Tuesday, November 06, 2007

This whole mess involving Bush's nomination of Judge Mukasey for the Attorney General position has my head spinning.

Waterboarding -- I'm sure you've heard by now -- is a technique by which a person is subjected to drowning repeatedly until compliance is achieved.

Daniel Levin, then acting assistant attorney general, went to a military base near Washington and underwent the procedure to inform his analysis of different interrogation techniques. After the experience, Levin told White House officials that even though he knew he wouldn't die, he found the experience terrifying and thought that it clearly simulated drowning.

Then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales showed up and fired his ass. Call me impolitic but one might wonder if the two events had anything to do with each other.

Fast-forward to 2007. Senators ask nominee Mukasey what he thinks of waterboarding. Mukasey says he finds the practice "abhorent." OK, that's nice. Pressed on whether it's illegal, he won't say and this is where things, as they say, start to go plaid.

Dana Perino at the White House Press Conference dated November 1st, 2007 said this:

And on this one, narrow issue, I think it is very unfair for somebody who is not read into a program --being briefed on a classified program, who doesn't have all the facts at his disposal, to be asked to render a legal opinion. None of us would want that from a judge, if we were in front of a judge in a court of law, we would not want a judge to render a decision without having all of the facts in front of him.

Somehow -- dear sweet Jesus, don't ask me how -- precious few people seem to be seeing through this incredibly clumsy trick. THERE'S NO FUCKING TOP-SECRET INFO THAT NEEDS TO BE HAD IN ORDER TO MAKE THIS CALL. Here, I can do this on an Etch-A-Sketch.

  • Posit: Waterboarding is simulated drowning.
  • Posit: Simulating drowning is the act of causing someone to fear they're being killed.
  • Posit: Causing someone to fear they're being killed is torture.
  • Therefore: Torture is illegal.
Therefore, by the transitive property, waterboarding is illegal.

Holy fucking shit, Batman! No CIA memos to parse, no programs to be "read into." No listening to this twat Perino spend five minutes running down the clock, answering a question she wasn't asked. Just plain old common sense.


The Kansas City Star sees it thus:

Mukasey should have been confirmed as attorney general by now. But now some key Democrats say they’ll vote against him because he wouldn’t rule out waterboarding as a form of “torture.” First, Mukasey declared torture unlawful and contrary to American values. He said waterboarding is “repugnant” but wouldn’t rule it out because he has no idea how or if it is used by U.S. interrogators. That’s classified information.

Who gives a shit if it's classified? Suppose the military decides to classify the details of how or if they use H2O. OK, fine, but that doesn't change the properties of water, does it?

It's still fucking wet, right?

Mukasey doesn't need to know if or how we're waterboarding in order to say whether or not the technique is legal. The mechanics are moot. If it causes someone to believe they're dying, it's illegal.

KCS continues:

Interestingly, senators demanding a Mukasey declaration on waterboarding declined to do so in crafting the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which only vaguely bans cruel and inhuman treatment.

Come again? Crafting? You mean the authors of the DTA? That would be Senators John McCain (R-AZ), John Warner (R-VA), and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), all three of them Republicans and not Democrats, all three of which have stated that they will vote for Mukasey.

It isn't much of a demand if ignoring it doesn't actually involve consequences, does it?

John Hutson is a retired United States Navy rear admiral, attorney, former Judge Advocate General of the Navy and current dean and president of Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire. He had this to say about waterboarding:

You know, torture is the method of choice of the lazy, the stupid and the pseudo-tough. And that should not be the United States. No matter how you define torture. It's unconstitutional, it violates statutes, it violates the UCMJ, it violates Common Article 3, it violates what your mother taught you and it violates what you learned in kindergarten. And we ought not be even close to it. ... Other than, perhaps the rack and thumbscrews, water-boarding is the most iconic example of torture in history. It was devised, I believe, in the Spanish Inquisition. It has been repudiated for centuries. It's a little disconcerting to hear now that we're not quite sure where water-boarding fits in the scheme of things.

I love the neocon dead-enders who blather on about how we're not as bad as al Queda. We're not the savages beheading people, right?

Yeah, maybe, but they chop off heads and then release the videotape. At least they're got the balls to admit to their own atrocities. Can't say the same for us.

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