Thursday, January 06, 2005

 

Poor baby

Them mean ol' Democrats. It's just not fair!
Bush Nominee Plans to Stand Firm on War-Captive Memo

By ERIC LICHTBLAU

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 - Alberto R. Gonzales, who goes before the Senate on Thursday as President Bush's pick for attorney general, plans to offer an unapologetic defense of a draft memorandum he wrote in 2002 describing parts of the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" and "obsolete," administration officials said on Wednesday.

Over the last several weeks, Mr. Gonzales has been meeting with aides at the White House in mock court sessions - or "murder boards," as aides call them - to prepare for Thursday's hearing, officials said. Aides play the part of senators, questioning him about his positions on issues including guns, affirmative action and federal cutbacks in financing for local police programs.

Unlike his predecessor, Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose views on most major issues were well known from his days in the Senate, Mr. Gonzales comes into his confirmation hearing as an enigma on many policy questions.

In the sessions, officials have spent the bulk of their time questioning Mr. Gonzales about his positions on the treatment of prisoners in the global campaign against terrorism. The sessions have focused on two documents that have opened Mr. Gonzales to criticism: the 2002 memorandum he wrote on the Geneva Conventions, and a Justice Department opinion that he solicited that year that gave a narrow definition of torture, saying it "must inflict pain that is difficult to endure." The administration has since repudiated that much-criticized definition.

"We know that those two documents are where the Democrats are going to try to beat him up the most," the administration official said.
But as long as the pain is not difficult to endure, it's not torture! Suck it up, Albie baby, be a man!

From a purely political standpoint, considering that most Americans appear not to give a damn about what Gonzales insists was not torture (his argument appears to be, "We didn't do it, and we'll never do it again"), it probably makes sense to come out swinging and to dare the Democrats to risk looking like purely politically motivated obstructionists. They're going to "try to beat him up," not exercise their Constitutionally prescribed role of advising and consenting. They're going to "try to beat him up," not salvage what little is left of this country's reputation abroad.

From another article in today's Times, here's what the Army considers less than "pain that is difficult to endure":
The Special Operations task force was assigned to track down terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. But many of the detainees were not terrorists. In Iraq, 70 percent to 90 percent of those detained, according to military intelligence estimates reported by the International Committee of the Red Cross, "had been arrested by mistake." A military report on Iraqi prisons said that many detainees were held for several months for things like expressing 'displeasure or ill will' toward the American occupying forces.

A military report by a former defense secretary, James R. Schlesinger, which was released in August, concluded that harsh tactics intended for use only at Guantánamo - threatening detainees with dogs, leaving them naked in extreme heat or cold, shackling them upright to keep them awake - "migrated" improperly to Afghanistan and then to Iraq.

"The AC had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room probably well over 100 degrees," one F.B.I. agent reported from Guantánamo in August. "The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night."

The earliest abuses on record in Iraq apparently came in May 2003. On May 15, two marines in Karbala held a 9-millimeter pistol to the head of a bound detainee while a third took a picture. One marine, according to military records, then poured a glass of water on the detainee's head. In June 2003, according to records, a marine ordered four Iraqi children who had been detained for looting to stand next to a shallow ditch, then fired a pistol in a mock execution.

In August, a marine put a match to a puddle of hand sanitizer that had spilled in front of an Iraqi detainee, igniting a flame that severely burned the detainee's hands.

In April of 2004, marines shocked detainees with wires from an electric transformer - "the detainee 'danced' as he was shocked," an investigative report said. And in June, Defense Intelligence agents reported members of a military Special Operations task force repeatedly punching a detainee in the face. The agents also reported finding prisoners with burn marks on their backs and complaining of kidney pain.
But since Iraqis aren't really human, they can endure a lot more pain than we can, so none of this was torture. Right, Powerline and Little Green Footballs and Rush?

In any case, this isn't about liberals' phony concern for terrorists and murderers. This is about our refusal to accept the results of the November election and the enormous mandate won by President George W. Bush. I mean, he won just less than 51% of the vote! That means he gets to do anything he wants - and it also means that the American public overwhelmingly approved anything and everything he did before the election.

So how can them mean ol' Democrats "try to beat up" poor Alberto Gonzales? He didn't do anything wrong - and he has promised never to do it again. By George W. Bush's standards, that means the torture never happened. And given Bush's enormous mandate, that means the American people agree. So the Democrats should just shut up and not be mean ol' racist meanies toward Gonzales. I mean, this is pure politics, right? They can't possibly have any substantive concerns about the nominee, can they? Especially since Gonzales insists it wasn't torture - and he should know, since what he's going to experience today is much worse than anything that happened to anyone in Abu Ghraib.
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