The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From last night’s “All-Stars.”

On Nancy Pelosi’s calls for a “truth commission:”  

Before you can decide whether to have a prosecutor or a commission, you have to know who the players are. The Democrats want to make this a war on the Bush administration.

But there is one inconvenient fact, and it’s stated by none other than Dennis Blair, who’s the Director of National Intelligence under Obama, not under Bush. And he said in writing that the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities to the executive and to members of congress, and received permission to continue to use the techniques.

Now, he’s a man who’s completely disinterested in this. He does not have a stake in the fight, and that’s what he says.

So among these Democrats, of course, among these members of Congress who are saying that we were not told that these techniques were used in the past, past tense.

But what she said in December ‘07 in a statement in response to a “Washington Post” story which said that she had been in on the hearings and had not objected, had been in on the briefings and not objected, she issued a statement saying that she was briefed on interrogation techniques the administration was considering using in the future.

So the parsing here is positively Clintonian. But even so, it doesn’t help her, because if you’re in a briefing, and you’re a member of Congress, and you’re hearing about a technique that you now say you were scandalized and is a war crime and you opposed, what is more important to speak out about? A technique that has been used in the past, in which case the briefing is pointless, or speaking about a technique which is going to be used in the future, in which case your objection is essential, but it never happened either. It never happened, and she never objected.

So I agree with “The Wall Street Journal.” If you want to have a commission, start with her. Put her in the dock under oath. Ask what did you know? When did you know it? And if it’s a war crime, how could you possibly not have objected?

On the Taliban’s asserting control over parts of northern Pakistan:

Well, the secretary of state spoke about this being a mortal threat to Pakistan and the region and the world, and it is. This is really scary stuff. I mean, platoons that the government has sent are worthless. What’s happening is that the government is powerless, essentially.

And I think having the leadership of Afghanistan and having the president of Pakistan to visit the White House next month is not going to do anything, because the president of Pakistan has no power.

It’s a country that is inclined to democracy, and there’s democratic sentiment, but its democratic institutions are utterly worthless. There is only one institution that actually works, and that’s the military.

And if this administration prides itself on realism, it has to prepare for what’s going to happen, which is there’s only one thing standing between the bad guys taking over and stability in Pakistan, or at least a non-takeover, and that is the military.

Much more important than our meetings with the president of Pakistan, who commands nothing, are our meetings with the head of the army, Kayani, and even with Musharraf waiting in the wings.

I would suspect that our discussions ought to be, at what point will the military step in and take over?

Kayani is smart. He wouldn’t want to step in and look like a usurper the way that Musharraf did. I think he’ll wait until things are truly falling apart, in which case he will be seen as a Cincinnatus riding in on a horse, and he will be proclaimed a rescuer.

I think that’s going to be a delicate matter of timing, and we ought to be working on that.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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