Skip

Won't the Real Dick Cheney Please Stand Up?
May 16, 2009 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Rachel Maddow recently interviewed former head of the Iraq Survey Group Charles Duelfer - who claims that Washington suggested using stronger interrogation techniques against an Iraqi official who was already cooperating - and former NBC News investigative producer Robert Windrem who says two sources confirmed to him that the suggestion from Washington was to use waterboarding, that the purpose was to find a link between Al-Qaida and Iraq, and that it came from the Vice President's office.

The video in the second link begins with a timeline detailing Bush administration claims of an Al-Qaida/Iraq link and the use of torture. Her interview begins after about six minutes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (90 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe if we all chip in $5, we can start a war crimes trial?
posted by Nelson at 11:18 AM on May 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


Not that we should actually even need to have an argument about this, but I would imagine that some people who might have thought that torture was a good idea in 'Ticking Timebomb' scenarios to "keep America safe" would be a lot less likely to think it was justified to justify the Iraq war.

I mean, most people now agree that Iraq war was a huge mistake. If the narrative about torture becomes "Dick Cheney tortured people to build a case for the war in in Iraq" and that "Torturing people was one of the causes of the Iraq war" then I imagine that a lot of people would be supportive of prosecutions, that it would be easier to get convictions and so on.

It would mean that the torturers not only hurt America in a "moral" sense (which I certainly think) but the actually, damaged America in a literal concrete sense, and made us less safe (if you include troops, which you obviously should).

So people who are worried about "paying a political price" have for torture prosecutions would have a good reason, here, to relax. I only think there would be a political price for unsuccessful prosecutions, and this reduces the odds of that, for sure.

--

I think it's horrible that torture and whatnot aren't considered automatically wrong anymore, but accountability for torture needs to be sold just like any other policy. Right now, we only have republicans out there arguing for torture. Democrats, lead by Obama are all "we need to look forward, not backwards" There's not many people out there arguing that torture is wrong, and people need to be held accountable for it. Because of that, people only hear one side of the debate. And the Washington establishment seems to be firmly in the "lets put this behind us" camp. So there's no debate, people only hear one side and one argument. That needs to change.
posted by delmoi at 11:23 AM on May 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


2nding Delmoi. The problem here is that Republicans are arguing torture is okay (or "enhanced interrogation" isn't torture) and Democrats are basically arguing "torture isn't okay, but we don't really wanna dwell on it cause then they'll call us softies..." Positions which are basically morally equivalent.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why couldn't the guy have accidentally shot himself in the face?
posted by dunkadunc at 11:33 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


From Cheney? Imagine my surprise.
posted by jokeefe at 11:52 AM on May 16, 2009


I read about this early this morning, then headed off to run errands with this heavily on my mind. As much as I think Cheney and Rumsfeld are war criminals of the basest sort (these are highly educated men, distanced from the stresses of combat), I fear what the next few years would bring if and when they are brought to trial.

I am astounded by the lack of welcome our president gets at ASU and Notre Dame. Would Cheney be greeted in the same way as long as he is against abortion, torture not currently being an issue for the religious right? Our country is so deeply divided on these issues for reasons that leave me clueless.

I guess I think we need to get to the bottom of the who,what and when of this whole dirty businesses, but I'm afraid of what could be gained and what may be lost if Cheney et al are brought to trial and forced to face consequences for their dispicable actions.

This may actually the worst Obama has to face, dealing with this. Cleaning up the messes of the wars and the economy left to him from the previous administration pales compared to having to bring them to justice, starting a partisan battle that may never heal.
posted by readery at 11:53 AM on May 16, 2009


The torture-iraq connection is what will land people in prison if anything does. Any documentation that proves that Cheney ordered torture to extract confessions along those lines has to end with the man in the gallows doesn't it?
posted by empath at 12:07 PM on May 16, 2009


If this is true, Cheney probably should be prosecuted.
posted by caddis at 12:07 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


If the GOP forces this to become a partisan battle than all the worse for the GOP. I won't be crying any tears if the whole party is destroyed. Germany has managed okay without the national socialists. We can survive without the GOP.
posted by empath at 12:09 PM on May 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


The key here is to focus on cheney and isolate him. Attack his power base, get people to point fingers at him. There are plenty of people that are defending him out of political expedience, and we have to make it not expedient to defend him any more.

I think ron Paul might be the key here. He needs to take the lead on the GOP side calling for investigations.
posted by empath at 12:15 PM on May 16, 2009


Meh, I like having the GOP around, for three reasons:

1) The GOP can occasionally force the Democrats to fall in line and accomplish something.

2) The existence of the GOP means that we can keep our eye on various wingnuts under one roof.

3) If the GOP vanishes, a party will arise to take its place. Perhaps more than one. Right now, we can count on the GOP to be hypocritical, hysterical, and often incompetent. Who knows about the replacement?

Thank you, GOP. Please keep delivering the Palins and getting fundraising from anti-gay, spectacularly-outed ministers of megachurches. You keep making the rest of us look sharp.
posted by adipocere at 12:21 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, what's so great about the GOP is that THEY NEVER WIN. Imagine the shape we'd be in if these clowns had been the dominant American political party since the 1960s!
posted by gerryblog at 12:30 PM on May 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Interesting article (in English) from Der Spiegel. It was outsourced!
posted by chillmost at 12:35 PM on May 16, 2009


I ideologically, morally, ethically, want trials to start. I don't buy a "few bad apples" argument. The whole damn tree starting with Cheney is rotten and should be ripped out.

On the other hand, my pragmatist, political junkie side knows it's a bad idea. It would mean a 1 term Obama administration. Government would freeze, Nancy Pelosi would likely be implicated as having fore-knowledge of torture. Democrats would have an ineffectual government, and be shown the door at the next election. I'd like to see some benefits from this long awaited regime change, like Health Care reform. We earned it, damn it. Plus nothing will unite a fractured GOP like having some big issue to attack, it'll come down to a a rallying cry of "fuck those Dems!"and "we're the victims!" Sure I want a 2 party government, someone to keep us in check, but lets wait 8 years eh?

Sacrificing morals for pragmatism? Yeah, I guess that's why I'm not an ideologue.
posted by fontophilic at 12:35 PM on May 16, 2009






boldly sailing forth where every republic has gone before...
posted by geos at 1:14 PM on May 16, 2009


From McClatchy, probably the only major news organization who got it right during the runup to Iraq:

Report: Abusive tactics used to seek Iraq-al Qaida link

Article published the day after the torture memos were released back in April. Finally getting some attention.
posted by citron at 1:19 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't see why this would grind the government to a halt. The people who did this are already out of power, and their party is doing their darndest to halt all government business anyway. This needs to happen in federal district court. No Congressional hearings, no special prosecutors, just the US Attorney's office doing its job in front of a federal grand jury.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:27 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


To my understanding, the laws work like this:

1 - Members of the Bush admin., up to and including Bush himself, have most likely violated the Geneva Conventions in regards to torture and treatment of prisoners (irrespective of the reasons why they did so). This is clearly in violation of black letter law, both of the U.S. and international law. Members of the Bush Admin. that have violated this law must be prosecuted for this, under our signatory obligations via the Geneva Convention.

2 - The Obama Admin. has the legal obligation under the Geneva Convention to investigate and prosecute American citizens that have violated its statutes. It is not up to the current admin., or any following admins. whether to prosecute or not, they are legally obligated to do so. If the Obama admin. does not follow through on this, THEY will be liable for their failure to do so. In other words they cannot "just let it slide."

3 - My understanding is that the world court in The Hague comes into play only if the home country responsible for violating the Geneva Convention fails to prosecute within 15 years of the crimes allegedly committed, although I am unsure if they are obligated to do so. I believe they might be forced into doing so.

So to my understanding, Bush et al broke the law, and if Obama does not look into it, HE is also breaking the law, and if we won't clean up our mess, the world court can come in and clean it up for us.

If you think the right wing is freaking out now, wait until a bunch of lawyers from Belgium start showing up.
posted by Relay at 1:29 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Right; the long view here is to focus on the current problems (crashed economy, health care, swine flu, israeli 'diplomacy'), and let the torture evidence continue too accumulate and be declassified. Because the more that is classified, the less will be available in court trials. Additionally, it gives more time for the public view to solidify into the 'Cheney ordered torture to start the Iraq war.' Then, three years from now, starting the prosecutions of the war criminals can actually be a point to run a re-election campaign on, and create a national mandate for those prosecutions to go forward.

My guess is that Obama and crew aren't ignoring the torture issue, but playing a longer game. They don't want a witch hunt or a strictly partisan battle; they're letting more information be revealed, allowing the GOP to shoot itself in the foot by incriminating their own people to attack Pelosi, and allowing a (hopefully) national consensus in favor of prosecution to form.

I think the torture photos issue is also an example of big-picture thinking. It won't change things on the ground in the US very much to release these photos now (as opposed to when they finally move forward on prosecutions), but they could add a lot of noise to the already-precarious Afghanistan war by giving high propaganda-value images to the enemy. It would be like a giant gift to the Taliban recruitment department.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:33 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


My guess is that Obama and crew aren't ignoring the torture issue, but playing a longer game.

My guess is that the game Obama and crew are playing is so long, they're going to go through two whole terms without making a move on these bastards.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:46 PM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


If we can't prosecute our officials for crimes, then democracy is failing. Our officials should be more bound by the rule of law rather than less bound by it. To say "It would be bad for the country if the former VP were to be prosecuted" is an argument that the vice presidency, the way we have it now, is bad for our country, not that prosecutions are bad for our country. Seeking justice is never bad for the country.

Prosecute, and make the changes to position of power that will make sure that men and women who achieve those positions will never again be considered above prosecution.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:21 PM on May 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I am so goddamn sick of Obama-is-playing-11-dimensional-chess argument. He's clearly not the president you thought he was. Go have a cry about it and then come back when you're ready for a discussion.
posted by mek at 2:46 PM on May 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Treaty obligations (while important) notwithstanding, torture is a violation of US Code. Jurisdiction applies where a US national commits torture outside the US or engages in a conspiracy to do so. This is fruitful grounds for DOJ to at least employ a special prosecutor.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:22 PM on May 16, 2009


Because the more that is classified, the less will be available in court trials

that's actually not true, at least in theory, although the obama admin is pushing the BS bush admin "state secrets" tactic to get entire cases dismissed regardless of their merits over their classified status. but there is and always has been a procedure by which a judge can view and evaluate classified information and have it remain classified, called 'in camera' review.
posted by Hat Maui at 3:43 PM on May 16, 2009


Thanks for the clarification and the link, Hat Maui. I wonder to what degree the CIA would be required (and/or willing) to provide knowledge of relevant classified information; if no one outside the agency knows the information exists, and the agency itself is untrustworthy, then how can they be expected to hand over incriminating evidence? As it is, we're getting a slow flood of information in the public view.

The link is damned depressing, no doubt.

The 'generous' reading is that the administration has a great many problems that need piles of work to resolve, and allowing the torture issue to 'ripen' will make it more politically viable to prosecute. I think going directly after the Bush/Cheney folks immediately after the election would have looked a lot like a crass partisan move to anyone still sympathetic to the GOP. As it is, the GOP is getting time to decide whether to side with or cast out its old leadership; if they keep identifying with BushCo and a strong national consensus emerges against BushCo, then they will have marginalized themselves even more than they already have. On the other hand, if the GOP disowns BushCo, then prosecutions can go forward without being overtly political.

None of this excuses the state secrets bullshit, though. Maybe the CIA briefed Obama on their Presidential Assassination policy, and got him to quickly change his tune.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:16 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am astounded by the lack of welcome our president gets at ASU and Notre Dame. Would Cheney be greeted in the same way as long as he is against abortion, torture not currently being an issue for the religious right? Our country is so deeply divided on these issues for reasons that leave me clueless.

I think this is an inaccurate perception, an old reality that continues to be perpetuated in media narratives. I was at Obama's ASU speech, and the crowd loooved him, there were like a half-dozen people lamely trying to protest out front, and the press coverage locally ranged from enthusiastically favorable to mutedly neutral. No mega-republican, wing-nut backlash over his appearance and speech from Arizonans.

I don't understand why everything that goes on in federal government is supposed to go through the president. Is Obama responsible for everything that goes on, even though there are other branches of government? It's entirely possible that what will happen over the torture of detainees in U.S. custody is something no one is really talking about, like maybe the more information comes out the more the American people will wake up to the reality of what Cheney et al did, and why, and a majority will demand justice--and no amount of crowing from a minority opposition party will be able to frame it as a partisan issue. And then maybe Congress will actually have to do something, even if it means some of their own will be caught up in it.

The truth speaks loudest of all, and sunlight is always the best disinfectant. As long as the facts keep trickling out this is a very dynamic situation.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:33 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The 'generous' reading is that the administration has a great many problems that need piles of work to resolve, and allowing the torture issue to 'ripen' will make it more politically viable to prosecute.

And I don't think that the 'generous' reading is unreasonable, given that Obama has been president for only four months.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:35 PM on May 16, 2009


As someone said in an email to Andrew Sullivan, the Obama Administration doesn't want to prosecute the Bush Administration because it would suck all the air in the room into a single issue that drags on for years, that causes massive partisan division, and that makes accomplishing anything else impossible. Even a truth commission runs this risk. The writer speculates that Obama decided to forego torture prosecution in order to handle the economic crisis and hit some big, left-wing home runs like universal health care. It feels wrong, but there's definitely a political logic to it.

I think if I were in that position, I might make the same choice and allow history to damn the Bush administration, maybe aided by some timely leaks. We don't yet live in a world were nations hang their own war criminals.

That Cheney is as public as he is these days tells me that the damning has already begun, and that pleases me.
posted by fatbird at 5:22 PM on May 16, 2009


I’ll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.

Jesse Ventura on Cheney and torture.
posted by pianomover at 6:42 PM on May 16, 2009


the Obama Administration doesn't want to prosecute the Bush Administration because it would suck all the air in the room into a single issue that drags on for years, that causes massive partisan division, and that makes accomplishing anything else impossible.

Well, at least we can set aside concerns about partisan division, as that seems to be the guiding principal of the GOP now, just as it has been for as long as I can remember.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:51 PM on May 16, 2009


As someone said in an email to Andrew Sullivan, the Obama Administration doesn't want to prosecute the Bush Administration because it would suck all the air in the room into a single issue that drags on for years, that causes massive partisan division, and that makes accomplishing anything else impossible.

