Cowards

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Bush Administration, conservatism, torture, War on Terror

The fundamental question is this: Why would any American citizen support the “2006 Military Commission Act” that President Bush signed into law today?

Let’s review:

The Act empowers President Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, “unlawful enemy combatants.” An American citizen who speaks out against Bush’s policies could be designated an “unlawful enemy combatant” by Bush. The Act empowers the President to round up and incarcerate anyone, citizen or non-citizen, who he determines has given “material support” to terrorists. The Act strips habeas corpus rights from detained aliens who have been declared enemy combatants. The U.S. will continue to round up innocent and guilty alike and hold them indefinitely without giving them a way to prove their innocence. For more on how the Act strips American citizens and others of basic rights, see Marjorie Cohn, “American Prison Camps Are on the Way.”

Regarding torture: Reasonable people might disagree over the distinction between “cruelty” and “torture.” For example, Stephen Rickard argues in today’s WaPo that the Act authorizes cruelty but not torture. I assume he refers to definitions of torture and cruelty in international law; personally, I don’t see a difference. But he also says,

[The CIA] reportedly was using waterboarding (a terrifying mock execution in which a prisoner is strapped to a board and convinced he is being drowned), dousing naked prisoners with water in 50-degree cold and forcing shackled prisoners to stand for 40 straight hours. …

…The United States has prosecuted every one of these techniques as a war crime. So when Congress passed the McCain amendment last fall banning cruel treatment, CIA interrogators reportedly stopped working. Vice President Cheney had sought an exemption for the CIA — but didn’t get one. The administration apparently pushed the interrogators hard to resume their tactics, saying these techniques were still legal, but the CIA refused.

It seems the agency had learned an important lesson from the infamous Justice Department “torture memo,” which claimed that to be deemed “torture” a procedure had to be capable of causing major organ failure or death. The administration repudiated the memo when it became public. The lesson? Secret, contorted legal opinions don’t provide any real protection to CIA officers.

So the CIA demanded “clarity” — from Congress. No wonder President Bush practically sprinted to the cameras to begin spinning his “compromise” with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the Military Commissions Act. He needs to convince CIA interrogators that they now have congressional carte blanche.

So did the Act signed today do the trick? Rickard says it doesn’t, and that if the interrogators give in to White House pressure and resume brutal interrogations, they’ll be at greater legal risk than before.

The administration is trying to convince CIA officers that they won’t be indicted — or at least convicted. But the CIA demanded clarity, not more ambiguity and “plausible deniability.”

At the end of the day all the president can honestly tell CIA interrogators is this: “The law has some loose language. We’ll give you another memo. Don’t worry.”

Sure.

And torture doesn’t work, anyway. Bush wants us to believe that the “tough” techniques that may or may not be torture has yielded vital information that has saved American lives, but there is plenty of indication that’s not so.

Dan Froonkin writes,

The new law vaguely bans torture — but makes the administration the arbiter of what is torture and what isn’t. It allows the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant. It suspends the Great Writ of habeas corpus for detainees. It allows coerced testimony at trial. It immunizes retroactively interrogators who may have engaged in torture.

Here’s what Bush had to say at his signing ceremony in the East Room: “The bill I sign today helps secure this country, and it sends a clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our freedom.”

But that may not be the “clear message” the new law sends most people.

Here’s the clear message the law sends to the world: America makes its own rules. The law would apparently subject terror suspects to some of the same sorts of brutal interrogation tactics that have historically been prosecuted as war crimes when committed against Americans.

Here’s the clear message to the voters: This Congress is willing to rubberstamp pretty much any White House initiative it sees as being in its short-term political interests. (And I don’t just mean the Republicans; 12 Senate Democrats and 32 House Democrats voted for the bill as well.)

Here’s the clear message to the Supreme Court: Review me.

I ask again: why would anyone support Bush’s position? Today righties are snarling and snapping like cornered animals at anyone who criticizes the torture bill. We nay-sayers are “whiny hippies” throwing a “moonbat hissy fit.”

A more temperate rightie
declared “This is undeniably a victory for those of us that believe we need to aggressively wage the war against jihadism.” This and other rightie commenters continue to follow the White House in blind faith that the Bush Administration knows what it is doing and will use the unprecedented power it has gained wisely. Given the Bush Administration’s record — that’s insane.

Righties like to talk tough, but peel enough layers off ’em and you’ll find a sniveling little coward crouching and whimpering at their core. Deep down, they want Dear Leader to have dictatorial power so that he can protect them. Like any mob in the grip of hysteria, they have lost reason and inhibition, and they attack anyone who gets in their way.

They’re cowards, they’re out of control, and they must be stopped.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Ian  •  Oct 17, 2006 @6:56 pm

    I weep for my lost home.

    In the country I grew up in, the USA of my youth, there would be no discussion of torture.

    Or if there was discussion, it would go like this: “Should we torture?” “Nope.” “Okie doke then.”

    In this country, the current replican values based moral clarity country, there is an ongoing effort to make sure the president has the power to torture whoever he feels like. Oh, many of the arguers don’t believe they’re talking about torture, but some DO, and in the country *I* grew up in, if something was bad enough that it could even briefly be CONSIDERED torture, it would be rejected out of hand.

    Torture is what the OTHER guys do. You know, the BAD guys. It’s part of what makes us the GOOD guys …. bad guys torture, we don’t. Period. End of discussion.

    I have been honestly shocked and utterly dismayed at the fact that this whole argument could even take place in MY FUCKING COUNTRY.

    And the righties have the gall, the utter nerve, the hundred pound brass BALLS to say that *I* am the one who lacks “moral values”.

    I weep.

    -me

  2. a517dogg  •  Oct 17, 2006 @7:09 pm

    Torture –> bad intel. That’s all you have to know. See:
    Merle L. Pribbenow. “The Man in the Snow White Cell: Limits to Interrogation.” In Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 48, No. 1, 2004, pages 59-69.

    Sad (but not surprising) when a college student does better research than CNN.

  3. moonbat  •  Oct 17, 2006 @7:19 pm

    What boggles my mind about righties is their inability to even consider that these horrible new powers might one day be used against them.

    I think it’s related to their inability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes (empathy), and also their fearful herd mentality.

  4. xpara  •  Oct 17, 2006 @7:19 pm

    King George would take us back to the reign of King John before 1215 at Runnymede where the barons forced the feckless and cowardly “Soft-sword” (yeah, it meant the obvious manly deficit, along with an allusion to his malignant incompetence as a military leader in a disastrous conflict of choice with France) to sign the Magna Carta. Of course John immediately bribed the Pope to append a signing statement and declined to enforce the rights that had been granted. Sound familiar? How indeed could any thinking American in good conscience squander our precious liberty for the chance of picking up a few votes. Why it is almost as incomprehensible as squandering our troops (and a half-million Iraqi civilians) for oil, graft, and an electoral edge. Either one is an act of treason, and to continue to support it is abetting treason. Our nation cannot survive much more of this reign of shameless morons.

  5. Swami  •  Oct 17, 2006 @8:01 pm

    Why would any American citizen support the “2006 Military Commission Act” that President Bush signed into law today?

    The short answer is because they are moral and intellectual bottom feeders.

    I watched the video of Bush spewing his vulgar poison and my stomach turned in revulsion. I should have found something easier on the stomach to watch..like clubbing baby seals or a beheading..

  6. Donna  •  Oct 17, 2006 @8:01 pm

    I am deeply, deeply ashamed of America.
    We never were really superior to other countries except for our Constitution and Bill of Rights. We were not even superior in technology [note: bigness is not superiority], but today Bush and his friends have demoted America to place us demonstrably inferior to other countries in morality.

