Friday, January 23, 2009

Bush on Security

Marc Thiessen joins an echo from the right describing Bush's number one accomplishment: preventing another 9/11.

At first I thought this was a bit like claiming that the best thing about Bush's presidency was that there were no zombie attacks. (Though I suppose a slightly better analogy would be that the best thing about Bush's presidency was that there was only 1 zombie attack.)

In a BBC World interview (which I have not yet tracked down), Thiessen discusses how advanced interrogation techniques directly prevented attacks on Heathrow and on the Library tower in Los Angeles.

First I heard of that. I recently saw a PBS breakfast in Washington panel (which I can similarly only reference obliquely due to my poor search foo). Bruce Schneier snuck in a question as an audience member, and, more on point, a former Reagan advisor claimed the Bush presidency didn't markedly deviate from the foreign policy of the Clinton or prior administrations, but described Bush's unique inadequacy in explaining his decisions to the public.

Is it possible that Bush was secretly balancing difficult utilitarian priorities and choosing torture over massive civilian casualties? Could that be possible?

If there is a choice between torture and massive civilian casualties, Sam Harris has a great argument on that score.