ISIS's latest hostage torture revealed....
Revelations from freed captives detail how ISIS tortured hostages before beheading them. It included waterboarding--but 2 items the NY Times left unmentioned: (a) whether the ISIS technique was carefully circumscribed as was the case with CIA interrogations--which made the US version likely not torture under US law; (b) that ISIS could simply have substituted another technique, where they not trying to make a political point. The proper answer to these are: (a) the ISIS technique surely was cruder--no doctor present, longer, harsher; (b) surely, as they intended a given level of torture, they'd have selected something else from the vast Islamist terror arsenal.
Picking up an old story to recap & assess, re how Obama White House threatened hostage parents: On Fox News Sunday last month top Obama White House adviser Denis McDonough confirmed that in the run-up to the execution of James Foley, the White House told his parents they faced criminal prosecution if they attempted to ransom their son. Asked about this by FNS substitute anchor John Roberts, McDonough answered that applicable laws had to be enforced and that the White House merely informed Foley's parents of this.
At first blush one might find the WH's actions understandable, given that if large sums are paid to ISIS to ransom captors--as European powers routinely do with terror groups--the funds thereby gained can--WILL--be put to use in future acts of terror. And, rightly, the administration notes that paying ransom encourages future hostage-taking. In effect, doing so merely passes the pain from the family of one ransomed captive to unnamed future families.
1. No law is enforced 100 percent of the time. Prosecutors have discretion whether to file charges; judges have discretion at every stage of the trial, whether to accept or reject pleas, whether to impose sentence or suspend; presidents (and governors, for state crimes) have discretion to commute sentences or to issue outright pardons.
2. Standing by the law need not involve threats. The president, who found oodles of time for deserter Bo Bergdahl's family, could not bring himself to meet with Foley's parents personally. He could have gently explained why he feels the US cannot ransom ISIS hostages. Having his aides make what amount to veiled police-state threats is the kind of stuff done in banana republics.
3. This president has ransomed hostages before. Trading five top al-Qaeda terrorists to ransom deserter Bo Bergdahl makes denying same to the Foleys hard for this administration to defend. Asking them not to pay money to ISIS is not unreasonable. But the stench of hypocrisy with Team Obama is strong.
4. This president has suspended outright provisions of other laws. The president has suspended some 40 provisions of his signature law, ObamaCare--including the individual mandate that his lawyers told the Supreme Court in 2012 had to be implemented, lest the entire law collapse. This was not done for individual cases. It was wholesale suspension of laws duly enacted by Congress, signed by the president, that on their face offer zero discretion to the executive to suspend. The president has suspended enforcing laws designed to control the flow of immigrants, legal and illegal, across America's southwest border. In effect, President Obama has freely implemented cafeteria enforcement: only executing the laws piecemeal, in his unbounded discretion.
Bottom Line. The president's henchmen acted thuggishly and contemptibly in threatening a grief-stricken family. On top of the president playing fist-bumping golf immediately after claiming to be broken-hearted over Foley's beheading, it is the latest slap to parents who deserve compassion, not official cruelty.
As for the New York Times, a more focused waterboarding comparison would have helped readers compare Guantanamo then to ISIS now.
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