Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Can You Top All This Stuff? Left, Right and Confusion In Between.

Can You Top All This Stuff? Left, Right and Confusion In Between.


“Prosecuting the Bush lawyers who authorized these brutal interrogation methods would be tantamount to "criminalizing conservatism"


Damn it’s going to be hard to top that one!


After Pres. Obama spoke to reporters yesterday about the OLC memos, various journalists reported that the President had "opened the door" to prosecution of George W. Bush lawyers who authorized brutal interrogation techniques. Liberal bloggers dispute this characterization of Obama's comments, since (as many of them are pointing out) Obama doesn't have the authority to decide whether or not to prosecute people; only AG Eric Holder can make that decision. Of course, liberal bloggers hope that Holder decides to launch an investigation, but some don't think this will happen (and certainly not without activist pressure).

Conservative bloggers, meanwhile, are strongly opposed to the idea of prosecuting Bush lawyers. David Frum (a former Bush speechwriter) warns that prosecutions would create "a nightmare future," while Hugh Hewitt complains that Obama's refusal to rule out prosecutions "will be devastating to the security of the United States." John Hinderaker argues that prosecuting the Bush lawyers who authorized these brutal interrogation methods would be tantamount to "criminalizing conservatism" -- which may be accurate, since so many conservative bloggers seem to have embraced these controversial methods.

What else is happening in the blogosphere?

  • Conservative bloggers (MorrisseyJohnsonKlein) are buzzing about National Intelligence Dir. Dennis C. Blair's private memo to his staff, in which he wrote that that harsh interrogation techniques banned by Obama "did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists."
  • Liberal bloggers (SerwerMarshallAckerman) are urging the CIA to heed ex-VP Dick Cheney's call to "declassify files that he claims would vindicate the CIA's use of coercive interrogation techniques."
  • Liberal bloggers (YglesiasBlackOrton) continue to urge Congress to impeach Jay Bybee, the former DoJ atty who wrote one of the controversial interrogation memos and who now serves as a federal judge.
  • Conservative bloggers (EricksonLewisAllahpundit) aren't very excited that Minuteman founder Chris Simcox (R) is challenging Sen. John McCain(R-AZ) in next year's GOP primary. While righty bloggers don't care for McCain, they think their money would be better spent helping ex-Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) defeat Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA).
  • Liberal bloggers (HouleSmithO'Connor) are stepping up their criticism of Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) now that it's been confirmed that she did urge the NYT "not to publish its big expose of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, apparently before the 2004 election." Other liberal bloggers (GreenwaldHamsherBlackCole) are accusing Harman of hypocrisy because she consistently supported the warrantless wiretapping policies that she's now criticizing. Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas is urging Harman to resign.

 journalists are reporting that Obama has "opened the door" or "left the door open" to prosecution of Bush lawyers who authorized brutal interrogation techniques. However, liberal bloggers are pointing out that Obama doesn't have the authority to decide whether or not prosecutions will occur:

  • Salon's Glenn Greenwald: "Obama's statement today is being somewhat melodramatically presented by establishment journalists as his 'leaving the door open' to prosecutions, but the real point is that this was never his door to shut in the first place. Presidents have the authority to set general policy for the Justice Department (which would include general investigative and prosecutorial priorities), but not to dictate individual decisions about prosecutions. In fact, for a White House to try to influence those decisions is a form of corruption."
  • Atrios: "I'm not the first person to bring this up recently, but the point is that it shouldn't be Obama's and [WH CoS] Rahm Emmanuel's decision whether to prosecute anybody. If there's suspicion and clear evidence that people broke laws, an inquiry should begin. If the AG feels undue pressure from President Change and his gang then he should appoint a special prosecutor to try to wall off the investigation from political pressure."
  • dday: "Obama said he could support an investigation emanating from Congress, and that the decision for prosecution is up to the Attorney General. In other words, shorter Obama: 'Leave me out of this.' Nobody need rely on his support. And the President is correct. He doesn't get to decide who is and is not prosecuted in America. That's the responsibility of the Attorney General. And if he wants to take it out of politics, the Attorney General ought to appoint a special prosecutor, as MoveOn and others have called for."

Mother JonesKevin Drum doesn't think Holder will appoint a special prosecutor: "There's no way you could prosecute the OLC lawyers without also prosecuting the guys who accepted their memos and ordered the torture carried out. That means people like [ex-AG] John Ashcroft, [ex-CIA dir.] George Tenet, Dick Cheney, [ex-VP CoS] David Addington, and George W. Bush. Would Eric Holder do that without Obama's approval? It's hard to believe that he would. Might he appoint a special prosecutor instead? I doubt it. That might delay things a bit, but the conclusion would still be foreordained: anyone with even a modest bit of integrity would conclude very quickly that President Bush and his staff did indeed authorize illegal torture of prisoners under U.S. control."

