The Corner

Cry Me a River

Look, when the Abu Ghraib abuses came to light, I was as outraged as anybody and said so. One of the main reasons the Abu Ghraib absues seem so bad is that they are so gratuitous. They look like people having fun being cruel for cruelty’s sake. But enough of all that.

Now it seems the press is going to start another round of America-bashing over the treatment of top al-Qaeda leaders. Here’s how the NYT begins:

WASHINGTON, May 12 — The Central Intelligence Agency has used coercive interrogation methods against a select group of high-level leaders and operatives of Al Qaeda that have produced growing concerns inside the agency about abuses, according to current and former counterterrorism officials.

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At least one agency employee has been disciplined for threatening a detainee with a gun during questioning, they said.

In the case of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a high-level detainee who is believed to have helped plan the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, C.I.A. interrogators used graduated levels of force, including a technique known as “water boarding,” in which a prisoner is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water and made to believe he might drown.

My response? Good. I would be far more upset to learn the CIA was being prevented from using coercive techniques against these people. Now, I don’t want permanent, cruel physical torture to be used — unless truly absolutely necessary (ticking bombs and all that) — but if Khalid Shaikh Mohammed finds his stay with the CIA to be the worst thing that ever happened to him, I say “Wahoo! look at my tax dollars at work!”

More from the Times:

Defenders of the operation said the methods stopped short of torture, did not violate American anti-torture statutes, and were necessary to fight a war against a nebulous enemy whose strength and intentions could only be gleaned by extracting information from often uncooperative detainees. Interrogators were trying to find out whether there might be another attack planned against the United States.

If that’s a fair description of what’s going on then this is no scandal, this the reporting of news most Americans assumed was going on already and I bet you the store they’d be more upset if it stopped.

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