Also, because the Obama Administration may well use the same tactics at some point.
posted by Slap Factory at 7:14 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The 'generous' reading is that the administration has a great many problems that need piles of work to resolve, and allowing the torture issue to 'ripen' will make it more politically viable to prosecute.

Yeah, they're letting the torture issue ripen. They're also letting the following issues ripen:

FISA / illegal wiretapping
detainee photos
state secrets
drug policy


Frankly, all this ripening crap is starting to stink up the place.

The pragmatist in me says he doesn't want to get involved in a protracted political fight he may not win. The conspiracist in me says the CIA and NSA are just too powerful at this point for anyone, even the President, to restrain. When is the last time either of these agencies were really held accountable for any of their illegal behavior?
posted by formless at 7:41 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dick Cheney is the reason that I hope hell exists. Even Jesus himself could not forgive you Mr Cheney.
posted by jcworth at 7:48 PM on May 16, 2009


As much as I think Cheney and Rumsfeld are war criminals of the basest sort (these are highly educated men, distanced from the stresses of combat), I fear what the next few years would bring if and when they are brought to trial. […thoughts of states which are ridiculously right-wing Republican…]

I think there would be a very unhappy minority of people. About twenty percent of the population is so ridiculously religious or so ridiculously racist that they will never accept that it was wrong to torture people into confessions to support a falsely-promoted war of choice not defense.

Heck, one in five sounds too high. I'm sure one in five would be saying "Whoa, the government is taking this serious" and worry what might happen next. 'cause it's kind of frightening to see government say "That Is An Emphatic No." But I can't see one in one hundred Americans really giving a rat's ass about Cheney once we start seeing his depravation. There are truly horrific things that have been done to children that are a direct result of decisions that Cheney has made and that Bush authorized.

In fact, I can see ninety-nine of a hundred Americans being wholly in support of a whole lot of huge changes if all the facts are revealed. More openness is more good.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 PM on May 16, 2009


Or in short, let the fruitcakes shriek about how being open and knowing the truth is DaNgErOuS!!1!

I trust that Americans know right from wrong and will be able to handle the truth. I think America would come out the other side a stronger, happier and altogether better nation.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:02 PM on May 16, 2009


McClatchy: The report…found that Rumsfeld, …Rice, and other former senior Bush administration officials were responsible for the abusive interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld approved extreme interrogation techniques for Guantanamo in December 2002. He withdrew his authorization the following month… Military interrogators, however, continued employing some techniques in Afghanistan and later in Iraq."


To be prosecuted: Bush, Cheney, Rice, other former senior Bush administration officials including Rumsfeld, and a number of people below Rumsfeld that did not respect his withdrawal of authorization.

I think it's interesting that Rumsfeld approved and then withdrew. He may be one of the ones that can get off lightly: he can argue that he made a dire mistake and when he realized his mistake took action to correct it.

I think Bush can probably shed blame to Cheney. And this might be what has to happen, because Daddy did promise that Jeb would be President one day. They've got a well-established family tradition to uphold, and uphold it they have. Unless the GOP fully destructs, I fully expect we'll see another Bush in the White House.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:11 PM on May 16, 2009


Right; the long view here is to focus on the current problems… let the torture evidence continue too accumulate and be declassified. Because the more that is classified, the less will be available in court trials. …My guess is that Obama and crew aren't ignoring the torture issue, but playing a longer game.

I believe Obama is a masterful player of political chess. He has to be: he is the first Black President and a very young President. He's got game.

I think the time to decide on his politics is in 2012. That's the very soonest we can expect to see results from the things he is doing. The USA is a big damn ship and it takes time to make a course correction. Let the Captain do his job. It's daytime, the sky is clear, and the icebergs are obvious. If you can see it, so can he.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:16 PM on May 16, 2009


I wish I could say the same for my political leaders. Their worldviews scare the bejeezus out of me. Goodbye, cheap BC electricity, sold out to cronyism.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:17 PM on May 16, 2009


Holy crap, I need to shut up. Sorry!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:18 PM on May 16, 2009


If this is true, Cheney probably should be prosecuted.

If this is true, Cheney probably should be prosecutedexecuted.

FT. I mean, after all, we executed the Japanese for it, and they were only trying to win a war, not start one.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:34 PM on May 16, 2009


God it's times like these I had the self-discipline not to wander into these threads anymore. How in the hell does a breaking news story about evidence of Cheney using torture to extract false confessions out of Iraqi prisoners of war turn into a discussion of whether or not Obama's an opportunist fake who's probably just itching to use torture himself?

The president is not the fucking Prosecutor-in-Chief, people! The government is not just the office of the president... If it were, we'd be screwed, because apart from waging wars, the only explicit powers the president has are to make speeches and proposals, sign or veto laws, and make appointments subject to congressional approval.

The Department of Justice is supposed to be an independent, apolitical entity with its own prerogatives and decision-making authority. It's not supposed to answer to the President or follow his orders; sure, Bush might have obscured that fact, but there it is. And congress doesn't answer to the President either.

So what specifically, beyond issuing executive orders to stop the use of torture, do you want the President to do? Why is every decision made or action taken by every branch of government now viewed as an action of the President? Is it because Bush granted so little independence to the other parts of government and did so much to erode the separation of powers? How is Obama supposed to correct that error without granting them the independence and authority they're supposed to have?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:40 PM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Hear, hear. Call your representative and encourage them to support prosecution of war crimes.

Hell, I think I'll email my local and federal Canadian representatives. The Canadian government should, on the QT, be supporting prosecution.

The survival of both nations depends heavily on political reform. When Bad People are allowed to take control of the country, Bad Things happen. We need to be active in preventing that.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:50 PM on May 16, 2009


@gerryblog:Prof. Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the TARP Commission pointed out that the GOP has been in power for 28 of the last 40 years on Bill Maher Friday night. I'd say that they've been the dominant political party since '69.
posted by vhsiv at 8:53 PM on May 16, 2009


Yes, that was his point.
posted by ryanrs at 9:37 PM on May 16, 2009


On the other hand, my pragmatist, political junkie side knows it's a bad idea. It would mean a 1 term Obama administration. Government would freeze, Nancy Pelosi would likely be implicated as having fore-knowledge of torture.
What is this crap? There is no way to predict political reactions to events. Just look at the past few years. "Conventional wisdom" said Hillary Clinton would win, that she'd be up against Guiliani, that there would be a permanent republican majority, that democrats had to back the Iraq war, etc.

The conventional wisdom is never, never based on what actual reality is, rather it's based on what powerful people want the talking heads on TV to believe. And what does the Washington establishment want? They want this whole thing to go away. That's why people on TV are saying it would be horrible if there were prosecutions. It's not based on anything other then what they want and then "savvy" political consumers repeat it like sheep (no offense!), without bothering to see how non-sensical the whole thing is. It's like the whole argument for war in Iraq. All the "pundits" claimed that democrats had to support the war in Iraq or go down in certain defeat. And it happened.

And what happened? The Iraq war was poison. It killed Jon Kerry and Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes, even. It was idiotic for those people to swallow the conventional wisdom, but they did. But it wasn't conventional wisdom because it was correct, it was conventional wisdom because people wanted it that way.

