Posts filed under 'Torture'

Teh Serious

Okay, sure, I can sort of buy Krugman and Lemieux’s premise that horrible ideas like austerity, torture, and endless war all stem from the same macho impulse to to prove oneself a Manly Serious Man Of Action Who Can Make The Hard Choices, but why is it that it always seems to be someone else who pays the price for those “hard choices”?

It’s kinda hard to respect the machismo and courage of a pundit or politician who calls upon complete strangers to make sacrifices instead of themselves or their family, friends, or peers.  If I saw Cheney and Dubya personally ducking bullets in Baghdad, or Paul Ryan urging tax increases for himself and his wealthy benefactors as the first step to shrink the deficit, then I would be impressed.

Maybe Atrios has it right after all, and they really are sadists.

May 20th, 2013 at 06:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Iraq,Media,Politics,Social Security,Taxes,Torture,Wankers

Windication!

As I predicted, Republicans are hailing the death of Osama bin Laden as a great victory forGeorge W. Bush.  Only.  Also.

Because, after all, without Dubya’s decision to use military force against terrorism, we never would have killed bin Laden… with a small strike force in a heavily-fortified compound in a military town in a country we didn’t invade.

And without Dubya’s decision to use torture against detainees, we never would have found him… after torture didn’t work.

So if the right wants to give Dubya credit for killing bin Laden three years after he left office, does this mean that they’re finally ready to give him credit for the deficit and economic slump too?

May 3rd, 2011 at 08:03am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Bush,Economy,Iraq,Obama,Palin,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism,Torture,Unemployment,Wankers,War

Bradley Manning Apparently A Terrorist Now

He’s being treated like one, anyway.  What’s next?  Maybe make him stand in place for a day or two?  Turn the heat off or all the way up?

And then there’s that malaria epidemic floating around Virginia – you can’t be too careful…

March 4th, 2011 at 07:37am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Prisoners,Torture,Wankers

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

Dubya sure does love his waterboarding:

George W. Bush reveals in his memoir, Decision Points, that he personally waterboarded VP Dick Cheney.

(…)

“Dick was so in favor of waterboarding, that I thought he should experience himself to see what it was like.  He thought it was a very effective tool.”  Bush went on to say that after waterboarding Cheney as a “test” he used it on two other occasion to get the Vice President to keep his mouth shut on certain issues.

“Dick was making me look bad a few times with the press. He was too arrogant.  So, I had to waterboard him to get him to shut his pie hole!”

(…)

Dick Cheney, who hasn’t read Bush’s book yet, said that “Bush went a bit overboard with the waterboard stuff.  He got a little waterboard crazy.  He wanted everybody waterboarded, Andy Card, Karl Rove… one day he even wanted Laura waterboarded.  I’m sure he’s waterboarding his staff in Crawford to keep them in line.”

Bush said that when he sees Cheney next month at a conservative conference in New Orleans, ‘I’d love to take an hour or so and waterboard Dick again.  I had so much fun waterboarding Dick.  It was a hoot!”

Bush said that he, personally, was never waterboarded, but “if I ever do anything wrong, I wouldn’t mind.  But I’ve never done anything wrong.  I have no regrets.”

I just hope there aren’t any photos of Dick Cheney naked, wearing nothing but a hood and some electrodes…

November 10th, 2010 at 11:25am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Torture,Weekly World News

Now I Understand Why Berkeley Wants To Hang Onto Yoo

…Because he holds them in such high esteem:

“I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy surrounded by a sea of Marxism,” Yoo observes, sipping iced tea in the faculty club lounge, a wan smile registering the discomfort of colleagues walking by en route to the bar.

He sees his neighbors as the human figures of “a natural history museum of the 1960s,” the Telegraph Avenue tableau of a graying, long-haired, pot-smoking counterculture stuck in the ideology’s half-century-old heyday.

“It’s like looking at the panoramic displays of troglodytes sitting around the campfire with their clubs. Here, it’s tie-dye and marijuana. It’s just like the 1960s, with the Vietnam War still to protest.”

(…)

Yoo seems at peace living in Berkeley, even though he disparages the community as an enclave of self-satisfied extremists intolerant of those who think outside the liberal mind-set.

“But that doesn’t mean I don’t like it here,” he says.

