21 December, 2008

Torture Apologists and the Need for a Special Prosecutor

The neocons are working the refs overtime in an attempt to convince us that when it comes to al Qaeda, all torture is good torture. Check out Michael Smerconish on Hardball, claiming that if the US is doing it, it's gotta be right:

MATTHEWS: KSM is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. [Cheney] approved the waterboarding. He said it's fine. Michael Smerconish, you agree?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree. And I think the fact that the vice president now acknowledges that he was involved in the decision-making process tells us how sparingly this technique has been used. Most published accounts say less than six members of al Qaeda have been subjected to waterboarding, and yet it's so dominant a headline.

I'll tell you something else, Chris. You've got to believe in the efficacy of water boarding because one has to suspect that the best of our interrogators would be assigned to KSM. And if that man or that women believed that these means were necessary, then obviously, they believe in the efficacy of waterboarding.

And frankly, there are no measures that I would be unwilling to say-or I would be willing to say are inappropriate for the likes of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Mine is a blanket endorsement...

MATTHEWS: So shoot his toes off one at a time.

SMERCONISH: ... of whatever is necessary.

MATTHEWS: No, no, no. Michael, shoot his toes off one at a time is fine with you. You just said that, right? Anything is OK with you?

SMERCONISH: Chris, listen, you can play whatever sound bite you'd like, I'll go along with it tonight.

MATTHEWS: No, I'm asking. I don't know...


MATTHEWS: Do you think it's OK to just do...

SMERCONISH: If you're talking...

MATTHEWS: ... any kind of torture?

SMERCONISH: Yes, Chris, I believe that if you're dealing with the operations planner of September 11 and if this individual has actionable intelligence, that there are no means that should not be employed. We're talking about individuals who fly airplanes into buildings to kill Americans, who will decapitate-remember, KSM talks with bravado about decapitating Mr. Pearl from "The Wall Street Journal." So keep in mind who you're dealing with. There's no tit for tat here. In other words, they're not going to tone it down if we tone it down. So do whatever is necessary...

MATTHEWS: OK. You're clear.

SMERCONISH: ... to protect American lives.

MATTHEWS: I just wanted to make sure-I wanted to be graphic about shooting the toes off because we've all seen that in movies and in film, where you see all kinds of torture used by the bad guys. I just wanted to know if you thought we could do the same. That's all.

SMERCONISH: Indeed. I do.

These fuckers are all living in a fantasy world. Read the transcript or watch the clip - it's incredible, especially toward the end:

MATTHEWS: In other words, your moral system is based on, if you're an American, anything goes. If you're in the other country, we try you for war crimes. You lose the war, we cut your head off, or whatever it takes, we execute you. In other words, your morality is entirely nationally based. I'm just asking.

SMERCONISH: And I'm going to answer, if you'll give me the chance. Yes, my moral code is dictated by the fact that I want our leaders to be guided to protect American lives first.

He outright says we can torture people wearing the uniform of another country. Later, he tries to walk it back and say that for now, he's only talking about al Qaeda, but he demonstrates he would have no problem wiping out the Geneva Conventions. He thinks we're justified in perpetrating any horror as long as the other side is doing it, too.

Christopher Hitchens takes him apart. He is, of course, too stupid to realize it. And you can expect a lot more of this sort of bullshit to spew forth from the mouths of Cons like a cow with dysentary. I somehow doubt the Hague will be impressed with the resulting pile of noxious excuses. But the right certainly seems to be. And Duncan Hunter speaks for them all when he says that all the talk about detainee abuse is "left-wing rubbish."

Amazing how they like to portray themselves as the "moral" ones.

That makes the proposal to fire U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald very attractive indeed:

Mr. President, one of the first things you'll get upon your swearing in is a stack of resignation letters from all the U.S. Attorneys, standard procedure when changing Administrations. The very first one you should act on is that of Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.


There is abundant reason to believe that gross violations of our Law have taken place at the highest levels of our Government including authorizing or ordering torture, unlawful detention of U.S. citizens, unlawful surveillance and wiretapping of U.S. citizens and other serious offenses, committed and/or authorized by Cabinet Secretaries and Executive Branch officials.

From the moment you take the Oath of Office it becomes your sworn Duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed", which must include investigating and, if appropriate, prosecuting, possible criminal actions at high levels in the Administration preceeding yours. That's where Patrick Fitzgerald comes in.

Accept Fitzgerald's resignation as U.S. Attorney, and immediately appoint him Special Counsel with authority to investigate ANY credible allegation of lawbreaking by ANY official with the rank of Undersecretary or above, give him full Presidential backing and turn him loose. His brief should extend to any such official, or Member of Congress, who had knowledge of such lawbreaking but did nothing to stop it, as is their responsibility.

Sounds like an excellent idea to me.

Our nation's highest officials redefined torture and threw the Geneva Conventions out the window. They engaged in war crimes, and now they're sending an army of apologists to try to convince the American public that they were doing the right thing all along. The world knows better: what we did was wrong. There is no justification for torture. "They're doing it, too!" is not an excuse. "But we got our lawyers to say it was okay!" is not an excuse. "Ticking time bombs" are a myth. Torture doesn't keep America safe. All it does is lowers us to the same level as dictators, terrorists, and criminals.

We need to show the world that our laws matter, and that we will take responsibility and decisive action when our leaders lead us astray. Commissions aren't going to be enough. Handwringing is useless. What we need is prosecutions. If we don't hold our own war criminals to account, we run a very real risk that future administrations will descend into further lawlessness. We lose our moral authority. And we fail as a democracy.

We need to rise above the depravity of the last eight years and get ourselves back on track. It may be politically easier to let bygones be bygones, but we need to inform Obama that turning our back on the past does nothing to heal this country and prevent us from ever falling so far again.

Time to make our voices heard (h/t):

Petition Badge
Get Badge

That's a message the torture apologists will find hard to spin. It's the clearest way to show them we're not swallowing their bullshit.

No comments: