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. Mespo, do you have any idea on WHEN the “less intelligent, most belligerent” will become extinct? They’d be a lot easier to deal with if we had some kind of inside information on a light at the end of this dark tunnel. 🙂

  2. mespo,

    I do believe you are trying to entice msnbcbser to come out of hiding. He/she seems to have a thing about Olberman. Naturally.

  3. DW:

    On the roof issue you forgot to mention that our conservative friend would send his prayer offering to Haggard, or Swaggart or Robertson and pray for the rain to stop. When it did he would praise Jesus for the benevolence, and if it didn’t right away, he would blame Olbermann.

  4. An expansion on the distinction between liberal and conservative themes:

    The liberals are anti-conditions. Take crime rates. Their analysis would tend to see crime as an off-shoot of the condition of poverty and under-education. So they would immediately try to repair the root conditions. Great Society programs, funding for schools etc.

    Conservatives are anti-groups. They don’t care about the root conditions. They can attack criminals as a group and use get-tough crime legislation, increased police funding and an expansion of the prison system as their method of resolving the problem.

    In our current laughable, “War On Terror”, we see the same mindset operating. We aren’t trying to address the root causes of young men and women electing to become terrorists, instead we try to kill or neutralize the group.
    So Mr. Bush, will mention “Terrorists” over and over and not mention poverty, unemployment, trade imbalances, and other such arcana.

    Its really like a man who lives in a house with a leaky roof and the rain is dripping via multiple leaks into the living room. If the man is a liberal he will analyze the root condition-a leaky roof-and try to fix the roof. If he is a conservative he will demonize the living room leaks and constantly be filling buckets and emptying them.

    The same with terrorism. Bush simply has no clue how to procede except an endless bucket brigade of military actions and torture dungeons.

  5. On my theory of conservative’s tendency to demonize out-groups to build their own cohesion, I forgot one very important group they are anti-, and we know it well: they are anti-lawyers.

    I hope your optimism is correct, but history teaches us some societies can remain in stasis for centuries.

    America could become such a society if the conservative impulse stayed dominant…

  6. Deeply,

    No problem with the post. These illiterates will infuriate you if you let them. Just take comfort in the knowledge that less intelligent and most belligerent life forms usually become extinct, society usually makes progress toward rational thought (even with all the bumps and pitfalls), and that, in the end, the evil they do will almost certainly come back around to hit them square in the posterior. Actually makes life worth living just to see that day arrive.

  7. What’s more, is that no good argument can ever be made for devolving.

    It’s antithetically ‘W’ – the new catch-all for ‘Dumb’ and ‘Dumber’

  8. “What we know about evolution is that without the ability to adapt, living things, including the Constitution, would not survive. That’s an argument against strict construction.”

    good point.

  9. History informs us. What we do with that knowledge defines us, ultimately.

    It certainly is possible to have two opposing thoughts at the same time and still proceed in one’s daily life – ‘seemingly’ unaware.

    Recently, I heard a case made for the off-chance that global warming is not responsible for severe climate change when there is a myriad of experts holding records of measured scientific data strongly suggesting otherwise. Added are countless stark, albeit ‘anecdotal’, experiences from adversely affected business owners, as well as those having been in specialized fields, for decades now.

    Even more, liken this discussion to the way people believe in God based on faith, not needing any other explanation for Creation, and also knowing the science behind the theory of Evolution which has much proof and does not require God to explain it.

    And then there’s the obvious separations controversy associated with the offering of ‘intelligent design theory’ in public school curriculum.

    What we know about evolution is that without the ability to adapt, living things, including the Constitution, would not survive. That’s an argument against strict construction.

    Scientifically speaking, and in every other way, things do not evolve backwards.

    It’s a contradiction in terms.

  10. I broke my own rule on partisan posting! My rant above is polemical and throws out generalizations with a heavy and inaccurate hand! Please feel free to trash!

    Back to Law.

  11. Mespo,

    Yes. I have given a lot of thought over the years as to how any person with intellectual and ethical integrity and a modicum of historical knowledge can be a conservative or a republican or a pure libertarian (a rare breed).

    People with all those qualities have chosen those paths, so the question is an open one.

