COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama went to Ground Zero in New York Thursday to lay a wreath and meet with first responders and family members to commemorate the execution of Osama bin Laden, In the process, the president may have blown a lot of goodwill.
In an account in Real Clear Politics, Debra Burlingame, the sister of Chip Burlingame, the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, describes an uncomfortable meeting with President Obama.
“Burlingame said she confronted Obama about Attorney General Eric Holder prosecuting the men who interrogated KSM, which may have produced intelligence leading us to bin Laden.
“Burlingame describes the encounter with Obama: ‘As a former attorney I know you can’t tell the Attorney General what to do, he said, ‘No, I can’t.’ But I said ‘we — that shouldn’t stop you from giving your opinion. We wouldn’t be here today if they hadn’t done their jobs. Can’t you at least give them your opinion.’ And he said ‘no I won’t,’ and he turned around and walked away.'”
One of the great ironies of the takedown of bin Laden is that the original intelligence that eventually led to the location of the terrorist chieftain was acquired from captured terrorists such as Mohammed under “enhanced interrogation techniques,” i.e. waterboarding. Waterboarding is a controversial interrogation technique that involves simulated drowning of suspects. In the days after 9/11, three terrorist suspects were subjected to waterboarding, yielding a great deal of intelligence that led to the prevention of numerous terrorist attacks.
The Obama administration has eschewed any further “enhanced interrogation,” which also involved sleep deprivation and playing loud music. In fact, as Burlingame referred to in her brief conversation with Obama, Attorney General Holder is still considering prosecuting the CIA interrogators whose efforts led to the execution of Bin Laden.
The horrible irony of an administration high-fiving itself over the killing of a terrorist mastermind while seeking to punish the people whose efforts led to that execution is bitter enough to swallow. The image of the president of the United States angrily turning his back on the bereaved sister of a 9/11 victim when confronted about the irony is, putting it mildly, searing beyond the capacity to comprehend.
It is common knowledge that the president does not like being questioned or confronted. But can one imagine George W. Bush angrily turning his back on any relative of a 9/11 victim? Bush, after all, treated Cindy Sheehan with great respect and empathy when he met with her shortly after the death of her son, Casey, in Iraq.
Of course, Bush would never prosecute a person for doing his duty in the War on Terror. He would not have turned his back on Debra Burlingame. There would have been hugs, comforting words, and maybe some tears. But Bush, after all, is only human.
Source: Burlingame After Meeting With Obama: He Turned His Back On Me, Real Cleal Politics, May 5, 2011
Waterboarding’s Value Based on Political Expediency, Not Principle, Mark R. Whittington, Yahoo News, May 5, 2011