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. The source of my quote, this is rather hard to find:

    http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CAT.C.28.Add.5.En?Opendocument

    bears repeating over and over:

    “Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offense under the law of the United States. No official of the government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. U.S. law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a “state of public emergency”) or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension. The United States is committed to the full and effective implementation of its obligations under the Convention throughout its territory.”

  2. I think all of you make very important points about asking the candidates to come clean on their positions on torture. I don’t know if their websites address this but I’m going to check that out. This is certainly something they should all be pressed about. Good job to all!

    D.W. and rafflaw, thank you for letting me know your opinions on my question.

  3. DeeplyWorried:
    In regards to the debates, I do not believe torture and the issue of US obligations under the Geneva Conventions and domestic statutory law, were ever brought up.

    ************************

    Thanks, DW, I didn’t think they had been. In my view, those issues should have been raised by one of the moderators, and I’m sorry to read here that they were not. We as a people need to know if our potential leaders (who are asking for OUR votes, after all) favor torture or not, and if they support it in any way, keep them OUT of office!

    My view is, if they approve it for one group, what is to stop them to approve it for additional groups, until it gets to a point where it’s approved for any person or group of persons who just happens to tick them off? It’s a very dangerous slippery slope DOWN, and I don’t want to vote for ANY candidate who even wants to get on that slope to begin with.

  4. Susan, what I was quoting from above was not a U.S. law but language in the Interim Report submitted by Department of State to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT).
    *****************

    Okay, thanks for the correction. It is still an excellent source, and I greatly appreciate your providing it. 🙂

  5. Susan, what I was quoting from above was not a U.S. law but language in the Interim Report submitted by Department of State to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT).

  6. Susan,

    There has been a shameful silence on the part of the three major candidates with respect to Mr. Bush’s weekend veto and the telecom immunity revisions ongoing in the House.

    In regards to the debates, I do not believe torture and the issue of US obligations under the Geneva Conventions and domestic statutory law, were ever brought up.

  7. Susan,
    I agree that the Democratic candidates must be asked about torture point blank. They should also be asked if they will favor an investigation of the prior administration in this area of torture. The world needs to see quick action on this subject once the new administration is in place. We need the media to start pressing McCain on why he voted against the bill to restrict the CIA to the Army technigues, when he claims he is against torture. I am not sure that martial law is a possibility, but if the wrong administration gets in, we will have even more erosion of our rights.

  8. I do know the next administration, be it democrat or republican must act decisively to repudiate the previous administration’s stance on these issues.
    DW
    ********************

    DW, I completely agree, and thanks for providing the precise law stating that “torture is prohibited in the United States.” The question is, whether the next administration WILL act decisively or not. Was the question even asked in the more recent Obama/Clinton debates? I have to confess; I missed the last two.

  9. I know that that is a recurrent speculation, and there are dark whisperings of this or that National Directive, and emergency powers, and preparations in train for quasi-government rule.

    But all that aside, I for one don’t think this administration would ever even imagine such an act as declaring martial law and not allowing a successor administration take office.

  10. Impressive research on the part of rafflaw and D.W. Thank you. Here is something that I really think might happen. If cheney/bush can’t put in a very compliant upcoming administration we will get martial law. I think there is a lot of evidence pointing in that direction. I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts about that.

  11. Hello Rafflaw,

    Not my words, our government’s. It makes the contrast with the veto just cast all the more agonizing. We are at odds with almost everyone on this issue. The UN, the EU, the OAS, and so forth, all have outlawed torture. Everyone but the WH and the OVP have gotten the memo….

    They have upped the ante in this recent veto and are seriously flirting with post-administration prosecution.

    I believe their confidence in their immunity is misplaced but they may be reconciled with the idea of being legal martyrs for the sake of national security. Nationalist tides run very strong here, and no domestic court would ever impose more than a wrist slap [though I may be wrong here], and we have carefully avoided recognizing the jurisdiction of any international tribunal.

    I do know the next administration, be it democrat or republican must act decisively to repudiate the previous administration’s stance on these issues.