    If you view political or philosophical positions as being akin to geographic regions or say, nations, then one can construct a rickety analogy. Just as many, many ethical people didn’t migrate from National Socialist Germany when it became evident how the country was headed, so too conservatives, viewing the position as a large region that gives them home, are not necessarily in agreement with every position held by the currently dominant leadership. They are unwilling to migrate to liberalism, even though point-by-point, liberalism may more closely match their attitudes than the current conservativism. “I am a German” trumps migration to another country. So too does “I am a Conservative”. The affiliation is early and to a group. Disaffiliation is very hard even when mounting evidence presents itself that there is no longer a good match.

    This dynamic best works when group affiliation is stressed (usually as an appeal to shared opposition to an out-group, negative identification —hence the Ann Coulters, Rush L’s, M Savages-their function is to forge group unity through such means. It glosses over the actual positions of the in-group except as oppositional to hated out-groups.

    Thats why, I suppose, the Republicans cannot but very rarely win debates on ideas and haven’t been able to since the New Deal. Liberal ideas beat theirs decisively in the 1930’s and they have never recovered. Their only recourse is to again and again wave the bloody shirt. First Anti-Communism in 1947, now Anti-Terrorism.

    Liberals are anti CONDITIONS: anti-poverty, anti-ignorance, anti-inequality.

    Conservatives are anti GROUPS: anti-liberals, anti-terrorists, anti-teachers, anti-socialists, anti environmentalists, anti illegal immigrants. Fundamentally different ways of viewing the world.

    That’s why this endless so-called “war on terror” is their best bet for perpetuating their faction, unfortunately they are now in a symbiotic relationship with the terrorist factions who are relying on the same dynamic to perpetuate themselves as well!

  12. Deeply:

    I think your argument fails in its premise. I see little evidence of two or more brain cells AMONG this crowd. Their ignorance about the ideals founding this Country is truly appalling.

  13. Well said Mespo,

    To add to that cautionary quote, a re-post re-worked:

    At what point do even conservatives realize we are setting up a system that can be used by Executives of ANY party to enchain us?

    They think that the Executive must be given plenary powers to fight terrorism. They don’t calculate that once granted those same powers can be used to stifle dissent or opposition. They live in a sunny optimism.

    James Madison in the Remonstrance and Memorial:

    “Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it.”

    Even if one is a conservative, you must, if you have two brain cells to rub together, take alarm at such an aggregation of power in one branch of our tri-partite government. And especially in that one branch that is owned solely by one Party.

  14. msnbcbser:

    You told us previously: “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.”

    Thomas Jefferson told us: “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

    Now let’s see who should we believe: The guy on Mt. Rushmore or you?

  15. Susan/Patty C:

    Come on. We finally found something he’s good at doing. Let him be. He’s got a future subbing for Howie Mandel on Deal or No Deal!

  16. PattyC:
    And did you catch our esteemed leader’s jocular performance at the Gridiron Dinner Saturday Night? Also, not funny.

    I saw that clip on COUNTDOWN this evening. Thoroughly nauseating would be an accurate, albeit impolite, way to describe to describe our “leader’s” performance. I just looked at the words, after hitting the MUTE button.

  17. No doubt. Not funny, though

    And did you catch our esteemed leader’s jocular performance at the Gridiron Dinner Saturday Night? Also, not funny.

  18. Thank you so much Patty C. I respect your opinion highly, you are primus inter pares here so far as I (and probably JT also!) am concerned.

    Did you note that the USA is charging China with torture today?

    Mr Yu and Ms Gaer will probably have to laugh at that on UNCAT.

    But it proves a point we have all been trying to make. By destroying our moral standing, we lose our authority to reprimand others and expect them to do anything more than arch an eyebrow at us.

    The neo-cons really failed to appreciate the leverage of soft power. Its not that the foreign leadership of any given country is awed by our rhetoric when we do have standing. They indeed may be quite cynical. But they have to play to audiences wider than the constituencies that hold them up, so we can sometime exert some leverage from that fact.

    We’ve thrown all that away.

  19. worth saying – well written and well said, thanks DW

    ” …unpatriotic ‘lawfare’ ” 🙂

  20. I recommend Dean Koh’s statement. He is the originator of that quote I have used that he expressed at a symposium a few weeks ago: the point of the Convention is not to guard against the terrorists, it is to guard against ourselves. I do wish he had used the full paragraph from the 1999 report, it is so poignant now.

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