Give Me Your Tired Arguments, Yearning To be Free

David Corn has a piece in Slate piling on Christopher Hutchins – who needs my rhetorical support about as much as (pick and insert your own example of coals to Newcastle metaphor).

But the point he raises is such a sore point to me that I have to flag it and bitch loudly.

I summed up my issues in a post a while back.

Here’s Corn:

Bush’s claim that Iraq had “recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”—one sentence in his speech—led to controversy and scandal. It begot the op-ed by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson (whom the CIA sent to Niger to check out this report) that accused the White House of having misrepresented the prewar WMD intelligence. That op-ed begot the Robert Novak column that outed Wilson’s wife as a CIA operative. And that article begot the criminal investigation that targeted the White House and produced an indictment of Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, for allegedly lying to the FBI and a grand jury.

It’s now accepted by the U.S. intelligence community that there was nothing to the Niger charge. Even the White House in July 2003 disavowed its use of the allegation. Proponents of the war in Iraq no longer cite it as justification for the invasion. But there is one holdout: Christopher Hitchens.

Here’s the Senate Intelligence Committee report:

The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996- 1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [redacted] businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted “expanding commercial relations” to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that “although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq.” (page 43)

Here’s my old post:

So Wilson directly confirmed to the CIA that Iraqi officials had met with Nigerian officials, and that they had – in the view of the Nigerian officials – attempted to broach the subject of uranium sales. Now the claim the President made wasn’t that Iraq had gotten uranium, or that it was even likely to get uranium. It was that:
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Now skipping over the ‘gimme’ that Bush is saying that the British are saying etc. etc., the question is whether Wilson – who accused Bush of lying in that statement – was himself telling the truth in making that accusation.

And the problem I have, as a kind of simpleminded person, is that Wilson’s own words, as expressed in the consensus, bipartisan Senate report, also support the charge that Iraq was seeking uranium.

So what is it that I am missing, exactly?

Look, most things that matter are matters of judgment and degree. And to say that Bush overstated or over relied on the evidence – provided by Wilson himself – is one thing, while to confuse matters (by tossing in the forged Italian documents) by suggesting that Bush stated that Iraq had successfully bought (as opposed to unsuccessfully sought) yellowcake is, simply put, political fraud.

But that fraud is part and parcel of political commerce these days. It shouldn’t be when the stakes are as high as they are today. And those opposing Bush would get further with people like me if we weren’t left with a choice between people who make us uncomfortable but are at least engaging what we see as a serious issue – and folks who lie about the issue to make political points.

54 thoughts on “Give Me Your Tired Arguments, Yearning To be Free”

  1. I agree with “Clifford May”: that it was David Corn who blew Plame, not Robert Novak.

    I seem to recall several months of apoplectic bellowing over this issue. Some of it resounded even here in the serene groves of WoC, which are normally stirred only by the gentle breeze of Reason. Words like treason were used, and there was all sorts of talk about people being dragged off in handcuffs and charged with capital crimes – the charges being mere formalities, as their guilt was so blatantly obvious to all red-blooded patriots.

    So I’m wondering when David Corn’s execution is, and whether there are enough sober Democratic patriots to form a decent firing squad that stands in a straight line, and if Vanity Fair is going to do a pictorial on it.

  2. “And those opposing Bush would get further with people like me if we weren’t left with a choice between people who make us uncomfortable but are at least engaging what we see as a serious issue – and folks who lie about the issue to make political points.”

    You’re problem is in thinking the choice reduces to such a simplistic level.

    And the line about “folks who lie about an issue to make political points” is really one for the ages! LMFAO!

    How about being bothered by folks who lie about an issue to make political points (Condi Rice’s recent lies about the 2003 PDB, to take the most recent example) and then, acting on this, send hundreds of thousands of American’s to die for that lie?

    Yeah, I can see why David Corn’s lie would bother you more than the Bush adminstrations comments (most or al of which are lies based on political expediency)….because you’re clearly a Right Wing mole.

    Occam’s Razor, my man.

  3. Plus, you may have noticed that David Corn is not a politician running for office….somehow little distinctions like this seem to get lost on those who seek to lump opponent’s ideologies together in order to take a political swipe at the “enemy”.

