What would Pol Pot do?

Let me get this straight. President Barack Obama is “open” to the prosecution and impeachment of Jay Bybee, a sitting federal judge, because of an opinion — an opinion?! — the man rendered before he became a judge and while serving America in the war on terror?

This is “Alice in Wonderland,” off-with-their-heads kind of stuff that can be hatched only in the mind of the political left, which pretends to be oh-so tolerant, but given half a chance defaults to the ways of the Khmer Rouge.

It’s almost as if America’s political left wakes up every morning asking itself: “What would Pol Pot do?”

Let me lay out the issue as fairly as I can.

Federal Judge Jay Bybee is the UNLV law professor who authored a legal opinion on what constitutes torture. That opinion eventually resulted in the Bush administration giving the green-light to water-boarding, sleep deprivation and similar “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

The Obama administration thinks the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were “torture.” Obama has stopped using them, and while he says he won’t prosecute those who “tortured” enemy captives, he is “open” to prosecuting those who authorized the techniques, which at this stage of the purge means the villagers are headed to the Bybee house, torches and pitchforks in hand.

Leading the mob is The New York Times, which on Sunday called for Bybee to be impeached. On Monday, House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-Mars, obediently called for the hearings to make it happen.


Now look, I think reasonable minds can disagree on when “uncomfortable” questioning becomes “torture,” but at least part of the debate should involve whether these techniques actually work.

Obama’s own national intelligence director told him that the Bush techniques produced valuable information. And if the CIA sticks by its earlier statements that the water boarding of one suspect foiled an imminent terrorist attack on Los Angeles shortly after 9/11, then those facts ought to be part of the discussion.

Think of it this way: If you knew for a fact that your son or daughter and all the other children in their school would be killed by terrorists tomorrow, would you use sleep deprivation today as part of an “enhanced interrogation technique” to save them?

I would. And I’d never look back.

But President Obama says that’s torture. OK. Fine. We disagree.

This is a difficult issue that, in my opinion — and I hope the Obama goon squad doesn’t prosecute me for this — goes beyond accepting or rejecting the Bush approach in total. Two wrongs do not make a right. And there is a line in the treatment of prisoners over which America must not step. I get that.

But the Mighty Obama and his intolerant disciples on the left, in their zeal to claim moral authority, willingly devolve into using totalitarian tactics like jailing Bybee after the fact for an honest difference of opinion.

When did American ideals die for the political left?

In my blog called “The Complete Las Vegan” (lvrj.com/blogs/sherm) I often try out thoughts for use in this Sunday column. Readers and I also discuss-‘n’-cuss the issues of the day. All are welcome.

Last week I wondered how far Obama might be willing to go to “purify” American’s moral high ground.

Why not, I said, “dig up FDR-era Democrats, prop up their corpses in a New York courtroom, and charge them with criminally imprisoning Japanese Americans during World War II”?

And guess what? Some thought it was a darn good idea. As one said: “as a hardcore radical lefty I am in complete agreement with you, we SHOULD prop up Roosevelt’s corpse … and make it stand trial for his unlawful internment.”

Ugh. This is the left at its worst.

Tip o’ the hat

When I saw the news flash on the R-J Headline service that the Las Vegas Sun had won the Pulitzer for public service, the first thing I did was e-mail a note of congratulations to Sun owner/Editor Brian Greenspun. It read:

“Holy cow! Great job. On behalf of all at the Review-Journal — congratulations.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also take the opportunity in this column to acknowledge the excellent work of the Sun’s staff on the project that highlighted the deaths of Strip construction workers.

Most remarkably, after the stories shined light on the issue, the death rate dropped to zero.

Saving lives. Journalism doesn’t get any better than that.

Sherman Frederick (sfrederick@ reviewjournal.com) is publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and president of Stephens Media.

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