After his months-long smear campaign during the presidential race, the last thing we thought we'd see was Newsmax's Ronald Kessler coming to Barack Obama's defense -- and even praising the guy. But Kessler has done just that, albeit in something of a backhanded way.
In a Dec. 8 column, Kessler shoots down the conspiratorial assertion from the likes of WorldNetDaily that Obama is not a native-born American:
For months, I have been bombarded by e-mails claiming Barack Obama was born in Kenya and therefore does not meet the constitutional requirements to be president. I have also received hundreds of e-mails from readers asking why I do not expose the truth about his birth.
The truth is that Obama was born in Hawaii.
Kessler adds regarding lawsuits on the issue from folks like Philip Berg:
If there were any basis for Berg’s claims, one would think that the John McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee would have supported the lawsuit or at least blasted out e-mails touting the case. In fact, a McCain campaign aide told me that McCain campaign lawyers had looked into the allegations about Obama’s birth and found them to be bogus.
You would also think that Berg would be happy to be interviewed about the case by a journalist like me. But although he agreed to an interview at the conservative dinner, he has since failed to respond to my voicemails and e-mails asking for him to call.
Instead, Berg has stayed within the comfy confines of WND and right-wing readio for his interviews, where he knows he won't face any tough -- or even mildly skeptical -- questions.
Of course, that's just common sense. The real shocker is Kessler's Dec. 11 column, in which he states that "Barack Obama is getting high marks from the intelligence community for the way he responds to daily intelligence briefings." He adds:
"Obama is a quick study," says one intelligence official. "He absorbs a lot of information, digests it, and asks strategic questions."
"He has a way of being reflective about what we give him," says another intelligence official.
This appears to contradict Kessler's own pre-election assertions, in which he promoted claims (albeit by someone whom Kessler fails to identify as a McCain campaign official) that Obama's election "will endanger the country by making us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks."
On the other hand, Kessler manages to work in his love of waterboarding once more:
At the same time, intelligence officials are troubled by the fact that Obama decided against appointing John Brennan, a deputy to former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, to be director of the CIA because Brennan served at the agency when it supposedly used torture as an interrogation technique.
The news that Brennan was Obama’s leading candidate provoked an outcry from left-leaning Obama supporters. In fact, the CIA does not believe outright torture produces reliable results and has never used it. Frightening prisoners with waterboarding is another matter. The technique was used on three terrorists, including Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden’s field commander or chief of operations, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot.
In both cases, these and other coercive techniques — like subjecting prisoners to frigid temperatures or forcing them to stand for hours — have worked and have led to a takedown of other key al-Qaida operatives when they were planning more attacks that could have killed tens of thousands of Americans.
In fact, as we noted the last time Kessler made this claim, the waterboarding of Zubaydah reportedly produced a stream of statements of such dubious quality, according to journalist Ron Suskind, that intelligence officials now believe any evidence gleaned from Zubaydah to be worthless. Further, waterboarding produced "debatable results" from Mohammed.
Still, Kessler laments: "Since terrorists are now aware that they will not be drowned, the technique has become useless."