UPDATE: Malcolm Nance former Chief of Training at the Navy SERE school disconcurs with me and says Waterboarding is torture, period.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- On Sept. 6, 2006, President Bush announced that the CIA's overseas secret prisons had been temporarily emptied and 14 al-Qaeda leaders taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But since then, there has been no official accounting of what happened to about 30 other "ghost prisoners" who spent extended time in the custody of the CIA.
Some have been secretly transferred to their home countries, where they remain in detention and out of public view, according to interviews in Pakistan and Europe with government officials, human rights groups and lawyers for the detainees. Others have disappeared without a trace and may or may not still be under CIA control.
I find it comical that these folks toss out numbers like they have the faintest idea how many prisoners the CIA may have and where they are. They detail the paths of some people who may or may not have been detained or shuffled around by the CIA but in reality they are shining a flashlight in a dark cave and claiming they have diagrammed it's interior. But the fact that light is shining at all is wrong.
The CIA is supposed to be scarfing up bad guys and then asking them questions about their plans and who they hang out with. They are even supposed to make them very uncomfortable and fearful for their lives as this makes them more likely to tell us things. Sadly this is not an area of US policy that should ever get much if any oversight. No show trials in the Senate where Hillary and Obama can posture and trade our security for political points and no visits from the Red Cross or Human Rights Watch.
The people who get to experience this Rendition Express are evil and dangerous. We would be well and truly justified to simply shoot them and feed the bodies to sharks. But if there is any possibility we can learn something that will prevent future violence against innocent then we are duty bound to do so. The fact that unpleasant techniques must be used is the fault of the unpleasant people and is mitigated by the value of the lives saved. These operations and the facilities at Gitmo that house unrepentant jihadis are quite simply necessary and proper tools in a war against a global conspiracy to kill innocents. If we close Gitmo, where would the left have us put the avowed jihadis who say they will fight to kill infidels until they draw their last breath? Maybe a work release program in Manhattan?
The activities of those operating on the dark side are undertaken in the dark for two reasons. First so no one can see what is happening, and second no one can see what is happening. The reason that character is so important in choosing a President is that the Commander in Chief powers are almost unchecked. If our national security depends on it the President can do pretty much whatever he deems necessary. This must be so and it we need to know our leader is capable of taking the often harsh actions needed to keep us safe.
Anyone who advocates closing CIA's rendition and "ghost" prisoner operations is too naive to serve as Commander in Chief even if they can get elected President.