Monday, January 26, 2009

Tortured Logic

What he said.

Minstrel Boy lays it out just fine. I don't really need to add anything except this: I've been accused of being too pessimistic about my country when I state my belief that we have passed or are close to passing the point of No Return to the republican ideas that produced our Constitution.

I don't think so. This, more than any other facet of our ludicrous Terrorgegensitzkrieg (sounds better in the original German, eh?), lays bare to me the poverty of our supposed "freedom" and our committment to the Constitutional rights that supposedly make us what we are. If we are "debating" the use of torture we're way beyond the decline that Caesar ended crossing the Rubicon. We're the barbarians, roaring and brawling amid the ruins of the classic glories of our Republic. Even at our worst, when we were chasing Cheyenne women and children out to die in the cold or torturing Filipinos trying to free their country we admitted that we were wrong. Just that we we needed to do wrong because it was good for us. The defenders of these acts refuse to even admit the wrongness. That is below contempt.

Because at the very heart of our U.S. system is a distrust of personal motives, panic and mobocracy. The Founders were our aristocracy, after all, and they also had the bad example of the French Revolution before their eyes, with accusations and counter-accusations, imprisonment without hearing, execution without trial. They had just won the dirtiest of all kinds of wars, a civil war against their "mother country". They knew all about terror, betrayal, judicial and extrajudicial murder, and the danger of forgetting in the fear of death that there are worse things than death.The Republican scum we chose to elect eight years ago - and their Democratic enablers in Congress - and continued to preserve as our "leaders" over the intervening time have compounded torturous treason with the utmost in sad incompetence. We are a disgrace to ourselves and to the world.

They have shat the bed so thoroughly with regard to these pathetic chattels that it would almost be a mercy to put a bullet in them, provided that we could throw the corpses of their torturers, and those who issued the orders for torture, and those who lied and covered up and defended the torture in the grave with them.

I can't believe that there's even any "debate" over this. Every time I read items like this I think of the catchphrase Driftglass used to use: you can now be a good American or a good Republican.

But you cannot be both.

Update 1/27: And, pat as the Fairy Queen in the pantomime to prove my point, here's Abu Gonzales on NPR yesterday (via The Rude Pundit - amendations his):
"Most fascinating was Gonzales's reaction to AG nominee Eric Holder's simple statement that waterboarding is torture, as we have understood torture for, let's say, ever: "I think that one needs to be careful in making a blanket pronouncement like that if you don't have all the information because of the effect it may have, again, on the morale and the dedication of intelligence officials and lawyers throughout the administration. Nonetheless, the very discussion about it is extremely discouraging. And I have talked to officials, senior officials at the CIA, for example, who tell me that agents at the CIA no longer have any interest at doing anything, anything remotely controversial, for fear that they are going to be investigated and that they have to go out and hire lawyers in order to do their job. And so, it has a very discouraging effect, and the net result of all of that is that people will not be doing what they need to be doing to gain intelligence that will help us connect the dots and protect our country from another attack."
Hmmm. Okay, well, then, here's a safety tip: if the idea that people investigating what you're doing makes you all depressy and sad and mopey and thinking about HIRING A FUCKING LAWYER in order to do your job and has a discouraging effect and makes you not do what you need to be doing than maybe YOU'RE DOING YOUR FUCKING JOB THE WRONG FUCKING WAY.

By, like, y'know, torturing people?

Baby Jesus On a Fucking Stick, people! How goddam hard is this?


Ael said...

I thought that most of the american constitutional framework was in place before the French revolution.

Charles Gittings said...

Well I don't think he should lie... I think the Democrats should shove it down the Republicans' throats with a chainsaw, and if they attempt a filibuster, go nuclear. These people have been waging war on the laws of the United States for many years -- now it's time to deal with them as what they are: criminals.

Publius said...

I agree with Charly. See my comment on Minstrel Boy's post. A Republican filibuster, handled properly, could easily be made to blow up in their face.

Imagine days and weeks with headlines about Senate Republicans balking at an Attorney General nominee who pledges to apply the laws fairly and impartially.

FDChief said...

Ael: The Constitution was sent out for ratification in 1787, the Federalist Papers published in '87 and '88. The French Estates General was called in 1788, the King agreed in December 1789 and the Bastille was stormed in July of that year.

So I would say that yes, definately, the American experience was closely informed by events in France, our Revolutionary ally, if only as an example of what most of the American elite didn't want.

Charles, Publius: I have to agree with MB:

1. The Senate Dems don't have the balls to go to the filibuster mat with the Republicans. Publius is right, they should, and let the country gorge on the rich irony of wealthy Republican country club bastards urging that their servants be allowed to torture the unindicted. But the system is too broken for that. They are too afraid of the debate. They won't.

2. So the alternatives are to do what they need to do to get their man approved and THEN trick-fuck the R's, or withdraw the nomination and be beaten before the new Administratiohas been in office a month.

Emotionally I agree with you both. But politically, I'm with MB. I think the fight with these criminals will have to start somewhere else other than in the Senate, which is as bought-and-sold, as impotent as its Roman counterpart.

Aviator47 said...

The requested quid pro quo implies strongly that they are prosecutable crimes.

I would suggest Holder offer the following program of partial clemency, effective for 120 days.