Don’t let him get away, Berkeley!  He’s quite a prize.  I particularly enjoy the idea of a loyal Bushie and professional torture apologist describing other people as intolerant self-satisfied extremists.

March 29th, 2010 at 07:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Can Doctors Be “Disbarred”?

Looks like yesterday was Professional Misconduct Day on the NYT op-ed pages.

First, the torture doctors:

According to Justice Department memos released last year, the medical service opined that sleep deprivation up to 180 hours didn’t qualify as torture. It determined that confinement in a dark, small space for 18 hours a day was acceptable. It said detainees could be exposed to cold air or hosed down with cold water for up to two-thirds of the time it takes for hypothermia to set in. And it advised that placing a detainee in handcuffs attached by a chain to a ceiling, then forcing him to stand with his feet shackled to a bolt in the floor, “does not result in significant pain for the subject.”

(…)

The medical basis for these opinions was nonexistent. The Office of Medical Services cited no studies of individuals who had been subjected to these techniques. Its sources included a wilderness medical manual, the National Institute of Mental Health Web site and guidelines from the World Health Organization.

(…)

The shabbiness of the medical judgments, though, pales in comparison to the ethical breaches by the doctors and psychologists involved. Health professionals have a responsibility extending well beyond nonparticipation in torture; the historic maxim is, after all, “First do no harm.” These health professionals did the polar opposite.

Nevertheless, no agency — not the Pentagon, the C.I.A., state licensing boards or professional medical societies — has initiated any action to investigate, much less discipline, these individuals. They have ignored the gross and appalling violations by medical personnel. This is an unconscionable disservice to the thousands of ethical doctors and psychologists in the country’s service. It is not too late to begin investigations. They should start now.

And then the legal profession:

The Supreme Court has a chance to reinforce that fundamental protection in the case of Albert Holland. A Florida prisoner, he did everything he could to ensure that his lawyer filed his habeas corpus petition, which would allow the federal courts to review his state-court conviction for first-degree murder and other crimes.

He continually asked about it, and emphasized the importance of meeting the deadlines. The lawyer repeatedly assured Mr. Holland that he would take care of it, and then missed the habeas deadline. Mr. Holland was given a new lawyer, who argued that due to the first lawyer’s extreme negligence, the failure should be excused under “equitable tolling,” which allows for deadlines to be excused in the broader interests of justice.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit rejected the argument, ruling that even gross negligence by a lawyer does not provide a basis for equitable tolling. Unless there was “bad faith, dishonesty, divided loyalty, mental impairment,” or something of that magnitude, the court said, the deadline would stand.

Disgraceful behavior by Holland’s lawyer, and disgraceful behavior by the appeals court.  I don’t have high hopes for the Supreme Court, but I hope the criminally incompetent lawyer got disbarred (not holding my breath).  And any doctor who facilitated torture should be shunned and shamed, and never allowed to practice medicine ever again.

5 comments March 2nd, 2010 at 07:01am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Media,Prisoners,Terrorism,Torture,Wankers

Wanker Of The Month

Shorter Broderella: Rule of law is too partisan.

First, let me stipulate that I agree on the importance of accountability for illegal acts and for serious breaches of trust by government officials — even at the highest levels. I had no problem with the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon, and I called for Bill Clinton to resign when he lied to his Cabinet colleagues and to the country during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

(…)

I am not persuaded by former vice president Dick Cheney’s argument that this is simply political revenge by the now-dominant Democrats against their Republican predecessors. For all the previously stated reasons, there is ample justification for seeking answers apart from any partisan motive.

Nonetheless, I think it is a matter of regret that Holder asked prosecutor John H. Durham to review the cases of the agents accused of abusive tactics toward some captives.

I realize this is a preliminary investigation, not a decision to prosecute anyone. And if it were to stop at that point, no great harm would have been done. But it is the first step on a legal trail that could lead to trials — and that is what gives me pause.

Cheney is not wrong when he asserts that it is a dangerous precedent when a change in power in Washington leads a successor government not just to change the policies of its predecessors but to invoke the criminal justice system against them.

Not investigating or prosecuting war crimes is kind of a dangerous precedent, too…

Looming beyond the publicized cases of these relatively low-level operatives is the fundamental accountability question: What about those who approved of their actions? If accountability is the standard, then it should apply to the policymakers and not just to the underlings. Ultimately, do we want to see Cheney, who backed these actions and still does, standing in the dock?