Also What difference does it make if Pelosi is "implicated"? So someone told her. Well, to hell with Pelosi first of all, and second of all what difference does it make if it turns out she was told -- on one single occasion which she couldn't even talk about -- that the administration wanted to waterboard? Does that make her complicit? If so, then the worst case is that we find another speaker. She's hardly indispensable.

And besides Pelosi is calling for a truth commission. She wants an investigation. Obviously she thinks she'll be vindicated, or at least that the that's for the best and the country would be better off knowing everything including her minor role in these horrible crimes.
Plus nothing will unite a fractured GOP like having some big issue to attack, it'll come down to a a rallying cry of "fuck those Dems!"and "we're the victims!" Sure I want a 2 party government, someone to keep us in check, but lets wait 8 years eh?
The GOP is more united then ever. Have you been paying attention? Nothing "unites" a party then everyone who isn't a die-hard leaving. Only 25% of the population is a republican at this point. They all vote lock-step, and there's no way they'll ever get any more united then they already are.
Sacrificing morals for pragmatism? Yeah, I guess that's why I'm not an ideologue.
No, if you didn't want to be an ideologue, you would sacrifice ideology for pragmatism. When you sacrifice morals for pragmatism, that makes you immoral.
that's actually not true, at least in theory, although the obama admin is pushing the BS bush admin "state secrets" tactic to get entire cases dismissed regardless of their merits over their classified status. but there is and always has been a procedure by which a judge can view and evaluate classified information and have it remain classified, called 'in camera' review.
Well, it would be more accurate to say that they tried and failed (their arguments were rejected by the court)
Yeah, they're letting the torture issue ripen. They're also letting the following issues ripen:


drug policy
Didn't you hear The War on Drugs is Over! In that, we will continue our policies but they will no longer be called a "War on Drugs". But actually, that is a pretty big improvement and a harbinger or better policy in the future. There are also not going to be any DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in CA.
The president is not the fucking Prosecutor-in-Chief, people! The government is not just the office of the president... If it were, we'd be screwed, because apart from waging wars, the only explicit powers the president has are to make speeches and proposals, sign or veto laws, and make appointments subject to congressional approval.
Actually, the president's ability to wage wars was somewhat curtailed after Vietnam, and congress can cut funding whenever it wants. But obviously the President has an enormous amount of influence in DC both over his party in congress and certainly the political appointees in the executive branch.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Obama is not going to open this can of worms, because he knows it will tear America apart. He has a very large list of things he has to accomplish, and needs as much unity as he can get. You have to choose your battles and keep your eye on the big picture.
posted by dacoit at 10:43 PM on May 16, 2009


Obama is not going to open this can of worms, because he knows it will tear America apart.

What does that even mean? "Tear America apart"? is California going to fall into the sea if there's an investigation? Come on.

Also, I don't particularly want to be "United" with a bunch of torturers. Fuck that.
posted by delmoi at 11:37 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The hell? Obama not intervening in sexual discrimination bullshit in the military. What the hell? Dismissed for "homosexual conduct"? FFS.

When is legitimate to be disillusioned? Surely this…

There's a May 14 bit with John Oliver on The Daily Show that says it all. WTF, USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:14 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obama on the campaign trail, paraphrased: "Why would we not want able-bodied men and women to be able to serve… why would we tell them no?" [regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."]

He was given a clear mandate on this one. I don't recall this being a real deciding issue: by now, everyone's pretty much "meh" about gays in the military — all the more so when they're foreign translators, who are so obviously important to national security that of course you want to retain.
He said: "On Monday, September 10th 2001, a message was intercepted by the State Department: tomorrow is zero hour. "Despite its simplicity, nobody was able to translate it. Any of the dozens of linguists already discharged for being gay at the time would have done so easily.”
Hell, yeah. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is obsolete and harmful.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:19 AM on May 17, 2009


3:20ish mark, here. "Moral Combat" segment.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:22 AM on May 17, 2009


What does that even mean? "Tear America apart"? is California going to fall into the sea if there's an investigation? Come on.

It means that the Republican base will become even harder and louder than it is now. It means that a significant portion who are ambivalent about torture will get tired and irritated that more immediate issues, in their view, are being sidetracked by endless media coverage and Congressional attention of torture investigations. It means that the hardcore left will get frustrated that we can't put a former president in prison and get universal health care. And it means that everyone who wants torture prosecutions will bray endlessly about how it wasn't done right, and that's why there were acquittals after a decade in court.

It'll mean that basically everyone will be pissed off, and nothing else will get done, and Obama will go down in history as the guy who tried and failed to have Cheney executed, rather than the guy who successfully passed some major pieces of legislation. I hate the thought that Cheney and Bush won't see the inside of jail cell, but in practical terms, they were never going to anyway, and this is one of those things where the cost of failure is high.

Maybe you think it's worth it, Delmoi. But don't pretend you don't see exactly how the whole partisan battle would play out over years.
posted by fatbird at 12:23 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


So you are willing to allow the troglodyte 20% of the population prevent the USA from becoming a shining beacon of hope, a thousand points of light etcetera? Because that seems to be where you are heading with your thoughts.

I think you overestimate their number by a factor of ten. Fuck the two-percenters: Justice Must Prevail. We must stand up for universal human rights.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:52 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It means that the Republican base will become even harder and louder than it is now

and what, we're supposed to fear that? we're supposed to not pursue a course of action because lunatics will get nuttier? why do you think they run the asylum?

It means that a significant portion who are ambivalent about torture will get tired and irritated that more immediate issues, in their view, are being sidetracked by endless media coverage and Congressional attention of torture investigations

this is unsupported by the reality. for one, it does not have to be a congressional investigation at all. the best bet, in fact, would be an independent truth commission followed by prosecutions if they are warranted by the findings of the commission. make it bipartisan. hell, put a reasonable republican (not that there are many of those) in charge of it -- i'd say charlie crist or john huntsman but they now have other fish to fry.

i agree the media coverage would be most likely a far cry from the truth of it, but a report from an independent commission can be published and reviewed by anyone.

the more immediate issues can be addressed because obama doesn't have to even pay them any mind, nor does congress, until the report is released. if there's then a cause for prosecution, the justice department will be forced to take over.

It means that the hardcore left will get frustrated that we can't put a former president in prison

this framing bothers me -- who do you mean by hardcore left? the people i'm aware of that are pushing for it hardest are those that prioritize the rule of law over everything else, which is as it should be. does that make one a member of "the hardcore left"? i think a fair characterization would be that those that want to see investigations don't necessarily want to see a former president put in prison, but don't want to not prosecute someone for torture simply because "we should look forward instead of backward."

Obama will go down in history as the guy who tried and failed to have Cheney executed

this borders on absurd. you're making it out like the "hardcore left" that you see as being behind this foolhardy push to comply with the rule of law are a bloodthirsty mob. i wouldn't want to see anyone executed, and i think you'll have do more to establish any factual basis for this assertion. pure, and i believe groundless, speculation.

