As you know, I've never served in the military, but I have been honored to meet and get to know many who have. They've come from all walks of life -- officers and the enlisted..fighting men and women of wars both past and present. While each had unique reasons behind their choice to serve, they all shared one point of view that impressed me above all others.
In a very real sense, none of them wanted to be there. Now let me explain...
There's an old saying that no one hates war more than a soldier. Think about that...hundreds of thousands of men and women train and prepare their whole careers to protect our country and -- if necessary -- pay the ultimate price. But...it's not because they're itching for a fight.
I bring this up because a firestorm is raging over Bush administration advisers who may or may not have been completely honest, and, as a result, "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used on terror detainees. Before we start indicting, prosecuting or persecutinganyone, we really need to wait for all of the facts to be weighed. There's no reason to compound one wrong with another. For starters, I know that White House officials, lawyers, and "advisers" aren't the same as soldiers (even though some of them were), but I believe that we have to give these people the benefit of the doubt. I truly believe that those in the intelligence community and our Department of Defense -- whether they were wearing a suit or a uniform -- had our country's security in mind. They are notthe military, but in the end they share the same goals -- preserve American safety with as few casualties as possible (ours and"theirs.") I don't believe that anyone wants to needlessly and senselessly "interrogate" anyone. Americans are tough, but we are not cruel.
The sad reality is, this is a post-9/11 world we're living in, and tough decisions need to be made. So until all the facts are in about "which" adviser said "what" and "why"...we have to assume the best. Yes, of course I want vigorous and comprehensive inquiry into what happened. And if it turned out that some people lied, I want them held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The thing is...we just don't know yet.
And then there's the role President Obama is playing in all of this. He has, once again, reversed his stated position on whether he'd go after senior officials who advised that enhanced interrogation techniques be used. I gotta' ask...how many times is he going to reverse himself on this? I mean, now he's saying that those who carried out the operations should be free. So, if you were torturing somebody, you're off the hook. But, the senior officials who approved the actions of those men--like the Attorney General -- well, that's another story.
Not only is President Obama's position on this wildly inconsistent, but take a minute and think about this: Given all the tough decisions that the president's team needs to make, what would it do to a Commander-In-Chief's ability to make those decisions if as a result the nextpresident could start putting people in jail? Hindsight is 20/20, but you can't poke the last guy's eyes out because you see things differently.
- Would Abraham Lincoln be in jail for recommending the suspension of habeas corpusduring the Civil War?
- Would FDR be behind bars for pushing through the National RecoveryAdministration, which the Supreme Court later struck down most of as unconstitutional?
- Would Harry Truman, his lawyers and advisers...should they have gone to jail for recommending the taking over steel mills which the Supreme Court said was illegal?
When it comes right down to it, we're all on the same team -- guys with pens and guys with guns...each has a job to do when it comes to our national security. Thankfully, President Obama hasn't had to deal with a terrorist attack on ourcountry on hiswatch (and I pray he nor any other president ever has to). I think George W. Bush and his administration made all kinds of mistakes, but until we know that the improper use of enhanced interrogation techniques was one of them, we must give them the benefit of the doubt. Because President Obama -- no one knows what will happen over the next four years, and when you're out of office, you'll want the same consideration.