Monday, February 14, 2005

On the nomination of Justice Chertoff

Oh Father, my Father, Oh what must I do?
They're burning our streets and beating me blue.
"Listen my son, I'll tell you the truth:
Get a close haircut and spit-shine your shoes."

Oh Mother, my Mother, my confusions remove,
I long to embrace her whose hair is so smooth.
"Now listen my son, although you're confused,
Cut your hair close and shine all your shoes."

Oh Teacher, my Teacher, your life with me share.
What books ought I read? What thoughts do I dare?
"Oh Student, my Student, of dissent you beware.
Shine those dull shoes and cut short your hair."

Oh Preacher, my Preacher, does God really care?
Are all races equal? Are laws just and fair?
"Boy -- here's the answer, no need to despair:
Shine those new shoes and cut short that hair."

That one certainly reminds me of our government's approach (at least, certain people within our government) to problems recently. No question is too tough or complex to be answered with anything other than the talking points.

Let's take a look at Justice Chertoff.

As i write this a man named Judge Michael Chertoff is currently getting a confirmation hearing in the Senate. He was nominated as head of Homeland Security. I was watching it on CSPAN while eating lunch.

Chertoff is an interesting nomination. At least as interesting as Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Gonzales, and so on.

Let's start from the top.

Chertoff has, as far as i'm aware, not a single success on his record. It is a record of failure. Chertoff has the anti-Midas touch: everything he touches turns to shit. He is engaged in what can only be categorized as an Orwellian meteoric dive upward. But that's Bush-world for you.

Chertoff was a special counsel in the Whitewater investigation. You remember that? Republican fishing expedition looking for an excuse to impeach then-President Clinton so the Republicans could get back to their job of stripping the Democracy off of America?

Following the September 11 World Trade Center attacks, Justice Chertoff orchestrated the roundup of over 1,000 Muslims who were subsequently held without trial. Not a single one of them, from what i understand, has provided anything useful.

Chertoff is, like Alberto "Abu Ghraib" Gonzales, entangled in the US's softballing of torture. In Chertoff's case he was involved with Guantanamo Bay.

According to reports at Guantanamo Bay one of the "interrogation techniques" used there was to lock a prisoner into a solitary confinement cell and then turn spotlights on him 24/7.

One prisoner was "interrogated" in this manner for three months straight. After three months of this he suffered "serious mental derangement" and was no longer really a reliable source for anything. That's even beside the question of whether or not he had any useful information to begin with.

This. Is. Torture.

If the Bush administration continues to call this sort of treatment an "interrogation technique" they deny the fact. If that sort of "technique" must be called an "interrogation technique" that does not change its true nature: it remains torture in everything but name alone.

What does this have to do with Chertoff? He was legal counsel at Guantanamo Bay.

This is yet another nomination by the Bush administration of someone directly entangled in the torture scandals.

Chertoff may not have actively supported torture at Guantanamo bay but he certainly didn't call those who did on their support.

And even if he didn't really have much to do with it: he has refused to answer questions and the Justice Department (under Gonzales--another one entangled in the torture scandal) has claimed they don't have to release the information (or, in fact, any other information at all). So we won't know. But despite the fact that there are grave questions with answers that might go down in history under the "INFAMY" column it's likely Chertoff will get approved anyway. Why? Go ask the Republicans.

Who are some others on the Bush Greatest Hits of Torture list?
Donald Rumsfeld
Jon Bybee
Alberto Gonzales
William J. Haynes II
Ricardo Sanchez
John Abizaid
And More!

All of these people were kept on by Bush, or promoted, in his second term. Are you detecting a pattern?

For all the White House's simpering petulence about be challenged on whether or not they support torture ("Of COURSE we don't support torture, only sinful democRAT traitors would suggest otherwise!") they sure as hell aren't taking instances of actual torture performed on actual human beings seriously. Instead: they're padding the upper levels of the US government with people who are entangled in the whole mess.

And even the Bush nominees that don't fall into the "might be accomplices to some of the most grotesque violations of human decency in American History" category aren't really that great. Although the Republican talking points on the matter--that the Democrats are "obstructionists" and are "undermining the President's constitutional right to nominate who he sees fit"--are untrue (see: Clinton) it probably wouldn't be undeserved even if it were.

"You Heard Me Right" -- Take the Republicans' rhetoric and turn it back at them. Who can claim, after reading this, that the Republicans and Democrats are truly value-equivalent?

Speaking of right-wing extremists: Instapundit spews some more bile. I know arguing with these people only empowers them, but for the sake of those out there who don't immediately see what's wrong with the logic: "the pressure of public opinion" that Hussein mentioned was objectively correct with respect to the Bush administration's justification for war, whereas the Bush administration and it's sycophants were objectively incorrect. In other words, this is another permutation of the "If we don't X the terrorists have already won!" defense. Jim Henley and Hesiod are right to complain about this.

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