The Corner

Criminalizing Policy Differences –the Galactic Double Standard

Bush administration officials who may find themselves in legal jeopardy because they authorized the use of enhanced interrogation methods must be bewildered by the double standard being applied to them — one even more unbalanced than the media’s usual double standard for conservatives and liberals.

 

Whatever one’s position on the propriety of the enhanced interrogation methods, there’s no evidence that the use of the methods resulted in the death of a single American. On the contrary, several credible sources maintain that the methods kept Americans from being killed. Nonetheless, some partisans assert that those who crafted the enhanced interrogation policy should be imprisoned.

 

Contrast that with the position of those same partisans regarding the governmental officials who crafted the famous pre- 9/11 ”Wall” — i.e., the Clinton-era policy that separated criminal investigations from intelligence operations, thereby impeding counter-terrorism investigations.

 

Among other things, the Wall prevented counter-terrorism investigators from accessing the computer of Zacarias Moussaoui, the 20th hijacker, days before 9/11. At the time one FBI investigator said, “Someday someone will die — and, wall or not — the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain problems.”

 

The Wall went beyond what was legally necessary and indisputably rendered Americans more vulnerable to terrorist attacks (whether removal of the Wall would’ve prevented 9/11 can only be a matter of speculation). The Wall was kept in place by government officials who were on notice that terrorists planned to kill Americans. It was kept in place even after terrorists had succeeded — pre 9/11 – in killing Americans. Maintenance of the policy was reckless and inexcusable — some might even argue that it was criminal.

 

Will the partisans who demand the prosecution of those who kept America safe also demand the prosecution of those who endangered America?

 

I’m not holding my breath.

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