Christopher Matthews continues his focus on the Bush Administration renewal of a government sanction for torture. Tonight he had as guests congresspersons Jim Moran (my rep.) and Duncan Hunter (R -Ca).
Matthews summoned them to deal with a bi-partisan congressional report that establishes a case for prosecution of Rummy, Addington, Yoo, Gonzales et al.
Moran fumbled the defense of the committee report and a NY Times editorial on the subject.
Hunter made his case with the "classic" argument that "the end justifies the means." Click on the link above and you can hear his pitch. Hunter likes to call people "lefties."
Matthews contines to try to straddle the torture issue. Listen to him.
I am gradualy coming to the view that the guity should be punished, that the moral absolutes involved in this matter over ride the danger of political retribution in future American political life. pl
At least we will not have to endure Duncan Hunter’s anti-lefty screeds much longer. As the 110th ends, he becomes just another has-been congressman who will live the rest of his life on the trough of congressional retirement (and cheap, socialized healthcare!).
One wonders if Duncan’s son, the successor to his dad’s Congressional seat, will have the same blind antipathy towards “lefties” as his dad?
Despite the blatant nepotism, his dad cannot simply hand over his vaunted committee “priestliness” as he leaves Congress behind for the glories of K Street. Junior will have to start at the bottom of the committee world and if he survives long enough, work his way up.
Is there a special subcommittee for sewage and wastewater works? Maybe he can start there…
Question for AG nominee Holder:
“Is waterboarding torture?”
I am in total agreement. Those that condone or rationalize torture should be treated with the same revulsion and contempt as those that think child molestation is a legitimate pastime. Those that engage in torture should be removed from society just as one would remove a rabid dog from a schoolyard. I personally have more sympathy for the rabid dog than the torturer.
John Yoo lives in my north Berkeley neighborhood, I see him at Andronico’s now and then. We hung men at the Yokohama trials in 1946 for similar acts; Rumsfeld is so arrogant, or stupid, he signed the f-ing memos. On one level, they are symptomatic of a larger, sado-masochistically degraded culture. But acts have consequences, as should theirs.
Presidential Oath of Office
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
It seems obvious to me that it is the sworn duty of the next President to prosecute anyone involved in the assaults on the Constitution by members of the Bush Administration and the United States Military. If those sworn to defend the Consitution fail to use Constitutional means and mechanisms to do so, then the government described in that document will no longer be relevant or legitimate.
The danger, however, is not political retribution but that the very existence of moral absolutes will be denied: the ultimate coarsening of American society. Even so, someone somewhere must have said that all we need to do is to hang a few of them so the rest will pay attention.
I am glad to read you are coming to the view that the guilty should be held to account.
I believe if lawlessness is tolerated specially for those in high office under the guise its all just politics then we debase the rule of law. Then its just a short step where people feel there are two laws – one for the elite and another for everyone else. Over time there will be no respect for the law and that could lead to anarchy.
IMO, since the Nixon era we have not prosecuted and held to account those at the head of our government that have subverted the Constitution and their oath of office. Each instance of tolerance has caused the next subversion to be more brazen which I believe led directly to Cheney/Addington/Libby, et al to have nothing but contempt for our Constitution. They acted with impunity because they believed that there is no institutional fortitude to prosecute those in high office. Members of the club don’t knock another member down.
I am of the opinion that there should be both a special prosecutor and an independent commission investigation into all possible acts of treason and subversion and those responsible should be indicted, prosecuted and judged by a jury of their peers in open court. None of this “classified information” dodge. We cannot let this go because the next step would be an effective coup and rule by clique. We can kiss goodbye to any republican notion.
My cynical self believes however that we as a people are too complacent to demand any accounting and we will only realize it when our liberty has been eroded to the point that tyranny is staring us in face.
At a minimum the issues should be laid out with more force than now. Sufficient public support,especially from conservatives and the military , to force Obama out of his present position of seeking rconciliation among politicized extremes.
We do seem to need a hard wake up call concerning the matters in the report,
All the torture, illegal wire taps, ignoring subpeonas, etc. are indicative of the fact that the US has become a nation of men and is no longer a nation of laws.
Much of Congress needs to be flushed down the toilet like the turds that they are: E.g.: In the 1990s, Sen Diane Feinstein excoriated Clinton for lying about sex by means of a motion to censure. But in the 2000-s, Sen Diane Feinstein does NOTHING about the hundreds of lies told to Americans by Bush, et al. Shame on her!! Sen Feinstein’s lack of propriety and just action is what is ruining this country.
