Thursday, April 10, 2008


That's what I was asking myself last week when the Pentagon released the Yoo memo, and that's what I'm asking myself about the ABC story "Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation.'"

In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News.

...At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

... this is the first time sources have disclosed that a handful of the most senior advisers in the White House explicitly approved the details of the program. According to multiple sources, it was members of the Principals Committee that not only discussed specific plans and specific interrogation methods, but approved them....

Why are the "sources" talking now?

If you're a Republican, you might actually want them to blab, because you might actually believe you can run on this, not run away from it. It gets us talking not about the botched Iraq War but, rather, about EVIL EVIL EVIL al-Qaeda terrorists. It evokes 24. It gets certain juices flowing.

The country is utterly fed up with the war -- but there simply hasn't been a solid majority in this country against torture.

I think Karl Rove knows that. I think it's possible that this strategy is being driven by Rove (who, as we know, recently alluded in an interview to "some things I'm doing in politics under the radar"). We know he has repeatedly declared that terrorism is a winning GOP issue, even when it seemed that that wasn't the case.

If nothing else, righties can rally the base by saying, "Those evil Democrat America-haters will start impeachment proceedings/war crimes tribunals, which will weaken America and we're all gonna die!!!!" And, right on schedule, righty blogger AJ Strata is saying just that, in a post titled "Best Reason I've Seen for McCain as President and the GOP In Congress."

Admittedly, some of you are, in fact, talking about impeachment and war crimes trials. I think the time for impeachment was the very beginning of the current Congress, i.e., starting in January 2007 -- but it would have been pointless if convictions weren't possible, and they weren't, and aren't. Period.

As for war crimes trials, I agree with every word of Jack Balkin's post "War Crimes Prosecutions in the U.S.? Dream On." It just ain't gonna happen.


AND: Yes, I know the GOP is running a candidate who declares himself an opponent of torture. But Rove, of course, served a president who has insisted that "we do not torture."

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