Bush Vetos Ban on Waterboarding — Democrats Feign Shock

President Bush waited until Saturday to veto the ban on waterboarding, hoping to diminish press and congressional attention. He had nothing to fear. Both democrats and republicans have already guaranteed that Bush will not be held accountable for the torture program. After effectively decriminalizing torture, the objections heard from Democrats should be met with a healthy degree of scorn.

Now that he is certain not to face any criminal investigation by either the Justice Department, click here, or any congressional investigation, here, Bush is free to treat the matter as simply one of presidential tastes. Indeed, as noted in an earlier column, waterboarding techniques have become the subject of almost casual discussion by Bush officials.

In his veto statement, Bush felt so comfortable that torture has been decriminalized that he openly stated his desire to use it when needed: “The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror . . . So today I vetoed it. This is no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe.”

Of course, before Bush, we had long ago abandoned such practices when we criminalized torture. However, such practices are back in vogue in the United States. In the meantime, the Attorney General continues to apply Mukasey’s paradox, here.

What is most curious is the response of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who insisted that “We will not stop until [the ban] becomes law.” The fact is that waterboarding was already criminal. It was long defined as a war crime. However, Democrats have struggled to pretend that there is some ambiguity in the status of waterboarding to excuse their own failure to act. Feinstein is responsible for saving Mukasey’s confirmation over his refusal to recognize that waterboarding is torture — guaranteeing that neither he nor Bush would be forced to deal with the question. Click here

For the full story, click here

61 thoughts on “Bush Vetos Ban on Waterboarding — Democrats Feign Shock”

  1. raflow: Again I say, I doubt if the President and Vice President have lied to America as much in almost eight years as Obama and Hillary have in just the last few weeks.

    Pointing me to an url of a liberal mag that has an agenda is meaningless and you know it.

    Instead of browbeating Bush about supposed “lies”, why don’t you go ask your two candidate(s), Barack Hussain Obama & Hillary Rodham Clinton, why they seem to have a much more severe problem with the truth?

  2. DW, you’re very welcome. I just don’t know if the term “tempest” was strong enough for what has been let loose. I’m not including myself in the “we” equation, only because I personally did not vote for Bush, in either election. I support NONE of his actions or his pro-torture viewpoints. And as I recall, his first term was by a USSC APPOINTMENT, not by election.

    The ones who have set loose the tempest are the President himself and the supporters of torture, no matter what form of it they choose to inflict on someone, be it waterboarding or something even more barbaric. And since torture is still a CRIME, despite their constant refusal to admit it, I have no problem as a “citizen juror” in the court of public opinion, finding them all GUILTY AS CHARGED!

  3. thank you sincerely, Susan….

    Like all great tragedies, the current predicament was founded in a welter of good intentions and ignoble opportunism and wishful visions.

    We have set loose a tempest. Hard power has its limits when restrained by morality and we are learning those limits at our bitter cost.

  4. Deeply Worried, thanks so much for the excellent points you made in your response to MSNBC bser. We as a civilized and HUMANE nation are supposed to be much BETTER than those countries who display what I can only call a decidedly UNhealthy lust for cruelty, barbarity and death in their treatment of anyone they believe to be the “enemy,” be it of their government or their ideology.

    “Thanks” to this President, who has not only vetoed this ban on torture, and those who openly supported him or just did so by their cowardice to oppose him openly, we as a nation will not be viewed as the good guys anymore. To say that is a tragedy is a gross understatement.

    And we as citizens should ask the President one final question: “And who protects US from YOU, Mr. President, when you decide that anyone who disagrees with YOU has now become “the enemy? Not YOU!” Let him struggle with THAT fact on national television, for everyone to see!

  5. http://www.motherjones.com/bush_war_timeline/

    msnbc bser

    The URL at the top of this entry links to a timeline leading up to the Iraq war. It shows statements made by the cheney/bush administration and lists facts known at the time that contradicted these statements.

    Mother Jones is a liberal magazine, but what they have laid out is facts that can be independently verified.

  6. Bush Derangement Syndrome? That is an educated response when the facts are staring you in the face and you can’t run and hide from them. Why not try to attack the points that were made instead of suggesting that I have this BDS. Is BDS defined as someone who cannot approve of a President of any administration lying to the public on life and dearh matters? By the way, the name is rafflaw, not rafflow.

  7. raflow:

    By the way, your BUSH DERANGEMENT SYNDROME is showing again. Grow up.

  8. raflow: I doubt if the President and Vice President have lied to America as much in almost eight years as Obama and Hillary have in just the last few weeks.

  9. msnbc bser,

    Thank you for your well-written observations.

    I think there are several points that could be made to at least open up communications with you and those who think like you.

    Its not simply a matter of saying “You’re wrong!” Because, quite frankly, you are NOT obviously wrong.

    Its more a matter of translating between one language and another, one world view and another.

    We see that you care that our country remain safe from terrorists. That’s laudable.

    Do you see that we want our country to do so but without joining the ranks of countries like North Korea, Cambodia, Egypt and others where torture is used for State purposes?

    In the days of WWII we beat the Axis without recourse to torture, and in the following Cold War we faced down the Soviet Union with its gigatonne’s of nuclear warheads aimed at us without recourse to torture. So why do we need it now? The SU too had secret agents and sleeper cells no doubt.

    If furthered our military supremacy that we were known as a country that treated its captives well. Witness the mass surrendors of the Germans in the 1944 and 1945 drive into the Reich. They sought to surrendor to us rather than the Soviets as it was well known the barbarities the Red Army was committing. This practice was seen again in Gulf War I, we still had the reputation of good guys and the mass surrendors saved hundreds of American lives. In short our high standards won us friends and increased the soft power we exerted around the world and made the victories of our armies less costly.

    We abjured torture at home and mistreatment of those prisoners held in our jails and prisons. The Supreme Court in case after case enforced a humane standard of treatment both in custody and interrogation. This because our Constitution mandates such treatment.

    We tried and convicted enemies who practiced torture on our soldiers and on the people of other countries. We signed treaties prohibiting such inhumane treatment. We tried in the post-War world to erect legal barriers against the resurgence of barbarism by any state.

    Yes, the terrorists signed no treaties and feel bound by none. No matter, the treaties are to protect us against ourselves really. There are things that civilized countries just will not do. There are barbarities that we have forsworn to ever practice. And we are a mighty example to the rest of the world. Or have been.

    What do we do when we practice torture? We go against ALL the standards that gave us moral standing, that fueled our claim to be the hope and light of democracy. We debase our popular temper, we set a precedent that the rest of the world can copy, to the detriment of our own soldiers, we ignore and trample on the laws that make this nation what it is: a nation of laws, not persons. We spurn treaties, we inspire those who have harbored ideas of brutality themselves, and we erode the world’s confidence in our leadership. We replace moral leadership with the evil shadow of mere military power. We will never survive long on that alone.

    It is all well and good when you are young and muscular to rely on the strength of your arms and speed of your eye and to beat down all who oppose you. But age comes, and your arm weakens and your speed slackens and then what will you do when you have established by your own example that morality and law has no binding force and only raw might resolves conflict? How can you complain at that time when others serve you as you served them?

    Torture is against our laws. Torture is against our morality. Torture has never been in the tradition of this country as a lawful practice. Torture is not American.

    There is no reason to start now.

  10. msnbc bser, How can you state that only a few of the detainees were waterboarded? How can you believe anything this administration tells us. They have lied about spying on Americans. They have lied about torture before they admitted to it. They lied about the reasons to attack Iraq. This is the same administration that left Americans to die in New Orleans. This is the same President who ignored the warnings of the intelligence agencies prior to 9/11. And if you think torture is ok for a few bad guys, then you do favor torture. That means you are in favor of breaking U.S. law and International law. Shouldn’t you ask why the Pentagon and the FBI don’t think that torture works? The former head of the Defencse Intelligence Agency does think that you can win them over with kindness. He was quoted today that he would fire Mike McConnell for his torture stance.
    So is the CIA right and the Pentagon and the FBI wrong? What helpful evidence was gained by torturing KSM? If Bush had gotten anything good, they would have leaked it to the press by now to show how smart they are.

  11. And, McCain opposes water boarding but supports the president’s veto! Slimy, pandering bastard. If ANYBODY should be enraged by this issue, it ought to be him, given his past experience. I love my country but hate my government because governance is no longer their intent; grabbing power and wealth along with getting re-elected is. Disgusting beyond words.

  12. I have a real problem with the notion that people who want to grab a gun a fight or engage in terrorist activities should somehow be given the same rights as a uniformed combatant who plays by the rules.

    The Geneva conventions are based on a series of rights and responsibilites. To qualify, there are things you have to do. It is not a carte blanche insurance card.

    The simple fact of the matter is that folks like KSM DO NOT qualify for the protections provided by the Geneva Convention and as such those rights should not be extended. Period.

    The primary motivation for extending the protections provided by the Conventions is to encourage a normalized form of combat, the reduction of non combatant deaths and the protection of combatants once they are out of the fight. In this regard, it provides a not so subtle form of coercsion so as to say, “If you want these protections, you have to comport yourself within these standardized rules of conduct.”

    Why the Hell do some of these people want to extend the benefits to people who don’t want to play by the rules. Do you think you’re going to win them over with kindness??

    It should be noted that only a small fraction of detainees were waterboarded. They tended to be well known assets of an established value.

    Opponents seem to think that all interogation consists of nothing but linebacker-sized thugs beating helpless souls to a pulp.

    I don’t favor torture, but there are a multitude of stress-inducing activities that have been proven to be effective and they should be employed when deemed required.

    The left seems to want to hamstring the process by only allowing a very mild form of interogation that is consistant with the Army Field Manual. Why would we not want to do whatever it takes to break a guy like KSM? He was a known commodity before his capture and we fully understood the length and breadth of his value as an intelligence resource.

    Some on the left clearly believe that the country has more to fear from our own government’s actions than the actions of islamic radicals. Toward that end, they have sought to limit our ability to track and monitor our enemies or to effectively question them once in our control.

  13. Patty, I’m really angry also. rafflaw you make some excellent observations. I’m very worried that this news will be buried in the election prattle. It really doesn’t take that long to assess what happens in each primary. It would be wonderful to have an actual discussion of issues, but the 24/7 chatter is giving excellent cover for Cheney/Bush to do this and god knows what else.

  14. I do agree that the Dems were enablers of letting the appointed President get away with torture along with murdering thousands of Iraq citizens. However, even if Congress didn’t need to pass this bill to “outlaw” the illegal torture, the fact remains that this bill would have drawn another line in the sand that Bush would have to violate the law when he decides to torture again. And that is if you believe that they have stopped the torture. Remember, they told us for years that the U.S. doesn’t torture. That was a lie then so why do we believe them that they have now stopped? I am looking forward to the day after George leaves office to see if he will be criminally charged for his domestic and international crimes.

  15. JT, I am so mad I could spit, in fact, I am spittin’ mad!

    The only thing good about that is that I am not so very depressed
    that I can’t see matters turning out the way the Fathers intended.

    Executive privilege is not THE law that trumps all other laws
    including Executive power or any other privilege or power derived therefrom by being Commander-in-Chief during ‘wartime’ – which is also debatable, if I might add.

    There is no evidence that everything that has been ordered was done so legally, lawfully, and/or even under advice of Counsel, and we won’t know that unless we all take a look.

    Checks and balances – three separate, but equal branches of government all of whom/which work for us -as in We, the people…

  16. Previously posted – from my ‘Greatest Hits’ Album…

    By David Keene

    Posted: 04/30/07 06:24 PM [ET]
    Anyone who knows much about real power in Congress knows that almost every member of the House and Senate lusts after a seat on the Appropriations Committee and hopes one day to achieve the status of Cardinal. The Cardinals, of course, are the folks who chair the various Appropriations Committee subcommittees and literally control the billions of dollars that pass through their hands.