Well yes.

In times like these, the understandable desire to enforce individual accountability must be weighed against the consequences. This country is facing so many huge challenges at home and abroad that the president cannot afford to be drawn into what would undoubtedly be a major, bitter partisan battle over prosecution of Bush-era officials. The cost to the country would simply be too great.

Accountability is just too hard and it’ll make the Republicans upset, so why bother.  Now, a witch hunt against a Democratic president for getting a blow job, that’s okay.

When President Ford pardoned Nixon in 1974, I wrote one of the few columns endorsing his decision, which was made on the basis that it was more important for America to focus on the task of changing the way it would be governed and addressing the current problems. It took a full generation for the decision to be recognized by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and others as the act of courage that it had been.

Awesome.  Can you imagine what kind of mess this country would be in if Nixon had been held accountable instead of getting off scot free and allowed to rehabilitate his image as a statesman?  Why, it might even have discredited anyone who worked in his administration, and I don’t know if our country could afford such a terrible loss.

September 3rd, 2009 at 07:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Constitution,Media,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Jerry Nadler Also Speaks For Me

Jerry Nadler

…By stating the bloody obvious:

Former Vice President Cheney is essentially saying that any acts performed by members of the CIA – no matter how illegal or abhorrent – are ok, and must never be the subject of a criminal investigation. No matter what anyone in the CIA may do, it need not be subject to the law. This is outrageous, and violates just about every traditional American concept of liberty and justice.

It is remarkable that this even needed to be said. And depressing that it is seen as some kind of leftist fringe position.

August 31st, 2009 at 11:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cheney,Constitution,Democrats,Prisoners,Torture

When America Does It, It’s Not Illegal

Shorter Cheney: Laws are for the weak.

A CIA inspector general’s report released Monday documented how interrogators menaced “high-value” detainees with a gun and a power drill, threatened their families and used other methods that went beyond even the permissive interrogation rules set by the Bush administration Justice Department.

Cheney, who strongly opposes the Obama administration’s new probe into alleged detainee abuse, was asked in the Fox News interview whether he was “OK” with interrogations that went beyond Justice’s specific legal authorization.

“I am,” the former vice president replied.

“My sort of overwhelming view is that the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives and preventing further attacks,” he said. “It was good policy. It was properly carried out. It worked very, very well.”

In other words, the ends justify the means, even when the means have nothing to do with achieving them.

August 29th, 2009 at 12:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cheney,Constitution,Prisoners,Terrorism,Torture,Wankers

What. I’ve. Been. Saying. (Again)

Almost four years ago, I observed that “Bush’s claim that he had to take extraordinary measures to fight terror is at odds with his resolute unwillingness to take ordinary measures against terror.”  Apparently the intel inspectors general agree with me:

We’ve known for years that the Bush administration ignored and broke the law repeatedly in the name of national security. It is now clear that many of those programs could have been conducted just as easily within the law — perhaps more effectively and certainly with far less damage to the justice system and to Americans’ faith in their government.

That is the inescapable conclusion from a devastating report by the inspectors general of the intelligence and law-enforcement community on President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. The report shows that the longstanding requirement that the government obtain a warrant was not hindering efforts to gather intelligence on terrorists after the 9/11 attacks. In fact, the argument that the law was an impediment was concocted by White House and Justice Department lawyers after Mr. Bush authorized spying on Americans’ international communications.

(…)

So why break the law, again and again? Two things seem disturbingly clear. First, President Bush and his top aides panicked after the Sept. 11 attacks. And second, Mr. Cheney and his ideologues, who had long chafed at any legal constraints on executive power, preyed on that panic to advance their agenda.

It is absolutely criminal that these people are not being treated as criminals.

July 17th, 2009 at 09:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Republicans,Terrorism,Torture,Wankers

Tell Me Again Why I Voted For Obama

This is just horrrible:

The Obama administration has objected to a provision in the 2010 defense funding bill currently before the Senate that would bar the military’s use of contractors to interrogate detainees.

The provision, strongly backed by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), describes interrogations as an “inherently governmental function” that “cannot be transferred to contractor personnel.” It would give the Defense Department one year from the bill’s enactment to ensure that the military had the resources to comply with it.