Anyone who has committed, has assisted, has enabled, or has promoted war crimes and torture can step forward and plea bargain. They would have to confess to their involvement in explicit terms. In return, they would receive a sentence of 4 months in SuperMax for every year since the onset of their involvement until the date of their confession, followed by 10 years probation. In return for each and every co-criminal who will not accept a plea bargain for whom they can provide evidence resulting in a conviction, their jail time will be reduced by one month. During the probation period, they will be barred from any employment pertaining to public funds, public interest and cannot earn any income capitalizing on any aspect of their previous public service, to include lectures and books. Any violation of the law, however slight, to include traffic violations, will result in a revocation of their probation.

Those that do not wish to plead guilty, but are willing to accept alternate justice may renounce their citizenship and be permanently exiled to any country that will receive them, taking a maximum of one year's median worker's wages in assets with them.

Those that do not plea during the 120 day clemency period, should be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

I never thought such a proposal would issue forth from my mind, but these pigs have truly brought out the beast in me.


Aviator47 said...

In fact, I was outraged enough to send the following to my two Dem Senators. Feel free to use my words:

I have read the following on the web site of your colleague, SEN Whitehouse:

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for Rhode Island, today sharply criticized the argument some Republican members of the Committee are making for delaying a vote on the nomination of Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder:

"Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have asked Eric Holder to make a commitment, before he is even confirmed, that he will not prosecute any Bush Administration officials for their involvement in acts of torture during the last administration."

As an American, a retired military officer, and a believer that we must return to being a nation of laws, I implore you to reject this totally immoral quid pro quo and stand firm in our Senate to prevent Mr Holder's nomination be used as a means for any crimes to be ignored.

I trust that you will have the moral courage to stand up to this obscenity. If this is allowed to transpire as requested, I will consider any and all elected officials involved to be unworthy of office and my vote.

Respectfully yours:

sheerahkahn said...

The Republicans are afraid, and well they should be as they are quite mindful of their traitorous past.
A curse on them!
They have betrayed the US.
They have betrayed everything that makes us Americans, whereas Al would offer them, which imo is to grand an offer, a chance to renounce their citizenship I say crush them.
Strip any and all Republicans who were elected between 2000-to-2008 be stripped of their citizenship, their assets stripped as well, driven to then deposited Saudi Arabia where it seems they have their interests tied up in.
Let the Saudis take their own in.

FDChief said...

Al: I agree that the underlying skeeviness behind the GOP's caveat is that the Bush people are dirty, legally dirty, indictably dirty, that the GOP senators know it, and they are bargaining like a Mafia hitman trying to protect themselves from a stretch in the joint.

Fuck 'em.

FDChief said...

Sheerah: I'm with you. They're hardly worth of the $0.29 of the cost of the bullet to shoot them.

Charles Gittings said...

Well Senator Specter just announced his support for Holder, so it appears he has the votes, as several other Republicans have already saidthey will vote for him, including Sen. Hatch.

FDChief said...

Charles: that's good news.

Aviator47 said...

From the Ft Worth Star-Telegram:

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas has unsuccessfully sought Holder's assurances that intelligence officers will not be prosecuted. Cornyn said Wednesday he will vote against Holder's confirmation.

At least we know the name of one unethical bastard.

In his official bio, he cites his father's 31 years Air Force service. More than enough to allow him to not have to serve himself.


rangeragainstwar said...

To All,
Istm that the question of prosecution for torture and for Terrorists should go to an outside court with no ax to grind ie the Hague.Internal politics and emotion must be removed from the equation.What I read here is as emotional as Limbaughs stuff although it may be true it's still emotional.Justice is not.
The scales of justice will not balance out IF there are no torture prosecutions.

Charles Gittings said...


Well I have to strongly disagree.

First, we aren't really talking about justice per se, but the politics of confirming the next
Attorney General, which was delayed by at least a week. Meanwhile, back at DOJ, we have holdovers / caretakers treading water pending confirmation of the incoming appointees, while over at the Prettyman Courthouse there are habeas petitions pending for folks who have been illegally imprisoned without charge and subjected to torture and abuse for seven years.

Second, there isn't anyone living in the Hague who isn't just as human as you or me. Equally, it's not as if criminal cases involving murder, rape, kidnapping, child molestation, bombing or arson of churches or abortion clinics, etc, etc, don't get a just touch emotional now and then.

Third, we've just witnessed a sustained attempt by our own government to subvert our laws wholesale for seven years -- on the theory that giving George Bush powers equal to Adolf Hitler, Charles I of England, or the Roman Emperor Caligula was just a good idea.

I don't want anyone else prosecuting these people, I want them prosecuted under our own laws so we can make an example of them that will NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

And if we fail to do so, we will deserve everything we get the next time these demented fascists manage to worm their way back into power. They haven't been waging a war on terrorism -- they're terrorists who've been waging a war on the Constitution and laws of the United States.

I actually try very hard to be objective about this stuff, but the persistent levels of ignorance and dishonesty IRT these issues do in fact get me very angry because I've been working on these issues for seven years now. There simplyt isn't any reasonable basis for disagreement here: my attitude towards the Bush administration and their supporters is exactly the same as my attitude towards Nazi Germany -- except the being Americans, they are a LOT more dangerous than the Nazis were.


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