National Security Network

Torture

Torture

Diplomacy

Misleading from South Carolina

Report 14 November 2011
As Republican candidates for president debated foreign policy in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) laid down lines of attack in the conservative National Review. Many of his attacks were echoed on Saturday by the candidates, who used the piece as a sort of playbook to fill in for a lack of experience and ideas in the field. Missing, in the debate and the article, was strategic thinking - China, for example, is mentioned only once in the piece, in relation to sanctions on Iran - as well as an understanding of the connection between the foundations of our strength at home and our power abroad. Also missing was awareness of how extreme conservative views clash with the advice of military leaders and nonpartisan national security experts. When Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN), for example, was asked about her support for torture techniques that our military opposes, she said: "I'm on the same side as Vice President Cheney on this issue" and against Colin Powell and John McCain. Below, NSN explores how the topics covered in Graham's article stack up against expert advice. Graham's words are in italics.
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Terrorism & National Security

How We Got Him

Report 4 May 2011

The story we know so far of Osama bin Laden's tracking and killing reflects success in intelligence reform, interagency coordination and old-fashioned intelligence-gathering.  Well-informed sources from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to former Guantanamo interrogators to the White House have insisted that information gleaned from "advanced interrogation techniques" - or torture - played little or no role, or was actually counter-productive by generating false leads. National security and military leaders have long argued that torture is not only an ineffective tool for extracting information, but it is also harmful overall to counterterrorism efforts. In fact, experts have made clear in recent days that the information that led to bin Laden's whereabouts was the result of years of hard work and deep investigation. As Graham said, "I do not believe this is a time to celebrate waterboarding, I believe this is a time to celebrate hard work." 

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Terrorism & National Security

Conservatives vs. Military Leadership

Report 13 April 2010
A troubling trend has emerged in American politics: conservatives in congress, conservative presidential candidates, and the conservative punditry have staked out radical positions that continually oppose the Pentagon's efforts to keep America safe.  On major issue after major issue confronting the military and our nation's security, conservatives have time and again attacked the military's advice in order to both obstruct progress and score political points against the Obama administration.  This politicking, which is often based on factual distortions, has pitted the conservative movement against the very institutions that safeguard our freedom and security.  As NSN Senior Advisor Major General Paul D. Eaton, U.S. Army (Ret.), recently wrote: "No one is safe it seems" from these pundits. 
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Terrorism & National Security

A Progressive Counterterrorism Approach Keeps America Safe

Report 11 March 2010
Yesterday, a number of senior counterterrorism officials and experts testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. efforts to combat extremism.  Daniel Benjamin, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, stated that the "primary goal of countering violent extremism is to stop those most at risk of radicalization from becoming terrorists."  National security experts agree that a strategic and farsighted counterterrorism policy takes the fight to terrorists globally and gets results through military, intelligence and law-enforcement means. 
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Terrorism & National Security

Conservatives Take on Powell, Petraeus and Bush Administration

Report 22 February 2010
This weekend saw a continuation of two parallel trends.  First, Generals Colin Powell and David Petraeus continued the trend of America's top national security experts supporting the Obama administration's national security policies.  Powell and Petraeus expressed support for a range of policies including prosecuting terrorists through civilian trials, closing Guantanamo Bay, and ending the use of torture or "enhanced interrogation techniques." The annual meeting of the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) conference demonstrated the second trend: conservatives politicizing national security.
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Terrorism & National Security

Eight Years After 9-11

Report 11 September 2009
Eight years ago today America was attacked. Today we pause to look back and honor those who died as well as those who struggled and sacrificed to defend us on that day and ever since. As we look back, it is worth remembering how eight years ago the world rose united in grief and support, and how Americans rose to support each other and to turn new attention to foreign affairs. But this year, significant steps from the Obama administration have changed the way we fight terrorism – changes that are making us safer today and in the future, and once again inviting the world to stand beside us united.
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Terrorism & National Security

While Obama Offers Solutions, Cheney Gives More Tortured Defense of Failed Policies

Report 25 August 2009
Yesterday brought more clarity on the failed interrogation and detention policies of the Bush administration—including new insight into the torture and abuse that permeated their prosecution of the “War on Terror.” But it also brought forward important reforms from the Obama administration: looking at best practices from professional interrogators in the FBI, CIA and elsewhere to create policies that will make America more secure and prevent abuses.
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Terrorism & National Security

Guantanamo Makes Us Weaker and Must Be Closed

Report 21 May 2009
Today President Obama spoke at the National Archives where, surrounded by the documents that contain the principles that founded America, he confirmed the need for America to return to these principles and values by closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
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Military

The Truth about Torture

Report 14 May 2009
As the Obama administration continues to weigh its options for cleaning up the mess left behind by the Bush administration – including how to deal with photos of detainees as well as how to try and detain terror suspects – experienced interrogator Ali Soufan yesterday gave the most detailed, professional critique to date of how bush Administration torture was both ineffective and counter-productive.  Soufan, who through traditional interrogation techniques of Abu Zubaydah discovered that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, made clear that once interrogators began torturing Zubaydah he stopped talking.  Soufan also explained that the Bush “enhanced interrogation techniques” were much slower than the knowledge based approach professional interrogators had developed for such situations, thus refuting the “ticking time bomb” straw man that is often used to justify torture. 
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