Obama's Politically Correct Guide to War-Fighting

Political correctness is a scourge upon the earth and the intellect; it is a tyrant’s best friend and one of the greatest enemies free men face. In the hands of ideologues-become-professors, it has destroyed our institutions of higher learning, and in the hands of our ideologue-become-president, it threatens to destroy our ability to win the War on Terror.

Throughout the presidential campaign, candidate Obama promised “to end torture” if elected. Then, on January 22, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order closing CIA “black sites” and requiring the CIA to abide by the rules of the Army Field Manual when interrogating captured terrorists. (“Black sites” were top-secret locations around the world where the CIA interrogated some terrorists during George W. Bush’s administration.)
Simply put, from this point forward, Obama is telling the CIA to interrogate terrorists that may be planning to blow up the crowded mall where your kids shop in the same way that our Army personnel interrogate a captured enemy soldier. Along the way, some of the techniques being categorized as “torture” to justify this policy are nothing more than “harsh techniques” (Obama’s words), which politically-correct minds have conveniently labeled “torture.”

The Army Field Manual lists among the interrogation techniques allowed: “Playing on a prisoner’s anxieties, suggesting a prisoner may never see his family again if he refuses to cooperate, giving the prisoner the silent treatment, suggesting the prisoner may be punished for committing atrocities, posing rapid-fire questions, implying that the captors know all about the prisoner; ‘False flag,’ [which] involves tricking a detainee into believing he is the prisoner of another country’s forces. [And] separation [which] may be used only on unlawful combatants.” Among the interrogation techniques disallowed: “Waterboarding, Placing hoods or sacks over detainees’ heads; using duct tape over their eyes; total sensory deprivation, [and the] use of military working dogs to intimidate detainees.”

Since the Army Field Manual is available to the public, another problem with this politically correct-driven mess is that the Obama administration is basically announcing to the world what we can and can’t do if we catch a terrorist in the field or on the street. This in itself takes away part of the force of our interrogations by giving would-be prisoners a heads up on our interrogating techniques.

When Michelle Oddis, Assistant Managing Editor of HUMAN EVENTS, interviewed Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo) last week, he made this very point: “To limit interrogation techniques…[for] the intelligence agency, to [the] 19 techniques outlined in the army field manual, assures that high value al-Qaida people that [we] may catch in the future will know exactly what we can do.”

And wouldn’t you know that Amesty International is happy? They referred to Obama’s new interrogation standards as “a giant leap forward,” according to the New York Times. The fact that such a group is happy about this is but one more reason why we should bemoan the loss of harsher interrogation techniques pursued by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the Bush administration.

In addition to those problems, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) points out that “because the techniques are unclassified [and therefore public], information from the [Army Field Manual] could be used by terrorists to resist interrogations.” Did you catch that? Terrorists may so acquaint themselves with the techniques to which we’ve sworn to limit ourselves that they may be able to resist CIA interrogations when captured.

Bond demonstrated the need to drop this politically correct approach in another part of last week’s interview with Oddis when he recalled “one detainee [on whom] we used some other techniques [not contained in the Army Field Manual]” during Bush’s presidency. This particular detainee “was objecting because [the techniques] weren’t in the field manual” but then “folded…when he found out that” Bush allowed “other techniques” to be used by interrogators.

Of course, Eric Holder, Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, who just happens to have zero intelligence gathering experience, told the AP: “I’m not convinced at all that if we restrict ourselves to the Army field manual…we will be in any way less effective in the interrogation of people who have sworn to do us harm.”

Contrast Holder’s words with Bond’s, and you get a totally different picture. Put them in context with the experience of someone who actually has hands-on experience in gathering intelligence. For example, former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who “was a member of the team that captured and [waterboarded] al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002” said “he believes that Zubaydah would have continued to refuse to talk if the technique hadn’t been used. He also says he believes American lives were saved as a result of the information the CIA learned through the interrogation.”

In other words, Kiriakou believes that if the CIA had been limited to the allowable techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual when interrogating Zubayah, they never could have obtained information that saved lives.

I spoke to a former member of the U.S. military who was trained in Beirut, Lebanon and schooled in Arabic while there. On condition of anonymity, I asked about Obama’s recent executive order, and he said: “If the CIA has to refer to the army manual, which is absolutely ridiculous to begin with, this is not going to work. Our government is not fighting back. It’s like we’ve walked into a boxing ring and promised to keep our hands down at our sides while the other guy punches away.” He closed the conversation by saying, “Terrorists will not be broken without exceeding the army field manual.”

It seems that Obama’s politically guide to war-fighting is a recipe for disaster.

Check back Thursday for HUMAN EVENTS Editor Jed Babbin’s special report on the state of the war.