But don't pretend you don't see exactly how the whole partisan battle would play out over years.

are you really suggesting that you can predict with any certainty how any given political scenario is going to play out over any period of time, much less years? you must be savvier and shrewder than just about any prognosticator that exists. i say that not to be snarky, but in truth: no one, not you, not delmoi, not me, no one, can predict how complex systems like the politics of a 300 million person nation will play. it's like saying you know what the weather will be in the upper midwest for the next 5 years.
posted by Hat Maui at 2:21 AM on May 17, 2009


It means that the Republican base will become even harder and louder than it is now.
So?
It means that a significant portion who are ambivalent about torture will get tired and irritated that more immediate issues, in their view, are being sidetracked by endless media coverage and Congressional attention of torture investigations
Oh god? People would get Irritated!? That sounds awful! God forbid anyone should ever be irritated I mean, it's not like knowing that your country was hanging from people from ceilings naked in extreme cold to keep them awake for days at a time could be irritating or anything. Not at all. And it certainly isn't the case that people could just turn their TVs off if they don't like hearing about it.
And it means that everyone who wants torture prosecutions will bray endlessly about how it wasn't done right, and that's why there were acquittals after a decade in court.
So what? Would that also irritate you or something? No one is forcing you to pay attention. And god somethings are more important then not being irritated by the news. I mean fuck how irritating is the regular news? I mean if it's not torture prosecutions the news will be talking about shark attacks or twitter or some nonsense.

Now the idea of "congressional attention" is a bit absurd. First of all, I think most people want an independent truth commission like the 9/11 commission, which didn't take up any of congresses time. And also, congress has what are called committees, which deal with issues separately. Even if it were handled through congress, it would be done by a congressional committee. It's not like congress can only work on one thing at once. Duh.

If you think somehow pissing off the republicans would prevent things from happening, well you're wrong. The republicans so far have been 100% opposed to everything Obama has tried to do and guess what: It still happened! That's because the republicans have zero legislative ability right now. They have just 40 senate seats and a minority in the house. They can't actually do anything except whine and stop their feet. Now, it does make it more possible for opportunists like Ben Nelson and the newly minted democrat, Arlan Specter to be obnoxious. But those guys are not going to stand completely alone against universal health care, I don't think. And there are definitely not going to be any republican votes either way.
Maybe you think it's worth it, Delmoi. But don't pretend you don't see exactly how the whole partisan battle would play out over years.
Bullshit, I don't have to pretend. I don't know what will happen in the future, and anyone who claims to is either retarded or full of shit. No one can see the future. Who would have predicted that Barack Obama would be president in 2008 back in '04, when he was running for senate for the first time? Who would even have predicted that the democrats would sweep congress just two years after that date? No one would have and that was just a two year window.

--

Anyway, what you described hardly amounts to the country "tearing itself apart". America Tearing itself apart would mean scessesion and terrorism. Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq. Those are countries that have been torn apart. What you've described sounds like something that amounts to you, personally, being annoyed when you watch the news -- which you are under no obligation to do.

Oh I mean you say "people who are ambivalent" about torture would be irritated by all this horrible horrible partisanship (and everyone knows hearing people argue with each other is like ten times worse then torture) and that there wouldn't be any progress on Universal Healthcare. Well you know what? fuck people who are ambivalent about torture. I already have health care.
posted by delmoi at 2:43 AM on May 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I already have health care.

"I got mine" sounds pretty Republican.
posted by RussHy at 5:19 AM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I hate the thought that Cheney and Bush won't see the inside of jail cell, but in practical terms, they were never going to anyway, and this is one of those things where the cost of failure is high.

So that whole thing about "Nation of Laws" and "Equal Protection" and "Due Process" and their FUCKING OATHS OF OFFICE are meaningless?

to simplify, "All Men are NOT created equal. Some are endowed by their Creator with inalienable PRIVILEGES, among them Criminal and Civil Immunity...."
posted by mikelieman at 5:33 AM on May 17, 2009


"I got mine" sounds pretty Republican.

I was just in Preview trying to write something pithy, but yeah. What you said.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:43 AM on May 17, 2009


Cheney's current media blitz makes no sense to me at all, unless...

lordrunningclam's Political Potboiler Thriller Theory:

Cheney is dying. He has some incurable disease and as a loyal soldier in his cause, he uncharacteristically begins actually telling the truth about his actions to the world. Ostensibly, to justify his previous actions to the American people and our allies, but in reality to harden the case for his own guilt. He then hops on board a plane to Spain, Germany or some other country that actually takes its non-economic treaty obligations seriously and is immediately arrested.

The world and particularly the US, because in reality he doesn't give a rat's ass what happens outside the US border, is then treated to the media spectacle of a President trying and almost certainly failing to get our former beloved de-facto fatally ill senior statesman back. What's that pantywaist going to do, declare war on the EU? Hah! The Obama administration then gets caught up in the spectacle, fails to pass any of its agenda, leading to a swing in public opinion against the Democrats. Cheney dies in a foreign prison, a martyr to his cause, a beacon to the future second only to Ronald Reagan.

The US then builds a wall around itself, including Canada and all the shoreline (can't see the shoreline from Wyoming anyway), kills all the gays, eliminates all taxes, and ten years later drowns in it's own feces after the last bit of sewer infrastructure crumbles. Wyoming will be OK, though. It's pretty high up and we all know what runs downhill.
posted by lordrunningclam at 6:14 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


If the choice is between prosecuting and convicting people for ordering and engaging in torture or ignoring it and getting other stuff done, I'd definitely go for prosecuting.

Good thing we can walk and chew gum at the same time and the above is a false choice.
posted by odinsdream at 7:20 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I do not think America would tear itself apart in actual terms. We might have a bombing or two here or there, bad feelings for maybe a couple of decades, but no outright civil war. What I think would happen if Obama made it an Agenda Item to go after Cheney, et al, and put it on the top of his list would go like this:

1) Grab a sheet of paper, then a black pen and a red pen.

2) Leave a little space empty at the , and put a #1 by it, as if you were starting a list. Use the black pen.

3) Write down everything you wanted Obama to do in office. Hopes, dreams, secret fantasies you had, campaign promises. Everything that is dangerously wrong with the country right now, like the economy, in some many ways. That Obama-meter had, what, five hundred items, something like that? Use the black pen.

4) Cross off half of those, because realistically, who delivers that much? Maybe two-thirds, it's a judgment call. Use the red pen.

5) Now, of the items remaining, write "1st term" and "2nd term" by each, depending on when you think he would get these done. Write 1st term by that little space you had in #2. Back to black!

6) Get some more paper, separate these lists out into 1st term and 2nd term. Keep that empty space at the top of the 1st term sheet! Continue with the black.

7) Now, put "prosecute for torture" at the top left, in that 1st term sheet of paper. Big bold black letters!

8) Throw the 2nd term sheet of paper away, because you realize Obama would not be re-elected. Just set it on fire and drop it in an empty wastebasket. Whoosh!

9) Stare hard at the 1st term sheet and imagine precisely how much legislation will be pushed through Congress while we prosecute the previous administration for war crimes. Contemplate how Washington ground to a halt while Watergate was going on. Now, make it worse. A lot worse.

10) Take the red pen and sadly draw through everything after your #1 item, "prosecute for torture." Write at the top of the paper, in black, "What Obama Did In Office."

11) Look at your original sheet of paper and remember what might have been.

