Now Condi Tells a Fourth-Grader That Bush Admin Did Nothing Illegal

I guess if you can tell a brazen lie to a group of college students, telling the same lie to a classroom of fourth-graders would be even easier:

Days after telling students at Stanford University that waterboarding was legal “by definition if it was authorized by the president,” former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was pressed again on the subject yesterday by a fourth-grader at a Washington school.

Rice, in her first appearance in Washington since leaving government, was at the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital before giving an evening lecture at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. …

The questions had been developed beforehand by students with their teachers and had not been screened by Rice. At first, they were innocuous: What was it like growing up in segregated Birmingham, Ala.? What skill did she want to be best known for?

Then Misha Lerner, a student from Bethesda, asked: What did Rice think about the things President Obama’s administration was saying about the methods the Bush administration had used to get information from detainees?

Rice took the question in stride. saying that she was reluctant to criticize Obama, then getting to the heart of the matter.

“Let me just say that President Bush was very clear that he wanted to do everything he could to protect the country. After September 11, we wanted to protect the country,” she said. “But he was also very clear that we would do nothing, nothing, that was against the law or against our obligations internationally. So the president was only willing to authorize policies that were legal in order to protect the country.”

She added: “I hope you understand that it was a very difficult time. We were all so terrified of another attack on the country. September 11 was the worst day of my life in government, watching 3,000 Americans die. . . . Even under those most difficult circumstances, the president was not prepared to do something illegal, and I hope people understand that we were trying to protect the country.”

Misha’s mother, Inna Lerner, said the question her son had initially come up with was even tougher: “If you would work for Obama’s administration, would you push for torture?”

“They wanted him to soften it and take out the word ‘torture.’ But the essence of it was the same,” Lerner said.

42 Responses to “Now Condi Tells a Fourth-Grader That Bush Admin Did Nothing Illegal”

  1. Bryan says:

    Rice’s exchange with Lerner makes even clearer that CFLF and Scott Horton were taking Rice out of context by saying that she justified torture as though it is OK if the president authorizes it.

  2. Jack Jodell says:

    Just as we keep pornography away from children, so, too, should we keep war criminal Rice, spewing political pornography, away from them too. We have had a lifetime bellyful of the Bush administration’s lies and misdeeds, and it’s time for all of them to go away PERMANENTLY!

  3. Kathy says:

    Bryan, HUH? She said that if the president says it’s legal, it’s not torture. She didn’t use the word torture. That’s the point, Bryan!

  4. Bryan says:

    Tas: I’m extremely impressed at the way you grapple with the issue so directly. And stuff.

    Kathy: No, she did not say that if the president says it’s legal, it’s not torture. And what she did say that you’re taking as the equivalent of that is being taken out of context. Try looking at the context. And if you don’t see what I’m talking about then I will try to explain it to you (if you like).

    Or you can copy Tas and sink to ad hominem or something similarly cute.

  5. Kathy says:

    No, she did not say that if the president says it’s legal, it’s not torture. And what she did say that you’re taking as the equivalent of that is being taken out of context. Try looking at the context.

    Bryan. Here is what she said. This is the entire exchange between her and the student who asked her if she thinks waterboarding is torture:

    “Is waterboarding torture?” student asks.

    Condi answers, “The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations – legal obligations – under the Convention Against Torture. So that’s—And by the way, I didn’t authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency that they had policy authorization subject to the Justice Department’s [clarity?]. That’s what I did.”

    The student replies, “Okay. Is waterboarding torture, in your opinion?”

    Condi answers, “I just said, The United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.”

    That sure sounds like “if the president says it’s legal it’s not torture” to me. You?

  6. Bryan says:

    I’m delighted that you’re willing to examine the context, Kathy. The context is, of course, the portion beyond the quotation you’ve emphasized and highlighted above. I draw your attention to the initial portion of Rice’s answer:
    “The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations–legal obligations–under the Convention Against Torture.”

    Now, if the president was prepared to define anything as legal if he proclaimed it legal, then why bother assigning research on the limits of the Convention Against Torture to the Justice Department? Instead, have them find the right to proclaim the law from the executive office.

    That is not what happened, and you are well aware of that. The administration gave talented lawyers the job of assessing the techniques proposed by the CIA according to the applicable laws. You might not agree with their assessment (and that’s where the true debate is), but that is the history of this.

    So, when Rice says that the president instructed them that nothing would be outside their obligations to the Convention Against Torture, she is almost certainly *not* saying that the president arrogated to himself the right to determine what is and what is not against the law, but rather that the president committed to doing only legal methods of interrogation and went about figuring where the line was between harsh interrogation and torture.

    It is not reasonable to interpret Rice otherwise.

  7. tas says:

    Or you can copy Tas and sink to ad hominem or something similarly cute.

    Awwwww, but just calling you a fucking asshole takes less creativity!

  8. Bryan says:

    Creativity used in an effort to avoid substantively addressing an issue is pretty much wasted. Address the issue and *then* lob the creative zinger? *That* can be a beautiful thing.

  9. tas says:

    I love the feeling of entitlement all you fucking trolls have. You think you can come on here and earn respect just because you open your mouth, then act all high and mighty when nobody wants to play. “Substantively addressing an issue”… Are you fucking kidding me? Do you know our history? Do you know how many times I gave you the benefit of the doubt and tried using logic with you 3-4 years ago, ferchristssake? You acted like a fucking idiot then, and nothing has changed — except my willingness to read your comments and “substantively addres an issue” an issue — or whatever the fuck you want to call it.

    Why should I waste my time? I have no respect for you — you never earned it.

  10. Bryan says:

    If you don’t want to waste your time then why are you here trying to hone your no doubt close-to-perfection ability to devise insults?

