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jueves, febrero 14, 2008

Contradictions About Torture

The Original Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy

This is really fascinating. And short. Whoever is playing Edgar Bergen has apparently temporarily lost control of his sockpuppet Charlie McCarthy. The story is that the voices of Bushco apparently don't agree today on the legality of waterboarding torture.

The New York Times blog pulls it all together:
Steven G. Bradbury, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, seemed set to shake up one of the fiercest debates in Washington today by offering a clear and concise statement about the controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

‘’There has been no determination by the Justice Department that the use of waterboarding, under any circumstances, would be lawful under current law,'’ he says in prepared remarks for a House hearing today that were obtained in advance by The Associated Press.

The administration’s current interrogation rules are “narrower than before” waterboarding was used five years ago by the C.I.A., he said. Earlier this week, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said that “in order for it to become part of the program, its legality would have to be passed on.”

Sounds like Bradbury, who hasn't been confirmed, says that waterboarding is not legal under current law. Hmmm.

But then there's this:
About two weeks ago, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying that the technique was not clearly illegal, as The New York Times reported:

“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.”

The letter did not define any of the circumstances.

"Not clearly illegal" means "sorta legal?" Or illegal but not totally? incompletely illegal?

And that's not all:
Last week, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said the legality of waterboarding was “not certain … under current statute,” a view he attributed to himself and lawyers at the C.I.A. and the Justice Department.

When legality is "not certain" it means maybe it's legal, maybe it's illegal, I don't know?

What is next? Retractions all around? Retractions called "clarifications" all around? A more "nuanced" response from some/all of the talking heads? A gag order from Edger Bergen? Stay tuned.

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