  4. A.L.:

    You’ve excavated to the heart of the matter, and with such clarity that the post ought to become a standard reply to the Bush lied/Joe Wilson meme. It may not convince the more intransigent netroots, but it’ll set everyone else free.

  5. Seriously- when Karl Rove was the prime suspect the opposition defined this as the most serious security leak since the Rosenbergs (except to the oppostion the Rosenbergs were innocent victims of course). But now that the politics seem to have seeped out of it, where is the rabid desire to plug the security breach? Where are the calls for Armitage’s security clearance to get rescinded, _at the least?_


    In 1939, Leo Szilard visits Albert Einstein to enlist his support in asking President Roosevelt to begin working on a nuclear bomb:

    SZILARD: . . . and so based on your theories and research into uranium fission, its become possible to . . .

    EINSTEIN: . . . build a bomb? Ah, it had not occurred to me. But what does this have to do with me? If only people would stop fighting and building bombs, we would have world peace. You know my thoughts on this are clear.

    SZILARD: The Germans will. Can you imagine the world if Hitler gets such a bomb? You know that there are men in Germany capable of doing such a thing.

    EINSTEIN: That is all supposition. Ideas take time to implement, to test, to discredit false hypothesis . . . and money.

    SZILARD: The world is changing, my friend. The World War showed governments the value of science and technological breakthroughs. Scientists will be given resources not before imagined. And the uranium? The Germans have it.

    EINSTEIN: The amount of uranium needed for such a project must be immense.

    SZILARD: The largest uranium mines are in the Sudetenland and now that the Germans control it, they are forbidding the mines from selling any uranium.

    EINSTEIN: I see. Well, I can not doubt that that monster would desire such weaponry and the capability appears to be a matter of time. I will sign that letter.



    DAVID CORN (voice over): After the defeat of Germany, it would be discovered that the Germans were not near to creating a nuclear bomb. Einstein deeply regretted his decision, saying that “[b]ecause of the danger that Hitler might be the first to have the bomb, I signed a letter to the President which had been drafted by Szilard. Had I known that the fear was not justified, I would not have participated in opening this Pandora’s box, nor would Szilard.” Einstein and Szilard, both exiles, had allowed their views of Hitler to color their judgment. Stay tuned for next week’s edition of “I Told You So.”

  7. Andy L, #3: could you please do this again, this time more specifically and without overlaying new issues over the ones being discussed.

    Also, less important, about Occam’s Razor: what’s it got to do with anything here?

  8. A.L.,

    Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki said he was approached by a “businessman.”

    1. There is no proof that “the businessman” had any connections to Saddam.

    2. The “businessman” never even mentioned yellowcake to Mayaki.

    Bush: “…Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

    Remember back when Michael “faster please” Ledeen and his pals sold anti-tank missiles to Iran and Hezbollah to raise cash for John “Bagman” Negroponte’s Nicaraguan death squads?

    Ronnie said he didn’t know anything about it.

    I believed him…so did America.


    I miss Ronnie.

  9. Monkeyboy,
    Those points do not vindicate either Corn or Wilson, who have both misrepresented Wilson’s own report. The comment by the Niger official is indeed evidence of Iraq’s attempt. One can debate its significance or weight, but to claim it isn’t evidence is just dishonest.

    Corn and Wilson are caught. The Bush administration is not and in fact quite exonerated of the charges by Corn and Wilson.

  10. Hehe,

    I can be swayed by “normal” logic.

    This “random pattern on a grilled cheese sandwich is verification of my religious beliefs” kind of logic is hard to even understand.

    You guys make it sound like Saddam was caught on film in Niger with a bag of cash and a yellowcake shopping basket.

    What you actually have as “proof” relies on the psychic abilities of an African ruler and the assumption that some “businessman” represented some “Iraqi officials” who were operating on Saddam’s direct orders.

    Shades of the standards of proof that Bush’s tribunals will require before they execute anyone who rubs his pals the wrong way?

  11. Monkeyboy…

    Just curious: in your world do you dismiss all intelligence that doesn’t meet a legal definition of “proof?”