    Your post is just another ad hominem, of course. You won’t address my current argument because supposedly you did such a fantastic job defeating some argument of mine in the past (URL?). Supposedly you don’t respect me; my arguments are not worth much because of the type of person I am (ad hominem circumstantial), as one who has his past argument(s) defeated by the great Tas.

    The “entitlement mentality” is pure baloney in the first place. If you allow comments, then you’re obviously at risk of having people comment. It’s up to you if you want to respond. I don’t demand it, not in the least. It can serve my purposes if you ignore what I say (have they no response?). It can serve my purposes if you delete what I say (was it that threatening to them?). And most of all it can serve my purposes if a dialog occurs. It doesn’t matter that much to me how you choose to respond.

  11. Kathy says:

    I’m delighted that you’re willing to examine the context, Kathy. The context is, of course, the portion beyond the quotation you’ve emphasized and highlighted above. I draw your attention to the initial portion of Rice’s answer:
    “The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations–legal obligations–under the Convention Against Torture.”

    I quoted that already, Bryan.

    Now, if the president was prepared to define anything as legal if he proclaimed it legal, then why bother assigning research on the limits of the Convention Against Torture to the Justice Department?

    The lawyers were tasked with finding legal arguments that would allow the CIA to use torture while claiming that the techniques “fell short” of torture. That’s the entire point. The Bush admin (mostly Dick Cheney and David Addington) were ideologically committed to the use of torture. They didn’t use that word, obviously, but the techniques on the list they came up with are all torture. The lawyers’ job was to slice and dice the techniques to make them not torture, and that’s how they came up with this legal garbage about specific numbers of waterboarding sessions and how long they could last and how many hours a man could be hung from hooks in the ceiling, and how many hours or days a man could be kept stuffed into a box, or how many days he could be deprived of sleep, etc., etc.

    The point is, these arbitrary “guidelines” are pure garbage. There’s no such thing as legal guidelines for conducting torture w/o it being torture. Torture is torture.

    So when Condi Rice says, “The president promised us that nothing we did would be outside of our legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture,” that’s disingenuous, self-serving nonsense. What the president did (really more the vice-president actually) was get written findings from the lawyers — who were all hired for their willingness to put ideology above the law — that would allow the administration to say, “This interrogation program accords with our legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture because the lawyers say it does.”

  12. tas says:

    Your post is just another ad hominem, of course.

    Yeah, and your point?

    You won’t address my current argument because supposedly you did such a fantastic job defeating some argument of mine in the past (URL?)

    Dude, I don’t even know what your argument is because I haven’t even read your comments — nor do I care to. Been down that path before, and needless to say, I wasn’t enlightened. I’m just yelling at you because you’re a shithead.

    Of course, I explained my behavior directly to you in 2006: “It all depends on my mood, you see. If I’m PO’ed and you’re around, guess who I’m taking it out on?” You didn’t listen then, and I see nothing as changed now — just another reason to take your prior actions into account. And if you don’t like that, too fucking bad. Go fuck a flying donut for all I care. See, this is where your entitlement issues come back into play — you think you should get respect just because you post a comment. It doesn’t work that way. You were a shithead then and you haven’t proven yourself otherwise now, so fuck off.

  13. Bryan says:

    Kathy kwoth:

    I quoted that already, Bryan.

    Yes, you quoted it. And then you discussed only the highlighted portion as though the surrounding context did not exist.

    The lawyers were tasked with finding legal arguments that would allow the CIA to use torture while claiming that the techniques “fell short” of torture. That’s the entire point.

    If that’s your entire point then you’re sorely in need of evidence. But isn’t the point really Rice’s account of the Bush administration’s view of waterboarding? This site and Scott Horton are claiming that Rice says that waterboarding was OK because Bush said it was OK–a form of presidential “divine command” theory. That interpretation does not neatly fit our set of facts.

    The point is, these arbitrary “guidelines” are pure garbage. There’s no such thing as legal guidelines for conducting torture w/o it being torture. Torture is torture.

    The argument you just made begs the question just as surely as Rice’s would have if she really meant what Horton took her to mean. If you assume at the outset that something is torture then of course it can’t be anything else (circulus in demonstrando). Likewise the opposite. As I said earlier, the real debate ought to take place by looking at the legal definition of torture, and, despite the criticisms, John Yoo gave a pretty decent legal analysis.

  14. Bryan says:

    Dude, I don’t even know what your argument is because I haven’t even read your comments — nor do I care to.

    It is not necessary for you to know what my argument is regarding Rice in order for you to understand the argument in the statement you quoted. May I assume that the fact that you quoted it means that you also read it?

    Been down that path before, and needless to say, I wasn’t enlightened.

    And if you’ve seen five of my arguments then you’ve seen them all?

    Of course, I explained my behavior directly to you in 2006:

    Like I care. I explained my approach above. Ignore me, fine. Delete my posts, fine. Doctor my words, fine. Best of all, engage in rational debate.

    Do you really think that you won’t look foolish if you take a reasonable attempt at dialog and doctor the other person’s words so that you end up with a fallacy of appeal to ridicule? Knock yourself out. It’s only your reputation.

    See, this is where your entitlement issues come back into play — you think you should get respect just because you post a comment.

    This is where you have difficulty reasoning. I don’t care if you don’t offer me respect. Ignore me, fine. Delete my posts, fine. Do whatever you like. I’ll do the same, and we’ll both be judged in the marketplace of ideas. I can live with that. But you might want to delete your blogging history as you go. Just maybe. 😉

  15. tas says:

    It is not necessary for you to know what my argument is regarding Rice in order for you to understand the argument in the statement you quoted. May I assume that the fact that you quoted it means that you also read it?

    Do you need q-tips for your fucking eyes? Do you even read? Have you read a fucking thing I’ve posted in this comment thread? If you had, you’re realize that I haven’t even said one fucking thing about the topic — I’ve just been yelling at you. In fact, in my last comment I admitted as such as I said I don’t even know what your argument is. Are you so fucking dense that you need this repeated to you 10 zillion times before you fucking get it?

