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Rand Paul Threatens to Filibuster Trump's CIA Pick, Because Torture: Podcast

Plus: Facebook goes after Trump's social media firm, and Trump tiptoes toward a trade war.

Aaron Bernstein/REUTERS/NewscomAaron Bernstein/REUTERS/Newscom"On what level could torture ever be acceptable?" This weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) declared that he would do everything in his power to block President Danald Trump's pick for CIA director, Gina Haspel, because of her role running a torture program at a secret detention facility during George W. Bush's administration. "There are a few things in life where it is worth standing up and saying, 'Enough is enough. This is wrong. This is, you know, this is beneath contempt,'" Paul said.

On today's Reason Podcast, Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, and special guest Elizabeth Nolan Brown discuss Paul's filibuster threat, which also extends to Trump's secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo; the emerging controversy over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, a social media analytics firm that worked for Trump's campaign; and Trump's push for "reciprocal" tariffs with rival nations and whether it threatens the existence of the World Trade Organization.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Relevant links from the show:

"Rand Paul: 'A Tariff Is Simply a Tax'," by Matt Welch

"Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Should Shut Up About Soup Cans, Already," by Eric Boehm

"Stone Age Statue Was Too Racy for Facebook," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Who Are the Republicans Warning About Firing Mueller, and How Many of Them Are Running for President?" by Matt Welch

"Trump Has Exposed the GOP's Shallowness on Fiscal Restraint and Free Markets," by Shikha Dalmia

"Trump to Rex Tillerson: Someone Has Told You That You're Fired!" by Matt Welch

"Trump Is More Like Recent Presidents Than Anyone Wants To Admit" by Nick Gillespie

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  • Old Mexican - Mostly Harmless||

    Trump just said that srug dealers should be executed.

    Thank you, Trumpistas.

  • Old Mexican - Mostly Harmless||

    That would be drug dealers.

  • Jgalt1975||

    Whew! [/Puts cartons of srugs back on the shelf for sale]

  • Mark22||

    Trump just said that srug dealers should be executed. Thank you, Trumpistas.

    I imagine this must be quite disconcerting for you personally.

  • BYODB||

    Yeah, I caught part of Mark Levin's show where he said that water boarding isn't 'torture' and I thought 'fuck you, Mark'. He's not necessarily wrong in context of, say, medieval torture but it's not exactly legal to do this to American's as far as I'm aware. I haven't heard Levin say a good thing about Rand Paul yet, which I suppose isn't surprising.


    Yet another point of disconnect between most of us and mainstream 'conservative' types I suppose, which is sort of sad to me since I otherwise agree in a lot of places about conservatism. It's good to be reminded that they aren't perfect allies I guess.

  • colorblindkid||

    I have admittedly been on the fence about the legality of waterboarding as torture, but my main quarrel with the whole debate is that the waterboarding non-citizens thing is a hell of a lot less terrifying and dangerous than Obama's secret kill list used to assassinate American citizens without due process, which everybody still kind of ignores. I would just like consistency from these people. I'm pretty sure being blown up by drone while eating lunch at a cafe is worse than waterboarding.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    May I suggest trying it out on yourself? I have tried it. It is torture.

  • Tony||

    Where did this idea come from that waterboarding was torture-lite or whatever? Because it involves nice refreshing water instead of rusty spikes?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I have too, it isn't.

  • Old Mexican - Mostly Harmless||

    Re: colorblindkid,

    [...] the waterboarding non-citizens thing is a hell of a lot less terrifying and dangerous than Obama's secret kill list used to assassinate American citizens without due process


    You say "non-citizen" as if that can justify anything.

  • BYODB||

    We don't need to pick or choose on those, they're both terrible. If it's physical in nature and being used on people who are willing to die to hurt us, you can be pretty sure it's 'torture' since nothing less than that is likely to work. Of course, torture itself is never likely to work so it's sort of a catch-22 situation.

    It's sort of like America saying the Spanish Inquisition would have been more effective if they had just toned it down a little in their torture methods. No, it wouldn't have. That's dumb. They're dumb for thinking that. Ultimately, we're all dumb for engaging in such a bullshit 'debate'. If it was true, we'd be stupid for not going whole hog torture since the underlying assumption is that 'torture works', which is false.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "assumption is that 'torture works', which is false"

    It can work when used correctly and in the right context. It certainly isn't one size fits all. Either way, we don't employ torture.

  • CE||

    The Bill of Rights doesn't apply to American citizens, it applies to the US federal government. They can't deny the human rights of citizens or non-citizens without due process of law.

  • Mark22||

    The Bill of Rights doesn't apply to American citizens, it applies to the US federal government. They can't deny the human rights of citizens or non-citizens without due process of law.

    Constitutionally, the US government can do pretty much whatever it wants to non-citizens outside the US, limited only by the protections other governments provide to their citizens. Americans choose to limit what the US actually can do to non-citizens by law and choice, but those are not Constitutional protections.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Americans choose to limit what the US actually can do to non-citizens by law and choice, but those are not Constitutional protections.

    I'm pretty sure that if the FBI were to drag a 20-year old person in the country on a student Visa out of college and draw and quarter them in the street for the crime of murdering Jimmy Hoffa, without first going through the process of a trial and conviction, the actions of the FBI would not be upheld as Constitutional.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Hence why Mark said "outside the country".

  • Mithrandir||

    I hope his filibuster works. This gal's resume does not make for very cheery reading.

  • BYODB||

    One thing you can safely assume about Washington; if Rand Paul is filibustering it, it's going to become law.

  • MichaelL||

    Sadly, this assessment is the same that I made in the instant I saw his declaration! Our only statesman is alone!

  • John B. Egan||

    Gina Haspel ran a torture site in Asia and has an outstanding warrant in Europe for her actions... Any real Christian country would boot her out rather than promote her. Her excuse (and those that support her) is 'I was ordered to do it'... That same 'Nuremburg Defense ' sent a few dozen Nazis to the hangman and life in prison. Am I missing something here?

    Adolphe Eichmann : "There is a need to draw a line between the leaders responsible and the people like me forced to serve as mere instruments in the hands of the leaders. I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty."

  • Mark22||

    Gina Haspel ran a torture site in Asia and has an outstanding warrant in Europe for her actions

    Even Snopes calls that one false.

  • CE||

    In a just world, Haspel would already be in prison.

  • VER||

    We should not torture because it is wrong. Full stop. On the podcast they said "and because it doesn't work" That always bothers me. If "doesn't work" is a reason to not use it, then if it can be made to work the reason for not using it goes away. The only reason for not using it should be that it is wrong.

    Also, as far as doesn't work: certainly it does not if you ask one person one question one time. But if you have a couple hundred people asked a couple hundred questions in different ways a couple hundred times each, then cross reference the answers with other intelligence and use the data gained to drive further questions, it certainly does work. The idea that a bunch of different people can consistently tell the same lie to mislead the torturers is just absurd.

    The system of torture being discussed was (is?) applied by intelligent, thinking people with computers and huge intelligence apparatus. It does work some percentage of the time.

    But that doesn't matter, we should not be using it simply because it's wrong. Whether or not it works has nothing to do with it.

  • Cyto||

    This is the cogent argument.

    It is wrong. Full stop.

    The same argument as other strict rights violations. The death penalty is wrong. Not because innocent people might be killed. Not because they don't deserve it. It is wrong because killing is wrong. The drug war is wrong because forcing other people to follow your life instructions is wrong. The list is long.

    The only problem is getting people to agree on which rights are actual rights that cannot be violated. (Like the rights to healthcare, housing, food, education, etc. that lead to "give me free stuff")

  • ace_m82||

    I agree that your concept of "we can't do it cause it's wrong" is correct.

    Your argument that "killing is wrong" is incorrect.

    You may kill in 2 cases, in self-defense, and if a person murders, is caught, convicted, and the victim's next of kin decides the murderer should die.

    Make no mistake, government is NOT competent to pursue justice, convict, declare themselves the most harmed party (the harmed party is, of course, the victim and victim's family), and then execute the murderer. But murderers ought to die, or, if the victim's next of kin decides, then be "forgiven" of all or part of the "debt" (and demand no punishment, or some punishment less than death).

    Justice is repayment, an eye for an eye, a dollar for a dollar, and a life for a life. Only the harmed party ought to be repaid, and/or decide if they'll pursue full repayment or partial.

  • Mark22||

    Paul need to pick his battles more carefully.

  • Cyto||

    I thought we had established that she wasn't even there when all the tortury stuff happened. What gives?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I'm guessing a lot of peoplehere have a problem with any interrogation that is more than the slightest bit coercive. So where is the line?

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