President Obama has made his position clear to the world. The United States will no longer use enhanced interrogation methods when questioning high-value captured terrorists. In fact, only Army Field Manual rules will apply, and they are essentially no rough stuff at all, in any form.
In his press conference last week, the president justified his new interrogation orders by pointing to Winston Churchill:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Churchill said we don't torture. When the entire British — all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat, and then the reason was that Churchill understood you start taking shortcuts, and over time, that corrodes what's best in the people. It corrodes the character of a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, "The Factor" was on the air just a few minutes after the president spoke, and I said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: Just one problem with that answer, Mr. President, with all due respect here. I'm not trying to nitpick. The British government uses very, very rough techniques on captured terrorists. Ask the IRA. And the SAS is an extremely feared force all over the world. Now, I don't want to Monday morning quarterback, but maybe Britain was not the best example there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Since then, "The Factor" has been investigating Winston Churchill's position on waging war and interrogating the enemy. Aided by Boston University History Professor Cathal Nolan, we have found out the following:
• Churchill wanted to use poison gas on the Germans in violation of the Geneva Convention but was stopped by the British War Cabinet.
• The Royal Air Force killed hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of civilians by targeting non-military sites.
• And the British operated a number of interrogation centers during and after World War II, including one called the London Cage, where German prisoners were beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with death.
Another center in Bad Nenndorf, on German soil, was almost like a concentration camp. British government documents detail terrible torture inflicted on Germans.
The point is that in every war brutal things are done. Some are flat out wrong. Some are necessary to win.
President Obama was wrong about Winston Churchill. Mr. Churchill was a true hero. His strong leadership helped save his country from Hitler, but he did brutal things, as FDR did, as Harry Truman did. So enough with the platitudes, Mr. President. Let's understand what we are dealing with here.
Right now, the Taliban are murdering civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al Qaeda continues its worldwide terror jihad, with America as the No. 1 target. It is not against American values to protect ourselves, and the president should have the power to order tough interrogation techniques, including the non-lethal waterboarding, if lives are at risk. But the president alone should make that call. That would not corrode our values. It is a rational policy that understands the brutal nature of the war we are waging.
By the way, Winston Churchill would approve.
And that is "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Sunday was Mother's Day, as you know, and there is a new AOL poll out on moms and the day. The top Mother's Day gift in America is — ready — not flowers, not candy, not "Bold Fresh," but time spent with mom and the family. Sounds a little chintzy to me, but there is no doubt most moms are patriots.
On the pinhead front, this bud's for you, Barney Frank. Our favorite congressman has sent out an e-mail fund-raising letter saying: "I can promise you that contributing to me will put [Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney and Sean Hannity] in an even worse mood than they usually are."
I don't care if you give Barney money, but you should know he is a pinhead.