    And yet you wonder why people don’t want to talk to you. Conversation — an art you are not skilled at — has a give and take where you have to listen to the other sides.

    And if you’ve seen five of my arguments then you’ve seen them all?

    Oh, because you’re just so intereting that I have to stick around for the rest of the BS? Reference the “respect” argument, use your brain for once in your miserable life, and connect some fucking dots for once you retard.

    Do you really think that you won’t look foolish if you take a reasonable attempt at dialog and doctor the other person’s words so that you end up with a fallacy of appeal to ridicule? Knock yourself out. It’s only your reputation.

    [sigh] Reasonable attempts were had years ago. You’re a troll, Byran. And if you want to discuss reputation, you’re such an asshole that you’ve caused one blogger to alert your comments just to amuse himself (I think one of the handles I gave you was “ROCK HARD AND TROLLING!!” heh), and you made another blogger’s troll hall of fame. As for your blogs that nobody fucking reads, I’m sure they’ll do so much damage to my reputation among you and all your imaginary fucking friends.

    I don’t care if you don’t offer me respect.

    Bullshit. If you had the ability to read — which through this comment thread, you haven’t displayed — you would understand that “respect” means I think you’re worthy of debating with. Which, as I’ve said pretty me 10 zillion fucking times now, you’re not. You don’t listen to the otherside, and furthermore, I don’t consider you to be intelligent at all. Are you comprehending any of this, or do I have to repeat myself again, and again, and again?

    But you might want to delete your blogging history as you go. Just maybe.

    I know you’re never been a widely read blogger, so I can see where you wouldn’t understand how it might be too expensive to keep one’s old blog online. You’ve done this for free with 5 readers a day. For those of us who built a following and had to sell advertising to sustain our blogging habits, keeping our archives online after we’ve moved on and couldn’t sell advertising anymore becomes expensive. I’m sure you won’t understand, though, because nobody has ever given a fuck about your opinion in order to make it worth something.

  16. Kathy says:

    As I said earlier, the real debate ought to take place by looking at the legal definition of torture, and, despite the criticisms, John Yoo gave a pretty decent legal analysis.

    If you look at the legal definition of torture, you should see that John Yoo’s “legal analysis” was pure garbage. No one reading the legal definition of torture and looking at Yoo’s analysis could say he was applying the law to the task he was given in good faith.

    Yes, you quoted it. And then you discussed only the highlighted portion as though the surrounding context did not exist.

    The “surrounding context” contains nothing that would support your apparent belief that the vice-president and the vice-president’s attorney (and that’s who it was, NOT the president) assigned lawyers to research the torture laws in good faith to develop a physically coercive program that was not torture. The surrounding context does nothing to support this statement of yours: “if the president was prepared to define anything as legal if he proclaimed it legal, then why bother assigning research on the limits of the Convention Against Torture to the Justice Department? Instead, have them find the right to proclaim the law from the executive office.” The vice-president and his attorney (again, not the president) bothered to assign research on the “limits” of the CAT precisely because they knew that what they wanted to do (in fact, what they already had been doing for months before there were any memos from the OLC) violated the Convention Against Torture. And in fact, they asked for those memos in response to strong concerns from the CIA that what they were doing was not legal and would put them at risk of being charged with war crimes when a new, law-abiding administration took over. The vice-president and his attorney instructed the OLC attorneys to give them legal cover for illegal acts.

    Condi Rice knew all this. So when she says the CIA interrogation program was legal by definition because the POTUS had promised them that nothing they would do would be outside the law, she was being disingenuous and mendacious.

    Now, what part of this don’t you understand?

    If you assume at the outset that something is torture then of course it can’t be anything else (circulus in demonstrando).

    I don’t have to “assume” at the outset that “something” is torture. I have the definition of torture in front of me. And I have common sense. And the “techniques” described in the memos released by Pres. Obama are torture.

  17. Bryan says:

    Have you read a fucking thing I’ve posted in this comment thread? If you had, you’re realize that I haven’t even said one fucking thing about the topic

    Dude. That’s what I just said. We are not on topic, but you referred to my off-topic statement as though you hadn’t read it because it was on-topic even though you quoted it and should have known better. I like the irony, though. Keep it up. You’re really have been better off just answering my question instead of doing your I’m in a bad mood and you’re here routine.

    And if you’ve seen five of my arguments then you’ve seen them all?

    Oh, because you’re just so intereting that I have to stick around for the rest of the BS? Reference the “respect” argument, use your brain for once in your miserable life, and connect some fucking dots for once you retard.

    When the answer is “yes” you’re allowed to just say “yes.”
    🙂

    It’s only your reputation.

  18. Bryan says:

    If you look at the legal definition of torture, you should see that John Yoo’s “legal analysis” was pure garbage. No one reading the legal definition of torture and looking at Yoo’s analysis could say he was applying the law to the task he was given in good faith.

    You’re talking like an ideologue, and you’re flatly incorrect.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-eastman9-2009apr09,0,1890401.story

    The “surrounding context” contains nothing that would support your apparent belief that the vice-president and the vice-president’s attorney (and that’s who it was, NOT the president) assigned lawyers to research the torture laws in good faith to develop a physically coercive program that was not torture.

    So you’re saying we’re no longer talking about Rice’s view of the president’s approach to harsh interrogation? Because I thought that’s what we were talking about. If you agree with me that we should be talking about the legal merits of the Bush adminstration’s legal analysis, fine–though you may have to make it less than axiomatic that their analysis was wrong in order for us to have a productive conversation on that issue.

    The vice-president and his attorney (again, not the president) bothered to assign research on the “limits” of the CAT precisely because they knew that what they wanted to do (in fact, what they already had been doing for months before there were any memos from the OLC) violated the Convention Against Torture.

