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White House Cheat Sheet: Obama's Tough Call on Torture



President Obama faces a tough decision on how to handle the use of harsh interrogation tactics during the previous administration. AP Photo by Gerald Hebert.

President Obama finds himself in a difficult political position with regard to the harsh treatment of prisoners during the Bush administration -- stuck between his own natural inclination to look forward and focus on the struggling economy and a Democratic base that believes strongly that congressional hearings and prosecutions are a necessity.

Obama and his senior aides spent much of the last week trying to quell the controversy over how best to deal with the repercussions caused by the release of four C.I.A. memos that detailed the techniques used to elicit information from prisoners.

They failed in that effort as the weekend's newspapers and talk shows were filled with opinions on what Obama must do to make this situation right.

At issue for Obama is that the base of his party, which helped him beat Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary and then Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the general election, sees the prosecution of those involved in the interrogations through a moral, not a political, lens.

Take Arianna Huffington who, on her eponymous news site, recently penned a piece in which she described Obama's decision on what to do about the interrogations a "defining moment for America."

In an email exchange with the Fix over the weekend, Huffington argued that Obama will make the wrong decision if he "frames the issue in terms of right vs. left, the base vs. the Republicans." She added: "The minute he frames this as right vs. wrong, he will know what to do."

The moral clarity the Democratic base brings to the issue is not shared broadly in the country, according to a new survey by the Washington Post and ABC News.

Asked whether Obama should "investigate whether any laws were broken in the way terrorism suspects were treated under the Bush administration," 51 percent favored such an investigation while 47 percent opposed it.

In an even more revealing -- and fascinating -- piece of data, when asked whether they opposed torture of terrorists under any circumstances, 49 percent of the sample said they did while 48 percent said that there were "cases in which the United States should consider torture against terrorism suspects."

Republicans are clearly ready to draw up the battle lines on the issue -- believing that any sort of trial or truth commission would weaken an alienate the intelligence community in the country.

"I think that would be a stab in the back," said Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) during an interview on "Fox News Sunday" when asked about the possibility of prosecutions. "I think [Obama] has already demoralized the CIA, put them in a CYA mode."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) argued that Obama had already missed his opportunity to exert leadership on the issue by backtracking on his administration's initial opposition to any sort of hearings or prosecutions.

"The pressure from the anti-American left rattled him and he opened Pandora's box," said Gingrich. "He would have to make another 180 degree turn and slam the lid back on the box to cut off the coming disaster."

Given the heat of that rhetoric, it's not hard to imagine the sort of political fight that would ensue if Obama decides to allow the potential prosecution of those involved in the interrogation of terrorists.

On the other hand, if Obama decides not to move forward with either some sort of truth commission or congressional hearings on the interrogations, the reaction in the Democratic base is sure to be swift and negative.

What will Obama do? What should he do?

One former Democratic elected official who has followed the machinations over the issue closely said that while a "no" to an investigation will stir up the base, a "yes will prolong this controversy, which can only hurt him."

Added the source: "The politics aren't even close on this one but only if he decisively and definitively closes the door."

What To Watch For:

Monday's Fix Picks: We miss Tony Kornheiser's radio show. Especially on Mondays.

1. The new Washington Post poll (and what it means).
2. The conservative base is mad as hell and, well, you know the rest.
3. Ryan "Don't Call Me Chris Cil-" Lizza profiles OMB chief Peter Orszag.
4. Swine flu!
5. Bea Arthur: RIP.

Majority Says Coleman Should Quit: Nearly two-thirds of Minnesotans in a new Star Tribune poll believe that former Sen. Norm Coleman (R) should concede in his prolonged election fight against Democrat Al Franken. Less than three in ten (28 percent) said that Coleman's decision to appeal the unanimous ruling of a three judge state panel to the Minnesota Supreme Cort was "appropriate." As we have written before, Coleman's unwillingness to step aside -- even as he continues to trail Franken by just over 300 votes -- has the potential to negatively impact his political career, turning him into a sore loser in the eyes of Minnesota voters. The new Strib poll showed just 38 percent view Coleman favorably while 55 percent see him in an unfavorable light. Despite those numbers, Coleman shows no signs of dropping his appeal, and it now looks like the seat will be vacant through the summer.

