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April 25, 2009

Comments

The way to avoid the criminalization of policy differences is to avoid criminal policies.

Pith award of the year to Bernard Yomtov. That's it.

Broder is an ass.

all you need to know about the way he approaches DC politics can be found in his famous quote about Clinton:

    "He came in here and he trashed the place," says Washington Post columnist David Broder, "and it's not his place."

DC wasn't Clinton's place, it isn't Obama's place; it was and still is Broder's place. and Obama must not do anything to make life uncomfortable for the great mandarins of the DC cocktail circuit. Obama needs to forgive and forget. keep the intrigues trivial. don't rock the boat, lest Broder drop his canapes and soil his fine breeches.

Broder was in favor of the impeachment of Clinton and felt that honor compelled Clinton to resign his presidency because Clinton, caught in a perjury trap, denied a liaison that although disreputable was nobody's g-d business. Because where would America be if people lied about sex?

Clearly authorizing torture, detention without recourse to Habeas Corpus, and illegal wiretaps is less of a threat to the nature of our Democracy, and therefore no example of responsibility needs to be set as a lesson to future Presidents. Completely different situation.

Maybe Obama can really make Broder happy by digging up Nixon and pardoning him again?

In other news from the Post, Bybee didn't really mean it.

"On the primary memo, that legitimated and defined torture, he just felt it got away from him"

I didn't know the gun was loaded.

h/t atrios

And how, stranger still, does he presume to know this about everyone who thinks this -- a group that (as Greg Sargent notes) included 62% of the American public before the latest memos were released?

If 62% of the citzenry harbor a desire for vengeance against their former government - vengeance to be carried out by duly enforcing the laws that their former government broke... I'm just not seeing what is the problem with this? It's not as if anyone is suggesting kangaroo trials or extrajudicial imprisonment of the Bush administration - well, okay, such is the poetic justice of such a fate that I have seen many people suggesting just that.

But all serious proposals have added up to: people who broke the law should suffer the lawful penalty for the crimes they committed. If this is vengeance, it's normally the kind of vengeance conservatives approve of...

He just felt it got away from him.

'It' being eager beaver John Yoo?

Man up, Bybee.

I'm feeling vengeful.

High Broderism at its best.

yep - amen

The more I read the close-the-bookers of the world, the more apparent it becomes that the "failures" that caused the "abuses" are still happening in real time.

This isn't something that happened in the past, as to which we can choose to look forward. It's happening right now. Closing the book (without ever having opened it) is on a continuum with the looking-the-other-way that we're supposedly determined to leave in the past. The past is now. We're still in it.

Broder, wake up. You're still doing it. Right now.

I watched "Washington Week in Review" last night, or the first portion that dealt with this issue, and they were all worshippers at the Church of High Broderism. The transcript isn't up yet or I'd link to it, but it was depressing to watch. They viewed the issue from the POV that they assume Obama has (and they are probably right about this)--that is, the crucial thing is to keep the leftwing base (read "crazies") under control and not give in to them. One reporter (I forgot the names) thought it highly unlikely that any lawyer could be prosecuted for giving legal advice in good faith--what that would have to do with John Yoo is anybody's guess.

On the plus side, the issue has come much further than I would have ever expected--if you'd asked me in 2001 if the US would torture people in the war on terror I would have guessed we would, but I wouldn't have expected it to have ever reached the mainstream press, except maybe in scattered articles that wouldn't receive much notice, and I would never have expected to see "Washington Week" pundits discussing the possibility that high ranking US officials might conceivably face criminal charges for it. So that's progress of a sort.

I'm psychologically motivated to support some sort of effort to have at least a degree by which my government feels constrained by the laws of the land.

I realize they're always going to skirt or occasionally ignore the law, but the last 8 years we saw a double middle finger with a hearty "F*@% YOU CONSTITUTION" by our Executive Branch, because it turns out they weren't merely elected officials but a Superhero Duo, Unitary Executive and Fourthbranch Cheney.

