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The Profile In Cowardice Award . . .

. . . goes to the "former top official in the administration of President George W. Bush" who's anonymously quoted by Mike Allen blasting Obama for releasing the torture memos. At least have the guts to put your name behind that kind of criticism--which is what Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey do in this WSJ op-ed making many of the same points. I think those points are very, very debatable--and can be debated by people far more able than I--but there's one argument Hayden and Mukasey make that I really wish could just be retired forever. Of Obama's disclosure, they write:

It will also incur the utter contempt of our enemies. Somehow, it seems unlikely that the people who beheaded Nicholas Berg and Daniel Pearl, and have tortured and slain other American captives, are likely to be shamed into giving up violence by the news that the U.S. will no longer interrupt the sleep cycle of captured terrorists even to help elicit intelligence that could save the lives of its citizens.

This is just a straw man. I don't know of anyone who thinks our use of waterboarding and the like actually provoked the killing and torture of Americans by Al Qaeda terrorists. The issue is what our torture regime did to moderate Muslims and others "on the fence" about the U.S., and whether we harmed our larger goals by essentially radicalizing people who might well have been our allies against Al Qaeda. The fact that conservatives are still invoking this straw man makes me seriously question the wisdom of the rest of their arguments.

--Jason Zengerle