Quote of the Day: Sully Is Officially No Longer Serious (Thank Reason!)

Perhaps a sudden, panicked decision by the president to use torture after 9/11 is understandable if unforgivable. But the relentless, sustained attempt to make torture permanent part of the war-powers of the president, even to the point of abusing the law beyond recognition, removes any benefit of the doubt from these people. And they did it all in secret – and lied about it when Abu Ghraib emerged. They upended two centuries of American humane detention and interrogation practices without even letting us know. And the decision to allow one man – the decider – to pre-empt and knowingly distort the rule of law in order to detain and torture anyone he wants – is a function not of conservatism, but of fascism.

– Andrew Sullivan, responding to revelations in today’s NY Times that the Justice Department (at the direction of the Executive) secretly endorsed the use of torture (or ‘severe interrogations’, as the Gray Lady’s whitewashed headline reads).


When conservatives subvert the rule of law … to enable torture, and when only one man gets to decide who gets detained and tortured, they are no longer conservatives. They are fascists. And they need not just to be defeated; they need to be repudiated.

Wow. Sully is officially forgiven by yours truly for handing a set of keys to Mini-Marty Jamie Kirchick a little while back (although if you’re reading this, Andrew, I’d still appreciate reimbursement for the cost of my new desk).

More from Hilzoy:

The techniques in question are repugnant. But in many ways, the administration’s disregard for the law is worse. When your policies violate treaties you have signed and laws that are on the books, you are not supposed to come up with some clever way of explaining that appearances to the contrary, what you’re doing is not illegal at all. You’re supposed to stop doing it. When Congress decides to pass a law banning “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, you are supposed to stop engaging in such treatment, not to redefine “cruel, inhuman and degrading” so that it doesn’t apply to anything you want to do.

publius rightly believes these revelations are further reason to ban signing statements, because it’s all too apparent that “[t]hey all knew exactly what they were doing — especially Bush, the great Christian idealist.”

I’m sure it will come as no great shock to learn that the White House categorically rejects the charges. The official response (as relayed by Dana Perino) can be neatly summarized by TPMMucker’s headline: “We Don’t Torture Because We Say We Don’t Torture.” Which, sadly, is nearly verbatim:

I’m not disputing that there can be legal disagreements between reasonable people who may look at something one way and another person looks at it in another way. I’m not disputing that. What I am saying is that we do not torture, and I disagree with the notion that just because information is leaked or provided to The New York Times or any other news organization that this country should … that this government should then have to spell out any specifics.


Because all of the opinions and all of the discussions, everything has to be within the law and the policy, and the policy of the United States is that we don’t torture.

Oh, Perino also broke out the now-requisite ‘blah blah blah, 3000 dead, war on terra, etc’ line of defence:

…we know that these are people who will make sure that they can resist any type of interrogation technique in order to carry out horrible, murderous deeds, like killing 3,000 Americans in New York City and at the Pentagon. And we are in a global war on terror. The President … go back to the September 6th speech. The President was very clear as to the situation that we are in and why are we are endeavoring to protect the American people like we are. That’s exactly why we do it.

At least by now it’s quite obvious that irony wasn’t actually among the many 9/11 casualties, despite several rumours at the time to the contrary. Vanity Fair starfucker editor Graydon Carter ate that unfortunate soundbite with a side of Grey Poupon years ago.

Megan Melissa McEwen gets the last word:

Dammit, at this point, the only way to show this nation does not condone the despicable actions of this administration is to start impeachment proceedings. Even if they fail. We should. It’s the right goddamned thing to do.

Goddamn fuckin’ A.

Background: Jane Mayer on CIA black sites and torture proponent David S. Addington (more on the so-called ‘hidden power’ from Chitra Ragavan); Charlie Savage’s many Boston Globe articles detailing the Bush admin’s controversial over-reliance on signing statements. [update: and, if you haven’t already read it, the recent WaPo series on Cheney is also required reading to understand the post-September 10th ’01 (hell, post-November 3rd ’00) world and where things could be heading down the road.]


11 Responses to “Quote of the Day: Sully Is Officially No Longer Serious (Thank Reason!)”

  1. Macswain says:

    Of course, the definition of “torture” being used by the Bushies is only determined in the negative. Anything we have done or will do is not torture.

    They’ve simply been playing a game of semantics all along.

  2. mick says:

    Mac’s right. There’s nothing new about this. Gonzo said virtually the same thing a couple of years ago, John Yoo has been saying it for even longer than that. What’s more, it isn’t just this. The whole of Bush’s tenure, everyone in this Admin has relied on illusion and semantics replacing reality in order to stay out of jail and they’ve been successful. The tactic has worked, and it continues to work. It’s childish, the kind of trick kids try to play on teachers in elementary school and on their patents all through adolescence, but we have apparently decided to swallow it whole rather than face the alternative.

  3. matttbastard says:

    Of course there’s nothing new here. Hardly the first time I’ve blogged on the matter, nor will it be the last.

    Which should make plain why impeachment is imperative, and has been for quite some time, even if not politically expedient.

