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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Interrogation Tactics - Yada, Yada, Yada

April 27, 2009

Many are finding it disturbing that President Barrack Obama has given the "all clear" signal to the Justice Department to investigate and seek criminal prosecutions against Bush Administration lawyers for the legal advice they gave relative to enhanced interrogation methods against terrorists in the aftermath of 9-11.

The situation is murky because it has also come to light that many members of Congress - from both parties - were briefed on these interrogations and voiced no opposition at the time of the briefing.

Of course, the briefings were held when the fervor over 9-11 was still intense - but now Democrats are running for cover - saying they were not told of the full extent of the interrogations in those briefings - yada, yada, yada.

Meanwhile, President Obama campaigned on the theme that he would be a different kind of leader - someone who would look forward - not backward - and heal the country from the political bickering of the past. Yet so far he doesn’t seem to have the stomach to tell his ultra-left supporters to "back off."

The decision to investigate falls under the guise of ensuring that "America stands for justice." But everyone knows it’s politics as usual - political payback against President Bush. However, it does convey to the world that the United States is nothing more than a "banana republic"- much like other dictatorial third-world countries where it is routine to jail political opponents with whom you disagree.

What is also unfolding in the Obama Administration is a President who has a dismal record of reaching across the aisle - someone who cannot stand up to the radical elements of his party. He has a working majority in Congress and his attitude toward Republicans has been to say "it’s my way or the highway."

He is soft spoken and claims to want to work with members of the opposition party - but he lacks the inner strength to be criticized by his own party for doing so. There seems to be an understanding that President Obama can be bullied into positions - hence, he has reversed himself a number of times when the pressure builds from Congressional Democrats and left-leaning special interests.

Working in his favor is a liberal free press who is accentuating the positive about his policies and not asking tough questions of him. Nor do they report anything beneath the surface of his administration. When thousands marched across the nation to protest the high taxes that will be coming as a result of the massive Obama deficit spending, few in the media even bothered to cover the protests.

All this has made for some scary policy decisions - the most recent being the release of selected CIA legal memos from the Office of Legal Counsel which detailed interrogation methods used against terrorists in the aftermath of 9-11.

The memos outline a pretty tame policy effort to gather information on possible future terrorist attacks in the United States when one considers that the terrorists had one goal in mind - to bring mass killing to as many innocent Americans as possible.

It is a crime for any country to torture captured combatants in a war - thus the policy differences come down to individual definitions of what is considered "torture." The memos do point out that we kept a few captured terrorists awake at night and some terrorists had to walk around without clothes - and a handful were subjected to the technique of "waterboarding" - yet always in the presence of medical physicians to ensure the process wasn’t lethal.

However, what was not released were the memos which outlined the information we did receive as a direct result of these tactics - which ultimately saved innocent American lives and foiled further attacks.

The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of what separates the United States from third-world dictatorships. Criminalizing legal advice from the previous administration would change all that - and be the start of a scorched-earth policy that will paralyze the country.

There will be no winners.