It'd be nice to have at least some reason to think that the next time a Republican wins the White House (I'm just assuming, maybe that's a never, but I'm assuming it'll happen), there will be at least some disincentive to have the Executive say, "Hey man, why'on't ya write me a damn memo tellin' me anything I want ta do's legal, okay? Okay? Okay there hotstuff? You're a lawyer, right? I'm 'on call you 'Lawee', you got a problem w/ that?"

A few sentences of Charlie Pierce on the subject of Torture Investigations, because he's one of my favorite writers on politics and his weekly letters to Alterman don't get nearly the attention they deserve:

The question of whether there will be an investigation is now off the boards. There will be a number of them, official and unofficial. There are now too many people talking for anything else to happen. The career military and the FBI are pretty pissed and, sooner or later, the CIA lifers are going to push back and pin the whole thing on the political apparatchiks inside the Bush White House. That the apologists now seem to be simply rooting for another attack, after which they plan to gloat themselves back into power, is demonstration enough that they perceive the moral bankruptcy of their own position, and that they sense a very strong tide turning against them. The oddest thing is how seriously the rising outrage seems to have wrong-footed the Obama Administration

Broder was in favor of the impeachment of Clinton and felt that honor compelled Clinton to resign his presidency because Clinton, caught in a perjury trap, denied a liaison that although disreputable was nobody's g-d business.

Clearly Clinton's mistake was not having "a deliberate, and internally well-debated...decision" prior to getting those blow jobs. If only Clinton had gotten a memo from the OLC on what constituted sex, Broder would have been fine with it!

I don't think Broder and the rest of the torture apologists are making an argument that they expect will persuade us with reasons. What they're doing is sending out a signal to anyone in the administration that if they go ahead with investigations then the Right will fight back with everything they've got. Krugman dismissed this as a bluff but Obama has to weigh up the threat against his progressive agenda.

The problem as I see it is that the same corrupt and secretive political system which makes possible the institutionalization of torture, illegal wiretapping etc. also makes possible structural inequalities in the economic system, an unfair health system, financial deregulation, etc. I think it's a mistake to simply characterize the latter as just the result of ideology. So if one doesn't begin to challenge the corrupt nature of the political process through investigations and enforcing the law, then there's no incentive for political actors to start behaving differently. Which means that attempts to bring about a socially just society will always be undermined or limited.

Shorter Broder: OMG, they might indict the President!

The oddest thing is how seriously the rising outrage seems to have wrong-footed the Obama Administration

I don't think that they were wrong-footed at all. As President, there are some issues on which you want to be a leader, and some issues where you want to be a follower. As I've said several times, this subject falls into the second category.

More, those of us who want prosecutions and convictions should agree with this assessment. It's the right call.

What they're doing is sending out a signal to anyone in the administration that if they go ahead with investigations then the Right will fight back with everything they've got.

Was there ever any doubt of that?

I think the right has made a major error by fighting Obama on absolutely everything. He no longer has to think about ways to get conservative support, because he's never going to get it. So he may as well move left.

Donald

The "Washington Week in Review" transcript isn't up yet, but the podcasts are available here:
http://www.pbs.org/weta/washingtonweek/rss/>"Washington Week in Review"

Bernard,

Obama may as well move left? I agree. So what's stopping him?

"So what's stopping him?"

"Left," "right," and "center" are relative to a baseline. People pick their own.

Many years ago I used to read Broder with respect. But for several years now I have ignored him -- his opinions are not worth reading.

The only reason to do so is to know what has been written that is placed in such a high profile context. There is nothing to learn from it, no nuanced points to ponder, nothing.

He should be replaced.

I nominate Hilzoy.

Vindictive? If that's the worst one can say about torture prosecutions, bring 'em on!

Torture is in a category of crimes terms "crimes against humanity", along with things like slavery and genocide. No, they're not the same; but none are acceptable.

Now just think what it took to put a stop to genocide in the 1940's. And slavery in the 1860's. Prosecution would be an act of grandmotherly kindness by comparison.

I want future politicians, whether D or R, to recoil in horror at the very thought of commanding torture. I want career officers and bureaucrats to reflexively resign if such an order is passed through them. I want the low level grunts to start making plans to go AWOL or to frag their CO if ever such an order is given them.

I guess I must be vindictive, then.

David Broder doesn't want Republican officials investigated.

Eh, what a surprise.

That way lies untold bitterness -- and injustice.

Injustice? Injustice? How about this for injustice, how about thousands of dead Americans and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis in a useless war based on propaganda, lies and torture? How about hundreds of people, including American citizens, locked up without due process for years? How about an institutionalized regime of state sanctioned torture implemented by the government of the United States and used on its own citizens and foreigners alike? How about secret prisons set up and run by the Central Intelligence Agency in former communist block countries into which people can be "disappeared"? How about kidnapping innocent people off the streets of our European allies who are then shipped off to be tortured by our proxies? How about indiscriminate spying on Americans in violation of law and the Constitution? How about secret legal opinions that anoint the President as King? How about a modern day gulag set up on an American military base? How about show trials set up and run by the U.S. Armed Forces at the behest of high government officials in order to attempt to justify their lawlessness? How about the suspension of the Geneva conventions by the United States government?

Injustice? You know what would be unjust? If George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and a slew of other high ranking Bush Administration officials were dragged from their cushy retirement homes by an angry mob and [redacted]. Unjust because it would be a better fate than they deserve.

Don't fncking lecture people about the supposed "injustice" of holding people responsible for war crimes.

A$$hole.

This is where it is all heading. It wasn't an illegal effort to pursue a misguided plan toward a noble end. It was a premeditated effort to pursue a criminal plan toward financial and ideological gain.

"Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to “protect” us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from “another 9/11,” torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality.

Levin suggests — and I agree — that as additional fact-finding plays out, it’s time for the Justice Department to enlist a panel of two or three apolitical outsiders, perhaps retired federal judges, “to review the mass of material” we already have. The fundamental truth is there, as it long has been. The panel can recommend a legal path that will insure accountability for this wholesale betrayal of American values.

President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won’t vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We don’t need another commission. We don’t need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation’s commitment to the rule of law."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/opinion/26rich.html

I am waiting for the rest of the progressive blogoshpere to catch up to this and throw the spade on the table.

They weren't stupid or misguided or overzealous or wrong.

They were straight-up flat-out criminals.

It's time to get on about what needs to be done.

The memos on torture represented a deliberate, and internally well-debated, policy decision

So, we did it before, and we'll do it again.

Broder has no understanding of why we have laws and prisons.

"...or My Lai."

Only 26 low-level troops were initially charged in My Lai. Eventually one officer, a lieutenant, was convicted, and he was immediately released, and later served a very short term.

For those who don't recall, My Lai was:

...was the mass murder of 347 to 504 unarmed citizens in South Vietnam, all of whom were civilians and some of whom were women and children, conducted by U.S. Army forces on March 16, 1968.

Many of the victims were sexually abused, beaten, tortured, or maimed, and some of the bodies were found mutilated.

End result:
[...] On November 17, 1970, the United States Army charged 14 officers, including Major General Samuel W. Koster, the Americal Division's commanding officer, with suppressing information related to the incident. Most of those charges were later dropped. Brigade commander Henderson was the only officer who stood trial on charges relating to the cover-up; he was acquitted on December 17, 1971.[30]

After a four-month-long trial, in which he claimed that he was following orders from his commanding officer, Captain Medina, William Calley was convicted, on March 29, 1971, of premeditated murder for ordering the shootings. He was initially sentenced to life in prison. Two days later, however, President Nixon made the controversial decision to have Calley released from prison, pending appeal of his sentence. Calley's sentence was later adjusted, so that he would eventually serve four and one-half months in a military prison at Fort Benning.[31]

[...] Most of the enlisted men who were involved in the events at My Lai had already left military service, and were thus legally exempt from prosecution. In the end, of the 26 men initially charged, Calley's was the only conviction.

It's not a precedent of justice.

And down the memory hole went Tiger Force. How many here even know about it?

I watched "Washington Week in Review" last night..

Masochist.

This is an extraordinary piece, even for Broder. Nice reputation you used to have, 'Dean'. Now you will be quoted in future history books as an exemplar of moral psychosis.

