May 1 2012
Out Of The Shadows: Chen Guangcheng And Jose Rodriguez
What a great span of just a few days when we meet two genuine heroes: one is a blind Chinese activist, who somehow managed to escape illegal house arrest, and the other is the former director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service. Both know that freedom isn’t free.
Speaking only for myself, I am glad that Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA official, finally stepped forward and defended the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that the CIA used with several people to obtain information that made us all safer.
These techniques make civilized people uncomfortable. They ought to. It is quite likely that some of my colleagues here at IWF do not agree with me that they were, however, justified. But we’ve had a lot of moral preening on the issue and I am glad that Rodriguez has had the courage to speak about these techniques to make the case.
LESLEY STAHL: President Obama has said that what we did was torture.
JOSE RODRIGUEZ: Well, President Obama is entitled to his opinion. When President Obama condemns the covert action activities of a previous government, he is breaking the covenant that exists between intelligence officers, who are at the pointy end of the spear hanging out there, and the government that authorized them and directed them to go over there.
In an oped in the Washington Post, Rodriguez argued that killing Osama bin Laden would have been impossible without the intelligence uncovered in enhanced interrogations. He refutes the popular notion that enhanced interrogations don’t work.
Chen Guangcheng stepped forth from a different kind of shadow world—the blind activist’s escape from illegal house arrest has got to be one of the most miraculous stories in the annals of courage. The New York Daily News reports:
Chen Guangcheng's blindness was a help and a hindrance as he made his way past the security cordon ringing his farmhouse.
He knew the terrain - he had explored his village in rural China as a blind child and moved as easily in darkness as in daylight. He was alert for the sounds of people, cars and the river he would have to cross.
But he stumbled scores of times, arriving bloody at a meeting point with a fellow dissident - the first of an underground railroad of supporters who eventually escorted him to safety with U.S. diplomats.
Chen is a self-taught lawyer who fought against China’s mandatory one-child per family rule. He is very likely in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. President Obama was properly not forthcoming when asked about Chen at a press conference with the leader of Japan yesterday.
The president was right not to make any statement about Chen, but I do wish that the leader of the free world had been a little more ringing in his statement about human rights. The president said that human rights “always” come up when U.S. diplomats talk to the Chinese. He wasn’t nearly as strong in his condemnation of Chinese abuses as he has been of what he considers abuses by our own CIA. But then we owe China money.