The ninth bit I think about a lot. Is it possible in theoretical terms that we could get on with government business while we investigate and prosecute this situation? Sure! Do I think it will actually work like that? No. I think the remainder of Obama's term, he could get nothing else done, and Congress would remain freaked out and embroiled until then.

I'd love it were I wrong in this matter.
posted by adipocere at 7:49 AM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Mental Wimp: If this is true, Cheney probably should be prosecutedexecuted.

In which case, even money he pulls a Göring.
posted by hangashore at 8:03 AM on May 17, 2009


My head is spinnning. I can't figure out if delmoi is a hard-leftist or a republican. I guess maybe he's a hard-leftist republican.

I literally can't figure out where this "Obama will lose his agenda" thing is coming from. Republicans vote in a block against Democratic initiatives, pretty much regardless of what they are. So their opposition is locked in. What you're saying is, substantial numbers of Democrats will be so enraged by the prosecutions for terror, that they will vote against unrelated bills they like out of pure spite.

Furthermore, it's kind of a dream world. Any prosecutions will have to procede over Obama's objections. Because Obama has made it clear that he opposes prosecutions. People imagining that he's playing some "long game" are just projecting. It has nothing to do with insufficient time. He has fought hard to prevent the disclosure of information that would increase public sentiment for torture prosecutions. He has spoken out repeatedly about moving forward. At this point, the evidence is that he's not lying when he says he opposes prosecutions. My guess is, he doesn't like the idea of presidents and their advisors/friends being prosecuted.

Which brings me to my interest in this. I don't think that torture is even nearly the worst thing that was done by Bush, nor do I think that his excesses were extraodinary, except in that they were more blatant than previous administrations. On several occasions, Bush/Cheney chose accomplish something through illegal means rather than legal (i.e. broke the law when they had the ability to get congress to change the law). They did this specifically to advance a sort of political theory that the President is not beholden to the law. They flaunted this idea more than other administrations, but every administration believes it to some extent. That theory must be repudiated.
posted by Humanzee at 9:01 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


> the best bet, in fact, would be an independent truth commission followed by prosecutions if they are warranted by the findings of the commission.

That's not how truth commissions work. You testify in exchange for immunity. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee was successful precisely because it allowed Apartheid criminals to escape punishment by testifying fully to what they did.

I'm happy, actually, that the idea of truth commissions are picking up steam. I think it's the best obtainable outcome. Dubya thought that History was his ultimate constituency, and I'd love to see him watch history pronounce him a war criminal.

I don't know what will happen in the future, and anyone who claims to is either retarded or full of shit.

Well, thanks for that.

We already have two periods in recent history when we see how much gets done in Washington when a president is under attack: Watergate and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I don't think I'm retarded and I don't think I'm full of shit when I say that I suspect it would go pretty much the same way. No, I can't see the future, but I'm capable of making some reasonable fucking inferences.

I already have health care

I'm sure that's very comforting to the 40 million or so Americans who don't, and who just lost their jobs in the greatest economic downturn since the Depression.
posted by fatbird at 9:06 AM on May 17, 2009




I was just posting over in the Rumsfeld thread (here), and wanted to mention something I said there: I think the revelations that Cheney used torture to fabricate evidence to justify a war and the Rumsfeld created propaganda personally to mislead and misinform the president are the things that will get people righteously angry moreso than torture.

As I mentioned in the other thread, I hate to be this cynical, but regarding torture, I think many Americans agree with Peggy Noonan and just want to walk on by (it happened in war, bad things happen in war; besides, it happened to those foreigners, the terrorists, etc., are all-too-common rationalizations). But this other stuff, this caused American troops to die, these are lies that sent American men and women to their deaths, and I think these kinds of revelations are far more likely to galvanize a response for accountability.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:06 AM on May 17, 2009


Making no excuses for anything or in any way suggesting that other examples might not come to light, it does not seem possible that this particular report is accurate. Wilkerson's timeline doesn't match already available information.
posted by MuadDib at 12:28 PM on May 17, 2009


3) Write down everything you wanted Obama to do in office. Hopes, dreams, secret fantasies you had, campaign promises. Everything that is dangerously wrong with the country right now, like the economy, in some many ways. That Obama-meter had, what, five hundred items, something like that? Use the black pen.

... [snip incredibly long and detailed prediction]...


Okay Nostradamus. It's amazing how many people who oppose torture prosecutions base their argument entirely on their ability to predict the future. Do you think you're supposed paranormal superpowers make for a compelling argument? Really? I realize that you are convinced of your prognosticative powers but how is that supposed to convince anyone else. Apparently you're so convinced of the obviousness of your prediction that you don't even bother explaining why you think what you're saying will come to pass, you just say it will.

I do have to excerpt this one though:

9) Stare hard at the 1st term sheet and imagine precisely how much legislation will be pushed through Congress while we prosecute the previous administration for war crimes. Contemplate how Washington ground to a halt while Watergate was going on. Now, make it worse. A lot worse.

What does "grind to halt" even mean here? It's just like "tear the country apart" or "take all the oxygen." It's some kind of metaphor, but metaphor for what exactly? The people who make laws are congress, and they are implemented by the administrative branch. How would either of those two bodies "grind to a halt" because of investigations being carried out in the justice department? It's not like everyone in Washington has to agree with everyone else before things get done. There is ordinarily a lot of acrimony and there is already a lot of acrimony.

In case you haven't noticed, the republicans have successfully opposed Obama 100%. And I don't know if you realize this or not 100% is as high as the knob goes It doesn't matter how much more pissed off they get, they simply cannot block Obama's legislative agenda any more then they can now.

Furthermore, if an independent commission was setup, similar to the 9/11 commission, it wouldn't need any continued attention by congress. It's not like it would actually take up any of congresses time. And if it was done by congress itself, it would be only by one committee. There would be plenty of time for other members to work on laws.

The whole "grind to a halt" thing makes no sense, it's not a metaphor for any actual thing that exists in Washington, and it seems like the kind of thing someone would say if they don't even understand the basic structure of our government, which was setup to do more then one thing at once.
posted by delmoi at 1:23 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think many Americans agree with Peggy Noonan and just want to walk on by

I think many Americans need to think about how they want to define their nation.

Do Americans want to be known as the nation that tortures children?

Or do Americans want to be known as the nation that is a beacon of hope?

You can't have it both ways.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:28 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I already have health care
I'm sure that's very comforting to the 40 million or so Americans who don't, and who just lost their jobs in the greatest economic downturn since the Depression.
And there's not really any reason why we can't have universal health care and a truth commission, except in the fever dreams of a bunch of moral cowards. My point was just that trying to hold Universal Healthcare rhetorically hostage to not doing anything about torture isn't really a very compelling argument. If we have to chose between having universal healthcare and having a government that doesn't torture, I would pick having a government that doesn't torture.

And it's not enough just to say we don't do it. Bush did that all the time. Even if it doesn't happen under Obama's government, if there is are no consequences then the next republican to get into office will just start doing it again -- after all they all say it worked, it was great and there's nothing wrong with it. Why wouldn't they start again if they ever got back into power.

