"Hardball," Christopher Matthews nightly rant, yesterday featured a "conversation" amongst Matthews, Michael Smerconish, and Christopher Hitchen. Matthews, who seems to have some residual sense of decency on the issue of torture, offered Cheney’s recent defense of water boarding, etc. as a topic for discussion.
Hitchen made it clear that he would not tolerate the idea of government torture of anyone under any circumstances.
Smerconish said repeatedly that in his view there are no limits to what one can do to an al-Qa’ida suspect or detainee. Matthews asked him it would be acceptable to shoot the suspect’s toes off one at a time. (This must be a reference to the wretched "24" program. Matthews lacks the imagination for creation of that "technique" on his own) Smerconish said that would be acceptable. How about a blowtorch? That was also said to be "fine." Smerconish reiterated his opinion that there are no limits in dealing with "them."
Matthews asked him what sort of system of morality led Smerconish to have such a view. After a little fumbling around it became clear that Smerconish does not consider Islamic terror suspects to be fully human. Further pressure caused Smerconish to admit that he does not think people outside his group, i.e., Americans, really are deserving of what are quaintly called "human rights."
Matthews said that he mostly agreed with this view, but that he thought some restraints still existed. I suppose the thought of his possible reception at the altar rail in approaching for the Eucharist might have had some restraining effect in that statement. Maybe.
Wikiworld "research" indicates that Smerconish is of Yugoslavian descent. pl
Someone should ask Mr. Smerconish if he thought the information extracted by The Inquisition under torture was reliable. Did all those Jews really convert to Christianity? Did all those “conversos” actually give up their religion?
Ah, the old “Untermenschen” argument.
Matthews (aka TweetyBird) lifted that idea from “24,” no doubt. I have always avoided watching the show, but it sounds about right. What amazes me about this type of “discussion” between tv talking heads is the reality of what any of them would do in an interrogation room if THEY were called on to get info from someone.
As you have remarked before, Pat, Smerconish & his ilk want someone like you to carry out this shooting off of toes etc. on their behalf. They want YOU & those with your experience & training to waste that experience & training carrying out this sort of lamebrained, counterproductive “interrogation,” which in fact is a revenge fantasy gaining little & damaging much.
Listening to Cheney or Rumsfeld is a lot like listening to Smerconish, unfortunately. And they made policy…
That “Hardball” exchange is painful to watch. You know you’re in deep trouble when Christopher Hitchens is the only one pointing the way to the moral high ground.
So is there some secret medical facility where so-called “conservative” pundits go to have their brains (and their consciences) removed before they’re given air time?
“Wikiworld “research” indicates that Smerconish is of Yugoslavian descent. pl”
Wow. Who would have thought someone who traces his lineage from the former Yugoslavia would support crimes against humanity?
Col.If you keep watching Tweety I suspect you’ll soon be a champion for media reform.
TeeVee is a variation on the days-of-yore side show – but more depraved. Instead of naked and bearded ladies they bring the rubes to the tube with crypto-obscenity and moral deformity.
Pudor ain’t what it used to be.
The old saws are there for a reason even if they are rarely honored in the breach Jefferson’s “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” is a good example. Like the town crier we often mouth the words but rarely speak or act on them in a way so that they receive the strength and meaning they deserve.
The criminal nature of torture and the need to punish those who have broken the laws of this country regarding it has been rationalized away by our government in the so-called interests of national security. Contrary to history, treaties and Title 18 of the US Code, we now take as a given that it is appropriate to argue as to what torture is, who should be charged with it, and what punishment, if any, should be meted out. For me, this is no different than our approaching the crimes of murder or thievery or fraud as if they were no longer criminal matters thus allowing the law to be safely ignored by potential miscreants.
Smerconish is not alone in this. He is merely more forthright than some of the others. Peter Baker of the NYT in last Friday’s Washington Week referred in an entirely non-malevolent way to torture as a “controversial topic.” His comments conveyed clearly his belief that torture is a “gray” area; that it does not (or does no longer) fall into the black and white logic of criminal behavior. This thinking is due undoubtedly to his having been trained by his editors to follow their constant preoccupation with ‘fairness,’ that is, in making sure that both sides are presented even when one of them is an absurdity.
I’ve recently been thinking that perhaps President Obama could solve this problem by a preemptive pardon (like Ford’s pardon of Nixon) of all of those both named and ‘john does’ who participated in the development of the government’s policies that allowed for the use of torture or who actively engaged in their application. IMO were Obama to do this it would automatically remove any ambiguity regarding the criminal nature of torture and might well serve as a deterrent for future executives. I doubt, however, that it would provide any relief for those currently being considered for indictment by foreign countries.
when what passed for the great national debate on torture, er, excuse me — harsh interrogation — was underway, tweety was indeed sympathetic to its use. and, yes, ’24’ was cited in his rationale.
it’s remarkable what a toxic influence that teevee program has had on the imaginations of the commentariat.
but, now, tweety is rebranding himself in his future quest for the pennsylvania senate seat — so those earlier inclinations are disappeared down the memoryhole. i can’t wait until he enlists the clintons to come campaign for him…
I always wanted to use this quote on the NeoNutties, but felt it was going to far:
“If I can send the flower of the German nation into the hell of war without the smallest pity for the shedding of precious German blood, then surely I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin” – Adolf Hitler
Thank you Mr. Smerconish!, now you know why I left the GOP.
“After a little fumbling around it became clear that Smerconish does not consider Islamic terror suspects to be fully human.”
Apply that quote to Muslims and isn’t that the real problem we have with Islam?
Such a small step from “you are either with us, or you are against us” to you are either one of us or not human at all.
A pre-emptive pardon would be the worst thing Obama could do.
Accountability requires an accounting. Justice demands a verdict based on the accounting.
Col.If you keep watching Tweety I suspect you’ll soon be a champion for media reform.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Its a testament to our times that 230 years after the US Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress that our leaders, corporate media and some citizens no longer believe in the meaning of this document and the US Constitution.
The question is how far from our republican roots have we have strayed? When will our people re-exert their sovereignty?
Time once again to ponder the words of a great American – Thomas Jefferson.
“If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.”
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny”
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
“A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither”
“It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.”
Torture and any policy that permits its use in the service of our government is ILLEGAL and a stain upon our soul. Besides the fact that it does not work, it endangers our nation and its soldiers.
Until its use is ended, we remain the moral equivilents of the many petty tyrants we prop up around this despondent world. I am ashamed that my country today is no better than despotic lands like Egypt because our moral failure to end these practices.
If there is one thing I am waiting for in the next Administration, it is the unequivocal revocation of “enhanced interrogations” and holding the law breakers in the previous administration who authorized and condoned them to account.
So what if a bona fide American joins A.Q.? Or what if said person is accused of being in A.Q., but in reality is not?
Hitchens actually allowed himself to be waterboarded, so I consider him something of an authority on this subject. Something tells me Smerconish doesn’t have the courage for that. “Anything goes” applies to other people, not himself.