    DW

  12. If I can interrupt this interesting discussion and interject something on the waterboarding topic.

    “Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offense under the law of the United States. No official of the government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. U.S. law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a “state of public emergency”) or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension. The United States is committed to the full and effective implementation of its obligations under the Convention throughout its territory.”

    This was the United States talking. The State Department specifically in its Oct 15, 1999 report to UNCAT. These are official declarations, uncaveated, unhedged, as to our nation’s legal relation to torture. Note the prohibition on the use of emergency or exigent situations to justify torture. Note also the sentence on the independent judiciary not being by-passed.

    Contrast with Mr. Bush’s veto of the anti-torture bill.

  13. msnbc,
    Since you have misconstrued what was said by your so-called “very good President”, I have linked two paragraphs that go to the heart of the lie that the U.S. gets a warrant before wiretapping anyone. As you will see he is talking about domestic surveillance. Remember, the government doesn’t need a warrant to wiretap a completely international call. Here is the proof that you either missed or don’t want to admit to: “Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

    But a roving wiretap means — it was primarily used for drug lords. A guy, a pretty intelligence drug lord would have a phone, and in old days they could just get a tap on that phone. So guess what he’d do? He’d get him another phone, particularly with the advent of the cell phones. And so he’d start changing cell phones, which made it hard for our DEA types to listen, to run down these guys polluting our streets. And that changed, the law changed on — roving wiretaps were available for chasing down drug lords. They weren’t available for chasing down terrorists, see? And that didn’t make any sense in the post-9/11 era. If we couldn’t use a tool that we’re using against mobsters on terrorists, something needed to happen.”

    Is apecrap crazy a techinical term?

  14. raf: Good lord, you can see a plot or lie where there isn’t one of you twist, turn, and torture the words long enough.

    raf: you are (intentionally) confusing domestic surveillance statements by Bush with international surveillance statements by Bush. Nice TRY, no banana.

    What is it like to be apecrap crazy with hate over a very good President that historically will be one of our best? Your liberals hater friends feed off hating Bush just as you do. Of course you also hate the GOP and anything that stands for decency don’t you. Bet you are pro abortion also.

  15. Msnbc bser,
    Or do you prefer the new name you have listed now? I already told you one lie that Bush used. He had a speech in Buffalo and was asked if the U.S. was spying without a warrant and he said that a warrant is always requested. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/04/20040420-2.html I have included a link for you from the white house web page. Of course, later on he admitted that he had spied without a warrant. So I have named one, where is your example of Hillary or Barack???? By he way, instead of attempting to slur me with your Rush Limbaugh phrase, try actually looking at the facts. What upsets you so much? The fact that I and others here have shown you that your President has lied to you, or that you actually believed him?

  16. You write: I am especially interested in any Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama lies that have taken away our freedoms or that have broken U.S. or International law.

    Can you name the lie that Bush used to “take away freedoms or broken international law”?

    Rafflaw: Your Bush Derangement Syndrome is eating you alive. Grow up or stay away from lunatic left wing web sites that fill your jellied brain with propaganda.

  17. msnbc bser,
    Instead of claiming someone has lied, try to give us some facts that can be verified or checked out. I gave you several instances of lies by Mr. Bush and you did nothing to refute them, except to claim that I have a bush derangement syndrome. Sounds like a Limbaugh type of argument. Give us the instances of the lies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and we will look at them. I am especially interested in any of their lies that have cost American lives and/or civilian lives. I am especially interested in any Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama lies that have taken away our freedoms or that have broken U.S. or International law. Let’s see what you can find.

  18. msnbc bser,

    I am asking you to have the integrity to look at what Mother Jones is saying. Please take a look at the facts they present and see if they are verifiable. That it is not a meaningless exercise. If a conservative journal writes about a series of events that I may at first find unbelievable I should have the integrity to check out for myself if they are telling the truth. I didn’t refere you to an opinion piece. This piece gives actual events and actual statements. Opinions are interesting but facts are something anyone (left, right and center) may present and all of us should check out.

    You will never hear me say that Obama and Clinton do not and have not lied. It is important to keep track of when any politician is lying, this includes Bush.

Comments are closed.