Questions for Panetta

Marc Thiessen:

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• Last year you wrote in the Washington Monthly that even if waterboarding could stop the next terrorist attack or suicide bomber, it should not be permitted. According to our intelligence community, waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques President Obama has banned helped stop a number of terrorist attacks, including a plot to hijack a passenger plane and fly it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles and a plot to fly passenger planes into Heathrow Airport and the Canary Wharf in London. Knowing these facts, do you still believe waterboarding should not be permitted under any circumstances? And if so, which of these attacks would you prefer had not been stopped?

• You have declared that waterboarding is torture. And President Obama has gone even further: "No administration should allow the use of torture, including so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like waterboarding, head-slapping and extreme temperatures." Since torture is a crime, will the Obama administration investigate members of our intelligence community for such acts? And if so, won't such investigations have a chilling effect on their morale and effectiveness in protecting our country from attack?

• Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — the mastermind of 9/11 — reportedly underwent waterboarding while in CIA custody. Since you believe waterboarding is torture, doesn't it follow that the evidence against Mohammed should be thrown out under the "exclusionary rule" and his case dismissed?

• What role did you play as White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration's policy of "extraordinary renditions"? In his memoir, presidential adviser Richard Clarke describes a meeting in the Oval Office in which these renditions were debated, and Vice President Gore was asked his opinion. Gore replied: "That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law. That's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass." Were you there for this meeting? And do you agree with the policy of extraordinary rendition that Clinton instituted and Bush continued?

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We have had enough of the moral preening in the new administration. I think most Americans are more interested in preventing the mass murder for Allah attacks than they are about terrorist rights. It will only take another 9-11 to prove that point and this new team seems to be just the guys to let it happen.

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