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Monday, January 19, 2009

Keith Olbermann's Really Special Comment

Perhaps it's not NYT's Paul Krugman, as I suggested here, but rather media personality Keith Olbermann, who is most energetically expressing the anger from the wider-circulated Left about the Bush Administration's policies regarding fighting terrorism after September 11. His moral indignation cannot best be captured with just words, I don't think, and so (another first on this blog), here's the video.

These are Mr. Olbermann's concluding remarks, by the way, on Martin Luther King day and on the eve of the inauguration of President-Elect Obama. A little ironic, maybe, given that MLK did not strike a particularly litigious tone, and that Mr. Obama seems intent on moving forward and healing wounds -- bridging gaps -- between the Right and Left with his upcoming Presidency. If President-Elect Obama is watching Keith Olbermann's program at all, he's certainly getting confirmation from cable news media that the road ahead will be long, indeed.

(Incidentally, I'm sure there's a better way to embed the video, but I couldn't find it on blogspot from my brief perusal of the options. I'll look into it. Also, if time is an issue with viewing, the last 2 - 2.5 minutes are I think of most value, although the clip in toto is quite worth it as well.)


mijopo said...
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mijopo said...

I don't know if it was only 3. I think it's bs that waterboarding is in some fuzzy grey zone, see, for example, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201170.html.

Also, it's not the only form of torture used, see Susan Crawford's recent acknowledgement.

"Should the Senate then have some “war crimes” blood – or rather water -- on their hands too, confirming a man that could not say definitively if it was torture?"

What?? Suppose there are allegations about that X killed someone and you go the DA and argue that X should be brought to trial for murder. In response, the DA says, "hey, the AG once told the Senate there are times when a person could kill someone and not be guilty of murder. They still allowed him to be the AG. Ergo, if you're suggesting that X should be tried, it sounds to me like you're also saying that the whole U.S. Senate should be tried. Get out of here, you crazy sonofabich."

mijopo said...

(BTW, what would one really expect a Republican nominee for AG to say about the waterboarding as torture question. Acknowledging that it is compels him to bring the perpetrators to trial, as it now seems to obligate Eric Holder.

Erik said...

I'm assuming the issue is waterboarding, which was done -- to my knowledge -- three times by the CIA and to Al Queda terrorists, the best known Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.

The problem with waterboarding is that there's a debate about whether it's torture, though most Americans think it is (). I think it probably is (I certainly would NOT want to be waterboarded!). CNN released poll numbers in 2007 that showed that about 70% of Americans think it's torture (read it here: http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/11/06/waterboard.poll/).

As I understand it, it's been banned as a technique by the U.S. since 2003, so the issue is whether the three Al-Queda terrorists that were waterboarded after September 11 constituted "war crimes". It seems a little thin…

Attorney General Mukasey -- who was confirmed by the Senate, in spite of his ambivalence about the technique -- put it this way:

“But with respect, I believe it is not an easy question,” he said. “There are some circumstances where current law would appear clearly to prohibit the use of waterboarding. Other circumstances would present a far closer question.”

(Should the Senate then have some “war crimes” blood – or rather water -- on their hands too, confirming a man that could not say definitively if it was torture?)

I'm glad the technique is not used anymore, and was used only on a small number of known terrorists in the panic after September 11. I'm not particularly worried about Khalid Mohammed, though the broader issue is of course America setting a standard, a moral example. Which is why, though people disagree on the status of this technique, it needs to be relegated to history.

mijopo said...

"I'm not particularly worried about Khalid Mohammed, though the broader issue is of course America setting a standard, a moral example."

No, America doesn't get to set the moral standards, they have to follow them just like of the poor schmoes in the world.

Erik said...

I understand your point about the Senate. My point was that if Mukasey was talking about something really obvious, really clearcut in the realm of torture techniques, the Senate would hardly have confirmed him. So it shows the larger ambiguity, insofar as we don't think the members of the U.S. Senate are completely out to lunch (though some I'm sure do).

Following this line, Sen. Clinton has been decidedly ambivalent about waterboarding... not that this shows anything by this fact alone, but it does show that this over-the-top rhetoric about a clear cut war crimes issue (like the Olbermann rant) is a little naive about the complexities and context surrounding the issue.

But, again, I'm glad we don't waterboard. We should, as a rule, err on the side of caution with regard to our treatment of prisoners and combatants.

The Clinton ambiguity can be read here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/would-hillary-clinton-waterboard/

I'm not aware of Ms. Crawford's comments but will check it out.