Promoted by Steven D. Dear Senator and Former President Clinton — Bite Me!
We are ruled by evil, venal human beings, brought to our attention by none other than pro-barbarity Alan M. Dershowitz:
I see that former President Clinton has offered a similar proposal. In a recent interview on National Public Radio, Clinton was asked, as someone “who’s been there,” whether the president needs “the option of authorizing torture in an extreme case.”
This is what he said in response: “Look, if the president needed an option, there’s all sorts of things they can do. Let’s take the best case, OK. You picked up someone you know is the No. 2 aide to Osama bin Laden. And you know they have an operation planned for the United States or some European capital in the next … three days. And you know this guy knows it. Right, that’s the clearest example. And you think you can only get it out of this guy by shooting him full of some drugs or water-boarding him or otherwise working him over. If they really believed that that scenario is likely to occur, let them come forward with an alternate proposal.
Slick Willie wants his successors to be able to do what Bush is doing, only he wants a bureaucracy to be in place to put a nice, legal bow around it. He goes on:
“We have a system of laws here where nobody should be above the law, and you don’t need blanket advance approval for blanket torture. They can draw a statute much more narrowly, which would permit the president to make a finding in a case like I just outlined, and then that finding could be submitted even if after the fact to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”
Clinton was then asked whether he was saying there “would be more responsibility afterward for what was done.” He replied: “Yeah, well, the president could take personal responsibility for it. But you do it on a case-by-case basis, and there’d be some review of it.” Clinton quickly added that he doesn’t know whether this ticking bomb scenario “is likely or not,” but he did know that “we have erred in who was a real suspect or not.”
Clinton summarized his views in the following terms: “If they really believe the time comes when the only way they can get a reliable piece of information is to beat it out of someone or put a drug in their body to talk it out of ’em, then they can present it to the Foreign Intelligence Court, or some other court, just under the same circumstances we do with wiretaps. Post facto….
“But I think if you go around passing laws that legitimize a violation of the Geneva Convention and institutionalize what happened at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, we’re gonna be in real trouble.”
I guess we should be thankful for the reminder this far ahead of the 2008 elections … the Clintons are in favor of many of the ruinous policies pursued by the Bush Administration. Given Bill’s love for an expanded police state, one might ask him if perhaps there are times when our police would be justified to use extreme measures. After all, maybe a drug dealer knows where a major shootout is going to happen, down the street from a school. Would it be okay if a governor made a similar calculation? If not, then why? When you give someone this much power to suspend the last vestiges of the most basic standards of morality, how do you tell them when they’re going too far? Is it really any protection to set up a Star Chamber for authoritarians to get their crimes rubber stamped before they commit them?
This is part of how a civilized nation becomes barbaric. When the supposed opposition goes along with the far right, offering bi-partisan cover for monstrous policies, they help to move us closer and closer to fascism, to a system where ONLY the ends matter, and any means go as long as the empire is served, as Stan Goff points out:
The American economy has been using the military contracting system during decades of “deindustrialization” (moving offshore to exploit cheap labor) to create a surrogate export market for key industries. The military has also long been used as a research and development subsidy vehicle for private corporations. What the Bush administration has done that is unique is to prioritize unilateral military action in foreign policy at the expense of diplomatic maneuvering and consensus-building among the core capitalist metropoles, and to centralize population control measures at home under a more militarized system … though the with “tactical” units has been in progress for decades and the Clinton administration paved the way for the exponential expansion of the domestic prison population.
President Clinton, and would-be-President Clinton, are helping to normalize the far right’s distortions of this country’s laws. As they offer their softer versions of the same dismissals of decency, violence and degradation become more acceptable, as Arthur Silbur points out:
Nothing reveals more starkly the boundless and unforgivable stupidity of our national debate about torture — except for the monstrous fact that we have had such a debate in the first place — than the fact that the “ticking-bomb” fiction is still regularly deployed. And as I mentioned earlier, I draw your attention to the fact that it is this entirely false scenario that Hillary Clinton uses to “justify” her “limited” endorsement of torture (note her recourse to the scene of “imminent” danger — which she, like everyone else, gets from movies and television, and not from life). Nothing about this screenwriter’s fantasy conforms to what actually happens in reality, as I discussed in detail here and here. Moreover, as pointed out in the second of those posts, it is precisely when time is very short that torture is of least conceivable value. I continue to be astonished that these points must be made repeatedly. Our appetite for vengeance and violence is now so insatiable that we insist on brutalizing others, and ourselves as well — even when such violence is entirely futile and pointless, and when it achieves nothing other than the destruction of our humanity, of liberty, and of civilization itself.
The Clintons should be ashamed of themselves, and those of us who want this country to return to a lawful path must repudiate them.
Update [2006-10-17 20:28:13 by Madman in the Marketplace]:
Today’s Wall Street Journal has a letter to the editor from House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), arguing that the Military Commissions Act is “not tough enough on terrorists because there is no certainty the act will withstand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. If the act is tied up in litigation and eventually struck down, convicted terrorists could have a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card.”
That Steny sure is one tough hombre.