Read the whole thing. Perhaps it is human nature to judge the past from the context of the present. I've come to think of that behavior as an indicator of whether I am dealing with a child or an adult though, and it's often not obvious until someone opens their yap. I haven't read other commentary on President Obama's press conference last night, but I think how he answered the questions on enhanced interrogation were instructive.
Update: Escort81 over at TigerHawk offers up a timely video that I think illustrates this point, where Jon Stewart calls Harry Truman a war criminal for dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Easy for him to say from his nice and comfy chair more than six decades later. There's even more to chew over in that clip about his views on enhanced interrogation, but I have to run(Truman comes in at about 5:50 in):
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 2|
More: Two points on President Obama's press conference last night. The coverage I've seen has highlighted his condemnation of waterboarding as torture. I have not seen any critical media coverage of this assertion(emphasis mine):
Prove it. I call bullshit until anyone gives me some evidence to back that up. I think it's a crock and a flat-out lie by President Obama.
The second statement I haven't seen covered is this(again, emphasis mine):
So when I made the decision to release these memos and when I made the decision to bar these practices, this was based on consultation with my entire national security team, and based on my understanding that ultimately I will be judged as Commander-in-Chief on how safe I'm keeping the American people. That's the responsibility I wake up with and it's the responsibility I go to sleep with.
And so I will do whatever is required to keep the American people safe, but I am absolutely convinced that the best way I can do that is to make sure that we are not taking shortcuts that undermine who we are. And there have been no circumstances during the course of this first hundred days in which I have seen information that would make me second-guess the decision that I've made.
President Obama is dancing along a dangerous line here. It would not surprise me if there were no persons captured in the last 100 days who needed to be coerced, even to the point of waterboarding. The heavy lifting to date in that regard was done years ago. What about the next one? Well, the president says he "will do whatever is required to keep the American people safe".
Really? It seems to me that he has undermined the legal cover for actually doing whatever it takes, which so far has proven to be waterboarding at the most extreme, and substituted a policy that basically says "we'll figure it out some other way". Well, I hope that works out, I really do, for the sake of all Americans and specifically my friends and family who live and work in places like New York City and the LA area.
What CIA operative will now do "whatever it takes" knowing that the president who ordered that, and the nation who he or she would do it for, would ultimately condemn them? Perhaps ones who would are out there and they would do it anyway.
I'm not sure we, as a nation, would deserve that sacrifice though.