Prosecute the torture.

February 10, 2016

A Follow-Up On Yesterday's Torture Blog Post (John McCain on Torture)

From The Huffingtonpost:

It doesn't work.  It's dishonorable.  It's illegal.  How difficult is it to follow the logic?

I may have some yuuge disagreements with the Arizona senator's politics, but here he's abso-frickin-lutely right (and I suspect in your heart you know that, too).

Here's his statement, as posted on his website:
Given the loose talk on the campaign trail about reviving waterboarding and other inhumane interrogation techniques, it is important to remember the facts: that these forms of torture not only failed their purpose to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies, but compromised our values, stained our national honor, and did little practical good. It is also important to remember that our nation has tried, convicted, and executed foreign combatants who employed methods of torture, including waterboarding, against American prisoners of war. As I have said before, our nation should never have employed such practices in the past, and we should never permit them in the future.

There is broad, bipartisan agreement on this fundamental question. Last year, the United States Senate passed in an overwhelming vote of 91-3 the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, legislation that took a historic step forward to ban torture once and for all by limiting U.S. Government interrogation techniques to those in the Army Field Manual. The Manual embodies the values Americans have embraced for generations – preserving the ability of our interrogators to extract critical intelligence from our adversaries while recognizing that torture and cruel treatment are ineffective interrogation methods. Some of the nation’s most respected leaders from the U.S. military, CIA, FBI, as well as faith communities and human rights organizations, have expressed their support for this legislation.

As Americans of conscience we must remember that in the war on terrorism, we are fighting not only to defend our security, but for an idea that all men are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. How much safer the world would be if all nations believed the same. How much more dangerous it can become when we forget it ourselves even momentarily, as we learned in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib. Our nation needs a Commander-in-Chief who will make clear to those that fight on our behalf that they are defending this sacred ideal, and that sacrificing our respect for human dignity will make it harder, not easier, to prevail in this war.
It's been banned for a whole lot longer than last year, by the way.

For so many of the GOP candidates to be in favor (or, at the very least not quite disapproving) of torture is a frightening state of affairs for that large chunk of the American electorate.

February 9, 2016

The Once Grand Old Party On Torture

This really happened last night:

Politico has the story:
At a rally on Monday night in Manchester, New Hampshire, Donald Trump repeated a woman’s shouted remark that Ted Cruz was a “pussy” for his comments about waterboarding during Saturday’s Republican debate.

The moment came when Trump, recounting that exchange, heard a shout from a woman in the audience, pointed to her and said, “She just said a terrible thing.”

“You know what she said? Shout it out because I don’t want to say it,” Trump continued, smirking. “OK, you’re not allowed to say and I never expect to hear that from you again. I never expect to hear that from you again. She said he’s a pussy.”
Yea, and the crowd of GOP faithful loved it.  LUUUUVDIT!

So what did the Toronto-borne Senator say about whether waterboarding is torture?  This:
Well, under the definition of torture, no, it’s not. Under the law, torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems, so under the definition of torture, it is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture.
And, of course, he's wrong.

According to the recently popped "LawNewz" website:
During Saturday night’s ABC debate, Ted Cruz told the audience that waterboarding is not considered torture under any legal definition. His claim appears to be derived from a controversial 2002 Bush Administration Memo, which has been widely disputed and discounted. However, according to most other legal interpretations, waterboarding does meet the definition of torture.

We've written about waterboarding/torture many times before and in this case, why it should have been prosecuted by the Obama Administration - if only to make sure it never happens again.

Now front runner Trump is saying he's going to "authorize" stuff "beyond waterboarding" and runner-up Ted Cruz redefining the torture out of the waterboarding.  This is why Obama needed to prosecute the Bush era war crimes.

As a reminder, this is what the "generally recognized definition of torture" really is:
For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
Frequent readers of this blog will remember that that was signed by Ronald Wilson Reagan.  It's the "Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment" and it was ratified in 1994.

And that makes it US Law.

I have a question: Since teh crazies have spent so much time saying Obama is ignoring the law and ruling by Executive Order, why are the silent at Trump and his supporters for cheering exactly what that same thing?  How could Trump "authorize" something so at odds with US Law?

And how could they cheer for it?

Waterboarding is torture.

Torture is against the law.

Bush authorized the torture.

Prosecute the torture, Mr. President.

February 8, 2016

Another Chuck McCullough Count, I guess

I've been away for a few days.  Now I'm back.

A few readers of this blog may have noticed that I tend to focus on a number of issues; climate science, church state separation, fact-checking the Tribune-Review braintrust and so on.  But one of my pet topics is the absurdly long time it had taken Allegheny County to finally get former Allegheny Council member into a court room for a trial.

He was found guilty at the end of July and sentenced to 2 and a 1/2 to 5 years in mid-December.

And while I was away, this happened:
A Common Pleas judge Friday granted a former Allegheny County councilman’s request to remain free pending his appeal to state Superior Court.
So I guess we need to start a new day-count.

It's been 192 days since Chuck McCullough was found guilty.

Hey, fans of mid-90s TV: Do you remember "My So-Called Life"?  How surprised would you be to find out that the entire run of that show was shorter than 192 days?  That's right first episode aired August 25, 1994 and the last on January 26, 1995 - 153 days.

But let's not dwell in teenage angst.  Let's look at another couple of high profile corruption cases:
  • Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty on March 12, 2009 to the charges connected to a massive Ponzi scheme and was in prison by July 14, 2009 - 124 days between the guilty plea and the beginning of his prison sentence
  • Scooter Libby was found guilty on charges related to perjury on March 6, 2007 and had his sentence commuted by the war criminal George W Bush on July 7, 2007 - 123 days.
Surely those cases are not more complicated than Chuck McCullough's.

And yet...

That's all I'm saying.

February 1, 2016


Can we say that part (though certainly not all) of why people think Bernie is "authentic" is because he doesn't appear or sound polished, BUT:
  • If a white woman yelled a lot, wore ill-fitting clothes and had unkempt hair, people would call her "crazy"
  • If a black woman did that, people would call her "angry" 
  • And if a black man did that, people would call him "dangerous"
Only a white man can get away with that.

Hell, it can even become a positive meme for him:

While waiting for the results to come in...

Wondering which will be worse: 

Sanders wins IA and twice as many FeelTheBurn hashtags pop up on Facebook, 
Sanders loses IA and will have to suffer through dozens and dozens of conspiracy posts...