(…)

Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “are as serious as a heart attack on this,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

Fantastic.  Because that whole contract interrogators idea worked out sooo well.

This moment, in which the Attorney General of the United States claims to be considering the possibility of allowing our laws against torture to be enforced seems a good one in which to reveal that I have seen over 1,200 torture photos and a dozen videos that are in the possession of the United States military. These are photographs depicting torture, the victims of torture, and other inhuman and degrading treatment. Several videos show a prisoner intentionally slamming his head face-first very hard into a metal door. Guards filmed this from several angles rather than stopping it.

(…)

Were these Abu Ghraib photos all made public, but those from other times and places kept hidden, and were we unaware of the executive orders, Justice Department memos, presidential signing statements, congressional reports, Red Cross reports, presidential and vice presidential televised confessions, and so forth, the military could still claim this was the isolated work of a few “bad apples”. But we would have a better understanding of what that work was. And making these images available to the public, or merely to a special prosecutor, would suggest an interest in seeking accountability for those responsible but not present in the photographs. On the other hand, hiding the evidence while prosecuting the soldiers who posed in some of the photos looks increasingly like scapegoating for the benefit of the Military Intelligence, CIA, and contractors who instructed the soldiers, as well as the commanders all the way up to the Secretary of Defense who encouraged torture, the lawyers who sought to provide immunity, and the president and vice president who gave the authorizations….

I very much hope that AG Holder is allowed to pursue his investigation into this, but given the administration’s stance on contractors, it’s pretty hard to imagine that he won’t find some excuse to avoid it, or else just quietly drop it or turn it into a whitewash.

Obama is doing a really piss-poor job of earning my trust.  In fact, at this point it would be more accurate to say that he’s earning my distrust.

July 16th, 2009 at 10:19am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Iraq,Obama,Torture,Wankers

The Most Important Legislation EVAR!

According to Joe Lieberman and his BFF Lindsey Graham, there is no higher legislative priority than ensuring that photographic evidence of war crimes never sees the light of day.

It is so heartwarming to see someone standing up for the torturers.  Truly, they are an inspiration to us all.

June 9th, 2009 at 09:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Lieberman,Politics,Republicans,Torture,Wankers,War

Not The Ethical Reprimand!

YouTube Preview Image

Liz Cheney helpfully explains that it’s not torture that’s the real crime, it’s calling torture torture that’s the real crime:

I hear an awful lot of people out there throwing words around like “torture” and “lines being crossed,” and i think it’s a really, you know, it’s…  it’s irresponsible and frankly it’s libelous because you have got brave Americans, men and women, who were involved in this program at the C.I.A who were involved in making sure that the program didn’t cross any lines at the Justice Department.  Those people were responsible for saving American lives and keeping us safe.  And I think it is offensive for all Americans for this White House to suggest that somehow those actions deserve prosecution or… or… ya-know some sort of ya-know ethical reprimand.

An ethical reprimand?  Good heavens, what kind of inhuman monster does she think Obama is?  First it’s ethical reprimands, and then the next thing you know it’ll be sternly worded letters.  The very fabric of this country could unravel in the face of such extreme sanctions!

May 29th, 2009 at 11:24am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cheney,Constitution,Media,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Don’t Bogart That Suffering

And all this time, I thought suffering was a bad thing:

Suffering is a gift, not a problem.  It’s temporal happiness that’s a curse. When life is easy and unthreatened, the cancer of self-centered contentment can take over our spiritual life.  When that happens, suffering is the greatest gift that God can impart to us.

(…)

Isn’t it ironic that our happiness-seeking American culture is doing all in its power to avoid suffering–the true source of blessing?  We even do it through bailouts, and printing endless streams of fiat money. We want happiness without difficulty, the good life without pain.  But that pursuit will also mean life without God, character, heaven, or true peace. Self-centered worldly avoidance of pain is killing our spiritual and corporate life.  Only the gift of suffering can awaken us and point us to the true source of blessedness.

Okay, I’m sold: Suffering is Teh Awesome.  But why should its benefits be limited to ordinary citizens and those lucky duckies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Hellraiser movies?  Shouldn’t the upper classes be allowed to share in its blessings too?  Surely we owe them some tax increases at the very least.  True, it might deprive the lower and middle classes of some of their suffering, but they’ve had so much that they can afford to sacrifice a little for the sake of fairness.

And what about those noble heroes who have selflessly spread so much suffering to so many?  They’re entitled to a better reward than the curse of wealth, power, and permanent comfort.  Surely we can give the Masters Of The Universe who crashed the economy the gift of unemployment or at least steep pay cuts – maybe even jail time for the truly worthy.  And it would be churlish not to offer the torturers and war architects of the Bush administration prolonged prison sentences as a token of appreciation for all the concentrated suffering they’ve bestowed upon the world.

Of course, their natural modesty and humility will require them to protest this largesse as simply too generous, but we really must insist.  It’s the least we can do for them after all they’ve done for us.

It’s their due.

May 16th, 2009 at 01:39pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Iraq,Media,Torture,Wankers,War

Dick, Meet Petard.

Oh, the irony:

Last month, former Vice President Dick Cheney revealed that he had requested the release of CIA documents supposedly showing that the Bush administration’s torture program produced valuable intelligence and protected the U.S. against terrorist attacks…. Now, in a letter to the National Archives, CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator Delores M. Nelson, “rejected Cheney’s request because the documents he has requested are involved in a Freedom of Information Act court battle.”

The King Of Government Secrecy is thwarted by… government secrecy.  It’s just too delicious.

2 comments May 15th, 2009 at 06:54am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cheney,Obama,Torture

Victory For Bullshit

This is very discouraging:

As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moves to ease a backlog of executive branch nominations, he suggested on Tuesday that he does not have the votes to bring up President Barack Obama’s pick to run the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.

“Right now we’re finding out when to do that,” Reid said, responding to a question about the status of Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to the Justice post. “We need a couple Republican votes until we can get to 60.”

Johnsen has come under fire from some social conservatives, who have voiced concerns over her positions on abortion and the war on terror.

(…)

Reid indicated Tuesday that at least a few Democrats would also oppose Johnsen, making the task of reaching 60 votes to avert a Republican filibuster even more difficult.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) “is very concerned” about Johnsen’s nomination, press secretary Clay Westrope said, pointing to her tenure as the legal director of NARAL Pro-Choice America as a point of concern.

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who recently joined the Democratic Conference after 29 years as a Republican Senator, has stated that he will vote against Johnsen’s nomination when it hits the floor.

I can’t believe this is actually happening.  Johnsen is ridiculously qualified for a job where pro-choice views are barely relevant, and even if they were, she would certainly be a lot better at  keeping ideology out of the OLC’s rulings than any of her Bush-era predecessors that no-one had a problem confirming.

And if she’s anti-torture, well, isn’t the OLC supposed to be against stuff that’s illegal?  Isn’t that the whole point?

This will be a truly ignominious failure for Reid and Obama if they can’t get Johnsen confirmed, and a very disturbing precedent for future appointees – including judges.

May 13th, 2009 at 07:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Choice,Democrats,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Religious Right Tacking Left?

Wow, maybe the religious right is reading the New Testament after all:

The Southern Baptist Convention, the dominant religious voice of the South, has finally weighed in on the issue of waterboarding and other forms of torture.

Under no circumstances should they be permitted in this country.

(…)

There is no room for torture as part of the United States’ intelligence-gathering process, Richard Land said today. He also said he believes the practice known as “waterboarding” is torture and, as such, is unethical.

Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said there is no circumstance in which torture should be permissible in interrogations by U.S. officials, even if the authorities believe a prisoner has information that might involve national security.

“I don’t agree with the belief that we should use any means necessary to extract information,” said Land. “I believe there are absolutes. There are things we must never do under any circumstances.

“For me the ultimate test is: Could I, in good conscience, do whatever I am authorizing or condoning others to do? If not, then I must oppose the action. If I could not waterboard someone—and I couldn’t—then I must oppose its practice.”

(…)

“There are some things you should never do to another human being, no matter how horrific the things they have done. If you do so, you demean yourself to their level,” he said.

“Civilized countries should err on the side of caution. It does cost us something to play by different rules than our enemies, but it would cost us far more if we played by their rules,” Land concluded.

Torture is simply not Christian.  I don’t see how that’s even subject to debate, yet a supposedly devout Christian president gleefully indulged in it and then lied about it (also not Christian, BTW – I think there’s a Commandment or something), and millions of supposedly devout Christian Americans had no problem with it at all.

