Political expediency on parade

Captain Ed and others have taken note of a WaPo story about how the CIA briefed four Congressional leaders back in 2002. It stimulates a comparison and contrast and Captain Ed notes that it

doesn’t settle the question as to whether waterboarding constitutes torture, but it certainly calls into question the notion that politics has nothing to do with the debate. The CIA stopped using waterboarding after 2003, and apparently have only used it on three detainees: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and an unidentified al-Qaeda prisoner. Only well after the practice had been abandoned did Congress raise objections to its use, and then never acknowledging their own acquiescence to it earlier. That lack of honesty allowed them to paint themselves as shocked, shocked! that waterboarding had been used as an interrogation technique.

or, as Glen Reynolds notes at Instapundit

Lots of people who were talking tough back then subsequently changed their tunes — out of either a sudden flowering of scruples or an unprincipled desire to go after the Bush Administration with any weapon that came to hand. But, you know, if you’re going to say “it was different back then,” it really has to be more than just an all-purpose excuse for politicians. It’s also a reason not to hang people out to dry for doing what politicians, and the public, wanted back then, when things were so “different.” Your call, but Jules Crittenden notes: “Next thing you know, someone’s going to say the Clinton co-presidency thought Saddam had a nuclear program and backed regime change.”

The recent NIE with the flip flop about Iran’s nuclear ambitions raises the same issue. Some point out that it is part of an ongoing bureaucrat’s war against the administration. That is internal politics. What is more ominous is noted by some overseas that this is yet another indication that the US does not have political will to express a coherent and consistent and dependable image. That lack is a tool of the enemies of the country and a plague for US allies.

Political expediency is on parade – the value system that puts the ends over the means and dismisses the past if necessary to promote the exigencies of the present.

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