« Smerconish - for him, anything goes. | Main | Cheap gasoline will mean big cars. »

18 December 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Serving Patriot


At least we will not have to endure Duncan Hunter's anti-lefty screeds much longer. As the 110th ends, he becomes just another has-been congressman who will live the rest of his life on the trough of congressional retirement (and cheap, socialized healthcare!).

One wonders if Duncan's son, the successor to his dad's Congressional seat, will have the same blind antipathy towards "lefties" as his dad?

Despite the blatant nepotism, his dad cannot simply hand over his vaunted committee "priestliness" as he leaves Congress behind for the glories of K Street. Junior will have to start at the bottom of the committee world and if he survives long enough, work his way up.

Is there a special subcommittee for sewage and wastewater works? Maybe he can start there...


John Howley

Question for AG nominee Holder:
"Is waterboarding torture?"

The Twisted Genius

I am in total agreement. Those that condone or rationalize torture should be treated with the same revulsion and contempt as those that think child molestation is a legitimate pastime. Those that engage in torture should be removed from society just as one would remove a rabid dog from a schoolyard. I personally have more sympathy for the rabid dog than the torturer.


larry whalen

John Yoo lives in my north Berkeley neighborhood, I see him at Andronico's now and then. We hung men at the Yokohama trials in 1946 for similar acts; Rumsfeld is so arrogant, or stupid, he signed the f-ing memos. On one level, they are symptomatic of a larger, sado-masochistically degraded culture. But acts have consequences, as should theirs.

Richard Armstrong

Presidential Oath of Office

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

It seems obvious to me that it is the sworn duty of the next President to prosecute anyone involved in the assaults on the Constitution by members of the Bush Administration and the United States Military. If those sworn to defend the Consitution fail to use Constitutional means and mechanisms to do so, then the government described in that document will no longer be relevant or legitimate.


Col. Lang:


The danger, however, is not political retribution but that the very existence of moral absolutes will be denied: the ultimate coarsening of American society. Even so, someone somewhere must have said that all we need to do is to hang a few of them so the rest will pay attention.



I am glad to read you are coming to the view that the guilty should be held to account.

I believe if lawlessness is tolerated specially for those in high office under the guise its all just politics then we debase the rule of law. Then its just a short step where people feel there are two laws - one for the elite and another for everyone else. Over time there will be no respect for the law and that could lead to anarchy.

IMO, since the Nixon era we have not prosecuted and held to account those at the head of our government that have subverted the Constitution and their oath of office. Each instance of tolerance has caused the next subversion to be more brazen which I believe led directly to Cheney/Addington/Libby, et al to have nothing but contempt for our Constitution. They acted with impunity because they believed that there is no institutional fortitude to prosecute those in high office. Members of the club don't knock another member down.

I am of the opinion that there should be both a special prosecutor and an independent commission investigation into all possible acts of treason and subversion and those responsible should be indicted, prosecuted and judged by a jury of their peers in open court. None of this "classified information" dodge. We cannot let this go because the next step would be an effective coup and rule by clique. We can kiss goodbye to any republican notion.

My cynical self believes however that we as a people are too complacent to demand any accounting and we will only realize it when our liberty has been eroded to the point that tyranny is staring us in face.

frank durkee

At a minimum the issues should be laid out with more force than now. Sufficient public support,especially from conservatives and the military , to force Obama out of his present position of seeking rconciliation among politicized extremes.
We do seem to need a hard wake up call concerning the matters in the report,


All the torture, illegal wire taps, ignoring subpeonas, etc. are indicative of the fact that the US has become a nation of men and is no longer a nation of laws.
Much of Congress needs to be flushed down the toilet like the turds that they are: E.g.: In the 1990s, Sen Diane Feinstein excoriated Clinton for lying about sex by means of a motion to censure. But in the 2000-s, Sen Diane Feinstein does NOTHING about the hundreds of lies told to Americans by Bush, et al. Shame on her!! Sen Feinstein's lack of propriety and just action is what is ruining this country.

dilbert dogbert

Thanks for coming around to that conclusion.


