As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

If Homicide Is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Right

Christiane Brown has released an interview with Harry Reid where he tries to redfine the law as what makes people like Harry Reid most comfortable after the fact.

Reid: Listen, if you ask me my opinion.

Brown: Yeah.

Reid: What went on, waterboarding, torture, of course it was. I don’t want to be drowned. I think that as afraid of – as afraid of – as afraid as I am with water, frankly probably you could drown me and I would confess to a lot of things that weren’t true….

Brown: Isn’t it the responsibility of the United States to enforce criminal law if it appears that war crimes have occured?

Reid: No matter how I personally feel about torture, I think that we as you’ve indicated that we are a nation of law. And that’s why we have to get the facts and then have people render legal decisions which certainly don’t take very long, render opinion as to whether or not what was done was wrong, illegal, immoral, and you know all the other issues.

Brown: Well let me ask you, Senator Reid, you’ve seen the evidence come forward. We’ve heard Dick Cheney himself say he waterboarded and he’d waterboard again…. Isn’t that therefore an obvious and admitted crime right there in the face of the American people?

Reid: Something everyone has to weigh is this, we’re a nation of laws and no one can dispute that, but I think what we have to, the hurdle we have to get over is whether we want to go after people like Cheney. That’s a decision that has to be made….

Brown: Is it a decision of whether…Isn’t it our obligation if he’s violated the law … ?

Reid: There are a lot of decisions that are made that are right that may not be absolutely totally within the framework of law. For example with President Nixon . . . I mean . . . should he have been impeached or did President Ford do the right thing?….

Reid must have misspoke at the end there, unless he's among the minority of him and Dick Cheney opposed to the impeachment of Richard Nixon. But basically he's opposed to enforcing the law when it comes to people of a certain stature and power. And as Jonathan Turley notes, his idea that we would be "rushing to judgment" because we lack the critical evidence and must wait for a secret Intelligence Committee report headed by DiFi neglects the voluminous amount of material already in the public domain, including videotaped admissions of torture from the principals involved. And that would also include this:

A simple fact is being overlooked in the Bush-era torture scandal: the number of cases in which detainees have been tortured to death. Abuse did not only involve the high-profile cases of smashing detainees into plywood barriers (“walling”), confinement in coffin-like boxes with insects, sleep deprivation, cold, and waterboarding. To date approximately 100 detainees, including CIA-held detainees, have died during U.S. interrogations, and some are known to have been tortured to death.

A review of homicide cases, however, shows that few detainee deaths have been properly investigated. Many were not investigated at all. And no official investigation has looked into the connection between detainee deaths and the interrogation policies promulgated by the Bush administration.

Yet an important report by the Senate Armed Services Committee, declassified in April 2009, explains in clear terms how Bush-era interrogation techniques, including torture, once authorized for CIA high-value detainees, were promulgated to Guantánamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where (as reporter Jason Leopold recently noted at The Public Record) the policies have led to homicides.

The killings, at least some of them, have hardly been kept secret. As early as May-June 2003, The New York Times and Washington Post reported on deaths of detainees in Afghanistan. Two detainees at Bagram air base died after extensive beatings by U.S. troops in December 2002—a case reported by The New York Times and that was also the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side. Another death involved a man beaten to death by a CIA contractor at a base in Asadabad, in eastern Afghanistan, in June 2003.

If Harry Reid, and every Serious Bipartisan Fetishist in the Village, wants to block accountability for "harsh interrogation techniques" or whatever other buzzword they want to use this week, then they also want to hold no one responsible for homicide. These were murders directly coming out of a program of interrogation approved and directed at the highest levels. But according to the Democratic Majority Leader of the Senate, it was the "right" decision.

And thus the law becomes irrelevant.

(h/t reader VM)

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