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October 17, 2007

Comments

Thanks for this, Katherine.

We've gone so far down the slippery slope that I despair of getting back even to where we were in 2000, which was itself far from the moral high ground (given Clintonian rendition, and yes yes yes Clinton-Gore fans, I know the distinctions between their use of the practice and the Cheney-Bush regime's).

The debate, as I noted unhappily a year ago, has moved the goalposts; now somehow waterboarding is the debatable outer limit of torture.

Meanwhile the new Army Field Manual allows several of those CIA-tested-for-50-years tortures that are no longer referred to or apparently even thought of by anyone but human rights activists as torture: forced standing, temperature extremes, sleep deprivation, prolonged loud noise, and isolation.

And the Congress learns nothing; the bar has been set so low that the Mukaseys of the world look like models of integrity. The world starts anew every day, and every Bush-Cheney appointee who doesn't come to the stand dripping blood is given every benefit of the doubt.

Just as there's nothing the approved pundits can say that will lose them their platforms, there's nothing the Bush-Cheney regime can do that will remove the presumption of honesty from its appointees.

you had me for a moment. I was wondering how he could withdraw an OLC memo before he was even AG. Never mind even in the OLC.

Then I saw it was lying bagoshit Gonzales that you quoted.

I feel so much better. You see I was worried that Mukasey was overstepping his authority even before he got the office.

On the other hand, that would mean that the Democrats wouldn't have to show the courage to reform the Fuck America Act or whatever the FISA bill was called.

And they could just rely on another Bush nominee to do it.


Hi paulo,

Welcome!
Clearly you're following the issues here closely enough to contribute usefully to the conversation. So: word to the wise -- take a look at the posting rules.

wrt Army Field Manual:

This new AFM was lauded for banning the beating of prisoners, threatening them with dogs, sexual humiliation, performing mock executions, electrocution of prisoners, and waterboarding, among other noxious techniques. But in an appendix to the manual, the following procedures are authorized for certain prisoners: complete separation, sometimes with forced wearing of goggles and earmuffs, for up to 30 days (after which approval for more must be sought); limiting sleep to four hours a day, for 30 straight days...

Seen this? Froomkin quotes Newsweek's Richard Wolffe

"QUESTION: Thank you, sir. A simple question.

"BUSH: Yes?

"QUESTION: What's your definition of --

"BUSH: It may require a simple answer.

"(LAUGHTER)

"QUESTION: What's your definition of the word torture?

"BUSH: Of what?

"QUESTION: The word torture, what's your definition?

"BUSH: That's defined in U.S. law, and we don't torture.

"QUESTION: Can you give me your version of it, sir?

"BUSH: No. Whatever the law says."

And the Times had the good sense to ask Marty Lederman and Jacks Balkin and Goldsmith, and Charles Fried, to put up good questions.

Even if Mukasey decides he's giong to be independent, he'll be marginalized and cut out of the loop.

If Mukasey claimed he didn't know what waterboarding was he is either lying or has been too uninterested in the torture issue to know the most basic facts. Either way, a fine choice to replace Gonzales.

just repeating from matt y's site:

the two things that caught my ear as really worrisome were the claim that the bybee memo was not "necessary", and the repetition of the bush-approved slogan "we do not torture".

i think katherine is right: this guy may be marginally better than gonzo, but he is still going to do exactly what cheney tells him.

The "We do not torture" line is also featured in the new movie Rendition (though not from the president). It definitely seems to be this president's equivalent of "I am not a crook" or "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

right.
so the only question is, what it an unfortunate formulation on the part of mukasey, or is it evidence that he is already a paid-up member of the dedicated cover-up crew?

The best I can hope for from Mukasey is a furious resignation statement after 6 months or so of tangling with Addington.

Everyone here in the NYC legal community seems to be a fan of Judge Mukasey. I think he'll do a good job.

Senator, this president is not going to order torture. We don't condone it.

asked what he would do if the President should ask him to do something of questionably legality/morality, Mukasey said he would resist or resign.

I'd suggest that he's of questionable violation of that standard by taking the job under the current circumstances at all. We do, of course, need an Attorney General who can work with the President, but anyone who won't come right out and admit that this President has already ordered torture and has already condoned it is either too naive to change things or unlikely to stand up to him later.

Everybody is forgetting that after we heard from Comey, Ashcroft started looking good.

The real problem is that at present there is a non-functional DOJ. Normal litigation-- forget big ticket issues like rendition and torture for the moment -- can't really progress.

This is a real problem for lawyers and their clients who deal with DOJ on a daily basis. It can't be ignored, regardless of higher-profile issues.

This is unfortunate, to be sure. But functionality must be restored to the system.

Not only that, but parenthetically, DOJ used to be a prestigious job for a young lawyer. Now, its embarrassing to say you work there.

Nell: While I agree with the condemnation of torture,and I appreciate the specifics provided so far, where do we draw the line? Instead of asking what should be disallowed as torture, what should be allowed as non-torture? If you were in charge, what would you allow in an effort to get information out of an Al Queda operative recently captured who is believed to have knowledge of an impending attack? Short of pulling a Jack Bauer, what would you do?

And does that standard change in light of what we know? What if we have a captive that we know has info of a nuke about to go off. Does the standard change? Is waterboarding appropriate if there is a 48 hour timer already started? No, I don't even pretend to have an answer. It's easy for me in the cool light of day to condemn waterboarding, but I wonder what I would do if faced with certain facts.

All the same, I appreciate a AG that provides some clarity on the issue, although there is no way he is unaware of what waterboarding means.

Nell: While I agree with the condemnation of torture,and I appreciate the specifics provided so far, where do we draw the line? Instead of asking what should be disallowed as torture, what should be allowed as non-torture? If you were in charge, what would you allow in an effort to get information out of an Al Queda operative recently captured who is believed to have knowledge of an impending attack? Short of pulling a Jack Bauer, what would you do?

And does that standard change in light of what we know? What if we have a captive that we know has info of a nuke about to go off. Does the standard change? Is waterboarding appropriate if there is a 48 hour timer already started? No, I don't even pretend to have an answer. It's easy for me in the cool light of day to condemn waterboarding, but I wonder what I would do if faced with certain facts.

All the same, I appreciate a AG that provides some clarity on the issue, although there is no way he is unaware of what waterboarding means.

I refuse to have this discussion based on TV show plots & not the factual record of six years of these policies.

Durbin & Sheldon Whitehouse asked some more specific questions today--the answers are exactly what I'd expected and feared.

Durbin, Feingold, Kennedy, Dodd & Leahy are probably the people I trust most in the Senate on these issues. (Some others are good--Whitehouse has potential). If they're going to vote for him based on these answers because he's Schumer's pal....

bc: If you were in charge, what would you allow in an effort to get information out of an Al Queda operative recently captured who is believed to have knowledge of an impending attack?

Terry Karney is a military interrogator with very strong opinions about getting information out of al-Qaeda operatives. He has a livejournal (there's a recent post on torture here) and I'd suggest that you ask him your question. (I'm sure you'll do so politely and reasonably, and should get a polite and reasonable response.) Or you could read back through his journal and find his previous posts about the uselessness of torture as an aid interrogation: that the point of interrogation is to get information, not to cause the subject pain. The point to be considered shouldn't be "How far can we go to hurt/humiliate prisoners without it being legally torture?" but "What's the best way to get information out of prisoners?" and, Terry Karney and others have already said, quite definitely, that it's not "Torture!" or anything approaching it.

bc -- I'm not Nell, but do you know what I'd do in that situation? Pull up a chair, offer the person a beverage of their choice, a call to check in on the safety of their family members, and a conversation.

