Friday, October 20, 2006

I know it when I see it

I would make this an update, but it goes on a bit on its own, so let's consider it here. Bush on torture, via Froomkin:

O'Reilly: " But if the public doesn't know what torture is or is not, as defined by the Bush Administration, how can the public make a decision on whether your policy is right or wrong? "

Bush's ducking of such an important question, it seems to me, is highly newsworthy. Here's the president's response, in its entirety:

Bush: "Well, one thing is that you can rest assured we are not going to talk about the techniques we use in a public forum, no matter how hard you try, because I don't want the enemy to be able to adjust their tactics if we capture them on the battlefield.

"But what the American people need to know is we have a program in place that is able to get intelligence from these people and we have used it to stop attacks. The intelligence community believes strongly that the information we got from the detainee questioning program yielded information that made America safer, that we stopped attacks.

"Secondly, the courts. Yeah, I believe it is necessary to have military tribunals because I ultimately want these people to be tried. And it took a while to get these tribunals in place. The Supreme Court ruled that the president didn't have the authority to set up these courts on his own, that he needed to work with Congress to do so, and we did.

"What's interesting about these votes that took place in the Congress is the number of Democrats that opposed questioning people we picked up on the battlefield. And I think that's an issue that they will have to explain to the American people."

So apparently that's his answer to O'Reilly's excellent and important question: Democrats are pro-terrorist.
Parse those answers a bit, you get something interesting:

A) Terrorists are so clever they can "adjust" to torture.

B) We're from the government. Trust us. We're keeping the elephants away. Seen any elephants lately?

C) Ultimately, he wants to put these terrorists on trial. When he's tortured them enough that they'd confess to killing Archduke Ferdinand. Not before then, though.

D) It's all the Democrats fault that 58% of Americans are opposed to torture.

As Gene Lyons says:

There’s long been an undercurrent of authoritarianism in American politics, particularly across the South and agrarian Midwest. Some of Bush’s warmest supporters are direct descendants of the 19 th century nativist Know-Nothing Party. Many seem morally outraged by anybody who can count higher than two. I get frequent e-mails telling me that being anti-torture makes me pro-terrorist or that it’s un-American to oppose life imprisonment without a trial. Some take grim pleasure in identifying the enemy as Islam itself, making the conflict religious and racial—just how they like it.
That would account for the 36% who support torture, which is rougly equivalent to the President's approval rating. But notice the President never did define "torture." I suppose if he did, the terrorists would adjust. You know what terrorists are like. As John D. Hutson, former judge advocate general of the Navy and dean of the Franklin Pierce Law School in New Hampshire, said: "Let's not kid ourselves. This is not about an invasion. It is about the embarrassment of holding people who, if they got to court, could show they should not have been held."

But of course, he's being shrill.

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