Friday, May 8, 2009

Arlen Specter, Mugwump

Today I would like to comment on Senator Arlen Specter. As I posted on PoFo,
I have little respect for Senator Spector. He is a man of questionable principle. Eg.: He expressed his view that the Military Commissions Act was unconstitutional and offered an amendment to restore habeas corpus, but when his amendment failed he voted for the bill anyhow.
The man is less a "moderate" than a mugwump. David Paul Kuhn at RealClearPolitics is saying "Specter is now a man without a country. His old side views him as a traitor. His new side is skeptical of the longtime adversary turned ally". This reminds me strongly of what Dante and Virgil saw in the vestibule of Hell; "the souls of the uncommitted, who lived for themselves, and of the angels who were not rebellious against God nor faithful to Satan. Neither Heaven nor Hell would have them, and so they must remain here with the selfish, forever running behind a banner and eternally stung by hornets and wasps. Worms at their feet eat the blood and tears of these beings."

In short, I do not weep for poor Senator Specter.

While I am at it, let me also say something about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who is reported today as saying:
"As I said in my statement of December 9, 2007: 'I was briefed on interrogation techniques the (Bush) administration was considering using in the future. The administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal,'"
One must either be a moron or an ignoramus or a coward to accept the word of the Bush Administration that the kind of interrogation techniques described are legal.

If one is a moron one might believe anything. Speaker Pelosi is probably not a moron.

If one is an ignoramus one might on the strength of sheer low political cunning rise to being Speaker of the House and one of the select few chosen to receive highly classified CIA briefings while being so ignorant of main features of the Geneva Conventions, especially Common Article 3, or the Convention Agaist Torture as to not wonder how something like waterboarding, or even sleep deprivation or stress positions, can be legal and seek an independent opinion. Speaker Pelosi shows no sign of being particularly cunning as a politican so she is probably not an ignoramus either.

That leaves coward. Speaker Pelosi was not about to do anything that could end up with her in a public dispute with a "wartime President" and a hoard of neocon attack dogs ready to accuse any critic of any aspect of the Global War on Terror of being soft on terrorists. Safer, it must have seemed at the time, to be quietly complicit in a war crime -- especially if there was an element of "plausible deniability", which there is under rules that forbid transcripts or note taking at the briefings. In this case, however, deniability seems only to go far enough to allow that Pelosi did not know that the CIA was using the interrogation techniques -- yet.

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