The Eclectic One

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Archive for the ‘National Security’ Category

Hey Dick…

Posted by Bill Nance on May 27, 2009


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North Korea’s Nuke

Posted by Bill Nance on May 25, 2009

When I awoke this morning to the news that North Korea had confirmed an underground nuclear test of a bomb about the same size that detonated over Hiroshima. I knew it was going to be a bad day for U.S. diplomats and policy makers.

Aside from the fact that any time a new nation joins the “Nuclear Club” it’s bad news, North Korea is particularly troubling because of the nature of the regime.  North Korea is a major exporter of missile technology to places like Iran among others, and is listed as a major supporter of terrorism. Additionally it’s been launching very provocative missile tests near to Japan, which quite legitimately fears the prospect of a nuclear-armed North Korea with missile capability just off it’s coast. When you add in the essentially psychopathic behavior of it’s dictator, Kim Jong Il, it’s a scary situation indeed.

So what are the options for the United States?

Nothing military, according to Stratfor, for one simple reason.

North Korea has some 10,000 fortified artillery pieces trained on Seoul. It is essential to understand that South Korea’s capital city, a major population center and the industrial heartland of South Korea, is within range of conventional artillery. The United States has been moving its forces out of range of these guns, but the South Koreans cannot move their capital.

…It comes down to this: If the United States strikes at North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, it does so placing a bet. And that bet is that North Korea will not respond. That might be true, but if it is not true, it poses a battlefield problem to which neither South Korea nor the United States will be able to respond. In one scenario, the North Koreans bombard Seoul and the United States makes a doomed attempt at shutting down the massive artillery barrage. By the time the guns are silenced — even in the best-case scenarios — Seoul will be a mess. In another scenario, the North Korean army executes an offensive of even minimal competence, which costs South Korea its capital and industrial heartland. The third is a guerrilla onslaught from the elite of the North Korean army, deployed by minisubs and tunnels under the DMZ. The guerrillas pour into the south and wreak havoc on U.S. military installations.

Today I had the pleasure of the company of my brother-in-law who has spent the last three years in Japan, speaks the language fluently and is familiar with the culture and politics there. According to him, this could be the impetus to change Japan’s constitution to allow it to have an army and air force beyond the tiny self protection force it currently has. It could also be the impetus for Japan to “go Israel,” meaning that Japan builds it’s own nuclear missiles. -Something that Japan could probably accomplish in a matter of months, if not weeks.

So for Barack Obama, it’s a bad situation all the way around. Negotiations have proved useless, the South Koreans have no interest in a conflict with their brothers to the north and the Chinese have been unwilling to restrain their vassal.

Here’s a fun scenario I thought of: (It will never happen, but it’s fun to think about).

Tonight the president makes a call to the Prime Minister of Japan and convinces him of the existential threat to his nation and proposes a deal:

The United States will provide Bunker-Buster bombs and the best satellite photos and intelligence about North Korea’s nuclear program and have Japan make the strike.

Yes, the world will howl, but the bet, as discussed in the Stratfor article above will be changed to some degree in that the jets are Japanese.  The U.S. can condemn the strikes and make horrified noises while simultaneously blocking any meaningful UN resolutions in the Security Council.

As I said, it will never happen. But wouldn’t it be nice?

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Exposing The False Analogies Of The Torture Apologists

Posted by Bill Nance on May 8, 2009

David Harsanyi has written a piece in Reason Magazine defending the Bush Administration’s use of torture with the pathetic canard that Harry Truman’s decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki were also war crimes.

To quote Harsanyi:

In fact, if Barack Obama believes, as he recently stated, that the nation “lost its moral bearings” under his predecessor, he will have a hard time defending any presidency.
After all, if waterboarding is a war crime, the dropping of an atomic bomb on a few hundred thousand innocent civilians surely deserves some serious consideration for rebuke. At the very least, it’s a fair topic for discussion.

