What's this all about? Not the dramatic expansion of knowledge about how Umar got aboard Flight 253, who funded him, how many like him are still out there, what their plans are, etc.? What this is all about is the immunization of the president and his loyal retainers, with their delicate standards of inquisitorial propriety, from the accusation that -- gasp! -- they were engaging in Bush-like tactics.
The verboten word "waterboarding" comes suggestively to mind. Sorry, can't have that! The Obama base would erupt angrily, and foreign leaders would conclude that the same old Americans were calling the same old shots the same old way: no reset buttons, no softened, soothing voices.
Underlying the question of how much information we extract one way or another from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is the question of just how gravely the president and his retainers take the terrorism war. To the extent they see it as a real war (hence Dick Cheney's persistent criticisms)!
Clearly the Obamans don't like fighting whatever they see themselves as fighting. I offer an educated guess: Most Americans -- including a large portion of those who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 -- don't like fighting such a war, either. Nevertheless, they understand that when someone wants to kill you, the indicated response is to fight back with everything you have.
We have to hope the president will finally join the citizens in that basic and common-sensible understanding. On the existing evidence, he has a ways to travel.
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