But anyway, I don't believe that having torture prosecutions would hold up universal healtchare. Lots of Americans are for it, and those people would not change their minds on health care because of a torture commission. Why would they?
posted by delmoi at 1:32 PM on May 17, 2009


that jamie kirchick TNR "piece" you just linked to is absurd, MuadDib. it refutes nothing. a more accurate statement would be "wilkerson's timeline doesn't match already available disinformation."
posted by Hat Maui at 1:35 PM on May 17, 2009


That's not how truth commissions work. You testify in exchange for immunity. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee was successful precisely because it allowed Apartheid criminals to escape punishment by testifying fully to what they did.

i wasn't clear -- were it up to me i would propose something that's more along the lines of a grand jury.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:39 PM on May 17, 2009


Can we figure out who's being evil and who's being a dumbass?
posted by kldickson at 2:17 PM on May 17, 2009


And there's not really any reason why we can't have universal health care and a truth commission, except in the fever dreams of a bunch of moral cowards.

Okay, I'm going to bow out here with a great big fuck you to Delmoi and friends who neither understand what I'm arguing, nor argue coherently against it, but are very good at calling dissenters to their holier-than-thou posturing "retarded", "full of shit", and "moral cowards."
posted by fatbird at 4:16 PM on May 17, 2009


Delmoi, I don't think #3 really requires any psychic powers at all. Scan the site for a while. Think of all of the things people have talked about, just here, that they wanted Obama to help accomplish. Fair or not, many, many hopes have been pinned upon him, and just a cursory scan through any Obama-related thread will show you. Gay marriage. Legalization of marijuana. A quick wrapup to the War We May Or May Not Be Having In Iraq. Health care reform.

And then I suggested uniting that with the set of campaign promises he made. No psychic powers involved there, just reading and taking some notes. There was no prediction there, just an exercise. No need to get bent out of shape about it. Not sure where you're getting the Nostradamus bit from. Maybe you mean it for the next bit, because that's the actual part where I make a prediction and nowhere else.

Now, as to #9, I guess I'll skip out of metaphor land and say that my fear on this is that, by "grind to a halt," I mean that I believe DC will do little else but talk torture. That's the part where you can call Nostradamus. That is fair. Here is my prediction: Unrelated legislation will move even less swiftly throughout the usual processes. In the highly theoretical sense, sure, we can walk and chew gum. In a practical sense, every press interview with the President will focus on Truth About Torture (or some catchy name). Recollect Lewinsky, Clinton, and Congress — what else went on back then? I believe that an investigation by the DOJ is going boomerang right back into Congress.

Everything takes time, or we'd just have expected Obama to get it all done in the first hundred days and then spend the remaining three years and change on the ranch clearing brush. The same goes for Congress. And maybe "time" isn't quite the right word for what the limiting factor is, maybe I'm grasping for "political capital" or the like. The fact is, whatever it is, Obama does not have an infinite amount of it. And prosecuting the previous administration would come at a dear price, much more expended than on getting rid of nonsense like Don't Ask, Don't Tell, or getting our drug laws somewhere within shouting distance of not being a joke.

I noticed you did not address the idea of a second term more or less evaporating. Do you think it would happen?

I do not think the Republicans in Congress have gone to 100%, or eleven on their amps, when it comes to resistance. We have yet to see the true wingnut face of it. And the Democrats are not exactly known for holding tightly in rank formation; should a sign appear that war crimes prosecution might be unpopular with the electorate, we'll see the usual Democrat dissension, and that's when the currently smooth insertion of legislation hits the turbulence.

Of course, to make it seem like a true Nostradamus prediction, I'd have to be calling for all kinds of weird things happening, versus saying, "DC is going to screw it up as always." The latter is not exactly a longshot.

Look, I'd love it if this could all happen. Really. A serious war crimes trial that didn't involve some third-level policywonk getting scapegoated would just maybe enable the country to lift its collective head a bit higher to the rest of the world. Right now, America stands for all kinds of things, including razoring up some guy's genitalia as part of an investigative process. Shameful things.

I'm not a big risk-taker. I'll admit it. I wonder if we should maybe hold into the humbling shame a bit longer and spend our political capital on other things that I believe will ultimately cost less and bring us greater results. The country could use both a little more humility and a little more real results.
posted by adipocere at 4:20 PM on May 17, 2009


a great big fuck you to Delmoi and friends

since i was the other person in the thread who was specifically disagreeing with you, i'll assume you're lumping me in here too? i can understand having a negative reaction to some of what delmoi said, and to the extent it was ad hominem i agree that it was over-the-top. but i don't think your "fuck you" is justified toward me. i was disagreeing with you in good faith and without personal rancor.
posted by Hat Maui at 4:37 PM on May 17, 2009


Okay, I'm going to bow out here with a great big fuck you to Delmoi and friends who neither understand what I'm arguing
Well, the reason no one can understand what you're arguing is that it doesn't make any sense. All you seem to be saying is "Good stuff wouldn't happen" but you don't give any reason for why it wouldn't happen other then some vapid, nonsensical metaphors about "grinding to a halt" or "tearing apart" "running out of oxygen" How could anyone understand that nonsense?
Delmoi, I don't think #3 really requires any psychic powers at all. Scan the site for a while. Think of all of the things people have talked about, just here, that they wanted Obama to help accomplish. Fair or not, many, many hopes have been pinned upon him, and just a cursory scan through any Obama-related thread will show you. Gay marriage. Legalization of marijuana. A quick wrapup to the War We May Or May Not Be Having In Iraq. Health care reform.
And do you think all those people would go and vote for the republicans or something? Yeah, people expect a lot from Obama, I guess. I'm not really sure what that has to do with anything, honestly. The idea that somehow dealing with what happened would prevent those things from happening just doesn't make that much sense to me.
Now, as to #9, I guess I'll skip out of metaphor land and say that my fear on this is that, by "grind to a halt," I mean that I believe DC will do little else but talk torture.
That just doesn't seem possible. I mean, maybe most people will talk about torture in their spare time but so what? Are you suggesting that people will just stop doing their jobs entirely just spend all their talking about torture? That just doesn’t make any sense to me either. Do you think the environmental committee will stop working on the environment? Or that the Financial Services committee will stop worrying about financial services reform?

That just seems bizarre. People are capable of 'talking' about one thing while working on other issues as well. And congress and the senate wouldn't be directly involved at all.
I do not think the Republicans in Congress have gone to 100%, or eleven on their amps, when it comes to resistance. We have yet to see the true wingnut face of it. And the Democrats are not exactly known for holding tightly in rank formation; should a sign appear that war crimes prosecution might be unpopular with the electorate, we'll see the usual Democrat dissension, and that's when the currently smooth insertion of legislation hits the turbulence.
What I mean about republicans is while they can get louder and more hysterical There is nothing they can actually do to stop Obama's agenda that they haven't already done or tried to do. They've voted 100% against stuff like the Stimulus bill, except for Arlan Specter and the two mane senators, and Arlan Specter is a Democrat now.

As far as loosing the 2012 election, it seems strange to think that people would vote for a republican to punish Obama for being stymied by republicans. The republicans stopped Clinton from doing anything and he still won in 1996, and they actually had the ability to prevent things from happening. All republicans can do is go on TV and whine. they don't have the ability to prevent legislation from passing no matter how hard they threaten to hold their breath and turn blue.
posted by delmoi at 4:53 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I'm not a big risk-taker. I'll admit it. I wonder if we should maybe hold into the humbling shame a bit longer and spend our political capital on other things that I believe will ultimately cost less and bring us greater results. The country could use both a little more humility and a little more real results."