Spinning the 100 Days: Two days before President Obama travels to St. Louis for a town hall and then returns to Washington for this third primetime press conference to commemorate his 100th day in office, the Democratic National Committee is out with a memo designed to set the scene. "While the 100 days mark is arbitrary, it does represent a point of reflection," wrote DNC executive director Jen O'Malley Dillon, touting Obama's record on the economy and job creation among other things. The memo also continues Democrats' effort to label Republicans as the "party of no." Writes O'Malley: "Not only has the GOP said no to virtually everything the President has proposed, they have offered no new ideas and no new leaders after two consecutive elections where both their policies, and the politicians in their party advocating for them, were roundly rejected." Republicans have yet to find an effective counter to that messaging, rushing out a budget plan and struggling to find a megaphone that matches the one available to Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

Click It!: Ever wonder what it would be like to drop everything and spend a month or two driving around and across America with your wife and two beagles? Us too. Well, former Post.com big shot -- and Fix friend -- Jim Brady is doing just that, spending his 50th straight day on the road Sunday with his wife (Joan) and his dogs (Fred and Hank). Brady is writing a daily blog of the journey that reads a part travelogue, part restaurant/hotel guide and part soul-uplifting narrative of the essential goodness of people in this country. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Van Hollen Sends Wolff Off in Style: Outgoing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee executive director Brian Wolff got quite the send off last Friday when venture capitalist Scott Murphy (D) finally won the special election in New York's 20th district. In an internal email touting the victory, DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen (Md.) praised Wolff's "tenacity and strategic smarts" and wished him well in his new gig -- as a lobbyist for the Edison Electric Institute.

Best iPhone Apps: The list rolls on. Have apps of your own you wanted to suggest? Do it on "The Fix" Twitter feed. Your three for the day: Newsstand, Photogene, Flick Fishing.

Say What?: "I'm not sitting on it." -- Vice President Biden on, well, being Joe Biden during an interview on "60 Minutes".

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 27, 2009; 6:05 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet  | Tags: CIA, Obma, torture Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Murphy Wins NY-20
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Comments

I don't understand why people are so upset by this, just because it's the 21st century, and most of the world is focused on civility and peace, doesn't mean that we shouldn't recognize, and appreciate the threat from those organizations that don't. Al-queda's mission is to destroy western society, and everything it stands for. Do you value your life at all? If you do, you would see people like Bin Laden as your enemy, given the chance he would kill eveyone in America, and Europe, and he has shown that he has the capacity to carry out his plans. The people being tortured were not random people off the street, and it wasn't done because CIA was trying to violate the rights of peaceful, freedom-loving people, they were torturing someone who wants to kill you. Yes they want you dead. They want every one of us dead.
Do u remember what happened on 9/11? There would have been many more attacks after that but CIA did what it had to do to learn about those plans. Sure it's regretable that it causes another human pain, that please and thank you dont work, but what is the pain of a terrorist compared to the collapse of our society? I'm not exaggerating, war is war no matter what century you are in. They fight dirty, I'm not saying we should sink to their level, but we shouldn't be afraid to get a little dirty.
The people being tortured were terrorists, they are not loyal American citizens, they are actively trying to destroy us. We must stop them, and defend what we believe in. Whenever you are asked to picture a place in the world where great evil is being or has been committed, people think of Darfur, Rwanda, the Holocaust, if they are succesful, our world will be just like that. I much prefer the disaster Bush left to what they will leave

Posted by: Iloveliberty | May 3, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Most Republicans by opposing prosecutions for human rights abuses during the Bush-Cheney regime show how far the party has drifted from standing for moral values, the rule of law and human rights abroad. Unfortunately the Obama administration by agreeing with the amoral majority GOP opinions about this issue is showing acute timidity, a failure of moral leadership and is dismissive of the rule of law.

The United States may never have any credibility in criticizing human rights abuses in other countries after the torture policies of the previous administration and the Obama administration retroactively, in effect, legalizing the torture, human rights abuses, by refusing to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing.

The perverse "logic" of those who want to move forward and avoid punishment for human rights abuses comes close to suggesting the absurd notion most or all crimes should be forgiven.

Future administrations inclined to enact torture and human rights abuses will be more likely to do so, if prosecutions are not pursued by the Obama administration.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | April 27, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse


yes

but if king falls in a forest, no one cares

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

If a crazy cat lady bays at the moon and no one responds, does it make a sound?

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 27, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

drindl: ain't that the truth....

not only on the health front but remember the wonderful First Responders Act under Bush.
Never funded appropriately.
The idea of a first responder in arizona is that someone shows up in an orange vest (like a crossing guard) with a bandaid!
Funny thing.....money came into the state for it. But of course, instead of training, equiping and funding the program, they all got new SUVs.

see

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"Famously, Maine Senator Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus, fumed about the pandemic funding: "Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill No, we should not."

Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate's version of the stimulus measure.

The Republicans essentially succeeded. State and local governments, and the emergency services that would necessarily be on the frontlines in any effort to contain a pandemic, got nothing."

Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

yes, the wingers are trying to blame the flu epidemic on dems. amazing, isn't it?

davide vitter stripped funding for flu out of the budget -- a guy who knows a lot about 'stripping.'

"Given the recent outbreak of swine flu, Sen. Susan Collins's (R-ME) push to strip funding for pandemic flu preparedness is looking increasingly shortsighted. But Collins was not the first to campaign against the provision. Indeed, several days prior to Collins's public push, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced an amendment that would have stripped, among other things, the flu funding provision. In arguing for his amendment on the floor of the senate, Vitter apparently couldn't fathom how pandemic preparedness could possibly serve to protect the economy, calling it part of a "laundry list of...big government spending items":

Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

"Now why would anyone be dumb enough to respond to the obviously uneducated and child-like simpleton that signs herself 'drindl'? The poor thing has been caught so many times making up her own facts and lying, that to believe anything she claims would be lowering oneself to her level. It's best to not pay any attention to her, because that's what the poor thing craves."

Projection at work as usual for the winger cultists. Remember that they are ALWAYS guilty of what they accuse you of.

Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

This torture poll doesn't tell the full story. As Chris wrote, "48 percent said that there were 'cases in which the United States should consider torture against terrorism suspects.'"

The words "cases" and "consider" are too "what if" -- too Hollywood, too Jack Bauer. It's really asking: "If torturing a suspect would save an American city, would you support it?"

Who wouldn't support saving an American city? But most of us have no idea how torture works or how effective it is. Can you really save an American city by torturing one guy?

You'd get a different story if you asked people: "In general, do you support the use of torture by the U.S." I think the number would be lower than 48%.

Posted by: dognabbit | April 27, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Right vs. Wrong ever comes up in the W.H.'s internal position debates (if they actally debate anything).

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 27, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse


wait a second here...

are you people actually trying to tell us that President Obama is at fault for people getting this swine flu?

Love it....hey...
get sick, blame the white house.

come on repulsives....
trying to find something on Barack is really really getting old...to the point that you are comin' off very
..illogical

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Through the Looking Glas we go once more:

In Winger World, America is the shining beacon of liberty and freedom to a world in darkness, so of course we need to torture people in order to demonstrate our commitment to those values.

In Winger World, any American who stands up for the American values of liberty and freedom by opposing torture is anti-American, while those who promote torture are patriotic Americans.

In Winger World, Al Gore was a sore loser for conceding his defeat after weeks of legal wrangling, while Norm Coleman is standing up for his rights by not conceding his defeat after months of legal wrangling.

In Winger World, it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the Obama Administration for wanting to spend money on pandemic preparation, and then criticize the Obama Administration for not being prepared when the pandemic arrives.

In Winger World, it's OK for patriotic Americans to demonstrate their love for America by advocating that their state secede from America.

In Winger World, their New God, Ronald Reagan, was perfect in all things, so there will be no acknowledgement that he signed the Convention Against Torture.

In Winger World, torture is whatever they say it is, and anyone who questions that is only helping the terrorists.

In Winger World, publicly acknowledging the ways in which people were tortured by the USA endangers our safety by telling our enemies how we abused detainees, because, naturally, none of the people who have been released from our custody said a word about what went on during their years of incarceration.

In Winger World, everything is President Obama's fault, and no further discussion is necessary. Unless, of course, it's to inflict further scorn and hate upon President Obama.

In Winger World, America needs to suffer and fail so that the Wingers may prosper.

No wonder these people can't be taken seriously.