  7. erinyes  •  Oct 17, 2006 @8:24 pm
  8. Bonnie  •  Oct 17, 2006 @8:29 pm

    Just saw Keith Olbermann and Jonathan Turley. Turley said he just can’t believe how uninterested the American people are about this law. It is sad. With the radical right wingers having the powers, I would think critics and dissenters like Keith and the liberal bloggers will be the first to be picked up. There was a small group of protesters outside the Whitehouse during the signing and some were arrested; but, that was all. They were going to deliver a Peoples Signing Statement. I wonder if they were able to do that. Why aren’t we marching in protest of the loss of our heritage. I’m an American Indian, I know what it is like to have lost my heritage. My only consolations are that I have no children who will inherit this awful legacy and my age is such that I may die before it gets worse. I may die at Gitmo or one of those new prisons/concentration camps being built. I think I will go take a bath and wash this scum off me if I can.

  9. erinyes  •  Oct 17, 2006 @8:44 pm

    Doh!
    You’ll have to click on the lyrics for “should I stay or should I go” by the Clash. See y’all in Gitmo…..

  10. Swami  •  Oct 17, 2006 @8:54 pm

    erinyes….I found the lyrics and the page they were on was the same as the link you provided..I quess it’s just one of those internet mysteries… no Doh! required…more like a WTF?

  11. Doug Hughes  •  Oct 17, 2006 @9:14 pm

    Go back to the basics.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Declaration of Independence 1776

    Let me point out T.J said “ALL men” not just Americans have rights – among these are “Liberty”. Imprisoning a man deprives him of a basic right. It can be done, but it lays a burden on the government to show cause. That’s habeus corpus; it’s a concept older than this country. I’m gonna get wordy, but perhaps Maha will permit it, since they are not my words.

    ” I like the declaration of rights as far as it goes, but I should have been for going further. For instance, the following alterations and additions would have pleased me: “… “Article 8. “No person shall be held in confinement more than — days after he shall have demanded and been refused a writ of habeas corpus by the judge appointed by law, nor more than — days after such a writ shall have been served on the person holding him in confinement; and no order given on due examination for his remandment or discharge; nor more than — hours in any place at a greater distance than — miles from the usual residence of some judge authorized to issue the writ of habeas corpus; nor shall such writ be suspended for any term exceeding one year, nor in any place more than — miles distant from the station or encampment of enemies or of insurgents.” — ”

    Thomas Jefferson to James Madison 1789 –
    on the proposed US Constitution. Again I point out it says “No Person” not “No Citizen” a distinction he could have made if T.J. believed in a 2-tiered system of justice.

    “Examine the history of England. See how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas corpus law have been worthy of that suspension. They have been either real treason, wherein the parties might as well have been charged at once, or sham plots, where it was shameful they should ever have been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, that operation is now become habitual, and the minds of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant suspension. ”

    Thomas Jefferson to James Madison 1788

    “I do not like [in the new Federal Constitution] the omission of a bill of rights, providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for [* * *] the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws.”

    Thomas Jefferson to James Madison 1787

    “By a declaration of rights I mean one which shall stipulate freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce against monopolies, trial by juries in all cases, no suspensions of the habeas corpus, no standing armies. These are fetters against doing evil which no honest government should decline. ”

    Thomas Jefferson to A. Donald 1788

    So what came of Jeffersons complaints? The Bill of Rights.

    Amendment V

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    ———————————————

    Amendment VI

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

    ————————————————————–

    The founding fathers must be spinning in their graves. Will the Supreme Court PLEASE strike down this abomination of a law –

    “that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

  12. James  •  Oct 17, 2006 @9:18 pm

    This is a dead law folks.

    It’s unconstitiutional in so many ways. The military won’t use it for anything until it passes the Supreme Court, and the law didn’t address problems that Justice Kenndy brought up in the Hamdan Case, which this law was suppose to fix. Bush can’t use it either.

    The signing is a political stunt for the Nov. elections. It won’t help Bush or the GOP in anyway.

    There are people out there already getting their case set to challenge the law in Federal Court.

    The law will be shut down by injunction, then it will die the death it deserves.