The religious right may even be coming around on Teh Scary Ghey:

In a move that will surprise gay activists and liberals, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family, a top religious right groups, tells me that his organization has no problem with GOP Senator Jeff Sessions’ claim today that he’s open to a Supreme Court nominee with “gay tendencies.”

The spokesperson confirms the group won’t oppose a gay SCOTUS nominee over sexual orientation.

“We agree with Senator Sessions,” Bruce Hausknecht, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family, which is headed by James Dobson, told me a few minutes ago. “The issue is not their sexual orientation. It’s whether they are a good judge or not.”

Their sexual orientation “should never come up,” he continued. “It’s not even pertinent to the equation.”

(“Gay tendencies”???  WTF is that supposed to mean?)  John Aravosis doesn’t believe them, but points out that even if it is complete insincere bullshit, it’s still a pretty huge deal that Focus on the Family feels the need to pretend to be tolerant.

If the Christian right decides to start acting more, well, Christian, that can only be a good thing for everyone.  Except for the hate-based extreme right wing of the GOP, and marginalizing them would actually be very healthy  for the GOP as a whole.

2 comments May 8th, 2009 at 07:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Religion,Republicans,Teh Gay,Torture

How to Win Votes And Influence People

Torture and unlawful detentions yes, healthcare no.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican Party.  How could anyone resist such an attractive, Culture-Of-Life-y package?

May 7th, 2009 at 07:03am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Healthcare,Politics,Prisoners,Torture

The Law And The Government Are Supposed To Be On The Same Side

Yet another example of why the Bush administration was morally and ethically repulsive:

Karen Greenberg’s book, Least Worst Place, gives us a very compelling answer. It’s found in a passage in which Will Taft (who emerges from all of this as a minor hero who genuinely believes the values that he articulates) relays a discussion he had with John Yoo. He didn’t understand why there was such ferocious pushback against the Geneva Conventions–why not just accept and live with these standards? America had done so for fifty years. The room got quiet, and Yoo said, “We have an Article 17 problem.”

That was a key point. Article 17 says, “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war,” and John Yoo and the others did not want to have to agree to that. Taft understood what was going on, and he fought back. The State Department team wrote a memo calling Yoo’s opinion “seriously flawed” and “fundamentally inaccurate.” They were saying that John Yoo’s lawyering was incompetent.

But we learn from Greenberg’s book that there was a point to all of this. Yoo’s analysis of the law was dishonest. It was driven by a need to get a certain result–to introduce a system of torture of the prisoners. He was intent on twisting the law to get all the restrictions out of the way.

Good-faith opinion writing? I think not.

The whole purpose of the OLC is to tell the administration what it legally can and cannot do, not act like a mob lawyer finding loopholes or concocting bogus rationales for whatever sordid things the boss wants to do.  If (I repeat, IF) we still had functioning mechanisms for accountability, Yoo and Bybee’s legal malpractice would have exposed Bush and his inner circle to the risk of some serious jailtime.

The OLC is supposed to rein in the administration’s criminal impulses, not enable them.

April 30th, 2009 at 05:53pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Accountability

Cory Doctorow is talking about something completely different (police brutality in the UK), but his central argument is eerily applicable to the situation here in the US:

Transparency means nothing unless it is accompanied by the rule of law. It means nothing unless it is set in a system of good and responsible government, of oversight of authority that expeditiously and effectively handles citizen complaints. Transparency means nothing without justice.

(…)

Transparency on its own is nothing more than spectacle: it’s just another season of Big Brother in which all the contestants are revealed, over and over again, as thugs. Transparency on its own robs as much hope as it delivers, because transparency without justice is a perennial reminder that the game is rigged and that those in power govern for power’s sake, not for justice.

Sure, it’s great that Obama’s DOJ released all those torture memos, but it’s terribly demoralizing when he continues to show pretty much zero interest in pursuing investigations and prosecutions even after the depth of BushCo’s depravity has been exposed.

Sure, he may yet bow to pressure, or Holder may choose to do the right thing, but enforcing the law and protecting the Constitution is not something that our government should have to be forced into kicking and screaming.  I mean, it’s kind of their job, after all.