    So you’re saying that Rice lied when she attributed to Bush remarks about the administration’s approach to harsh interrogation techniques? Or are we on to a different topic?

    You’re very probably right that some of the interrogation techniques were in use prior to the memos (if you’re talking specifically about waterboarding then I’d like to see your evidence). A recent note by an Ivy League student argues that the U.S. has been engaging in harsh interrogation techniques for decades. So maybe we should indict Carter, G. H. W. Bush and Clinton as well. Dead presidents are no longer liable, I suppose.

    And in fact, they asked for those memos in response to strong concerns from the CIA that what they were doing was not legal and would put them at risk of being charged with war crimes when a new, law-abiding administration took over. The vice-president and his attorney instructed the OLC attorneys to give them legal cover for illegal acts.

    Oops. Your argument just fell completely apart.

    The CIA originally asked for permission to engage in harsh interrogation techniques. The Bybee meme (co-authored by Yoo) was produced in August 2002. Tell me who was waterboarded prior to that.
    http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/doj/bybee80102ltr.html
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-torture-timeline_23apr23,0,4699443.story

    You think the CIA is stupid enough to act illegally based on one president’s say-so when another president can come to power and view things differently? Magic memos! Even more effective than runic Mormon underwear!

    Your argument makes no sense, Kathy. Explain how memos are supposedly supposed to protect CIA employees (or anybody else) from the next administration. The best they could hope for is political cover. And that worked to the extent that President Obama committed to not prosecuting employees who supposedly acted in good faith even though you just admitted that they worried that they were breaking the law!

  19. tas says:

    Dude. That’s what I just said. We are not on topic, but you referred to my off-topic statement as though you hadn’t read it because it was on-topic even though you quoted it and should have known better

    What did I quote? My first comment was one line, quoting nothing. My second comment called you a fucking asshole, quoting something you said about me. My third comment dealt with the feeling of entitlement that you and other trolls have, quoting nothing about Rice’s statements. My fourth comment started this discussion about things I said about your Rice argument that, apparently, I know nothing about nor remember saying them, since I just went through my prior comments and — shockola! — mentioned nothing about your Rice comments. Furthermore, I admitted to not even reading your prior comments, and bluntly stated a couple of times that I’m simply posting here to yell at you.

    After that, you asked me:

    It is not necessary for you to know what my argument is regarding Rice in order for you to understand the argument in the statement you quoted. May I assume that the fact that you quoted it means that you also read it?

    To which I asked if you needed q-tips for your fucking eyes. The reason why I asked this question should be obvious at this point if you weren’t so fucking stupid.

    But now you still insist that I quoted something from your argument. So I double checked my comments to you and found out that, nope, what I’ve said all along is true: I’m yelling at you and haven’t given a flying fuck-all about your “argument” — nor did I quote any of it.

    Had you bothered to read a fucking word I said, you’d notice this.

    Of course, that’s never going to stop you from assuming my actions. For example:

    When the answer is “yes” you’re allowed to just say “yes.”

    [sigh] THE ANSWER IS NO, YOU FRICKEN IDIOT! NO! NO! NO! IT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING THROUGHOUT THIS COMMENT THREAD!

    Jumping Jesus Christ on a fucking pogo stick, just how goddamn fucking dense are you?

    It’s only your reputation.

    You want to know what your reputation is, Byran? You’re a fucking troll who comes on blogs to lecture people about inane bullshit, not listen to what they have to say, then you have the audacity to whine about people not wanting to talk with you like we’re afraid or something. We just don’t want to waste our time in discussions we’re not gonna learn a thing out of. Furthermore, this comment thread proves that your attitude transcends politics because you didn’t bother reading a fucking thing I said, then said repeatedly, still insisting that I quoted your arguments.

    Learn to read. And see you later, fuckface.

  20. Bryan says:

    Tas:

    What did I quote?

    You quoted the following (presented along with your response):

    You won’t address my current argument because supposedly you did such a fantastic job defeating some argument of mine in the past (URL?)

    Dude, I don’t even know what your argument is because I haven’t even read your comments — nor do I care to.

    So, the thing you quoted was a question about your approach to argumentation and my question was with respect to your approach–and answering the question does not require you to be familiar with the argument you’re ignoring–only the statement you quoted. Easy stuff.

    To which I asked if you needed q-tips for your fucking eyes. The reason why I asked this question should be obvious at this point if you weren’t so fucking stupid.

    But now you still insist that I quoted something from your argument. So I double checked my comments to you and found out that, nope, what I’ve said all along is true: I’m yelling at you and haven’t given a flying fuck-all about your “argument” — nor did I quote any of it.

    Yeah. You’re yelling at me because you didn’t bother to distinguish between past arguments, the argument about Rice, and the argument contained in the statement you quoted. And of course it’s all my fault! To borrow a line from Joe Biden, “God love ya!”

    There is an implicit argument in the statement you quoted, whether or not you choose to admit it. That argument concerns the characterization of your approach to conversation. If you were confused about what I was talking about, you could have asked. Instead, you did your usual, uh, thing.

    Of course, that’s never going to stop you from assuming my actions. For example:

    When the answer is “yes” you’re allowed to just say “yes.”

    [sigh] THE ANSWER IS NO, YOU FRICKEN IDIOT! NO! NO! NO! IT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING THROUGHOUT THIS COMMENT THREAD!

    I asked whether your argument was, in effect, that if you’ve read five of my arguments then you’ve read them all. Your answer was implicitly (and appropriately) in the affirmative. Typing all in caps won’t change that fact. But, of course, if you’re prepared to distinguish between ignoring my arguments because of our past interactions and the principle of “read five and you’ve read them all” I will look forward to that discourse with great interest.