  13. erinyes  •  Oct 17, 2006 @9:23 pm

    Thanks Swami.
    Here’s my plan for next week…
    I’ll make up a couple of signs that say “turn left at next election”, my daughter and I will hold them along the busy road we live near.
    You guy need to realize we are the minority, by that I mean while we blog about this stuff, most people (including my wife and daughter) are watching “Dancing with the stars”.Most people have no idea about how bad Bush has made things, our job is to educate them, and the timing couldn’t be better! It’s no longer “treason” to speak up, and the polls clearly show many doubt the truth about 9/11, and think Bush is a schmuck. As we speak,
    Scarborough and Buchanon are talking about how Bush’s base are deserting him, and Condi made a huge faux pas by calling the mother of a gay dude’s lover his “mother-in-law”. This is Twilight zone shit!
    Let’s get busy, have some fun, and run these idiots out in three weeks!
    Timing is everything, and the time has arrived!

  14. erinyes  •  Oct 17, 2006 @9:27 pm

    Here’s an escape, if anyone wants to threw in on it!
    http://www.tearaiestate.net/index.cpm/home
    Bush is going to Paraguay to escape his fate, if my crazy source is correct.

  15. el kanuckistani  •  Oct 17, 2006 @9:51 pm

    From Steppenwolfe “monster”
    1970 repeated in 2003,4,5,6

    Our cities have turned into jungles
    And corruption is stranglin’ the land
    The police force is watching the people
    And the people just can’t understand
    We don’t know how to mind our own business
    ‘Cause the whole worlds got to be just like us
    Now we are fighting a war over there
    No matter who’s the winner
    We can’t pay the cost
    ‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose
    It’s got our heads into a noose
    And it just sits there watching

    (America)
    America where are you now?
    Don’t you care about your sons and daughters?
    Don’t you know we need you now
    We can’t fight alone against the monster

  16. maha  •  Oct 17, 2006 @10:00 pm

    erinyes — send photos!

  17. Swami  •  Oct 17, 2006 @10:20 pm

    erinyes — send photos!

    LOL…he must have pissed off the hypertext link god.

  18. seen this movie before  •  Oct 17, 2006 @11:35 pm

    WE hope it does not pass muster and is ruled unconstitutional. The politicians or should I say snakes that voted for it voted and then said well the supreme court will strike it down. It was all a little theater for them so they wouldn’t have to face their opponents ads when they recessed. pretend to fight terrorism , Throw the rule of law away and run home to campaignn Not one deserves to be reelected no matter who they are. If they are that cynical they do not need to be in the job.

  19. lafrance  •  Oct 18, 2006 @12:52 am

    You said that if you peel off enough layers you’ll find a sniveling coward.
    This is why the majority of righties are chickenhawks.

  20. erinyes  •  Oct 18, 2006 @4:59 am

    Naw Swami, I just left my glasses in the truck.
    I’ll try again when I get back tonight.

  21. Swami  •  Oct 18, 2006 @7:05 am

    Good morning Iraq….9 more Americans killed for Bush’s lie.

    “Who wants to be the last soldier to die for a lie?”

  22. Donna  •  Oct 18, 2006 @7:57 am

    The Bush cowardly ego strategy:
    make use of Bin Laden’s purpose to keep America off balance with fear of terrorism…… milk 9/11 for all its worth….. create 24/7 spin images of ‘a tough leader’…… egoistically get off on this image and start believing it yourself……when ‘the image’ begins to dissolve in the face of undeniable incompetence…..then make a pact with the devil….. sell out America’s honor to shore up your cowardly ego.
    To be as tough as the enemy, according to Bush’s teen-age level ego dynamic, you have to out-bad the bad guys….be willing to torture, ignore humanitarian laws, Christian morality and basic decency, and be willing to dream up justification for and even enjoy the power of causing the deaths of thousands of innocents.

    Take this immature Bush ego and marry it to the ‘Constitutional secularists’ of his circle, those [Cheney, Rove, etal] whose main values are money and political ‘win’ strategies, then let this unholy marriage lead a ‘lock-step’ Republican Party who all come to agree that ‘money rightfully trumps everything else in elections’, then feed this all through an orwellian spin machine to confuse and stymie the public.

    Well, George Bush, you and your friends have certainly proven yourselves to be badder than the bad guys for the America we love.

    Thank you, Doug Hughes, for your post above.

  23. erinyes  •  Oct 19, 2006 @9:18 am


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