Sunday :: May 24, 2009

Waterboarding and Other Matters


by eriposte

For the record, I consider waterboarding to be torture and I am against the use of waterboarding. However, Sean Hannity had volunteered to undergo it and I'm not sure why he is so chicken (cluck-cluck-cluck) that he hasn't followed through on the offer. The reason I bring this up is that another conservative talk show host at least showed a modicum of courage and conviction to subject himself to it and the results were, um, predictable. He could barely survive even a few seconds of it. Via TPM Muckraker, here is the video of Eric "Mancow" Muller subjecting himself to waterboarding and declaring within a few seconds of the experience that this was "absolute torture".

Talking of torture and a host of other issues, Digby has a great post "Get 'Mo Gitmo" discussing the Villagers exalted views of the Obama administration's terrible adoption of many of the same policies of the Bush administration. She has this tentative transcript quoting Charlie Savage on MSNBC. Savage continues to be one of the best journalists today and I would assign a lot of weight to his observations (emphasis mine):

Charlie Savage: Don't believe the hype. There is very little daylight between what the Obama administration is doing and what the Bush administration is doing, especially in its last four years in power. Both Obama and Cheney seem to be setting up situations that there's this vast gulf between them and it's just not true. On military commissions, on indefinite detentions without trial, on predator drone strikes, on CIAs extraordinary rendition program, on warrantless wiretapping, the key elements of the Bush counter terrorism policy have now been embraced, with some tweaks, by the Obama administration.

The exceptions are, the Obama administration has shut down CIA prisons where the red cross was not allowed to visit and he has said we are not going to have this regime of coercive interrogations, which seems to be the thing which vice president Cheney is most upset about. But really
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Harwood: but Charlie, you are saying that 130 million voters were fooled by our choice last November?

Savage: Well, to finish the thought on the interrogations, the Bush administration dropped the coercive interrogation program around 2004, 2005. They didn't waterboard anyone after March of '03, so the sense that now Obama has changed something that put us at risk makes little sense in light of that history.

But that doesn't mean that there is not a big difference between Obama and Cheney. It's just not the one that they're talking about. The big difference is that Vice President Cheney has a big investment in a vast conception of the president's theoretical power as commander in chief to bypass laws and treaties at his discretion to protect national security. And Obama does not seem to have that ideological stake. Obama thinks the congress can pass laws that the president has to obey. But once congress has done that, Obama seems perfectly willing to exercise these same sorts of programs with these same powers
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Digby also has this video from TPM, to which she adds:

And as to the torture regime and whether or not Cheney is correct in saying that Obama has "reserved for himself" the right to torture despite his promises, you be the judge:

P.S. Um, Peter, I know that Obama is continuing some of the same policies that Bush had, and many of us are not happy about it and will continue to speak out against it. Unlike the Bush cheerleader-era, we don't intend to be cheerleaders for bad policies just because the person we supported happens to be in the White House.

eriposte :: 9:38 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!