On the right side of the blogosphere, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey makes a similar observation: "Holder can prosecute Tenet, but then he'd also have to file charges against several members of Congress who were briefed on the procedures and never objected -- including current Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If Tenet would get prosecuted for ordering the interrogation techniques, then Pelosi and others would have to get prosecuted for being accessories in not taking action to stop them."

Conservative bloggers are strongly opposed to the notion of prosecuting the Bush lawyers who authorized harsh interrogation techniques:

  • Power Line's Hinderaker: "Many liberals don't just want to defeat conservatives at the polls, they want to send them to jail. Toward that end, they have sometimes tried to criminalize what are essentially policy differences. President Obama hinted at another step in that direction when he said today that he is open to the idea of bringing criminal charges against the Justice Department lawyers who wrote opinions to the effect that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods could legally be used on al Qaeda detainees. [...] The idea of prosecuting a lawyer because he wrote a legal analysis with which the current Attorney General disagrees is so outrageous that I can't believe it would be seriously considered. Still, President Obama and his party may achieve another objective by publicly making this kind of threat: deterring Republicans from serving in public life."
  • New Majority's Frum: "President Obama is sliding toward one of the most dangerous decisions of his administration -- and very possibly one of the most dangerous in the history of the American republic. [...] If the president's words represent his intentions, this country may be about to plunge into a cycle of partisan reprisal that will make the years from Watergate through the [Bill] Clinton impeachment look like a golden age of good feelings. [...] If overzealousness under Bush becomes a crime under Obama, under zealousness under Obama will become a crime under the next Republican president. Revenge will be exacted for revenge, the costs of government service will escalate, mobilizing cross-party support will become practically impossible for any important action, and the political life of the American republic will take another step toward the play-for-keeps destructiveness of the last days of the Roman republic. It's a nightmare future."
  • Townhall's Hewitt: "The president's decision to open the door to prosecuting former Bush Administration officials for policies developed and used in the war on terror is not just the threat of the worst sort of unconstitutional ex post facto prosecution, it also greatly endangers the United States by obliging current front-line prosecutors, intelligence operatives and even uniformed members of the military that if it becomes politically useful to classify their conduct as 'potentially criminal' this Administration will do so. The impact of that posture will be devastating to the security of the United States."
  • RedState's Dan Spencer: "Instead of standing by his previous obfuscation that 'we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,' Obama gave a green light to Attorney General Holder to start the show trials -- a political theater relic of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of political opponents from the former Soviet Union."
  • NRO's Peter Wehner: "[Obama] has detonated a debate he may well lose control over and which may prove to be deeply divisive and embittering for America. More importantly, he has taken a series of steps that, particularly as it relates to our intelligence agencies and their capacity to protect Americans from mass death, he, and his countrymen, may well come to regret. We can hope and pray a future attack doesn't happen -- but there is reason to fear it might."

NRO's Jim Geraghty thinks it would be inconsistent to prosecute the Bush lawyers who authorized these interrogation methods but not the CIA operatives who carried them out: "I strongly disagree with the idea of prosecuting members of the American government at any level for the actions they took to protect the country. But Obama's new position -- that no CIA personnel will be prosecuted for their actions, but Bush administration officials might be, if Attorney General Eric Holder decides it is worthwhile -- is incoherent. Are we to take it that the Obama administration's position is that waterboarding is not a crime, but ordering it to be done, or approving its being done, is?"

Conservative bloggers are buzzing about Blair's private memo to his staff, in which he claimed "that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists" -- an assertion that was "deleted from a condensed version of his memo released to the media last Thursday":

  • NRO's Andy McCarthy: "Obama's Intel Chief: Coercive Interrogations Worked (and Did I Mention that Democrats In Congress Approved?)"
  • Power Line's Scott Johnson: "[T]he logical inference is that Obama wants to release information that he thinks will smear the Bush administration, but does not want the American public to be fully informed about the benefits that were gained from the Bush administration's policies."
  • AmSpec Blog's Philip Klein: "This would seem to be an important part of the overall torture debate, but somehow this portion of the memo was conveniently left out by the Obama administration when it released the Bush-era interrogation memos last Thursday."
  • Morrissey: "In other words, the Obama administration covered up the fact that even their own DNI acknowledges that the interrogations produced actionable and critical information. When Dick Cheney demanded the release of the rest of the memos relating that information, he wasn't just going on a fishing expedition. [...] We need to have an honest debate on interrogation techniques and securing America against attack from radical, committed terrorists. Conservatives should stop pretending that waterboarding isn't a form of torture that the US has opposed for decades when used abroad, especially against our own citizens. But everyone else should stop pretending that it doesn't work, and that we would have been safer without its use."