ABC's This Week journalist roundtable is also discussing the torture memos, and What Should Be Done, at length.

Gary:

Are any of them on the unworthy side? Or will I have to take vengence on them all?

"Are any of them on the unworthy side?"

You can imagine George Will's stance; he was channeling Dick Cheney. Matthew Dowd tended to be luke-warm on much of anything. Stephanopolous pretty much stayed neutral as moderator. Donna Brazile was "we must investigate. The other two, David Sanger, and a woman from Financial Times I'm unfamiliar with, whose name I forget, were -- and I have to confess that I was only kinda half-listening, while reading -- inclined to be wishy-washy.

But, as I said, I was only half-listening, so my characterization of other than Will may be off; better to wait and read the transcript for a more reliable version.

The video is already up; this is the segment on torture. The set of videos is here. The interview with Ahmadinejad was the lead story. This is the full video of the whole show. Chrystia Freeland was the woman whose name I forgot.

Donna Brazile: "No one is above the law in this country. It's immoral, it's wrong, it was ineffective, and if we have to get to the bottom of it, it's uncomfortable, it may cause us to lose some standing with some of our friends, but our allies are going to look at what we did, but let's get it on."

Freeland, after a bit: "The problem here may be that it's not about right and left, it may be about right and wrong, and that becomes much more difficult. It might be about legal and illegal."

And Stephanopolous later says "no question it was wrong."

Obviously we have very few conspiracy theory types here. Or we would have already had an analysis like this:

Broder (and the other pundits says variations on "let's just move on") are trying, successfully, to set up a wave of outrage. When it occurs to the voters that the same logic could get a free pass for their local burglar or murderer or rapist, there will be demands that it be ignored. Loud demands, and lots of them.

At which point, the Justice Department can start prosecutions "in response to popular demand." And nobody, outside the most extreme of the extreme partisans, will believe that it is a political vendetta -- after all, the public is clamoring for it. A triumph of reverse psychology!

See? All you have to do is assume that everything is a conspiracy, and it all makes sense. And, even if you don't, it may well be that the results will be the same.

The debate on torture only runs ten minutes of that clip, for what it's work.

"...for what it's work."

Er, worth.

Will otherwise, of course, calls for releasing memos about what torture accomplished, and joins Dowd in saying lots of Democrats knew what was going on.. Sanger and Dowd otherwise pretty much stick to analyzing the politics. Brazile again calls for letting the truth come out, whatever it is, Democrats included. That's pretty much it.

" because Clinton, caught in a perjury trap,"

I'd be a lot more impressed with complaints about "perjury traps", from whatever corner, if you didn't have to commit perjury to get caught by one.

Adding to Gary's 9:54 comment, there were also the atrocities of Operation Speedy Express

Link


For whatever set of reasons, (some say it's because of the internet ) I think the US has actually made a little bit of moral progress, in the sense that we've got public mainstream discussion about holding high ranking US officials legally accountable for war crimes. It may not happen, but it's my impression such discussions never got outside the confines of the far left during the Vietnam War. Now the mainstream politicians and pundits have to take it seriously enough to argue against it.

I can't remember enough about it to google for it successfully, but I think a mainstream author back in the Vietnam era (it might have been Chester Cooper) did write an article expressing his dismay that some in the antiwar movement thought that LBJ and others were guilty not just of policy mistakes, but of actual war crimes. He used the same arguments we hear now--that Vietnam was a tragic mistake with terrible consequences, but do we really want to go down the route of prosecuting honest differences of opinion, etc...

And Neil Sheehan famously wrote a piece in the New York Times Book Review about war crimes in Vietnam. But though there were articles of this type that broke into the MSM, I don't think it ever got to the point where politicians and the Serious pundits were worried enough about it to think there was any chance it could happen.

" were worried enough about it to think there was any chance it could happen."

Sigh. "It" refers to the possibility of war crimes trials for major figures in the government.

This is a wonderful discussion/debate. Except for lawyers and teachers, generally, there has been almost no awareness among the US public of "The Rule Of Law" and its crucial importance in a free society. It is like the air we breathe. We don't think about it. We just experience it. And we would perish without it. Americans generally, are now learning why that is.