Wpl, good for you. Torture really isn't a partisan issue, or even a policy issue: it's fundamental morality. You and I disagree on a lot of partisan and policy issues, but rarely on the really important ones.

Let's hope that's a good thing.

Account Deleted

It's infuriating that Matthews, in this series of "torture" debates, gets people on who know as much about torture or interrogation as I do about brain surgery. What do Smerconish, Hitchens, Matthews know? Nothing. Not even the pols in this piece know. Heck, I'm probably better qualified having at least been to SERE school and taken a tactical interrogation course.

If Matthews was really interested in informing the public (or at least the handful of people who still watch MSNBC), he should get this guy on:

In Iraq, we lived the “ticking time bomb” scenario every day. Numerous Al Qaeda members that we captured and interrogated were directly involved in coordinating suicide bombing attacks....I listened time and time again to foreign fighters, and Sunni Iraqis, state that the number one reason they had decided to pick up arms and join Al Qaeda was the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the authorized torture and abuse at Guantánamo Bay. My team of interrogators knew that we would become Al Qaeda’s best recruiters if we resorted to torture. Torture is counterproductive to keeping America safe and it doesn’t matter if we do it or if we pass it off to another government.


We do ourselves a great disservice by stereotyping our enemies. Al Qaeda is comprised of a variety of individuals each with their own unique motivations for having joined. I can only remember one true ideologue in all the interrogations I conducted or supervised (more than 1,300) and even he started to come around at the end because we treated him with respect. The overwhelming majority of Sunni Iraqis who joined Al Qaeda did so out of need, not want. For some the reason was economic, for others tribal obligations, and for a large number it was for protection from the Shiite militias–the militias that we allowed, after the removal of Saddam, to conduct reprisal killings. When my group of interrogators reached out to these Sunnis and offered them an alternative to fighting against us –fighting with us–they were easily convinced to cooperate and rejected Al Qaeda. Sometimes all it took was an apology from an American for the mistakes we made at the beginning of the war.

Read the whole thing.

This guy was on the Daily Show, a frickin comedy show. He wasn't on hardball, a supposed news-related show. There is something seriously wrong with that.

Another guy the people should hear is Malcolm Nance. Instead we get pols and talking heads. No wonder less than half of Americans believe torture should never be used.

Jim V

We facilitated the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein. He deserved it, but I have difficulty thinking of anything he did which the U.S. has not done (biological warfare against indigenous tribes, invasion of neighbors, nuclear weapons development, torture). The difference would be if our society is able to hold itself accountable and try to right those wrongs which can still be addressed.

I am not suggesting anyone needs to be hung, as I hope there are mitigating factors above pure self-interest which led to our abuses, and am willing to hear defenses.

I dread the time and resources that would be required, and the bad feelings that would result, but I reluctantly would also vote to go forward with prosecutorial inquiries.



Individuals along the same mindset path as Duncan Hunter when confronted with logical arguments against 'their view', frequently resort (like Hunter) to labeling and name calling of those who disagree with 'their view'.



Sadly, we will never see either future White Houses or Congress pressing for War Crimes/Crimes against humanity charges against Bush, Cheney, Rumy, Woo, Myers, Franks, Tenent, Laughlin, Ashcroft, Mueller, etc. as then the leadership and members of the Congress (Frist, Hastert, Harmon, etc.) are also liable for criminal prosecution for aiding and abetting War Crimes/Crimes against humanity.

Bush and crew have long past worn out their 'let them eat cake' routine showing their haughtiness regarding their crimes. Will we witness a Nuremberg Trials II moment, sadly I fear not.



I'm really pleased to see you come around to the view "that the moral absolutes involved in this matter over ride the danger of political retribution in future American political life."

Perhaps the most outrageous inversion of morality on the issue comes from (surprise) Dick Cheney, who outdid himself yesterday in an http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/dec/18/cheney-defends-morality-of-war-on-terror/> “exclusive interview” in the Washington Times. It reveals a man who has completely lost his moral compass.

