Obamateurism of the Day; Update: Quote phony?
posted at 8:05 am on May 1, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
I mentioned this yesterday as part of the coverage for the 100 Days presser, but the reaction from Irish Central to Barack Obama’s use of Winston Churchill as a paragon of opposition to torture is too priceless to pass up. Niall O’Dowd reaches new heights of eloquence in his disgust:
President Barack Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, must be turning over in his grave.
Winston Churchill — the man who ordered his torture during the Kenyan war of independence — was being praised by his grandson for not using torture. What a laugh.
Obama cited Britain as a country that never resorted to torture during war during his prime-time press conference on Tuesday night.
“London was being bombed to smithereens [and] had 200 or so detainees. And Churchill said, ‘We don’t torture,’” Obama said. “Churchill understood, you start taking shortcuts, and over time, that corrodes what’s best in a people.”
Excuse me, Mr. President: Churchill did condone torture and he did use torture — and advocated using poison gas and concentration camps. And he was quite proud to do so, writing about it frequently as a means to an end.
I don’t know whose Kool-Aid Obama was drinking, but it must have been supplied by the British Embassy in bucketfuls.
I wonder when the Churchill bust will come back to the White House.
While it’s nice to hear the President invoke Sir Winston, the quotation is unattributed and almost certainly incorrect. While Churchill did express such sentiments with regard to prison inmates, he said no such thing about prisoners of war, enemy combatants or terrorists, who were in fact tortured by British interrogators during World War II.
The word “torture” appears 156 times in my digital transcript of Churchill’s 15 million published words (books, articles, speeches, papers) and 35 million words about him–but not once in the subject context. Similarly, key phrases like “character of a country” or “erodes the character” do not track. …
Churchill spoke frequently about torture, mostly enemy murders of civilians. His daughter once told me, “He would have done anything to win the war, and I daresay he had to do some pretty rough things–but they didn’t unman him.” But if Churchill is on record about “enhanced interrogation,” his words have yet to surface.
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