Did anyone watch the Republican debate last night? I got to see a little bit, including some of the answers by Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo. He took his fellow contenders to task for being johnny-come-lately’s on the immigration issue and suggested they were only getting tough on the issue now because the American people had made their dissatisfaction known. On the war in Iraq, he said the war is not about Iraq, Iraq is just a battlefield. The war is with radical Islam. Another candidate agreed with him. Tancredo implicitly endorsed torture. He started out slow, saying waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques were okay. Then, when pressed again, he gave the “ticking time bomb scenario” so often used on the TV show “24” and said,
I would do what is necessary to protect this country. That is the ultimate responsibility of the president of the United States. All of the other things that we do, all of the other things, all of the other powers vested in him are — pale in comparison to its — his responsibility to keep these — the people of this country safe. And that is ultimate. And yes, I would go to great lengths to keep this country safe. (Applause.)
John McCain was up next and strongly disagreed, quoting his friend, General Jack Vessey, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan.
General Vessey said any information that we may gain through the use of torture can never, ever be counterbalanced by the damage it does to America’s reputation and the risk — (cheers, applause) — and the risk that when an American is in the hands of an enemy, that they will use the fact that we tortured people as an excuse to torture our brave men and women in the military. I’m not prepared to expose them to that.
On Iran, Tancredo said, again to applause:
Political correctness is going to get us all killed. It is absolutely the thing we have to fear.
I wish the moderators had asked Tancredo more questions. Here’s the transcript of the debate.