Thanks for coming around to that conclusion.
Wpl, good for you. Torture really isn’t a partisan issue, or even a policy issue: it’s fundamental morality. You and I disagree on a lot of partisan and policy issues, but rarely on the really important ones.
Let’s hope that’s a good thing.
It’s infuriating that Matthews, in this series of “torture” debates, gets people on who know as much about torture or interrogation as I do about brain surgery. What do Smerconish, Hitchens, Matthews know? Nothing. Not even the pols in this piece know. Heck, I’m probably better qualified having at least been to SERE school and taken a tactical interrogation course.
If Matthews was really interested in informing the public (or at least the handful of people who still watch MSNBC), he should get this guy on:
Read the whole thing.
This guy was on the Daily Show, a frickin comedy show. He wasn’t on hardball, a supposed news-related show. There is something seriously wrong with that.
Another guy the people should hear is Malcolm Nance. Instead we get pols and talking heads. No wonder less than half of Americans believe torture should never be used.
We facilitated the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein. He deserved it, but I have difficulty thinking of anything he did which the U.S. has not done (biological warfare against indigenous tribes, invasion of neighbors, nuclear weapons development, torture). The difference would be if our society is able to hold itself accountable and try to right those wrongs which can still be addressed.
I am not suggesting anyone needs to be hung, as I hope there are mitigating factors above pure self-interest which led to our abuses, and am willing to hear defenses.
I dread the time and resources that would be required, and the bad feelings that would result, but I reluctantly would also vote to go forward with prosecutorial inquiries.
Individuals along the same mindset path as Duncan Hunter when confronted with logical arguments against ‘their view’, frequently resort (like Hunter) to labeling and name calling of those who disagree with ‘their view’.
Sadly, we will never see either future White Houses or Congress pressing for War Crimes/Crimes against humanity charges against Bush, Cheney, Rumy, Woo, Myers, Franks, Tenent, Laughlin, Ashcroft, Mueller, etc. as then the leadership and members of the Congress (Frist, Hastert, Harmon, etc.) are also liable for criminal prosecution for aiding and abetting War Crimes/Crimes against humanity.
Bush and crew have long past worn out their ‘let them eat cake’ routine showing their haughtiness regarding their crimes. Will we witness a Nuremberg Trials II moment, sadly I fear not.
I’m really pleased to see you come around to the view “that the moral absolutes involved in this matter over ride the danger of political retribution in future American political life.”
Perhaps the most outrageous inversion of morality on the issue comes from (surprise) Dick Cheney, who outdid himself yesterday in an “exclusive interview” in the Washington Times. It reveals a man who has completely lost his moral compass.
As a lawyer who represents torture victims in immigration practice, the issue has so energized me that I’ve started commenting on it in a new blog I’ve started myself.
i think it’s imperative that this country deal with these people who have so damaged us morally and economically; and inflicted such degradation throughout the institutions of governance. this would be one of the clearest signals to the international community — and the citizens of this country — that this is a nation of laws; and no one — no one — is above their reach.
re moran — i was hugely disappointed in that pathetic performance of jim moran. but, fortunately, because tweety was content to let hunter control the segment, moran didn’t get much of an opportunity to display that ignorance.
Corected spelling version.
The whole torture issue is still shrouded in secrecy. OBAMA should declassify all Executive Branch materials using the word “Torture” or its variants (waterboarding)! Clearly this will help set international standards on torture but only if OBAMA has the guts to join the ICC and either we refer the alleged offenders to the ICC (which often operates retroactively) or we let those who suffered refer the alledged offenders. Never has the Edmund Burke saying rung truer “That the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (Or women) to remain silent.” Disclosure, disclosure, disclosure. The Administration’s whole strategy is that by letting documentation leak drip by drip there will be NO final acconting for the horror of the conspiracy.
Be careful about hyperbole. Who did the US Government torture before this? When did the US Government wage biological warfare against indigenous tribes? pl
It is my understanding that Obama has already been presented by the ICRC their documented hard evidence of War Crimes by Bush, Cheney, Rumy, etc.. And instead of doing something about it, Obama has decided to punt, which then places Obama in the category of an ‘accessory’ to their War Crimes for his failure to press for prosecution.
I expect proof in the form of actual evidence; congressional testimony, trial records, newspaper accounts by credible witnesses, autobiograpical statements from disinterested parties, etc.
