Prisons

Could Torture Bring Down Bush?

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Well, it seems pretty unlikely to me, but James Bovard raises the possibility in his American Conservative feature on the Military Commissions Act. The heart of it:

Few, if any, Democratic candidates had enough confidence in themselves or the voters to highlight the Bush administration's worst abuse of power.

That doesn't mean, however, that they won't use the investigative powers their new majority affords. For though Bush rhetorically takes the high ground on the torture issue, it now appears that the president may personally have blood on his hands. On Nov. 14, the ACLU released a CIA letter confirming the existence of "a directive signed by President Bush granting the CIA the authority to set up detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees." This confirms a May 2004 e-mail from the FBI's "On Scene Commander" in Baghdad stating that U.S. military officials in Iraq assured him that a secret presidential Executive Order permitted using extreme interrogation techniques considered illegal by the FBI including "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods," stress positions, and military dogs.

The Justice Department has so far blocked release of the actual document, but a federal judge may force the feds to cough it up. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is also demanding to see the document. If this Bush letter does hit the streets, it may be akin to a 1972 memo from Richard Nixon specifying the exact methods of lock-picking the Watergate burglars should use. Bush's involvement in the torture scandal may be far deeper than Nixon's involvement in Watergate.

I won't be holding my breath, but it's nice to dream. Bush's Justice Department will certainly insist that any torture done on his watch was a necessary and legitimate exercise of executive power–remember this incident, as retold by Bovard:

Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, told a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee early this year that Bush could order killings of suspected terrorists within the United States. When Newsweek contacted the Justice Department to verify this novel legal doctrine, spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos stressed that Bradbury's comments occurred during an "off-the-record briefing." Any Bush-ordered killings within the United States would also presumably be off-the-record.

Bovard's full story here .

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  1. Do you really beleive that a majority or even large minority of voters gives a shit that Bush wasn’t particularly nice to a bunch a Arabs? Honestly? Merits of the argument aside, you have got to be kidding me. You really think people are going to support the impeachment of a sitting President because some murderous fuck like KSM was waterboarded or some Al Quada operative in Chicago got fragged? Most people I know, and I not talking about NEOCONs. I am talking about people who are not partisian at all and don’t support the war, wouldn’t care if they shot every person in GUITMO tommorow and nuked Iraq off the face of the earth after bringing all the troops home and would expect the government to kill any terrorist they found in the country.

  2. I’m sure this stuff will generate a lot of noise, but the votes aren’t there for impeachment, pure and simple. Also, remember that impeachment proceedings ended up biting the GOP in the ass back in the ’90s. I’m sure the Dems are aware of that. I think John’s correct about the general public attitude, as well.

  3. John: Where do you live that you’re surrounded by such murderous people? None of the folks I’ve met in life believe it’s reasonable to torture people, especially those whose innocence or guilt have yet to be determined by any reasonable process. Granted, I’ve met some folks who choose not to think critically about the issue and give the president the benefit of the doubt (the doubt they’ve taken no steps to resolve and in fact have chosen to reinforce).

  4. Mike,

    I have lived in several places over the last few years. Seriously, all the President would have to do is stand up and say he was defending the country and taking steps to ensure that we did not have another 9-11 and unless they could show he was randomly kidnapping people or political opponents and torturing them, no one is going to care and if the Democrats tried to impeach him over it, it would be the end their election chances for about 20 years.

    The Democrats are too derranged to let impeachment go though. They are also too smart to take the President on head on on this one. What will happen is the old “coverup dodge”. The issue is not going to be the treatment of terrorists, it will be the Bush administration’s coverup. They will obviscate their way into an impeachment that way. They won’t get Bush out of office and will make themselves look like unserious baffoons, but I bet they do it.

  5. John, shhh, O’Reilly’s on. I can’t hear him over your screeching.

  6. If there was any issue that makes Bush deserving of the waterboard treatment, it’s his administration’s complete surrender of human decency.

    I remember when the treatment of Wen Ho Lee was a national embarrassment. I wouldn’t have thought in 2000 how truly fucked up Bush would have turned out to be.