  12. Monkeyboy, in those matters you’ll rarely find anything 100%-proved or provable. After all, main actors here really try to keep it all under covers — and they usually have the resources to do so successfully. But, unlike a case of, say, burglarizing a 7-11 store, when it comes national security, int. politics, nukelar weapons, oil, etc. stakes are very high, and you gotta think on your feet based on what you’ve got, not waiting till you’ve got “beyond reasonable doubt”.

    There’s always doubt, but you can’t afford to dose off.

  13. bq. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [redacted] businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq.

    Doesn’t this imply that the delegation was the Hussein gov’t? Who *did* he meet with ultimately?

  14. beyond reasonable doubt, Broom?

    America invaded a country based on self-interested, fourth-hand hearsay.

    What can’t this kind of illogical crap be used to justify after that?

    Are we gonna start chucking virgins into Mt. Kilauea to improve America’s trade balance?

    Start shipping any witch/Jew/counter-revolutionary who looks at a party member funny down to Gitmo for a little tribunal retribution?

    May you live in interesting times indeedy!

  15. Before you start discussing Iraq with anyone, you should ask them three questions.
    1) Which was more of a threat to the US, Kosovo or Iraq?
    2) Why didn’t President Clinton go the UN over Kosovo while President Bush did go to the UN for Iraq?
    3) Did you really believe President Clinton when he said the US troops sent to Kosovo would be home by Christmas? They are still there though it is a small force.

    If I were not a cynical old man, I would be in anguish over the politicians who have stood on opposite sides of these two conflicts. Anyone who supported Kosovo but is opposed to Iraq has no creditability. Too often those most opposed to Iraq are the same people who beat the drum for Kosovo.

  16. Ah, so this is where that banned troll from CQ and Big Lizards has infested.

    To the other left wingnut trolls infesting this site, please note the following:

    bq. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

    Everyone seems to focus on one African country, that is, Niger. Africa, OTOH, is a continent with a number of other countries that also mine and export uranium. There is, for example, a country north of Niger that disclosed its nuclear program that was ongoing, which was well known by Saddam, had yellowcake at least, and knew that we knew of their program but didn’t fully know the extent of it until said country in Africa renounced it to the British and American governments.

    IOW, the sixteen quoted words were not lying words. Why, I wonder, to the left wingnuts harp about Niger as if there were no other countries in Africa possessing nuclear programs or containing uranium mines.

    To said banned troll,

    There is nothing bad about our “trade deficit”, mostly because said “deficit” is an artifact of faulty statistics.

    We invaded a country whose government violated a cease fire agreement numerous times, was a threat to us and our allies, and whose bribery was about to collapse the “sanctions” imposed upon it; and with whom we had a valid declaration of war 4 times. Saddam delenda est. You do know what the words cease fire agreement means, don’t you? You do know that all Congress has to do to declare war is authorize the expenditure of appropriations for it. The Constitution does not mandate the wording of a declaration of war resolution. The Constitution also grants Congress the power to issue letters of Marque and Reprisal, which allow the President and even private citizens to perform limited acts of war. Plus, no treaty can amend the Constitution.

  17. There is nothing bad about our “trade deficit”, mostly because said “deficit” is an artifact of faulty statistics.

    Hehe, how’s retirement treating you, Mr. Greenspan?

    We got some film of the Gitmo tribunals in action before they were halted:

    Let’s pass that bill so the fun can really start!

  18. The problem with all of this from the beginning seemingly still can’t get out.

    Hello? Saddam didn’t need anymore yellow cake. He already had tons of the stuff laying around both under IAEA supervision and without IAEA supervision.

    I realize Marc there are precious few “edge issues” to combat these days but seriously. The entire yellow cake debate was inane from the start and considering our current situation, perhaps both you and Corn should concentrate on more germain issues that might actually lead to a less than disastrous outcome to this entire affair.

    Or, we could just rehash 3 year old political points. At a cost of a quarter billion dollars a day.

  19. 1) Which was more of a threat to the US, Kosovo or Iraq?

    I don’t recall Sandy Berger warning the American public that we can’t let the smoking gun on Kosovo appear as a mushroom cloud over a major US city.

    Nor, oddly enough, can I name a single fatal casualty off hand. Am I missing something? Certainly not a half a TRILLION dollars from the US Treasurey.

    2) Why didn’t President Clinton go the UN over Kosovo while President Bush did go to the UN for Iraq?