You seem to have the opinion that torture (while repugnant) is effective, meaning that people subjected to it will be forced to tell the truth. Therefore, in some "ticking time bomb" scenarios, we shouldn't abandon it as an option. These scenarios also assume perfect knowledge on the part of the interrogator that the individual in question *has* the desired information. This is not a safe assumption.

I don't have personal knowledge on the topic, but based on *everything* I've read by professional interrogators, what I suggested in the first paragraph is more likely to result in discovery of the truth than harsher methods, up to and including torture. If the interrogator has erred in concluding that the person has the information, the prisoner will say anything (i.e., lie) to make the torture stop. If the prisoner does have the information, why shouldn't they also tell the interrogator something false and send the authorities on a time-wasting wild goose chase? What do they have to lose?

Torture is not a valid interrogation method if what you want is the truth. It's great for reinforcing false assumptions and punishing dissenters, which is not the business our intelligence services should be in.

Donald Johnson and bc aluded to this, but it bears repeating: If he really doesn't know what waterboarding is, then he's utterly unqualified to be AG.

Exactly how many ticking nukes have we had in American cities over the past six years to justify all this torture? It's amazing they've been able to keep them all hushed up.

jesurgislac/KCinDC: Thanks for the links. And I agree I have phrased the question too early if not wrong. The first question should be as you state. And if the answer there points to techniques that cause or might cause pain/mental anguish/etc. my question only then becomes relevant. I'll do some reading. I have always assumed that torture is not the best way to get info. But, I think the other and better methods also take a lot of time (gaining trust and confidence of the detainee/prisoner, etc.) I am interested in what a Terry Karney has to say.

But, KCinDC, while I may have been exaggerating for effect, I wouldn't make the assumption you are making. I spoke with a former FBI (retired) acquaintance who was in counter-terrorism. He wouldn't give me any specifics, but had two salient points: a) It's a good thing the newer generation of FBI is computer literate and there were a lot of retirements post-2001; and b) we are stopping things literally every day. Maybe not a nuke, but it painted a completely different picture for me of what the government is doing. Now, I realize that for anyone else this is purely anecdotal, but I personally trust the guy at his word. I didn't ask him how he got his information. I'll have to give him a call . .

"maybe not a nuke." You think?

I don't know Phil, from my position in my 1950's bunker I couldn't really tell you. ;)

I think we do ourselves a disservice in thinking that this Administration is totally ineffective in its efforts.

But those successes are not justifications for torture. And we should argue so, with the full spectrum of arguments, from the immoral basis of torture to the ineffectiveness of torture as a technique to its use as a terror-inducing, repression tool.

"but anyone who won't come right out and admit that this President has already ordered torture and has already condoned it is either is either too naive to change things or unlikely to stand up to him later."

Despite my horror and utter opposition to torture, this strikes me as not in contact with reality as I know it. On what basis would Mukasey claim to "know" that there's been torture? Newspaper reports?

There's no way that Mukasey could remotely claim to have any legal proof, or knowledge of the facts. Rumor, allegation, and newspaper claims, however credible and plausible, aren't at all the same as evidence that's admissible in court.

So far as I can see -- and I'm perfectly willing to consider that I might be wrong -- the only think Mukasey could do is say what he would and wouldn't do after he conducts an investigation, if he's confirmed in office.

One doesn't actually want an Attorney-General to make legal judgements without actual evidence, investigations, depositions, witnesses, and so on. We don't want them announcing they don't need any of that, they've already formed conclusions.

At least, I don't. I'm not sure you've considered the implications of what you said here, Edward. Things like "evidence" and testimony and such are necessary before forming a legal conclusion. "I am outraged by what I've read in the newspaper" is fine for me and thee to form opinions, but I damn well don't want the Justice Department to form legal opinions solely on that basis.

And since Mukasey hasn't been any more in the Administration than you or I, he has no other basis for passing a legal judgment, let alone for "admitting" what the President has done, than he would if he consulted the Psychic Phone Network.

Do you see what's wrong with what you said here? Requiring legal evidence of a thing isn't at all "is either too naive to change things or unlikely to stand up to him later."

What you're asking is no different from saying that a judge who hasn't yet tried a case, but is unwilling to pass judgement simply on the basis of news and tv reports, is "is either too naive to change things or unlikely to stand up [...] later."

It would be wrong for the Attorney-General nominee of the U.S. to do what you say he should do. It would be doing precisely what you (and I) rightfully object to: acting completely lawlessly.

The right thing for him to do is announce that there will be a thorough investigation into any possible violations of the human rights of anyone in U.S. custody, and that anyone who has violated the law, whatever their position, will be pursued by the full extent of the U.S. government.

Acting outside the law, on the basis of rumor, without investigation, however: no.

bc: "Instead of asking what should be disallowed as torture, what should be allowed as non-torture?"

Assuming you don't hate your mother, how about, whatever you're prepared to have her, and your children, and your grandchildren, and their children, withstand whenever arrested?

Because everyone has a family. And anyone can be mistakenly suspected of, or believed to be, a terrorist.

That last is one a lot of people have trouble understanding; it's not just a swarthy Saudi Arabian named "Achmed" who might get picked up; what we're talking about are the standards we're all subject to.

Failing that, I'd be happy to go with the legal standard that prevailed in United States law until the year 2000.

The same standard by which we condemned Soviet and Nazi and other totalitarian use of stress positions, sleep deprivation, temperature extremes, waterboarding, and so on, as torture, when used against Americans or anyone else. Are you uncomfortable with that? Do you feel that we now have a sudden need to adopt Nazi and KGB torture techniques that we never needed when we were actually fighting the Nazis and in a Cold War with the communists?

If so, why?

I never fail to be impressed at how many Americans are so eager to leap to employ that which we have always regarded as, and prosecuted, as, and denounced to the world as, torture, when it was the KGB, the Chinese Communists, and the Nazis, doing it.

Or to put it yet one more way: bc, if al Qaeda, Myanmar, Syria, Iran, North Korea, a rebel group in the Congo, whichever country or group hostile to the U.S., captures/kidnaps five American soldiers, and proceeds to incarcerate them, using freezing temperatures, depriving them of sleep for days at a time, puts them in cages where they can neither stand or sit, subjects them to intense noise for days on end, as well as other disorienting techniques, including hooding them for long periods of time, perhaps days, but doesn't physically strike them harder than with head slaps, would you say the U.S. position should be: fine with us! Do that all you want to 19-year-old Spec. Susie Smith! It's not torture! It's just legitimate enhanced questioning!?

Is that a way you'd support our troops?

Not to mention that the techniques we're adopting were used by those regimes not so much to get real information as to get confessions, to whatever they wanted the prisoners to confess to. And that's what they're effective for: obtaining bogus confessions for show trials.

On what basis would Mukasey claim to "know" that there's been torture?

You don't mean what evidence is there of torture, though, do you Gary? The Abu Ghraib photographs, the well-documented Bagram incident conviction, etc. Clearly this is evidence of torture enough for anyone, no?

You mean on what basis would Mukasey claim to know there's been an order by the President for torture, no?

Yes, clearly one needs to piece together the evidence (with the lazy MSM that we have unwilling to do so) to conclude he has indeed ordered the torture, but there's plenty of evidence that torture has taken place, without relying on nebulous newspaper claims or captured suspects' reports.

As for whether he actually "condones" torture, I feel strongly that any other explanation for why he keeps ordering his lawyers to more narrowly define what "torture" is requires a stupefying leap of imagination and suspension of belief. The fact that he, as Commander in Chief, refuses to define what he sees as "torture" as well, but instead relies on the moronically transparent insistence that it's what the law says it is and we don't do it (especially in light of the shifting definitions of what the law says it is) further suggests that only a world-class fool would sincerely give the POTUS the benefit of the doubt on this.

Yes, before he's locked up and dragged to the Hague, I would like to see some hard evidence too and see him have the chance to offer a defense ...Yes, I understand what you're saying, but I am thoroughly exhausted with being asked to give this chronic liar the benefit of the doubt. With the current evidence available that torture has happened combined with the current evidence available that he keeps trying to cover his own *ss on the matter, I would in very good conscience vote to convict him on charges of war crimes. Besides, the presumption of innocence before being considered guilty is not a civil liberty he extends to those he deems enemy combattants...I can't stomach the suggestion that he is worthy of it himself.

suspension of belief s/b "of disbelief"

and link for Bagram conviction is here.

Mukasey hedges horribly on whether waterboarding is torture or not. This is who we've become? A nation of cowards willing to let our government do this to other people so long as we can find some semantic device to convince us we're still acting within "the law"? These are the values we're seeking to inflict on the rest of the world?

Mukasey, Cheney, Bush and the whole lot of them should be asked whether waterboarding is torture after they're subjected to it anonymously by the same CIA agents they're unleashing on those people captured or handed over by questionable sources.

"You don't mean what evidence is there of torture, though, do you Gary? The Abu Ghraib photographs, the well-documented Bagram incident conviction, etc. Clearly this is evidence of torture enough for anyone, no?"

Edward, I'm unaware that Michael Mukasey is in legal possession of this evidence, and that he has obtained it in a way consistent with the legal chain of evidence being preserved.

If he does, you're correct. I don't believe it's legally possible, since Mukasey retired in June 2006, and he'd likely have to still be a sitting Federal judge, whose court the evidence had been legally submitted to in an actual case, but hypothetically.

Absent that, no, he doesn't legally have that evidence. Neither do you or I. Do you grok what "evidence" means, legally? It's not "what I read in the newspaper," darnit.

That's why he should be required to commit to a full independent investigation of the U.S. government's alleged use of torture, to pursue anyone who may have violated the world, and so on, as a condition of his confirmation.

But right now, he has no more authority than you or I, and legally knows know more than you or I, which, of course, nothing. We only know rumor and hearsay.

You seem to have trouble here grasping the distinction between what's legal and isn't. What you're advocating is emotionally understandable, but it's pure illegal vigilantism. "Don't bother me with courts, or rules of evidence! Hang the son of a bitch!"

Understandable, but not what we want our Attorney-General to be doing, not a principle we want to establish, not a precedent we want to set, and, you know, not the way to re-establish the rule of law.

The rule of law requires process. Not determining guilt, and then holding the investigation, let alone trial, let alone throwing out the investigation and trial, because we're sure from the newspapers that we know the facts.

Rant all you want about Bush, and I'm wish you. Seriously advocate that an A-G nominee should act without regard to the law, and I'll point out to you that you're advocating a terrible thing, with utterly evil consequences.

Mukasey is, for now, a private citizen. You're demanding he act lawlessly. That would be, you know, a rather bad precedent, don't you think?

You're not a court of law; we've not granted you the personal right to legally declare who does and doesn't get the right of law depending on your emotional feelings about them.

Y'know, because that sort of thing would be a bad idea.

Woah, Gary. I never meant to suggest through my question that I supported all of what you apparently think I do. I don't believe in the techniques you mentioned for the reasons you stated. I just think we spend too much time talking about what most of us agree is no good and not enough time talking about what works.

Part of the reason for my request for specificity is that we talk in generalities too often. Take for example your question. My mother never has been in the military. Now if my son were (he's only 2 now), first of all, all nations would tremble. The kid is a walking WMD!!

Seriously, if he were, I would expect him to be subjected to certain treatment that i would not expect of a typical citizen-he would be in uniform. Nobody should complain that an enemy captured combatant is held in confinement during war, for example, even if they have not done anything else but worn the uniform. Bringing my mother into this broadens the issue beyond what I think are the real issues. We are dealing with a prolonged conflict with a nationless combatant that is out to really get us. Access to counsel, length of confinement, definition of enemy combatant were all legit issues. But the existence of these issues was never a justification for torture. We agree on that.

But it is not fair to use as a comparison (only) a regular citizen of the U.S. I think the military comparison is far more appropriate.

I suppose your mother isn't Swiss:

Under detailed questioning by a federal judge, government lawyers asserted Wednesday the U.S. military can hold foreigners indefinitely as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, even if they aided terrorists unintentionally and never fought the United States.

Could a “little old lady in Switzerland” who sent a check to an orphanage in Afghanistan be taken into custody if unbeknownst to her some of her donation was passed to al-Qaida terrorists? asked U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green.

“She could,” replied Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle. “Someone’s intention is clearly not a factor that would disable detention.”

This isn't just about people captured on the battlefield.

In any case, the reason we discuss "what most of us agree is no good" so much is that what most of us think is apparently very different from what the moral degenerates actually making the decisions think.

"Nobody should complain that an enemy captured combatant is held in confinement during war, for example, even if they have not done anything else but worn the uniform."

I agree. Few would argue.

But our current problems arose over an Executive who invented a doctrine that says that he can declare anyone, specifically including any American citizen anywhere in the United States, a "combatant," and, further, an "unlawful combatant," and that neither the courts nor Congress had any say over anything whatever the President authorized to be done to such a person, including killing them.

"But it is not fair to use as a comparison (only) a regular citizen of the U.S."

It's exactly what we're talking about. See the two links, and go read up on this subject; you're several years behind on the facts and arguments, I'm afraid. But more power to you for now looking into it!

What we all want is the right balance between safety, and our American freedoms, of course. You're familiar with what Franklin said about that, right?

"But it is not fair to use as a comparison (only) a regular citizen of the U.S. I think the military comparison is far more appropriate."

Maybe I don't understand what you mean by this. The administration hasn't been only kidnapping, buying, or imprisoning, only military personnel, or people in uniforms. The entire issue of Hamdi was exactly that of whether the U.S. could declare any U.S. citizen an "enemy combatant" with us citizens having no legal right to challenge it in U.S. courts. (Because we'd have been declared "terrorists" and "enemy combatants," and they shouldn't have rights, you know.)

Have you actually followed Hamdi, or the relevant arguments at all?

Because, yeah, this is what we're talking about.

I recommend reading at least all the posts here, and I'd also commend the archives of Balkinization to you.

Meanwhile, Judge Mukasey waffles on whether waterboarding is torture. Bleh.

Short version:

I can do whatever I want to whatever (whoever) falls into category "X."

I have the sole authority to determine what (who) falls into category "X"

Therefore, I can do whatever I want to anything (anyone).

bc,

"We are dealing with a prolonged conflict with a nationless combatant that is out to really get us. Access to counsel, length of confinement, definition of enemy combatant were all legit issues."