  7. Of course Bush should be impeached. The GOP’s mistake with Clinton was the complete right turn in prosecution from Whitewater scandal to getting blowjobs from interns. Everybody laughed. Bush being impeached for allowing torture against domestic USA standards (because we all know Geneva either doesn’t apply or doesn’t matter) will have no one laughing. This is a serious matter and whether or not enough people in the US care about the fate of detainees fighting us will determine whether or not Bush is impeached. Certainly Congress should investigate openly, if for no other reason than to put it to the popular test. A president is not above his people’s standards and whether or not he is above the law will soon be determined.

  8. John is exaggerating the public mood, to be sure, but I think he makes a good point: I might not approve of any of this, and the public might not approve of the things that John described in his rather hyperbolic post, but the public will not impeach over torture if torture was restricted to a “small” number of people, most of them foreigners suspected of terrorism.

    Yes, I’m well aware of the difference between a terrorist and a suspected terrorist, but I think John’s right to observe that the public will cut a lot of slack on this.

  9. Most people I know…wouldn’t care if they shot every person in GUITMO tommorow and nuked Iraq off the face of the earth

    John, you need to get some new friends.
    And maybe cut down on the espresso.

  10. Lost.

    This is a good teaching moment about Geneva. Most people including those in the media don’t know anything about Geneva and act like they do. Understand what Geneva is not; it is not a treaty on the treatment of criminals. It is a treaty governing the conduct of wars. It governs two types of war in particular; major international armed conflicts between high contracting parties and wars of national liberation. Terrorists working for supra national criminal organizations like Al Quade do not fit into either category. Certainly, people fighting for the Taliban back in 2001 would fit into the first and perhaps the second if they are caught in Afghanistan now. The Third Protocol to the Geneva Conventions is what most people refer to when whining about the treatment of detainees. That Protocol was the result of primarily Soviet Bloc lobbying to get some kind of protection for Guerilla fighters or “wars of national liberation”. It applies to situations like the Viet Cong or Rhodesia. It was never intended to apply to international terrorism. Terrorist have been historically treated as criminals.

    The problem is that both sides of this argument have fucked it up beyond recognition. The Bush administration and in particular amateurs like Gonzalez were reacting against the Clinton administration’s treating terrorism as a crime. They therefore tried to claim that these guys are combatants and not entitled to a trial. Bullshit, they are not combatants they are criminals. Now just because they are criminals doesn’t’ mean they are entitled to a gold plated trial in federal court. All Bush had to do was re-established the procedures used at Nuremburg, which by the way are established international law and approved by the U.N. Under those rules, you have a military tribunal declare membership in Al Quada or the Taliban or Hamas or the Mickey Mouse Club or whatever organization you want declared a criminal act in itself the way we did the Nazi party after World War II. Then all the tribunal has to establish is that a defendant was a member of Al Quada and off he goes to the gallows or the GUITMO for 50 years; end of debate. That is how we did it after World War II with the Nazis. It is not that hard.

    The problem with the other side is they confuse wars of national liberation with being a member of a criminal organization. Terrorism is not a legitimate form of warfare. In arguing that a terrorist caught in Pakistan is entitled to the same protection as even an anti-government rebel, you are legitimizing terrorism as a form of warfare.

    Bush was half right. Terrorist are not waging warfare but are criminals, therefore the conventions don’t apply to them after we have determined they are terrorists. The problem is that he didn’t get the other half right.

  11. Well, this American doesn’t support torture or the nuking of Iraq, but anyone in Gitmo that can be shown to be a member of Al Quaeda should be executed. I’d be happy to do it myself.

  12. “Do you really beleive that a majority or even large minority of voters gives a shit that Bush wasn’t particularly nice to a bunch a Arabs?”

    Yeah, they’re just Arabs.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the Republican Party.

  13. The point of this article ought to be what the hell WOULD it take to stop Bush from ramping up his insane war… which he is on the verge of doing.
    I keep thinking I was stomping around the Ho Chi Minh trail on the day Nixon was inaugurated in 1969, and how many more years and how many more American lives were lost after 1969? My point being that even the likes of a Nixon and a Kissinger and their “secret plan” coming into office over a Democrat was still not enough to bring the insanity to a halt.

