Friday, February 08, 2008

The great Dan Froomkin is on a roll.
Putting aside for a moment the question of whether the ends did in fact justify the means -- and there is considerable evidence that the waterboarding of those three men miserably failed that test as well -- the White House argument is deeply perverse and goes against core American values.

Waterboarding is undeniably cruel. It is undeniably an assault on human dignity. The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution -- the one banning cruel and unusual punishment -- doesn't come with an asterisk indicating: Except when you think it's really, really important.
[T]he White House argues that waterboarding is legal because the Justice Department said so. But waterboarding is flatly, objectively illegal -- according to both U.S. and international law. Try to find one independent expert to tell you otherwise.
The proverbial asterisk doesn't just apply to Barry Bonds. This administration has ruled the land as if asterisks apply at every turn, whether it be torture is tolerable in certain cases, or signing statements that cut out the influence of an entire branch of government, or redacted documents keeping citizens in the dark, or deleted emails....

So apparently the "new" AG has deemed waterboarding sort of, kind of legal -- this after balking on the issue for many weeks when asked by Congress. Mukasey clearly must have known this illegal method of torture was used in the past and had to somehow protect his bosses, as opposed to protecting and enforcing our system of laws (his job!). We go from an ineffectual, dunce-cap lackey in AG Gonzo to a Justice Department that really hasn't reformed much since Fredo's departure. Anyone surprised?

Rob Freer of Amnesty International writes:
Waterboarding -- where detainees are subjected to simulated drowning -- is torture. Torture is a crime under international law. Yet, no one has been held accountable for the authorization and use of waterboarding by U.S. personnel.
Haven't we headed down this twisted road at least once before with the Iran-Contra scandal, where you basically had people within our government try to make the case that their illegal actions were acceptable in this specific instance or under these special circumstances, much of it draped with rah-rah patriotism, that the ends were justifiable and brimming with good intentions, therefore it was OK to have broken laws? I didn't realize our legal system could be so yielding....

It's hilarious that this same crowd would exclaim "rule of law" repeatedly concerning Clinton's sexual transgression, but you don't hear a peep from these folks now with this obvious and overt breaking of the law with waterboarding use. I would venture to say that's because it was never about the law at all, but rather it was about the hatred for one man. Truly abhorrent.

Well, at least it's comforting to note that McCain has been outspoken in his condemnation for waterboarding. It will be interesting to see if he says anything about these revelations. And recall that Sen. Lindsey Graham likewise had strong concerns about the use of waterboarding, bringing up the very real hypothetical of what would we do if it were used on one of our soldiers. I believe we're staring at the GOP prez/VP ticket with those two guys so again I would be very interested to hear what they have to say about this matter.

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