Friday, September 15, 2006

Bush press conference: They don’t want to be tried as war criminals

I actually saw this one, though not from the beginning. So I’m using my own notes rather than a transcript. I can use my own punctuation, as when he said of the terrorists, “They are comin’ again.” Although I occasionally got caught up with things like trying to figure out if he’d said that Iraqi had a “uni government.”

Our various enemies all have a common ideology, he said. He also doesn’t like Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions. Or the House of Commons. Or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

He doesn’t like Common Article III because it outlaws “outrages upon the human dignity” of prisoners. “That’s very vague,” he complained. “What does it mean?” He didn’t say which word he didn’t understand: outrage, human, or dignity. All three I’m guessing.

He says without “clarity,” CIA torturers, who he called “our professionals” and “decent citizens,” won’t want to go to work in the morning, won’t “step up unless there’s clarity in the law.” Because CIA torturers are all about the clarity in the law. He added, “They don’t want to be tried as war criminals.” You know how not to be tried as war criminals? As Baretta used to say, don’t do the war crime if you can’t do the war time. He even said (Bush, not Baretta) that without the “clarification” he wants (which he says is based on the McCain Act, you know the one he added a signing statement to saying he’d follow it only if he felt like it), the program of interrogations at secret prisons is “just not gonna go forward.” Don’t make me turn this waterboard around! He said if international courts are allowed to determine “how we protect ourselves,” it would “ruin” the program of secret CIA inquisitions.

He was asked (by NBC’s David Gregory) whether it would bother him if countries like Iran or North Korea did to captured American soldiers what he does, roughing prisoners up according to their own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions, and putting them on trial with secret evidence. He said that was okay with him (if they “adopted the standards within the Detainee Detention Act, the world would be better”). When Gregory tried to follow up, Bush told him he’d taken too long to ask his question.

The CNN scroll is just never at the right place when you need it, is it? When Bush was denying that Iraq is in a civil war, it would have been appropriate if it repeated the story about 30 more dead bodies being found in Iraq with signs of torture. I forget what it actually was, probably something about spinach being bad for you.

Asked the difference between Republican and Democratic economic policies, he said it was all about... wait for it... tax cuts. Tax cuts, he added, determine elections, and we have a history of that in our family. Did he mean to make fun of his father’s “Read my lips” line?

Asked about whether it would be a good idea to send in special forces to capture bin Laden, he said that Pakistan was a sovereign nation and we “have to be invited.” This will come as a surprise to Afghanistan. He said that “the Paks” are in the lead. He said that the idea that he had eased off the hunt for bin Laden was an “urban myth.”

Asked about his claim that there may be a third Awakening in America, he said that was based on the number of people who come up to him on rope lines and say they’re praying for him.

Then he was struck by lightning, proving the power of prayer.

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