    Bush went to the UN over Iraq? What was the security council’s vote regardless of the whip count?

    The security council is really irrelevant. If we need to act we need to act. Regardless of what they say.

  20. Monkeyboy: I’ll sure back the new Guantanamo regs if they’re broad enough to include you. I’m sure you’d enjoy the tropics. I’m sure we’d enjoy your lack of Internet access.

  21. Funny, though, that Sandy Berger, along with Richard Clarke, warned Bush, Rice etc. many times about Al Qaeda in the aftermath of the USS cole attack and prior to 9/11.

    However, Bush et al. completely ignored them all.

    The blood of 3000 Americans will forever be on their hands.

    And now you want us to continue to trust Republicans and the rest, when the Democrats had it right all along?

    Only people like you put trust in the hands of such people. And in light of that, why should any of your views be given even more than the contempt they have deservedly received here?

  22. Andy,
    The claim that the Bush administration was “warned” by Berger and Clarke and that the administration ignored their warnings has been debunked so often ( from Berger and Clarke’s own mouths in part ) that it is really pathetic to see it repeated.

  23. Sure, Robin.

    What hasn’t been “debunked” is the fact that many of Bush’s top people wanted to invade Iraq even before Bush took office.

    Absent the ability to look into people’s hearts, we have to assume that desire guided their actions once they were in office.

  24. “Funny, though, that Sandy Berger, along with Richard Clarke, warned Bush, Rice etc. many times about Al Qaeda in the aftermath of the USS cole attack and prior to 9/11.

    However, Bush et al. completely ignored them all.”

    What does that say about Clinton ignoring them, considering he was in office for 88 months longer and _actually employed the pair?_

  25. “What hasn’t been “debunked” is the fact that many of Bush’s top people wanted to invade Iraq even before Bush took office.”

    True. And not just Bush’s top people. The United State Congress. And President Bill Clinton. They, after all, are the one’s who signed the Iraq Liberation Act. This conspiracy goes deeply indeed.

    Next thing you know it will turn out Bush’s advisors intended to cut taxes and ban flag burning before he ever set foot into office. What will these sneaky republicans sneakilly campaign on next?

  26. Clinton didn’t invade Iraq on his watch, though, Mark.

    The Congress that passed the AUMF was subject to the Bush administration spin.

    And they just authorized an invasion of Iraq as a last resort…clearly it wasn’t our last resort when we went in.

  27. monkyboy:

    Like your namesake, you like to jump around a lot. If I liked to jump around a lot, I’d point out that another think Clinton didn’t do was _nail_ OBL. Not that the WTC bombing would necessarily have been halted.

    ADD can be fun. Glad you’re getting exercise.

  28. That’s true, NM.

    Notice how we’re starting to talk about Bush like he’s already an ex-president?

    Welcome to the lame duck hour…

  29. So Clinton is a hero because he didn’t get bin Laden in 8 years, and Bush is mass murderer because he didn’t get him in 8 months.

    Minus some of the pompous hyperbole, this is pretty where the argument ended up when we discussed this over at Donklephant, the so-called “centrist” blog for middle-of-the-road Deaniacs. Clinton good, Bush evil, and all the rest is trifling detail.

    This is why you are wrong to call monkyboy a troll. We deal not with a troll, but with a entire party of trolls, informed by troll ideology. We try to argue with them, but we are talking only to ourselves.

  30. Another stab at logic, Glen?

    Calling someone a troll isn’t a rational argument.

    You went to a site that nobody had heard of before you posted its name here.

    You chatted with some people who disagreed with you.

    Therefor…what, exactly?

  31. #35

    Yep, you bite Glen.

    Bombing of the USS Cole: Oct 12, 2000.

    Inauguration of GWBush: Jan 20, 2001.

    Jan-July 2001: Richard Clarke, Sandy Berger, Madeleine Allbright, Diane Feinstein and other high level Democrats repeatedly press for the Bush administration to act on the intelligence gathered after the Cole bombing implicating Al Qaeda.

    These entreaties were consistently ignored or rejected. The excuse given was that they were looking for a “new strategy” to combat terrorism.

    August 2001: GW Bush vacations in Crawford and is given a PDB entitled “bin Laden determined to attack in US”.