And, as with so many other issues, Obama seems to be fully aware of this dynamic, and the importance of letting the educational process work itself out.

" because Clinton, caught in a perjury trap,"

I'd be a lot more impressed with complaints about "perjury traps", from whatever corner, if you didn't have to commit perjury to get caught by one.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore

Lucky for Clinton he never committed perjury. And if you think you have any evidence that he did, I suggest that you run, not walk with what you've got to the nearest media outlet that will shop the news.

Come now, ScentOfViolets. Brett's attachment to the Clenis is fairly obviously partisan BS.

Don't worry, I'll be equally dismissive of any Republican who starts raving about 'perjury traps', and of any partisans who make similarly pathetic defenses of them.

Only equally dismissive, Brett? So you really do regard "lying about a blowjob" as an equal crime to "lying about torture"? It's not "partisan BS", you're just that morally bankrupt?

if we don't wield the sword of justice when it is put in our hands, how the hell can we expect more of others? by all means, the investigation and prosecutions should be carried out in a even handed, non-partisan manner, but for god's sake, do it!

"It may not happen, but it's my impression such discussions never got outside the confines of the far left during the Vietnam War."

I dunno, I'd say they were common throughout the left then, and beyond that to a large proportion of those opposed to the war. While the majority of Americans eventually became opposed to the war, I doubt that support for investigations of high level officials ever became a majority opinion, I'd guess -- and that's purely all it is -- that perhaps as many as a quarter, or possibly somewhat more, of Americans might have been open to some level of investigations between 1968-73 or so.

I could be way over-estimating, to be sure. But certainly "the left" was a significant number of people at the time, and belief that there were far more atrocities in Vietnam than just My Lai was widespread, and a large part of the reasoning behind opposition to the war (though the idea that American lives were being wasted futiley was the dominant reason, of course).

By my measure the "far left" at the time consisted of the not-insignificant number of people who were outright communists of one flavor or another, or radical enough to at least believe that outright at least attempted revolution in the U.S. was not just likely (a belief Richard Nixon and many of his minions shared), but a good idea. There were at least a million or so people, I believe, who believed that, unlikely as it seems decades later.

Don't worry, I'll be equally dismissive of any Republican who starts raving about 'perjury traps', and of any partisans who make similarly pathetic defenses of them.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore |

This comment doesn't make any sense whatsoever that I can see; since Clinton never committed perjury, I don't understand how anyone could 'defend' him for something he didn't do.

C'mon Brett, I know you can say it: "Clinton never committed perjury."

I could be way over-estimating, to be sure. But certainly "the left" was a significant number of people at the time, and belief that there were far more atrocities in Vietnam than just My Lai was widespread, and a large part of the reasoning behind opposition to the war (though the idea that American lives were being wasted futiley was the dominant reason, of course).

By my measure the "far left" at the time consisted of the not-insignificant number of people who were outright communists of one flavor or another, or radical enough to at least believe that outright at least attempted revolution in the U.S. was not just likely (a belief Richard Nixon and many of his minions shared), but a good idea. There were at least a million or so people, I believe, who believed that, unlikely as it seems decades later.

Posted by: Gary Farber

It's interesting to see how the left has evolved. I would wager that nowadays card-carrying communists are very few and far between, and that even self-described far-left people will favor capitalism of one sort or another. It's been my experience that right-wingers tend to have a collective vision of 'leftists' as patchouli-wearing, dope-smoking Socialists who have framed prints of Che! over the sofa in their living room, perhaps with a bead curtain separating the kitchen.

I think that for certain people, not only can they not get over the fact that 'the left' won the cultural wars a long time ago, but that all the competitors to Capitalism died off in the dim past as well.[1] Thus, 'leftists' really are for the most part the majority of the American populace these days. The cognitive dissonance this causes the Village set is not to be understated.

[1]Ironically, libertarianism as I first became acquainted with it seemed to be identified far more with the left than the right. At least, that was the case up until about 1980. Since the late 70's, it too has undergone some transformations, moving it to the far right.

