What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 8, 2008

Waterboarding Updates

Did you know that 99% of us Americans would support waterboarding??

That's what Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) said yesterday. from thinkprogress, here's what Smith said to Attorney General Michael Mukasey yesterday:

In regard to interrogation techniques — and I know you’re going to be asked a lot of questions about that today — I just want to express the personal opinion that I hope the administration will not be defensive about using some admittedly harsh but nonlethal interrogation techniques, even techniques that might lead someone to believe they’re being drowned even if they’re not.

My guess is that 99 percent of the American people, if asked whether they would endorse such interrogation techniques to be conducted on a known terrorist with the expectation that information that might be derived from such interrogation would save the lives of thousands of Americans, that 99 percent of the American people would support such interrogation techniques.

Think progress adds a link to this CNN story about what the American people really think:

Asked whether they think waterboarding is a form of torture, more than two-thirds of respondents, or 69 percent, said yes; 29 percent said no.

Asked whether they think the U.S. government should be allowed to use the procedure to try to get information from suspected terrorists, 58 percent said no; 40 percent said yes.

Huh. So I guess Representative Smith's guess is, well, wrong.

On waterboarding, TPM Muckraker has more on yesterday's hearings with AG Mukasey. When asked by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) if he's going start a criminal investigation:

"No, I am not," was the direct answer.

His reasoning was a repeat of his answer to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) last week. The CIA waterboarded those detainees with the authorization of a Justice Department legal opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel. So the Justice Department "cannot possibly" investigate, he said, U.S. employees for an act they committed on the basis of Justice Department advice. Such an action, he explained, would send a message that interrogators could no longer safely rely on that advice going forward.

Mukasey also refused Conyers' request to see the OLC opinions that authorized waterboarding, because they discussed techniques of what remains a "classified program." Conyers protested that every member of the committee was cleared to see top secret material, but Mukasey was unmoved, though offered to continue "ongoing discussions" with the committee -- discussions of which Conyers seemed to be unaware.

This has led David Kurtz, over at talkingpointsmemo to post:

Cynics may argue that those aren't bombshells at all, that the Bush Administration would never investigate itself in these matters. Perhaps so. But this is a case where cynicism is itself dangerous.

We have now the Attorney General of the United States telling Congress that it's not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it's not.

It is as brazen a defense of the unitary executive as anything put forward by the Administration in the last seven years, and it comes from an attorney general who was supposed to be not just a more professional, but a more moderate, version of Alberto Gonzales (Thanks to Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer for caving on the Mukasey nomination.).

President Bush has now laid down his most aggressive challenge to the very constitutional authority of Congress. It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical.

So would I.


Sherry said...

so would i.

even if it were a policy i, myself believed in.

tho i don't!

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear about something; I have no doubt that the US military or the CIA have tortured people in the past when they thought it necessary. I don't condone it, but I'm not naive enough to believe that it hasn't happened.

The key difference today is that the the Bush administration, and by extension, the entire populace of the United States, does condone it, despite minor protestations which they hope will keep them within the letter of the law.

You don't have to spend much brain power to imagine how that plays out across the globe. It essentially eliminates any claim the U. S. might have had to a higher moral plateau.

Mukasey's tortured attempts to sidestep the issue during his hearings was laughable; nothing more than twisted "lawyer speak" that evaded what is a very simple question. No one, least of all the Democrats who gave him a pass, should be surprised about his current lack of action.

Of all the things Bush and Cheney have done to undermine our great nation's credibility and stature around the world, this is number one.


Schmuck Shitrock said...

Pilt, I disagree that this is the most important issue that the Bushies have done to degrade American esteem around the globe, but it is probably -- I said probably, not certainly -- in the top 10.

Other candidates for the Bush International Hall of Shame:
-- Iraq
-- Kyoto
-- Guantanamo
-- Habeas corpus in general
-- Failure to pursue, let alone capture, OBL
-- The Coalition of the Bribed and Coerced
-- Alliances with nations that are more notorious than the nation we invaded
-- Obvious official bigotry toward Muslims
-- Attempt to justify the invasion of Iran
-- Transparent lying to justify unwarranted aggression

I'm sure no one will have any trouble expanding my list.

Fillippelli the Cook said...

There you lefties go, trying to bring down a president when there are so many terrible things happening in Ghana, Darfur, and most other developing countries, for that matter.

We must support peace and prosperity in Iraq and defeat the terrorists by continuing to inflame sectarian violence there, providing the best PR Al Qaeda has ever had, and severely depleting our resources to combat terrorism anywhere else in the world, while simultaneously bringing about a recession in our country and directly defecating on the constitution!

Dumb-ass lefties.

Schmuck Shitrock said...

Thanks for the insight, Fill. I never looked at it that way before.

I can't imagine why it never occurred to me that the best way to fight terrorism is to create more terrorists.

I must have been really stupid to have missed the point that the best way to make friends is to make enemies.

I certainly should have guessed that the best way to use our military resources is to waste them.

And I feel so sheepish about not realizing that best way to be strong is to weaken ourselves.

You have opened my mind and my eyes. I am enlightened. From now on Lies Are Truth, Slavery Is Freedom, and Down Is Up for me. Does this make me a newly-minted neocon? Woo-hoo!!!

Sherry said...

silly me, i should have figured it out as bush has:

if there are more terrorists then they are easier to spot in bunches and it LOOKS better numberwise when we do find them and kill them!

shame on me. it was so obvious all along!


zak822 said...

"...it's not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it's not."

If you want to watch a conservatives head explode, tell them Hillary Clinton will be able to do this too! All of it, including listening in on all Rush Limbaughs private phone calls.

Sherry said...

i've said as much to right wing aquaintances and friendsevery time this administration gathered more and more power and slaughtered the laws.

they just refused to think that far ahead.

perhaps they hoped for a never ending republican rule.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: Main problem for the left is that it works. have we been attacked since 911? Gitmo works. Have we been attacked since 911? And the left can't stand for the us to have success. They want us to be liked.

Schmuck Shitrock said...

You know what else works, John? Snapping your fingers every 39 seconds. It keeps elephants out of the swimming pool. I've been doing this for 16 hours every day since I installed the pool, and we haven't had one single elephant fall into it.

Now why don't you tell us what you prevent by jerking off twice a day?

Ol' Froth said...

I am SOOOO sick and tired of right-wing fucktards claiming we haven't been attacked by terrorists since 9/11. Anyone remember the anthrax attacks??? Anyone????