    Jumping Jesus Christ on a fucking pogo stick, just how goddamn fucking dense are you?

    Upon seeing the discourse to which I referred above, we can nail down the false premise in your question and identify the premise that you should have used instead.

    You want to know what your reputation is, Byran? You’re a fucking troll who comes on blogs to lecture people about inane bullshit, not listen to what they have to say, then you have the audacity to whine about people not wanting to talk with you like we’re afraid or something.

    Nothing can stop you from offering false characterizations, I suppose. I do not whine about your responses, and if you had read my two-time-now response to your past false characterizations then you would know that by now. Ignore me all you like. I encourage it. Now, with Tas logic, if I encourage it, that means I’m whining! Sorry, but reasonable people do not think that way. And keep bleating out the expletives, too (there I go, whining again!).

    One more time: When I point out that you resort to ad hominem, it isn’t that I mind you using ad hominem. You can break out your dictionary of slang and insults and empty the thing on my behalf. Go for it. I point it out because it weakens you rhetorically.

    And if you do realize that and yet persist in claiming that I am whining about it, then you weaken yourself doubly.

    Carry on, Sir! 🙂

  21. Kathy says:

    You’re talking like an ideologue, and you’re flatly incorrect.

    I believe in the rule of law. If that makes me an ideologue, so be it.

    By the way, there is nothing in that op-ed that supports your statement that I’m “flatly incorrect.”

    So you’re saying that Rice lied when she attributed to Bush remarks about the administration’s approach to harsh interrogation techniques?

    Noooooo! I’m saying that Rice, in her conversation with the Stanford student, was using Bush’s assurances that the administration would do nothing that violated the law as a way to avoid her own personal responsibility for knowing that the law *was* being violated. She is at risk of being prosecuted, Bryan. She’s trying to protect herself.

    You think the CIA is stupid enough to act illegally based on one president’s say-so when another president can come to power and view things differently?

    That’s why they wanted the legal cover, Bryan. But even after they got those initial legal assurances, they were still nervous about it. That’s why they wanted those additional memos. I mean, basically, Bryan, no amount of legal memos can protect against prosecution for war crimes if the legal reasoning was shoddy and the techniques being authorized clearly torture.

    Your argument makes no sense, Kathy. Explain how memos are supposedly supposed to protect CIA employees (or anybody else) from the next administration. The best they could hope for is political cover. And that worked to the extent that President Obama committed to not prosecuting employees who supposedly acted in good faith even though you just admitted that they worried that they were breaking the law!

    I’m not sure what you’re arguing here, Bryan. It *looks* to me like you’re acknowledging that the CIA “harsh interrogations” program was indeed torture, and that the CIA knew it, but everyone was counting on the next president to play along and pretend that everyone acted in good faith and no crimes were committed.

  22. tas says:

    You just don’t get it.

    There is an implicit argument in the statement you quoted, whether or not you choose to admit it. That argument concerns the characterization of your approach to conversation.

    Fine, let’s hop in the time machine, shall we? Here’s the first “supposed” argument of yours that I quoted:

    You won’t address my current argument because supposedly you did such a fantastic job defeating some argument of mine in the past (URL?)

    To which I replied:

    Dude, I don’t even know what your argument is because I haven’t even read your comments — nor do I care to. Been down that path before, and needless to say, I wasn’t enlightened. I’m just yelling at you because you’re a shithead.

    I thought that was pretty straight forward. You, being a complete and total dickwad, didn’t:

    It is not necessary for you to know what my argument is regarding Rice in order for you to understand the argument in the statement you quoted. May I assume that the fact that you quoted it means that you also read it?

    I’m not sure what part of “nor do I care” and “I’m just yelling at you” you didn’t quite get the first time.

    Of course, being the dickwad you you, you persist in this “argument”:

    And if you’ve seen five of my arguments then you’ve seen them all?

    My reply was a bit more blunt:

    Oh, because you’re just so intere[s]ting that I have to stick around for the rest of the BS? Reference the “respect” argument, use your brain for once in your miserable life, and connect some fucking dots for once you retard.

    Oh course, throughout this comment thread I’ve also talked about how I don’t respect you at all, for I’m just yelling at you, etc., etc. You neglect to take any of this into account.

    So, the thing you quoted was a question about your approach to argumentation and my question was with respect to your approach–and answering the question does not require you to be familiar with the argument you’re ignoring–only the statement you quoted. Easy stuff.

    Wanna hear some easy stuff? I’M TELLING YOU TO FUCK OFF! As I mentioned here:

    Go fuck a flying donut for all I care.

    And here:

    You were a shithead then and you haven’t proven yourself otherwise now, so fuck off.

    And here:

    I don’t consider you to be intelligent at all.

    Etc., etc.

    Your fallacy here, Byran, lies in this statement: “your approach to argumentation.”

    I don’t HAVE an approach because I’m not ARGUING with you, I’m YELLING at you for the umpteenth fucking time. There is no argument. I haven’t paid attention to your arguments. I am not arguing with you. I am telling you roll yourself into a river of swine flu.

    Get it yet? Or do you need to repeated for the hundredth time?

  23. tas says:

    Oh, BTW…

    I asked whether your argument was, in effect, that if you’ve read five of my arguments then you’ve read them all. Your answer was implicitly (and appropriately) in the affirmative.

    No. My answer was: “Reference the ‘respect’ argument..” Again, learn to fucking read you tool.

    Is this your idea of an argument? Is this your idea of a conversation? As I mentioned (repeatedly), I would rather converse with somebody I can learn something from. You, on the otherhand, come in here demanding to be heard, then try sticking words in my mouth by implying that I said that if you’ve heard 5 arguments from an individual, then you’ve heard them all. I said no such thing, which you would realize if you bothered to read a fucking word I said.

