Who needs investigations?

There’s a pretty remarkable chat with Ruth Marcus up on WaPo today. Marcus came out strongly against prosecuting Bush for torture so a reader asked about investigations:

pursuing criminal prosecutions: But many of us do not want criminal prosecutions which would be almost impossible to achieve since most of the evidence (e-mails, et al) has been “lost.” We simply want the facts about torture, illegal spying, habeas, etc. made public so the next time a President seeks to break the law, he will think twice.

Ruth Marcus: That’s a different question. I’m more agnostic on investigation in a non criminal sense. What I’d like to know is, What needs investigating that has not already been investigated? What information that could reasonably be made public has not already emerged? But do you really think the prospect of investigation would have deterred Bush? Didn’t seem so.

This is insane, in my opinion. Don’t investigate because it wouldn’t have deterred Bush anyway.

I liked this question too:

Re: investigations: You write “People can reasonably disagree about the importance of pursuing investigations without amping up the hyperbole this way.”

I agree completely. Why people would get so mad about something like torture is beyond me. I mean, it’s not like Bush had an affair with an intern or anything, right?

Ruth Marcus: I’m going to keep trying here. It’s possible to find torture abhorrent, as I do, without thinking that there is much to gain, and a signficant amount to lose, by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

Update: I may as well add that I have no idea how feasible it is to prosecute anyone for torture. But I just can’t see how anyone could think it shouldn’t at least be investigated. I may as well also add that I asked the second question up there and I am shamelessly pimping my own question here. Sorry.

Also, don’t forget the real reason Obama shouldn’t investigate: this is still a right-center country and right-center people love torture.






167 replies
  1. 1
    ed says:

    Ruth Marcus is a fuckin idiot.

  2. 2

    If there are no repercussions for what these criminals have done then I can hardly wait to see what the next Republican administration does, or even a Democratic president who, maybe has an authoritarian bent. Nixon’s crimes looked like jaywalking next to these guys. And then Reagan took it up a notch with unauthorized arms dealings and coke smuggling (allegedly). We’re lucky Bush was incompetent. Might not be lucky the next time.

  3. 3
    Mike P says:

    Wow, she looks like an idiot…and that last question is fantastic.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Jennifer says:

    What could possibly be gained by showing the people of this nation, and those around the world, that we’re at least serious enough about not letting this kind of stuff happen again that we’ll at least thoroughly investigate it, even if we don’t end up punishing it?

    I can’t see anything at all to be gained from that.

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    It’s possible to find torture abhorrent, as I do, without thinking that there is much to gain, and a signficant amount to lose, by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

    anyone disagree with this ?

    if Obama started indicting people (esp. Republicans), DC would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP would seize up like a dry engine.

  7. 7

    This is why the establishment media drives Democrats and liberals insane.

  8. 8
    Comrade Rick Massimo says:

    It’s possible to find torture armed robbery abhorrent, as I do, without thinking that there is much to gain, and a signficant amount to lose, by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

    Apparently, the solution is to purse your lips and furrow your brow. And make sure no one ever does it again. Somehow.

  9. 9
    Napoleon says:

    Marcus is complete human garbage, and I would be willing to say that right to her face.

    if Obama started indicting people (esp. Republicans), DC would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP would seize up like a dry engine.

    So what, at some point you have to enforce the law regardless of the consequences, or why have laws at all, at least when it comes to to political and economic elites. To quote Lincoln "When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where
    despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic]."

  10. 10
    NonyNony says:

    Oooh – I see a new game:

    Ruth Marcus: I’m going to keep trying here. It’s possible to find murder abhorrent, as I do, without thinking that there is much to gain, and a signficant amount to lose, by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

    or

    Ruth Marcus: I’m going to keep trying here. It’s possible to find cannibalism abhorrent, as I do, without thinking that there is much to gain, and a signficant amount to lose, by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

    or

    Ruth Marcus: I’m going to keep trying here. It’s possible to find child pornography abhorrent, as I do, without thinking that there is much to gain, and a signficant amount to lose, by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

    Unfortunately, since she starts the fucking bar set so fucking low to begin with, it’s tough to come up with ones that aren’t total Godwins.

    That’s some great reasoning there by Marucs. Top notch.

    (EDIT: Dang, Comrade Rick got in before me. Ah well, the point still stands – Marcus is an idiot.)

  11. 11
    jenniebee says:

    I completely agree. The people who have done these horrible things have done so outside the reach of any ability to bring them to justice by conventional means. And since we can’t punish them, the only way to save face is to reward them, and thank them for their service, say by sending them to picnic by the lake with the Dixie Chicks. Mmmm… black eyed peas taste all right to me, Dick.

  12. 12
    DanF says:

    From the paper that once brought down Nixon we now get this … Pathetic.

  13. 13
    Tony J says:

    What I’d like to know is, What needs investigating that has not already been investigated? What information that could reasonably be made public has not already emerged?

    And I’m like, that’s the point of having an investigation, isn’t it? Since the results of previous investigations have already thrown up evidence that the Bush Administration deliberately broke the law, further investigations are obviously needed now that the people being investigated aren’t in a position to hide clearer evidence of their criminality.

    Unless, y’know, she thinks that the Bush Administration deserves the benefit of the doubt, because of their awesome reputation for running an open Government and extending freedom of information?

  14. 14
    KC45s says:

    if Obama started indicting people (esp. Republicans), DC would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP would seize up like a dry engine.

    "Eh, nice mandate you got there, be a shame if something happened to it."

    While I’ve often joked about parallels between the gov’t and the Mafia, I thought I did so to point out shortcomings. Now I find out a lot of people consider that very kind of threat a legitimate excuse to not prosecute criminal activity.

  15. 15
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    So Marcus is basically saying, "yep, officials in the Bush administration knowingly broke the law, but that’s all in the past, so we should just forget about it, because responsibility and accountability are for little people suckers people who aren’t President of the United States or work for him."

  16. 16
    Keith says:

    Reading her faux law n order spiel reminds me of Robin Williams’ joke about British police not carrying sidearms: "STOP!…or I’ll say ‘STOP’ again!"
    Investigate but just to know. I’d be curious to know how abhorrent findings would have to be for someone like Marcus to support criminal punishment. If a memo shows up that Rumsfeld ordered sodomizing of detainees, would that be enough? Maybe having bongs shipped in from California? Or is she really an absolutist on that kind of thing being off the table NO MATTER WHAT?
    "What kind of message does this send the children?"

  17. 17
    brandon says:

    if Obama started indicting people (esp. Republicans), DC would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP would seize up like a dry engine.

    What I would do – and I hope Obama has this in mind, though I doubt it – is keep the threat of wide-ranging torture investigations around as a whip to keep the Congressional GOP in line. "Oh? So you’re going to filibuster our health plan and financial reform packages? Hmm, what’s next on the agenda – oh, look, investigations of all the officials Bush forgot to pardon. Let’s do that then."

  18. 18
    pinson says:

    I realize that widespread bankruptcies in the mainstream media would have a tremendously disruptive and probably negative – in the short term – effect on American society. But anything that would remove the Ruth Marcuses, Howie Kurtzes and George Wills of the world from our public discourse would have an overwhelmingly positive effect over the long term. They seriously see themselves as good and decent people – even as they excuse torture and political crimes (see Alberto Gonzalez). The biggest question to me that’s never been answered by Ruth Marcus or anyone else is – if what was going on at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib wasn’t wrong, why was Lyndie England prosecuted? How is that OK? We now have Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush openly boasting that they approved torture, but they’re not culpable. On what planet does this make one iota of sense?

  19. 19
    KRK says:

    sending them to picnic by the lake with the Dixie Chicks

    Surely the Dixie Chicks don’t deserve that. Lee Greenwood and The Nuge would be more like it.

  20. 20
    aimai says:

    I was going to write "deeply unserious" but ed got there first with "fuckin’ idiot."

    aimai

  21. 21
    Zifnab says:

    if Obama Eliot Ness started indicting people (esp. Republicans Capone’s gang), DC Chicago would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP the mafia would seize up like a dry engine.

    My goodness! We can’t have that! Better give Al Capone everything he wants.


    Oh boo, KC45s beat me to the mafia reference.

  22. 22
    Ack, Sysadmin of Evil says:

    So much for the party of personal responsibility.

    Assholes.

  23. 23
    cleek says:

    So what, at some point you have to enforce the law regardless of the consequences

    look around. see that flagging economy? see that shitty healthcare system? see those two wars? Obama’s plans for addressing those things could very well be the "consequences" you’re dismissing. that’s what.

  24. 24
    dbrown says:

    Under Regan, we signed a treaty saying that we will prosecute all people guilty of war crimes, which include torture (which is so stated in the treaty as one of the offenses.) The option to prosecute is not a decision that the President can make or refuse. We are, by law required to prosecute all people who are suspected of torture – period, end of line, do not pass go.

  25. 25

    You’re right, the defense contractor lobbyist industry and Regents Law School could stand to LOSE SO MUCH with such investigations! These two institutions are the cornerstone of our already crumbling economy!

  26. 26
    cleek says:

    My goodness! We can’t have that! Better give Al Capone everything he wants.

    you let me know when your straw-Al Capone gets the power to filibuster legislation that Obama submits to Congress.

  27. 27

    I am opposed to any time spent on this in the Obama administration.

    For reasons already stated. Plus this: The remedy to the malfeasances of the Bush term is to elect better presidents.

    Doing this abates the problem without wasting time and energy on investigations and prosecutions.

    Not doing it continues the problem, whether we do investigations and prosecutions, or not.

    It makes no sense to waste time on this crap. I think it is time to move on.

  28. 28
    rawshark says:

    I think we have more to lose doing nothing.

  29. 29
    Napoleon says:

    I am for investigating and prosecuting because I honestly think it is the right thing to do, both morally and for the future of the country and its people, but what I can not get is why don’t the Dems realize that it is politically a home run for them. It will shine a big spot light on exactly what the Republican party is about, and if that happens 70% of the population will not touch that party for the next 20 years. On a related matter its obvious that if the liberals do anything the conservatives will knee jerk do the opposite. I noticed that 30 years ago and have never been able to understand why the Dems do not use that to their advantage. If they go to prosecute torture you will see a huge chunk of the Republican party that is not implicated in the crimes automatically come out in favor of the most un-American practices like torture, illegal wiretapping, etc and voluntarily tie themselves to it. It is an absolute win for the Democratic Party AND its the right thing to do to boot.

  30. 30
    Zifnab says:

    @cleek:

    you let me know when your straw-Al Capone gets the power to filibuster the legislation Obama submits to Congress.

    Well, back in the day, Al Capone could just put out a hit on you and have you shot.

    Of course, Elliot Nesse had the combined weight of the US Justice Department. Man, who else has the combined weight of the US Justice Department? Oh yeah! Barack Obama!

    If the Republican Party wants to continue going to bat for the Bush Administration, please please please please please let them. If the GOP Senate threatens to filibuster every bill on the floor until Obama calls off investigations into Presidential wrongdoing, I will absolutely love to see their electoral chances in 2010. Obama only needs to flip one or two GOP Senators and he can railroad through whatever he likes. Meanwhile, the Party of The Confederate States Of America can look helpless, obstructionist, petty, and beholden to an unpopular ex-President all at once.