No, actually it’s not a fair topic.  It’s what the torture apologists have been doing for years now, which is to throw up as much distraction and excuse making as possible to somehow get away from the crimes that were actually committed.

As to Truman, the decisions taken 60 years ago about whether it was moral or not to incinerate those two cities, in the enemy territory of a belligerent power bears no relation whatsoever to the deliberate policy of torture of captive human beings by the United States government in the 21st century.

I highly recommend Oliver Kamm’s impassioned and extraordinarily well-researched articles on the subject of the bombings. Kamm has done an excellent job refuting the far-left’s attempts at revisionist history on the matter. The bombs were dropped for exactly the reasons stated by Truman and others at the time. The Japanese were making no attempts whatever to surrender under anything like the terms the allies had insisted upon for years. The alternative to the bombing was a land invasion of Japan, which would have cost many hundreds of thousands of American lives, and certainly a death toll in the millions for the Japanese people. Alternatively, a blockade would have certainly caused the death by starvation of millions of civilians. -Hardly a humane alternative.

But back to the subject at hand, I think the most patently offensive lines in Harsanyi’s article were these:

It’s fun to be idealistic in a world of moral absolutes. I know because I’m a columnist. But when we start discussing history, things always seem to get complicated.
The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart learned this recently when debating the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ president, Cliff May, about the harsh interrogation techniques administered during the George W. Bush administration.
When May asked Stewart whether he also considers Harry Truman to have been a war criminal for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the host answered yes. A few days later, however, Stewart apologized for his blasphemy, saying Truman’s decision was, in fact, “complicated.”
Things were indeed complicated. They are always complicated.
That’s the point.

What’s so offensive about that little quip is that the clear intention is to tell people rightfully horrified at the torture of captives that because ethical decisions in wartime are “complicated” we have no right to judge. It echoes Peggy Noonan’s disgusting comments suggesting we should simply “keep walking”  without holding people accountable for egregious crimes -A position she did not hold as I recall, when Bill Clinton was being impeached for lying about who he was fucking. Of course it also attempts to make the ludicrous excuse for ethical reasoning that because decisions may have been wrongly taken in the past, it excuses acts taken today.

What Harsanyi is really asking, and I find it difficult to grasp how he could with any honesty,  is whether a act of war taken against a hostile foreign power can somehow be equated with the treatment of helpless captives. To compare these two things is, I think deliberately obfuscatory.  The act of bombing those two cities first, lets remind everyone, caused far less death than the firebombing of Tokyo. You are no more or less dead from a nuclear bomb than you are from being asphyxiated from smoke, more more or less injured through horrendous burns from phosphorus of burning wood than from radiation burns. So you’ll forgive me I hope in giving Hiroshima and Nagasaki no more credit for suffering than Tokyo.

From an ethical standpoint, the question is whether an act which was intended not to deliberately kill people, but to stop a war, is morally equivalent to an act which by it’s very nature is intended to cause as much suffering as possible to a helpless captive. Again. The bombing of cities in the Second World War was intended to stop a war. Civilian casualties were a by-product and consequence the the actions taken towards that goal, not the intended goal in and of itself. This follows the proportionality argument of Just War theory. One can argue that it crossed the line (I do not think it did) but one cannot reasonably argue that the intent was clearly to do so.

When you torture someone in your custody, the goal itself is suffering. You cannot possibly make a plausible argument that your goal is to end a war. At best you can make the very lame argument that you are trying to further your war aims through intelligence gathering. The suffering of a non-combataant is not merely a by-product, it is the specific intent.

The goal and intent in the WWII of bombing a city was to destroy economic and military capacity, to weaken the will of the enemy to continue to wage an aggressive war and force a peace as soon as possible. The consequence was suffering. The two things are not remotely the same thing and Harsanyi should know that. This is ethics 101 stuff.

And to reiterate what so many seem to forget, waterboarding is the least of the crimes committed against helpless captives by the Bush Administration.

