COMMENTS: Isikoff Implies that Torture is not Punitive Enough

More military coverage came from NBC's newly arrived investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, filing only his second report for Nightly News (the first, in August, found corruption in Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul). Isikoff marks the tenth anniversary of the dinghybomb attack on USS Cole in Aden Harbor that killed 17 sailors soldiers. He quoted then-President Bill Clinton issuing a threat to al-Qaeda: "You will not find safe harbor. We will find you and justice will prevail." Then Isikoff made the odd assertion that Clinton's promise "has gone largely unfulfilled." According to Isikoff, the past decade has seen the United States leave al-Qaeda in peace.

To make his case, Isikoff pointed out that the Justice Department has failed to prosecute anyone for the USS Cole attack. Exactly how has alleged mastermind abdal-Rahim al-Nashiri eluded the law? Because he was "captured by the CIA in 2002, waterboarded and shipped to Guantanamo and has never been prosecuted due to political deadlock over how to try terrorists."

Does Isikoff mean that "justice" has not prevailed because al-Nashiri has not been punished? Torture certainly amounts to punishment in spades. Does he mean that "justice" has not prevailed because al-Nashiri has not received due process? If so, blame the CIA and its Bush Administration taskmasters not al-Qaeda's impunity or Bill Clinton's fecklessness.

Isikoff also dug up a propaganda video via of alleged dinghybomb plotter Fahd al-Quso bragging that "we destroyed the Cole." No such thing happened. As Isikoff pointed out, the destroyer was repaired and has just completed yet another mission to Yemen and back to Virginia unscathed.


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