April 29th, 2009 at 08:54pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Politics,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

More Torture Than Not

Well, that makes, like, one Republican in Congress who’s semi-rational on torture – or at least, that’s what I thought at first:

Rep. Don Manzullo apparently disagrees with his GOP colleague John Shimkus on the issue of “enhanced interrogations,” according to the comments he made an interview with WGN Radio’s John Williams this morning. Listen to this particular exchange, in which the Rockford Republican acknowledges — after Williams recounted the case of Abu Zubaydah — that “apparently waterboarding doesn’t work” (WGN has posted full audio of part one and part two of the interview).

Later in the interview, when asked by Williams whether waterboarding consitutes torture, Manzullo responded, “It’s more torture than not.”

It’s all downhill from there, though:

But Manzullo and Shimkus still agree on one crucial and disturbing point: Those in the Bush administration who authorized torture should not face any legal repercussions for their actions. Manzullo justifies his position using a variety of rationales, none of which hold up to much scrutiny.

For example, after admitting that waterboarding is torture, Manzullo tells Williams that he doesn’t think any laws were broken:

WILLIAMS: So you don’t think there were any U.S. laws or any international laws that we should look into. Nothing went wrong here? No laws were broken?

MANZULLO: Probably at this point, not.

WILLIAMS: You’re kidding?

MANZULLO: Probably.

WILLIAMS: You’ve read, I’m sure, the torture memos. You don’t think any laws were broken?

MANZULLO: It depends upon whether or not you think that the enemy combatants come under the Geneva Accords. …. That in itself there is a split of legal opinion.

Um.

This here is my favorite part:

Yet while Manzullo acknowledges that waterboarding “doesn’t work,” he doesn’t seem convinced that we should stop torturing. As you can hear in the first clip posted above, he erects an elaborate hypothetical in which a school locked and filled with 500 students is set to be bombed in 30 minutes and a person with knowledge of the school’s keys is in custody. “That,” he tells Williams, “would be a very unusual situation where anything goes in order to exact the codes and stop that slaughter.”

Damn.  Someone watches waaaay too much 24.  Since when do terrorists do anything remotely resembling that scenario?  “Exact the codes”?  WTF?

April 28th, 2009 at 10:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Republicans,Terrorism,Torture

Quote Of The Day

From John Yoo’s Dickipedia entry:

Having devoted his life to the common dick practice of redefining words to mean something different and more convenient, Yoo, during the course of one business day, redefined “acceptable behavior for a civilized nation” to “pretty much anything up to the reenactment of an Eli Roth movie.”

That. Is. Perfect.

(h/t watertiger)

April 27th, 2009 at 09:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Prisoners,Quotes,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Catch Of The Day

Turns out even Ronald Reagan’s DOJ thought waterboarding was illegal.

During the Reagan Administration, the Department of Justice prosecuted a Texas sheriff and three deputies for waterboarding suspects to obtain confessions, and won convictions. The sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and the deputies to 4 years.

So, conservatives… if Ronald Reagan is infallible… and he was anti-waterboarding…

You can’t even argue that waterboarding is okay for obtaining intel but not confessions.

April 27th, 2009 at 08:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture

So What?

So Gallup is doing another poll on whether or not the American public supports criminal investigations of the Bush administration’s justification and use of torture.

But should it really matter?  I mean, since when should public opinion determine whether the rule of law gets upheld, whether criminals get held accountable?

And conversely, how dare conservatives and concern trolls like Broder proclaim that any investigations or prosecutions would be politically motivated?  If they’re so confident that the Bush administration did nothing illegal, shouldn’t they welcome the chance to clear their names?  And if they’re not so confident, are they once again admitting that they place partisan loyalty above respect for the law?

April 26th, 2009 at 02:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Media,Politics,Polls,Prisoners,Torture,Wankers

They Write Letters

Some gems from the NYT letters page:

And don’t tell me it’s not torture because the military does it to train our forces. A willingness to impose harsh conditions on ourselves voluntarily cannot justify imposing those conditions on an another involuntarily.

Further, the reason the military uses the techniques on our soldiers is to prepare them for torture by an enemy. Would we say use of those techniques on our own forces by the enemy is not torture?

And:

The debate about aggressive interrogation techniques like waterboarding now centers on their effectiveness.

