Friday, June 11, 2004

Wall Street Journal Splitting Hairs

While the main sections of the Wall Street Journal continue to set the standard for reporting on many issues, the Editorial and Opinion pages continue to sink further into desperation in defense of BushCo. Consider this morning's unsigned editorial (subscription) about the recent leaking of administration memoranda on torture.

They could start by noting that no one has come up with a single instance of torture by American soldiers or with any policy directive advocating its use. The Abu Ghraib abuses were disgusting and are being duly punished, but the court martial charges do not include any incidents of torture.
Sometimes court cases go to trial where someone clearly murdered another person, but the prosecution doesn't think they can convict or they want to use the threat of a capital crime to get the accused to turn state's witness. That doesn't mean a murder hasn't occurred. So it is possible, in this case, that prosecutors are using these first trials to shake loose someone really responsible for what went on. The request by the major general (two stars) currently running the investigation that he be replace by someone with enough rank to question people much higher in the chain of command certainly hints at such a potential.

Consider, too the legalistic head-fake Ashcroft pulled when directly questioned about whether anyone in the administration authorized the use of torture, or interrogation methods that could be construed as torture: "This Administration rejects torture."

It makes me want to scream: "Just answer the goddamn question!"

Further hair splitting:

The latest hubbub concerns a December 2002 list of interrogation techniques approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and similar to those used at Abu Ghraib. They include forcing prisoners to stand for a maximum of four hours, the use of hoods, and quizzing them in 20-hour stretches. These "stress positions," as they're called, aren't torture either.
And finally, a little moral equivalism from our Rethug friends? Hard to believe, I know, but:

The subject of Wednesday's Senate hearing was the "torture" memos produced by the Justice Department early in 2002 and used as the basis for a Defense Department report a year later. The government hasn't released these private communications, but they have been leaking out in dribs and drabs in a kind of Beltway political torture.
The WSJ claims that these memos weren't policy, but were explorations of the legal landscape to be trod by the president. BULLSHIT. Lawyers do not spend their high-priced hours writing these things for no reason. Somebody in the administration wanted to know what they could get away with. They asked. The lawyers wrote the memos.

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