ScentofViolets: C'mon Brett, I know you can say it: "Clinton never committed perjury."

And after that, he can say "Gun control laws are a good thing!"

(One is about as likely as the other.)

And about as true...

Well things have returned to form around here!

After all that agreement about the Uighurs in Gitmo I was beginning to get worried.

Since Clinton never committed perjury, you must think gun control laws are a good thing.

Really, Brett, if you think Clinton committed perjury, you might do us the courtesy of explaining the particulars. This insistence that he did, coupled with an absolute refusal to ever indicate when and where this happened does not speak well for your honesty.

"I would wager that nowadays card-carrying communists are very few and far between"

Card-carrying mostly went out in the Thirties. :-)

And in the Sixties, the overwhelming majority of communists were either some flavor of Trotskyite, or some flavor of Maoist, rather than CPUSA (Gus Hall, etc.).

I had two friends who were respectively one of each at least well into the Nineties, though I've lost touch with both in recent years.

But the fact that "the far left" have been actual communists in all my associations makes me jaw-drop in astonishment to see members of Congress described as "far left."

I'm pretty sure there are no members of the Revolutionary Communist Party in Congress. Those are the "far leftists." There are barely any actual leftists in Congress (maybe Barbara Lee, and in a very mild way, Bernie Sanders); the most extreme you can find are enthusiastic liberals, an entirely different kettle of fish, and largely despised by leftists, overall.

Not that this is a new point.

No, it's not a new point at all. But - unfortunately - it bears repeating until it is driven into the ground never to be used as a talking point again.

I'll say it again - most people who call themselves 'liberals' or 'progressives' or even 'leftists' are these days what would be considered capitalist pigs. The only serious points of disagreement is what and how far to regulate certain activities, and what activities the government should take over from the private sector on the grounds of not being 'efficient'.

I've been called a member of the 'far left', for example, merely because I am against school vouchers as they are presently constituted, or because I don't think the USPO should be privatized. Not because I'm spouting any Trotskyite orthodoxies.

I've mentioned it here before a number of times, but not in a long time, it occurs to me, but my mother was an actual card-carrying member of the Communist Party, USA, as a teen in the Thirties, until the Nazi-Soviet/Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, which was the last straw on top of her growing skepticism about the anti-democratic nature of the Party.

She was still paranoid through the Seventies, as an employee of the NYC Board of Education, about my ever mentioning her long-ago past to anyone, though, having lived through the Fifties and Sixties, even though she'd become no more radical than a Roosevelt/Stevenson liberal Democrat by the late Forties/early Fifties, and thereafter.

Though I was brought up to go along with my parents to civil rights marches, and anti-Vietnam War marches, as a child in the Sixties.

I remember the April 15, 1967, march from Central Park to the UN, with 400,000 people, where Martin Luther King spoke -- not that I could see him. I was 8, and had never seen so many people. The May 4th, 1970 post-Kent State demonstration in Washington was broiling hot; I remember endless numbers of people sharing canteens and salt pills with strangers, and I remember the tear gas.

Gary: well, I have one uncle who supported (and for all I know, might still support) Pol Pot. One reason I have never been into holding people accountable for the sins of relatives. ;)

About investigations into Vietnam: they probably seemed less necessary after the Pentagon Papers were leaked. It was not a big mystery who was responsible for what, at least as far as the policy makers were concerned.

"It was not a big mystery who was responsible for what, at least as far as the policy makers were concerned."

No, there was certainly no mystery whatever about who was responsible for America's involvement in Vietnam.

But there was never any responsibility taken, nor punishment given, for the vast number of war crimes committed by America and American troops.

(I rather wonder what OCSteve thinks of this point.)

I'd add the much smaller case, but still one of mass murder, of the more recent invasion of Panama in 1989, in which several thousand Panamanian civilians were killed.

But they weren't American Americans, so who cares?

We're the good guys.

"About investigations into Vietnam: they probably seemed less necessary after the Pentagon Papers were leaked. It was not a big mystery who was responsible for what, at least as far as the policy makers were concerned."

