The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Sauce For The Goose

Posted by Bill Nance on January 13, 2009

Some humor from RBC:

The incoming Obama Administration confronts the problem of how to deal with the criminal (by domestic as well as international law) infliction of torture by elements of the United States government, with authority coming from the very top, and not merely on important terrorists but on random innocent victims.

While the Bush Administration has no doubt made errors in the course of its valiant attempts to protect us all from Islamofascist terrorists, in one respect it has displayed admirable creativity, from which the Obama Administration could benefit: assuming only that the President-elect is sufficiently generous-minded (as he seems to be) to be willing to learn from adversaries.

I refer to the question of the limits of executive power, or rather the unlimitedness of executive power. To call the legal positions taken by the Bush Administration “creative” would be to undervalue them: “breathtakingly audacious” would be more accurate. But those positions, and the actions taken in accordance with them, now stand as precedent, and the President-elect has expressed his admiration for audacity.

Audacity is certainly called for. Our situation today is historically unique. Not only are we (as the Bush Administration and its supporters tirelessly insist) at war with an enemy so nebulous as to guarantee that the war will have no end, but we confront strong evidence of the existence of a Fifth Column, though not the particular Fifth Column the warhawks predicted.

Every step taken since the Bush Administration took power: ignoring the al-Qaeda problem until the 9/11 attacks, covering up the role of the House of Saud in facilitating those attacks, using the aftermath of those attacks for partisan advantage rather than forming a government of national unity, allowing bin Laden’s escape, failing to establish an effective anti-Taliban coalition in Afghanistan, continuing to prop up Pervez Musharraf despite his strong support for the Islamofascist ISI, failing to secure international support for the invasion of Iraq, invading Iraq, failing to prevent looting in Iraq, disbanding the Iraqi army and most of the civil service in the name of de-Ba’athification, supporting Ahmed Chalabi in his power-lust despite his ties to Iran, staffing the CPA with ignorant young wingnuts instead of professionals, allowing the looting of the CPA by contractors and cooking up legal interpretations to protect them from criminal liability, engaging in torture, failing to cover up the fact that they were engaging in torture — Need I go on? — has tended to weaken this country, and the West, in this existential struggle.

The President-elect should, therefore, as his first official act — indeed, perhaps as part of his Inaugural Address — order the immediate detention of George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo, David Addington, and perhaps a few others, at a secret location outside the sovereign U.S., for the purposes of extracting from them evidence of the plot and the identities of the other participants, who can in turn be detained and interrogated to see what they have to say for themselves.

Since most bullies are also cowards, I suspect that the years of maltreatment the Bush Administration inflicted on innocent Afghani peasants to get them to make false confessions will not be necessary to get Bush and his cronies to confess. A month of hypothermia, sleep deprivation, and stress positions, or a few minutes on the waterboard, should suffice. Their confessions will retrospectively justify the interrogations. And of course they cannot be given the right to counsel, since their lawyers would necessarily learn about the interrogation techniques, which are Top Secret Codeword material as intelligence sources and methods, despite the fact that everyone in the world knows what they are. (The techniques are not original: all of them were copied from the Inquisition, the Gestapo, and the KGB.)

Now perhaps some future court might decide that these methods, as applied to people whose status generally makes them “non-torturable,” actually exceeded the President’s powers, even in wartime. But not only would that decision be wrong on its face — since those powers have no limits — but even bringing the case would be wrong. As all our Wise Men agree, no senior official should ever be held legally accountable for actions in the name of national security, no matter how horrible those actions might be.

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