "needs to aware of what he may have unleashed here," warning of the possibility of "Congressional show trials" and emphasizing:
"What we really need is to have all these techniques at our disposal... they talk about the banging of the guy's head against the wall. It turns out to be very controlled and it's a soft wall that gives way... I'm not at all sure that's torture."
The program's host, Chris Wallace, agreed with Hume's assessment of the "soft wall" technique -- "it strikes me as fairly cautious and careful."