The report recently released by the International Committee of the Red Cross can be found here.

That report and other documents released by the Obama Administration as well as the testimony of military interrogators, FBI agents, former prisoners and lawyers gives a grim picture of the techniques used on a wholesale basis against detainees in U.S. and U.S.-controlled facilities all over the world. From Bagram AB Afghanistan, to Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and even the US Navy brig in South Carolina, these are some of the things the Bush Administration ordered:

  1. Stripped naked and shackled into a fetal position for days at a time, while the air conditioning was turned down to low as to deliberately induce hypothermia for many hours, perhaps even days at a time.
  2. Chained and shackled in stress positions for many hours at a time, inducing agonizing muscle cramps, often in hot-boxes, which heated up well over 100 degrees with no fresh air.
  3. Shackled naked in a fetal position on the floor and left to shit and pee all over themselves for weeks at a time, smeared with fake blood and subject to “grooming sessions” by guards.
  4. Deprived of all visual and sound inputs for weeks at a time

These are torture methods. They all, without exception, go back centuries and have been used by the Gestapo, the Japanese in WWII, the KGB, the Viet-Cong and the North Koreans among others. They are deliberately meant to break a human being’s spirit, producing short or long-term insanity and utter degradation of the person, not to mention excruciating pain. Compared to a long regimen of these tortures, waterboarding is trivial.

The techniques described above were used on a systematic basis not against “high value” detainees, but on literally hundreds of prisoners, exactly how many we may never know. The U.S. Military admits that over a thirty people have died from Homicide in U.S. custody as a result of their treatment at our hands. Other reports show the numbers ranging between 54 and over 100.  Let’s get that straight shall we? It is likely that at least 100 people in U.S. Custody have been tortured to death.

Enough with the apologists and obscurantists. We must have a full accounting. And at the very least, those persons who made policies need to be exposed as the war criminals they are. The rightful place of Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Bybee and any other persons involved in the setting opf this policy, no matter what political party, is in front of a jury.

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Speechless -Part II

Posted by Bill Nance on April 28, 2009

I was gratified to read Daniel Larison’s article in the American Conservative today. Larison’s article is a response to  a particularly bizarre argument made by Jim Manzi who asked: “Or more precisely, why is the belief that the torture of captured combatants is wrong compatible with anything other than some form of pacifism? I mean this an actual question, not as a passive-aggressive assertion”

He echoes my own dumbfounded amazement that people are actually asking whether torture is “all that bad.”  Or if it’s alright as long as valuable intelligence was recovered using it.

Money Quote:

One of the things that has kept me from saying much over the last week or so is my sheer amazement that there are people who seriously pose such questions and expect to be answered with something other than expressions of bafflement and moral horror. Something else that has kept me from writing much on this recently is the profoundly dispiriting realization (really, it is just a reminder) that it is torture and aggressive war that today’s mainstream right will go to the wall to defend, while any and every other view can be negotiated, debated, compromised or abandoned. I have started doubting whether people who are openly pro-torture or engaged in the sophistry of Manzi’s post are part of the same moral universe as I am… (emphasis added)

The more I listen to people who call themselves “conservative” lately, the more I wonder if I’m not dreaming.  Is this America? Or is it the Weimar Republic?

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Color Me Disgusted

Posted by Bill Nance on April 22, 2009

Practically every blogger on the internet is writing about the torture memos recently released by the Obama Administration which show a deliberate, concerted and widespread policy of torture of detainees in American custody. I won’t be doing so often as I think others have and continue to do a much better job. But the video below particularly disgusted me.

To defend these practices and to compare the behavior of barbaric thugs with whom we are war to our own behavior, therefore attempting to justify violations of U.S. law, international treaties and all standards of basic human decency is nothing short of barbaric in itself.

This video captures the type of thinking these fools and cowards use to justify such things.  Mind you, this is not some idiot on talk radio or a pundit, this is a United States congressman.

