Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Feingold tortures the torture memos

Following up on this post, Peripatetic Russ Feingold weighed in with his thoughts about Alberto Gonzales as AG. Briefly, he's against it. And like other Senate Democrats, he attempts to pin the blame for Abu Ghraib directly on Gonzales.

Time after time, Judge Gonzales has been a key participant in developing secret legal theories to justify policies that, as they have become public, have tarnished our nation's international reputation and made it harder, not easier, for us to prevail in this struggle. He requested and then disseminated the infamous Office of Legal Counsel ("OLC") memo that for almost two years, until it was revealed and discredited, made it the position of the government of the United States of America that the International Convention Against Torture, and statutes implementing that treaty, prohibit only causing physical pain "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." Under that standard, the images from Abu Ghraib that revolted the entire world would not be considered torture, nor, according to some, would the shocking interrogation technique called "waterboarding."

Russ Feingold is a smart man, so he certainly knows that Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with interrogation. So why does he connect the two? And what's with the crack about "secret legal theories"? (Gotta have a secret something in order to make a conspiracy, I guess.)

He must also know that the "torture memo" was a document of legal advisement, not one of policy advisement, and in no way constituted the position of the U.S. or gave interrogators carte blanche to commit acts of torture. He must know that, therefore, there was nothing to be "revealed and discredited."

And of course he must know that interrogation specialists in the field in Afghanistan and Guantanamo were unaware of the "torture memo" and could not possibly have adopted it "as the position of the government," as he suggests. The abuse at Abu Ghraib was a violation of our policies, not a compliance with them. Surely Senator Feingold understands this.

And therefore, we understand that this is simply raw, partisan politics. I will be happy to remind Wisconsin's voters of this in six years.

On an unrelated note, if Mr. Feingold wants images that revolt the entire world, he should take a look at the images of real torture from Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime.

(Cross posted to the Badger Blog Alliance in a slightly different form.)


At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another silly comment...

Somebody (more likely several people, with a large staff and an expense account) put a lot of work into that "torture memo." What a sad, sad, sad job. Can you imagine kissing your wife goodbye in the morning, dropping the kids off at school, and then justifying the infliction of mental anguish and organ failure? The only people with more depressing jobs are the soldiers who then have to ultimately decide how far to push an interegation.

Maybe this is all neccessary, maybe it's not. But I wish it wasn't.

Now we have a bunch of idiots on blogs debating the merits of a all this. It doesn't matter. The "torture memo" is a thouroughly depressing document. It's sad that someone wrote that. None of us are in favor of torture, and we all wish it didn't exist. The "torture memo," regardless of who wrote it, regardless of who commissioned it, who endorsed it, who likes it, who hates it... it doesn't matter. It's a sad document that tries to justify kicking someone in the kidneys.


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