Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Working towards His Fraudulency

More details on the torture memo. No more talk about rotten apples is permissible. A must-read, and must-vomit-afterwards.

I’ve just heard a useful phrase for attempts to blame subordinates for torture, other policies: “power-laundering.” The article was not about Rumsfeld and Bush, but Saddam. There’s a problem with trying Saddam: no written “smoking guns,” no one willing to testify against him. Or be a judge. Or a prosecutor. The only Iraqi prosecutor whose name is public is one of the Chalabis.

I was wondering who would be the 1st to use the obvious pun: Mourning in America. The winner is: Wonkette. Who notes this interview on Fox, which has run out of famous Reaganites, with a Marine guarding the coffin:
Fox: Did you ever meet Reagan?
Marine (who appears to be approximately 18 years old): Uh, no, sir.
Fox: How much of an honor is it to be doing this duty?
Marine: It's a great honor.
Wonkette: Clearly, things are getting desperate; at some point, they may have to interview someone who didn't like the guy.

Condi Rice: “Yes, I do think that President Bush is inspired by that kind of plain-spokenness [by Saint Ronny of the MX Missile], about that willingness to tell the truth.”

Zimbabwe to nationalize all land. That should go well.

The Wall St. Journal’s follow-up article Tuesday quotes a Pentagon spokesmodel on disagreements over the torture rules: “I am sure that in any broad group like that you will have dissenting opinions that go to the left and to the right.” I quote that in order to point out that he considers the question of whether to torture people to be a “left-right” one. Others have pointed out that the head of the panel, Air Force General Counsel Mary Walker, is outspokenly Evangelical Christian. alternates pious quotes from an interview she gave with passages from the memo. And not to suggest that this is a religious war or anything, but William Boykin was in charge of the actual torture. And actual torturer Charles Graner: “The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.'”

Ashcroft refused to release the torture memo to Congress although, psst, if you know any Congresscritters, tell them to go to
PDF format, 2 mb (nothing that’s not in the articles, though).
Neither would he give the basis for his refusal (the president can order him not to give testimony or release documents he claims are covered by executive privilege, but if there is no such order, Ashcroft was in contempt of Congress, and Ashcroft refused even to say whether such an order had been given or not). It was a sorry performance, arrogant while at the same time looking like a puppy about to be hit with a rolled-up newspaper. Chuck Schumer of all people became the latest Congresscritter to defend the use of torture.

This story is taking responsibility for torture further and further up the food chain. But the Justice Dept memo has a flaw: it fails to understand political realities. Even if you agree with their position that the president has an inherent authority to authorize torture, in the real world Bush would never sign such an order. He might wink at it, who will rid me of this turbulent priest-type situation, but he’d never leave a smoking memo or sign anything, probably never have to talk about it, because Rumsfeld etc would know what he wanted done and just do it. In Germany, this was called “working towards the führer” and is the reason there is nothing directly linking Hitler to the Holocaust. In practice, this means that the legal protection that the memo claims exists for torturers acting under presidential orders can’t be invoked.

The LA Times has a story about John Walker Lindh. We saw footage more than 2 years ago of Johnny Taliban being treated much as the Abu Ghraib prisoners were. We saw a CIA agent threaten him with death, on film, and somehow it was a big surprise 2 years later that we did the same thing to people who weren’t US citizens.

The Bush campaign has been trying to get churches to campaign for him. This would endanger their tax-exempt status, it was pointed out, so the R’s have decided to fiddle with the law by letting them break the law a few times (two deliberate endorsements per year and one “unintentional,” whatever that might mean) without being punished. Well, as they like to say about torture, if the president orders it, how can it be illegal?

Today is the 50th anniversary of Joseph Welch’s “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” response to Joseph McCarthy.

The UN resolution gave the Iraqi “government” no veto over the activities of US troops except to kick them out altogether, but gave it control of its own alleged army. What happens if they decide to invade the Kurdish areas (the Kurds got screwed, which was so inevitable and was done so parenthetically that I’ve put the fact in parentheses) while the US military is still in the country, we don’t know.

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