Posted by: WaitingForGodot | April 27, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

DHS SECRETARY NAPOLITANO:

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR FUSION CENTERS ARE REALLY DOING...

...USING TELECOMMUNICATIONS TO HARASS AND CENSOR U.S. CITIZENS?

• Apparent prime offenders: Fusion centers in Southeastern PA


Can't seem to access, or post to, certain web sites -- especially, political sites?

Do cookie "blocks" show up in your "preferences" list, even though you didn't request a block, thus preventing you from access?

Are the functions of your computer "hijacked" by third-party remote computing software?

Are you prevented from fully viewing government public documents downloaded from the internet?

Are you blocked from making posts to certain web sites -- seemingly based on the content of your post, receiving messages like "you must be logged on to leave a comment" when the screen shows you've already logged on?

When you post, do typos, spelling errors and other anomalies appear in your comments -- even though you carefully proofread the submission?

You could be the unwitting victim of government "fusion centers" that apparently are using internet "filtering" and realtime remote computing surveillance to censor and maliciously interfere with the telecommunications of American citizens.

Please see this running account of an apparently "targeted" journalist and his quest to exercise his First Amendment right of free speech, and his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of telecommunications.

http://blog.aclu.org/2009/01/26/internet-filters-voluntary-ok-not-government-mandate

Then demand that American Civil Liberties Union renew its fight against warrantless government spying by filing a class-action suit against unconstitutional surveillance and malicious interference with personal and business telecommunications.

Recently, while reading the ACLU blog, this reporter learned of the Bush-Cheney "doctrine" of "ideological exclusion" -- apparently used to bar political "activists" from abroad from visiting the United States.

Could authoritarian bureaucrats be using this doctrine as a justification to censor political speech in this country?

If you suspect the answer is "yes," please add your account to the free speech thread cited above!


http://nowpublic.com/world/govt-fusion-center-spying-pretext-harass-and-censor

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 27, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Now why would anyone be dumb enough to respond to the obviously uneducated and child-like simpleton that signs herself 'drindl'? The poor thing has been caught so many times making up her own facts and lying, that to believe anything she claims would be lowering oneself to her level. It's best to not pay any attention to her, because that's what the poor thing craves.

Posted by: armpeg | April 27, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

To all the Democrap Socialists and Bozo Obama worshippers here who are re-writing history about tortures only being done by President George W. Bush and his administration: The president who STARTED the USA's NSA's Rendition Program, and used it thruout his 8 years in office was Democrap Bill Clinton.
To all who don't know what the Rendition Program was all about, here it is: Our NSA and CIA sent all captured and/or suspected terrorists to other countries, primarily Egypt and JORDAN (the country one dope here claimed 'did not torture'), for "special interrogation". These types of interrogations could be done in these countries were the kind that couldn't be done here in the USA, because the ACLU and other similar human rights groups would have raised holy hell about it. This NSA Rendition Program that was classified and kept secret truout Bill Clintons term, was made public knowledge by the treasonous New York Times only when George W. Bush became president, surprise, surprise.

Posted by: armpeg | April 27, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

gee armpeg, just how dumb are you?

The flu disaster lies squarely in the lap of republicans. they were the ones who screamed to cut funding for flu preparedness. Christ, is every one in your party as big a dolt and authoritarian cultist as you??

Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Get real Chris, Bozo Obama and the Democrap Socialists are clueless of what to do. They made all kinds of campaign promises to get elected, and now that they've conned the American people to elect them, they've no idea what to do, or how to do it.
On a side note: It's a good thing that the Swine Flue outbreak happened under Bozo Obama's watch and not under GWB's. GWB would have gotten crucified once again, as he was in the Katrina Hurricane disaster, had it happened under his. Bozo Obama has the MSM in his hip-pocket who did everthing they could to elect him, so he'll get no blame no matter what happens, or how many Americans die from it.

Posted by: armpeg | April 27, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

king---call your own state's health dept. and laboratory.


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

and more stinking hypocrisy:

"Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who was last making headlines for suggesting that Texas may consider seceding from the Union, is requesting help from the federal government to deal with a possible swine flu pandemic:

Gov. Rick Perry today in a precautionary measure requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide 37,430 courses of antiviral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile to Texas to prevent the spread of swine flu. Currently, three cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Texas.