If the words don’t ring any bells for you, I suggest you look at the defense used by Nazis at the Nuremberg trials.

The methods used by the Gestapo and others, many of which are virtually identical to what was revealed in the document released a few days ago were all legal under German law and indeed violated no then-existing international agreements. This is the defense used by the Nazis. The acts were legal under German law and the torturers were “just following orders and policy.”

The standards set at Nuremberg was that “just following orders” was no excuse, nor were laws tailor-made to expressly viiolate all standards of civilized conduct.

The architects of this policy should be prosecuted for war crimes. I’ve no particular interest in going after the torturers themselves until this is done. I want no more Abu Ghraib prosecutions where a few low-level stooges stand in for people far more culpable.

Prosecute, Mr. Holder.  Let the torturers and their cowardly defenders howl all they want. If you do not, the United States will forever be dishonored -and rightly so.

Posted in Creeping Fascism watch, Crime, National Security, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Say “Arrrg” NOW -Bitch

Posted by Bill Nance on April 12, 2009

(CNN) — The American captain of a cargo ship held hostage by pirates jumped overboard from the lifeboat where he was being held, and U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed three of his four captors, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation.

Capt. Richard Phillips was helped out of the water off the Somali coast and is uninjured and in good condition, the official said. He was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, a nearby naval warship.

At the time of the shootings, the fourth pirate was aboard the USS Bainbridge negotiating with officials, the source said. That pirate was taken into custody.

Three words folks:  Balls That Clank

-That is all

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Stupid Idea Watch

Posted by Bill Nance on April 8, 2009

As my regular readers will know, I have no objections to meeting with and talking to our enemies. I figure it can’t hurt, and might very well help.

It’s another thing altogether to meet and compromise with criminal gangs.  these aren’t nation states with whom we have policy differences or conflicts. these are armed thugs deserving of no compromise whatsoever.

Enter the latest fiasco in the piracy game. As those of you who’ve been watching the news already know, an American-flagged merchant vessel, the Maersk Alabama was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. I won’t go into the details, which appear to still be developing.  But  I will again restate that arming the fucking ships would prevent this. I don’t know how many times it need be said, but gun control, which is what in effect what ships traversing international waters and multiple ports of call face, simply emboldens criminals who have no compunctions about ignoring said laws.

The latest entry into the completely stupid ideas category is this gem from Nikolas K. Gvosdev published at The National Interest today.

Money quote:

Piracy flourishes because it is successful in bringing in income. Pirates perform a Somali version of trickle-down economics because ransoms that are paid for hijacked ships provide an income stream not only in terms of donations to clans and religious leaders, but also supporting the entire infrastructure for piracy, down to paying the families of those who guard, feed and house captured sailors. If clans, however, could be paid (in cash and services) for serving as “coast guard auxiliaries”—with a clear understanding that payments would continue only if there was a corresponding drop in the number of pirate attacks—this might help to undermine the economic rationale for piracy.

I fail to see how how someone who is a professor of national-security studies at the U.S. Naval War College could have forgotten the line in the Marine Corps Hymn:  “ the shores of Tripoli” That line was inspired by the attack on Derne by U.S. sailors (later officially called Marines) and was a result of, you guessed it, piracy against American merchant vessels.

To quote a great American of that time:

“Millions for defense, not one penny for tribute!”

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God Save Us From Buck Rogers

Posted by Bill Nance on April 8, 2009

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans about the rise of the military-industrial complex in 1961, the United States faced imminent danger of complete nuclear destruction and had allies in need of it’s military might for defense all across the globe.

In Europe the Soviets and their allies had an army in the many millions, heavily armed and poised for a thrust which would have gobbled up most of western Europe before it could have been stopped with conventional arms. In Asia the Chinese were exporting their revolution as well, arming places as diverse as North Korea, North Vietnam and Laos.  In Africa the Soviets were actively supplying weapons to a number of states, supporting revolutions and armed insurgencies.  And here in this hemisphere, Cuba was in the process (then unknown to us) of building sites for nuclear missiles.

