The new Administration has undertaken the implementation of a whole host of Executive Orders concerning detention and interrogation procedures. I can see that the orders have done their job in getting media attention, but their implementation may well be a lot more complicated than the Administration hopes, as I argue here.
And it would appear that my arguments are being somewhat reinforced:
President Barack Obama’s choice for top U.S. spy declined on Thursday to call waterboarding “torture,” only days after his attorney general nominee condemned the interrogation practice as precisely that.
Retired Adm. Dennis Blair replied cautiously when pressed on the waterboarding question at a hearing on his nomination to be director of national intelligence, of which the CIA is a part.
The caution reflected a public debate over whether to prosecute CIA employees who used the simulated drowning technique. Torture is banned by U.S. and international laws.
“There will be no waterboarding on my watch. There will be no torture on my watch,” Blair said, refusing to go further.
In contrast, attorney general nominee Eric Holder flatly told his confirmation hearing last week, “Waterboarding is torture.” The statement was a break from years in which Bush administration officials rejected that characterization.
Michigan Democratic Sen Carl Levin told Blair, “If the attorney general designee can answer it, you can too,”
Ah, but Admiral Blair is doing no such thing. And I am not sure that he is remaining coy simply because he wants to protect CIA officers from prosecution. He may well be doing it because he wants to ensure that the Administration possesses the full range of options it may want in interrogating officials. If the NIMBY instinct of Representatives and Senators concerning any decision to move Guantanamo detainees to locales in the United States remains undiminished, Guantanamo’s status may be revisited, the decision to close it and the order issued to that effect notwithstanding.
The Economist reports that already, a number of Obamaphiles are expressing disappointment and disillusionment with the new President. The possibility exists that similar stories will be written in the near future.