    September 11, 2001: Bush is given a political lifeline by bin Laden. 3000 Americans die for it.

    May 2003: As part of the “New Strategy” for fighting Al Qaeda and terrorism, the Bush Administration invades Iraq, a country with no direct connection or responsibility for 9/11.

    November 2004: Bush is re-elected to a second term, running largely on a platform promoting fear of terrorism and a Democratic government.

    September 2006: NIE and UN reports detail the dramatic rises in international terrorism in the wake of the US-led War in Iraq.

    I guess we finally got to see what the Bush administration meant when it said it was looking for a “new way” to fight terrorism. The military strategy is an utter failure, but the political strategy seemed to have worked out well.

    You are all here to participate only in the latter goal. You’re constant foolishness and mendacity about the issues only serve to illustrate that you are completely unconcerned about the former goal.

  32. Anyone still pushing the Niger yellowcake claim is obviously losing touch with reality.

    As Corn concludes:

    _In this manner, Hitchens has become a full-fledged ally of the reality-defying advocates of the Iraq invasion. I sadly count that as another casualty of the war._

    I guess Armed Liberal has become yet another casualty of the Iraq war.

  33. Oh, I see. It was the Cole that alerted the US to the dangers of Al Qaeda. The Khobar Towers and the Embassy Bombings… not to mention the 1st WTC bombing obviously werent big enough events to spur the massive Clinton international affairs spy braintrust into work.

    Of course we know that despite the above nonsense, after the Cole Clinton knew _exactly_ who did it and _exactly_ where he was. There was no need for a year of intel gathering, because they had already tried lazily to kill Bin Ladin in 1998. We saw Clintons best ideas for getting OBL- indictments and cruise missiles practically shot at random targets.

    If only Clinton had 8 more months in office, surely 911 never would have happened and OBL would be dead. That is completely absurd.

    Get it through your heads. All Clinton did was CYA by passing on all the yappings he had ignored from Clark to Bush. Clinton had several opportunities to have OBL _handed_ to him, or to attempt to kill him, and he either ignored or botched them all. This idiotic _myth_ that he was so close but just ran out of time is plain silly.

    Ask Gary Berntsen the CIA agent on the ground (and oft times Bush critic of his handling of Tora Bora). All the plans they ever developed to get Bin Ladin in Afghanistan were torpedoed by the administration, often at late stages.

  34. “Christopher Hutchins – who needs my rhetorical support about as much as (pick and insert your own example of coals to Newcastle metaphor).”

    Ummm – as much as a fish needs a bicycle?

  35. Armed Republican:

    I’ll return to the closing statement of your hair-ball commentary to forward an editorial from the NYT illustrating the utter vacuousness of your logic.

    You said: “But that fraud is part and parcel of political commerce these days. It shouldn’t be when the stakes are as high as they are today. And those opposing Bush would get further with people like me if we weren’t left with a choice between people who make us uncomfortable but are at least engaging what we see as a serious issue – and folks who lie about the issue to make political points.”

    And now, something to really get angry about in direct agreement with your stated reasons for lashing out mindlessly at David Corn.

    Here’s what the people you are “choosing” to run the “GWOT” are doing:

    Rushing Off a Cliff

    Published: September 28, 2006
    Heres what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

    Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. Thats pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

    It was only after the Supreme Court issued the inevitable ruling striking down Mr. Bushs shadow penal system that he adopted his tone of urgency. It serves a cynical goal: Republican strategists think they can win this fall, not by passing a good law but by forcing Democrats to vote against a bad one so they could be made to look soft on terrorism.

    Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

    These are some of the bills biggest flaws:

    Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of illegal enemy combatant in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

    The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret theres no requirement that this list be published.

    Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

    Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

    Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable already a contradiction in terms and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

    Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

    Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

    There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

    We dont blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that theyll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future wont remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

    Theyll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generations version of the Alien and Sedition Acts

  36. “our generations version of the Alien and Sedition Acts”

    This, right here, exactly this, is why your side can’t win anything. Comparing how we treat illegal terrorist combatants with making it illegal for US citizens to criticize the government… is it possible that you don’t understand how _retarded_ that makes you sound? How unserious?

