Mike Kueber's Blog

May 10, 2011

If kill missions are OK, why isn’t torture?

While watching Bill O’Reilly’s TV show last night, I learned two things:

  1. His show, The O’Reilly Factor, is taped.  I learned this fact when Bill closed the show by saying he was in Boston to watch the Celtics’ game against the Miami Heat.  I immediately changed channels and joined the Celtic/Heat game at the start of the fourth quarter.  Although I had assumed that some of the show’s segments might be taped, I am a bit disappointed that the show is not as lively as it seems.  Don’t tell me that Bryan Williams isn’t live.
  2. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is not ready for prime time.  On Sunday I saw Donilon on Meet the Press (his first appearance) and was struck by his lack of command.  Although he was given relatively easy questions from David Gregory about the highly successful Osama mission, he continually gave nonresponsive answers.  Even worse, his talking points were poorly drafted and horribly delivered.  In reviewing the transcript, I counted six times where he said, “With regard to that, I’d like to make (two, three, or four) points.”  Last night’s The O’Reilly Factor showed that Donilon also appeared on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace and was completely unable to answer Wallace’s question about why the Obama administration was unwilling to waterboard a terrorist, but it was willing to shoot an unarmed terrorist.  Although Donilon was obviously prepped for his interviews, this line of questioning seemed to catch him off-guard and he was completely unable to think on his feet.  If I were President Obama, I would keep this guy away from public interviews.

Regarding an appropriate answer, I haven’t seen the pundits discuss Wallace’s question.  In my opinion, the terrorists should be treated like the enemy combatants that they are.  Therefore, it is appropriate to kill a combatant unless he is “conspicuously surrendering,” but after surrendering, it is wrong to torture him.  This, of course, begs the question, because we don’t have an agreement on whether waterboarding is torture.  I think I agree with O’Reilly and Bush-43 – i.e., waterboarding is borderline torture than should be utilized only in extenuating circumstances authorized by POTUS. 

Most people forget that, when Bush-43 authorized waterboarding against three terrorists, he declined to authorize two types of enhanced interrogation that he concluded crossed the line into torture.  Perhaps there is a Pulitzer waiting for the enterprising journalist who identifies those types of interrogation.

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