    Mick lays out the pragmatic case for impeachment succinctly: “The tactic has worked, and it continues to work.” Congress has not only the power but the duty to quit enabling this criminal administration, even if the two-faced beltway Heathers in the MSM are almost guaranteed to buy out every goddamn fainting couch in the fucking greater DC area.

  4. mick says:

    Absolutely, matt, but they aren’t going to. It ain’t gonna happen. The tactic works because the Democrats allow it to work, because they want it to work, and they want it to work because they’re on the same page as the Pubs.

    Whether you believe, as I do, that there’s very little difference between Red authoritarians and Blue authoritarians, or you buy into the notion that the Dems are pandering to a fear they ought to be attacking, no longer matters. The end result is the same. Glenn Greenwald said it yesterday: the Dems will do NOTHING. Impeachment is “off the table” (Pelosi), and in fact the Congress has been busily covering Bush’s ass for him with the MCA vote, the FISA vote, and their refusal to demand accountability for the torture memos.

    There will be no impeachment. If I’m right, there will be no impeachment even if millions are marching in the streets, swamping Congress with telephone calls and letters demanding it, or giving massive support to pro-impeachment pols and challengers. Oh, they’ll do the Kabuki. They’ll talk tough, they’ll make promises, then they’ll make excuses and somehow nothing will ever get done except more support for whatever he wants.

    The Donkeys want the same powers for their president that Bush has taken for himself, probably for pretty much the same reasons. No political group ever renounces a power once it’s been accepted. The genie’s out of the bottle and they have no intention of putting it back, not when it will be at their beck-and-call in a very short 18 months. Impeachment would force them to renounce powers they want for themselves, for – of course – all the best reasons. Therefore, there will be no impeachment. Ever.

    I hope I’m wrong but I’m afraid I’m not.

  5. matttbastard says:

    I don’t believe you’re wrong, either, but I’m also not willing to succumb to the inevitable, either. The more the ruling class’ disconnect from the public is exposed, the better. And if a groundswell of support for impeachment is ignored, there is strategic advantage for the future. The American people need to realize the system is broken, and has been for some time. Which, judging by voter apathy, lack of party participation, etc, is growing. The next step is transforming that sentiment into action. And not symbolic gestures.

    Grant me my idealistic pragmatism, Mick. Am still (relatively) young; hopefully my generation can undo the mess your contemporaries left us. Gonna damn sure try.


  6. PeBoVision says:

    7 years of this blatantly corrupt administration does not afford the American people the right to feign disbelief. As a non-American, I just don’t buy it anymore.

    Short of mass hypnosis (FOX news?), there’s no way an entire populace can be so totally oblivious!

    It’s time to ACT….before your complacency suggests complicity!

  7. matttbastard says:

    Which, judging by voter apathy, lack of party participation, etc, is growing. As in, the realization that reform is needed.

    Gah. Coffee. Stat.

  8. mick says:

    Am still (relatively) young; hopefully my generation can undo the mess your contemporaries left us.


    I will only remind you that that “mess” includes ending Jim Crow (the reason Republicans won back the South and rose up again), ending an illegal and pointless war based on a lie and a bogus theory of “national security” (the reason the Right blames the Left for America’s first military defeat) by going into the streets and creating havoc to make people listen (which, so far, few in your generation seem willing to do), ending the millenia-old repression and ghetto-ization of women, and re-animating the whole concept of participatory democracy after nearly 2 decades of conservative “shut up and do as you’re told” oppression (a period Studs Terkel once described as one where people were allowed “to talk about babies and money and not much else”).

    I realize you were joking – the winking smiley-face was a dead giveaway – but I thought it was important to remind you – andf everyone else who makes fun of us – that if you are anywhere near as successful as we were:

    a) you’ll be doing pretty well,
    b) you’ll be hated for the rest of your life for it by the people who lost because you won, and
    c) 40 years later some smart-aleck kid will come along saying how you fucked it all up and everything that’s happened since is all your fault but they’ll clean up your “mess” for you.

    When that day comes, you will, I hope, take it as I’m taking it: proof that we did well enough that smart-aleck kids don’t think twice about assuming they can improve on it. Had we not done what we did, there would be so much for you to do that you’d be overwhelmed and most likely hiding out in your home bomb-shelter with the covers pulled over your head.

    Say “Thank you”. 😎

  9. matttbastard says:

    Geez, lightheartedly poke a boomer and suddenly the conversation becomes all about them.

    I blame Dr. Spock.


  10. mick says:

    Well, we paid an awfully heavy price for doing what’s needed to be done for hundreds/thousands of years and got precious little appreciation for it. 40 years o’ that kin make yah a mite techy. Long as you know what you got yourself into….

    Personally, I blame Sloan.

  11. skdadl says:

    My question to the Washington press corps: why on earth do intelligent adults sit through sessions with that mouthpiece day after day? Why don’t they all just get up and walk out?

    Every country gets to interpret the Geneva Conventions as it likes … that’ll work, eh? How much do you have to pay people to say things that stupid and that evil?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook