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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Trying to Keep a Straight Face

Fafblog has shown an amazing ability to get straight talk out of the powerful, as we saw with their earlier interview of Harriet Miers.

As a personal friend of the president, I know more about presidents than most people. I have to rule on the president's powers, I can call 'im up and say, "Hey, Mr. President, do you have the constitutional authority to indefinitely detain prisoners without due process?" And he'll say "You bet."

Now, in another Fafblog interview, Condoleezza Rice comes through with disarming frankness:

FB: ....what's wrong with good ol fashioned American torturers? Aren't we just shippin their jobs overseas?
RICE: First of all, we don't send prisoners off to be tortured, Fafnir. We just transport prisoners to countries where torture happens to be legal and where they happen to end up getting tortured.
FB: Well that explains everything then! It's all just a wacky misunderstanding, like that episode a Three's Company where Jack sends Janet off to Uzbekistan to get boiled alive by the secret police.
RICE: I'd also like to point out that whenever we send a prisoner to a country that routinely tortures prisoners, that country promises us NOT to torture them.
FB: And then they get tortured anyway!
RICE: Yes, they do! It's very strange.
FB: Over and over again, every time! That's gotta be so frustrating.
RICE: Oh it is, it is.

If the rendition thing has caused a lot of unseemly winking and nudging between Condi and "our allies," according to Kenneth Anderson of Uncapitalist Journal it may also involve something of a private joke between Bush and John McCain. The McCain Amendment provides that

No person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense or under detention in a Department of Defense facility shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation. [emphasis Anderson's]

But lo and behold, the list in that Field Manual seems to have gotten a bit longer, according to the New York Times:

The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods.... The techniques are included in a 10-page classified addendum new Army field manual that was forwarded this week to Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence policy. [again, emphasis Anderson's]
Does that mean the U.S. Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation is a "living document"?

Anderson also links to some other rather creepy indications that Bush has decided, for some reason, that the McCain Amendment isn't so bad after all.

Bottom line: torture has been illegal for a long, long time, and it's been going on for an equally long time with support (of varying degrees of directness) from the SOA, Green Berets, and God knows who else. Passing a new law that says "and we really mean it this time" should have about as much real restraining effect on the Executive branch as, say, the Boland Amendment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might want to take a look at "the beginnings of the police state", the last section of chapter XVII of Gibbon (available on the internet). It shows how torture crept in, starting with only being done to other people, and how and on what pretexts it grew.

Digressing, you might also want to see the discussion on the "Iraq Vote" thread at http://johnquiggin.com for some prevalent but fortunately not universal misunderstandings of what "successful" democracy really amounts to.

December 19, 2005 5:28 AM  
Blogger troutsky said...

So if the whole torture thing was a nod to McCain,mostly at the expense of Chaney but not without a little damage to Bush, it was an odd gambit.But then torture standards are an odd concept, like, how bad does this really hurt? Really, really bad?

We have entered the zone where everything that "works" is acceptable and if we havent been attacked it must be working.And if we do get attacked the only option will be to increase "our security" even further.We live in a Dostoyevsky story.

December 19, 2005 3:44 PM  
Blogger alan said...

"Living document" forsooth!

I was raised on the idea of following "living prophets". Sometimes it seemed that obeying living prophets seemed to result in ignoring dead ones.

A "living document" is a gloriously twisted document...our present state of affairs being our governance with a twisted constitution whose interpretations are as false as Ezra's version of the Hebrew oral tradition.

December 19, 2005 7:11 PM  
Blogger b-psycho said...

Heh...so according to the amendment nothing will change? Clever of the bastards, ain't it?

I suspect that the whole hoo-hah may have been planned from day one. It's mutually beneficial -- McCain can get all Self-Righteous Prick & be cheered for it, and Bush can explicitly order torture rather than having to hem & haw about it.

December 19, 2005 10:59 PM  

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