Part of the problem is that you are simply assuming the relevant facts to answer the question you pose in your hypothetical. You are assuming that every person we capture is a member of Al Qu'eda, which has regularly been proven to be false.

You are further up in this discussion assuming that a person who we capture we already know has relevant information on a imminent attack, but which we know very little about, so that torturing the person will give us the information needed to defuse the attack, which simply will not be true outside of a Hollywood script.

But it is not fair to use as a comparison (only) a regular citizen of the U.S. I think the military comparison is far more appropriate.

bc, I am a British citizen, and in theory at least, my country and the US are allies in this "war". But at least nine "regular citizens" of the UK have been kidnapped, sent to Guantanamo Bay, held there for years, tortured, and finally - after, as I said, years of pressure from an allied government - grudgingly returned to the UK, often with threats that, should any of them attempt to leave the country, the US might kidnap them again. The Brits who were kidnapped, imprisoned, and finally returned say that by comparison they were treated relatively well: prisoners without governments to fight their corner (such as the hundreds of people kidnapped from Afghanistan, or a couple of Uighur Chinese) were treated far worse, and of course had less hope of release. Katherine's series of posts on Mahar Arar concern a Canadian citizen who was taken prisoner on route home to Canada through a US airport, and shipped overseas to be tortured in Syria. The Canadian government eventually secured his release.

And, as others have pointed out, this can also happen to "regular US citizens", too: indeed, it's known to have happened in at least one instance.

When life started to get back to normal after the 9/11 attacks, I started thinking that the attacks failed to have a significant effect beyond the short-term destruction. Now that we're having these discussions about these (and other) policies that we would likely not otherwise be having, and considering what's going on in Iraq (and Afghanistan because of Iraq), I have come to realize what success AQ achieved on 9/11. And it was such a transparent ploy. Sickening.

"Katherine's series of posts on Mahar Arar concern a Canadian citizen who was taken prisoner on route home to Canada through a US airport, and shipped overseas to be tortured in Syria."

What Jes fails to mention here is the crucial point that Maher Arar has been famously determined to be perfectly innocent of any crime other than being confused with someone else.

I can't emphasize enough how much you should read up on these cases.

Arar testified before Congress today, btw. A bunch of them apologized, from both parties.
Though naturally Dana Rohrbacher then wanted him to understand that the purpose of rendition was to keep his children safe from a terrorist attack.

Bill Delahunt keeps talking about the need for a criminal investigation, & Jerrold Nadler told Arar he'd looked at the classified evidence keeping him on the watch list, & there was nothing there.

Even the Khmer Rouge knew that torture could not be used to obtain reliable, actionable intelligence. Torture was used as a means to terrorize suspected dissidents to create a more servile population.

It is my OPINION the current administration understands the point I just made. The "extreme interrogation" methods are being used to terrorize Muslims. Why? To create fear amongst those who might be inclined to do us and our allies harm. We can see how well its working. Again--this is my opinion.

Even the Khmer Rouge knew that torture could not be used to obtain reliable, actionable intelligence. Torture was used as a means to terrorize suspected dissidents to create a more servile population.

It is my OPINION the current administration understands the point I just made. The "extreme interrogation" methods are being used to terrorize Muslims. Why? To create fear amongst those who might be inclined to do us and our allies harm. We can see how well its working. Again--this is my opinion.

"Arar testified before Congress today, btw."

And if anyone would like to read about it, you can here, here, and so on.

There's also this:

OTTAWA -- A federal inquiry into the overseas detention and alleged torture of three Arab-Canadian men has collected more than 26,000 documents -- none of which have been made public.

A new legal application to make more of the inquiry's work public reveals that it now holds considerably more documents than the Arar commission.

But unlike the Arar commission, which reviewed 21,500 documents for national security concerns and then released heavily censored versions, the inquiry headed by retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci has not made public a single page.

"It is obviously troubling," said Jasminka Kalajdzic, lawyer for Ottawa engineer Abdullah Almalki. "Our interpretation of the rules of the inquiry speak to a need for ensuring information that is essential to national security be kept private, but it cannot be that 26,000 documents are all subject to a national security claim."

The Iacobucci inquiry is examining the role of Canadian police, spies and diplomats in the detention, interrogation and alleged mistreatment of Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin.

The men allege that, much like Maher Arar, they were tortured in Syria for answers to questions that could only have originated from Canadian security agencies.

In Almalki's case it has already been established by the Arar commission that the RCMP passed questions for him to Syrian Military Intelligence through Canadian diplomats. Last week, the men appealed to the prime minister to open the inquiry to public scrutiny, but Stephen Harper said Iacobucci already has a mandate broad enough to do that.

Lawyers for the men and other intervenors have now launched a legal gambit to pry open the inquiry.

There's more.

But right now, he has no more authority than you or I, and legally knows know more than you or I

Unless he's been living under a rock for the last six years, he knows what waterboarding is, but he won't give a simple, unambiguous answer to the question of whether it's torture or not.

From good old Wikipedia:

In its 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. Department of State formally recognized "submersion of the head in water" as torture in its examination of Tunisia's poor human rights record

and:

the United States prosecuted a Japanese military officer, Yukio Asano, in 1947 for carrying out a form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian during World War II. Yukio Asano received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor

"Is waterboarding torture or not?"

It's not a hard question. Any honest person interested in giving a candid answer could do it in exactly one syllable.

To answer bc's questions upthread:

The legal definition of torture as found in the US code can be found here.

The Geneva Convention language on treatment of prisoners is here.

The UN Convention Against Torture is here.

Anything not allowed in any of the above is not allowed to any US national.
Anything allowed by the above might be OK.

Here is a pretty good discussion of the implications of Geneva wrt our current policies, courtesy of those dirty surrender monkey hippies at Human Rights Watch.

That'll keep you busy for a little while, anyway. Put the kids to bed, make a cup of coffee, and dig in.

Thanks -

"Unless he's been living under a rock for the last six years, he knows what waterboarding is, but he won't give a simple, unambiguous answer to the question of whether it's torture or not."

Yes, that's true, and it's dreadful.

It also has nothing whatever to do with Mukasey's legal powers at present, which are zero, which is the point I was making.

"None of the statements that I’ve read today give me any real information or reassurance about what he will do as Attorney General."

I have to disagree. The statements that you list, yes, tell us nothing. But his other statements told us plenty. Unfortunately, and we need to start admitting this, the picture looks bad.

Some examples of what I learned watching the hearing so far:(check out my blog tonight to get the exact words and my sources)

1) Mukasey thinks criminal laws (aka the Constitution) do not necessarily apply to the "war on terror"

2) He would not restore habeas corpus

3) He is not going to stop Bush's wiretapping

4) He is willing to change the rules of the Justice Department to make otherwise illegal things legal (specifically - to get subpoenas of reporters that would otherwise be denied)

It's time to start raising hell to get this confirmation opposed.

The response to this should be obvious:

[...] Mr. Mukasey declined to discuss recent news reports that the Justice Department, after rescinding the original opinion on harsh interrogation techniques, produced two secret legal opinions in 2005 that authorized similar techniques in terrorism cases.

He said he could not comment on the later memorandums because he had not read them; he said he intended to review them early in his tenure at the Justice Department.

So mandate that he read them by Monday, and be prepared to answer detailed questions about them by Monday's hearings.

And, equally obviously, press him on what definitions of "torture" the U.S. government should use, and whether or not they specifically do or do not include water-boarding, and then go through all the other known techniques excluded from the Army Manual, and tell him that either he gives an opinion on which of these are or aren't torture, or be prepared to not be confirmed.

Sure, sure, he opposes torture.... but we don't torture, remember?

I mean, this is a guy who won't plunk as to whether or not waterboarding counts as torture. There's nobody in politics today who isn't familiar with what that entails, pretending that he isn't is either deeply derelict or utterly deceitful.

"There's nobody in politics today who isn't familiar with what that entails, pretending that he isn't is either deeply derelict or utterly deceitful."

There's another alternative. I don't say it's what it is; it just strikes me as a possibility that would need to be excluded to exclude it.

And it's that this is a guy whose life career is being a federal judge. Not a prosecutor or administrator.

I'd ask the lawyers here if they think it's possible he's just being exceedingly judicial, and lawyerly, in his responses, as if he were again being nominated to a judicial post? Or does it he strike you as being more mendacious than that?

Edward, I'm unaware that Michael Mukasey is in legal possession of this evidence, and that he has obtained it in a way consistent with the legal chain of evidence being preserved.

I'm truly at a loss here Gary. How is a conviction for abusing a prisoner at the Bagram prison, via a court martial, not adequate EVIDENCE of torture? How are the extremely well documented photographs of abuse at Abu Grhaib not EVIDENCE of torture?

You might be making a difference between conclusive evidence and regular evidence (but you're not making that point here, so I'm merely giving you the benefit of doubt), but I know of no court in the land where a conviction of abuse wouldn't be seen as concrete evidence, do you?

"What Jes fails to mention here is the crucial point that Maher Arar has been famously determined to be perfectly innocent of any crime other than being confused with someone else." --Gary

Yes it is important read about Maher Arar's case but one should get their facts straight. He was not "confused with someone else"; that would more likely be Khaled el-Masri.

You might be making a difference between conclusive evidence and regular evidence

There is an interesting point here, which is what should be regarded as sufficient evidence to not confirm Mukasey? Certainly a confirmation hearing is not a legal trial, and one could claim that I am willing to regard this as evidence because this is a Bush appointee, but think that it would not in the case of a Clinton appointee (can't think of any exact parallels, but Henry Foster comes to mind) However, on the background of the previous AG and what seems to me to be obvious perjury during his confirmation hearing, I would think that there should be a demand for a higher level of truthfulness in this particular case, which means that 'evidence' should be taken more broadly.

But I think that the argument over what is evidence would be superseded by Gary's 7:06 questions or the ones he linked to at 12:42. I strongly feel that if those questions were put to Mukasey, his answers would render him unconfirmable and this argument over what is evidence would be moot.

"I'm truly at a loss here Gary. How is a conviction for abusing a prisoner at the Bagram prison, via a court martial, not adequate EVIDENCE of torture?"

Because Mukasey hasn't seen any evidence that's been preserved through the chain-of-evidence, and vetted by a court.

I think I've explained this more than once now.

Edward, have you any familiarity at all with what "evidence" means, legally?

Mukasey hasn't seen anything submitting under (FRE) Rule 401, I expect, or under any of the other evidentiary rules. There's been no test of burden of proof, no foundation laid, no examination or cross, no legal ruling on that which may be submitted, or excluded, all, of course, because there's been no legal process Mukasey has been part of, so such things haven't been options for him.

Which I keep repeating over and over, to apparently deaf ears, because I persist in pointing out that when someone is at their Senate confirmation hearings for Attorney-General of the United States of America, they are speaking as carefully and precisely as they can in legal terms. And they need to act according to the rule of law: that's the whole point, and the goal we're aiming to get back to.

You, on the other hand, are using the popular and general, completely non-legal usage of "evidence," which is entirely irrelevant when the subject is what an A-G nominee can say legally.

Mukasey has seen no legal evidence. Therefore he can't make binding legal pronouncements about it. There are severe limits on what he can say, within the law, and the ethics of the law. You understand that, right?

What he can do is make more general pronouncements, some of which he has, but much of which it seems that he needs to be pressed harder about, although I can't seriously speak to this until I read the actual transcripts, rather than the summaries in news stories.

What would be difficult for him to do would be to make a legal pronouncement by "com[ing] right out and admit[ing] that this President has already ordered torture and has already condoned it," when all he knows is what he's read in the newspaper.

Thus again, he can't, speaking as A-G or A-G nominee, pronounce legally on something he has no legal justification for. Thus, he can only pronounce on what he does know of the past -- which is what he's read in the newspapers, and thus he can't speak to in detail legally -- and what he intends to do to investigate in the future, so he does have actual legal evidence, and thus can make an actual legal judgment.

There's a reason we have court processes, rather than vigilante mobs, and the same is supposed to go for the Justice Department -- not that they're a court, but that they have procedures, and process, and guidelines, and follow them -- the lack of the Bush Administration's adhering to this sort of thing is the very issue at stake, and why it's so important to emphasize the rule of law, rather than sweeping it away to get more quickly the results we want.

So, yeah, I'm not inclined to surrender the rule of law, and process, in this, for the sake of hearing some feel-good rhetoric from the possible next chief law enforcement officer of the united States. I want him to obey the law, instead; that's my priority. YMMV.

Let me take one stab at a hypothetical: A Democratic President we like is in office. There are a lot of reports in the newspapers about things the President did wrong, before being President. Maybe they were allegations of financial misdeeds in a land deal. Maybe they're allegations of murdering an aide, or a drug-dealing past. Whatever.

Say for months, news stories that sound very credible appear in all the newspapers and tv news broadcasts and blogs of the land, so that much of the populace is convinced of the truth of these allegations. "Everyone knows" that the President, and maybe his spouse, are guilty of terrible crimes, even though there's been no trial or legal process yet.

And, the Attorney-General resigns, and a new one has been nominated and is undergoing confirmation hearings.

The hostile Republicans grill the nominee: "Won't you won't come right out, A-G Nominee, and admit that this President has already ordered theft/murder/drug-dealing/treason/littering?!"

Should the A-G nominee, not previously part of the administration, stand up and denounce the crimes of the President, based solely on newspaper and tv reports, with no legal process whatever?

Is that the generic standard you're advocating?

Note that in the hypothetical, the actual truth or falsity of the charges isn't known, and can't matter. So: good idea for how we want to run our legal system?

I appreciate Katherine's excellence of reporting, and the humaneness that permeates much commentary here. I could imagine an arab free country with democracy, really exciting elections and campaigns, and a blog in that hypothetical realm in which a kibbitzing troll might suggest, hey, US has admitted tortcha is situation normal for asymmetrical conflicts; what would you do if the US...ellipsis.

A moment passes. Take a breath. If there is a change in leadership in 2008 elections, it might be a cathartic exercise to see how much history of tortcha there is in the US going wayback. We educate our children to the ways of conflict.

GF, I appreciate the ongoing studiousness of the available public documentation to which links are provided.

I thing Chuck Schumer has opted for a best solution, given the kind of utter loss the administration expresses with respect to so many policies.

I agree with the commenter who listed a wide spectrum of what the next leader of DoJ might be expected to accomplish; principally, the idea would be to protect all the folks who have run that department for the past seven years, and make some principled stands for the duration of the new officeholder's tenure, about 15 months longer; though there is some possibility that RG would retain Mukasey a while if elected. AfJ has aggregated a few interesting conservative case histories there. I wonder if olc developed a history of US tortcha before that prior president's taking a stand in diplomatic communication at the time of the caning incident. I think all this unseemly modern history provides ample opportunity for the 2008 elections to provide a new dawn in US policy and diplomacy; but it is pretty cramped right now trying to see how our constitution and recent lawmaking in the 109th and 110th congresses will project us to that threshold and beyond; it seems like we will traverse this, even if Mukasey is less than a libertarian, and quantifiably right of his own party's center.

Well, I'm somewhere between "Huh?!?" and "What's all this about an arab free country", but the Alliance For Justice link is pretty good.

So thanks for that.

"GF, I appreciate the ongoing studiousness of the available public documentation to which links are provided."

Thanks, I hypothesize.

No offense, but is English your second language? Or do you use a translation program?

Mm, that looks more critical, and less genuine question, than I intended. Sorry about that. It's just that your phrasings tend to be somewhat unusual, as well as jammed with the passive voice. But I didn't mean any sort of slam, or unpleasant snottiness.

I would sit that terrorist down and look him straight in the eye and say, "Kid, the only way we're getting out of this hypothetical is if we work together.

"And I've gotta tell you. It's going to be rough, and it's going to be tough, and the odds are better than even that even if we both give it all we got, we're coming out in counterfactualstan."

What's he going to do? Spit dramatically to the side and hold out for a big-budget summer action movie or nothing? The guy's a terrorist. He *lives* to make whatever point the people talking about him want to make.

I promise you. He'll be putty in my hands.

None of the statements that I’ve read today give me any real information or reassurance about what he will do as Attorney General. Not without a specific denunciation of the 2004 and 2005 OLC torture memos; or a willingness to say that specific techniques like waterboarding, hypothermia, and painful stress positions are banned; or a pledge to release the publicly release the legal justifications for “enhanced interrogation” & wireless surveillance instead of treating the administration’s constitutional law arguments as state secrets. The statements that “I categorically denounce torture,” “the United States doesn’t torture,” “torture is antithetical to our values”—they are meaningless from members of this administration. It’s past time for the press to learn this, and to stop writing credulous headlines about how the “Attorney General Nominee Rejects Torture.”
Right on target. It's maddening that we even have to be discussing definitional questions about "torture" but I guess everything under the sun is OK if it safeguards the "Homeland."

I saw the nominee's bobbing and weaving in response to specific waterboarding questions the second, more confrontational day of his confirmation hearing. It's nonsense that he doesn't know much about the waterboarding technique: calculated ignorance IMHO.

It is unbelievably depressing to contemplate the moral depths to which the Bush Administration has dragged this country.

I could imagine an arab free country

It's just that your phrasings tend to be somewhat unusual

Aha. Do you mean a "free Arab country", rather than an "Arab-free country" as I originally read you?

Sorry to be slow on the uptake.

Thanks -

http://www.samefacts.com/archives/torture_/2007/10/drawing_the_line.php>Kleiman has it exactly right, and Judge Mukasey has made it very easy. Vote No.

As does http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2007/10/18/7298>Thoreau.

Here are three videos [1,2,3] showing "highlights" of the Arar testimony yesterday in the House.

Checking C-Span I don't see any links showing the full session.

Charley--pretty much. Yesterday made things simple; I'm calling Durbin and Obama today.

when someone is at their Senate confirmation hearings for Attorney-General of the United States of America, they are speaking as carefully and precisely as they can in legal terms.

Or, alternatively, and in a recent example provided to us by Katherine, they're lying through their teeth when they're not seeking to avoid answering questions altogether.

Mukasey said "We don't torture." In Gary's view of evidence*, he has no basis for asserting this either.

*Full trial sense, as if the candidate for political confirmation were rendering a judicial ruling -- I don't agree with G's view here at at.

A commenter at Jim Henley's said that Mukasey told the committee that Hamdi found the opposite of what it did.

Correct interpretation of a major Supreme Court case would seem to be a requirement for Attorney General. Has anyone followed the testimony closely enough to comment on that bit? I'll ask the commenter for a cite.

Cartoonist Dan Wasserman has been on a roll recently. His latest is germane to today's topic.

rebecca b--

awesome post! not sure what it means, but very witty!

Has John Thullen changed his name?

Lovely:

US officials did not violate any clearly established constitutional rights when they held a US citizen in isolated military detention without charge for nearly four years and subjected him to harsh interrogation techniques.

That's the legal position staked out by Justice Department lawyers who are urging a federal judge in Charleston, S.C., to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of Jose Padilla against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and nine other current or former US officials.

Anybody got a link to the filing?

I'll send you a copy offline, Ugh.

Thanks CharleyC.

"Mukasey said 'We don't torture.' In Gary's view of evidence*, he has no basis for asserting this either."

That's correct. He should be saying that it's illegal for the U.S. to torture (check), that it's wrong for the U.S. to torture (check), and that thorough investigations will be carried out as to whether there was torture, whether the law was violated, and that the investigations will be carried out without regard to politics. If they feel it a good idea, the Judiciary Committee should press him to commit to a special prosecutor, and might also want to examine writing a new independent counsel law, again.

Needless to say, none of the latter has happened yet, and I'm not counting on it.

I'm thoroughly down with Mark, as I generally tend to be. It's more important to have an Attorney-General who won't contenance torture than it is to have an Attorney-General.

And just on the off-chance that anyone isn't entirely clear, I see no reason Mukasey shouldn't be able to declare right now that water-boarding is torture. If he claims he needs more information, the committee should give him a couple of days, and a deadline, to get informed, and come back and testify about water-boarding. If he weasels, no confirmation.

Dang. Nell stole some of my thunder:

Mukasey said "We don't torture." In Gary's view of evidence*, he has no basis for asserting this either.

To which I would add that the legal context you (Gary) are invoking (rules of evidence, chains of custody) is not in effect, and I'm surprised to see you argue that it is.

Mukasey is simply under oath, no more than that. His statements are not otherwise constrained; either in the way that they would be if he were in fact an officer of the law, or in the way that they would be if confirmation hearings constituted a form of trial. Hearing != Trial. Even the Senators are not officers of the law here. If Whitehouse wanted to spend all his time claiming that Mukasey eats babies with puppy sauce, and support that assertion with photoshopped pictures, there would be no legal problem. If Mukasey wanted to crank out ten minutes of pure unadulterated hearsay there wouldn't even be a political problem, let alone a legal one.

So if hearsay is allowed why would Mukasey be under any obligation to split any other sort of evidentiary hair? Simply because you find those other hairs more splitworthy? If there are rules of evidence for congressional hearings then be so kind as to point them out to me, because I've certainly never heard of such a thing.

I see no reason Mukasey shouldn't be able to declare right now that water-boarding is torture.

Hmm... I can see how this is different from saying that torture has taken place, or that civilian officials ordered it. But at the same time you seem to be saying that if he asks for time to inform himself about whether waterboarding constitutes torture it should be given to him as a matter of courtesy rather than a matter of law. I can only assume that you agree that he doesn't have to be given time to inform himself "officially" because he has no standing as an official in this context.