Polemical claims that are unsupported are not “proof.”
The way you made your statement was that the “United States intentionally” did this or that… That means that there was government policy by the federal government to do…
In Cheney’s case he has made it clear that torture became US government policy under his influence and Bush’s authority. pl
There is a reason why torture continue to exist. It works.
Not as tool to extract information or what not. But simply to strike fear and inflict pain. To terrorize the mass. It is the most effective way to sustain ruling power.
It is always about the enemy of state. one way or another ultimately it is going to be everybody who the state doesn’t like.
maybe first the obvious criminals, than the deviants, then press, then intellectuals, then rival politicians… etc.
It’s the same everywhere. It has been like that since the beginning of time.
Back when Bush/Cheney codified torture (I mean waterboarding) as legally permissible and overrode Geneva Conventions, where were Matthews & the rest of the media? They were all Smerconishing the issue.
I suppose its never too late for moral conversions and it seems that Hitchens sobered up after sampling waterboarding and has recounted on his support of it. Has he recounted on his support of the war? Not rhetorical, I really don’t know?
Tortured logic still coming from the hardcore followers as their policies continue to unravel. Gaffney “They had to die”; Bush “If only the intelligence has been right” aargghh!
By all means let us seek enforcement of the law, including laws against torture.
Let’s not forget two things:
(1) This will be a political struggle. Many of our fellow Americans support the use of torture against the bad guys and remain susceptible to the ticking-time-bomb rhetoric.
(2) Now the environment has changed so much but cast your minds back a few years and recall how easy it was for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to shred the Constitution in public with nary a peep from the opposition party or the free press. What went wrong? Who failed? Why was it so easy?
This Vervel fits more into the context.
And Dershowitz vs Sand>. One indeed has to see it to believe it.
Glenn Greenwald sometimes catches brilliantly the deeper feelings of this “European lefty”, for instance here:
Prostitution vs. war crimes: The real moral offense
For quite some years now I am haunted by what feels like “double standards” and reminicences of 19th century; or what it felt like for a student of the arts. Incidentially for the first time in my life, I understood the idea of cycles in history versus progression.
Were the last eight years only some kind of peak of what Vervel discribes here as business as usual? Allowing us to see the trend more clearly?
Punishing the Guilty.
Going for the heads of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc also means going after those unknown individuals who blindly followed their orders and inflicted the torture. That is opening a Pandora’s Box that all may not want to see.
Why not just a political flogging or proclamation from Obama to set a future policy on the issue that has teeth.
Not sure a criminal action against the troubled ones is really serving the better good of the nation at this time. But then is there ever a good time.
Here is some of the proof you seek, besides Cheney’s own despicable public statements:
* Statement of Senator Carl Levin on Senate Armed Services Committee Report of its Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody
* Senate Armed Services Committee Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody, Executive Summary and Conclusions
* Index of Documents
We still have almost no transparency into what the ODA and CIA were doing with their detainees. Nor access to ALL the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel’s justifications for detainee maltreatment and torture.
Season’s best to all,
Thank you Col. Lang and great posts by all.
My conclusion of those that support torture (In arguing at various blogs and forums) is once you put aside their “high minded” flowery language and false patriotism – that in their heart of hearts – they enjoy the idea of it. They are so quick to cry foul and call for a moderator when you call them on it.
Andy, I agree with you on Malcolm Nance. He, along with Hans Scharff, Stuart Harrington and our own Col. Lang are who I cite as examples and I believe offer the best examples against torture while making strong cases for legal and ultimately successful interrogation.
Andy Jackson suffered a sabre slash from a British officer when he was a prisoner as a youth during the American Revolutionary War when he refused to shine the officer’s boots.
I think it would be safe to say that this came back and bit the British on the arse.
Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton was the only British officer who was not invited to the dinner after Cornwallis’ surrender. Informed SST readers know why.
Historically, there are many examples in our country’s early days that are opposed to the inhumane treatment of those captured.
Please pardon the sports analogy but in ice hockey, a cheap shot or hit often rallies a team. Sometimes much later, but it is never forgotten.
From SST’s archives
And from Col. Lang, via the Christian Science Monitor
Lessons from Vietnam in how to ‘flip’ an enemy
As for Duncan Hunter, here’s an exchange with Wes Clark, via WaPO
[…] The exception was Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who pressed Clark to acknowledge that the Iraq invasion should get some credit for signs of democracy in the region.