According to a recent DailyKos/Research 2000 poll, "37% of Texans and 51% of Lone Star Republicans agree with Gov. Rick Perry’s recent suggestion that Texas may need to leave the United States. ... Imagine the outcries of patriotism (or lack thereof) if Massachusetts or New York hinted at secession during the Bush years," writes NBC's Mark Murray. And imagine how Texas would deal with the swine flu without federal assistance."

Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

once again, zouk blames democrats for what republicans actually did:

even after they're out of office, republicans continue to methodically destroy this country:

"On February 5, Karl Rove took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to argue against President Obama's Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act because, in his view, the spending was not targeted to create or preserve jobs. In particular, Rove complained about the fact that the bill included "$900 million for pandemic flu preparations." He contended that such spending was unnecessary because the health care sector "added jobs last year."

Rep. David Obey (D-WI) included the pandemic preparation funding in the package because he believed "that a pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn could turn a recession into something far worse." But Rove was not concerned with the actual substance of the funding.

Rather, as Paul Krugman explained at the time, in attempting to oppose and discredit the economic recovery package, conservatives in the media and Republicans in congress aligned themselves around a strategy that amounted to "snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny." Unfortunately, this "snickering" at funding priorities had very real impacts."

Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

jfern:
(((hearty laughs))

you gave me swine flue, so i have to kill and torture you!!

we have someone here in arizona called Sheriff Joe Arapio. He just may do that.
He's pretty ruthless with no morals.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

The Messiah has no clothes:

As flu hits, holes in W.H. health team
Anybody home? A headless CDC, no Surgeon General and nobody running Health and Human Resources is not helpful.

Too busy running the economy into the ground??

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 27, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

when you allow Grinch to run your political ops this is what you get. The right thing to do is the right thing to do... if you prosecuted Lindy England and Charles Graner you can not allow CIA yuppie scum to rule the day. Screw the polls, in 4 years if the repugnots return to power because they have economically screwed us all, they will go right back to torture.... evil doers can't help it. They hear voices.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | April 27, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"Why do you claim that

"At issue for Obama is that the base of his party... sees the prosecution of those involved in the interrogations through a moral, NOT A POLITICAL, lens"? [emphasis provided]."

This doesn't strike me as particularly insightful. Do voters ever look at things through political lenses?

Posted by: DDAWD | April 27, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"Republicans are clearly ready to draw up the battle lines on the issue -- believing that any sort of trial or truth commission would weaken an alienate the intelligence community in the country."

Nonsense. What they beieive is that some of them might actually have to pay for the war crimes they knowingly committed.


Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"The moral clarity the Democratic base brings to the issue is not shared broadly in the country, according to a new survey by the Washington Post and ABC News.

Asked whether Obama should "investigate whether any laws were broken in the way terrorism suspects were treated under the Bush administration," 51 percent favored such an investigation while 47 percent opposed it."

What are you talking abuot, CC? A CLEAR majority favors an investigation. What about that do you not understand?

Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

It is possible that Americans object to torture now for the same reason they tolerated it for the last eight years: fashion.

We knew it was going on all along. But we had given Bush and Cheney a free pass, as evidenced by the abject compliance of the Democratic leadership, even after 2006.

Once the economy tanked, fashion changed.
It is possible that Americans flat do not care about torture or, for that matter, lies about foreign wars as long as the economy seems okay.

Posted by: BobT3 | April 27, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

King Abdullah of Jordan looked marvelous!
He is wonderful, isn't he?
He was on Meet the Press....David Gregory was a bit rough on him with some questions.
Criminey, the guy is a KING David..lighten up.
BTW
Jordan does not torture.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Chris for the link to the politico story about the continued veering to the 'base' by the GOP. I find it very frightening, after watching the RNC, and McCain/Palin rallies, and the teabag party's recently, that the GOP is going to increase the level of division, thinking that's how they are going to win back power. Other than enviro terrorist, the far left hasn't had or done any domestic terrosim since the '70's. The far right can lay claim to JFK,RFK,MLK assainations, Waco, Ruby Ridge, abortion clinic bombings, Unibomber, the two men from Tenn. that were going to shoot blacks on their way to DC to asssainate Obama, and let's never forget, Oklahoma City. And yet the GOP is the party that says they're strong on national security. Apparently, the exception is domestic terrorism. My apologies, I forgot about the assaination attempt on Reagan by a delusional man, without political associations or motives.