The Soviets in particular had a frightening array of weapons, most of which were easily a match for anything in the possession of NATO with the exception of a naval fleet, but even in this regard had been building large numbers of attack submarines designed to destroy carrier battle groups and interdict shipping in the event of war.

To summarize, our enemy was very real, technologically capable and dedicated by it’s very founding notions, to our destruction.

Today we face no such enemy. Our main foe at this time, as ruthless as he may be, is armed with low-tech systems and is asymmetrical in nature. Potential rivals such as Russia and the Chinese posess little in the way of systems which even approach the sophistication and battle-tested effectiveness of the U.S. arsenal.  Obviously we have a need to keep ourselves abreast of new technologies, but no potential opponent could do much harm to us at this point, from a technological point of view of its weapon systems. (Numbers and nuclear weapons of course are another matter).

Furthermore our need to defend NATO allies with economies still recovering from a world war has disappeared.  France, Germany and the rest of western Europe have successful, strong economies (present difficulties aside) and are quite capable of dealing with any threat to their territory.

So why exactly is the defense department continuing to ask for and get, vast sums of money for weapons systems which stretch the very bleeding edge of technology and are designed primarily for a war with an opponent we don’t have?

Today’s entry on the list is the Zumwalt class destroyer (DDG-1000).

Artist's rendering of the Zumwalt class destroyer

Artist's rendering of the Zumwalt class destroyer

This weapon system will cost between 2.7 and 5 billion dollars for each ship. What costs so much on these ships you may ask? Every Buck Rogers device that Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrup-Grumman could come up with apparently, including stealth technology.  Not only is there no real enemy out there which would require such a high-tech weapons system, but the navy itself wanted to scrap the platform because studies showed it to be extremely vulnerable to potential attacks. Enter Ted Kennedy and a few other politicians, interested not in a capable force but in jobs to bring to their districts, and voila’ the navy is going to get three of these white elephants whether it wants them or not.

Now to put this in perspective, the Zumwalt class was designed to replace the Arleigh Burke class destroyers (DDG-51) first deployed in 1991. The navy has a virtual fleet of these excellent platforms, which possess anti-submarine, anti-surface and shore bombardment capability. They are also quite resilient, as the attack on the USS Cole proved, when it failed to even approach sinking the ship, though damage was heavy. The newest variants of the Burke class are still being manufactured, the latest, the USS Sterett,  commissioned in August of last year.

In a time of economic troubles the like of which we’ve not seen since 1929, with two wars underway and a desperate need for soldiers on the ground, Buck Rogers projects like the Zumwalt-class make no sense at all. Brand new Burkes, which cost less than 1/3 of what the Zumwalts do and are arguable better ships seem more than adequate for any possible conflict the navy may face in the remotely near future.

Folks this is plain politics. If you stuck a pencil up it’s butt you could call it stupid on a stick.

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Let’s Bomb Iran! -Not

Posted by Bill Nance on March 31, 2009

Well, here we go again…

It seems Elliot “we’ll be greeted as liberators” Abrams has a new target in mind for the use of raw American military power: Iran.

What we are here to discuss is what should be done if and when all that fails. What do we do when one day perhaps not all that far in the future, the Director of National
Intelligence walks in to the Oval Office and tells the president that there is now persuasive evidence that Iran has or is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons?
On that day a lot of things change, questions of the regimeʹs hostility toward America and our allies gain new significance. Today, statements issued by the Iranian regime
calling for Israel to be wiped off the map are disgusting. But we all can be comforted by the fact that the regime cannot follow through on its threats. The world of a nuclear Iran however, will carry with it the possibility of a true Holocaust. Quote, ʺWe have repeatedly said that this cancerous tumor of a state should
be removed from the region.ʺ Iranʹs supreme leader has said, quote, ʺThereʹs no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israelʺ. Heʹs also said, ʺWe will no longer be able to write off such threats as vile but empty.ʺ

The Iranian regime is currently the largest state sponsor of terror. It has already through its own actions and through its proxies, expanded its influence throughout the Middle East in a serious effort to become the regional henchman. Itʹs responsible for countless deaths in Iraq and it threatens the stability of the entire Middle East.