  14. I don’t think nation is as terrified or insane as it was on 9/12, or as John remains today.

    On 9/12, the President could have announced that he was rounding up half a million Arabs and putting them in the WW2 internment camps, and a majority would have supported him.

    Last month, a majority of voters in Red as Red Montana installed a man who bragged about his eagerness to repeal the Patriot Act in the United States Senate.

    Most of us aren’t bedwetters or monsters.

  15. joe,

    I know plenty of Dems that hate Arabs. Hatred seems to be bipartisan.

  16. Well Joe

    Glad to see my points about the Geneva Conventions went straight over your head.

  17. John,
    Nicely put. This “torture” issue won’t win or lose any elections. Only idealogues care about it, and they want to grant everyone in the world full U.S. constitutional rights. I think most of the U.S. population would oppose that.

  18. Nobody cares that the U.S. government is paying people to murder innocent U.S. citizens. So why would anybody care about the torture of potential terrorists from the Middle East?

  19. Joe,

    Rather than try to explain the Conventions and the law of war to you, I think I am going to go to lunch and do something easy, like teach my dog Calculus.

  20. I don’t have a problem with viewing captured terrorists as a subset of criminals and not POWs.

    The problem I have is with the military tribunals. I’m glad John brought up the Nuremburg trials because there are a couple of key differences. First, that court had international backing, it had English, American, French and Russian judges. Secondly, and more importantly, they were open to the public. So, there was some oversight. If it became clear that someone on trial didn’t belong there, at least the public would know about it. There is no such oversight with the current military tribunals, and that should worry any libertarian.

    Our government has checks and balances for many reasons, but one is that it removes trust from the process. I shouldn’t have to trust that these military tribunals are coming to the right conclusion, I need to know that they are.

  21. Yeah, seriously, why worry about the constitutional rights of Arabs? I mean, it’s not like they’d ever torture anybody else.

    OK, maybe when the Democrats take over, they’ll probably start doing it to Michigan Militia folks, but those guys are crazy, so we shouldn’t worry about their constitutional rights, should we? Not if it would stop another Oklahoma City.

    And drug dealers, because we’re fighting a War on Drugs too, and drug dealers support the terrorists anyway, so they can be tortured if we need it. And I guess non-drug-related gang stuff too. I mean, if you’re torturing one Crip for intent-to-distribute, why not another for extortion, right?

    But it’s not like they’d ever start torturing college-educated white judeo-christians, so it’s really no big deal.

    Well, except Radley, but he’s an agitator, so he’s got it coming to him.

  22. John,

    I didn’t address your points about the Geneva Convention because they are irrelevant.

    If Bush is impeached over torture, it won’t be violations of the Geneva Convention that are pointed to as his High Crimes, but violations of the reams of American law banning torture.

  23. The problem is that both sides of this argument have fucked it up beyond recognition. The Bush administration and in particular amateurs like Gonzalez were reacting against the Clinton administration’s treating terrorism as a crime. They therefore tried to claim that these guys are combatants and not entitled to a trial. Bullshit, they are not combatants they are criminals. Now just because they are criminals doesn’t’ mean they are entitled to a gold plated trial in federal court. All Bush had to do was re-established the procedures used at Nuremburg, which by the way are established international law and approved by the U.N. Under those rules, you have a military tribunal declare membership in Al Quada or the Taliban or Hamas or the Mickey Mouse Club or whatever organization you want declared a criminal act in itself the way we did the Nazi party after World War II. Then all the tribunal has to establish is that a defendant was a member of Al Quada and off he goes to the gallows or the GUITMO for 50 years; end of debate. That is how we did it after World War II with the Nazis. It is not that hard.

    Wow, I think this is the first time I ever really agreed with John. Why can’t you sound this rational more often?

  24. Seriously, all the President would have to do is stand up and say he was defending the country and taking steps to ensure that we did not have another 9-11 and unless they could show he was randomly kidnapping people or political opponents and torturing them, no one is going to care and if the Democrats tried to impeach him over it, it would be the end their election chances for about 20 years.


    “Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”

  25. I don’t have a problem with torture as along as it’s carried out by the private sector. The market will inevitably produce better and more effective means of torture. The nanny state is stuck in the Middle Ages when it comes to inflicting pain. Government can’t get anything right.

  26. If it impeachment were to happen (a big, big, big if), my prediction is that it would be over FISA violations.

    They’ve publicly admitted non-compliance, and the matter is a lot less squishy. You don’t have to agree to a common definition for torture for example.

  27. Impeachment is NOT going to happen. The Dems are too power hungry for 2008 to let themselves get sucked into that quagmire. They’ll make a bunch of noise about the Bush administration, but they won’t actually do anything about it.

    Think about this: all impeachment does is put Cheney into office. And a guy like that who can talk in complete sentences could conceivably be much more harmful to the Dems’ chances in ’08.

  28. Wait…putting hoods on people, making them stand on one foot, having dogs bark at them. This is Torture?

  29. I think its true that Al-qaeda members are not covered under the Geneva Conventions as al-qaeda members. However, if an al-qaeda member is captured on the battlefield fighting alongside the remnants of taliban forces, that person might be covered.

    And even if the person you’ve captured is not an enemy combatant legally, I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to torture the person. That is prohibited by both US law (as joe mentioned) and a UN convention banning torture.

    What I’ve been arguing is:

    Lets say the government is holding someone as an enemy combatant and they say they want to hold this person “until the end of hostilities” (as is standard with enemy combatants). There should be some criteria which someone has to meet to be an enemy combatant such as being captured on a recognized battlefield, being a member of a known opposing militant force, etc. There should also be able to reasonably verify that the person meets those criteria. And there should be a set of circumstances reasonably likely to occur under which it will make sense to say that hostilities have ceased with that militant organization.

    On the other hand, if they’re holding someone as a criminal, then the person doesn’t have to be captured on a battlefield or meet the other criteria for being an enemy combatant. But the government also doesn’t get to hold the person without charges until “the end of hostilities”. The person being held as a criminal must have an opportunity to face criminal charges and have some significant due process.

    My understanding is that the Bush administration was saying they could hold someone indefinitely without charges as an enemy combatant, but they don’t have to demonstrate that the individual in custody meets the criteria for that designation. And I have a big problem with that.

  30. ChrisO,

    Impeachment was quite popular in 1974, and the people who pushed for it gained tremendously in the next elections. The American public isn’t opposed to impeachment per se – we love to see crooked “leaders” spanked in public. We’re against stupid, pointless, unjustified impeachments.

    “Think about this: all impeachment does is put Cheney into office.” Impeach him too – he’s up to his neck in FISA violations, torture, and lying to Congress.

    “And a guy like that who can talk in complete sentences could conceivably be much more harmful to the Dems’ chances in ’08.” Oh, yeah, getting in fights with Mr. 22% Approval as the war he’s responsible for comes to an ignominious end would sure be a disaster for the Dems.

  31. BG pretty much nails it.

  32. BG,

    You are right. Both sides have it wrong. Bush wants to say he can hold someone forever as an enemy combatant without giving them an Article 5 tribunal. That is wrong. The other problem is that you don’t want them to be an enemy combatant. You can’t interrogate and enemy combatant.

    On the other hand, Bush’s critics want to arugue that these guys not get the priviliges associated with being an enemy combatant, but also get full due process. As a soldier if you caught, they can’t beat you up or ask you too many questions, but you are stuck being held for the duration with four walls and a cot period. You don’t get a trial or any due process. As a criminal, they can interrogate the hell out of you, but unlike an EPW, you get a trial before they can keep you forever. Bush’s critics want to give terrorists a special status above that of even a legitimate EPW by giving them not only immunity from interrogation and gold plated Red Cross approved treatment, but also full due process rights to a trial. It is just insane.

    It goes back to my point about military tribunals. You convene a tribunal that figures out just who these people are. Are they taliban soldiers entilted to EPW statuts, are they partisians or are they just criminal scumbags. Further, even if they are EPWs are they guilty of war crimes that we can try them for. Once you make that determination, the rest is easy.

    Joe,

    The point is the only treatment that Bush authorized of these clowns is things like waterboarding that may violate the conventions but do not amount to torture under international law. Yes, there have been instances of torture and those people have been prosecuted. The authorized methods of interrogation would not be allowed for a EPW but probably do not violate the more general international conventions on torture. Bush’s critics continually confuse tactics that violate the conventions with torture. A practice can be one without being the other. What you are going to find out is that the practices that were authorized violated the conventions but did not violate the torture statutes.

  33. John,

    If a serial killer waterboarded his victim before dispatching her, he’d be charged with capital murder, not just 1st degree, because of the aggravating factor of torture. As I said, if Bush is impeached, it will be for violaing American laws, not international treaties.

  34. “If a serial killer waterboarded his victim before dispatching her, he’d be charged with capital murder, not just 1st degree, because of the aggravating factor of torture. As I said, if Bush is impeached, it will be for violaing American laws, not international treaties.”

    Joe the law is based on the treaties. The only way you could get anyone for the federal crime of torture such as it is would be to prove that they violated the treaties. There is no U.S. law on torture as such. You are grasping at straws here. Also, good way to dodge my overall point that you don’t know what the hell you are talking about when you throw around the term torture.

  35. John,

    I’ll accept your argument as valid as long as you tell me how you prove someone is a terrorist and therefore a criminal? In the US, we usually assume anyone accused of a domestic crime is innocent until proven guilty. However, this comes up against the department of homeland security which seems to be working from the opposite presumption. Therefore, its entirely possible we’re torturing many innocent people along with many people from afghanistan who were actual combatants and not part of al queda. Bush drew no line, he simply said “well, since we don’t know, torture everyone you get and we’ll sort it out later”. Nuremburg had the luxury of knowing who everyone was from records and then determining how big a part they played in atrocities. Here, we have no records and we have no idea who participated in what if any atrocities. That’s what I object to, the laziness, ineptness and collusion involved in ruining these peoples lives without a second thought. Yes, there are terrorists (criminals) in Gitmo, but nobody will wants to admit who, how, why and what should be done. They take the easy route by saying “Trust me, they’re all criminals and if we torture them a bit more, we’ll get more criminals.” That shouldn’t pass anyones justice test. Bush has allowed this to happen and should be damned for it.

  36. John,

    Our laws against torture – domestic criminal law – are not based on treaties. It was illegal for our government to torture people long before the Geneva Conventions.

    “There is no U.S. law on torture as such.” As a matter of fact, there are numerous applicable laws, such as assault, civil rights violation, mayhem, and false imprisonment.

  37. And let’s be clear, interrogation is asking questions. Torture is putting someone in a situation where they answer questions because they fear harm or have experienced harm. I see that as a black and white line and I will not argue that with anyone.

  38. Joe,

    Essentially anything that can be viewed as a crime against children should be viewed as a crime against a prisoner. They are both under your control and both have limitations set on them by society.

  39. “As a matter of fact, there are numerous applicable laws, such as assault, civil rights violation, mayhem, and false imprisonment.”

    Straws grasping, must get. No Joe. To prove a civil rights violation it must have been done on the basis of race, religion ect. Those won’t apply. Mayhem? Common law crime not on the federal books. Same with false imprisonment. The interrogation tactics do not violate U.S. law.

  40. “It was illegal for our government to torture people long before the Geneva Conventions.”

    Joe,

    It is illegal to torture now. The problem is what is torture? I am telling you right now that water boarding is not torture under the law. It is certainly not allowed under the conventions but that does not make it torture. How many times do i have to tell you that “Torture” and “violating the Conventions” are two different things.

  41. if the Geneva Conventions have been ratified by the President and the US Senate, doesn’t that make them part of our laws under the US Constitution?

  42. John,

    Joe is stuck in “Its already illegal, so let’s prosecute Bush for a crime”. I believe Bush is wrong and should be punished, but cannot name a statute for his crime because no one thought one was necessary. Let the will of the public be heard here and Congress merely needs to respect their wishes. You don’t need to prove Bush did something illegal to impeach him, you only need to show that he willingly went against the will of the people and is not fit for the presidency and oust him on violating the trust given to him. This does not violate any of his rights any more than firing someone violates their rights.

  43. biologist,

    I think the argument has been made successfully that we did not violate the Geneva conventions if the situation is as described. However, if the court of public opinion believes that Bush acted in bad faith and against their will, then we have every right to kick him out.

  44. Impeachment was quite popular in 1974, and the people who pushed for it gained tremendously in the next elections. The American public isn’t opposed to impeachment per se – we love to see crooked “leaders” spanked in public. We’re against stupid, pointless, unjustified impeachments.

    Two things:

    1. I don’t think impeachment was as popular in 1974 as you think. Yes, Watergate made Nixon unpopular, but don’t assume that the impeachment trial in the Senate would have succeeded.

    2. The key word in your post is “crooked.” Nixon’s actions in covering up a politically-motivated burglary were crooked. Bush would argue that he was defending the USA by his actions and would kick up all the legalisms we’ve seen in this very thread to argue that he did nothing illegal. Impeachment is a political, not legal, process. The only standard is whether you can get 66 senators to agree that the president committed a “high crime or misdemeanor.” In the present climate, even if the housed voted to impeach on party lines, as it did in 1998, you are not going to get 15 GOP senators to vote to convict Bush. Ain’t gonna happen.

  45. John

    I understand that if the government is holding someone as a criminal, they are allowed more leeway in getting information out of that person than they would have in getting information from a POW. But it doesn’t mean they can break out the jumper cables and go Jack Bauer on the person either.

    In normal domestic law enforcement, there are all kinds of protections for criminal defendants, but law enforcement still manages to do a pretty good job of arresting and convicting criminals. I’ll grant though, that your average jihadist may be less amenable to plea bargining and such. So there may need to be less emphasis on protecting defendants’ rights when dealing with international terrorism.

    There are probably several psychological pressure tactics I’d approve for suspected international terrorists but not for domestic law enforcement. But when you talk about waterboarding and stuff, thats getting into the realm of physically coercive tactics, with which I’m far less comfortable.

  46. ChrisO,

    Luckily the Houst gets the first shot at impeachment, so the dems can make a point without having to worry about things like replacing Bush with Cheney, etc. Its all an act, I just hope the dems have enough balls to play the right parts. It reminds me alot of Roman history when Caesar voted to exile an old senator by accusing him of violating a Roman law that citiznes must have a trial before exercising capital punishment. It wasn’t meant to acting work, but it sent a message.

  47. That was the same thing the GOP tried in 1998, and it backfired on them, just as it would the Dems. The GOP is currently rather fractured and demoralized; impeachment might actually make them rally around Bush. I think it would also bring out the shrillest and least appealing aspects of the Democrats. It would certainly lead to the campaign charge that the Dems were more interested in settling scores than in “working on behalf of the American people.” Pelosi & Co. seem to have made it clear that they aren’t going to go down that road. Who knows, though.

  48. The GOP attempt in 1998 was based on a rediculous charge of lying over oral sex. It was an awkward argument that nobody really wanted to make and had no basis in their original prosecution. Simply put, they pursued something rediculous and looked not only shrill, but idiotic. Not that the democrats are going to do any better but as long as they hammer home torture, illegal wiretapping, bring in the innocent men that got wrapped up in the net, Bush can cry all he wants about defending America, the more he says about it, the less he can deny. All the dems need to do is sit there, grill him on his reasons and let mr. decider plead his own case. They can appear seriously concerned to the public, but fair and rational. Then all they need to do is pose some rhetorical questions, “Is this the America we want?”, “Do we really want a leader who can do whatever he pleases?” and then wait for the response. If its overwhelmingly sympathetic to Bush, then they will bow to the will of the people. If they find enormous underlying resentment towards him boil up into a nice outrage, the House votes to impeach, then they leave it up to the Senate to see how many republicans really rally behind their president. Yes, you’re setting up republicans to rally round, but you’re also making them decide publicly, once and for all what they want, a supreme executive or one that is checked by Congress. Its either a win for the democrats or republicans find out how much support they really have. Also, the American public gets no more platitudes, they get a hard and fast decision to judge their senators by.

  49. When most Americans think “torture” they think nail pulling, and electrified genitals.

    They don’t think cold air conditioning, hoods, and threats of electrified genitals.

    It doesn’t help the impeachment cause that when we do have a public trial, the defendent proves incapable of playing the victim.

    So, I’d be willing to guess that Americans are against “torture” but don’t mind the techniques actually used.

    It also helps Bush’s case that the torture banners can’t restrain themselves, and try to block even trivial things like female interrogators talking about menstrual blood. Classic intellectual overreach.

  50. Every day my dog farts allah.

  51. like i said, talking isn’t torture. Whatever beliefs you might have, I’m sorry, but get the fuck over it. Physical force in interrogation, any physical force, whether it cause harm or cause the defendent to believe he will be harmed, is torture.

  52. Since waterboarding is supposedly an effective way of getting information, let’s waterboard Bush until he tells us whether or not he thinks waterboarding is torture. Once he stops choking, gagging and suffocating, I’m sure he’ll say “this is totally fine.”

  53. I, for one, have absolutely no problem with torture. I’m perfectly fine with it.

  54. “Every day my dog farts allah.”

    Awesome koan, dude!

  55. I beg the forgiveness of the regulars here for my extreme cynicism, but I have postulated before (seepriese, I’m gonna do it again) that the Democrats in these here modern times aren’t interested in the generalities of “abuse of power” because the parties are far smarter than they used to be. They know that Mr. Bush won’t always be in the White House and heck, there might even be a Democrat in the Oval Office. All the new fancy levers of power that Mr. Bush has either created out of whole cloth, or manipulated to favor the Executive might come in mighty handy when power shifts to their party.

  56. Paul,

    I know what you mean. I have to wake up every morning and shake my head back and forth repeating “They can’t be that evil, they can’t be that evil” That usually keeps me going until lunch.

  57. “To prove a civil rights violation it must have been done on the basis of race, religion ect.”

    Sorry, no. Discrimination is only one kind of civil rights violation. Violating any citizen’s constitutional rights is a civil rights violation. Aren’t you pretending to be a lawyer or something.

    “How many times do i have to tell you that “Torture” and “violating the Conventions” are two different things.”

    I’m done. I’ve explained that I’m talking about violations of domestic criminal law, not Geneva, three time already, yet you either cannot grasp this simple point, or are playing dumb. Either way, I’m done.

  58. Violating any citizen’s constitutional rights is a civil rights violation.

    but we’re not talking (for the most part) about citizens. nor are we talking about things within the jurisdiction of the u.s. criminal justice system.

    we libertarians pitch a fit when the gov’t tries to make our internal laws applicable outside our borders. to be consistent, we have to admit the opposite, that our protections and guarantees end at the border, too.

  59. Impeachment was quite popular in 1974, and the people who pushed for it gained tremendously in the next elections. The American public isn’t opposed to impeachment per se – we love to see crooked “leaders” spanked in public. We’re against stupid, pointless, unjustified impeachments.

    Quoted for being the truth. The Clinton impeachment was the most pointless government spectacle I’ve seen in my time (even greater that the baseball steroid hearings), whereas the Nixon proceedings had actual legitimacy.

  60. Lost_in_Translation

    You might try repeating “We can’t be that evil, we can’t be that evil.” It shows more solidarity with the species and will result in a less naive, the-state-is-a-boogyman view of human affairs.

  61. JJ,

    I’m so glad you can discern my entire state of belief in humankind and government from a single flippant statement made.

  62. Chris O,

    Impeachment was so popular in 1974 that the party responsible for it was heavily rewarded in the next election. And Nixon and his advisors were so confident that he would lose that he chose to resign.

    That said, it would be exceedingly difficult to get 67 Senators to vote to convict. I don’t think the majority of the House necessary to impeach is at all out of reach, however.

    edna,

    “but we’re not talking (for the most part) about citizens. nor are we talking about things within the jurisdiction of the u.s. criminal justice system.” I’m not so sure about that. The cases of Hamden and Padilla are quite suggestive.

  63. John

    Regarding US laws against torture…

    Check out the bill of rights…”cruel and unusual.”

    So shut up. You are wrong.

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