Wednesday, November 21, 2007

on waterboarding and why it cannot be torture...

Waterboarding cannot be torture and keep a long line of people--from privates to the President of the United States--out of legal trouble; criminal legal trouble.

Waterboarding has been successfully prosecuted by the American government for more than 100 years with both its own citizens and members of at least one foreign army as defendents. The crime charged was torture. People went, as they say, down for this one.

As a great American prophet used to say, "You can look it up."

If the new attorney general nominee had said that waterboarding was torture, during his confirmation hearings, then the attorney general nominee would have been saying that Americans committed the crime of torture and that the President was complicit in that he ordered the crime be committed.

Conspiracy? Accomplice liability? Pick 'em, but charge him: let the jury decide--that would be my prosecutorial strategy (of course, I was only a prosecutor for a very short period of time and never got beyond driving under the influence cases more than a time or two).

The President has been called a lot of dirty names, so far, but it seems that one of them might (should?) be "defendant."

That can't be good.

At least, it can't be good from his point of view.

What is good from the President's point of view is that he appears to be able to have the same "complete confidence" in this new attorney general that he had in the old one. It was confusing to hear the President express such confidence in Mr. Gonzales, someone who was held in almost total contempt by almost everyone. How could anyone have such confidence in the ability of such a person to function as attorney general?

Well, silly me, it was not AG the AG's ability to function as AG in which Mr. Bush had such complete confidence. It was, rather, in the many times proven ability of AG the AG to lie, forget and do whatever else was necessary to keep anyone who was trying to figure things out from following the converging trails back to Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney...whomever. AG was trustworthy in that his loyal service to the Bush administration was not constrained by the perimeters of either law or ethics. (And Mr Gonzales may, yet, be going to go down for this. Perhaps he should hope he is indicted and convicted before Mr. Bush is. If the prosecution moves adroitly Scooter Libby may be the only law breaker in this administration who will benefit from a presidential pardon. The "pardoner" may be in need of a pardon, himself, before they are in a position to benefit from one.)

What also cannot be good, aside from the direct results of employing torture--getting a bunch of bogus information upon which to lay dumb plans and build stupid policies--is the (at least) one inevitable result of employing torture: others will do it to our military people and we will have absolutely no legs--moral or legal--to stand upon if we let this "just go by."

Way to go, George.

Just one more way in which the integrity of the Republic and the Constitution upon which is is based has been compromised and perhaps broken beyond all repair. Which successor of yours will have the grounding, the moral compass, to resist going through all the doors you (and Mr. Cheney) have opened and legitimized?

We are going to be paying for your presidency for a long time to come, in more ways than one.

It all comes from riding a high horse down the low road, from telling everyone you are off clearing brush when, actually, you are off planting more in which you can hide.

President Bush has shown himself to be the kind of person who, when he speaks, one can safely assume that the opposite of what he says is true. In fact, it is at one's peril that one relies on the truth of anything he says. He is the kind of person once described as one whose dog will not come when he whistles.

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