    California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) chairs the Senate Rules Committee, but she’s also a Cardinal. She is currently chairwoman of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies subcommittee, but until last year was for six years the top Democrat on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (or “Milcon”) sub-committee, where she may have directed more than $1 billion to companies controlled by her husband.

    If the inferences finally coming out about what she did while on Milcon prove true, she may be on the way to morphing from a respected senior Democrat into another poster child for congressional corruption.

    The problems stem from her subcommittee activities from 2001 to late 2005, when she quit. During that period the public record suggests she knowingly took part in decisions that eventually put millions of dollars into her husband’s pocket — the classic conflict of interest that exploited her position and power to channel money to her husband’s companies.

    In other words, it appears Sen. Feinstein was up to her ears in the same sort of shenanigans that landed California Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R) in the slammer. Indeed, it may be that the primary difference between the two is basically that Cunningham was a minor leaguer and a lot dumber than his state’s senior senator.

    Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, or CREW, usually focuses on the ethical lapses of Republicans and conservatives, but even she is appalled at the way Sen. Feinstein has abused her position. Sloan told a California reporter earlier this month that while”there are a number of members of Congress with conflicts of interest … because of the amount of money involved, Feinstein’s conflict of interest is an order of magnitude greater than those conflicts.”

    And the director of the Project on Government Oversight who examined the evidence of wrongdoing assembled by California writer Peter Byrne told him that “the paper trail showing Senator Feinstein’s conflict of interest is irrefutable.”

    It may be irrefutable, but she almost got away without anyone even knowing what she was up to. Her colleagues on the subcommittee, for example, had no reason even to suspect that she knew what companies might benefit from her decisions because that information is routinely withheld to avoid favoritism. What they didn’t know was that her chief legal adviser, who also happened to be a business partner of her husband’s and the vice chairman of one of the companies involved, was secretly forwarding her lists of projects and appropriation requests that were coming before the committee and in which she and her husband had an interest — information that has only come to light recently as a result of the efforts of several California investigative reporters.

    This adviser insists — apparently with a straight face — that he provided the information to Feinstein’s chief of staff so that she could recuse herself in cases where there might be a conflict. He says that he assumes she did so. The public record, however, indicates that she went right ahead and fought for these same projects.

    During this period the two companies, URS of San Francisco and the Perini Corporation of Framingham, Mass., were controlled by Feinstein’s husband, Richard C. Blum, and were awarded a combined total of over $1.5 billion in government business thanks in large measure to her subcommittee. That’s a lot of money even here in Washington.
    Interestingly, she left the subcommittee in late 2005 at about the same time her husband sold his stake in both companies. Their combined net worth increased that year with the sale of the two companies by some 25 percent, to more than $40 million.

    In spite of the blatant appearance of corruption, no major publication has picked up on the story, the Senate Ethics Committee has reportedly let her slip by, and she is now chairing the Senate Rules Committee, which puts her in charge of making sure her colleagues act ethically and avoid the sorts of conflicts of interest with which she is personally and so obviously familiar.

    Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, is a managing associate with Carmen Group, a D.C.-based governmental-affairs firm (www.carmengrouplobbying.com).

  17. This is a misquote. Here’s what Bush really said: The bill congress sent me would take away one of Al Quaedas’ most valuable recruiting tools in the war on terror. This is no time to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keepin’ fine Americans like Dick and me safe from the legal actions we deserve.

  18. Maybe Sen. Feinstein should have volunteered for the waterboarding test herself before saving Mukasey’s confirmation, but of course that would have required courage, which so far, the Democrats have displayed an alarming LACK of. Now I’m sadly wondering what other forms of torture our “esteemed” President will give the green light to in order to “keep America safe.” The rack perhaps? At this point, that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

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