CBS’s Schieffer: ‘We Have Sunk to Using the Tactics’ of the Terrorists

On Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, host Bob Schieffer aksed in his commentary at the end of the show: "Have we helped our cause with the rest of the world when they come to believe we have sunk to using the tactics of those who oppose us?" Speaking in reference to the recent news that the CIA destroyed videotapes of the interrogations of terrorists, which some believe may have involved water boarding, Schieffer began his rant by invoking the name of the great liberal icon, Edward R. Murrow (video available here):

Finally today, Edward R. Murrow was one of the first to understand the power of worldwide communications, but it was the message, not the power to reach so many people, that concerned him...I thought about that as we learn more about the C.I.A.'s use of what our own Army and the Geneva Conventions define as torture and how officials destroyed evidence when a federal judge demanded tapes of the interrogation episodes.

What "evidence" was destroyed? What crime was committed? Schieffer does not say, but went on to condemn: "Is that our message to the world? That we are a government of laws except when it is inconvenient?" However, Schieffer had a somewhat more cavalier attitude toward the rule of law when Bill Clinton was facing indictment in 1998: "I have no idea what the president plans to tell the grand jury or what, if anything, he intends to tell the rest of us, but whatever he says, let's hope it's enough to bring this story to some kind of conclusion because, frankly, I've heard about enough."

Schieffer also explained how U.S. security rests not on our defenses, but rather, on whether or not we are popular:

...what was done in the name of security has greatly harmed security. Weapons keep our enemies at bay, but our real security rests on whether the rest of the world comes to share our values or the values of those who oppose us.

Finally, in order to further shame the United States for supposed "torture," Schieffer concludes his tirade by asking: "Is this what we want the world to know about us? More importantly, is it what we want our children to know?"

Here is the full transcript of the December 9, 2007 commentary segment:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Finally today, Edward R. Murrow was one of the first to understand the power of worldwide communications, but it was the message, not the power to reach so many people, that concerned him. His biographer, Alexander Kendrick, said that like Thearou nearly a century before him, Murrow asked himself whether Maine had anything to say to Texas. And when he became head of the U.S. Information Agency, whether the United States had anything to say to the rest of the world. Murrow concluded the answer was yes.

I thought about that as we learn more about the C.I.A.'s use of what our own Army and the Geneva Conventions define as torture and how officials destroyed evidence when a federal judge demanded tapes of the interrogation episodes. Is that our message to the world? That we are a government of laws except when it is inconvenient? If so, then what was done in the name of security has greatly harmed security. Weapons keep our enemies at bay, but our real security rests on whether the rest of the world comes to share our values or the values of those who oppose us. And whether all people are better served by a government of laws or what someone decides the law ought to be at some particular moment.

Have we helped our cause with the rest of the world when they come to believe we have sunk to using the tactics of those who oppose us? When we no longer can be trusted to practice what we preach. Is this what we want the world to know about us? More importantly, is it what we want our children to know?

That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on "Face the Nation."

 

Here is the full transcript of the August 8, 1998 commentary segment:

BOB SCHIEFFER: During the 1976 presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter caused an uproar when he told Playboy magazine that, on occasion, he had lust in his heart. He stressed he had never acted on this impulse, but since the Bible told him it was sinful, he said he regretted it.

Democrats cringed, Republicans hooted. I can still remember a one-time governor from the Old South bringing a crowd to its feet as he thundered, 'They say tell it all, but I don't believe I'd have told that.' Well, it all died down, and Carter went on to win the presidency, of course, but how quaint it all seems now.

A little lust in the heart is pretty tame stuff in this summer of Monica Lewinsky. Just the other day when I called the CBS News desk to see what was going on, a colleague I've known for years joked that she wasn't sure she knew me well enough to discuss what was on the front page of The New York Times, an account of how the president's advisers were debating whether a certain kind of sex play qualified as sexual relations.

That's what has always set this story apart, it only gets worse. I have no idea what the president plans to tell the grand jury or what, if anything, he intends to tell the rest of us, but whatever he says, let's hope it's enough to bring this story to some kind of conclusion because, frankly, I've heard about enough.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC