The former head of the CIA's Clandestine Service Jose Rodriguez says President Obama is waging the nation's war against radical Islam in a far more brutal manner than his predecessor President George W. Bush.
"We don't capture anybody any more," Rodriguez told 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl on Sunday. "Their default option of this Administration has been to ... take no prisoners ... How could it be more ethical to kill people rather than capture them? I never understood that one."
Those remarks by Rodriguez have been largely overshadowed by his more controversial defense of "enhanced interrogation techniques," which is laid out in his new book out today called Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives. But what was interesting to observe last night was the overlap in views by advocates of enhanced interrogation (a.k.a. torture) such as Rodriguez and opponents of such tactics, like your Glenn Greenwalds and Ron Pauls, who essentially agree on one important point: It's better to capture suspected terrorists and draw out information from them than assassinate them without due process.
The latest high-profile case to raise this issue was the assassination of American-born YouTube preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by Hellfire missiles fired from a drone in September. There wasn't a move to attempt to interview al-Awlaki, he was just blown to smithereens. And to many civil libertarians, that exercise of power against an American citizen is far more threatening than what we saw from the Bush administration. "How can anyone who vocally decried Bush’s mere eavesdropping and detention powers without judicial review possibly justify Obama’s executions without judicial review?" Greenwald wrote at the time. "How can the former (far more mild powers) have been such an assault on Everything We Stand For while the latter is a tolerable and acceptable assertion of war powers?"
It's a valid point and will likely continue to gain traction as Rodriguez launches his book tour. Clearly, however, it's not the focus of Rodriguez's spiel, which is a larger defense of enhanced interrogation. On that front, he's got more of an uphill battle. As Reuters reported Friday, Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats are about to end their almost three-year-long investigation of "enhanced interrogation" and will report that it had little success in eliciting intelligence. "One official said investigators found 'no evidence' such enhanced interrogations played 'any significant role' in the years-long intelligence operations which led to the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden last May by U.S. Navy SEALs," reported Mark Hosenball. While that report doesn't bode well for Rodriguez's case, neither did his vague pronouncement that the enhanced interrogation "saved lives." With the lack of specifics in his 60 Minutes interview, supporters of torture had probably better hope there's more in his book to make the case. See the interview that aired last night below:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.