These are heady days for Americans who revel in running down their country. If you buy what they're selling, the USA is a place where white cops hunt down and kill young black men at the slightest provocation, where pretty much every college male is a rapist-in-waiting. And overseas? We torture our enemies with a level of sadism that would make Torquemada blush.
Given all that perfidy, and without even mentioning corporate wickedness and income inequality, it's strange that we have a problem with illegal immigration. If the America-haters are even close to being right, we should be building walls to keep people from fleeing this wretched place.
As usual, the self-loathing is driven by the far left, many of whose denizens get their daily sustenance from bashing America. Which brings us to the "torture report," released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee. It is an early Christmas gift (or should we say "holiday present?") to the left wing.
Exhibit A is reliable lefty Joan Walsh, whose latest piece in Salon.com is titled "Police Abuse, Torture and Authoritarianism Run Amok." Walsh, a regular on a certain cable network in decline, insists that harsh interrogation of terrorists did not yield one smidgen of valuable intelligence. Her proof? The fact that al Qaeda and ISIS still exist. The total absence of logic boggles the mind.
On the other side of the argument are George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden, who wrote a detailed rebuttal of the Senate report. Those men actually ran the CIA for a dozen years, from 1997 to 2009. Their Wall Street Journal piece, which should be required reading for anyone interested in this issue, carries a pithy headline: "CIA Interrogations Saved Lives." President Obama's own CIA boss, John Brennan, agrees with his predecessors, and even the president doesn't claim that harsh interrogation was ineffective.
It is far too easy to forget those chaotic days and months after 9/11, when almost every American was certain that another al Qaeda attack was imminent, perhaps one using nuclear or biological weapons. So when we captured high-level terrorists, the CIA did what it could to obtain information that might prevent that universally-feared second wave.
Reasonable people can argue that water boarding is torture, and that torture is never used by a civilized society. Someone equally reasonable, let's say someone like John Yoo, can contend that water boarding falls short of torture. Yoo is the former Justice Department attorney who gave the legal rationale for enhanced interrogation. During an appearance on The Factor this week, he laid out the argument: "We knew stunningly little about al Qaeda at the time and we knew they wanted to carry out pending attacks." Yoo reached a conclusion that is inescapable: "We have not suffered a major attack on the United States homeland for the last thirteen years … the moral choice was actually to save those American lives, even at the price of the rights of some al Qaeda leaders."
John Yoo was never interviewed for the Senate report. The Intelligence Committee also ignored former CIA leaders and Bush administration officials such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, who describes the report as "deeply flawed" and "full of crap."
Crappy or not, the report gives plenty of ammunition to the ideologues. California Representative Jackie Speier, as reliable a left-winger as there is in Congress, is actually demanding that the CIA apologize. To whom? The terrorists? Or to the thousands of Americans who were quite possibly saved by the interrogations? Should we also apologize, Ms. Speier, for the deadly drone strikes favored by the Obama administration?
The CIA and the Bush administration certainly made mistakes after 9/11. But it's almost equally certain that they saved lives. Three men who were water boarded were Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Rahim al Nashiri, all al-Qaeda big shots. KSM gave up vital information that crippled his terror group and ultimately led U.S. authorities to Osama Bin Laden's compound. Nevertheless, the far left and the America-haters won't budge.
Let's end with a question: Would you prefer to put your family's safety in the hands of George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden … or Joan Walsh and Jackie Speier? You make the call.