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Yes, we can!


The great Charlie Pierce (via the Great Avedon):

I have now lived through three major episodes in my life where the political elite have told me quite plainly that neither I nor my fellow citizens are sufficiently mature to suffer the public prosecution of major crimes committed within my government.

The first was when Gerry Ford told me I wasn’t strong enough to handle the sight of Richard Nixon in the dock. Dick Cheney looked at this episode and determined that the only thing Nixon did wrong was get caught.

The second time was when the entire government went into spasm over the crimes of the Iran-Contra gang and I was told that I wasn’t strong enough to see Ronald Reagan impeached or his men packed off to Danbury. Dick Cheney looked at this and determined that the only thing Reagan and his men did wrong was get caught and, by then, Cheney had decided that even that wasn’t really so very wrong and everybody should shut up.

Now, Barack Obama, who won election by telling the country and its people that they were great because of all they’d done for him, has told me that I am not strong enough to handle the prosecution of pale and vicious bureaucrats, many of them acting at the behest of Dick Cheney, who decided that the only thing he was doing wrong was nothing at all, who have broken the law, disgraced their oaths, and manifestly belong in a one-room suite at the Hague.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m sick and goddamn tired of being told that, as a citizen, I am too fragile to bear the horrible burden of watching public criminals pay for their crimes and that, as a political entity, my fellow citizens and I are delicate flowers encased in candy-glass who must be kept away from the sight of men in fine suits weeping as they are ripped from the arms of their families and sent off to penal institutions manifestly more kind than those in which they arranged to get their rocks off vicariously while driving other men mad.

Hey, Mr. President. Put these barbarians on trial and watch me. I’ll be the guy out in front of the courtroom with a lawn chair, some sandwiches, and a cooler of fine beer. I’ll be the guy who hires the brass band to serenade these criminal bastards on their way off to the big house. I’ll be the one who shows up at every one of their probation hearings with a copy of the Constitution, the way crime victims show up at the parole board when their attacker comes up for release. I’ll declare a national holiday—Victory Over Torture Day—and lead the parade right up whatever gated street it is that Cheney lives on these days. Trust me, Mr. President. I can take it.


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Submitted by jawbone on

Last question was for clarification of whether those who designed torture policies, ordered legal justifications be developed, wrote those justifications, and admin officials who continued torture policies should not be prosecuted or investigated.

Longish answer from Obama with a phrase about how it's hard work being president, hard decisions to be made, etc; then he kicked the can over to Justice) seemed to end up with Obama saying it was all up to Eric Holder.

Awaiting transcripts of there may be WORMs within WORMs. And new WORMs may come forth....

Will Holder order investigations? Or has he been convinced by his boss's aversion to appearing politicized so that he will avoid any such things???

This will tell more about both Obama and Holder, imho.

But, answer seemed to clearly rebut Gibbs' reply to reporters that there would be no going back, just forward. Obama did try to parse any investigations as somehow not looking back (only generalizations? no specifics?), that there had been a national mistake (huh? how about BushCo mistake?), and nothing should be "politicized."

I think someone needs to ask Obama just what he thinks "politicization" means. It may not be what the public thinks it means....

T/U, T/U, T/U for this Charlie Pierce piece. Says what I've been writing and thinking so much better than I! T/U, Lambert, for posting this.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

nailed it. I was cheering all the way through as I read it. It may be hard for some to see these prosecutions, but it'll be harder on the rest of us if there aren't any.

For a long, long time.

Submitted by jawbone on

as well as Gibbs. FromKansas City Star by Bill Dalton :

President Barack Obama is leaving the door open to possible prosecution of Bush administration officials who devised harsh terrorism-era interrogation tactics. He also said today that he worries about the impact of high-intensity hearings on how detainees were treated under former President George W. Bush.

But Obama did say, nevertheless, he could support a congressional investigation if it were conducted in a bipartisan way. Obama has said he does not support charging CIA agents and interrogators who took part in waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, acting on advice from superiors that such practices were legal. But he also said that it is up to the attorney general whether to prosecute Bush administration lawyers who wrote the memos approving these tactics.

Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, had said this weekend that the Obama adminstration would not seek prosecution of the Bush administration lawyers.

