Thursday, January 15, 2009


I was heartened to hear Eric Holder, Attorney General nominee, answer succinctly when asked by Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, if water-boarding is torture. Citing its use by the Khmer Rouge and in the Inquisition, referring to the Geneva Conventions, and recounting that the US prosecuted people who did it during the Vietnam War, he said very clearly, "yes, it is." Asked if the leader of another country could be seen as having the right to waterboard US citizens, he said very clearly, "no."

He is, of course, a damned liberal. So it may be more persuasive to some (assuming "some" are in fact persuadable) that a member of George Bush's own administration has stated unequivocally that we have tortured people.

My most prolific commenter says he's "for" torture. Okay, I admire the clarity. The problem is that Bush has always said the US "doesn't torture." How can that be? Simple: he just undefined the word. The stuff we've been doing (and I say "we" because it's been done in our name, in our democracy) isn't torture because George Bush says it isn't. Why didn't I think of that? There are so many things...

I never had a "complication" from my operations. Just enhanced outcomes.

The thing is, if George Bush -- or anyone else -- thinks torture is justified in some situations, the right thing is to say so, like a man, like, well, my commenter. Make the case. Cite examples. Debate it, in Congress. Counter the arguments of experts, one after the other, who say it not only doesn't work but produces false and unreliable information. (The typical use, historically, has been to get people to confess to crimes they DIDN'T COMMIT. The inquisition. The Hanoi Hilton. For that, it works. Just ask John McCain.)

Were my family in jeopardy from the so-called "ticking time-bomb," and were there evidence that I could force a guy to spill the beans under torture, I'd be inclined to do whatever it took. Thing is, there's never been a real "ticking time-bomb" scenario except on TV. And there are plenty of examples of lies being told to interrogators under those circumstances.

Maybe it's reasonable to have the debate. What's not reasonable, and is totally unacceptable in a democracy, is the cynical behavior of the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush axis of dweebil and their shameless Humpty Dumpty leadership.

How that man can get up there tonight and argue he's been a success is an outrage. That some buy it is why I remain unsure that even someone who really aims to be straight and mindful and inclusive can succeed. There are just too many enablers of the opposite in this country.


Anonymous said...

Well, you know Marc Rich is supporting Holder. The free as a bird Marc Rich, that is.

Frank Drackman said...

Thanks for the Compliment Sid, but you want to talk about torture? How about listening to Barney Frank lisp and spit about his Boyfriend on NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me"?? and I was only listening to NPR cause it was saturday and it was my Wifes car, and I couldn't reach the power switch in time...

BTW, if you mention GWB after noon, January 20th, you are Officialy Gay, and admitting that he is the 2d best POTUS Ever, just behind the Greatest POTUS of all times, Ronaldus Maximus Reagan...


Sid Schwab said...

Wow, an absolutely unbroken chain of thought, from torture (the point of the post) to Marc Rich. Brilliant, as usual. And -- not that it's relevant -- in the hearing, Mr Holder was very candid (look it up: you might have forgotten what it means after eight years) about Marc Rich; or don't you care?

Sid Schwab said...

I'll stop mentioning Bush when Repubs stop mentioning Reagan.

Anonymous said...

Well, here's Obama's iron-clad never changing position on "torture":

"However, Obama's changes may not be absolute. His advisers are considering adding a classified loophole to the rules that could allow the CIA to use some interrogation methods not specifically authorized by the Pentagon, the officials said."

It really bothers you that Obama is discovering that Bush's decisions were actually pretty good--good enough that he seems to be adopting many of them.

Sid Schwab said...

"It really bothers you..."

Where do you see that, here or elsewhere in this blog?
Oh, sorry. For a minute there I was acting as if there was ever any logic to what you say.

The rest of your comment is of a piece. "...seems to be adopting many of them." Many? Which ones? Seems to be? By what evidence? Speculation?

I don't know why I bother. For that matter, I don't know why you bother reading this blog, which you seem so regularly to misunderstand and mischaracterize. You might be surprised to know you don't have to. There are plenty of fact-free, right-wing echo chambers which parrot your point of view without tethering to reality. Need some names?

Anonymous said...

1. Not closing Gitmo right away
2. Staying in Iraq for "up to a decade" rather than withdrawing immediately
3. "Classified loophole" for waterboarding for when it is a good idea

Obama's campaign rhetoric is already being superseded now that he sees what the presidency is like. The things he excoriated Bush for he now thinks are good ideas. I'm glad he's learning--really gald, since he comes in with absolutely no executive experience. But I can tell it bothers you.

Hey--why not just take a break an maybe spike the ball in the endzone once or twice--celebrate the coming of the Obama, rather than continue to get your panties in a bunch over George Bush.

Anonymous said...

PS--I don't actually read it. I just look at the pictures.

Sid Schwab said...

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

He plans to issue orders right away to close Gitmo. The fact that it may take a long time is because of the legal complications due to Bush's bad idea. NOTHING about that implies that he's decided it was a good idea.

He said from the beginning that he planned to withdraw responsibly, and that he'd keep a small number of forces for training and to protect the embassy. He's made it clear -- because it's undeniably true -- that the war was a terrible mistake. A "dumb war." That it will take some time to undo the damage is, once again, in no way a conclusion that it was a good idea.

He has unequivocally stated that waterboarding is torture and that it will not be done. The rumored loophole has not been said to be about waterboarding. Nor is it in fact specified or confirmed.

I do appreciate your attempt to actually have a dialog as opposed to flinging random insults. The fact that you're 100% wrong should not discourage you from making the effort. If you ever get anything right, I'll be the first to admit it.

And I appreciate your love of the pictures. I usually give them quite a bit of thought.

Anonymous said...,25197,24900407-5013948,00.html

"BARACK Obama said last night he did not expect to honour his campaign pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in his first 100 days in office, but the US president-elect reiterated his vow to shut the facility eventually."

Because he realizes there's nothing to do with people who want to harm our country when their own countries won't take them back. Maybe you'd like them to come live in Seattle.

Sid Schwab said...

He's made it clear for a long time that that was the case; because of the legal entanglements caused by the whole process, including but not limited to the fact that the ones that were tortured can't be tried in a court of actual law. Believe it or not, there were ways Bush could have handled those people that would have conformed with US and/or international law and which would have assured keeping them incarcerated. Bush blew it on countless levels. It's now up to Obama to figure out how to undo it and proceed. That it's as difficult as it is speaks to how wrong Bush's approach was. Before GITMO there were and are plenty of "evil-doers" that have gone through the existing system and are in prison. In acting like Saddam, Bush has precluded that for the current prisoners. It didn't need to be so.

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