Russ Feingold Nails Torture Advocates
J'adore Russ Feingold, all over again. Because Russ Feingold (D.-Spinal Integrity) doesn't think Peggy Noonan's point of view is legitimate any more than I do.
"If you want to see just how outrageous this is, I refer you to the remarks made by Peggy Noonan this Sunday," he said, referring to the longtime conservative columnist's appearance on ABC's This Week. "I frankly have never heard anything quite as disturbing as her remark that was something to the affect of: 'well sometimes you just have to move on.'"
"Some things in life need to be mysterious," Noonan said on Sunday about the release of the torture memos. "Sometimes you need to just keep walking. ... It's hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that."
Feingold's remarks, delivered before the Religious Action Center convention, represent some of the most forceful pushback against the line coming out of the White House to date. Emanuel and senior adviser David Axelrod have suggested that prosecution of Bush officials is likely off the table due to the political sensitivities that would accompany such retroactive action. On Tuesday morning, however, the New York Times reported that White House "aides did not rule out legal sanctions for the Bush lawyers who developed the legal basis for the use of the techniques."
A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a long-time critic of torture, Feingold viewed investigations and, perhaps, prosecutions as a key tool to restoring America's moral standing.
The Wisconsin solon also understands how poverty motivates both pirates and terrorists, and that the two need not be seen as interchangeable.
For a long, long time now Russ Feingold's been one of the better advocates of sanity in the Senate.
But in checking over those samples I found another Democrat who might be worth watching -- a Representative from New York:
But not everyone thinks the memos clear the administration. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, said while he applauds the Obama administration for releasing the memos, their " alarming content requires further action."
These memos, without a shadow of a doubt, authorized torture and gave explicit instruction on how to carry it out, all the while carefully attempting to maintain a legal fig leaf," he said. "These memos make it abundantly clear that the Bush administration engaged in torture. Because torture is illegal under American law -- as the U.S. is a signatory to the Convention Against Torture -- we are legally required to investigate and, when appropriate, to prosecute those responsible for these crimes."
The memos, written between 2002 and 2005, concluded that the interrogation techniques listed in them did not violate anti-torture laws.
One May 2005 memo detailed 12 techniques and concluded that none of them constituted torture, while describing how they would result in minimal damage to a detainee.
On dietary manipulation, through which suspects are fed liquid diets, the memo said all detainees would be weighed weekly -- and the restricted diet would be ceased if a detainee loses more than 10 percent of his body weight. On "walling," through which a suspect is slammed into a "flexible, false wall," the memo said the technique is not intended to "inflict any injury or cause severe pain."
Other methods included slapping and placing a prisoner in "stress positions" -- methods the memo said also are not intended to inflict long-term or significant pain.
Those descriptions haven't calmed a number of analysts, activists and lawmakers.
"These memos provide yet more incontrovertible evidence that Bush administration officials at the highest level of government authorized and gave legal blessings to acts of torture that violate domestic and international law," ACLU Director Anthony Romero said in a statement.
(David Rivkin, a constitutional lawyer and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, released a statement Friday saying the release of four memos provides a "great benefit" to the former president. "This data is analyzed in great detail to establish that the use of these techniques does not inflict either physical or psychological damage," said Rivkin, who served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. "The conclusions (the) memos reach -- that the specific interrogation techniques used by the CIA did not constitute torture -- are eminently reasonable.") Rivkin argued that the documents were "well-written" and featured "careful and nuanced legal analysis." He said the United States did not use "brute force" and the memos prove detainees weren't tortured.
"In short, these memos go a long way towards rebutting shrill and unfair attacks on the integrity of Bush administration officials, and, more generally, on America's honor," he said.
The Obama administration has sought to abolish the legal interpretations in the memos, with Attorney General Eric Holder revoking all Bush-era legal opinions and documents that justified interrogation programs.
President Obama declared the interrogation methods a "thing of the past," but also tried to assure CIA operatives they would not be prosecuted for their actions provided they followed the legal advice of the Justice Department.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., though, released a statement suggesting that anyone who gave "improper legal advice" or authorized the program or used non-approved techniques should be prosecuted.
"The so-called enhanced interrogation program was a violation of our core principles as a nation and those responsible should be held accountable," he said.
The handling of the interrogation issue has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle, as liberals criticize Obama for protecting CIA agents and conservatives chastise the administration for releasing the memos.
Reward Good Behavior -- Write to Nadler and Feingold. Make Congress Prosecute!!!