    Bring. It. On.

  31. 31
    Napoleon says:

    @cleek:

    An investigation would break the back of the Republican party and I think make it less likely they could effectively oppose his initatives. By the way, there is no reason he can not get his programs passed then prosecute. I never figured it would happen in the first year. I always figured they would wait until after mid terms anyways.

    By the way, if all you want is your bread move to China, seriously. At some point if you believe in our freedom and way of life you have to be willing to defend it.

  32. 32
    cleek says:

    let me just say: i’d love it if BushCo ended up behind bars. i just don’t think there’s a way to make it happen while also addressing the other things that really need addressing.

    and, anyone who’s excited about the idea of Obama prosecuting any of this stuff should take the time to look up all the times Obama promised to do it, during the campaign. i’ll spare you the research: to say it’s never been one of his stated priorities is an giant understatement.

  33. 33
    Napoleon says:

    @Zifnab:

    Well put. Anyone attempting to defend what happened will be blown to political oblivion.

  34. 34
    Tim in SF says:

    Napoleon: …what I can not get is why don’t the Dems realize that it is politically a home run for them.

    Here is the reason why it is not a home run: Dianne Feinstein and other powerful democrats who were complicit, who knew about torture and were involved in approving the program at some level.

    That also happens to be the reason why investigations will never happen.

  35. 35
    Jay B. says:

    if Obama started indicting people (esp. Republicans), DC would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP would seize up like a dry engine.

    Why do you think they are going to go along with what Obama wants now? Have you seen any sign at all that they are going along with the program?

    you let me know when your straw-Al Capone gets the power to filibuster legislation that Obama submits to Congress.

    Once upon a time, Democrats knew how to play politics. They got things like the New Deal, Civil Rights, Voting Rights and the Great Society passed despite the THREAT of filibusters. Hell, they got them passed in spite of ACTUAL filibusters. Why on Earth would they be afraid of petulant threats from Senate Republicans?

    Democrats simply don’t need Republicans to pass their measures. If they were smart — and sadly they are not — Reid would let them actually filibuster bills. And then go after them politically, withholding funding for their pet projects, eliminating any privileges they may enjoy, cajoling the few remaining moderates (Lugar, Snowe and Collins, for instance) that they may enjoy Favorite Republican Status and things like that. This COULD happen if Reid was any good, Democrats weren’t such fucking idiots and they actually decided that overwhelming support, overwhelming numbers and a Democratic President with a total mandate for change were more important than worrying about what an ineffectual, hated political party might want.

  36. 36
    MBunge says:

    Marcus isn’t completely wrong to be leery of investigations and prosecutions. Combine the OJ Simpson trial with the Clinton impeachment and multiply by about 5 and you’ll have some idea of what it would be like.

    That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen, though, or that Marcus isn’t a dick for not publicly admitting it makes no sense to say impeaching Clinton was justified but not this.

    Mike

  37. 37
    cleek says:

    An investigation would break the back of the Republican party

    i doubt that very much. more likely, it would stiffen the back of the GOP.

    and don’t forget, there was plenty of Dem support for all of the shit Bush pulled, too. (as Tim In SF just said).

  38. 38
    DougJ says:

    and, anyone who’s excited about the idea of Obama prosecuting any of this stuff should take the time to look up all the times Obama promised to do it, during the campaign. i’ll spare you the research: to say it’s never been one of his stated priorities is an giant understatement.

    There’s a lot of room between making something a top priority and not doing it at all.

    It doesn’t have to be high profile, it doesn’t have to result in prosecutions. But I think it’s important to know what went on.

    Tim in SF may be right it will never happen because DiFi et al. were complicit. If so, it’s a fucking sad commentary.

  39. 39
    Svensker says:

    Let’s just tell everybody that whatever crimes they committed yesterday are not gonna be punished tomorrow. Because that is so, like, looking to the past! But can we push this forward at least until next week? There’s this house down the hill from me that is so loaded with stuff that I’d really like to have and it would be SUCH a bummer if I got prosecuted for grand theft. I mean, I’d totally be doing it to help my family, and if that’s not a good reason, I don’t know what in the world is. Plus, I plan to give some of the loot to some poor people I know. My motives are good, honest.

  40. 40
    Napoleon says:

    @Tim in SF:

    Here is the reason why it is not a home run: Dianne Feinstein and other powerful democrats who were complicit, who knew about torture and were involved in approving the program at some level.

    So what. We live in a two party system where for structural reasons related to the system we have it is basically impossible for a third party to win, which has never happened in our system (by the time the Republicans won with Lincoln they already were the alternative to the Republicans) its a zero sum game and IT IS NOT POSSIBLE for both parties to get hurt from a scandal. If one gets hurt to more then the other, it rebounds to the advantage of the party that didn’t take as big of a hit EVEN IF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF THE PARTY ARE IMPLICATED.

    So what it DiFi gets sucked in, it will kill the Republicans.

    Besides, again, its the right and patriotic thing to do.

  41. 41
    cleek says:

    But I think it’s important to know what went on.

    oh, i agree. but i don’t think we’ll get more than that. if we even get that.

    Why do you think they are going to go along with what Obama wants now? Have you seen any sign at all that they are going along with the program?

    sadly, not a lot, no. but i think the situation now is much different from what we’d get if the GOP decided it had to fight to defend Bush from possible impeachment.

  42. 42
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    Ruth Marcus: I’m going to keep trying here. It’s possible to find murder the gang raping of little girls abhorrent, as I do, without thinking that there is much to gain, and a signficant amount to lose, by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

    Does this iteration sound better to you Ruth? What a blithering fucking idiot.

    Good question to pimp DJ. :)

  43. 43
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    don’t forget the real reason Obama shouldn’t investigate: this is still a right-center country and right-center people love torture.

    How exactly does Obama investigate anything? What is the mechanism whereby Obama imprisons the formerly ruling junta?

  44. 44
    demimondian says:

    @cleek: I’ll go further. It’s one of his stated *non* priorities.

    If you want to change that, you’ll need to be impolite, and to rock the boat — and we know that isn’t done. We have more important priorities, and clearly being polite is much more important than doing your job as a citizen of a democratic nation.

    Mind you, I don’t think that most of the putative investigations are a good use of time, but I’ve been consistent about that. What Cheney did was legal. If you want to change that, you need a Constitutional amendment. Yeah, how’s all that going?

  45. 45
    Jay B. says:

    here’s what happens cleek, when you play nice with these fucks:

    Senate Republicans hope to delay a vote on the confirmation of Eric Holder to become attorney general in order to pressure him to say whether he will prosecute intelligence agents for torture if they were following orders and acting within what they believed to be legal guidelines.

    Holder told the Judiciary Committee last week that waterboarding is "torture" and therefore illegal. Susan J. Crawford, the top Bush administration official overseeing the trials of detainees, told the Washington Post that at least one individual held at the prison center at Guantanamo Bay was "tortured."

    The question Republicans want answered before Holder is confirmed: Will you prosecute those who took part in that torture?

    Holder clarified torture and said it was illegal. Simple stuff. Now? Republicans take that as a problem. Even though neither Obama nor Holder have shown much interest in doing anything about it.

    Torture is our foreign policy. And that is as important as our economy as an issue

    It has to be dealt with, openly. Otherwise, this will keep happening

  46. 46
    Napoleon says:

    By the way, IMO the reason we got the lawless Bush administration is because the Dems stupidly dropped the Iran Contra investigations when Clinton became President for the exact same reason that people give upthread, and with the same pressure that villages like Marcus are putting on Obama. And what came of that? Bush was able to staff his administration with people who should have otherwise been sitting in prison. If you don’t thing that in 4 or 8 years that if a Republican wins his/her administration will not be staffed with the likes of Yoo and Addington, you really are simple minded.

    People like Monica Goodling, Yoo, Addington and the rest should do some quality prison time so that the next Republican administration and people who may be part of it look long and hard at any illegal schemes.

  47. 47
    demimondian says:

    @Napoleon: Break the back of the Republican party? I certainly hope not — it’s Israel which legislates inconvenient parties with unreliable loyalties out of existence. (And, fortunately, their Supreme Judicial Court which kicks the JEC in the tetth when it tries.) It’s not us.

    If you want the Republicans out of power, then do your job — compete with them. You don’t beat an ideology by making it illegal.

  48. 48
    Zifnab says:

    @cleek:

    i doubt that very much. more likely, it would stiffen the back of the GOP.

    How? The nation is salivating for blood on this. People want to see the man hang. There is no public opposition to investigations, just gasbag pundit blathering.

    By contrast, there are certain legislative efforts that enjoy wide bipartisan support. Obstructing the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act or the Obama Stimulus Package wouldn’t benefit the good folks of Kansas or Oklahoma or Utah. Meanwhile, throwing Bush Co in front of a judge wouldn’t harm the economy or risk terrorist actions in the slightest. And Bush didn’t extend his grace to any of the outgoing legally enmeshed Senators or Congressmen. Stevens didn’t receive any clemency for his bribery conviction, for instance. So I don’t see large swaths of the Good Ole Boy’s club feeling a compelling need to cover Bush’s rear.

    Obama earns political capital by taking Bush to court. The GOP blows it to defend him. The political dynamics are absolutely in Obama’s favor here.

  49. 49
    demimondian says:

    @Jay B.: Nope. You miss the point: if Coryn et al play that card, they have to answer the question themselves. And they don’t look forward to being asked "So, is it OK to ruin the reputation of the United States, endanger our soldiers and sailors overseas, and in all ways to betray our nation for political advantage?"

    You don’t have to promise to investigate to gain political leverage against someone who is trying to betray his nation, you know.

  50. 50
    demimondian says:

    @Zifnab: Oh,, so you’re a fan of mob rule? How…nice.

    Edit: Don’t I remember living through eight years of that recently? How did that turn out for us, anyway?

  51. 51
    cleek says:

    Holder clarified torture and said it was illegal. Simple stuff. Now? Republicans take that as a problem. Even though neither Obama nor Holder have shown much interest in doing anything about it.

    seems to me that that’s a perfect example of what will happen every single day, if Obama starts aggressive investigations.

    Torture is our foreign policy. And that is as important as our economy as an issue … It has to be dealt with, openly. Otherwise, this will keep happening

    i think it’s going to be dealt with by making it not part of Obama’s foreign policy. maybe he’ll get some strong legislation to forbid it in the future, too.

    How? The nation is salivating for blood on this.

    cite to current polling?

  52. 52
    J Royce says:

    That our Court Media doesn’t want investigations makes them imperative.

    Good post.

  53. 53
    Zifnab says:

    @demimondian:

    If you want the Republicans out of power, then do your job—compete with them. You don’t beat an ideology by making it illegal.

    If a Bush Administration Official kidnaps a 15-year-old boy off the street, carries him away to his basement, and proceeds to fake-drown the kid for a year trying to pry military secrets out of him, and then leaves the kid tied up in the basement for the next six years using a combination of obfuscation and legal maneuvering, should we let that administrator off because otherwise we’d be making his ideology illegal?Because that’s what officials did.

    When "ideology" = "kidnapping and torture of children" then, yes we should make it illegal. Otherwise you’re faced with a slippery slope, and before you know it you’ll have GOP officials trying to marry box turtles.

  54. 54
    DougJ says:

    To be clear, I think it’s important to investigate this (as well as the DoJ stuff) with as little attention as possible paid to the politics of it.

  55. 55
    Napoleon says:

    @demimondian:

    You don’t beat an ideology by making it illegal.

    Nobody is talking about making ideology illegal and it already is illegal to torture, warrentless wire tap, apply a politcal test to civil service hirings, etc. All we are talking about is applying laws that apply to all of us to the political elite.

  56. 56
    demimondian says:

    @J Royce: You know what? I care more about Ruth Marcus and Howie Kurtz and David Broder being exposed as the lickspittle mandarin lackeys they are — and exposed to the shame and professional damage that would cause — than I do about Cheney.

    I want to see the enablers who were the "good men who did nothing" shamed and crying, so that next time, they won’t do nothing. They failed, and they need to seem themselves as failures, so that they teach the next generation of gatekeepers to not be intimidated — if only because the day will come, in the end, when the bad guys get pushed back.

  57. 57
    DougJ says:

    @demimondian:

    I don’t see what this has to do with making an ideology illegal. It’s about investigating crimes.

    To say that torture is part of conservative ideology isn’t even correct in my mind. A bunch f nuts who call themselves conservatives support it. That doesn’t make it an ideology.

  58. 58
    Blue Raven says:

    @KRK:

    Surely the Dixie Chicks don’t deserve that. Lee Greenwood and The Nuge would be more like it.

    I submit the following lyrics from "Goodbye, Earl" for clarification…

    Right Away Mary Anne Flew In From Atalnta
    On A Red Eye Midnight Flight
    She Held Wanda’s Hand As They
    Worked Out A Plan
    And It Didn’t Take Long To Decide

    That Earl Had To Die
    Goodbye Earl
    Those Black-Eyed Peas
    They Tasted All Right To Me Earl
    You’re Feeling Weak
    Why Don’t You Lay Down
    And Sleep Earl
    Ain’t It Dark
    Wrapped Up In That Tarp Earl

    Dixie Chicks, black-eyed peas, a quiet spot near a fast-moving river… works for me.

  59. 59
    DougJ says:

    @demi

    I agree completely about this. The Bush tumor has been removed, but the Hiatt cancer is still there.

  60. 60

    In a country that has one of the highest per-capita prison populations in the world, that’s willing to spend $12,000,000 to investigate, prosecute, and incarcerate someone for nine months for selling improperly shaped glassware, we can’t even feckin’investigate war crimes?
    .

    In related news, Nancy Pelosi announces that impeaching President Obama is absolutely not off the table…

  61. 61
    demimondian says:

    @Zifnab: You are lying.

    You wanted the investigations to break the back of the Republicans. That’s what you want, not justice for a 15-year-old boy whose life was destroyed by American taxpayers. Ironically, I may care a lot more about the boy — I have a child my own of that age, and I can imagine him stolen from me a tortured by faceless thugs — but I don’t want the Republicans destroyed by this means.

  62. 62
    Ash Can says:

    I’m not holding my breath for investigations, but I’m not convinced they won’t happen, either, at least to some extent. (And the Senate Republicans aren’t convinced either, apparently.) I’m still wondering about the fact that the blizzard of pardons I for one was expecting at the end of Bush’s term, especially in light of Holder’s pronouncement on waterboarding, didn’t happen. I can’t help wondering if there wasn’t some deal struck behind the scenes.

  63. 63
    tammanycall says:

    EFCA. There are others, but that one will need Republicans (Specter?, Snowe?), because there are (Southern) Dems who will vote against it.

    If they become united against us just in time for the 2010 midterms we could be in trouble.

    How certain are we that the majority of the country wants trials? I know the country wants out of Iraq, to close down Gitmo, but trials? Possibly of the former president? Do we know this for sure? Has there been polling?

    Maybe Cheney & Rumsfeld, but Bush would have Laura going on television making his case, FoxNews declaring that Obama broke his promise of bipartisanship. CNN intoning "Is this a witch hunt?" We already know how most of the op-eds will read.

    I think they should prosecute Rummy publicly & see what comes out. If anyone else is implicated, go from there. At this point all we have are public statements and newspaper articles, but a trial puts evidence on the record and may reveal things not previously known.

  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:

    Loath as I am to say it, cleek is right to a large extent. Not because the Republicans will rebel — that’s a given — but because the MSM will lose their shit and we’ll be in for 24/7 about how Obama is overstepping his bounds by trying to prosecute these nice people we’ve been going to cocktail parties with for the past 8 years (and probably longer).

    Think of the Washington media as Alex Kelly’s parents, but with microphones, newspapers, and 24/7 TV channels. They’re not going to let their pals get in trouble, because they’re all such nice people and there’s no way they could have done something bad like illegally torture people. They must have had a good reason.

    Personally, I’d love to see a Truth and Reconciliation Committee — no criminal charges in exchange for the whole truth. But there would need to be some teeth in the threat of criminal charges in the absence of cooperation.

  65. 65
    TenguPhule says:

    Ruth Marcus is a fuckin idiot.

    Redundant.

  66. 66
    Jay B. says:

    @demimondian:

    "If you want the Republicans out of power, then do your job—compete with them. You don’t beat an ideology by making it illegal."

    What an asinine thing to say. Prosecution of torture = making an ideology illegal? As some have pointed out, some Democrats are complicit in it too — so let the chips fall where they may. But more than that, it’s about prosecuting a crime that is already illegal — why this should be treated different than a murder or a drug deal or a rape is beyond me. Unless you think there should be a general amnesty for all crimes.

    Plus, what an odd universe you must live in — the crime is less important than the party of the people who commit it. And we must not only placate them, but side with them, lest we give the PERCEPTION that we are offending their party. Bizarre.

    cleek:

    seems to me that that’s a perfect example of what will happen every single day, if Obama starts aggressive investigations.

    The point seems pretty obvious: It’s happening NOW, on Day 1, without aggressive investigations and it’ll continue to happen even without any investigations. You may remember the Clinton Years. The point is, overwhelmingly, they’re going to be an opposition party. There’s exactly zero reason to cow to these people. But yeah, let’s watch if Obama continually rolls over for the GOP and we’ll see how accommodating they’ll become.

  67. 67
    TenguPhule says:

    Not because the Republicans will rebel—that’s a given—but because the MSM will lose their shit and we’ll be in for 24/7 about how Obama is overstepping his bounds by trying to prosecute these nice people we’ve been going to cocktail parties with for the past 8 years (and probably longer).

    Some slaps to the face will bring them to heel.

  68. 68
    Napoleon says:

    I’m still wondering about the fact that the blizzard of pardons I for one was expecting at the end of Bush’s term, especially in light of Holder’s pronouncement on waterboarding, didn’t happen.

    I personally would be surprised if there was any kind of deal. I think that among other reasons is that Bush realizes that the elites of this country simply will not abide by having the laws applied to them, unlike if you happen to be some inner city dime bag drug dealer. There are two legal systems, their legal system and the one that applies to the rest of us. The die was cast with Iran Contra. GWB saw that up close and personal since he was the political enforcer in GHWB’s White House and they all walked without ever having to pay a price.

  69. 69
    TenguPhule says:

    Has there been polling?

    Fuck the polling.

    Arrest, Convict, Sentence and Execute.

    Let their Skygod sort it out afterwards.

  70. 70
    TenguPhule says:

    if Obama started indicting people (esp. Republicans), DC would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP would seize up like a dry engine.

    And this is different from their normal SOP with Democratic Admins how?

    Arrest them and let’s see how it plays out.

  71. 71
    TenguPhule says:

    look around. see that flagging economy? see that shitty healthcare system? see those two wars?

    Walk and chew bubblegum at the same time.

    We are either a nation of laws or we are not.

  72. 72
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    I can’t help wondering if there wasn’t some deal struck behind the scenes.

    Or is it Bush saying if I am going to hang then you get to hang with me to the rest of his cronies. Poor Scooter gets to be a felon for the rest of his life and I bet that was not in the cards either. I think Bush and Cheney are not on the best of terms right now and the fact that Libby was not pardoned says a lot without saying a thing.

    I want investigations even if nobody goes to jail. I want a full airing of what happened and I want people to answer for their actions. If one of the side benefits of the investigations is the death of the Republican party then so be it. I want it to be crystal clear that there is no freebie just because you are the president or his party.

    Those who do not remember the past are bound to relive it in the future.

  73. 73
    Napoleon says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    but because the MSM will lose their shit and we’ll be in for 24/7 about how Obama is overstepping his bounds by trying to prosecute these nice people we’ve been going to cocktail parties with for the past 8 years (and probably longer).

    I think you are right and I actually think this is a bonus reason for pressing it, because in the process the MSM will totally sink their credibility with the American public. The MSM has proven that in many respects they are totally disconnected with how ordinary citizens view things. Just look at how they acted in the Clinton impeachment and the Terry Shivo matter. I think the MSM will basically defend the Republicans, who are immensely unpopular now, which unpopularity will not be enhanced by evidence that XX number of prisoners were murdered while in the custody of one of their administrations, that their President was specifically authorizing torture, etc. The MSM does that I think they will effectively put a bullet through the head of what little credibility they have. Any such effort on their part will simply look like "screw the little guys, the rich and powerful should be able to walk from their crimes".

  74. 74
    Xenos says:

    f Obama started indicting people (esp. Republicans), DC would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP would seize up like a dry engine.

    What a crock. Obama will never prosecute anyone – because he is the President, and Presidents don’t have the power to prosecute anyone. Holder gets in as AG, begins a review, and we won’t hear a damn thing more about it. Then, after a few months, the grand juries are formed, and the subpoenas start. No input from Obama or from anyone in the White House. They are not dumb enough to pull that W-style crap.

    The delay for a few months means that Obama has the advantage of there being a state of indeterminacy. He can get his 100 days agenda done, and then he can focus on the most important part of the agenda – the destruction of the Republican Party. Which will happen electorally, with Holder cleaning out the leftover crooks. Come 2016, there might not even be a GOP left to nominate a candidate.

  75. 75
    Tim in SF says:

    @Napoleon: So what. We live in a two party system…

    Yes. Two parties. And investigations must be driven by at least one of them, in this case the Democrats. And since there are bad actors in senior leadership positions of the Democratic party, I once again state with all certainty investigations will never happen.

    If one gets hurt to more then the other, it rebounds to the advantage of the party that didn’t take as big of a hit EVEN IF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF THE PARTY ARE IMPLICATED.

    The leadership of the Democratic party apparently disagrees with you.

    So what it DiFi gets sucked in, it will kill the Republicans.

    It’s not just DiFi. Who are the Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence? Rockefeller, Ron Wyden, Evan Bayh, Barbara Mikulski, Russ Feingold, Bill Nelson and Sheldon Whitehouse. An investigation would show how much the stink of this thing covers them as well. And probably more. Investigations on torture will never happen.

    You seem to have forgotten the most effective rhetorical tool on the Republican belt: muddying the waters. The Democrats do something bad, then the Republicans can do it ten thousand times worse, and when they are caught they don’t stop screaming that the Democrats do it too. The brainless cable news and worthless print media do their duty as stenographers repeating the obfuscation as truth, the public surmizes they’re all a bunch of pricks, yawns, and switches channels to American Idol. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Besides, again, its the right and patriotic thing to do.

    Yeah. Good luck with that. For the depression you will no doubt incur from having your heart broken, I have found Valium or alcohol to be helpful. Both, if you have the liver for it.

  76. 76
    Mike in NC says:

    I think they should prosecute Rummy publicly & see what comes out. If anyone else is implicated, go from there.

    Taking down the "low-hanging fruit" like Rumsfeld and Addington seems like a good start.

  77. 77
    cleek says:

    I think the MSM will basically defend the Republicans, who are immensely unpopular now, which unpopularity will not be enhanced by evidence that XX number of prisoners terrorists were murdered neutralized while in the custody of one of their administrations, that their President was specifically authorizing torture, doing what it takes to keep America safe etc.

    /fixed, to reflect the story we’d be hearing from that MSM

    What a crock. Obama will never prosecute anyone – because he is the President, and Presidents don’t have the power to prosecute anyone.

    um. you know perfectly well that "Obama" in all of these discussions stands for the head of the executive branch; aka, the AG’s boss. nobody thinks or is implying that Obama himself is going to act as prosecutor.

  78. 78
    Zifnab says:

    @demimondian:

    @Zifnab: You are lying.

    Well, shit. Can’t argue with that logic.

  79. 79
    EdTheRed says:

    Ruth Marcus = Epic Fail

  80. 80
    Brian J says:

    It’s tough for a lot of people to imagine anything happening because of some combination of (a) torture not affecting their daily lives in the same way as someone robbing their homes might, thus making it hard to process the severity of the crimes, (b) people not imagining that American leaders could be shown the same sort of punishment as a leader from another, less developed country, and (c) people being thrilled that Bush, et al are gone but thinking that the past is the past and there are bigger issues to focus on. The last one has the most pull with me, if true. But how true is it?

  81. 81
    DougJ says:

    I think the politics of a low-key investigation are a wash — Bush looks bad, some Democrats look bad, and I doubt it gets that much attention anyway.

    Prosecuting is complicated, I agree. But I just don’t see how we can look the other way and say “mistakes were made.” Innocent people were tortured and that’s just fucked up. The least we can do is bring the facts to the light of day, as much as possible. I don’t see what kind of society we are if we don’t.

  82. 82
    cleek says:

    We are either a nation of laws or we are not.

    we are not. that’s been clear for as long as the country has been around. we are a nation of men and women who enforce the laws as it suits their goals.

    ask Pelosi about impeachment.

  83. 83
  84. 84
    Svensker says:

    I don’t see what kind of society we are if we don’t.

    The kind of society that gives Rush Limbaugh millions a year.

  85. 85
    Xenos says:

    @cleek:

    um. you know perfectly well that "Obama" in all of these discussions stands for the head of the executive branch; aka, the AG’s boss. nobody thinks or is implying that Obama himself is going to act as prosecutor.

    I know you know that, and everybody here knows that, but the discussion continues on and on using the same formulation that Marcus uses, as a journalist, which not just incorrect but profoundly misleading. These are the same journalists who pride themselves on their cynicism when they laugh at people who are horrified by the Siegleman prosecution, and are then themselves horrified at the misplaced idealism of people who want to make sure that nothing like that can happen again.

    Also, the way the conversation follows, the distinction between a DOJ investigation and a Congressional investigation, or even an independent counsel investigation is muddied. This imprecise, occulting use of language by Marcus is part of the smokescreen that professional villagers/propagandists use to divert the public from the need to hold Republican elites accountable.

    You can’t win this struggle without language cops.

  86. 86
    gex says:

    It’s possible to find torture abhorrent, as I do, without thinking that there is much to gain, and a signficant amount to lose, by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

    Only your soul.

    As the saying goes, for true evil to occur it takes good men doing nothing. Good Ol’ Ruth wants to enable passively.

  87. 87
    dbrown says:

    When the repub-a-thugs went after Clinton, the US did not collapse nor did congress stop working. This was bullshit yet the dem-o-rats did nothing (nor should they have). Getting the war criminals to justice is our law and if anyone disagrees because they are cowards and afraid the repub-a-thugs will stop all of Obama’s legislation initiatives, then so be it. The public will quickly learn what repub-a-thugs really are about and quickly align where their truth beliefs lie – with our democracy or with war criminals.

  88. 88
    AkaDad says:

    Money doesn’t grow on trees, which is why we need to use our resources wisely. Our priority should be investigating people like Elliot Spitzer and Roger Clemons.

  89. 89
    Brian J says:

    Innocent people were tortured and that’s just fucked up.

    I’ll admit, I’ve let this issue slip to the back burner, so if what I am about to ask is blindingly obvious, I apologize. I don’t think it should make a difference either way whether these people were innocent or not. There’s certainly more of a case against it if they were innocent, based on purely emotional thinking, but I don’t see how torture is acceptable either way.

    That said, in the case of people either being tortured or held at Guantanamo, how many of them are really likely to be innocent? And what can be done if these people are released but so that they do not become enemies of the nation based on the way they were treated?

  90. 90
    Svensker says:

    That said, in the case of people either being tortured or held at Guantanamo, how many of them are really likely to be innocent? And what can be done if these people are released but so that they do not become enemies of the nation based on the way they were treated?

    So far, over half have been released with an "oops, sorry". Or you could go read Glenn Greenwald today about a 15 year old who was picked up off the street and tortured for 6 years.

  91. 91
    DougJ says:

    @Brian

    Here’s one example. I’m sure there are plenty of others.

  92. 92
    DougJ says:

    Our priority should be investigating people like Elliot Spitzer and Roger Clemons.

    Ha!

  93. 93

    I am going to say this again here as I have other places, the bullshit rhetoric about torture prosecutions having reprecussions in DC is just that, BULLSHIT. If the country was so "torn" about investigating Bush why isn’t there one single solitary poll out gauging the public’s opinion on this issue??? I will tell you why. Because if Gallup or any other reputable polling company came out with numbers showing significant approval of investigations/prosecutions the Ruth Marcuses of the world wouldn’t be able to hide behind that bullshit logic. I don’t give a shit about political capital or what the Villagers think when it comes to this subject. There isn’t a person on this thread who would be shielded from prosecutions for a crime committed because of some unseen political ramifications and our Presidents should be no different.

    Nixon spawned Reagan who spawned Bush 43. For all of those parroting this nonsense about not investigating/prosecuting just remember that without them Bush 43 will spawn someone else. And the next time it could be your son’s and daughters ordered to torture or sent into an unjust war.

  94. 94
    kay says:

    I think you have to have an investigation before anyone can rationally opine on this.

    We don’t know what happened. If Ruth Marcus wants to take George W Bush’s word, that’s fine for her. I’d like to find out what happened before I decide it’s not worth the political cost.

    Marcus is doing a cost/benefit analysis based on what, exactly? What she’s been told by the Bush Administration?

  95. 95
    zzyzx says:

    I think some of the commentators are overgeneralizing the mood based on them and their friends and allies. You can make the case that we need to hold hearings because it’s the right thing to do, but it will come with a political cost and if it turns out that the charges are overstated, there will be a backlash.

    Personally I think the best way of making sure Republicans can’t do this again soon is to not have them be elected again and the best way for that to happen is for there to be enough improvement of the country that people will keep voting for Democrats.

  96. 96

    That said, in the case of people either being tortured or held at Guantanamo, how many of them are really likely to be innocent?

    Evidently a hell of a lot seeing as how they are now quietly releasing quite a few of them and prosecutors and defense councils alike are refusing to do their jobs because of how weak the cases are in some cases choosing to retire rather than perpetrate a fraud. Oh and someone else suggested read Greenwald today for a much more eloquent and intensive answer.

  97. 97
    DougJ says:

    Personally I think the best way of making sure Republicans can’t do this again soon is to not have them be elected again and the best way for that to happen is for there to be enough improvement of the country that people will keep voting for Democrats.

    I’m a lifelong Dem, but Democrats might do things like this too.

    This is not about Republicans and Democrats. Look, there were Republicans in the DoJ who fought this stuff and the JAGs (a lot of whom are probably Republicans) don’t like torture either. And there are Democrats — DiFi — who probably get off on torture.

    This is about torture being sanctioned by my government.

  98. 98
    Jay B. says:

    Personally I think the best way of making sure Republicans can’t do this again soon is to not have them be elected again and the best way for that to happen is for there to be enough improvement of the country that people will keep voting for Democrats.

    Last time Democrats "improved the country" we had Ralph Nader saying there was no difference, the press savaging Gore (was he tweedledum or tweedledee?) and candidate George Bush getting confused by "fuzzy math" while pledging to be a humble compassionate conservative who won’t have to do nation building.

    We have to address things we’ve done wrong, otherwise we’ll be complacent enough to do them again. Sometimes it takes a long time — by finally countering Jim Crow, we’ve helped to usher in an African-American president. But when we ignore the problem — in this case something we prosecuted Nazis and the Japanese for and called them war crimes — we ensure the rest of it will be superficial. The rot will remain.

  99. 99
    DougJ says:

    Sometimes it takes a long time—by finally countering Jim Crow,

    That’s a good example.

    And it’s also an example of why it’s naive for people to think Democrats never do anything awful.

  100. 100
    zzyzx says:

    @DougJ: I see where you’re coming from and I understand the urge, but the fact is that there’s no way to hold these hearings without them coming across as revenge. As long as you have Congress handling them, there will be grandstanding and when that happens, there’s a huge chance of pissing off the people you’re supposed to be convincing.

    …or maybe I’m still burned over the Ollie North hearings. It was a pretty formative event in my political maturity to see someone admit under oath to committing crimes and having the result be people rushing to his defense. Do this if you want justice, not if you think, "that it is politically a home run for them." Moods can change quickly. A few Jack Bauer references and a ticking time bomb scenario and suddenly your obvious political gain becomes a defeat.

    …and one of the reasons I want a strong Republican party is so when the Democrats inevitably become corrupt, we’ll get voted out of office.

  101. 101
    cleek says:

    This is about torture being sanctioned by my government.

    that can be remedied without any punishment of BushCo.

    BushCo was able to torture because they took advantage of the sorry state of laws in this area (the whole "enemy combatant" vs POW issue, the "definition of torture" canard, the powers of the CiC issue,"ticking time bombs", "national security" concerns, etc.). but it might be possible to rework the relevant laws so that it’d be impossible for future administrations to find legal cover.

    since i don’t think punishment is forthcoming, i’m hoping some new legislative barriers will fix the problem.

  102. 102
    Brian J says:

    Here’s one example. I’m sure there are plenty of others.

    Is it stupid to assume that the sort of guy mentioned in the Post article isn’t going to become a radical and that there are ways to find out who is worth keeping in custody and who isn’t? In other words, doesn’t the guy in the article do a lot to punch a whole in the argument that releasing people when there is no case against them would mean they would become dangerous?

  103. 103
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    Holder clarified torture and said it was illegal. Simple stuff. Now? Republicans take that as a problem. Even though neither Obama nor Holder have shown much interest in doing anything about it.

    That’s the argument they’re setting up, protecting the "agents in the field" but it’s dishonest. The agents have a good defense. The agents relied on the US DOJ for a legal determination. Agents can do that.

    They’re not protecting the agents. They’re protecting those at the top who gave the order. They’re protecting people like Addington. This is spin.

  104. 104
    Xenos says:

    If it was just a matter of protecting agents in the field, Bush could have just pardoned them, couldn’t he?

  105. 105
    Zifnab says:

    @cleek:

    BushCo was able to torture because they took advantage of the sorry state of laws in this area (the whole "enemy combatant" vs POW issue, the "definition of torture" canard, the powers of the CiC issue,"ticking time bombs", "national security" concerns, etc.). but it might be possible to rework the relevant laws so that it’d be impossible for future administrations to find legal cover.

    Bullshit. We had hard and fast laws against domestic wiretapping. Bush broke them and had the laws rewritten in his favor. We had hard and fast laws about using government staff and money to run political campaigns (the Hatch Act) and Bush broke them and instigated a massive fight within the Goverment Accountability Office. Even the "enemy combatant" vs POW issue was ultimately a word-play fabrication by Addington and Yoo to cloud the fact that they were literally snatching people off the street in Afghanistan and Iraq, labeling them "terrorists", and throwing them in prison.

    Adding another layer of laws is utterly meaningless when you refuse to enforce the laws on the books. The Unitary Executive Theory will rear its ugly head again in eight or twelve or sixteen years when Republicans reclaim the White House (AND THEY WILL – we haven’t gone more than sixteen years without a change of party in the White House since John Quincy). I don’t really feel like replaying "what law did the President break this time" GOP edition in my lifetime.

    Enforce the laws now. Up the stakes on the side of responsible politics. Nail Bush today like our parents should have nailed Reagen and their parents should have nailed Nixon. End the cycle of law breaking or live to see it repeated.

  106. 106
    theturtlemoves says:

    I think the folks on here that don’t see a political downside need to venture outside the liberal/progressive blogosphere from time to time. As uncomfortable as it is for us to admit, I really don’t think the average person is going to get worked up to prosecute our own government officials when they or someone they know just lost their job or had their house foreclosed. It sucks, but people are selfish and most can only muster the effort to care about their immediate friends and family most of the time. Ask them to place a high priority on punishing people who ordered the torture of scary men they will never meet from a place they’ve never heard of (I’m projecting, I know most of these guys aren’t really that scary, but tell that to the Man on the Street(r)) and they aren’t going to get behind it. Again, it sucks, but assuming a majority of the American people are baying for the blood of BushCo isn’t realistic. I could be wrong and maybe we will experience a renaissance of collective responsibility and a desire to act morally toward even scary strangers who talk funny and sometimes ululate. I’m not holding my breath, but it would be nice.

  107. 107
    Mike G says:

    If Obama started indicting people (esp. Republicans), DC would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP would seize up like a dry engine.

    They’ll do that anyway. They can’t help it — it’s like asking a a shark to feel shame for eating surfers.

    Clinton dropped Iran-Contra prosecutions because of mealy-mouthed establishment Dem opposition. The Repigs went forward with eight years of absolute warfare against his administration culminating in the ridiculous blowjob witchhunt. Being thugs who only respect brute force, the failure to go for the jugular probably emboldened them.

  108. 108
    Jay B. says:

    @theturtlemoves:

    Shorter you: You guys need to get out more because my halfassed stereotyping of what Americans really want contradicts with your core beliefs.

  109. 109

    I don’t care how many well placed and highly paid journalists or complicit politicians try to rationalize away the biggest crime I personally witnessed IN MY LIFETIME.

    Torture is illegal and it’s a war crime. You can’t make it legal by Presidential fiat even if you want to. Bush was aware of this early on, which is why he LIED about the ONGOING torture that was being run out of the basement of the WHITE HOUSE.

    It is deeply abhorrent to engage in any level of support for such nonsense. It shows a profound lack of historical and political perspective. If I’d been insane or stupid enough to have supported it in any manner here-to-fore, I’d likely have to play such sophist rhetorical games to keep the public from labeling me as the pariah I’d surely be. This explains nearly 100 percent of the support in favor of letting bygones be bygones. Well dog gone, it just doesn’t wash.

    The sooner the prosecutions begin, the better off HUMANITY is in the long run. It’s just that BASIC. The fact that I’ve had to post all over the freaking web an alliterative meme highlighting legal support for the TORTURING of TODDLERS TESTICLES in an attempt to garner SOME awareness to the extent that these bastards went pains me greatly.

    Enjoy.

  110. 110
    Emma Anne says:

    I think we thread this needle with an independent counsel. The investigation is then out of Obama’s hands and Congress’s as well.

    Oh and this:

    — That said, in the case of people either being tortured or held at Guantanamo, how many of them are really likely to be innocent? —

    As far as we know, all of them.

  111. 111
    Cyrus says:

    @cleek:

    BushCo was able to torture because they took advantage of the sorry state of laws in this area (the whole "enemy combatant" vs POW issue, the "definition of torture" canard, the powers of the CiC issue,"ticking time bombs", "national security" concerns, etc.). but it might be possible to rework the relevant laws so that it’d be impossible for future administrations to find legal cover.

    This is gibberish. What sorry state of laws? No one from when the 14th Amendment was passed to John Yoo ever said that the president has a legal right to order torture. The laws don’t make exceptions for ticking time bombs, that’s a good thing, and none of the torture victims were suspected of knowing where to find ticking time bombs anyway. Some of the abusive practices may not fall within enumerated definitions of torture, but we absolutely know that others do, such as waterboarding, so the legal definition of torture is certainly clear enough for at least some indictments. While non-"POW" enemy combatants may have fewer legal protections than uniformed POWs taken on a battlefield, they still have some legal and human rights, and the Bush administration ignored even some of those.

    Torture is illegal. I’m sure there will be some details here and there that actually are in gray areas – how liable is some figure like Charles Graner, stuff like that – and long debates like right in this thread about what’s feasible, but the basic issue is pretty clear-cut. The idea that the laws are too vague or something is just a smokescreen by apologists for the Bush administration (I’m not calling you that, but you’ve apparently been listening to them too much or something).

  112. 112
    Stefan says:

    That said, in the case of people either being tortured or held at Guantanamo, how many of them are really likely to be innocent?

    At this point, well over half, judging from those already released without charges.

    And what can be done if these people are released but so that they do not become enemies of the nation based on the way they were treated?

    Too fucking bad. What are we going to say, "sorry we kidnapped and tortured you, but now I’m afraid we can’t release you because you might hold the fact that we kidnapped and tortured you against us"? If they become our enemies based on what we did to them, well, I’m afraid that’s what we deserve.

  113. 113
    Zifnab says:

    @Emma Anne:

    — That said, in the case of people either being tortured or held at Guantanamo, how many of them are really likely to be innocent?—
    As far as we know, all of them.

    What about the guys who confessed under torture? I mean, they must have done something wrong. They confessed!

  114. 114
    former capitalist says:

    This "nation of laws" has abetted, and in certain instances, directly contributed, to torture in countries around the world. Is it any wonder, then, that we, as a country, have difficulty deciding whether or not to try those in the Bush Administration suspected of having participated in torture at Gitmo and who knows where else? Is it not ironic that Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, etal, have seen fit to prosecute the perpetrators in their countries, while we wonder what the right course of action should be in our own country?

  115. 115
    DougJ says:

    I once saw a discussion of the bombing of Hiroshima with heated words in favor of and against the bombing. Someone at the end made the point that even if it made sense tactically, it was important that people look back and question it.

    The same applies here — if we say “we tortured, but who cares”….it bugs me to even write that.

    I hope this makes some sense.

  116. 116
    Stefan says:

    BushCo was able to torture because they took advantage of the sorry state of laws in this area (the whole "enemy combatant" vs POW issue, the "definition of torture" canard, the powers of the CiC issue,"ticking time bombs", "national security" concerns, etc.). but it might be possible to rework the relevant laws so that it’d be impossible for future administrations to find legal cover.

    Complete nonsense. The laws covering war crimes are not in any sort of "sorry state" — they are, in fact, clear, unambiguous and commonly accepted by the international community. What the Bush regime did, however, was simply to ignore the laws, deliberately and knowingly misread and misrepresent them to pretend that up was down and black was white, and make up entirely new legal concepts (i.e. their made up "illegal combatants" term) out of whole cloth.

    It’s not possible to "rework the relevant laws so that it’d be impossible for future administrations to find legal cover" if those future administrations can simply ignore and flout the law as it pleases. The existing laws are already perfectly clear and precise. What will deter future administrations from lawbreaking, however, is the memory of their predecessors hanging from the end of a rope or rotting away the rest of their lives in Leavenworth.

  117. 117
    Stefan says:

    What needs investigating that has not already been investigated? What information that could reasonably be made public has not already emerged?

    Um, that’s the WHOLE FUCKING POINT of an investigation, is it not? To find out what has not already been made public?

    But do you really think the prospect of investigation would have deterred Bush? Didn’t seem so.

    If the prospect of an investigation wouldn’t have deterred Bush, then why did he and his regime put so much effort into covering up and hiding their activities?

    And besides, so what? We don’t have criminal investigations solely to deter future wrongdoing, but also to punish past wrongdoing.

  118. 118
    theturtlemoves says:

    @Jay B.: Thank you for that witty rejoinder. I’m thoroughly admonished now by your dizzying intellect and knowledge of the "shorter" format and all other internet traditions. I’m deeply sorry that my opinion has so thoroughly offended your sensibilities. Do you need a hug?

    The point I was trying to make is that most people don’t really give a shit about something unless you can give them a reason to believe it affects them personally. If you’ve experienced a bumper crop of altruism in your life, good on you, but I would suspect that it isn’t typical. If the Democrats can sell investigations as something that will protect our own soldiers, should they be captured (giving us back the moral high ground), or otherwise bring the larger American population into it, it might succeed. But if it just comes off looking like a vendetta against the previous administration, it is just going to turn a lot of people off. But that’s just my opinion and obviously I’m prone to horrible stereotypes of wide swaths of humanity…

    Sorry, the snark just won’t stop flowing.

  119. 119
    Comrade Dread says:

    Is it not ironic that Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, etal, have seen fit to prosecute the perpetrators in their countries, while we wonder what the right course of action should be in our own country?

    Because a lot of people are nationalists and believe in the idea of "American Exceptionalism" which currently means:

    Our Constitution is good. Free Markets are good. We’re very rich and powerful. Therefore we are Good, and therefore everything we do is good, even if what we do is the exact same thing we condemn other people for doing, because they’re not as good as we are.

    So, people don’t want to believe that the Bush administration did fundamentally evil things. It rocks that belief they’ve been indoctrinated with to the core. So, the rationalizations begin:

    We were following orders.
    Our country was under threat.
    They were just a little overzealous in trying to protect us.

  120. 120
    John PM says:

    @zzyzx: #99

    the fact is that there’s no way to hold these hearings without them coming across as revenge.

    Democrats already have their revenge – President Obama and overwhelming control of both houses of Congress. Also, Bush leaves office with a 22% approval rating, while Cheney has a 13% approval rating.

    Investigations and prosecutions are necessary to attempt to prevent these kinds of actions in the future, especially against the f-cking lawyers.

    The way to frame the issue to the American public is simple: "Hey, you know those same Republican f-ckers who caused the economy to go in the crapper and who are responsible for you losing your job and/or your home? Well, those f-uckers also decided it would be a good idea to imprison innocent people in Cuba, torture them, and force confessions out of them, while at the same time they failed at capturing Osama Bin Laden. They even did this to an American citizen. They also thought it would be fun to set up a system so they could monitor the telephone calls and e-mails of every single America, without needing to get a warrant. You don’t even need to go to law school to know that’s wrong; just watch a few episodes of ‘Law & Order.’"

    For eight years these f-ckers took our freedom and they took our piece of mind. Investigations and prosecutions are the way to get both of these back and warn future f-ckers to not try the same shit.

    one of the reasons I want a strong Republican party is so when the Democrats inevitably become corrupt, we’ll get voted out of office

    /slaps forehead/ You are too tied into the two-party system. Abolitionists in the 1850s did not say that they needed a stronger Whig Party so that they could take over when the Democrats messed up. They formed a new party, and the Whigs went the way of the dodo. What we need are 537 people (435 representatives, 100 senators and the president and vice-president) regardless of party who will actually uphold the document they swear the will protect and defend. If the Republican party cannot offer those kinds of people anymore, then they either need to radically change or go away.

    It is the kind of thinking by you and cleek that results in situations like David Vitter getting to remain a US Senator while Eliot Spitzer is forced to resign as governor, for the exact same behavior!

  121. 121
    Comrade Dread says:

    Of course, gents and ladies, the simple reason why there won’t be any tribunals or investigations or prosecutions of the Bush Administration is because senior Democratic leadership was either passively complicit or signed off on the illegal behavior as well, and the last thing Rockefeller or Pelosi or Reid want is an independent prosecutor sniffing around their rotten house too.

  122. 122
    rawshark says:

    @DougJ:

    I once saw a discussion of the bombing of Hiroshima with heated words in favor of and against the bombing.

    Did anyone bring up the internal discussions at the time that showed we could get Japan to surrender just by showing them the film of our atomic bomb tests?

  123. 123
    cleek says:

    What sorry state of laws?

    fer fuck’s sake. the state of the laws where it’s an open question as to whether or not waterboarding is torture or not. the state of the laws where the president is able to set up a parallel system of pseudo-justice for people who are neither civilian nor POW and are held outside US territory. the state of laws where warrantless wiretapping may or may not be legal. etc. etc.

    any of that sound familiar ?

    The laws covering war crimes are not in any sort of "sorry state"—they are, in fact, clear, unambiguous and commonly accepted by the international community.

    the "international community" has precious little say when it comes to enforcement of American laws.

    The existing laws are already perfectly clear and precise.

    yeah, so clear and concise that the President via his counsel were able to convince enough military commanders that waterboarding and all the rest of it was A-OK and that their own interpretations of the relevant laws were too narrow. clear. right.

    What will deter future administrations from lawbreaking, however, is the memory of their predecessors hanging from the end of a rope or rotting away the rest of their lives in Leavenworth.

    well, since that’s most definitely not going to happen, you’d better come up with a plan B. something that bears at least a passing resemblance to the real world would be best.

  124. 124
    blogreeder says:

    One of the facts that I think most people here are forgetting is that the US wasn’t attacked again during W.s terms. It’s probably a logical fallacy that Tim F. will swoop in on, but could these be related?

  125. 125
    Comrade Dread says:

    One of the facts that I think most people here are forgetting is that the US wasn’t attacked again during W.s terms. It’s probably a logical fallacy that Tim F. will swoop in on, but could these be related?

    Unless you count anthrax. Or our soldiers.

    And, of course, this is based upon the hope and expectation that letting OBL get away and radicalizing even more Muslim young men and women in their hatred of us via our gutting of Iraq won’t come back to bite us in the ass in the future.

    And also based on the hope that adding five trillion to the national debt won’t seriously hamper future presidents and military leaders in responding to threats that arise in the future either.

    But, other than that, bang up job not letting more people get killed on your watch, Mr. President.

  126. 126
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    To cleek et al…
    The Republicans are going to do their goddamndest to obstruct all of President Obama’s initiatives regardless of whether the DOJ investigates war crimes or not. There is no question of this. None. The fact that we are even considering the alternative is laughable. There is literally nothing Obama could do (or promise not to do) that would convince congressional Republicans to play nice. They are going to be as nasty, as confrontational, as obstructionist as they can possibly be out of pure spite, because that’s all they have left. We’ve been playing their game for the last 20 years, and it’s time to fucking stop.

    I would rather President Obama lose a few battles than admit that we simply cannot hold our leaders accountable for fucking war crimes, because that is the surest way to send our country down the crapper. Some things are more important than the fucking economy.

  127. 127
    Stefan says:

    the state of the laws where it’s an open question as to whether or not waterboarding is torture or not.

    Again, it’s not an open question, anymore than it’s an open question whether the rack or rape or electrocution are torture. No credible (i.e. non Bush-regime) legal authority considers that an open question. Just because some psychopaths pretend that the law is not what it says, doesn’t mean tha the law is not what it says.

    the state of the laws where the president is able to set up a parallel system of pseudo-justice for people who are neither civilian nor POW and are held outside US territory. the state of laws where warrantless wiretapping may or may not be legal. etc. etc.

    And again, he’s not. All of this was illegal. The fact that it was done doesn’t mean the law was unclear, it means that the president knew exactly what the law was and also knew that he could flout it with impunity because no one would ever dare punish him for it. You seem to be arguing that Bush was a lawless autocrat, and that the solution would be….more clearly worded laws? Nonsense. Whatever the law was, Bush would have broken it because he was betting he’d suffer no consequences.

    the "international community" has precious little say when it comes to enforcement of American laws.

    Yes, it does, when those laws are also international treaties that the US has signed and committed too and that count as the supreme law of the land.

    yeah, so clear and concise that the President via his counsel were able to convince enough military commanders that waterboarding and all the rest of it was A-OK and that their own interpretations of the relevant laws were too narrow. clear. right.

    We can’t blame the laws for the fact that the Bush regime and its enablers broke them. The law basically says "you cannnot torture, ever", and the Bush regime looked at that and said "what this means is that we can torture, sometimes." How do you write better legislation to prevent that kind of deliberate deception?

    well, since that’s most definitely not going to happen, you’d better come up with a plan B. something that bears at least a passing resemblance to the real world would be best.

    Pinochet and Milosevic never thought they’d end up in a courtroom either.

  128. 128
    Stefan says:

    One of the facts that I think most people here are forgetting is that the US wasn’t attacked again during W.s terms.

    Nor did the Japanese Navy attack Pearl Harbor during Bush’s terms, despite the fact that they had once dared to do so when a Democract was in power. Is there a relation…..?

  129. 129
    Mnemosyne says:

    …or maybe I’m still burned over the Ollie North hearings. It was a pretty formative event in my political maturity to see someone admit under oath to committing crimes and having the result be people rushing to his defense.

    Except that the "people" who rushed to Ollie North’s defense were the media and congresscritters — you know, the Village. When they actually asked the American people what they thought, a majority of them thought North should go to jail. So instead the media gamed the system by emphasizing the supporters and sweeping the much larger anti-North group under the rug.

    There’s definitely a lesson here: the media will always back up their friends, and their friends are the Republicans whose cocktail parties they attend. Period. They don’t give a shit what the rest of us think.

  130. 130
    Mnemosyne says:

    One of the facts that I think most people here are forgetting is that the US wasn’t attacked again during W.s terms. It’s probably a logical fallacy that Tim F. will swoop in on, but could these be related?

    Considering it was 8 years between the 1993 attack and the 2001 attack, no, it’s not significant that there wasn’t another foreign attack on American soil while Bush was president. It’s actually about what you’d expect given past history.

  131. 131
    Dave C says:

    I think we may need to dust off and revamp a Bush-era euphemism and then start using it liberally: "objectively pro-torture."

  132. 132
    binzinerator says:

    We are either a nation of laws or we are not.

    That is what all this comes down to. Some say to let it slide because we have more important things to do. But those things won’t soon matter if we accept that, if we make it part of who we are as a nation that there are people who are above the law.

    How long then before conventional wisdom accepts Nixon’s assertion that there are people who should be above the law?

    What the bushies did was a program of lawlessness, backed by two branches of government. Nixon had no such apparatus, the DOJ and his own party helped to bring him down, not hide or legitimize his crimes.

    Under Bush we were most certainly not a nation of laws. So according to some here, the best thing to do is to go back to being a nation of laws and yet not pursue the enforcement of those laws. I’m not sure how this thing called the rule of law has any meaning if it is optional.

    But there is another problem here. To repurpose a phrase from John Cole, what has been seen cannot be unseen. We have seen that the solidity of law, the law intended to anchor this nation, is in fact so much paper — not in abstract or the literal but worse in practice — and that the powerful are allowed to wipe their ass with it at their whim. This is the code of law we have begun to understand. This is Bush law and it has replaced the other law. Certainly it is less ephemeral. One set is a formality, it is what we say. The other is what we practice, it is what we do.

    What we have seen can only be erased by prosecutions.

    And if we don’t pursue prosecutions, why wouldn’t a reasonable person come to believe our leaders can do as they please — not sometimes, not usually, but whenever our leader decides he needs to — and when people in this country really accept that and internalize it, when they accept that is how our society works, then I would say the American dream is dead. The Experiment is over.

    You people who think we’ve got better things to do had better consider this:

    For once, George W. Bush was right. He fucking proved the Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper, again and again for years, that even repulsive crimes like torture, crimes long abhorrent to our society, aren’t crimes at all and can even touted as patriotic if we just agree to not call it torture. If one could say George Bush ever had a brilliant insight I would say it was this: He was certain that there would not be enough people who would think it was worth our while to insist otherwise.

    Maybe that explains why he never pardoned anyone for torture. He’s that certain.

  133. 133
    Mike G says:

    White Southerners Still Don’t Trust Obama

    http://watchingamerica.com/New.....ust-obama/

    Ed Buren is afraid of blacks. He’s afraid of the black man that will enter the White House on January 20th, and he’s afraid of blacks in general. “I don’t want anybody like that making decisions about me or my life,” he says. Almost threateningly he adds, “That’s the way it is.” He won’t speak the president-elect’s name aloud, but he takes pleasure in repeating his middle name: Hussein, like Saddam.

    Ethnic, political and social diversity is also the hallmark of Obama’s future Cabinet. It’s a development that Ed Buren also views with deep disgust – all the blacks, Latinos, Asians and women that Obama is “pulling into his circle.” Buren laments, “Who is going to look out for us decent white Americans?”

  134. 134
    Walker says:

    The point I was trying to make is that most people don’t really give a shit about something unless you can give them a reason to believe it affects them personally.

    Cite polls or give it up. No one believes anyone’s characterization of the "average American" anymore, be it from the left or the right.

  135. 135
    Stefan says:

    the state of the laws where it’s an open question as to whether or not waterboarding is torture or not.

    Waterboarding is forcible asphyxiation, the deliberate cutting off of air to the lungs. How the fuck is that an open question whether that’s torture or not?

  136. 136
    gwangung says:

    All I can say is that some people are talking about taking steps A, B, C and D, and some people are talking about going from A to D.

    I think we NEED to investigate. And with the info from investigation will come the public pressure to prosecute. But don’t forget that the intervening steps are needed to get to the final end-state.

  137. 137
    binzinerator says:

    @cleek:

    since i don’t think punishment is forthcoming, i’m hoping some new legislative barriers will fix the problem.

    This really vexes me, the amnesia.

    Did legislative barriers mean anything to Bush? Fuck no. If he couldn’t subvert a law, he had people author legal opinions stating he could ignore it. If he couldn’t ignore it, he did it anyway and hid it.

    I mean fucking A, how much more of a legislative barrier is there than federal criminal felonies and fucking war crimes? And this meant shit to Dubya.

    Why then do you think a successor like him would treat any such barriers any differently? Especially when you want to give such a person a punishment-free precedent to do so.

  138. 138
    Comrade Doug says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    Some things are more important than the fucking economy.

    Yeah, its far more important to blow your political capital on meaningless prosecutions that will never ever be commuted and/or pardoned by President Palin after she’s voted in because you were too busy with those prosecutions than the fucking economy. Good fucking grief.

    And yes, I said meaningless prosecutions. You seriously think they won’t pull this shit again even if there were prosecutions? What part of ‘Casper Weinberger’ am I missing here?

  139. 139
    cleek says:

    You seem to be arguing that Bush was a lawless autocrat, and that the solution would be….more clearly worded laws? Nonsense.

    i’m arguing Bush found ways around, through and under existing laws that gave him just enough cover so that nobody dared call him on it – including Congressional Democrats. and he got away with it until 2006. and courts are still chipping away at his legal facade. if it was as clear-cut as you seem to think it is, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

    The law basically says "you cannnot torture, ever",

    and that’s why the US definition of torture keeps changing. again with Democratic help. Geneva’s swell, but easily ignored, apparently.

    How do you write better legislation to prevent that kind of deliberate deception?

    make it clear that nobody can give you legal authority to do it. make the penalty for violators harsh. do away with the "national security" aura that surrounds all of this stuff. there are many things.

    Pinochet and Milosevic never thought they’d end up in a courtroom either.

    i seriously doubt the UN is going to set up a special war tribunal for a US president, or that any of our allies are going to arrest him. again, reality is best.

  140. 140
    harlana pepper says:

    This is being discussed by the progressive Dems on the House floor right now

  141. 141
    ed says:

    Glennzilla is soooooooo gonna rock tomorrow!

  142. 142
    Stefan McGrath says:

    m arguing Bush found ways around, through and under existing laws that gave him just enough cover so that nobody dared call him on it – including Congressional Democrats.

    I’ll just restate what biz said: "Did legislative barriers mean anything to Bush? Fuck no. If he couldn’t subvert a law, he had people author legal opinions stating he could ignore it. If he couldn’t ignore it, he did it anyway and hid it."

    if it was as clear-cut as you seem to think it is, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

    Huh? People break clear-cut laws all the time and then hire other people to argue that what they did wasn’t really illegal. I mean, if the laws against Ponzi schemes were as clear cut as you think they are, we wouldn’t be discussing Bernie Madoff today…..

    and that’s why the US definition of torture keeps changing.

    Actually, the US definition has not changed, but remains as it was codified in the Federal Anti-Torture Statute and various other federal laws banning it. The Bush regime never pushed through any changed legislative redefinition of torture; instead, they simply authored secret memos that said, in effect "when it says you cannot do A, it means you can do A."

    make it clear that nobody can give you legal authority to do it. make the penalty for violators harsh. do away with the "national security" aura that surrounds all of this stuff. there are many things.

    All of this is already clear. All of this already exists. It is already clear that nobody can give you legal authority to break the law. Penalties for violators are already harsh. There are no national security exemptions in the laws. Whenever the Bush regime claimed any of the above exceptions they were simply making it up.

    It’s basically as if there’s been a spate of bank robberies, and you’re saying "what we need to do in future is write clearer laws so the bank robbers know this is illegal." They already know! They already know and are simply flouting the laws because they know that no one will punish them. What is needed is not to write new laws, but to enforce the laws that already exist.

    i seriously doubt the UN is going to set up a special war tribunal for a US president, or that any of our allies are going to arrest him. again, reality is best.

    So basically the argument is "because they can get away with it, you should let them get away with it. Give up and get along."

  143. 143
    Comrade Doug says:

    @cleek:

    make it clear that nobody can give you legal authority to do it. make the penalty for violators harsh. do away with the "national security" aura that surrounds all of this stuff. there are many things.

    Logical, thoughtful, but again the ghosts of Dick Nixon, Casper Weinberger, and Scooter Libby are having a gut laugh. The only true way to ensure this doesn’t happen again, is to make sure that the GOP pays a political cost.

  144. 144
    Cyrus says:

    @blogreeder:

    One of the facts that I think most people here are forgetting is that the US wasn’t attacked again during W.s terms. It’s probably a logical fallacy that Tim F. will swoop in on, but could these be related?

    This is ridiculous. This idea is false and meaningless, and yet no matter how many times that is pointed out in exhaustive detail, right-wingers keep on saying it again. Why? Why? Why?

    How is it false? Anthrax, like someone said upthread. And the beltway sniper in 2002.

    How is it meaningless? Like someone said upthread, that’s the same amount of time between the World Trade Center bombings and 9/11. (To be fair, there was at least one more terrorist attack on American soil during the Clinton Administration after the WTC bombing – but I just can’t imagine why conservatives would want to remind people of that, it’s just inexplicable…) And there have been plenty of attacks on American soldiers. If you want to call that the flypaper strategy, getting them to attack our soldiers in Iraq rather than our civilians here, fine. But it’s immoral and completely counterproductive in the long term by making Iraq a warzone and a breeding ground for anti-Americanism, so I don’t see why any particular credit is deserved for that.

    So please, blogreeder, come back and try to explain this. Do you honestly have a hard time remembering the anthrax attacks and the sniper and all the rest, no matter how many times you’re reminded? Do you think that the only valid measure of success against terrorism is the number of attacks in a particular country by Al Qaeda specifically? Please, explain it to me as if I were four years old, because I honestly don’t understand what’s going through your head here.

  145. 145

    @Tenguphule

    Some slaps a rifle butt to the face will bring them to heel.

    Corrected

  146. 146

    Ya know, I’m going to keep trying here. It’s possible to find someone breaking into Ruth Marcus’s house, beating her to within an inch of her life, raping her and then dragging her outside and leaving her to die in the gutter abhorrent, as I do, without thinking that there is much to gain, and a significant amount to lose, by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

    I can haz pundit job now?

  147. 147
    MikeJ says:

    If anybody has any doubt as to the legality or morality of torture, obviously we need a big, public spectacle demonstrating that it is not ok ever, not matter who you are.

    People might think twice about it if they could remember, "Hey the US once executed an ex-Vice President for violating this law. I better not do it."

  148. 148

    Comrade Doug said

    Yeah, its far more important to blow your political capital on meaningless prosecutions that will never ever be commuted and/or pardoned by President Palin after she’s voted in because you were too busy with those prosecutions than the fucking economy. Good fucking grief.
    And yes, I said meaningless prosecutions. You seriously think they won’t pull this shit again even if there were prosecutions? What part of ‘Casper Weinberger’ am I missing here?

    Im sorry but is Eric Holder supposed to fix the economy?? If not you have created the strawest of strawmen with your statement. Not only that not even ONE person on this thread can explain how political capital will be wasted in this effort. Want to know why? Because there isn’t a single time in history where a President was impeached and the opposing party suffered. Maybe you forgot that we got Bush from Clinton’s impeachment.

    Also just to correct you, Cap Weinberger was never convicted because he was never tried. Bush 41 gave him a preemptive pardon so none of him and his gang would be prosecuted for Iran Contra. Of course had Congress acted back then perhaps we never could have had his fuck up of a son to deal with.

    cleek says

    i’m arguing Bush found ways around, through and under existing laws that gave him just enough cover so that nobody dared call him on it – including Congressional Democrats. and he got away with it until 2006. and courts are still chipping away at his legal facade. if it was as clear-cut as you seem to think it is, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

    Sorry but thats a bunch of bullshit. Bush got away with it because he had puppets for Atty Generals and he had a weak kneed Democratic minority for six years and then a weak kneed Democratic majority for the last two enabled by people like you who say "its not worth it". I should also point out to you that the United States has prosecuted people for waterboarding AS A WARCRIME. So let there be no ambiguity here. Waterboarding has always been both torture and a war crime. The only reason we ARE debating it here is because some people don’t know their history AND our Congress didn’t have the courage to call it what we have called it for decades in this country. You can’t prosecute and execute Japanese soldiers for waterboarding and then turn around and say its "enhanced interrogation" when we do it. And the Conventions against torture which Reagan signed onto specifically say that you can not use mitigating circumstances ala ticking time bomb or being in a time of war to justify torture. Period.

    You really should read this post from Glenzilla that breaks it all the way down.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/g.....index.html

  149. 149

    Ya know, it seems like there are two groups of people arguing this thread, those who believe that we should enforce the law and that nobody, not even the president and his cabinet are above it, and cowardly little punk-ass bitches who say things like "…if Obama started indicting people (esp. Republicans), DC would go absolutely ape-shit crazy. he wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. the Congressional GOP would seize up like a dry engine." and "look around. see that flagging economy? see that shitty healthcare system? see those two wars? Obama’s plans for addressing those things could very well be the "consequences" you’re dismissing. that’s what." Here’s a question for you punk-ass bitches: if you can’t trust the government not to break the law and torture and kill people then how the fuck can you trust them to fix health care or the flagging economy?

  150. 150
    Comrade Doug says:

    Y’all don’t get it. You just don’t. All the fantasies about prosecutions and convictions and Democrats with a spine and executions – executions(!) – don’t mean a hill of beans as long as the GOP lives by Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment. The first Republican in the White House sends your house of cards tumbling to the ground, and we’re back at square one again. What’s your solution for that? Lining Republican voters up against a wall?