    As I’ve mentioned before, this goes back to troll entitlement. All you fucking troll assholes think you’re so fucking important that if somebody doesn’t argue with you, then that person is chicken. Or you threaten them repeatedly with “it’s your reputation,” etc. My apologies if I don’t want to talk with somebody who has a proven track record, for years, of being a complete asshole. Pardon me Byran, why don’t I bend over for you and answer all of your inane “arguments” just for your personal amusement, because I’m soooooo afraid of some troll with a blog that nobody reads questioning my “reputation” if I don’t kowtow to his demands. Oh, in the meantime, you won’t listen to a fucking word I say, try to place words in my mouth, and I learn absolutely nothing from the conversation because I’m talking with somebody who wouldn’t know what an honest debate was if it crawled up his leg and sucked his dick.

    Nope, sorry. Been there before. This is why you don’t have respect, which I said, of course, repeatedly. And you, of course, ignored it. But hey, ignoring arguments that don’t fit into your frame of opinion? That’s just the way trolls like Byran roll.

    Oh, and before you say, “How can you say you weren’t arguing with me when you called it ‘the respect argument‘”, two things: 1) you completely ignored the respect argument; 2) the respect argument implies that I don’t have enough respect to argue with you. As I said 20 zillion times when I said I was yelling at you, etc.

  24. Bryan says:

    Kathy kwoth:

    I believe in the rule of law. If that makes me an ideologue, so be it.

    It’s nice that you believe in the rule of law, but that isn’t what makes you look like an ideologue. That comes from the fact that you incorrectly state that nobody can think the Yoo memos a pretty good legal argument.

    And I think you’re probably inconsistent regarding your allegiance to the rule of law (the “living constitution” method of interpretation pretty much makes that a farce, but hopefully that’s another topic). Do you support prosecution for Jimmy Carter if stress positions were used by interrogators under his administration? Same for Bill Clinton?

    By the way, there is nothing in that op-ed that supports your statement that I’m “flatly incorrect.”

    Eastman, a respected expert on Constitutional law, said in the op-ed that Yoo’s memo carries merit. That is contrary to your claim, making Eastman a clear exception if you’re disinclined to count my objection. Perhaps you should double check what you wrote.

    I’m saying that Rice, in her conversation with the Stanford student, was using Bush’s assurances that the administration would do nothing that violated the law as a way to avoid her own personal responsibility for knowing that the law *was* being violated. She is at risk of being prosecuted, Bryan. She’s trying to protect herself.

    The problem with your explanation, Kathy, is that Rice protects herself just as well via the more charitable and reasonable interpretation of her words that I offered earlier: She trusted her friend George Bush’s assurances that he would not permit authorization of something that was contrary to the Convention Against Torture. That is clearly not the same as the way CFLF and Scott Horton presented her comments. So you’re not really addressing that issue, here.

    That’s why they wanted the legal cover, Bryan. But even after they got those initial legal assurances, they were still nervous about it. That’s why they wanted those additional memos. I mean, basically, Bryan, no amount of legal memos can protect against prosecution for war crimes if the legal reasoning was shoddy and the techniques being authorized clearly torture.

    That still doesn’t make sense. What kind of legal cover can they expect from the Bush administration if they themselves believe they are doing wrong? Did they not realize as you do that the memos would offer no protection against future prosecution? How could all those CIA agents be so much less intelligent than you, especially with their own selves in jeopardy? Again, the only cover they could have received from the memos was political cover unless the memos represented a good legal argument. And you have proclaimed that impossible, or something along those lines.

    It *looks* to me like you’re acknowledging that the CIA “harsh interrogations” program was indeed torture, and that the CIA knew it, but everyone was counting on the next president to play along and pretend that everyone acted in good faith and no crimes were committed.

    No, I’m not admitting anything (but I’ll explain my view in a moment). I am taking your statements and, under the presumption–for the sake of argument–that they are correct I show that they don’t make any sense. It is called reductio ad absurdum in logic–showing that the argument is absurd if taken to its logical conclusion.

    I’ve been writing about waterboarding on my blog for about two years, and I noted a long time ago that the definitions being used by pundits and the media had a good chance of being wrong. I stated that the debate as to whether to call it legal or not should take place on a bipartisan basis in Congress and in secret, following the republican principle of government and thereby addressing the need for secrecy stipulated by the CIA. Now that the descriptions of the techniques have come out, my beliefs have been vindicated, though in practice there may have been discrepancies between the techniques authorized as legal and the techniques actually used. I am not decided as to whether or not waterboarding is torture according to the methods described in the memos (the key issue for me is whether telling the prisoner he will not die cancels out the panic-stricken fear of death). But I do believe Yoo provided a pretty good legal argument. If you have a favorite critique of that argument I’d like to read it.

  25. Bryan says:

    Tas:

    Oh, and before you say, “How can you say you weren’t arguing with me when you called it ‘the respect argument‘”, two things: 1) you completely ignored the respect argument; 2) the respect argument implies that I don’t have enough respect to argue with you. As I said 20 zillion times when I said I was yelling at you, etc.

    Funny stuff. You admitted that you used past experience to judge that I don’t deserve the respect of having my argument addressed by you. Your effort, if such it was, to distinguish your reasoning from my characterization of it as if you’ve read five of my arguments you’ve read them all is unserious at best.

    I’d say the only real way you can distinguish your approach from my characterization is to assert that your failure to extend respect was arbitrary. But you’ve already blown that avenue by admitting to having used past experience. So it looks like you’re stuck.

  26. tas says:

    Funny stuff. You admitted that you used past experience to judge that I don’t deserve the respect of having my argument addressed by you. Your effort, if such it was, to distinguish your reasoning from my characterization of it as if you’ve read five of my arguments you’ve read them all is unserious at best.

    Shorter Byran: I don’t like your reply to me, therefore I will ignore it and tell you what you said since that best fits my world view.