We must ask ourselves if we are really prepared to live with the Iranian regime possessing nuclear weapons.

So Abrams’ solution is, you guessed, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, Bomb, bomb, Iran.”

There’s a lot of this nonsense floating about and not just among the Neocons.  If you read the rantings of the right wing, they’re all scared to death of the Mad Mullahs™.

I do, however, notice a distinct absence of actual experts on Iran in this equation.  No, it seems most of those, you know, the people who actually speak the language (Farsi), read the newspapers and visit the country don’t seem to be calling for a bombing campaign. -Probably because it’s a stupid idea.

I’ve mentioned the book “The Devil We Know” by former CIA operations agent Robert Baer before on these pages, and it’s a book frankly that every American should read. I say this because Baer, along with some other folks who actually travel to Iran have been shouting from the rooftops for some time now that Iran’s objective is to become a strategic regional power.  Given it’s size, location, natural resources and the heretofore demonstrated savvy of it’s leaders, I don’t think there’s a damn thing anyone can do to stop this over the longer term and it’s probably stupid to try.

It’s quite true the U.S. could, for a time, set back Iran’s nuclear program by a matter of a few years.  But given time, if the regime is dead-set on getting a nuke, there’s little we could do to stop it short of an all-out invasion which would make Iraq on it’s worst day look like a walk in the park.

But what’s Abram’s big fear really? Let’s go down the list:

1. Iran will nuke Israel

This is what happens when you read the Likud Party press and ignore every expert on Iran I’ve ever heard talk on the subject.  Iran is a theocracy certainly. But it’s also been a very rational state actor.  To hit Israel with a nuclear weapon, or even three or four, would only guarantee without a doubt the complete destruction of Iran. Israel is a heavily armed nuclear power with full retaliatory capacity.  It’s called MAD General Abrams, and it kept the U.S., China and the USSR from nuclear conflict for 40 years.  And even if the threat were real, since when is it the job of the U.S. to defend Israel from threats it could deal with itself?  At what point did I miss the vote that made Israel the 51st state?  Let them spend their own blood and treasure if the threat is so dire -and it’s not.

2. Iran will give it’s nukes to a terrorist

Don’t make me laugh. Seriously folks, the idea that a nation state would hand over the crown jewels of its defense program to a terrorist is so patently stupid it doesn’t bear mentioning. You need to stop watching 24 General, it’s Hollywood, not reality.

3. Iran will be unstable and it’s nukes will get loose

So far over the last 30 years the actual power base in Iran has been quite stable. Easily as stable as the Soviet Politburo ever was. Ahmedinejad is a figurehead with little real power. He’s a tool of the Mullahs currently running the Revolutionary Guards, who are but one of the several power bases in Iran. He doesn’t speak for anyone other than as a good PR man for Iran show it’s standing up to the U.S. which is something every country in the region has been looking to do successfully for many years.  Taking his rhetoric seriously is about as stupid as taking Pat Robertson seriously to get a grasp on U.S. policy aims.

4. Iran will become a more powerful regional player and inspire more proliferation in the region

Iran is going to be a bigger player on the regional scene no matter what we do. It’s larger and more populous than any other country in the region (66.5 million) has an abundance of oil and other natural resources, a highly educated workforce and a long history of regional importance. The Mullahs are going to continue to work towards their actual goal, which is replacing Shia Islam as the dominant Middle East variant and possibly (or so they hope) deposing the House of Saud and replacing it with a Shia, or at least a less hostile Sunni regime. It has already asserted virtual puppetry over Syria, a great deal of dominance over Lebanon and massive influence in Iraq thanks to the inept pre-war planning of Abrams Et Al.  We can’t change the face of all that with a few bombs followed with some “good messaging” as Abrams calls it.  This is nationalism and a desire to become a regional power, a national aim since the days of the Shah.