“We’ve got to do a lot less crowing about the sunrise,” Clark rejoined.
When Hunter’s GOP colleagues didn’t join his line of questioning, he took another turn grilling Clark. The chairman likened President Bush’s Middle East policies to those of President Ronald Reagan in Eastern Europe.
“Reagan never invaded Eastern Europe,” Clark retorted.
In another try, Hunter said Clark was “overstating” the risk in challenging other countries in the Middle East. Clark smiled and showed his trump card — reminding Hunter of their exchange at the 2002 hearing. “I kept saying time was on our side,” Clark said. “I could never quite satisfy you.”
As for who proved correct, the general said, “I’ll let the record speak for itself.” […]
The whole torture issue is still shrouded in secrecy. OBAMA should declassify all Executive Branch materials using the word “Torture” or its variants (waterboarding)! Clearly this will help set international standards on torture but only if OBAMA has the guts to join the ICC and either we refer the alleged offenders to the ICC (which often operates retroactively) or we let those who suffered refer the alledged offenders. Never has the Edmund Burke saying rung truer “That the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (Or women) to remain silent.” Disclosure, disclosure, disclosure. The Administration’s whole strategy is that by letting documentation leak drip by drip there will be NO final acconting for the horrow of the conspiracy.
Yes, happy you’ve come to this, Pat, as you obviously love your country and countrymen, so well served by you these many campaigns.
It might not be practical to prosecute all the responsible parties, but the case(s)should be made. Ignorant, cowed and silent acceptance, or merely toleration, of less than the Rule of Law, or of Constitution Lite, is the way of all flesh, entirely natural. It maybe the human condition, but it must NEVER be the settled-for human aspiration. We are sentient and have souls enough to at least own that.
Just letting EVERYTHING slide I would take as a mark that the your nation’s pathology was irredeemably established for all to see and not enough to dare to care – let alone act. America is better than your current malaise, as it were, but the illness may get the better of it yet. If you commence the cure, lets hope Justice, Reality and Politics combine in beneficial in a less than existential result.
I’m just skeptical you can reach a public consensus on even a bit of meaningful right and wrong to any salutary effect. Politics, religion, ignorance,human nature and fear appear to rule.
I recall opining, naively, that you went off the rails when Bush got away with diverting $700m from duly legislated Afghanistan funds to the illegal scam of Iraq without a peep never mind an impeachment. If only. The GWOT has got to be wound down and replaced by more rational, and legal behavioural rationales and execution of the National Interest.
I’m sorry to say that I am dubious about the capacity of your citizenry for any of this work in a meaningful way – they let it all happen, voted Shrub in at least once, long after the dust at ground Zero had settled as the dead troops flowed home from the imperative cakewalk they’d been sold.
Millions of proud, well armed fiercely independent “folks” who would guard their liberty to the death – many even against their own government – nonetheless are easily distracted into looking away as that government plunged the country into irrational wars, gutted the Constitution, appointed pigs from the troughs to regulatory leadership, widened the income gap, stifled science, and destroyed diplomacy. All to the
Righteously hectoring cries of Traitor! Kill Him!
My own country is now lead by the same ilk so I look south with envy toward January 20th for a change in tone if not substance.
Good luck to you and God Bless America – just not that judgmentally vengeful inerrantly prescriptive One so many Americans claim to literally believe in.
Thank you for your reply to my comment, which I just got back to see now. My “biological warfare” reference was based on a dimly-remembered historical anecdote that US Calvary officers had given blankets which had been exposed to the smallpox virus to a native American tribe. I am not aware of previous torture abuses prior to the Bush administration – it was theirs I was referring to.
I should have pointed out that my laundry list consisted of isolated instances over our history, rather than a systematic policy, but it has always seemed striking to me that so many of things we justified going after SH for, we ourselves have been or would be guilty of, albeit to a lesser degree. Which is not to say these things should not be condemned and punished – but to punish SH and excuse our own leaders would be hypocritical.
“…a dimly-remembered historical anecdote that US Calvary officers had given blankets which had been exposed to the smallpox virus to a native American tribe.”
If I said that your mother was a whore would you not want proof?
In this absence of PROOF, I will say that your “half remembered anecdote is BS and something you should not have made an assertion about.
Is it possible that civilians did something like this, or that the Colorado militia or some other rabble did something like this? Who knows?
The US Army did this? Show me the proof. pl