Saturday, May 2, 2009
In defending Bush on waterboarding, Pat Buchanan inadvertently admits on several occasions it’s a war crime, then keeps defending it
Pat Buchanan’s defense that waterboarding is not torture? Half the country supports it and Condi Rice (who would be prosecuted alongside Bush) says it’s not!
by Larry Simons
May 2, 2009
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan have both appeared together on Hardball with Chris Matthews at least 2 times in the past week to discuss the waterboarding/torture issue and whether Bush and his administration should be prosecuted for war crimes.
Turley, who is a professor of Constitutional law at George Washington University, clearly understands the Constitution and never fails to explain his stance consistently and without apology. Turley says that Bush and his administration are clearly guilty of war crimes and that the debate whether waterboarding is torture has long since been over.
On the April 24, 2009 telecast of Hardball, Turley said this:
“Well, there‘s no question—there‘s no one has debated that it‘s a crime under the United States code, 18 USC code, to commit torture. Nobody‘s debating that. And more importantly, we‘re obligated in this country under article 7 of the Convention Against Torture, for example, to submit these cases for prosecution. Indeed, recently a U.N. official said that we‘re probably in violation now because we helped write that treaty, and it obligates countries to investigate and prosecute.
So we‘re not supposed to be like Serbia, where we say, Look, this just isn‘t a good time for us to investigate torture. It‘s an inconvenient thing. It‘s going to be divisive. None of that matters. Under the treaties that we helped write, a country is morally and legally obligated...”
In fact, article 7 of the UN Convention Against Torture says this, “1. The State Party in the territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.”
Turley is absolutely correct. It is not just a war crime to torture, but is also a crime to not prosecute for the committed war crimes.
Buchanan, who defends the Bush administration and the use of torture, admits crimes were committed by saying:
“I think it would be terrible for the country. And frankly, I believe if Barack Obama, if he had to do it, would—I think he‘s going to have to give a pardon, quite frankly, to the people who did it. Here‘s what‘s going to happen...”
First, Buchanan defends Bush’s use of torture. Then he admits that it had to be used to extract information from terror suspects. Then Buchanan says Obama is “going to have to pardon” Bush and his administration because it would be bad for the country? First of all, if waterboarding is not torture and there have been no war crimes committed, then what is there to pardon Bush of? Essentially, Buchanan saying that a pardon needing to be granted is and admittance of a crime being committed.
watch the clip (from April 24)
Buchanan then contradicts himself when he tells Matthews and Turley that if Bush and his administration are brought up on war crime charges and prosecuted, it will “rip the country apart” then says, “Barack Obama won. The decisions Bush had taken were rejected, basically, you can say by the administration. Barack said, No more of that, that‘s over and done with...”
Well, Pat, if the decisions made by Bush were rejected when Americans elected Barack Obama, then how would prosecuting Bush “rip America apart?” I wish Turley would have asked him that. Since Obama admits that waterboarding is torture and most of America voted for Obama, is that not a rejection of torture? How is that “terrible for the country?”
In Obama’s admitting that waterboarding is torture, it presents only one possible option for Obama, to not pardon Bush and let the prosecuting begin. If Obama pardons Bush, then Obama will be, in essence, not only letting criminals walk, but violating Article 7 of the UN Convention Against Torture by not seeking prosecution, as Turley explained.
Buchanan, after about 8 minutes of being shellacked by Turley, had no option left but to panic and begin reaching for any argument he could muster to defend torture. Hysterically, he chose this:
“The polls today show that the American people still support enhanced interrogation techniques if you‘re dealing with al Qaeda types and if you‘re trying to stop 9/11.”
So, now it comes down to polls of what Americans think? Where in the UN Convention Against Torture code does it mention that prosecutions for torture will only commence if torture is unpopular among the citizens of a particular signatory of the UN conventions? It doesn’t. Therefore, Pat Buchanan had to reach to the bottom of his already weak arsenal after just being bitch-slapped with facts from the brilliant Jonathan Turley.
Turley responds, “It doesn‘t matter whether a crime is popular.”
Buchanan, still reaching to the very bottom of the barrel says, “I‘m telling you it does matter whether you‘re going tear the country apart!”, without offering any proof whatsoever that it will “tear the country apart” and without stating where in the UN Convention Against Torture code that it mentions war crime prosecutions should not begin if it tears a country apart. It was clear that Buchanan was unequivocally pwnd by Turley.
Then, when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Buchanan, he admits that if he was Bush, he would be guilty of war crimes as well.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe these are “enhanced interrogation” techniques or they‘re torture?
BUCHANAN: I think—I think waterboarding...
MATTHEWS: Is waterboarding torture?
BUCHANAN: ... is arguably torture.
MATTHEWS: OK. All right.
BUCHANAN: I mean, I think, quite frankly...
MATTHEWS: Well, why are you using their lingo?
BUCHANAN: But look, because I think it arguably is. I‘m not certain it is because I would have done the same thing Bush did.
The debate then took a strange turn. In order for Matthews and Buchanan to attempt to save face, they began resorting to odd analogies to make their case. Matthews says, “When we were facing 9/11 in real time and there was another plane up there, we thought, which was being used, armed, basically, as a weapon and was headed towards somewhere here, the U.S. Capitol, the CIA, the White House, there was a national recognition that the vice president, in this instance, would have had to call that plane to be shot down if we had a fighter jet available.”
Matthews is attempting to make the point that because the President has to face difficult decisions at times like shoot down planes filled with passengers in order to achieve the greater good (saving more lives on the ground), that torture of prisoners is one of those types of decisions.
Buchanan then chimed in and made his insane anaolgy by saying, “You got a right to kill people. You mean waterboarding Sheikh Khalid Mohammed (SIC) is a worse thing than dropping two atomic bombs on people and burning 120,000 people to death, sending 40,000 more to death by radiation to convince the Japanese cabinet to change its mind? What was worse? I mean, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed...”