It is frightening to think that we, a nation that has long believed that principle mattered and that human rights applied to all, would now be open to assuming that such values need not apply when we are frightened or at risk.

Has it all been a fiction? Are there no lines that we, as a nation, will not cross no matter the cost to us? If every value is negotiable depending upon circumstance, we have no true values.

And:

You quote the letter [by McCain, Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham] as saying, “Moving in such a direction would have a deeply chilling effect on the ability of lawyers in any administration to provide their client — the U.S. government — with their best legal advice.”

That seems counterintuitive. Would not such prosecutions ensure that in the future lawyers did give their best advice, not legal fictions that served the whims and wishes of their client, the United States government?

A-fricking-men.

1 comment April 24th, 2009 at 07:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Prisoners,Quotes,Republicans,Torture

Wanker Of The Day

Shorter David Frum: Prosecuting criminal politicians = criminalizing politics.

Apparently it is inconceivable to conservatives that:

A) The Bush administration’s activities were illegal, and

B) That illegal (Republican) activities should ever be investigated or prosecuted.

I especially liked the part where he warned about the possibility of reprisals by Republicans.  Because Republicans never indulge in trumped-up politically-motivated prosecutions.

(h/t Phoenix Woman)

April 24th, 2009 at 07:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Media,Obama,Politics,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Democracy 101

Accountability = Democracy.  Impunity = Not Democracy.

So, stories over the last few years, all coming together over the last few days, unambiguously tell us that the highest officials of the US Government ordered the commission of war crimes, in order to obtain false information to justify an even more egregious crime of waging an unnecessary, aggressive war in which innocent people are still being killed. But when the opposition party takes over, the official response is that the US government cannot hold a single person legally accountable.

At the same time, Wall Street banksters have just devastated the US economy and world economy, causing billions of people untold economic suffering that will last (even worsen) for years, and not a single bankster has been held legally accountable. Most are still in their enriched executive positions, demanding the terms under which the government will continue to prop them up, as they successfully lobby Congress to weaken every piece of consumer protection or meaningful oversight.

You stand back and look at this, and it’s hard not to see it as a massive “systemic” failure of the US governance system. The principle of accountability, notions of fairness and justice, and the simple concept that no one is about the law — sorry, but these are all in freefall, and almost none of our “democratic” leaders seem to give a damn.

If laws are not enforced, or are only enforced for the little people, then they have no value, and the people who control our government have no incentive to obey the law or look out for anyone’s interests but their own.

It looks like we’re officially there.

April 23rd, 2009 at 09:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Politics,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture

Wanker Of The Day

Joe Lieberman was for torture before he was against it.

What a two-faced little weasel.  He’s finally on the right side of the issue… now that all the embarrassing revelations about BushCo’s illegal torture practices are leaking out.

He still doesn’t want any prosecutions, though.  Bygones!

April 23rd, 2009 at 11:55am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Lieberman,Politics,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Hannity Agrees To Let Charles Grodin Waterboard Him For Charity

This is… bizarre:

GRODIN: You’re for torture.

HANNITY: I am for enhanced interrogation.

GRODIN: You don’t believe it’s torture. Have you ever been waterboarded?

HANNITY: No, but Ollie North has.

GRODIN: Would you consent to be waterboarded? We can waterboard you?

HANNITY: Sure.

GRODIN: Are you busy on Sunday?

HANNITY: I’ll do it for charity. I’ll let you do it. I’ll do it for the troops’ families.

Because nothing says “charity” quite like torture by simulated drowning.

Of course, this will never ever happen, but if it did, I would be awfully curious to see how Hannity would reconcile “OMG NO MORE PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!!!” with arguing that waterboarding’s no big thing, and certainly not torture.

April 23rd, 2009 at 11:31am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Shep Smith Has Issues With Torture

YouTube Preview Image

I think this means he’s opposed to torture, as opposed to a variation of the “When America does it, it’s not illegal” defense.

His uncensored online rant is even better:

“We are America!” he shouted, slamming his hand on the table. “I don’t give a rat’s ass if it helps. We are AMERICA! We do not fucking torture!!”

You go, Shep!  This may come as a shock to conservative torture apologists, but patriotism and opposition to torture are not mutually exclusive.  Quite the contrary.

April 23rd, 2009 at 08:00am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Republicans,Torture

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