Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Easy Way or the Right Way?

To a great extent, the success of a Presidency is determined by the quality of the President's advisors.  Equally important, though, is the President's choice when different advisors give different advice.  When it came to the question of the use of torture in military investigation, we learn now that the President received conflicting advice.  His legal advisor, Alberto Gonzales, told him it was OK.  His military advisors told him it was a bad idea.  Specifically, the military advisors told him it was wrong, and that it could put US troops at risk.  

Always unbiased, I give thanks to the Republican Senator who brought us this information: Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-SC).  As reported in the NYT:
Military's Opposition to Harsh Interrogation Is Outlined

Published: July 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, July 27 - Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show.

Despite the military lawyers' warnings, the task force concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law because of the special character of the fight against terrorism.

In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members.

The memorandums were declassified and released last week in response to a request from Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Mr. Graham made the request after hearings in which officers representing the military's judge advocates general acknowledged having expressed concerns over interrogation policies. [...]

"These military lawyers were clearly disturbed by the proposed techniques that were deviations from past practices that were being advocated by the Justice Department," said Senator Graham, himself a former military lawyer.
This raises a point: when confronted with a difficult decision, does it make more sense to listen to the people who are saying what you want to hear, or the people who actually know what they are talking about?  We know which is easier.  I would like to think, though, that Mr. Bush was not elected in order to do things the easy way; he was elected to do things the right way.

Categories: rants, politics
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