Saturday, July 19, 2008

The truth about 'The Truth About Torture'

Almost every line Stuart Taylor Jr. writes about torture is utter, complete, total bullshit.

It would be unseemly for Bush to pardon Vice President Dick Cheney or himself
Duhbya might pause before pardoning Darth and himself because it's unseemly? What planet does Taylor live on? Unseemly! As if.
the next president wouldn't allow them to be prosecuted anyway
And Taylor knows this how?
what this country needs most is a full and true accounting of what took place.
What the country needs is a return to the rule of law, and that can't happen without prison.
The incoming president should convene a truth commission
A truth commission? Don't we claim to have the rule of law for that? (Oh, my own bullshit - my bad.) But Taylor's had canapés with some of the criminals, so they just can't be criminals.
with subpoena power
How has that subpoena power been working out so far? Knock, knock, earth to Stuart. Pull your head out of there and take a look around once in a while.
Pardons would further a truth commission's most important goals: to uncover all important facts, identify innocent victims to be compensated, foster a serious conversation about what U.S. interrogation rules should be, recommend legal reforms, pave the way for appropriate apologies and restore America's good name.
Yeah, let's suspend the rules so that we can make more rules that no one - well, no Republicans - will follow.
The goals should not include wrecking the lives of men and women who made grievous mistakes while doing dirty work—work they had been advised by administration lawyers was legal, and which they believed was necessary to prevent terrorist mass murder.
After all, we don't want to discourage idiots who can't tell the difference between waterboarding and needlepoint from their right to govern us! The Bushists asked the OLC for get out of jail free cards, which are a tissue of transparent legalistic bullshit, and Taylor is going to play along as if they were sincere about anything more than covering their well-fed asses.
A criminal investigation would only hinder efforts to determine the truth, and preclude any apologies. It would spur those who know the most to take the Fifth.
Continuing the cover-up with pardons would help us learn the truth? So all the prosecutors who turn minor conspirators by threatening them with jail have it all wrong. What an idiot.
Any prosecutions would also touch off years of partisan warfare.
Stu, baby, wake up. Have you missed the last two decades? Oh, it's partisan warfare where the Democrats show up ready to fight that you want to avoid.
Any hope of a civil conversation about lessons we need to learn would be dead.
Oh, Christ, this is the be-all and end-all of Washington punditry, a fucking civil conversation. What we had and no longer have but still need is the rule of law!
there is no evidence that any high-level official acted with criminal intent.
Uh, Stuart, there's intent everywhere. These people wrote memos about what they were going to do, and then they did it. They knew the meanings of the words ('torture' for one) they were dishonestly redefining. It doesn't take a genius to see this, though apparently it takes more IQ points than you have at your disposal.
The officials involved appear to have approved only interrogation methods found legal by administration lawyers, and in particular by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). According to long tradition, the OLC is considered a sort of Supreme Court of the executive branch.
God, you think we're all dunces, don't you? A precedent by which hand-picked legal bullshitters can write any goddamn thing they want and have it be relied on as law is a prescription for lawless, authoritarian rule by the President.
But Congress has defined torture very narrowly.
Huh? Where's your evidence? It certainly isn't in your column. In any case, the international case law and the consensus of everyone prior to the rise of Bushism is that the Bushists didn't go just a little over the line. Belly slaps, menstrual blood, panties, nudity, and even Koran defacement might have been that. Waterboarding, beatings (sometimes to death), severe sleep deprivation, stress positions (such a delicate euphemism for non-maiming successors of the rack), and hypothermia? Anyone who claims not to know that these are torture is lying to you.
The OLC has advised officials since 2002 that some highly coercive methods—including waterboarding, which is assailed by most of the world as torture—do not violate the federal anti-torture law.
And you find the rationales they provided to the White House on demand credible as if they were a dispassionate, even-handed, responsible finding of a court, not the partisan bullshit of John Yoo and company. Un-fucking-believable!
Then five Supreme Court justices gave the administration a nasty surprise. Rejecting the views of a federal appeals court, President Bush, the OLC and four other Supreme Court justices, the majority held that Geneva does protect Qaeda members and other Guantánamo detainees. (emphasis added)
I guess it's clear where your sympathies lie.
But any such prosecutions would probably fail.
There's that Beltway pundit's crystal ball again.
Congress has retroactively amended the War Crimes Act to block any prosecutions for brutal interrogation methods short of torture.
We're not talking about short of torture. We're talking about torture. Get it?
And officials could raise a nearly airtight defense of good-faith reliance on advice of counsel—OLC memos on approved methods would be like "get out of jail free" cards.
Sorry, no. Those memos implicate their authors, who are also criminally culpable. They are evidence, all right, but it ain't exculpatory.
pressure to go after GOP "war criminals" would make it very hard to unite Americans of all stripes behind solutions to the many economic and social challenges facing the country.
Hey, look over there. The Bushists screwed up a lot of other things, too.

For blithe witless Broderists like Taylor whose highest goal is to have a serious, civil conversation about the lessons of the Bushist slow-motion coup d'etat, here's the history of immunizing Republican counter-Constitutional crime:
  • Watergate - the now relatively minor matter of using the power of the government against Nixon's political opposition - Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon to the polite opera house applause of the creeping Broderists. As a consequence, only a few wingnut factotums did any time. Prominent Nixon alumni now Bushists: Darth Cheney, Rummy, Fred Fielding, the Bushes themselves, not to mention Chuck Colson and G. Gordon Liddy carrying the message in the media.
  • Iran-Contra - broke the law in the manner of putschists - There were no lasting consequences for anyone, as Bush père wielded the pardon to protect Republican criminality. Prominent Reagan alumni, tainted by scandal, now Bushists: Elliot Abrams? Back. John Poindexter? Back. Ollie North? On the radio flogging the hatred of liberals.
What have authoritarian Republican Bushists learned from ever-decreasing consequences for their impeachable crimes? Go for it! The next Republican President will take care of you.

There's another lesson in this: Don't listen to nicey-nice Washington pundits. They're repeatedly, irremediably full of themselves, which means they're full of shit.

Stuart Taylor (and, yes, the Democrats in Congress) have surrendered in the fight to keep our democracy. But, hey, they're civil dipshits.

(h/t LGM)

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