Sunday, May 08, 2011

Default Credit Swap

The GOP is going haywire, desperate to (a) at least share credit with President Obama for his leadership on eliminating bin Laden and, by extension, (b) desperately claim that this success means that torture works.

Neither is true. President George W. Bush, led by Vice President Richard Bruce ("Dick") Cheney overturned terrorism intelligence review policies put in place by President Bill Clinton, cockily ignored memos like "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Within U.S." and managed to get away with relatively little criticism for allowing the largest attack on U.S. soil in American history under their watch. Just imagine how they would have led a firestorm of criticism against a Democratic President had it happened under Clinton or Obama.

Then the Bush/Cheney Administration, after allowing bin Laden to escape in Tora Bora, admitted that they had stopped thinking about him, eventually dismantling the unit tasked with finding Most Wanted Terrorist #1. Not exactly leadership that contributed to President Obama's success in this area -- since Obama reinstated the mission of tracking down bin Laden once in office, eventually leading to the tip, eventually leading to the gutsy decision that could have ended his Presidency one week ago.

To wit:

And now:

The fact is that President Obama is a very different type of leader than George W. Bush. The most telling example is former Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card, one of the "geniuses" behind the Mission: Accomplished chest-thumping debacle that began with his boss, W., landing in a flight suit, calling out President Obama for supposedly having "pounded his chest" over killing bin Laden. Really, Andrew? After you put up the banner and, it has been revealed, made secret plans for a bin Laden-killing celebration by the Bush Administration? How fucking hypocritical do you think you can be? Or are you just blinded by partisanship?

In fact, by not releasing the photo of bin Laden's corpse, by giving credit to the Navy SEALS, by refocusing on American unity, by swiftly countering false stories of bin Laden using his wife as a human shield, Obama's treatment of this success has been marked by a lack of swagger and lack of lies typical of the Bush/Cheney approach to war stories. Surely this is due to the fundamental insecurity of the previous Administration. Obama doesn't have to gloat -- he's a real great leader, not a fake one.

As for torture, not only does former CIA head Gen. Michael Hayden indicate that the intelligence that lead to bin Laden did not come from "enhanced interrogation," but Andrew Sullivan has a great post on how the Cheneys (Dick and Liz) are back in a desperate attempt to make torture the hero in their false narrative:
There is no evidence that torture was integral to capturing bin Laden. Of three tortured prisoners among the countless leads and tips and interviewees, one was deemed "quite cooperative" before being tortured, thereby leaving open the question of whether the shred of information he provided could have been gotten by non-barbaric methods; and two denied any knowledge of the courier under the torture technique called "waterboarding." So in order to defend torture, Cheney has to say that it's a success when the tortured tell lies. Heads he wins, tails we lose. Moreover, in the last two years or so, torture has been forbidden - although its legacy remains with war criminals protected by the US government, in violation of Geneva - and it was after those two years of a return to decency that bin Laden was found and killed. As for the Bush administration's over-arching goal - democratization of the Middle East - it was only under Obama that we got the Green Revolution in Iran, the successful revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, and the power-struggles now happening in Syria and Libya.

When these fanatics are presented with clear evidence that Obama has been far more successful against terror and its causes than they ever were, they return to their precious, their torture program, and claim ludicrously that, without it, bin Laden would not have been captured. Rumsfeld joined in the chorus of mass distraction this weekend on the same basis. All this really tells you is that these people realize that if their torture regime is found to have been counter-productive, if bin Laden was caught two years after the torture program was ended and with no evidence it helped, then their barbaric policy is exposed once again as unnecessary and a violation of core human values.

Bottom line comes from Bill Maher on his HBO show this week, in his final "New Rule" - why vote Republican for any reason:

Neither fiscally conservative, nor strong on defense. What gives?

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