Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where Are the Howls of Outrage from the Left Today?

It's awfully quiet out there, considering:

  • We sent these guys in to specifically assassinate Osama
  • No arrest, no trial, he was unarmed
  • The intel came from Guantanamo
  • The White House is not denying waterboarding was used (so it was)

Where is Seymour Hersh, saying we sent in a death squad and have blood on our hands?
Where is Keith Olberman, calling Obama a torturer and a murderer?
Where is Cindi Sheehan...where is Cindi Sheehan?

There has been nothing but praise for Obama from the right. Can you imagine the reaction from the left if this operation had been conducted by Bush?


  1. Howels of outrage is a One Way Street!! .... Left to Right

  2. Scott, you raise a valid point. It was a good outcome. But it did rely on much-debated and some would say dubious means. Does that mean that the unethical means should not now or ever have been criticized?
    Also, are you saying that wonderfully trained American teams of killers, with justice on their side, and who obtain information through savage means are now, somehow, permissible?
    This assassination, clearly, has met with broad approval in the United States. But where is the line? Ghaddafi yes, Mugabe and Chavez no?
    The left, honestly, raised valid concerns about Guantanamo, waterboarding etc... reflecting the values or at least uncertainties shared by many Americans who can't reconcile their moral compass with the extreme brutalities of a nation at war. Now that the questioned but used war-time methods helped yield a measure of justice, does it render such concerns and the conversation it provoked completely invalid?
    Furthermore, discussion, information and coming to face to face with reality gets smart people to change their minds; Obama himself has done an about-face on Guantanamo.
    As for Olbermann, Hersh and Sheehan. Olbermann was justifiably fired, Hersh has faded to an occasional New Yorker piece and Sheehan is no doubt still mourning the death of her soldier son while criticizing Obama for being like Bush and probably IS howling that the Osama story is a imperialist government hoax.
    But don't throw all liberals into the howler category. Just cuz some in the media — and the howls from Limbaugh, Beck and OReilly are just as loud as those from the left — spout contrary views doesn't render invalid the discussion and debate. It's when both sides start calling each other names, questioning their ethics, and whatnot, that make us all want to run and just hang out with our own political tribe. Which is the real shame of the current political debate; we don't know how to talk to one another anymore, say, the way Tip O'Neil and Ronald Reagan did.

  3. Biddle, you are making the case that defenders of enhanced interrogation made at the time: you can't draw hard and fast lines, judgment is required, the practice has dangers and needs to be monitored, it can yield useful and actionable intelligence, we have a national security interest that is not subject to judicial review. If you can find prominent liberals who made that case, who said we shouldn't be hasty to condemn (or make political hay out of it), condemned the witchhunt and blackballing of John Yoo, or called for reason from the Leftist extremist, please produce names and citations, and I will eat my hat.

    As it is, it is game, set, and match in favor of the Bush administration policy.

  4. Gets back to Jack Bauer's dilemma, doesn't it? If you know a nuclear device is going off later today in Manhattan and you're holding a guy who knows where it is, do you torture him to get the information? If you answer "yes" to this question, you are ceding the argument as to whether we should ever use torture. All that remains is to hopefully use good judgment as to when and how. (Hopefully as humanely as possible within what is possible inside the concept of torture. Waterboarding, for instance, does no physical harm.)

    If you answer "no," I dearly hope you don't ever work within our national security apparatus.

    It's all too morally cozy to say we should never torture someone - that's not who we are! - from a faculty lounge or an editorial board where you never have to live with the consequences of NOT torturing someone.

  5. Scott,

    The great Richard Fernandez ("Wretchard the Cat") nails the issue with his unmistakeable brilliance. If you don't read him, you should.

    The money quote is

    "You can be as moral as you like; and I will be the last to argue that waterboarding someone is moral. But having forgone it, you must pay the price for its absence."

    Read it all.

  6. Are you familiar with the Stanford University Prison Experiment? People in authority have a tendency to be perverted by that authority (think politics). The cliche "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely" rings pretty true. Abu Ghraib is one instance of this behavior. If you excuse Abu Ghraib you simply aren't thinking. By extension, just how do you implement a theoretically logical policy to exercise "good judgement"? Let's just assume for a moment that Stanford University students are relatively intelligent and cognizant of the tendencies of taking on a role. They exhibited human nature in its sometimes, thoroughly unattractive form. Liberal or conservative, when you're getting a cavity search because you were driving your Muslim friend to the airport, might make you reconsider allowing the use of "good judgement".

  7. Bob obviously didn't read the Fernandez piece. I'm not sure he has read his Lord Acton, either. (The Pope, having just proclaimed the doctrine of papal infallibility, was Acton's target.) The next sentence begins "Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority."

    I would like to think I would have heard of a case in which someone was on the receiving end of a cavity search just for driving a Muslim friend to the airport. Consequently, I doubt that any such thing has happened.

  8. So...further question for the left. We shot Osama in the head, and everyone seems good with that. If we'd captured him, would you have told us that we couldn't waterboard him?

    Ok to shoot someone, but not okay to waterboard...How do you folks even keep the time of day straight?