The above two examples given by Matthews and Buchanan are decisions that the president has the power to make. Both examples above were also not illegal decisions. The torturing of prisoners in wartime is not along these same lines.
In reality, the torture of prisoners does not fall under the category of “the decision of the President”. The United Nations conventions against torture was a treaty signed by over 140 countries, including the United States in order to prevent torture around the world. We are a part of a global body of countries that have signed a treaty to not torture and to prosecute if torture is practiced. Therefore, if this treaty is violated, it is an illegal act and is also not subject to being a presidential decision.
Matthews and Buchanan are simply taking the issue of torture and attempting to remove it from its correct context (the one Turley is explaining, that it is illegal and not a presidential decision) and trying to transform it into something completely different in order to make their point, which Turley does not let them accomplish.
Matthews and Buchanan would have a valid point if the United States had signed treaties agreeing that we would not shoot down planes if they were in danger of crashing or that we would not drop atomic bombs in order to get countries to surrender to end wars. Killing during a time of war is not defined as inhumane, torture is. This is why the act of torture has been made illegal by all the signatories of the UN convention treaty. Killing during wartime happens. It’s inevitable. Torture is a conscious inhumane act. Matthews and Buchanan simply do not understand this.
Six days later (on April 30), Turley and Buchanan was back on Hardball again for Turley Smackdown 2. Matthews began the segment playing a clip of Condoleezza Rice saying this (in response to an interviewer asking if waterboarding is torture), “And 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.”
watch the clip (from April 30)
Matthews then asked Turley if the President could define the law in a time of war. Turley replied:
“...this is the dividing line between tyranny and a democracy. That is, if a president can become a law unto himself, that whatever he says has the fiat of authority, then you no longer have a democratic system. We rejected that a very long time ago, thank God. It defines us as a people. And Nixon learned very well that his theory of the law did not apply. And he found himself chased out of office and ultimately needing a presidential pardon.”
Turley reiterated to Buchanan that we (the United States) signed a treaty and gave our word that we would not only not torture but prosecute those who do. Then reminded Buchanan that when he worked for Nixon and Reagan that he often criticized the Soviets for not being able to be trusted with treaties, and here we are, breaking them as well.
Turley also reminded Pat (if he ever knew) that the United States has also put people to death for torturing people, and that many things the U.S. did in WWII could be very well be viewed as war crimes.
Turley also reminded Buchanan and Matthews that Condi Rice was either lying or was not aware of the Convention Against Torture when she said (in the clip), “…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.”
Turley said that in Article 2 of the C.A.T. it states that “it is not a defense to say that you received an order from a superior officer or someone in public authority.”
Article 2 of the C.A.T. states, “3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.”
Apparently Bush is very well aware of Article 2 of the Convention Against Torture. He used it to threaten the Iraqi military 6 years ago in his speech to the nation. On March 17, 2003 (just 2 days before the start of the Iraq war), Bush said this:
I urge every member of the Iraqi military and intelligence services: If war comes, do not fight for a dying regime that is not worth your own life.
And all Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning: In any conflict, your fate will depend on your actions. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished and it will be no defense to say, “I was just following orders.” Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war and every measure will be taken to win it.
here is the clip
Here is where it became hilarious. After Buchanan gets done explaining the process that would have to happen for there to be a criminal proceeding, the whole time implying that it is still a debate whether waterboarding is torture, Turley says this, “No one is disagreeing this is torture. We have case authority saying it‘s torture. Most people have given up this argument, this canard that water boarding is not torture. We prosecuted people for water boarding.”
I almost spit up my food when Buchanan said, “You just saw the secretary of state say it was not. She said it was not a violation—.” This is Buchanan’s defense of torture? Saying that Condi Rice herself says it’s not? Of course she would say it’s not! She would be one of the targets in the criminal prosecution! Which one of Rush Limbaugh’s pills has Buchanan been popping?
On the transcript page at MSNBC, Turley’s dialogue right after Buchanan says, “She said it was a violation---,” is mysteriously deleted. Turley said, “(laughing)…she’s on the target list of investigation”. Also, they attributed the dialogue (that begins with “No one is disagreeing this is torture..”) before Buchanan’s comment about Rice to Matthews when it was really Turley’s remark.
You can tell Buchanan was once an employee of Nixon in the next section of dialogue.
MATTHEWS: When does the president have a moral right to break the law? Does he ever?
BUCHANAN: Sure, sure he does.
Buchanan then puts his foot in his mouth and unknowingly takes Turley’s side when Buchanan says, “Take FDR, he put 100,000 Japanese, many of them American citizens, into literally concentration camps. And the Supreme Court, they said go ahead and do it. It‘s legitimate. Later on, we all apologized because we said that was a crime, violation of their rights.”
Turley says, “Pat just gave the exact reason why Obama has to prosecute here, because in 20 years, there will be Pat Buchanan Jr. sitting here and saying, look what George Bush did, and he wasn‘t prosecuted.”
I know why Buchanan stepped outside of himself and hung himself with that comment. Because that’s what happens when you have no fucking clue what you are talking about or what you even believe. When you have a belief system that is based on your own opinions and you base none of what you believe on documented, established law, that’s what happens…you put your foot in your mouth and you end up taking someone’s side who you have just been in direct opposition with for the previous 30 minutes.
This falls along the same principal that if you don’t ever tell lies, you don’t need a good memory.
Learn the facts Pat. Learn the law and stop being faithful to a party or one man. Learn the laws of your country and the treaties we sign, then maybe you’ll have a chance in these debates with Jonathan Turley.
Pat Buchanan, un-American FRAUD