    Investigations are one thing – and a very good thing no matter what the Villagers might think – but you’re not getting your leg back, Ahab.

  151. 151
    Jay B. says:

    I think the Holder delay and the spectacle John Cornyn made of himself today might blow up in the faces of the GOP. For the first time, I’m actually optimistic there will be some kind of investigation. I think if they had just shut up, Obama’s "new day" rhetoric may have carried the day.

    But being Republicans, they wanted to stage a stupid fucking power play against Holder. By calling out their fear of torture being prosecuted, they kind of showed their hand though. So much so that by the end of the day Carl Levin was talking about accountability for the torture program.

    And since investigating it doesn’t matter at all to many(according to theturtlemoves’ superior understanding of the Average American) while it matters a great deal to others (like poets and blog elitists I suppose) — the only people opposed to a criminal inquiry into it (most being indifferent evidently because it doesn’t directly affect them, some being very much in favor) are Senate Republicans and Washington Post reporters: Respectively members of a dying party and a dying medium.

    Moreover, since they’ve defined the terms; Holden, to be approved by the GOP has to grant amnesty to torturers, they stand to lose a lot more if no compromise is made and Holder is confirmed anyway (which will happen). If that happens, the GOP has no more leverage and has made torture an issue that is now on Holden’s radar in a more immediate way.

  152. 152
    TenguPhule says:

    Lining Republican voters up against a wall?

    Was that a rhetorical question?

  153. 153
    ed says:

    None of which answers the question “How do you know he’s a registered Republican?”

    Rule of Law, bitches!!

    Say it loud, say it proud, and keep on keepin on sayin it!

    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!
    Rule of Law!

  154. 154
    TenguPhule says:

    yeah, so clear and concise that the President via his counsel were able to convince enough military commanders that waterboarding and all the rest of it was A-OK and that their own interpretations of the relevant laws were too narrow. clear. right.

    Sorry cleek, that is some grade A bullshit there.

    Our own fucking army manual spells it out.

  155. 155

    Uhmmm I don’t know how this plays out but KO just said the UN guy who investigates war crimes named Bush and Rummy by name and may in fact do his own investigation without waiting for our government to conduct one. Somehow I would bet that many of our Congress folks won’t want to be made to look like cowards should the UN do the job they are refusing to do.

  156. 156
    pattonbt says:

    What I would love to see (and believe is the ‘right’ thing to do): full public investigations, full prosecutions, merited punititive sentences for guilty verdicts and no pardons.

    Chance of actually happening: 0%

    Second tier hope: ‘truth commission’ style panels, immunity for all involved to assist in ‘truth commission’ and a public airing of the results and shaming of those involved.

    Chance of actually happening: 0%

    Third tier hope: review of the lawlessness of unitary executive theory, enshrinement (as best possible) of no extra judicial ‘wartime powers’ excuses for Presidents to dodge laws and/or treaties, and to the extent possible codifying the limits of executive power on all matters relating to war, torture, spying etc. And a full public repudiation of all things torture, war crimes, preventitive war, ‘security before freedom’ thinking and unitary executive theory.

    Chance of actually happening: 25% (some bits higher than 25% and some lower than 25%).

    What I actually expect will happen? Pretty much none of the above. Investigations will happen in the background. Obama will naturally not pursue the unitary executive like Bush did (which will make me somewhat happy). Torture will banned explcitly (which will make me very happy). Limited public display of eventual results of investigations (Friday afternoon news dump). And limited codification of executive powers.

    I will not be happy with results because I want people (Dems and Repubs) to fry for what they have done, political repercussions be damned. I want justice first and foremost. And no matter how highly I think of Obama, he will not push for all of what I want. It sucks, but I have no false hopes on this, and I never have. Bush et al will get away scott free with what they have done.

    I have resigned myself, as the sad, pragmatic, cynical, realist I am to the fact that I will not get real justice for horrible crimes done in my countrys name.

  157. 157
    cleek says:

    Especially when you want to give such a person a punishment-free precedent to do so.

    don’t be an ass. what i want has no bearing on what i think will happen.

    Actually, the US definition has not changed,

    O RLY? 2005, US revises definition of torture.

    So basically the argument is "because they can get away with it, you should let them get away with it. Give up and get along."

    no, and i urge you to pay attention to what i’ve actually argued instead of what you’d like that i argued.

    i’m saying there will be no prosecutions, and likely no investigations. but it’s not because of my opinion or desire, but because Obama a) has never expressed any interest in doing it and b) given the other issues of the day, the politics are not on his side for this (and he’s smart enough to know it).

    if Obama is going to give Holder free reign to investigate and prosecute, and something comes of it, then i’ll be happy to admit i was wrong. but nothing about what Obama has ever said on the record even hints that he’s interested in doing that. this hope everybody seems to have that he’s going to storm into town and clean it all up because The Rule Of Law demands it is basically baseless. he’s never promised or even hinted at it at all.

    The only true way to ensure this doesn’t happen again, is to make sure that the GOP pays a political cost.

    a fine and noble sentiment. now connect that to reality. show us a mechanism where this happens – be sure to factor in everything we know about Obama, the Democratic leadership, the other issues of the day, the press and the public’s interest.

    Im sorry but is Eric Holder supposed to fix the economy??

    yes. i guess. whatever you want.

    Our own fucking army manual spells it out.

    it does now. it didn’t when the majority of the abuses were taking place.

  158. 158
    cleek says:

    @pattonbt:

    this is what truth sounds like

  159. 159

    Comrade Doug

    It wasn’t Reagan rules, it was the Bush 41 rules as he is the one who pardoned the major players primarily to cover his own ass. Now the point was Bush 41 never should have been elected but the Villagers, you know the same ones who are admonishing us now to just LIG, totally overlooked Iran Contra after Bush had a public pissing contest on Tee Vee with Tom Brokaw over it. Moreover they helped to push Bush 41 into office with their tabloid journalism by allowing themselves to be led by the nose by Lee Atwater. The truth is, if Bush 41 doesn’t get elected with the help of the Village then that house of cards you are referring to would have morphed into a prison and a lot of shit would have changed in this country way back then.

    So instead of saying we shouldn’t prosecute these morons because some day 8 or 16 years from now there MIGHT be a Republican President that MIGHT pardon them, you MIGHT want to realize that if these investigations happen and prosecutions come it will be followed a lot more closely than the OJ trial. And if convictions happen you can be just about assured that there won’t be a lot of support for any pardons or commutations in the future.

    I have to say that hearing people say that we shouldn’t do it because it would be too hard or any sentences handed down wouldn’t last comes off as the weakest sauce ever.

  160. 160
    cleek says:

    Actually, the US definition has not changed,

    sorry, you’re correct.

    i didn’t read the rest of your paragraph before replying.

  161. 161
    demimondian says:

    @Cyrus: Why do they keep saying it? Largely because it is false, but it "feels" true, and by repeating it, they make it continue to "feel" true — that is, they keep it locked in the accepted wisdom.

    Let that particular lie ever start drifting out of the accepted wisdom, and any discussion of it will be "rehashing old issues" immediately. It’s the advantage of lying.

  162. 162
    Zzyzx says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: Or you could say that there are two groups of people in this thread – those who care about fixing the situation that we’re in and those who are just out for revenge on those who put us there. That would be equally accurate.

    Hearings on the Bush administration would suck all of the oxygen out of the room to discuss anything else meaning that little would happen between now and 2010 and the odds are that Congress would be less favorable after the midterms. If the economy were robust and we weren’t in two wars right now, I’d be a lot more sympathetic to the call, but right now we’ve got work to do. Revenge will have to wait until that’s done.

  163. 163
    Xenos says:

    The cynicism here is amazing.

    There is an organic process that can, with a little nudging from the DOJ, the Administration, and various whistle-blowers and and score-settlers from the the last eight years, do this job without there being a strongly partisan spin the the investigation and prosecution of Bush Administration officials.

    Think about the implications of this.

    So now, due to the criminal actions of the Bushies, Barack H. Obama has access to all the internal and external telephone, email, and fax communications, recorded digitally, of the Washington Times, the Mellon family, the Heritage Foundation, Judith Miller, Fox News, Newsmax, The Carlyle Group, Big Tobacco, Big Oil, all the law firms in the country, and everybody else, including Bubba in the trailer park with his DSL line and his penchant for teen porn. If they want to do something about it, they are going to have to demand investigations and prosecutions.

    Bush has already checkmated himself; we just have to let the moves play out.

    And this is just day one. A steady stream of this sort of news over a few weeks can turn all the villagers around.

  164. 164
    Xenos says:

    Oh, and right on time, we have the Supreme Court decision that communications accidentally picked up by police in the course of an illegal search are admissible in court. So there is no IVth amendment.

    All the tools of a police state, except maybe the microphones hidden in the flower vases in the hotel rooms and on the restaurant tables, are in place. Fun times ahead.

  165. 165
    binzinerator says:

    @cleek:

    don’t be an ass. what i want has no bearing on what i think will happen.

    The ass here is the person who states these laws are unclear, that whether waterboarding is torture is somehow an open question, and who hopes legislative barriers will prevent people like Bush from doing it again.

    I see from another of your comments that what you would like is to see Bush behind bars. Fine and good. But don’t you think what will happen if there are no prosecutions is future leaders have a huge no-cost precedent to do what Bush did?

  166. 166
    Jay B. says:

    @Zzyzx:

    Pure ignorance. The TWO WARS have kind of a lot to do with this, no? You can separate Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror without bringing up our conduct in them? Really? I mean if we’re to be credible at all don’t we have to be honest with our NATO allies and potential UN allies over our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq?

    How short sighted can you be, really? Revenge, yeah, OK. People who don’t understand the basic concept of "justice" can call it that. Cowards who want to bury one’s head in the sand and pretend that nothing happened and that in no way would investigations have any impact on how the world helps us fight, prosecute or deal with the consequences of the two wars we chose (to say nothing of international terrorism), sure we can avoid this reckoning, I mean why would anyone else care about torture? Nothing can go wrong if we set the example that there is no such thing as war crimes.

    But then you’re worried that it would be unpopular. Heavens! Congress might be unpopular — for an outfit polling below Bush that’s hilarious. Of course, if they actually did something like prosecute those in the Bush Administration responsible for breaking laws and assaulting human rights, they might be more popular. Certainly, that’s the underlying assumption of a Washington Post poll that Greenwald points out today. Investigations are popular. Torture is abhorred. Who’d a thunk it? The American people seem to believe in accountability! Don’t they know they’re supposed to only give a shit about things that directly impact their small, meaningless lives? That’s what I was told 40 or so posts ago.

    But yeah. We should look the other way. Move on. The Constitution is meaningless. Laws are for the little guys. Ignorance is bliss.

  167. 167
    binzinerator says:

    @Zzyzx:

    Revenge will have to wait until that’s done.

    It’s called justice, not revenge.

    The desire to see lawful punishment for someone who has been discovered to have committed heinous crimes is found at the core of any society. There will be no justice without it, and I believe the political systems of societies that do not see justice done, especially for crimes committed at the highest levels, are not stable ones for very long.

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