Wingnuts Want Addington in the Witness Protection Program After Delahunt Joke

The right’s hypocrisy is on display again in its unhinged reaction to Rep. Delahunt’s attempt at humor on the House floor today:


Here is what John Hinderaker had to say (emphasis mine):

Today the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held yet another hearing on the subject of terrorist interrogations. It is not clear to me why the Democrats are obsessed with this subject. The ranking Republican on the subcommittee, Trent Franks of Arizona, noted that “detainee treatment has been the subject of over 60 hearings, markups and briefings during the last Congress in the House Armed Services Committee alone, of which I am a member.” And that is only a drop in the bucket, since any number of Democrat-controlled committees and subcommittees are eager to declare their solidarity with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other al Qaeda terrorists who have been interrogated over the last six years.


The Democrats sought to advance the view that waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was a crime on a par with the Holocaust, whereas I, for one, think that waterboarding is exactly the right technique for interrogating terrorists: it takes only two or three minutes, is almost always effective, and does no harm to the terrorist.

It is clear, however, that some, at least, of the Democrats who engage in these witch-hunts now identify with members of al Qaeda and unapologetically represent their interests. One such member of Congress is Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts. In this exchange with David Addington, Delahunt expresses his pleasure at siding with al Qaeda members who are watching the proceedings on CSpan against a member of the Bush administration[.]

In a sane world, this would be a scandal that would call into question whether any member of Delahunt’s party should be elected to Congress in November.

In a sane world, John Hinderaker would be scandalized at the sight of a senior government official stonewalling congressional attempts to investigate presidential malfeasance. In a sane world, John Hinderaker would be outraged at the naked contempt with which an unelected official treats the elected representatives of the American people. David Addington made a “complete jackass” of himself, in James Joyner’s words, and in a sane world that would be more of a disqualifier for any future public office than a lame joke cracked by a congressman who probably was sick and tired of being jerked around by the vice-president’s chief of staff, who clearly feels affronted at being held accountable for his actions.

Addington isn’t accustomed to having to operate in the sunlight, as Dana Milbank describes:

Throughout the Bush presidency, he toiled in secrecy deep within the White House, a mysterious and feared presence who never stepped into the sunlight of public disclosure.

Until yesterday.

There he sat, hunched and scowling, at the witness table in front of the House Judiciary Committee: the bearded, burly form of the chief of staff and alter ego to the vice president — Cheney’s Cheney, if you will — and the man most responsible for building President Bush’s notion of an imperial presidency.

David Addington was there under subpoena. And he wasn’t happy about it.

Could the president ever be justified in breaking the law? “I’m not going to answer a legal opinion on every imaginable set of facts any human being could think of,” Addington growled. Did he consult Congress when interpreting torture laws? “That’s irrelevant,” he barked. Would it be legal to torture a detainee’s child? “I’m not here to render legal advice to your committee,” he snarled. “You do have attorneys of your own.”

He had the grace of Gollum as he quarreled with his questioners. In response to one of the chairman’s questions, he neither looked up nor spoke before finishing a note he was writing to himself. When Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) questioned his failure to remember conversations about interrogation techniques, he only looked at her and asked: “Is there a question pending, ma’am?” Finally, at the end of the hearing, Addington was asked whether he would meet privately to discuss classified matters. “You have my number,” he said. “If you issue a subpoena, we’ll go through this again.”

More commentary:

  • Philip Carter: “Calling Addington and Yoo hostile witnesses doesn’t begin to describe the level of their contempt for Congress, the hearing and the democratic processes that brought them to testify by way of a subpoena.”
  • Emily Bazelon: “As a result of all this back-and-forth [between the committee members and John Yoo], Addington gets less air time. That seems odd, since he’s the higher-up and the one who’s still in office. But if you could choose between going after the slightly whiny student and the caustic, blustery headmaster, what would you do?”
  • Think Progress: “Delahunt’s sarcastic remark about Addington’s penchant for secrecy was the subject of a segment on this morning’s Fox & Friends. Co-host Brian Kilmeade attempted to argue that Delahunt put Addington at risk because ‘now al Qaeda can see you and understand who’s putting this policy together.’ ” (Geraldo Rivera’s response to that: “Fox News airs in 144 countries. They [al Qaeda] knows what’s going on. We tell them what’s going on. That’s the risk of having an open society.”)