  37. Look, i could blow my top the rest of the day about how Andy doth protest ridiculously too.

    Let me just make the political point here:

    The American people don’t give a damn what we are doing to break Khalid Shak Mohammed and his croneys. The jag offs that cut the heads off our reporters and soldiers when they get ahold of them dont wear uniforms and dont get to be treated like honorable enemy pows.

    Nor are they going to be breathlessly aghast about it like Andy L seems to think everyone is or should be. The hand wringing only seems to coincide with that which makes Bush look bad politically- that isnt lost on the average American either. I dont doubt that Andy and his brethren fear Bush more than they do Al Qaeda. And that is exactly why the democrats are not in power today nor likely to be anytime soon. All the political pundits should be out of work, because that is the _entire_ story of American politics right now. Nobody in this land is going to elect a bunch of navel gazing, blame america first, terrorist sympathizing, hand wringers to office.

  38. Andy,

    Personally, I think the treatment you refer to is still treating those animals way too kindly. I’d be all for torturing them for whatever information we can get, shooting them in the back of the head, and dumping them in a hole. Unfortunately, in the age of CNN that’s not possible. So we have to get as close as we can. As for the argument that this will affect treatment of our people when they’re captured, that’s just pure bunkum. Every enemy we’ve fought since WW II has tortured our POWs. The North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Iraqis (I personally knew a Marine colonel who’d been tortured by the Iraqis in Gulf War I). Do you really think people who slaughter schoolchildren and behead journalists give half a damn about how we treat prisoners? We could put them up at the Ritz-Carlton and give them their 72 virgins in this life and their colleagues would still torture every American soldier or marine they could get their hands on. When you’re fighting savages, it’s sometimes necessary to do savage things.

  39. Since tortured confessions are admissible in American criminal courts under the right circumstances, it looks to me like the detainees have been given, at least in one respect, supperior rights to American citizens. The bill states that no evidence obtained by torture is admissible against the detainee.

  40. Obama Speaks

    Mr. President, I am proud to be sponsoring this amendment with the senior senator from West Virginia. Hes absolutely right that Congress has abrogated its oversight responsibilities, and one way to reverse that troubling trend is to adopt a sunset provision in this bill. We did that in the Patriot Act, and that allowed us to make important revisions to the bill that reflected our experience about what worked and didnt work during the previous 5 years. We should do that again with this important piece of legislation.

    But I want to take a few minutes to speak more broadly about the bill before us.

    I may have only been in this body for a short while, but I am not naive to the political considerations that go along with many of the decisions we make here. I realize that soon, we will adjourn for the fall, and the campaigning will begin in earnest. And there will be 30-second attack ads and negative mail pieces, and we will be called everything from cut-and-run quitters to Defeatocrats to people who care more about the rights of terrorists than the protection of Americans. And I know that the vote before us was specifically designed and timed to add more fuel to that fire.

    And yet, while I know all of this, Im still disappointed, and Im still ashamed. Because what were doing here today a debate over the fundamental human rights of the accused should be bigger than politics. This is serious.

    If this was a debate with obvious ideological differences heartfelt convictions that couldnt be settled by compromise I would understand. But its not.

    All of us Democrats and Republicans want to do whatever it takes to track down terrorists and bring them to justice as swiftly as possible. All of us want to give our President every tool necessary to do this. And all of us were willing to do that in this bill. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to the American people.

    In the five years that the Presidents system of military tribunals has existed, not one terrorist has been tried. Not one has been convicted. Not one has been brought to justice. And in the end, the Supreme Court of the United found the whole thing unconstitutional, which is why were here today.

    We could have fixed all of this in a way that allows us to detain and interrogate and try suspected terrorists while still protecting the accidentally accused from spending their lives locked away in Guantanamo Bay. Easily. This was not an either-or question.

    Instead of allowing this President or any President to decide what does and does not constitute torture, we could have left the definition up to our own laws and to the Geneva Conventions, as we would have if we passed the bill that the Armed Services committee originally offered.

    Instead of detainees arriving at Guantanamo and facing a Combatant Status Review Tribunal that allows them no real chance to prove their innocence with evidence or a lawyer, we could have developed a real military system of justice that would sort out the suspected terrorists from the accidentally accused.

    And instead of not just suspending, but eliminating, the right of habeas corpus the seven century-old right of individuals to challenge the terms of their own detention, we could have given the accused one chance one single chance to ask the government why they are being held and what they are being charged with.

    But politics won today. Politics won. The Administration got its vote, and now it will have its victory lap, and now they will be able to go out on the campaign trail and tell the American people that they were the ones who were tough on the terrorists.

    And yet, we have a bill that gives the terrorist mastermind of 9/11 his day in court, but not the innocent people we may have accidentally rounded up and mistaken for terrorists people who may stay in prison for the rest of their lives.

    And yet, we have a report authored by sixteen of our own governments intelligence agencies, a previous draft of which described, and I quote, actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

    And yet, we have Al Qaeda and the Taliban regrouping in Afghanistan while we look the other way. We have a war in Iraq that our own governments intelligence says is serving as Al Qaedas best recruitment tool. And we have recommendations from the bipartisan 9/11 commission that we still refuse to implement five years after the fact.

    The problem with this bill is not that its too tough on terrorists. The problem with this bill is that its sloppy. And the reason its sloppy is because we rushed it to serve political purposes instead of getting the job done.

    Ive heard, for example, the argument that it should be military courts, and not federal judges, who should make decisions on these detainees. I actually agree with that. The problem is that the structure of the military proceedings has been poorly thought through. Indeed, the regulations that are supposed to be governing administrative hearings for these detainees, which should have been issued months ago, still havent been issued because were so intent to rush this through in time for Election Day. And so we are once again creating a situation in which this legislation is vulnerable to Supreme Court challenge.

    This is not how a serious Administration would approach the problem of terrorism. And I know the President came here today and was insisting that this is supposed to be our primary concern. Hes absolutely right it should be our primary concern which is why we should be approaching this with a somberness and seriousness that they have not displayed with this legislation.

    But politics is what won today.

    The only thing I hope for those who plot terror against the United States is that God has mercy on their soul, because I certainly do not. And for those who our government suspects of terror, I support whatever tools are necessary to try them and uncover their plot.

    But we also know that some have been detained who have no connection to terror whatsoever. Weve already had reports from the CIA and various generals over the last few years saying that many of the detainees at Guantanamo shouldnt have been there as one U.S. commander of Guantanamo told the Wall Street Journal, Sometimes, we just didnt get the right folks. And we all know about the recent case of the Canadian man who was suspected of terrorist connections, detained in New York, sent to Syria, and tortured, only to find out later that it was all a case of mistaken identity and poor information.

    And yet, in the future, people like this may never have a chance to prove their innocence. And they may remain locked away forever.

    And the sad part about all of this is that this betrayal of American values is unnecessary. We couldve drafted a bipartisan, well-structured bill that provided adequate due process through the military courts, had an effective review process that wouldve prevented frivolous lawsuits being filed and kept lawyers from clogging our courts, but upheld the basic ideals that have made this country great.

    Instead, what we have is a flawed document that in fact betrays the best instincts of some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle those who worked in a bipartisan fashion in the Armed Services Committee to craft a bill that we could have been proud of. And they essentially got steamrolled by this Administration and by the imperatives of November 7th.

    That is not how we should be doing business in the U.S. Senate, and thats not how we should be prosecuting this war on terrorism. When were sloppy and cut corners, we are undermining those very virtues of America that will lead us to success in winning this war. At bare minimum, I hope we can at least pass this provision so that cooler heads can prevail after the silly season is over. Thank you.

  41. Obama:

    _Ive heard, for example, the argument that it should be military courts, and not federal judges, who should make decisions on these detainees. I actually agree with that._

    Meet your constituents:

    _Now you want to military to function as the judiciary as well? . . . By your logic, police should also have the right to decide on whether the people they apprehend are guilty or not, rather than have some know-nothing judges or civilian jurists decide._

    “Andy L”:

    Reason #242 why Obama will not run for President in 2008.

  42. “Reason #242 why Obama will not run for President in 2008.”

    Translation: Not crazy enough. Doesnt regard terrorists as comparable to petty criminals with American citizenship.

  43. I think Obama means the same guys who thought our troops would be greeted like liberators in Iraq shouldn’t get to decide which Muslims are terrorists without a little oversight.

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