My concern is that's what we've done before. The last major political upheaval on this scale is likely Nixon. Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz came from that administration. It was a major embarrassment for Nixon, but all they got was G Gordon Liddy and his goon squad. Problem was, Nixon got off easy by Ford's pardon. Now, maybe you can make an argument that it was the right thing to do to heal the country. Nixon had to live out the rest of his life with a tarnished legacy, so it's not as if he were a happy man, but then he probably never was anyway.

But it's troubling that we're facing evidence of crimes which far outweigh anything Nixon was accused of in the Watergate scandal, and the people involved at the highest level in the Bush administration, the same people who created the uber-executive ideological model as well as the torture policies themselves, can trace their resume right back to the Nixon administration. We've been through other scandals since, like Iran-Contra and the Enron collapse, but nobody at the top ever saw prison time. And every time it happens it always looks in retrospect like a bunch of gangsters were running things, that it was sort of amazing how they behaved with a sense of impunity as they used every resource available to concentrate power and shield it from scrutiny, wheeling and dealing and using brute force reflexively. Although Nixon never saw himself indicted, there were prosecutions of some of his underlings, so it wasn't entirely swept under the carpet. There were hearings which were quite instructive and important to undertake so the nation could move forward, and some people did go to prison for a while. I think if we walk away from it this time we're whistling past the graveyard. We allow unaccountable power and corruption to accumulate at the highest levels without consequence, and it remains part of the system itself, not simply the policy directives of just one person who runs for election. This stuff doesn't really go away if we keep pushing it aside.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:16 PM on May 17, 2009


The last major political upheaval on this scale is likely Nixon. Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz came from that administration.

And look at what happened: because they weren't prosecuted, they came back. Just like herpes.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:41 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I still don't understand why the Nuremberg trial's Count One: Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War doesn't apply here. When it comes down to it I mean that is what they did isn't it? Conspire to start a war? How come we can't dig that one up?
posted by fingerbang at 8:34 PM on May 17, 2009


It's a bit surprising to me how accustomed so many people have gotten in the past 8 years to incompetent, no-nothing, corrupt, placeholders-and-puppets government in America. I wonder if it's some kind of artifact of many being young enough not to have seen anything different in their adult lives.

The fact that your government hasn't been working doesn't mean that it can't work. I said it before the election and I've got the same thing to say now -- hold your new president's feet to the fire, make sure he and his administration do the right thing. Ordinary Americans let the Bush administration come perilously close to destroying their country, ordinary Americans will determine whether or not the Obama crew finishes the job or turns things around. People were out there on the streets chanting about hope and giving each other rainbow reacharounds before the election -- just because the voting is over doesn't mean that it's a good idea to sit back and watch now, particularly if promises made are not being fulfilled.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:11 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


er, 'know-nothing'
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:51 PM on May 17, 2009


Despite the falseness of the choice between doing something about torture and doing "other stuff", let's assume it's an actual choice.

I would like to know why anyone would not want the torture issue to be resolved first, before all other issues, even if that was the only thing this administration accomplished.

Do you not actually understand what we're talking about here? Because that's the only reason I can imagine that someone would not care that our government is responsible for torturing and murdering innocent people, by any reasonable definition.

Have you absolutely no moral sense at all? I literally do not understand how this cannot be a priority for you. Innocent people tortured and murdered. What the fuck? I cannot expound further because that's pretty much the end of the matter right there.

If your government has a policy of torturing and murdering people nothing else matters. Is this unclear? Is this up for debate?
posted by odinsdream at 7:34 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The "Reverse Nuremberg Defense, where Bush administration officials are let off the hook because they were only giving orders.
posted by Nelson at 9:44 AM on May 18, 2009




The president is not the fucking Prosecutor-in-Chief, people! The government is not just the office of the president... If it were, we'd be screwed, because apart from waging wars, the only explicit powers the president has are to make speeches and proposals, sign or veto laws, and make appointments subject to congressional approval.

The Department of Justice is supposed to be an independent, apolitical entity with its own prerogatives and decision-making authority. It's not supposed to answer to the President or follow his orders; sure, Bush might have obscured that fact, but there it is. And congress doesn't answer to the President either.


This is nonsense. The President is the Prosecutor-in-Chief. He is the one with responsibility faithfully to execute the laws. He is in charge of the executive branch. All of it.

It is unfortunate that this principle is not taught in basic civics classes, but there are serious constitutional issues with trying to remove any executive officer from beyond presidential authority. That's why the Office of the Independent Counsel was so controversial. At the time, Justice Scalia had to dissent in Morrison v. Olson, but I would bet that the Court would strike down the OIC statute if it had faced it today.

So, seriously, DOJ is not supposed to be an independent, apolitical entity. It is supposed to be a political entity, that serves at the direction of the President, headed by a Cabinet official who has no authority greater than the President's in any respect, who serves at the pleasure of the President. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. I'll give you case citations if you would like.

You are right about the Congress, though.
posted by Slap Factory at 7:53 PM on May 19, 2009


It seems to me that if the President is the Chief Military Chief, and can take the country into an offensive war — a war distinctly different from a defensive war — then he is certainly Chief of Prosecution of Military Justice.

Obama needs to do a few things as Military Leader. For starters, he needs to live up his promise to end the "Don't Ask and Especially Don't Tell Or We'll Kick Your Queer Language-Translating Middle-East Expert Ass Out Of Here" policy.

Then he needs to start a non-political military investigation with strong public, civil oversight without a hint of corruption: more open is more good. He needs good, honest people to shine a light onto the military history of the Iraq war. People decided to go on an offensive unnecessary war. They decided to torture people to make lies to rationalize an offensive unnecessary war. Holy. Fuck. A. Roni.

It is an absolutely staggering revelation. Think about what that says about the people who are wielding power in your country. It should be cause for the most grave concern. Like, shouldn't you be upset waaaaay beyond what's showing? The French riot for less cause. The British throw eggs at their representatives. The Korean legislature erupts into a brawl for less cause. The Canadians don't riot, but they go "tut-tut" and light up a joint. Several small Latin American governments have probably risen and collapsed in the amount of time it's taking US Americans to quibble about whether waterboarding is really really torture, or just, like, little tiny torture almost like tickling against will.

Torture to sell an unnecessary offensive war which they bungled to an extent that boggles the imagination. And no one seems much upset about it. Unbelievable.

I hope this is all building up for a huge uprising of action from the ordinary, common sense, compassionate American citizen, because I believe that at least 90% of the population are, when you come right down to it, good people. And good people don't fucking torture and they sure as hell don't let criminals destroy their reputation and their country. The level of anger should be revolutionary — and revolutionary in a good way.

Cue the The Who: Won't Be Fooled Again.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:36 PM on May 19, 2009


Those lyrics are way more appropriate than I'd realized. Ouch. How many decades ago was that?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 PM on May 19, 2009


Correction: way more stoned than I'd realized. Apparently the screen of verse I saw was the only lucid one...
posted by five fresh fish at 8:49 PM on May 19, 2009


« Older Confessions of an Introverted Traveler   |   Abondoned Creations Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post