Apparently George Stephanopoulos just can't wrap his head around the idea that the lawyers who wrote the newly released memos might have done it to sanction torture. What other reason does he think they could have possibly had for writing them? And in response Matt Dowd says that those on the left just want to punish people. Heaven forbid anyone might want us to be a country of laws and one that doesn't sanction torture. No, it just has to be about revenge to him.
From CNN's Realiable Sources. Joan Walsh tries to get through to David Frum and Chris Cillizza that public opinion polls and whether anyone can claim that torturing prisoners "worked" or not do not matter.
WALSH: You know, I couldn't disagree more with my friend Chris. This is not a "he said/she said" situation. This is torture. Torture is illegal. We don't sit here, Howie, and say he said murder is illegal, but she said, well, sometimes murder's not so bad. These are clear matters of law.
Ronald Reagan signed the 1988 U.N. Convention Against Torture where we committed ourselves to prosecuting people who torture. It's the law. It's super clear. It's not a partisan witch hunt or a "she said/he said" situation.
KURTZ: David Frum.
FRUM: It's not super clear, because the key piece of information people need, most people need to make a decision, is missing. Look, there's a hard core of civil libertarians who will say, I don't care whether this contributed to the defense of the country. Forget it, we won't do it, even if it means Americans die. And then there are some people who say, I support the president no matter what.
But most people want to know, did this contribute to the nation's safety? If so, we'll come to one judgment. If it was wasteful, as it's sometimes alleged, and achieved nothing, then we all condemn it. That's the thing we need to know, and that's the thing we don't know. That's the missing piece in all the reportage.
WALSH: No, it's illegal, whether it works or not. It's illegal whether it works or not, David.
FRUM: Well, as I said, there's a small minority who would feel like Joan does.
WALSH: Oh, really?
FRUM: Most people want to know, did it -- and that is the missing or the contradicted piece. We don't have a clear answer to that question.
WALSH: It doesn't matter.
CILLIZZA: Howie, I just want to...
CILLIZZA: Joan, just real quickly, I just want to point out, in our poll that came our this morning, 49 percent of people said no torture under any circumstances; 48 percent, in some special circumstances, depending on the information. That's not my opinion.
WALSH: But Chris, the point is it's illegal. In what instance does it matter that 80 percent of Americans would like to murder Dick Cheney? Does that -- would that make it legal? It's not a matter of opinion. It's law.
Full transcript below the fold.
Carl Levin shoots down Kit Bond over the Republicans Johnny-come-lately dissent to the Senate Armed Services Committee report and the release of more pictures of abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bond: First Carl I would say that there's a very strong dissent from five members of your committee who said that your report was fallacious, it's counter productive and your report itself was the one that offers the greatest opportunity for negative publicity and the high level abusive techniques that you talk about.
Levin: I've got to answer that one thing because I'm chairman of the committee. There was no objection to this report. Seven Republicans were there when we voted on it. Not one dissented. We had months and months of opportunity for any dissenting views. That's the report. It's a unanimous report of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham and other Republicans specifically were there when this approved. Had every opportunity to file a dissent. Did not do that and it seems to me that it is clearly the action of a bi-partisan Senate Armed Services Committee.
So they now a few Republicans to say they disagree. They've got a right to do so but they had an opportunity which they didn't use.
Carl Levin draws the torture line from Gitmo to Abu Ghraib and blames Bush administration officials including Donald Rumsfeld, who authorized torture and passed it around.
Levin: and so the threat to our troops came when these techniques, these abuse and coercive techniques were authorized by top level administration officials, Rumsfeld specifically authorized these kinds of techniques; nudity, use of dog handlers. In Guantanamo, they went directly to Abu Ghraib. Our bi-partisan report, 200 page report directly connects the authorization for the use of these techniques in Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib. That is what endangers our troops.
And a typical practice by Bush apologists to to attack the messenger which is Carl Levin and the SASC report. It passed in committee without any dissents with all Republicans signing off on it, but now we have the disgraceful Kit Bonds of the right lying about the report openly. And when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others embraced torture---they brought all this negative publicity on themselves and shame to our country.
Bob Baer, a former CIA officer visits the set of Real Time and explains why torture doesn't work and why waterboarding is torture. Baer also notes that we haven't even seen the worst of what happened because there are ninety two CIA cases that were destroyed because what was in them was so horrific.
It's very annoying that we still have to bring people out to explain over and over again that waterboarding is torture and "torture is bad.
We have to blame the media on this in reality because torture apologists will do and say anything to cloud the truth, but the media endlessly debates the same things over and over again. It's settled law and has been settled for decades. Torture is illegal and torture is a crime.
From Bill Moyers Journal April 24, 2009.
Like thunderheads roiling on the horizon, the clamor has been building as more and more Americans want to know exactly what, and who, brought on the worst economic crisis since the great depression. What happened and how do we keep it from happening again?
Congress has finally acknowledged the outcry and is supporting some 21st century version of the "Pecora hearings."
