Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Difference: Recruitment

President Obama decided to reverse course today by not releasing the anticipated photos of more Abu Ghraib-esque detainee abuse. The release of these photos has been requested of the Department of Defense by the American Civil Liberties Union by way of the Freedom of Information Act. The Department of Justice was prepared to release the photos after hearing the lawsuit, but the White House intervened. The President cited the fact that the potential risk the release of these photos poses to our servicemembers currently in combat had not been thoroughly presented in court. He believes the release of these photos will only create greater risk to our troops who would undoubtedly be subject to an increase in attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan similar to the kind seen after the release of the first round of Abu Ghraib detainee abuse pictures. Despite loud and fiery objections from the livid left, in making this decision to protect our soldiers the President has made the right call.

Of course, the good people at Fox News, who I am subjected to on a weekly basis at the DCCC (we like to call it opposition research), couldn't agree more with the President's decision and couldn't struggle more with trying to express this agreement. The phenomenon of watching Bret Baier attempt to reconcile the overlap of opinion between himself and the Socialist-In-Chief and his undying contempt for said Chief was equally hilarious and fascinating. The conservative commentators/fair and balanced news anchors on Fox, along with undoubtedly many more conservatives around the country, scream "hypocrisy!" at the White House for seeing no problem releasing the so-called "torture memos" of the Bush Administration that apparently undermined our national security but objecting to the release of pictures of prisoner abuse for fear of, well, undermining national security. They do not see the distinction between the torture memos and the abuse pictures, and have criticized the President for this apparent double-standard.

Well there is a difference. A big one: torture memos don't make good recruitment posters in Ghazni and Tikrit.

To think that somehow the very same terrorists who wish Death to America, who plot and execute attacks on our troops oversees and our citizens at home, who despise us for any number of reasons, not the least of which being our meddling in Middle Eastern affairs and our abuse of prisoners, are not fully aware of the fact that we torture members of their ranks who we capture in combat is ludicrous. They know. They have known.

Despite the previous administration's dishonest assurances that the United States of America is not a country that tortures prisoners, do not believe for a second that those who fight for Al-Qaeda were not and are not privy to the fact that the United States of America does (did) torture its captured brethren. Unfortunately and also predictably, the torture of terrorists has become the single most effective recruitment tool for Al-Qaeda. And no recruitment campaign was arguably more effective than the one inspired by the photos depicting prisoner abuse by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib.

Pictures such as the ones shown here have become propaganda posters for groups like Al-Qaeda and others who wish to swell their ranks. Nothing enrages an Arab youth whose father has been killed by an American aerial bombing like the sight of a poster outside his mosque depicting the humiliating subjugation of Arab Muslims to such abuse as suffered by prisoners at Abu Ghraib. It could be the tipping point, the moment his heart and mind flood with such hatred so as to compel him into armed insurgency against our soldiers.

By releasing either the torture memos or the abuse photographs, the White House isn't, to use their own language, "illuminating" anything new to the American public, the world, or our enemies. But by releasing the photos specifically, we would be handing terrorist organizations some of the best, most effective marketing material they could have ever wished for. Have no doubt that these photos, had they been released, would enrage terrorists already engaged in war against our men and women, but would help enormously to "inspire" more of them.

For the Arab youth who is teetering on the edge of radicalization, the knowledge that the "American Devils" torture Arab "freedom fighters" is not a new revelation. But the sight of it just might set him off.

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