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January 05, 2005

It's the torture, stupid

Bush's Counsel Sought Ruling About Torture

Pundits are already blathering about whether the torture memos will be relevant to Alberto Gonzalez confirmation process, and how the Democrats had better not play politics with this political appointment.

James Wolcott cuts to the chase:

A spirited debate (pry open eyelids, insert toothpicks as tentpoles) has broken out in bloggyville (scroll down) over the issue of torture, and whether it should capsize the nomination of Alberto Gonzalez as attorney general. I'm not sure what there is to debate. A) Of course that jellyfish should be rejected. B) Torture is uncondonable. It's a barbaric vestige, like slavery and capital punishment. Torturers torture for the same reason bullies bully: because they can. But a bully's ability to inflict physical and psychological pain is usually limited to the length of his arm, the reach of his fist. Torture is a theater of cruelty backed by the institutional power of the state (and often church); most torture is conducted not to elicit information from captives but to inflict terror, a terror that is often capricious, based on misinformation or deliberate disinformation (A falsely informing on B), and open-ended. A torture victim may tell the torturers what they want, or make up something meant to satisfy them, only to be tossed back into the cell to be dragged out and tortured again. Torture is a hell with no marked exit. [Read the whole thing.]

Michael Froomkin lays out the facts about our potential AG. Gonzales is a man who,

in commissioning and passing on the torture memos participated in a scheme to 1. attempt to put a patina of legality on war crimes and
2. totally twist the Constitution to suggest the President has powers akin to Louis XIVth’s and
3. mis-state the relevant precedents to make it seem like the above have substantial judicial support when in fact the opposite is true.

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