Quotes From John Brennan That Liberals Won’t Like
From Peter Baker’s New York Times Magazine overview of the Obama administration’s approach to terrorism:
Most of those [Bush holdovers], of course, were in the moderate camp inside the Bush administration, not the Cheney cadre, or like Brennan they present themselves as simply career professionals who followed orders or who even quietly dissented from the most extreme policies of the last eight years. “I was somebody who did oppose waterboarding,” Brennan told me. “I opposed different aspects of the enhanced interrogation program. But there were some aspects of it that I concurred with.” For instance, he offered, “if you grab somebody by the lapels, and you say, Oh, my goodness, you’ve violated their rights as a person, well, I’m not going to go that far.”
Well, OK, but how far are you willing to take that? Years of awful experience with torture demonstrates that grabbing someone by the lapels doesn’t *stay *just a lapel grab for very long. If an interrogator is led to believe he can grab someone by the lapels, he’s likely to grab someone in other places. There’s a reason that U.S. laws and binding legal conventions against torture are absolute.
Brennan is clearly not being literal here. And progressives have tended to underplay the notes Brennan has struck advocating basically the approach to terrorism progressives advocated all throughout the Bush years. But President Obama issued an executive order revoking his predecessor’s interrogation rules practically root and branch. Brennan’s interview complicates the meaning of that order.