Posted by: katem1 | April 27, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm just glad Cheney isn't in power, otherwise we would be torturing Mexicans to find out where the Swine Flu is going next.

Should read: I'm just glad Cheney isn't in power, otherwise we would be torturing Mexicans to force a confession about Iran or North Korea's Swine Flu connection.

Posted by: jfern03 | April 27, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

It's either going to be that we clean our own house, while the world watches...

...or we allow outside nations or bodies, to hold War Crimes trials. The evidence is overwhelming for them to do so. They are patiently waiting to see what we do - or don't do.

Pick your poison. Our own hearings and investigations? -or- International War Crimes trials.

I'm just glad Cheney isn't in power, otherwise we would be torturing Mexicans to find out where the Swine Flu is going next.

Posted by: jfern03 | April 27, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine the sickening howls from the "anti-american right" had a democratic president authorized torture against the advice of the experts?, let alone had a democratic president lied about an affair?
Oh, wait... they impeached Clinton over a sexcapade? ...but breaking the Geneva Convention and torturing... not a problem?

The Right are the ones that have the most to lose, and they know it. The more exposure this gets, the lower GOP numbers go, so they are trying like mad fiends to "muddy" the topic by saying it's all political.

It's not just that torture was commited, but that part of the reason that torture went into effect was to coerce Iraqis to confess to something that never ever existed, but was essential for Cheney to demonstrate... that Hussein had a hand in 9/11. Cheney knew his story was flaky - and even with torture - he never got that confession from anyone.

...and what about the 100 or so people that died under these torture directives?

Posted by: jfern03 | April 27, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

who wouldn't remember their first time with Chris Cilliza? He is smoking hot!!!

Posted by: tctexas | April 27, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

good call, parkerfl1, even Republican stawarts like McCain and Graham have critsized the Bush Ad. fopr this and said we must follow the rule of law, but for some reason these two GOPer's weren't mentioned in the story. Because they are prominent GOPers and McCain has great credibility on torture, it amazes me that they weren't mentioned.

Posted by: katem1 | April 27, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

anti-american left--
it's an oxymoron, isn't it?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

When Newt Gingrich uses terms like, "anti-American left," he hurts his cause. I can't see Gingrich as objective when he so casually dismisses an entire segment of passionate American citizens.

Posted by: dognabbit | April 27, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

today i woke up with a vision of, i believe it was, a Private....
Maupin.
Yeah, it was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.
Private Maupin was on television with
a black hood over his face, hands tied behind him, and about 3 hooded, gun toting Muslim extremists all around him....
or is that Islamic extremists?
wait, or is that misinterpretation of the Islamice religion?

oh heck, i forgot......
they found Private Maupin's head and body something like 6 months later wasn't it?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who condoned, justified or 'legalized' torture, rendition, indefinite imprisonment without trial and warrantless spying must be brought to justice.
There is no alternative if we expect to regain our standing among the nations of laws.

Posted by: dsigeorge | April 27, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Bush-Cheney- spawned...

COVERT EXTRAJUDICIAL HOMELAND TORTURE: An American Disgrace Hiding in Plain Sight

ATTENTION TEAM OBAMA:

Bush-Cheney- spawned torture is NOT just a foreign affair.

The "Extrajudicial Punishment Network" it created or expanded enables local citizen vigilantes affiliated with federally-funded volunteer community policing and public safety groups to stalk, harass, terrorize -- and YES, torture.

With microwave radiation "directed energy weapons" -- apparently OK'ed for use on detainees AND U.S. citizens by still-secret Bush "torture memos."

This "American Gestapo" has co-opted and corrupted local law enforcement nationwide -- a grassroots-based authoritarian apparatus "hiding in plain sight."

And a related array of secret "programs of personal destruction" service the end goals of an authoritarian shadow government...

... a social "politicide" that is neutralizing and marginalizing untold thousands, perhaps millions, of unjustly "targeted" American citizens.

Please, White House staff, read this. Your Bush holdovers already know all about it.