"Mukasey said 'We don't torture.' In Gary's view of evidence*, he has no basis for asserting this either."

heh....

wish I had thought of that...nice one!

"To which I would add that the legal context you (Gary) are invoking (rules of evidence, chains of custody) is not in effect, and I'm surprised to see you argue that it is."

I didn't. I was discussing two things: 1) what limits Mukasey might feel he was under, however correct or incorrect; and 2) that there are limits as to how much I think it's a good idea for the prospective chief law enforcement officer of the United States to be speaking loosely, on the basis only of hearsay, in issuing legal condemnations at their confirmation hearing.

I certainly at no time argued that confirmation hearings have or should have the rules of a court.

I'll re-emphasize for the nth time that my argument with Edward was purely over his specific phrasing and specific claim, and nothing else. (As usual; it drives me crazy when people start imagining all sort of notions about what I really meant, and imagining I had all sorts of larger points in mind, when I absolutely didn't.)

"I can only assume that you agree that he doesn't have to be given time to inform himself 'officially' because he has no standing as an official in this context."

I'm not sure why this is a point of any interest, and thus I'm not sure I understand your question, but if I understand it, I think I agree, even if I have no idea why you're making it.

"wish I had thought of that...nice one!"

Was it also a nice one when I said it?

Did you have a substantive point to make, Edward?

Purely as a political matter, it'd be a bad idea for a prosecutor to appear to prejudge the outcome of a potential criminal investigation. I wouldn't want a Democratic nominee for Attorney General in 2009 saying "High officials in the last administration clearly ordered torture & I will make them pay." If your subordinates going to be investigating whether to charge someone with a crime, you shouldn't be making statements about their guilt beforehand. It's not appropriate & it's politically stupid.

Katherine: "Purely as a political matter, it'd be a bad idea for a prosecutor to appear to prejudge the outcome of a potential criminal investigation."

This is all I've been saying. Or trying to get across, at least.

We can rant and rave and prejudge all we want, but it's not appropriate for any Attorney-General nominee to do so in any circumstances. Not for Osama bin Laden, not for They Found Hitler's Brain, and not even for George W. Bush.

On the other hand, noticing and stating that waterboarding is torture isn't prejuding anything: it's a statement of historic and contemporary evaluation.

No Gary. Nothing substantive at all. Mere appreciation of the twist of your phrase toward the entertainment of the crowd.

And your point (and Gary's point, kind of...ish) is of course the more mature/professional on the matter, K, but outside the world of legal protocol and all that, in the less formal court of public opinion (i.e., including blogs), I don't mind saying that Mukasey's claim to a purist ethical standard is undercut somewhat to my mind by his accepting the job at all.

I don't mean to suggest he's not ethical. He comes highly recommended.

Just that I suspect he's a bit too aligned with the President's thinking on issues like torture and such to seriously investigate whether he condoned/ordered torture and if he's going to cite such purity as his yardstick, he's already made a mockery of it in my book by agreeing to work for the POTUS who has done so much damage to the system his purity stems from.

He should be saying that it's illegal for the U.S. to torture (check), that it's wrong for the U.S. to torture (check), and that thorough investigations will be carried out as to whether there was torture, whether the law was violated, and that the investigations will be carried out without regard to politics.

I think that about nails it.

Thanks -

what's there to discuss?

you don't need to know anything about Mukasey to know he'll be a disaster; you only need to know that Bush chose him. Bush chose Mukasey for the position that could, if Mukasey was of a mind to pursue it, cause Bush the most legal trouble of any other position in the government. Bush is a terrible president, but he's not so dumb that he'd put someone in that job who would focus even the slightest bit of legal attention into sensitive areas.

"No Gary. Nothing substantive at all. Mere appreciation of the twist of your phrase toward the entertainment of the crowd."

Any possibility you might care to respond to my substantive question to you at the end of 10:44 p.m. last night, and to the point that, as phrased by Katherine, it would be "a bad idea for a prosecutor to appear to prejudge the outcome of a potential criminal investigation"?

Should all Attorney-Generals, and A-G nominees announce the guilt of suspects prior to any investigation or legal proceedings, or only when it's people we really really don't like?

Is that the principle you're defending?

(Incidentally, the two examples you cite are poor ones, because the obvious defense would be that they don't represent the policy of the U.S. government; that defense might well fail, in court, as it ultimately should in some case or other, but it hasn't been tried in court, and thus is eminently legally testable at this point, and thus not remotely the uncontrovertible EVIDENCE, as you so prefer to capitalize [always a devastatingly convincing technique: when logic fails, and the point is purely emotional chest-beating, shout], you seem to think it is, setting aside my previous points about chain-of-custody, etc., for what Mukasey "knows," as opposed to has read in the newspaper, and is familiar with as hearsay.)

"I don't mind saying that Mukasey's claim to a purist ethical standard is undercut somewhat to my mind by his accepting the job at all."

Gee, neither do I mind saying that in the slightest, of course. Nor many far harsher things, like that he shouldn't be confirmed if he doesn't do things along the lines of what I've previously described.

"And your point (and Gary's point, kind of...ish) is of course the more mature/professional on the matter...."

I accept your apology, and admission of error.

russell: "I think that about nails it."

Thanks. I'm also outraged at this hour about the push for giving the telcos immunity; cited rationale?

U.S. intelligence officials are keen to ensure that the companies will not be discouraged from cooperating in the future because of liabilities stemming from the lawsuits that could reach billions of dollars.
That's "will not be discouraged from cooperating in the future" with the government in breaking the law, to illegally spy on citizens.

I have the wacky notion that the telcos, and anyone else, should be discouraged from that.

If the Telcos have a good case that their breaking the law was justifiable, let them make it in court.

At the very worst, if they're convicted, and the President -- or better, the people -- feel[s] it's unjust, leave it to be handled as a pardon, or possibly for Congress to compensate them, with the facts out in the open, and the light of transparency shown so we citizens know what our government, in league with massive corporate power, is doing as regards us little folk.

Leahy gets it right: "He said the reason the administration wants 'to immunize past illegal conduct is because they know that it was illegal conduct.'"

cleek: "you don't need to know anything about Mukasey to know he'll be a disaster; you only need to know that Bush chose him."

Bush chose James Comey and Jack Goldsmith, and a slew of officials who subsequently quit and denounced Bush. Forgotten, say, Paul O'Neill?

That he chose Mukasey because Chuck Schumer pushed him like crazy, along with various other leading Democrats, might be something worth knowing.

That's not all that's worth knowing: what he's said is also worth knowing.

And, lastly, looking at his background, which isn't at all connected to Bush in the slightest, and which shows no signs of him having any specific reasons to kowtow to Bush, is also worth knowing.

None of this is definitive. But it's all relevant, and I'm inclined to condemn him on what he does and doesn't say, rather than on my psychic powers, or yours. But your M may V, of course.

Should all Attorney-Generals, and A-G nominees announce the guilt of suspects prior to any investigation or legal proceedings, or only when it's people we really really don't like?

Hmm, how about John Murtha preemptively pronouncing our Marines guilty of cold blooded murder? Not many ObWi'ers seemed to have a problem with that. Indeed, Gary once asked

Think we'll see a lot of apologies from those who immediately began ranting about the traitor (former Marine Colonel) John Murtha? Yeah, me neither. (Though maybe a handful will; maybe.)

