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

Monday, September 28, 2009

Whining All The Way

The very manly Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee, blessed with the manliest of manliness, have decided to take their toys and go home rather than participate in a probably-toothless study of the CIA torture program, because they're so personally hurt that anyone could be held responsible for lawbreaking.

Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Friday that they will no longer participate in an investigation into the Bush administration's interrogation policies, arguing that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s decision to reexamine allegations of detainee abuse by the CIA would hobble any inquiry [...]

"Had Mr. Holder honored the pledge made by the President to look forward, not backwards, we would still be active participants in the Committee's review," the ranking Republican on the intelligence panel, Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, said in a statement. "What current or former CIA employee would be willing to gamble his freedom by answering the Committee's questions? Indeed, forcing these terror fighters to make this choice is neither fair nor just."

"Terror fighters." That premieres right after 24 on Fox this fall, right? (It's certainly not going to be on after Law And Order.)

I suppose another word you could use in place of "terror fighters" is "murderers," but that would be grossly uncouth and would cause a run on fainting couches in Washington, particularly in the Republican caucus.

I will say that the bravery on display by these Republicans, not seen since the times of Sir Robin, is truly inspiring. They know just how to treat allegations of wrongdoing - with the most studied indifference and, if necessary, outright ignorance. They make me proud to be an American.

The only problem with their strategy is that others will not forget so easily. There are multiple court challenges and civil suits and investigations and FOIA requests. I suppose the defense attorneys in these cases can take the example of the Senate GOP and walk out of the proceedings, but it's unlikely to have the same impact.

I think the next step for Kit Bond and his charges will be to write a minority report, refuting whatever comes from the committee investigation and pressing for expanded CIA powers to, I don't know, pull the fingernails out of suspects in the name of fighting terror. Watch for who leads that minority report authoring, it may be important later.

But there were dissenters. A number of House Republicans on the committee cheered Colonel North on. One who led the way was Dick Cheney of Wyoming, who praised Colonel North as “the most effective and impressive witness certainly this committee has heard.”

Mr. Cheney the congressman believed that Congress had usurped executive prerogatives. He saw the Iran-contra investigation not as an effort to get to the bottom of possible abuses of power but as a power play by Congressional Democrats to seize duties and responsibilities that constitutionally belonged to the president.

At the conclusion of the hearings, a dissenting minority report codified these views. The report’s chief author was a former resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Michael J. Malbin, who was chosen by Mr. Cheney as a member of the committee’s minority staff. Another member of the minority’s legal staff, David S. Addington, is now the vice president’s chief of staff [...]

The report made a point of invoking the framers. It cited snippets from the Federalist Papers — like Alexander Hamilton’s remarks endorsing “energy in the executive” — in order to argue that the president’s long-acknowledged prerogatives had only recently been usurped by a reckless Democratic Congress.

Above all, the report made the case for presidential primacy over foreign relations. It cited as precedent the Supreme Court’s 1936 ruling in United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation, which referred to the “exclusive power of the president as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations.”

History, the report claimed, “leaves little, if any doubt that the president was expected to have the primary role of conducting the foreign policy of the United States.” It went on: “Congressional actions to limit the president in this area therefore should be reviewed with a considerable degree of skepticism. If they interfere with the core presidential foreign policy functions, they should be struck down.”

Maybe they'll just dust off that old report and replace "Iran-Contra" with "torture" and be done with it.

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