What have they told YOU?


http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
http://nowpublic.com/world/bush-torture-memos-oked-radiation-weapon-use-americans-too

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 27, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

parkerfl1, you nailed. It doesn't matter what the Prez does about this or anything else, he will be critisized by the right. And when all we see in print, as in this article, is the GOP side actually attributed to someone, while anything from the left is supposition on Chris's part, and not attributed to any one Dem. Of course it's not mentioned how horrendous it is that the Prez is even put in this position by the Bush/Cheney administration. If prosecution for this can't be done, each state's AG is able to prosecute Bush for murder, as in soldiers killed in Iraq,evidence being from Bush's speeches, statements, memos, co-horts, etc...The prosecution's case is laid out in the book, The Prosecution of George W Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi, Manson's prosecutor. No statute of limitations on murder, and each state that has lost soldiers can prosecute.

Posted by: katem1 | April 27, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

""The pressure from the anti-American left rattled him and he opened Pandora's box', said Gingrich."

The unhinged right, with their denunciations of anything related to President Obama being driven to screams for secession, has the nerve to call others whom they disagree with "anti-American"? The only anti-Americans I have seen are Dick Cheney, Gingrich, Rick Perry, and the related ilk. They would rather fracture the country than to accept that the Democratic POTUS has an agenda far from the right-wing lunacy we were accustomed to for TOO long.

Posted by: profyle424 | April 27, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Why do you claim that

"At issue for Obama is that the base of his party... sees the prosecution of those involved in the interrogations through a moral, NOT A POLITICAL, lens"? [emphasis provided].

McC sees this as a moral issue. If he were Prez, and his AG prosecuted former policy makers, as Ford's did, there would be an argument and perception that the decision was not base politics. If Ds prosecute Rs the "political" lens is unavoidable. Huffington may not see this because she is blinded by her political lens. Frank Rich wrote an historically accurate column in the NYT yesterday that unwittingly emphasized the politicization of the issue.

The remedy for misconduct by a Prez or VP is impeachment or failure to gain reelection. That part is over.

Some lawyers may be a sanctioned. Some more courts martial may ensue. But I understand why BHO wants this bottled up in closed Intelligence Committee hearings this year.

Andy, "what you wrote", too!

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 27, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Investingating the issue of Torture is only going to be worth anything if the President is ready and willing to allow the US congress indict President Bush. Prosecuting Justice department lawyers or CIA officials would be blaming and punishing people who were following orders from the highest possible legal authority in our country.

And as much as I find what they did to be repulsive, since the President deemed it to be within the law and in accordance with our treaties the people who performed the acts should be protected from prosecution. Now President Bush on the other hand is to blame for this and if the US Congress is so inclined they have all the right in the world to investigate Bush. If that happens they will force Obama to pardon him, which has long been an unspoken rule between presidents (ie Ford/Nixon). Either way this is a lose-lose for the Democrats and I expect to see the White House put a lid on this real quickly.

Posted by: AndyR3 | April 27, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

The vocal criticism from the right on torture doesn't matter, not to Obama and not to the majority of the American people. It's about balancing the demands of the Democratic base with moderate realities.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 27, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

""The pressure from the anti-American left rattled him and he opened Pandora's box', said Gingrich."

Has anyone bothered to ask Mr. Gingrich what is anti-American about being opposed to torture? It seems to me that opposition to torture is consistent with American values - and my guess is former President Reagan must have agreed; after all, he signed the UN convention opposed to torture.

Having said that, Congress seems to be willing to take the lead on investigating just how torture became our government's policy. Let them appoint a commission to look into this, then President Obama can concentrate on the myriad of other problems the country faces (courtesy of the amoral idiots who ran the government for most of the decade).

Posted by: -pamela | April 27, 2009 7:14 AM | Report abuse

I figure I'm one of these oft-described Base Democrats.

I am with Obama on this: there is nothing to be gained for this country by inestigating the use of torture during the Bush administration with an eye towards prosecution. It *will* perpetuate the division the decision to use torture caused. It *will* bog down our national government just as we are getting traction out of the unbelievable mess the previous administration left us in. It *will* cost the Democrats political currency that could be better used elsewhere.

As POTUS, Obama understands that any president lives in danger of making a wrong choice when his country is under attack.

Vengence looks like fun, but we'd do better to say "never again" to A LOT of what the Bush administration did (torture, unilateral war, invading countries on bad information, indiscriminate swaggering, saying political decisions are moral decisions, ad infinitum)and move forward.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | April 27, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

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