Oh, I see that from QAndO that McQ will

be on WRKO's Pundit Review Radio Sunday at 7pm (680am if you're in the area or you can get it through internet streaming) participating in the first interview CPL Justin Sharatt has given about the incident. We've spoken to Justin's father Darrell a couple of times, but this will be the first time Justin has spoken out (and if I'm not mistaken he's out of the Marine Corps now). It should be an interesting show. The irony of all this is Sharatt's comgressional Rep is the one and only John Murtha.

Do you think that CPL Sharatt will apologize to Jack Murtha (who I think is an earmark honcho, Abscam participant, troop defamer)?

Don't hold your breath waiting for that.

The Weakly Standard has actually declared "law" a Leftist fringe ideology in connection with the telcom amnesty bill.
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/10/19/weekly_standard/index.html>link (Greenwald)

The Weakly Standard has actually declared "law" a Leftist fringe ideology in connection with the telcom amnesty bill.

I think the deal is that lefties think that terrorists deserve all sorts of rights, and that our armed forces and intelligence officers don't have any rights or benefits of the doubt.

My psychic prediction on Mukasey - he'll be good on (mostly) de-politicizing the justice department but will not stop the practice of OLC rubber-stamping whatever the NSA/CIA/Torture Club want to do (I guess that's inconsistent with the whole de-politicization thing, but whatever).

(Torture Club? Hmmm...

Torta Torta Torta Torta Torta chameleon
Its not tor-ture
Its not tor-ture
Torture is easy if your define your terms like me
Head slapping is keen
Head slapping is keen...

Meh.)

I think the deal is that lefties think that terrorists deserve all sorts of rights, and that our armed forces and intelligence officers don't have any rights or benefits of the doubt.

That's right DaveC, I remember all the calls right here at ObWi for bin Laden to be given an official state visit complete with unfettered access to Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johannsen and the gold at Fort Knox (not to mention a luxury box at the Super Bowl and golfing lessons from Tiger Woods at a significantly discounted rate) along with the simultaneous cries for the torture and then summary execution of our armed forces and intelligence officers without trial.

Very clear memories, in fact.

Oh come on, Ugh

It's not anything like that. It is the desire to protect the rights of Gitmo prisoners, etc., which I think that somebody needs to do (but not me), versus the desire to vilify the Bush administration by proxy, by saying how bad our military people are. Quoth Dick Durbin:

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

If I referred you to a website that demonstrated quite clearly how bad our Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas enemies are, you would probably call me a racist. But to take on the very people who are trying to protect our country, well that's OK. Kind of like Obama saying it's more patriotic not to wear a flag pin. That seems pretty far out to me.

Points for a complete non-sequitur attempt at diversion, DaveC.

Such attempts shouldn't be rewarded with an actual diversion, but I'll certainly point out that any attempt to bait me into responding certainly wouldn't go anywhere without your bothering to provide a link to the context of whatever it was I was actually saying.

Next, I'll point out that you have an obsession with Murtha, but never address the fact that various Republican Representatives said the same things he said, as did, you know, Marine spokespeople. Why, that wacky Corps even chose to charge a bunch of soldiers with murder. Why does the Marine Corps hate America, and persecute Marines?

Lastly, I was unaware Jack Murtha had been nominated as Attorney-General, or even to any position in the Justice Department. Get back to us when he is, and you thus have at least the premise for an analogy of some sort, although that will also have to wait for forthcoming charges to be leaked by officials of the U.S. government against George W. Bush.

As for waiting for apologies, I've lost track of how many you've owed me for various lies and hallucinatory charges you've randomly charged me with in similar non-sequiturs over the last couple of years.

Last time around, it was completely making up claims that I myself had declared the Marines guilty of murder, or somesuch; you kept repeating your lies about what I'd said, even though you were utterly unable to come up with any actual, you know, cites or quotes. Since, of course, you were completely lying.

(I believe that you were/are, in fact, genuinely delusional in falsely "remembering" things I'd never written, since you seem to have major filters as to how you read, or reason, or something; I don't actually believe you're consciously lying, but that you simply apparently see certain words, or ideas, or something, and translate them in your head into some sort of "OMG, the treasonous America-hating of it all!!!!"; that's my best guess, anyway.)

It's a very unpleasant style you've adopted in this, in recent years; I continue to hope you'll find a better way of dealing with whatever it is that is at work here.

If I referred you to a website that demonstrated quite clearly how bad our Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas enemies are, you would probably call me a racist.

Yes, DaveC, we're all big fans of those guys. Are you trying to bait people into violating the posting rules by giving your trolling the response it deserves? Consider getting some counseling.

"I think the deal is that lefties think that terrorists deserve all sorts of rights, and that our armed forces and intelligence officers don't have any rights or benefits of the doubt."

Typically accurate. DaveC, why is that you either pay no attention of most of what "the lefties" here actually say, or in making such typical accusations as this, you apparently fail to notice that you're calling us all (the overwhelming majority on record countless times here saying our actual opinions, which utterly contradict this nonsense) liars in in what we actually write here?

But I do believe that all human beings have certain inalienable rights, DaveC. Do you not?

And I do believe in the American Constitution, which promises due process to all people. Why don't you believe in due process, DaveC?

Why do you believe that a single Leader should have the right to unilaterally abrogate the Constitution of the United States, sweep aside the laws of the Union, and and without due process or law, unlaterally declare whomever he likes as a "terrorist," and that that should be all there is to it, DaveC?

Why do you hate freedom, and America, DaveC? Why do you want us to be like Stalinist Russia, and Nazi Germany? Why do you inveigh against our Constitution, and for a Leader to adopt the policies of Stalinist Russia, and Nazi Germany, DaveC?

Why do you not oppose torture, DaveC?

Why are you so frightened? Why do you think totalitarian methods, and having faith in the Leader, are the way to go?

Dick Durbin:

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
Specific the factual inaccuracies for us, please, DaveC, so we may join you in condemning each and every error of fact.

Go for it. You should be able to reel them right off, I'm sure. Do it now, while you're here.

The Weakly Standard has actually declared "law" a Leftist fringe ideology in connection with the telcom amnesty bill.

That piece was definitely way out there, but I think the specific quote you're thinking of was actually Greenwald repeating a satirical quote from himself. I'm not sure if you were actually confused by this (as I was, momentarily) or if you're simply amplifying his point.

"If I referred you to a website that demonstrated quite clearly how bad our Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas enemies are, you would probably call me a racist."

Go ahead and cite us, oh, three previous instances of this happening, DaveC. Do it now. Give us a link to this happening before here, so we see the basis of this claim.

Heck, just give us one link. Just one.

And again we go back to the craziness, the sheer craziness, of these hallucinations of DaveC. I don't know the explanation. Maybe it would kinder to ignore him when he's on these jags, no matter how much they're personal attacks against some of us.

It clearly won't do any good to point out to DaveC that no one disagrees with how evil Al Qaeda is, or has had kind words for them here, and while Hezbollah and Hamas are rather more complicated cases, neither do they tend to have a lot of admirers here; but since such sentiments have already been made endlessly clear, repeating them for a millionth time won't change DaveC's hallucinations.

I might wonder why DaveC doesn't include, say, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as a horrible terrorist group, while he's making up hallucinations of being charged with racism (wtf?).

Why are you so crazy as to claim that people here disagree over "how bad" al Qaeda is?

And why do you refer to Hamas as "our enemy"? Have you made aliyah?

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