Submitted by jawbone on

a chowder of cats, along with other terms.

But, this is turning out to be a fine mess of WORMs! Turning WORMs, reproducing WORMs, disappearing WORMs, evolving WORMs. My, oh, my.

A regular As the WORM Turns daily soap opera.

Does Gibbs have any pattern of getting ahead of his president? I doubt he came up with his response all on his own. So, there's been some Change! Changin' goin' on!

oceansandmountains's picture
Submitted by oceansandmountains on

According to this website the correct word is "clew." How provident that it allows for clever word-play on the word "clue."

The WORM without a clue, anyone??

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

I can't hide-rate comments here. That "nice picture" remark offended me. Not just because I find the picture anything but nice, but because, particularly in light of the polo episode, I'm probably unusually sensitive to cruelty to dumb beasts (as opposed to cruelty to the animals in charge of the Village).

oceansandmountains's picture
Submitted by oceansandmountains on

As the owner of (or owned by) several rescued strays, I am shocked at the deaths of the horses but, seriously, offended by lambert's comment?


Submitted by lambert on

I can see how you might envision them being diced and chopped up. Not what I meant.

I was just picturing the cats covered with clam broth and cream.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Okay. I can see some of the felines I know enjoying cleaning that off their own, and each other's, fur. A bath, as opposed to a stew.

:) better.

(revises mental image of chunky tomato-infested cauldrons)

Submitted by lambert on

I can see how you would make that connection with the Hunter Thompson quote I posted, but the connection was not present in my mind.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

This is a veritable Diet of WORMs.

Pierce gets a Bingo x 10, on this one. He strikes a visceral chord with me with this piece, as I'd written about this in my blog on 11 dimensional chess:

Either way, I find this idea unsettling because of all the things that it implies. First, it implies that a national consituency isn't up to the task of, and can't/shouldn't be trusted with, handling the truth. It implies an unintelligent and undiscerning populace, one that must be tricked, from the highest level of government, into doing what the leader sees is best for it. It's a very dim and cynical view of government.

I was speaking on behavioral economics, but it fits this issue like a glove because it's become a pattern, that is, the insulting of our intelligence and the perpetual underestimation of our strength, as if many of us don't live through social trauma on a daily basis.

Conservatives love to characterize this nation as a "nation of laws", but when it comes to something like torture, something not only illegal but immoral and against the spirit of the United States, they are missing in action or, worse, apologizing for it.

This is why I can't for the life of me understand why when given a choice between placing himself on the side of defending the people and spirit of the nation or placing himself amongst torture advocates and sympathizers, it seems to absolutely pain him to choose the right side.

This is not a Sophie's Choice. This is not brain surgery. I'm tired of our president practically complaining about how hard it is to be president. If you weren't ready to make these kinds of decisions, you should have never wasted our time. And, if it isn't easy to make this decision of all decisions you've had to make, then you need to get out of the kitchen.

I know a certain woman who'd have had no qualms about which side to come down on...

Yes we can; yes we should; yes, we must.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Let me be more succinct and more frank:

If one feels it more unseemly to let justice run its inevitable course all of the asses of torturers and its sympathizers because it may be "divisive", than to impede this justice, thus condoning torture...well, you're not on my side.

A request: To those torture advocates and sympathizers/apologists, to the George Will's, Cokie Robert's and Rahm Emanuel's, if you're not going to fight for the upholding of the Constitution and America's founding values, please do be courteous, and get the hell out of the way.

Thank you in advance.

Submitted by jawbone on

some Change.

What Obama's Refusal to Investigate Torture Says About America

American Experiment RIP

Is Comparing America to Germany Absurd?

These three brief pieces burn with white hot anger and freeze with their cold, hard reasoning. The pain of loss of ideals covers them all.

Can the turning WORMs prevent great loss of Obama's reputation? Of our nation's reputation?

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

to have documents released that prove substantive info was obtained during torture sounds like an attempt to plant *WMD's* before starting a war or once we invaded. He couldn't get away with that, so he's made sure that the bases are better covered this time.

It still doesn't justify the actions of the Bush administration, however, or make them legal.