As a lawyer who represents torture victims in immigration practice, the issue has so energized me that I've started commenting on it in http://theredhandblog.blogspot.com/> a new blog I’ve started myself.


i think it's imperative that this country deal with these people who have so damaged us morally and economically; and inflicted such degradation throughout the institutions of governance. this would be one of the clearest signals to the international community -- and the citizens of this country -- that this is a nation of laws; and no one -- no one -- is above their reach.

re moran -- i was hugely disappointed in that pathetic performance of jim moran. but, fortunately, because tweety was content to let hunter control the segment, moran didn't get much of an opportunity to display that ignorance.

William R. Cumming

Corected spelling version.

The whole torture issue is still shrouded in secrecy. OBAMA should declassify all Executive Branch materials using the word "Torture" or its variants (waterboarding)! Clearly this will help set international standards on torture but only if OBAMA has the guts to join the ICC and either we refer the alleged offenders to the ICC (which often operates retroactively) or we let those who suffered refer the alledged offenders. Never has the Edmund Burke saying rung truer "That the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (Or women) to remain silent." Disclosure, disclosure, disclosure. The Administration's whole strategy is that by letting documentation leak drip by drip there will be NO final acconting for the horror of the conspiracy.

Patrick Lang


Be careful about hyperbole. Who did the US Government torture before this? When did the US Government wage biological warfare against indigenous tribes? pl


Mr. Cummings,

It is my understanding that Obama has already been presented by the ICRC their documented hard evidence of War Crimes by Bush, Cheney, Rumy, etc.. And instead of doing something about it, Obama has decided to punt, which then places Obama in the category of an 'accessory' to their War Crimes for his failure to press for prosecution.

Patrick Lang


I expect proof in the form of actual evidence; congressional testimony, trial records, newspaper accounts by credible witnesses, autobiograpical statements from disinterested parties, etc.

Polemical claims that are unsupported are not "proof."

The way you made your statement was that the "United States intentionally" did this or that... That means that there was government policy by the federal government to do...

In Cheney's case he has made it clear that torture became US government policy under his influence and Bush's authority. pl


There is a reason why torture continue to exist. It works.

Not as tool to extract information or what not. But simply to strike fear and inflict pain. To terrorize the mass. It is the most effective way to sustain ruling power.

It is always about the enemy of state. one way or another ultimately it is going to be everybody who the state doesn't like.

maybe first the obvious criminals, than the deviants, then press, then intellectuals, then rival politicians... etc.

It's the same everywhere. It has been like that since the beginning of time.


Back when Bush/Cheney codified torture (I mean waterboarding) as legally permissible and overrode Geneva Conventions, where were Matthews & the rest of the media? They were all Smerconishing the issue.

I suppose its never too late for moral conversions and it seems that Hitchens sobered up after sampling waterboarding and has recounted on his support of it. Has he recounted on his support of the war? Not rhetorical, I really don't know?

Tortured logic still coming from the hardcore followers as their policies continue to unravel. Gaffney "They had to die"; Bush "If only the intelligence has been right" aargghh!

John Howley

By all means let us seek enforcement of the law, including laws against torture.

Let's not forget two things:

(1) This will be a political struggle. Many of our fellow Americans support the use of torture against the bad guys and remain susceptible to the ticking-time-bomb rhetoric.

(2) Now the environment has changed so much but cast your minds back a few years and recall how easy it was for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to shred the Constitution in public with nary a peep from the opposition party or the free press. What went wrong? Who failed? Why was it so easy?


This http://velvelonnationalaffairs.blogspot.com/2008/10/re-alan-dershowitz-on-whether-to.html>Vervel fits more into the context.

And http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/plp/pages/events_archive.php#sands. Dershowitz was totally intolerant of opposing views and assailed the good faith of opponents.>Dershowitz vs Sand. One indeed has to see it to believe it.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

September 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30      
Blog powered by Typepad