"Pecora hearings?" That's right, as in Ferdinand Pecora, the savvy immigrant from Sicily who became a Manhattan prosecutor with a memory for facts and figures that proved the undoing of a Wall Street banking world gone berserk with greed and fraud.
In the early 1930's, during the Great Depression, and under threat of subpoena, one tycoon after another, including J.P. Morgan Jr., was hauled before the Senate Banking Committee and grilled by Pecora, the committee's chief counsel.
Here he is on the cover of TIME Magazine in June 1933. "Wealth on Trial" reads the headline inside, where Pecora is described in ethnic stereotypes of the day as "The kinky-haired, olive-skinned, jut-jawed lawyer from Manhattan." To their shock, pompous financiers, unaccustomed to having their actions or integrity questioned by anyone, much less some pipsqueak legalist making $255 a month, were no match for his cross examination.
The revelations of the Pecora hearings and the public's anger led to sweeping reform, reining in the high-handed, free-wheeling banking industry. Those reforms stabilized our financial world for half a century, until the titans of finance and friendly politicians began to dismantle them.
Ferdinand Pecora, your time has come again. Your biography is being written by this man, Michael Perino. A scholar of Law and Securities Regulation, Michael teaches at St. John's University here in New York, and has been an advisor to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the government agency that was created because of the Pecora investigation.
And, returning to the JOURNAL is Simon Johnson, former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund who now teaches at MIT's Sloan School of Management. Just this week Simon Johnson co-founded "The Hearing," a new economics blog at washingtonpost.com.
Transcript below the fold.
From The Cafferty File April 24, 2009.
It seems like some Republicans still haven’t realized that they lost big-time last November because the American people are sick and tired of their style of politics. And here’s Exhibit A: a conservative faction of the Republican National Committee wants the party to brand Democrats as Socialists.
Politico reports RNC member James Bopp, Jr. of Indiana is accusing President Obama of wanting to restructure American society along socialist ideals, saying: “Just as President Reagan’s identification of the Soviet Union as the evil ‘empire’ galvanized opposition to Communism, we hope that the accurate depiction of the Democrats as a Socialist Party will galvanize opposition to their march to Socialism.”
16 RNC members agreed to the resolution and are petitioning Chairman Michael Steele to set a special meeting to consider it. An RNC spokesman wouldn’t say what Steele thinks about all this, but a memo from earlier this month suggests that while he agrees with hardliners who say the president is leading the country toward socialism, he’s probably not going to make it official party policy.
And it’s not just Democrats who they’re after — Bopp also wanted to criticize the three Republicans who supported the stimulus package: Senators Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. But that effort was apparently watered down — the resolution instead praises those in the party who have opposed bailouts and Democratic spending plans.
Several Republicans threw around the “socialist” label during last year’s campaign; and more recently Congressman Spencer Bachus of Alabama claimed there were 17 socialists in Congress. None of this seems like the best way for the party to attract voters.
Here’s my question to you: Is it a mistake for some Republicans to try and brand Democrats as ‘Socialists’?
From Countdown April 24, 2009.
Olbermann:The Pentagon's top lawyer was told by the Americans responsible for defending Americans from torture by other nations no later than July 2002 said what he wanted to do to detainees was torture...We today also learned that the paper trail of the C.I.A. torture documents lead directly to Vice President Cheney's office.
From the Washington Post article Document: Military Agency Referred to 'Torture,' Questioned Its Effectiveness:
The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as "torture" in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon's chief lawyer and warned that it would produce "unreliable information."
The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel," says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. Parts of the attachment, obtained in full by The Washington Post, were quoted in a Senate report on harsh interrogation released this week.
And the latest on Dick Cheney's request for documents as reported by The Plum Line: Obtained: Cheney’s Request Form Detailing The Two CIA Torture Docs He Wants.
I’ve just obtained from the National Archives the actual request form that Dick Cheney submitted for CIA documents he claims will prove that torture worked.
Cheney requested all of two CIA documents, a total of 21 pages.
You can look at Cheney’s request form right here. They open the window a bit on the scope and direction of his request, which he has claimed will prove that Bush’s torture program yielded worthwhile intelligence.
Cheney requested two CIA reports, both of them from the “detainees” folder, which suggests that the docs detail the interrogation of suspects.
One is dated July 13th, 2004, and numbers eight pages.
The other is dated June 1st, 2005, and numbers 13 pages.
The CIA has redacted the detailed description of the documents because they’re classified. In total, Cheney requested all of 21 pages to support his claim that torture worked.
From the White House blog:
This week the President reiterates a theme that has been a hallmark of his career, namely that "old habits and stale thinking" will simply not help us solve the new and immense problems our country faces. Listing off several specific changes he intends to bring, he describes his guiding principle: "To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent."
Transcript below the fold:
April 24, 2009 MSNBC Rachel Madow Show
Rachel Maddow talks to Lawrence Wilkerson about Dick Cheney's request to selectively declassify documents to try to prove "enhanced interrogation techniques" can't be considered torture because they worked.