    Shorter me: And you wonder why people don’t like talking to you, asshole.

    When you’ve grown up and learned how to have adult conversations, lemmie know.

  27. Bryan says:

    Shorter tas: I’ll make good on my threat to change what Bryan says

    I love your response, tas. Your failure to address my utterly fair characterization of your rationale for ignoring my posts weakens you rhetorically, as I pointed out above. And you’re still responding to my posts under the banner of ignoring me. Keep it up. You’re always building your reputation. 😉

  28. Kathy says:

    t’s nice that you believe in the rule of law, but that isn’t what makes you look like an ideologue. That comes from the fact that you incorrectly state that nobody can think the Yoo memos a pretty good legal argument.

    Point taken. I will amend: Nobody can reasonably think the Yoo memos a pretty good legal argument. And that’s an assessment shared by many if not most respected constitutional scholars. Obviously not including Eastman.

    Do you support prosecution for Jimmy Carter if stress positions were used by interrogators under his administration? Same for Bill Clinton?

    Absolutely.

    She trusted her friend George Bush’s assurances that he would not permit authorization of something that was contrary to the Convention Against Torture.

    Except that, after the Inspector-General’s report in May 2004, which concluded that the CIA interrogation program violated the Convention Against Torture. John Bellinger, Condi’s legal counsel, gave her a copy of that report, and after reading the report, Condi was so alarmed about the possibility that the Bush administration was violating the law and opening itself up to possible future war crimes charges that she tried to shut down the program. And even before she saw that actual documentary evidence, the idea that “she trusted her friend George Bush’s assurances,” etc., must be taken with a great deal of skepticism, since she was present at the early meetings where the program was designed, and she signed off on every single one of those techniques.

    What kind of legal cover can they expect from the Bush administration if they themselves believe they are doing wrong? Did they not realize as you do that the memos would offer no protection against future prosecution?

    Well, that’s a very good question, Bryan. And that’s why the CIA stopped waterboarding after Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. It’s also why, after the IG report came out and its conclusions became publicly known, the CIA destroyed all the torture tapes. And refused to carry out any more “harsh” interrogations at all after a certain point. They were *very* concerned about the possible legal consequences.

  29. Bryan says:

    Nobody can reasonably think the Yoo memos a pretty good legal argument. And that’s an assessment shared by many if not most respected constitutional scholars. Obviously not including Eastman.

    That’s a good amendment, but you must be wary of the fallacy of appeal to the people: Popular vote does not hold sway over the truth, not even among a group of experts. Once you have allowed that legitimate authorities differ on a given subject, the issue is decided on the nuts and bolts of the issue itself rather than by either appeal to authority or by an appeal to the people (or even a combination thereof).

    Except that, after the Inspector-General’s report in May 2004, which concluded that the CIA interrogation program violated the Convention Against Torture. John Bellinger, Condi’s legal counsel, gave her a copy of that report, and after reading the report, Condi was so alarmed about the possibility that the Bush administration was violating the law and opening itself up to possible future war crimes charges that she tried to shut down the program.

    Could you cite your source for this, please?

    And even before she saw that actual documentary evidence, the idea that “she trusted her friend George Bush’s assurances,” etc., must be taken with a great deal of skepticism, since she was present at the early meetings where the program was designed, and she signed off on every single one of those techniques.

    Same source?

    (T)hat’s why the CIA stopped waterboarding after Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. It’s also why, after the IG report came out and its conclusions became publicly known, the CIA destroyed all the torture tapes. And refused to carry out any more “harsh” interrogations at all after a certain point. They were *very* concerned about the possible legal consequences.

    Not so fast. The CIA was the body originally asking for waterboarding and other “enchanced interrogation” techniques. Can we use the same rationale for both the CIA asking for/starting the harsh methods as well as for stopping application of the same methods? It makes sense in terms of political cover, but I don’t see how it makes sense in terms of legal cover. The erosion of political cover could surely have prompted a reversal, since it doesn’t matter if the CIA thinks its legal if they believe the DOJ will see it differently in the future. The threat of prosecution would be present regardless.

    That persists as a sticking point in your argument about Rice’s words (the Horton issue). Does the evidence suggest that Rice felt the techniques were illegal, or merely that the next administration would treat them that way? The portion of the evidence with which I am familiar suggests that laws passed by Congress (subsequent to the original authorization) would have made the techniques potentially illegal, and if the techniques were not used after those laws went into effect then how could it be properly said that Rice felt they were illegal when she approved them? Do you follow what I’m saying?

  30. Kathy says:

    Once you have allowed that legitimate authorities differ on a given subject, the issue is decided on the nuts and bolts of the issue itself rather than by either appeal to authority or by an appeal to the people (or even a combination thereof).

    Of course, the nuts and bolts of an issue are often decided on factual grounds with recognized authorities and authoritative sources being cited to support one’s argument. I don’t necessarily accept that Eastman IS a respected constitutional authority, but if he is, he is only one, and I am quite willing to stake my position on the issue of the Bush administration’s torture program on the nuts and bolts of the issue.

    Could you cite your source for this, please?

    “This” meaning the content of the IG report, or Condi’s response to it?

    Same source?

    No, not the same source. Condi’s having been present at the earliest meetings where the torture program was designed has been reported both in the traditional and independent media, based on declassified documents.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/66727.html

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/22/AR2009042203141.html

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-torture-chrono23-2009apr23,0,4135783.story

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/23/condoleezza-rice-cia-waterboarding

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8013759.stm

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6154255.ece

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/5208701/Condoleezza-Rice-approved-torture-techniques.html

    http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/LawPolitics/story?id=4583256&page=1

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2009/04/23/2009-04-23_condoleeza_rice_approved_use_of_waterboarding.html

    And here is a right-wing blog making fun of liberal bloggers for being shocked that Condi Rice and other high-ranking Bush officials approved the CIA interrogation techniques. “Who do they think approved it, Bugs Bunny?” the Neocon News blog snarks.