7 Responses to “Wingnuts Want Addington in the Witness Protection Program After Delahunt Joke”

  1. gcotharn says:

    Delahunt should issue a simple apology. It was a momentary lapse, and a simple apology is appropriate. I don’t understand why one hasn’t already been offered.

    The circumstances and accusations surrounding Addington have no bearing upon the fact that Delahunt spoke inappropriately.

  2. matttbastard says:

    Next time put up a warning before you quote John Assrocket. Now I have to go bleach my brain.


  3. Kathy says:

    I do not agree that Delahunt should apologize. That’s garbage. Delahunt should apologize to Addington for a BAD JOKE? To *Addington,* who treated members of Congress as if they were dirt under his feet?

    Addington is a disgrace. He is an utter disgrace to this country.

  4. gcotharn says:

    Yes, Delahunt should apologize, even if it was a joke. A Congressional Hearing is not a place to make jokes about someone being killed by Al Qaeda. Inappropriate. Unbecoming.

    I don’t think it was a joke. I think it was sarcastic and cold blooded. Yet, I also give Delahunt a break, as his comment was a spur of the moment thing, and every one of us have made mistakes in the heat of a moment. But, he definitely should apologize, imo.

    I see you have strong feelings about Addington. However Addington did or did not behave, whatever Addington has or has not done in past, it does not excuse joking that you are glad Al Qaeda now knows his face (for the implied purpose of hunting him down – which is the only possible way to interpret Delahunt’s comment).

  5. Kathy says:

    (for the implied purpose of hunting him down – which is the only possible way to interpret Delahunt’s comment).

    Wrong. It’s not “the only possible way” to interpret Delahunt’s comment. It’s not even a minimally likely interpretation. Delahunt asked Addington if he authorized waterboarding, Addington blew him off with the same breathtaking disrespect he showed in all his other answers to the panel, and Delahunt — probably angry at being treated with such naked contempt — tried to come up with a snappy, sarcastic comeback, and failed utterly, because throwing spitballs at a monster doesn’t do a thing but frustrate the spitball-thrower. To interpret that as a call for Al Qaeda to kill Addington is ridiculous.

    It’s not about what Addington did or did not do “in the past.” It’s about what he did at the hearings. He treated questions that Congress had every right to ask contemptuously. He was rude, dismissive, sarcastic. If a witness in a courtroom answered questions that way, he would be cited for contempt of court.

    Addington was the one who initiated the exchange by refusing to answer Delahunt’s question about waterboarding because “Al Qaeda may be watching this.” That is the most absurd statement I have ever heard. Pres. Bush himself acknowledged publicly that his administration has waterboarded detainees. Everyone in the world knows that Pres. Bush and his accomplices authorized torture by drowning. Addington just doesn’t think he or anyone else in the White House need to respect or follow the law.

    How could any reasonable person interpret Delahunt’s statement as anything but a badly delivered joke (no sense of comic timing, with all those “Uh’s” at the end), when David Addington was sitting right there testifying under subpoena and telling the world that “Al Qaeda is listening”? Uh, excuse me? Al Qaeda already knew where he was. I mean, HELLO? Al Qaeda was watching, right? Al Qaeda was listening to every word, right? Al Qaeda presumably had eyes to see what David Addington looked like, right? So if anyone exposed David Addington to danger it was David Addington himself.

    Really, the sheer stupidity at work here is mind-boggling.

    Delahunt owes Addington nothing. Addington owes Delahunt and the entire membership of Congress an abject apology.

  6. gcotharn says:

    Because Delahunt’s words imply delight that Addington might be at additional risk, therefore Delahunt’s words are inappropriate.

    Nothing else matters.

    PS: If there was zero chance that Addington is at additional risk from testifying, then I might agree with you. But, there is some chance, however minimal, that Addingtong is at additional risk. Therefore, I disagree.

    It doesn’t matter that Addington might not actually be at additional risk.
    It doesn’t matter that Delahunt was trying to be snappy and sarcastic.
    It doesn’t matter if Delahunt was joking, and in actuality would NEVER wish harm upon Addington.
    It doesn’t matter that Addington’s demeanor and actions might have been extremely rude.
    It doesn’t matter that Addington might owe the entire membership of Congress an abject apology.

    None of that has relevance to the inappropriateness of (even unintentionally) implying delight that Addington might be at additional risk from Al Qaeda.

    So, I disagree. But, I appreciate the thoughtful exchange of ideas. Very much. Thanks for that.

  7. Kathy says:

    That was a nice last line. Thank you.

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