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Friday, November 02, 2007
Department of Just Us

A few weeks ago, the man President Bush nominated to replace Alberto Gonzalez as Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, looked like a sure bet to sail through confirmation hearings. A former judge, he has a solid legal background, and appeared to be a candidate who would be acceptable to almost everyone.

How things do change.

His nomination is still in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it doesn't look like it's getting out of there anytime soon. A couple of weeks ago, in hearings, Mukasey seemed to indicate that it was his opinion that waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation" techniques were illegal. After further reflection, and one presumes, many angry calls from the White House, Mukasey amended his opinion to something a bit more vague.

"Waterboarding is repugnant."

But is it legal?

"Dude! I wasn't even there!"

And if I thought for a minute that Mukasey was simply ignorant, I'd just pat him on his head and send him on his way home, but that's not what this is at all. The fact of the matter is, that if Mukasey concedes that waterboarding is torture, and therefore illegal, then he would really have no recourse as AG but to prosecute those who have been using it.

And the sick fucks who ordered them to use it. Send those subpoenas to: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC.

And that's what this is about, really. The people who are ultimately responsible for this immoral criminality are covering their own asses, desperate to make sure that they will never be subject to prosecution for ordering torture.

So yesterday, Bush is wheeled out in front of The Heritage Foundation to complain that Mukasey is not being treated fairly. OK, even though I think that's not really true, I won't go so far as to assail the president on that statement. Did he say anything else?

“I believe that the questions he’s been asked are unfair,” Mr. Bush said. “He’s not been read into the program — he has been asked to give opinions of a program or techniques of a program on which he’s not been briefed."

Waterboarding is not so much a program as it is a method of torture that simulates drowning. If you want to know the specifics, you can Google it. It's not complicated. Mukasey knows the details of "the program," he simply may not know what the chain of command is involved in ordering its use. So the question remains: Is waterboarding legal?

The answer from Bush should not surprise you: "9/11." Or in long form:

"It's important for Congress to pass laws and/or confirm nominees that will enable this government to more effectively defend the country and pursue terrorists and radicals that would like to do us harm."

So now that Bush has essentially said that if the Senate doesn't confirm Mukasey, he won't nominate anyone else, even a victim of torture, Senator John McCain, has lined up (again) with President Silver Spoon. McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham issued a statement yesterday stating that they would now vote to confirm Mukasey:

“Once he is confirmed, however, we strongly urge that he publicly make clear that waterboarding is illegal and can never be employed.”

So, he shouldn't declare waterboarding illegal before he is the Attorney General, but he should "make clear" that it won't be used after he is made AG? Why shouldn't it be used if it's not illegal? Ah, right, because waterboarding is torture, and we signed something declaring that we don't do that. Something to do with a Swiss town, lovely in the Spring, I'm told.

Days like today, and I have them more and more often, I wake up and wonder what the hell happened to my country. Not only is the government committing criminal acts, they are doing it publicly, and the real kicker is that about thirty percent of the population thinks that the government is morally right to do it. I have a better understanding of this mentality since reading John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience, but I still don't really get the need to genuflect to authority in every circumstance, religious, political or otherwise. Sometimes the people in charge are right, and sometimes they aren't, but I must question your sanity if you suggest that stooping to the level of the worst people in the world, and using their tactics, merely to provide a thin veneer of illusory safety, is the right thing to do. I would also question your morality.

Do you understand what Patrick Henry meant when he said "Give me liberty, or give me death!" There are things worth fighting for, and even things worth dying for, although not many. An American democracy is worth dying for. The over 2900 dead from the 9/11 attacks would be, I think, quite disturbed to find what we have lost, given away really, in our quest to avenge their deaths. America is not as good as it was when 2001 started, and I truly have doubts that it will ever be again. Liberties willingly handed over to authority are never returned.

Warrantless wire taps, data mining, illegal searches, indeterminate detainment without charges, waterboarding and other torture...

These are not the actions of a democratic government. These are the moves that a fascist, autocratic regime makes, one which is willing to do anything that consolidates power and creates a fearful populace. These acts are not simply undemocratic, not simply criminal. They are immoral.

Days like this, I wish God existed so that the architects of this madness could suffer an eternity of waterboarding or Abu Ghraib-style hijinks. I wish I had faith in my fellow citizens to, at a minimum, fire the cowards who ducked their own war to send this generation's young to fight, be maimed, and die. I wish Americans would figure out that we are so damned well-armed that any terrorist who dares show his face will be riddled with thirty bullets from the citizenry.

If you support government-sanctioned torture, you are a coward. You are so fucking stupid that you don't even realize what it is that you ought to be afraid of: Your own government.

Or did you forget that Hillary Clinton may be President in 14 months? The worm turns, and the names of those who are enemies of the state do, too. Imagine all of the government powers that you so blindly support in the hands of a Hillary Clinton. Still feel tough? Still think we should stop questioning the administration? Any reason you can name which might persuade anyone that you aren't a committing treason?

Speak up now. Or don't. Frankly, you won't be missed.

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posted at 7:17 AM

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