Good Stuff: An Interview with Karl Rove
John Hawkins, of Right Wing News, recently interviewed Karl Rove about his new book, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight.
One of the things that has puzzled conservatives about the Bush presidency, particularly in the second term — and I’ve heard this again and again and again — is they don’t feel like there was an effective communication strategy. The general feeling was that the Left turned George Bush into a punching bag and just beat him into the ground, while the White House really didn’t do much to stop it. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Well, I do think that there are instances, particularly on the issue of Iraq’s WMDs, where the administration didn’t punch back hard enough. I talk about that at length in the book.
It’s principally my responsibility because I should have seen it for what it was, which was a corrosive dagger aimed at the heart of the Bush Administration. But I would say this: in the last two years of the term, Bush was on the receiving end of daily blows from every Democratic presidential candidate and it was impossible for me to respond to those. The Republicans were disorganized, distressed, and didn’t come to his aid while others said the President can defend himself.
But when you’re receiving daily blows like that, you can either do your job or defend yourself, but you can’t do both every single day. It’s just the way life works.
What do you say to people who claim waterboarding is torture and if it were your call, would we be using waterboarding today?
It was not torture. It was very carefully designed. If it’s torture, then we are guilty of torturing thousands of U.S. military personnel every year who go through evasion and rescue training — particularly in the Navy. It was very carefully designed by lawyers at the Defense Department to meet our laws and our international commitments.
I feel so strongly about this I posted all of those memos on my website at rove.com so people could go read them for themselves and see the care that was taken to define what could be done and what could not be done given our laws and our international commitments.
Waterboarding was only used in extreme cases on high value targets who had been trained to resist any other form of interrogation. It was employed on three people. Those three then gave up large amounts of information that protected our country.
I think it was wise for us in the aftermath of 9-11 to do it and think that we should keep that tool available in other instances where we run up against people who have information that they could surrender to us that could save lives, but will not surrender it because of the nature of the training that they’ve received.
Read the full interview here. He goes on to ask about Palin, Valerie Plame, Immigration reform, Harriet Miers and much more.