26 April, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Ah, sweet hypocrisy:
Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who was last making headlines for suggesting that Texas may consider seceding from the Union, is requesting help from the federal government to deal with a possible swine flu pandemic:
Gov. Rick Perry today in a precautionary measure requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide 37,430 courses of antiviral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile to Texas to prevent the spread of swine flu. Currently, three cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Texas.

You know what this reminds me of? The kid who screams at his parents how much he hates them, how he doesn't need them telling him what to do, how he can make it on his own, etc., and storms out, only to return the second he needs $20 bucks and someone to do his laundry.

In other news of suddenly loving what they formerly hated, Cons despise France, but now that they think we're ineligible to join the European Union, they're suddenly upset that we're not like the French:
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) conceded to the New York Times that Republicans have not yet "found our voice" during Obama's presidency. To help prove the point, Alexander delivered the party's weekly multimedia address yesterday.

"We Americans always have had a love-hate relationship with the French. Which was why it was so galling last month when the Democratic Congress passed a budget with such big deficits that it makes the United States literally ineligible to join France in the European Union.

"Now of course we don't want to be in the European Union. We're the United States of America. But French deficits are lower than ours, and their president has been running around sounding like a Republican -- lecturing our president about spending so much."

Yes, we now have conservative Republicans citing the French as a source to criticize American leadership. Times sure have changed.

Aren't these the same assclowns who decided to rename fried potatos "Freedom Fries" because they thought the French were such pussies? Not to mention, we've still got a chance to join the EU - aside from that whole not being European thing. Once again, Cons have their facts wrong and their talking points all jumbled up.

On the torture front, the Cons are - what else? - blaming it all on the Dems:

The latest Republican parlor game on the torture issue is to pump up the talking point that torture is a Democratic problem, because Democrats have been in the majority in Congress since 2007, and therefore could have stopped the torture and didn't.


Yes, I'm pretty sure you instantly see the problem with that one. Republicans were in the majority in Congress for most of the duration of the Bush "administration's" torture program. But there's more to it than just that.

The new twist -- really a recycled Iraq war talking point -- is that since Democrats "knew about" the program thanks to the bare bones, no staff, top secret, we'll-prosecute-you-for-treason-if-you-mention-this briefing four of them received, they "could have stopped it if they had wanted to."

Here's the meme from FOX:

Defenders of the interrogation program note that if Congress had wanted to kill the program, all it had to do was withhold funding, which didn't happen.

Ah, yes. You'll recognize it as the "have the courage of your convictions" argument from 2007. That is, the GOP talking point that said that Democrats must really favor not only the Iraq war, but the way it was being prosecuted, because they refused to register their disagreement by cutting off the funding.


This was the context in which Republicans contend Congress had its fair shot at ending torture, but instead chose to give its backhanded endorsement to the practice. Congress could get no answers from the "administration" even on matters of routine domestic policy, and according to the "administration's" own legal theories couldn't even compel witnesses to appear to answer questions about what policies existed that they were supposedly empowered to terminate. And those high-ranking few who were privy to the briefings, such as they were, were under constant threat of accusations of having compromised national security if they had discussed with colleagues the very remedy Republicans say was so readily available.
Yepper, sure does look like those dirty Dems are just as guilty as the Bushies. Riiight.

But, of course, the torture program was, according to David Broder, "a deliberate, and internally well-debated, policy decision, made in the proper places -- the White House, the intelligence agencies and the Justice Department -- by the proper officials." So other than it being completely fucking immoral, illegal and just plain wrong, where's the problem?


Consider this jaw-dropping report that ran in the New York Times on Wednesday (presumably before Broder's deadline).

The program began with Central Intelligence Agency leaders in the grip of an alluring idea: They could get tough in terrorist interrogations without risking legal trouble by adopting a set of methods used on Americans during military training. How could that be torture?

In a series of high-level meetings in 2002, without a single dissent from cabinet members or lawmakers, the United States for the first time officially embraced the brutal methods of interrogation it had always condemned.

This extraordinary consensus was possible, an examination by The New York Times shows, largely because no one involved -- not the top two C.I.A. officials who were pushing the program, not the senior aides to President George W. Bush, not the leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees -- investigated the gruesome origins of the techniques they were approving with little debate.

These policies weren't the result of a "deliberate" and "internally well-debated" process, they were thrown together, without any thought to the techniques' history or even effectiveness. "Internally well-debated" makes it sound as if there a spirited discussion among administration officials. There wasn't -- as was too often the case in the Bush administration, decisions were made without dissenting voices.

The top officials he briefed did not learn that waterboarding had been prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II and was a well-documented favorite of despotic governments since the Spanish Inquisition; one waterboard used under Pol Pot was even on display at the genocide museum in Cambodia.

They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned in internal memorandums that, morality aside, the methods were ineffective.

A former C.I.A. official told the NYT the process was "a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm."

Prosecutions. Now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

waterboarding had been prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II That is precedent- now who is going to start the prosecution?

Unfortunately the US refuses to recognise International Law in points like this- It's OK for the Whitehouse/Pentagon to hand out accusations, but in recent times the US refuses to sign any treaties that may mean it is itself prosecuted. I'm afraid it will need to be some one/ organisation in the US who starts the ball rolling. This will of course mean weathering the 'perfect storm' of hate anyone doing this will suffer.