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Unintended Consequences

To choose an action, or refrain from acting, inevitably results in consequences.  Not all of these consequences are foreseeable, though many seem far more "foreseeable" in retrospect than they were to those who had to make a choice at the time.

How WikiLeaks vindicated Bush's anti-terrorism strategy

Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. special operations forces is a major success in our country's war against al-Qaeda. As a result of the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation program and the intelligence gained from detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a major fraction of al-Qaeda's senior leadership has been captured or killed since 2001.

This conclusion was inadvertently reinforced recently by WikiLeaks' illegal disclosure of more than 700 classified Defense Department files on Guantanamo Bay detainees.

But first, the downside.

Their publication has harmed our security and cemented the impression among allies that America is incapable of keeping secrets.

Indeed.  Who would trust their analysis, let alone their means and methods of collection, to a nation which cannot keep its own secrets? 

But the material also provides compelling evidence of the effectiveness of Bush administration anti-terror policies after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.


The classified files from Guantanamo Bay, particularly those on senior operative Abu Faraj al-Libi, contain clues about al-Qaeda's courier network and even mention Abbottabad. Had bin Laden closely followed WikiLeaks' release of these documents April 25, it is unlikely he would have been there when U.S. Navy SEALs descended into his compound days later.

Which fact tends to explain the late rush put on this operation.  The sixteen hours taken to reach a final decision thus placed the operation in considerable jeopardy.


The WikiLeaks files reveal that those detainees who could not be held on sufficient evidence were released or transferred to other countries. Among those who were judged not likely to be threats, and released, a sizable number returned to the cause they had claimed to disavow, including a man who, post-Guantanamo, served as deputy leader of al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen; a senior Taliban commander; a propagandist for al-Qaeda's online magazine; and multiple suicide bombers.


The documents should also disprove some myths that have dogged Guantanamo and the reputations of those who honorably serve there. The classified record, for example, confirms that three detainees who died in 2006 were suicides -- not, as some have irresponsibly alleged, victims of brutal interrogations. The documents chronicle the lengths to which military guards accommodated Muslim religious sensibilities: sounding a call to prayer five times a day, providing halal meals and touching Korans only with gloves -- not flushing them down toilets, as was falsely alleged by one U.S. magazine. There was no policy of mistreatment, much less torture.


The material in these files should have been the stuff of tomorrow's histories, not today's headlines. I co-sponsored the Freedom of Information Act in 1966 and have long believed that the free flow of information is vital to our democracy, but the desire for transparency must be balanced with national security interests. Bush administration officials have much to gain from the release of this sort of record, but for our country's benefit it must come in the proper time and through proper channels.



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Comments (13)

"...a propagandist for al-Q... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

"...a propagandist for al-Qaeda's online magazine; and multiple suicide bombers."

Man, you have to be really committed to your cause to be a multiple suicide bomber. Most people find the experience of being blown to pieces the first time enough such that they never engage in that behavior again... or maybe his editor wasn't doing Rumsfeld any favors that day.

"Hey Barry, Got Wood?" ... (Below threshold)

"Hey Barry, Got Wood?"

"The classified record, for... (Below threshold)
retired military:

"The classified record, for example, confirms that three detainees who died in 2006 were suicides -- not, as some have irresponsibly alleged, victims of brutal interrogations"

Gee I wonder if Chico will admit he was wrong about this being Bush's fault due to torture.

BAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH not bloodly likely.

Rodney, you have done a nic... (Below threshold)

Rodney, you have done a nice job of laying out relevant facts and associating them with cogent analysis.

Sadly the Left is immune to both (witness Chico).

Chico and his sad ilk can only "learn" through chants (with catchy rhymes) and slogans (also preferably with rhymes).

The rest of us, however, applaud your post!! :)

Good point Justrand. And I ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Good point Justrand. And I think it's our duty to supply Chico and his fellow travelers with some rhetoric with which they can relate.

So, in the spirit of "Bush lied, they died" I offer: Obama bumbled, Afghanistan crumbled. Maybe one of the Editors will set us up with a blog post so we don't totally hijack Rodney's post.

hey Upset Old Guy, how abou... (Below threshold)

hey Upset Old Guy, how about:

"Waterboarding worked,
Binny's chain got jerked


"Hey Obama, what do ya say?
How many secrets have you leaked today

[this sloganeering is hard work...I need more coffee]

I love watching liberal's h... (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

I love watching liberal's heads explode over the fact that rendition and "aggressive techniques" started the flood of info from Khalid "sheik your booty" Muhammad.(Thanks Frank Zappa). When KSM was first captured he was telling the CIA that when he got to NY he would demand a lawyer and clammed up. A few gallons of water up the nose later and he was holding seminars on the terror network. Now that he is in Obama/Holder reformed GITMO he is preparing for his conjugal visits courtesy of the American tax payer.

How's this for a chant:... (Below threshold)

How's this for a chant:

Rummy, Rummy,
give it up,
you'll be known as a big f-up.

Keep it up Chico and you ma... (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

Keep it up Chico and you may get invited to the WH to read your poetry, rap crap like that dirt ball common.

The "top rated" comments to... (Below threshold)

The "top rated" comments to the WaPo Rummy op-ed are interesting:

SageThrasher wrote:
Rumsfeld, the man who made McNamara look like a Clausewitz by comparison, comes to the defense of unAmerican torture policies proven to have inspired most of the foreign jihadis who went to undermine his underfunded, undermanned war in Iraq. Predictable, but still sad. At least one old dog apparently can't learn new tricks.

gm2525 wrote:
Mr. Rumsfeld is a master at truth twisting and plain old lying, Of course he is going to try and justify the actions of the his old boss and buddy Bush. Bush's anti-terrorism policy has done several things: created more terrorists, more paranoia, managed to kill and maim thousands of American soldiers and bankrupt this county and has destroyed whatever beliefs we had as a nation that we try to act honorably. Torturing people took care of that one. This formerly great county is sliding to oblivion so fast, it's a wonder we all don't have skid marks.

DELewes wrote:
Sad, sad old man. The Robert McNamara of his time.

It's ironic that Wikileaks ... (Below threshold)

It's ironic that Wikileaks ends up supporting Bush's WoT so well. It's telling though that Rummy still justifies holding onto the info "for our country's benefit it must come in the proper time and through proper channels" which would not only undermine the info but in their extreme need would twist it and bend into a pretzel again. Sad.

Most of the documents should never been classified in the first place. Go Wiki!

the aptly named poster @ 11... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

the aptly named poster @ 11 wrote:

It's telling though that Rummy still justifies holding onto the info "for our country's benefit it must come in the proper time and through proper channels" which would not only undermine the info but in their extreme need would twist it and bend into a pretzel again.

Means, methods, and sources:

The release of this classified information has compromised intelligence sources and methods, risking lives. The documents indicate, for example, that some al-Qaeda members turned and revealed large quantities of information about their colleagues. The cooperation of one Yemeni informant — since released — who fingered dozens of fellow detainees as members of al-Qaeda is now public, making him vulnerable to retribution.
The joke is on us. Obama an... (Below threshold)

The joke is on us. Obama and his admin are just as bad as Wikileaks in leaking vital information, just ask Sec of Defense Gates.

And to Dimwit:

What is really sad is Obama had to "use" the OBL assassination AND the Navy Seal 6 Team for political purposes instead of keeping the intel secret and keep the terrorist wondering what we had for the sake of the country and our "national Security" just like Rumsfeld said and did. Just think if we had killed OBL and did not say ANYTHING about it? We would not have the revenge killings we are seeing now. That is why pres Bush tried to down play OBL. He knew if and when we got him it would not go over too well with the murdering animals that use children and women as human seeking live bombs.

What is also sad is that dimwit does not see the need to keep our enemies questioning what Intel we have/don’t have and tries to score political points over the security of our Heroic Navy Seal Team 6. Instead dimwit agrees we should just tell insane people, people that are trying to kill our children and our families by the way, everything we know.






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