The real threat, and the one Abrams calls correctly in my opinion, is the threat of increased proliferation. But again, I fail to see how a few air strikes will do anything other than postpone that by a few years, perhaps a decade at most. -A decade during which Iran can make things very difficult for the U.S….far more difficult than we can make it for them, and a decade in which new proliferation might arise among our so-called friends, like Saudi Arabia? Are we going to threaten them with bombing too? Something tells me no, and the actual threat of an unstable regime is far, far worse in Saudi Arabia than it is in Iran.

The facts are it’s a crappy situation for the U.S. There are a lot of not very good options and a long-term balance of power in the region looks to favor Iran, no matter what we do. But one thing it would be catastrophic to do would be to bomb them. They can hurt us a lot more and with a lot less effort than we can hurt them. We’re not going to bomb their oilfields…not as long as Germany, France and Japan depend on them.  We’d be left to sanctions (which we can do now) some covert action (which we’re already taking) and a few token air raids on the Revolutionary Guards. Meanwhile, if you bother to look on a map, you’ll notice we’re deeply involved for the foreseeable future in two countries bordering Iran, both with either majority (Iraq) or large minority (Afghanistan) Shia populations who are poor, eager for assistance and can make life very difficult for the U.S.

Abrams should shut the Hell up. He got it so wrong on Iraq, in so many ways, pride alone should keep him silent, not trying to start Iraq part deux.  And the rest of the right-wing nutjobs should shut their yaps as well, especially since in my albeit limited reading of their screeds, hardly a one of these fools even knows what the national language is called, much less anything of significance other than the meaningless rhetoric of a “President” in power only because he licks his masters’ boots well.

-Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan

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The GOP: Party For Torture

Posted by Bill Nance on January 22, 2009

If you were on the Senate Judiciary Committee a few decades ago, a time during which the United States faced the very real threat of nuclear annhialation, it would never have occurred to you to hold up the confirmation of the top law enforcement official in the country because he said torture was a crime.

Fast forward to yesterday, when we face no remotely comparable threat and that’s exactly what GOP members of that committee have done.

Eric Holder, nominee for Attorney General of the United States had the nerve to say that waterboarding is torture. -Something absolutely no one outside the ranks of the GOP would disagree with. But apparently that means no confirmation for him, at least if the GOP has its way.

Even Senator Lindsey Graham (R- SC), who is trying to be at least somewhat conciliatory said:

“If we’ve committed — if we’ve made mistakes in the past, let’s clean them up. But this idea of criminalizing policy differences would be bad for the country and would create a bad precedent.”

Torture is and has always been against the law in this country. No policy paper written by a White House counsel, like John Yoo, has the authority to unmake those laws or to ignore treaty obligations. To ask the Attorney General not to enforce laws which have been broken is not just a matter of politics, it’s a crime: Obstruction of Justice.

There must be no compromise on this issue. While personally I think the torturers themselves may have some defense in that they believed their orders to torture were lawful, it’s not altogether clear. The Nuremberg trials made quite clear that “just following orders” is no excuse. Every officer in the United States military is taught this.

The GOP stood by and applauded when Torturer in Chief George W. Bush and his accomplices implemented torture as the official policy of the United States. Today they are trying desperately to prevent an open, transparent investigation of these crimes by labeling such investigations “witch hunt.”

Graham has it completely wrong. The implementation of torture on the orders of the Bush administration was not a “policy difference,” it was a crime. To ask the Attorney General to turn a blind eye to this because it would be politically embarassing to the GOP is nothing short of disgusting. -Yet another example of the complete moral corruption of the Republican Party.

Let there be no mistake, no minced words, no euphemisms: Waterboarding is torture.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Getting Waterboarded // Current“, posted with vodpod

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