Saturday, May 9, 2009

This morning there was an item in the Washingto Post, ("WaPo"), about what Speaker of the House Pelosi knew or may have known about the CIA "enhanced interrogations".
Republicans have accused Pelosi and other Democrats who attended the earliest classified briefings of knowing what CIA operatives were doing and offering their support for the methods, including waterboarding. They argue that Pelosi, who served as the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee until January 2003, objected only after the use of the techniques became public several years later.
Pelosi admits to understanding from her 2002 briefing that the Bush Administration had prepared legal opinions by which waterboarding would be legal.
"We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used. What they did tell us is that they had some . . . Office of [Legal] Counsel opinions, that they could be used, but not that they would," she told reporters on April 23.
Yeah sure, no cause for alarm here. OLC just figured the CIA folks had a lot of time to kill and could use some purely academic legal opinions to decipher in case they ran out of crossword puzzles.
Pelosi never filed any official letter of protest, but some lawmakers said such objections to the Bush administration at that time were pointless.
If even a protest over a possible war crime is "pointless" then Congress has a very serious Constitutional issue with the Executive independent of the also terribly serious torture issue. It takes a real coward to do absolutely nothing about either problem.

At WaPo I posted a comment to this article using a login obtained from Bugmenot. I quote myself here:
Anyone who wants to understand the real nature of this scandal should at least glance over two texts. Both are treaties, "supreme law of the land" under the Constitution and both are in very clear non-legalese because they are intended for a much broader audience than just lawyers.

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions

Convention Against Torture

Does it seem reasonable that waterboarding could be legal if the above are the law? Even if we suppose that there could be a valid interpretation, however improbable, that waterboarding was consistent with these laws wouldn't you wonder how that could be? If you had official responsibility either as an agent of law enforcement or in an oversight capacity and had formally sworn to defend the Constitution would you simply take the word of the same organization that was proposing possible use of the waterboard or would you want an impartial second opinion? Would it not even occur to you that you are possibly being invited to acquiesce in a war crime?

I can't help but feel that once politicians, most of whom are lawyers, become either the supreme drafters of law in Congress or the supreme enforcer of law in the Whitehouse they start assuming they are above the law, or perhaps more accurately, that politics supersedes law.

One can certainly get the impression that politics trumps law if one relies on the opinions of WaPo editors and their gang of neocon columnists who consistently avoid mention of the law and are determined to depict the issue as a fight over a policy difference instead of one of criminality in high places, (as they might if it were a simple bribery scandal).

Please bookmark the links I have provided and as new developments are reported be sure to ask yourself if this is just politics going on or something even more sinister.

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