There were not investigations into things like Operation Speedy Express (described at the link I supplied above)--in fact, Kevin Buckley had a great deal of difficulty persuading his Newsweek editors to publish his story and according to what he told Phil Knightly in "The First Casualty", the editor didn't feel comfortable "piling on" after all the attention given to My Lai. But Speedy Express was on a much larger scale and it wasn't a few crazed soldiers going nuts in a village--it was the result of a commanding officer who emphasized high bodycounts above all things.

You can find Speedy Express mentioned in various books on the Vietnam War over the years, but there was never a governmental investigation into what happened there.

It was not a big mystery who was responsible for what, at least as far as the policy makers were concerned.

Getting to be not such a big mystery who was responsible for what in the recent official torture policy, either.

Though we could certainly do with a lot more documents. Like the relevant NSC minutes.

Mark Danner speaks for me.

It's sickening to reflect on the degraded state of a country where parties cater to pro-torture sentiment and treat horror at the crime as a phenomenon of the "hard left".

We've had reporting about the torture since December 2002, incontrovertible proof since April 2004. CIA employees and contractors have tortured prisoners to death. There are still dozens of prisoners unaccounted for.

But too many purported opponents of torture are still operating from a political position based on the permanent crouch of 2002. That's the mindset that asks us to applaud the President being a follower rather than a leader on the issue.

From the Danner article:


Democrats, on the defensive since 9/11 as the party of weakness on national security, saw no interest in taking up a cause perceived to be deeply unpopular.

IMVHO the Democrats missed a valuable opportunity when they were still in the minority.

What they ought to have done, when faced with being called spineless and weak, was to have begun every House and Senate session by walking over to a member on the Republican side and given them the back of their hand, right across the chops. Knock their freaking dentures right out. Preferably live on CNN.

Lather, rinse, and repeat, daily, until the point got across. Nothing personal, just business.

Sadly, that opportunity has passed. It would be bad form at this point.

Now, all that is left for them to do is to round up the criminals and send their sorry behinds to jail.

Oh, yeah, that would have been clever; Assault and battery on film, conviction virtually automatic, and a filibuster proof Republican majority as a result.

I really worry about folks who think assault is legitimate form of speech.

Assault and battery on film, conviction virtually automatic, and a filibuster proof Republican majority as a result.

Hey, it might have been worth it.

Conviction, jail, and removal from office couldn't possibly have made them any less effective as a curb on the R's.

Brett: I really worry about folks who think assault is legitimate form of speech.

Russell, to keep Brett from worrying, you should have advocated the Dems shoot the opposition. For some reason, Brett thinks guns are a legitimate form of democratic freedom, while less deadly forms of violence are not.

/irony tag off

Isn't Broder's reasoning parallel with the defense presented by Eichmann? "I received well-reasoned memoes from the Reich's lawyers that the Final Solution had been thoroughly analyzed and approved." Mr. Broder, give us your thoughts on that.

Oh, yeah, that would have been clever; Assault and battery on film, conviction virtually automatic, and a filibuster proof Republican majority as a result.
I really worry about folks who think assault is legitimate form of speech.

Well, you see, Brett, if anyone tried to bring it to trial, people like Broder would have accused them of "partisan political witch hunts" and begged the Republicans to "move forward rather than looking back".

"I punched Chuck Schumer in the face as the result of a thoroughly analysed and debated political process", they could have said, "and your trying to prosecute me for it is simply evidence that you have an unworthy desire for vengeance. It's time to turn the page and move on."

I mean, we wouldn't want to descend into some sort of bitter political vendetta, would we?

(My car! That's Dianne Feinstein stealing my car!)

Now, now, Senator, I don't think we should get involved in the blame game.

I'm assuming that, after the recounts are finally over, we're going to have a new Senator who has a history of body slamming people to shut them up, so I guess it's not a far-fetched scenario.

David Broder needs to stop politicizing crime.

"we're going to have a new Senator who has a history of body slamming people to shut them up"

Huh?!?

Google Al Franken body slam.

He tackled a heckler at a Dean rally, or that's my understanding. I vaguely remember hearing about it at the time.

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