Shortly before Mitt Romney’s much-hyped (and ultimately underwhelming) foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute, The New York Times reported that even Romney’s own advisors had no idea what the Republican nominee’s foreign policy would look like should he become Commander-in-Chief. His performance at the third and final presidential debate on Monday night at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, must have confirmed their doubts.
On issue after issue, Romney disavowed the same positions that he and his neoconservative advisors have embraced throughout the campaign. While he successfully distanced himself from the deeply unpopular foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration, he ultimately left voters with little notion of what he actually believes when it comes to international affairs.
Unlike the first two debates, Romney spent almost the entire night in Boca Raton agreeing with Obama. From the very first question — on Libya, the topic that Romney clumsily used in attempting to attack the president during the last debate — it was clear that he would not be playing offense. Although Romney repeatedly criticized the president’s supposed lack of leadership, he essentially endorsed the Obama administration’s policies on issue after issue.
He has, in short, declared himself unfit to serve as head of Central Intelligence. You don’t even have to get to the morality question to understand that torture serves no purpose except to satiate sadism or revenge fantasies. As an interrogation tool it is useless, for the simple and unanswerable reason that people will tell you anything, true or not, to get you to stop. A civilian who does not understand this is merely foolish, uninformed, or stupid. A military man or a government official who doesn’t understand this is a positive menace to the endurance of the nation. Frankly, in the case of General Petraeus it suggests he has a non-military IQ of about 40.
What, General, makes you suppose that your ticking timebomb scenario suspect is going to tell you how to dismantle that nuke under the Empire State Building while you are waterboarding him? Why, if he was already suicidal or evil enough to be involved in some sort of terror plot to detonate a nuclear device, would he not also simply be smart enough to lie to get you stop the pain? Moreover, has it ever occurred to you, General, that he might be suicidal or evil enough, under that scenario, to give you explicit instructions on how to dismantle the device that actually turn out to really be instructions on how to detonate the device immediately?
My god, this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. And it’s coming from a man that we’re going to put in charge of the CIA. You’re testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee and giving them half-remembered plot outlines from 24 or Lethal Weapon or Fail Safe. Why not Saturday Night Live? Why not reserve the right to torture in case Superman was German during World War II, or if Al Qaeda gets Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak? Or if the country was flooded with woman suicide bombers who also were considering late-term abortions?
Mr. President, you have to withdraw David Petraeus’ nomination as CIA chief - he just made a fool of himself to a degree and in a manner from which there is no possible return. If confirmed, he will do the same to you. If you do not, you run the risk of what Vietnam did with the help of the late great George Carlin, to turn the phrase ‘military intelligence’ into an oxymoronic brand name. Only this time it will be for the CIA…where the ‘I’ for intelligence will be meant ironically because it’s Chief is so naive he thinks you can torture the truth out of a suicide bomber as his bomb is about to go off.