Meanwhile, RedState's Erick Erickson makes a prediction: "I do not doubt that more Americans will die at the hands of terrorists under the watch of Barack Obama than under the watch of George W. Bush. [...] Barack Obama is happy to throw real men under the bus who made the tough decisions and did the dirty work to keep us safe. He is happy to undermine our intelligence efforts to placate the left. And he is willing to leave out key details Americans might want to know about the effectiveness and necessity of the techniques. How many Americans will die because of Barack Obama's weak national security leadership?"

While the netroots despise Cheney, they think the CIA should heed his call to "declassify files that he claims would vindicate the CIA's use of coercive interrogation techniques that President Barack Obama has banned":

  • TAPPED's Adam Serwer: "It's a bluff. The administration should call it. But even if it isn't, it's important that the American people have all the details about what was done and why."
  • Daily Kosmcjoan: "All possible information about the torture program should be declassified, and I'm assuming with that release, we can have Dick Cheney's full cooperation. He should be available to come to any hearing room to talk about this 'successful' program and his role in it. Let's encourage his new-found commitment to transparency."
  • TPM's Josh Marshall: "Cheney's claim seems more than a little improbable since all the available information suggests that the administration's torture tactics -- whatever their legal and moral standing -- just didn't produce much information. But why not take Cheney up on the offer? And not just the handful of documents he wants to cherry-pick but everything. Or perhaps more realistically, assemble a diverse and accountable panel of distinguished Americans who will review the most secret records, lean forward in the direction of disclosure while taking a due account of the need to protect genuine national secrets and simply get about the business of letting us know what happened."
  • Firedoglake's Spencer Ackerman: "By all means: disclose, disclose, disclose. Disclose how we'd know that we got valuable, accurate information from torture that saved Americans' lives. We know that in at least one case, rendering an al-Qaeda detainee to Egypt named Ibn Shaikh al-Libi to be tortured resulted in claims about nonexistent ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that administration officials like [ex-Sec/State] Colin Powell publicly stated as part of the case for invading Iraq. The CIA retracted those claims as unreliable a year after the invasion. Let's see whatever memoranda exist about determining when a detainee should be interrogated by the CIA and when he should be sent to a foreign country to be tortured. No half-measures here. Dick Cheney just made a case for a robust truth commission. Thanks!"

Meanwhile, many liberal bloggers are delighted that Cheney is emerging as one of Obama's leading critics:

  • Daily KosMarkos Moulitsas: "I love how Cheney won't shut the frack up. If the one person less popular than George W. Bush wants to be the public face of the GOP, who are we to complain? [...] Every time Cheney emerges from his lair, Democrats win."
  • Oliver Willis: "The only way this could be better for the Dems to have an unpopular discredited ghoul like Cheney out there is if Cheney shot somebody in the face. Again."

And some Genius Came Up With A Plan For A New Collegiate “Writing Course”!

 "Internet-Age Writing Syllabus And Course Overview":


Course Description:

Instant messaging. Twittering. Facebook updates. These 21st-century literary genres are defining a new '
 Generation' of minimalists who would much rather watch Lost on their iPhones than toil over long-winded articles and short stories. Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets glimmer with a complete lack of forethought, their Facebook updates ring with self-importance, and their blog entries shimmer with literary pithiness. All without the restraints of writing in complete sentences. w00t! w00t! Throughout the course, a further paring down of the Hemingway/Stein school of minimalism will be emphasized, limiting the superfluous use of nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, gerunds, and other literary pitfalls.



Students must have completed at least two of the following:

ENG: 232WR -- Advanced Tweeting: The Elements of Droll

LIT: 223 -- Early-21st-Century Literature: 140 Characters or Less

ENG: 102 -- Staring Blankly at Handheld Devices While Others Are Talking

ENG: 301 -- Advanced Blog and Book Skimming

ENG: 231WR -- Facebook Wall Alliteration and Assonance

LIT: 202 -- The Literary Merits of Lolcats

LIT: 209 -- Internet-Age Surrealistic Narcissism and Self-Absorption


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