    So you see, everyone already knows this except for you, it seems, Bryan.

  31. Bryan says:

    “This” meaning the content of the IG report, or Condi’s response to it?

    All of it, especially the characterization of the IG report. You constructed a narrative that tries to implicate Rice as having approved something illegal at the time she approved it, and it is that construal of the facts that I question. I tried to make that clear with my subsequent comments.

    I had started through the link parade, but it seems designed to support the idea that Rice was involved in administration meetings over the approval of harsh interrogation techniques. I don’t have much interest in that. I’m interested in how the time line relates to the law.

    So you see, everyone already knows this except for you, it seems, Bryan.

    Hmmm? What is it you think I do not or did not know?

  32. Kathy says:

    You constructed a narrative that tries to implicate Rice as having approved something illegal at the time she approved it, …

    Bryan, it was illegal when she, and everyone else involved in this, approved it! It was illegal whether she or anyone else in the Bush administration thought it was illegal or didn’t think it was illegal, whether they thought they had gotten “authorization” for it or whether they didn’t. The “something” she and the others approved was, and is, torture. There is no “at the time she/he/they approved it.” No law has been passed since 9/11/01 making what they authorized illegal. It’s always been illegal — well, always since the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture, the Constitution of the United States, and the U.S. torture statute.

    Anyone directly involved in conceiving, designing, justifying, authorizing, or carrying out these acts IS potentially prosecutable for war crimes, Bryan.

  33. Bryan says:

    Bryan, it was illegal when she, and everyone else involved in this, approved it! It was illegal whether she or anyone else in the Bush administration thought it was illegal or didn’t think it was illegal, whether they thought they had gotten “authorization” for it or whether they didn’t.

    Then we agree that your narrative tries to implicate Rice as having approved something that was illegal at the time she approved it. Don’t you think it at all important that the relevant law changed around the time that the AG and Rice changed (according to your narrative) changed their tune on harsh interrogation?

    You say you treasure the rule of law. You are familiar with ex post facto? Rice’s moral culpability changes if her view of the legality of the techniques changed as the law changed. That is my point, and the reason I’d like to see the source material behind your narrative.

  34. Kathy says:

    Bryan, the law did not change. That’s the point you seem unable to grasp.

  35. Bryan says:

    In Dec. 2005, the law regarding torture changed.
    http://www.slate.com/id/2132572/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detainee_Treatment_Act

    If you fail to realize that the law changed, you may be tempted to draw incorrect conclusions about news statements to the effect that Rice started to show concern that the CIA techniques violated the law.

  36. Kathy says:

    Oh my god, Bryan, you have got to be kidding. The law was not changed. Torture has always been against the law. The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 was just Congress being its typical gutless self and pretending that they were coming up with new law so they could avoid dealing with the fact that the Bush administration had been violating the torture statute and the Convention Against Torture and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions since 2002.

    Plus, Condi started getting nervous about the interrogation program before the DTA was passed. She started getting nervous because of the IG report, which I told you about before. That came out in 2004.

  37. Bryan says:

    Oh my god, Bryan, you have got to be kidding. The law was not changed.

    Congress passed a law that does not count? You must be kidding.

    Torture has always been against the law.

    Torture has always been against applicable laws against torture, naturally. But the Detainee Treatment Act, whether you realize it or not (or will admit it or not) was intended to clarify the line of demarcation between legal treatment of detainees and illegal treatment of detainees.

    The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 was just Congress being its typical gutless self and pretending that they were coming up with new law so they could avoid dealing with the fact that the Bush administration had been violating the torture statute and the Convention Against Torture and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions since 2002.

    Regardless of your opinion of the law, Kathy, it may be relevant to Rice’s opinion of the legality of “enhanced interrogation.” I hope you’ll admit that much.

  38. Bryan says:

    Oops, forgot to address this part:

    Plus, Condi started getting nervous about the interrogation program before the DTA was passed. She started getting nervous because of the IG report, which I told you about before. That came out in 2004.

    That’s why I want you to cite your sources regarding the contents of the IG report and Rice’s supposed reaction. It may be that Rice grew nervous after receiving the IG report, but 2005 is also chronologically after that report. Or the news reports on which you rely may be poorly sourced to begin with.

  39. Kathy says:

    That’s my source for the contents of the IG report and Rice’s reaction, yes.

  40. Bryan says:

    Thanks for the confirmation. Quotations from the story in bold.

    [b]The real trouble began on May 7, 2004, the day the C.I.A. inspector general, John L. Helgerson, completed a devastating report. In thousands of pages, it challenged the legality of some interrogation methods, found that interrogators were exceeding the rules imposed by the Justice Department and questioned the effectiveness of the entire program.[/b]

    That is three concerns: Legality of the Bush program, going beyond the Bush program, and questions about effectiveness.

    The report landed on the desks of some White House officials who were already having their doubts about the wisdom of the C.I.A.’s harsh methods. John B. Bellinger III, who, as the National Security Council’s top lawyer, played a role in discussions when the program was approved in 2002, by the next year had begun to research past ill-fated British and Israeli use of torture and grew doubtful about the wisdom of the techniques.

    The “wisdom” of the techniques. In terms of legality or in terms of effectiveness? I think we can rule out CIA excesses as one of his primary concerns (obviously not wise sans debate).

    Mr. Bellinger shared his doubts with his boss, Ms. Rice, then the national security adviser, who began to reconsider her strong support for the program.

    Your account seems to fall squarely in favor of Rice reconsidering her support for the program in terms of its legality rather than in terms of its effectiveness. Do you have additional support for that view apart from this story? Do you think your position is well supported by this reporting from the Times? I don’t, for what it’s worth.

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