reductio ad absurdum

johnbThis is just nonsense.  I swear, as hapless as the Democrats may be, every time John Boehner opens his mouth I realize just how much more pathetic the Republicans are.  In the midst of a torture scandal, the minority leader thinks it’s wise to push Nancy Pelosi to “present evidence” that she was mislead or, failing that, to apologize.  This is obviously an exercise in distraction and illusion, but Boehner is no illusionist, and his sleight of hand will either backfire or fizzle out – just like all his preceding theatrics have.  Via the Washington Post:

“Lying to the Congress of the United States is a crime,” Boehner said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And if the speaker is accusing the CIA and other intelligence officials of lying or misleading the Congress, then she should come forward with evidence and turn that over to the Justice Department so they can be prosecuted.”

He added: “And if that’s not the case, I think she ought to apologize to our intelligence professionals around the world.”

Now, does this also apply to George W. Bush and the rest of the Bush administration who routinely lied about torture being used (among other things) because if that’s the case then I’m in total agreement.  It’s a crime.  Let’s lock up Pelosi and Cheney and Rummy and Yoo and whoever else is behind all this lying.  Probably Boehner, too come to think of it.  Let’s lock up the CIA officials and the military leaders involved.  This is the logical outcome of what Boehner is suggesting, after all, with all this talk of “lying or misleading the Congress” and “presenting evidence.”

Perhaps we should just limit our truth commissions to determining whether or not Pelosi lied.  To hell with all this trivial “torture” nonsense.  The real question is whether or not she was mislead by the CIA.

I like this apologizing idea, though.  Boehner’s on to something there.

Watching Dick Cheney stand before a camera and apologize for his role in starting two senseless wars, in undermining American honor by master-minding widespread torture, and for abusing the trust and responsibility given to him by the American people – it might almost be justice.  It would certainly feel like justice.

I think the theatrics of all of this is just starting to wear thin.  I am starting to grow cynical in my old age, or old in my young age.  Something like that.

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16 thoughts on “reductio ad absurdum

  1. Democrats have been pressing for a truth commission and/or prosecutions of something that we all know was probably also done under previous administrations. Justice cannot be selective. It’s like asking Lady Liberty to lift her skirt but to stop at her ankles. I think the GOP is correct in pointing out that this is much bigger than one administration and one party.

    As I have repeated many, many times, the best way to prove this is about more than one last pound of flesh from Bush and Co. is to go back to 1947.

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  2. Why should Cheney apologize to us? What did he do to us? Tarnish our reputation? Really, I don’t need an apology from Dick Cheney; he hasn’t tortured me or held me for several years without trial. He may have (stoically) betrayed my trust and I’m mad as hell about it, but that pales in comparison to what torture has done to detainees. If anyone goes to the front of the line for a Cheney apology, it should be them.

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  3. Jack Balkin calls this the rise of the National Surveillance State. And it started he said under Clinton. Torture is an exception here of course as the laws were very clear on this matter, but what neither side yet seems to grasp I think is that a lot of this stuff is legally murky at this point because we don’t have a clarified legal paradigm/structure for the 21st century. The technology here does matter–a point Balkin makes. There are ways to make a legal system work that incorporate technological advance as well as protect civil rights–there is always some tradeoff and tradeups in the process. There are ways to go about it that will be increasingly non-transparent and authoritarian. But the reality is there and has to be dealt with. Since Congress is only talented enough–on its good days–to deal with one thing at a time (phew, if that) then I would rather we focus on building a current legal paradigm. Obama I think is partially correct that we should look forward except from where he stands that means basically write it off in terms of prosecutorial activity and then continue the same thing we have which is every policy is dependent on the Executive. It would change again under the next President. We need Congress to establish the laws so that it is not dependent on an Executive pen.

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  4. Alex – I wasn’t really implying that Cheney should apologize to me or “us” directly – I was sort of saying that, you know, a “blanket” apology would be nice (note: I am not holding my breath here) which would include everyone and anyone. And that was more of a play off the whole “Pelosi should apologize” thing to begin with ….

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  5. E.D.-
    I knew what you were getting at, I just wanted to highlight that there are many who feel that those that tortured owe us an apology for tarnishing the reputation of the nation, or for lying to Congress, or lying to the American people, or whatever.
    I just think everyone needs to remember that PEOPLE WERE TORTURED, and to them the apology is absolutely owed first.

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  6. Mike—So you are saying there was a deliberate policy of using torture in previous admins? If so then the truth commissions should find that. But if you are talking about our surveillance state, then that is a bi-partisan issue, but who is talking about investigating that?

    What the issue the R’s are obfuscating as fast and hard as possible is investigating torture. That is the issue at hand, not Pelosi.

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  7. I think that if you look at previous administrations you will find they broke the law in a variety of ways in the interest of national security, torture just being one example. Al Gore is on record as supporting illegal kidnappings of suspected terrorists under Clinton. Are we to really believe they were treated with kid gloves after we got them?

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  8. If Nancy is lying about the CIA not mentioning ‘waterboarding’ back when should she resign? Face charges? Get a redo ticket?
    Is it different for Democrats?

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  9. Bob – it’s different for those who authorized torture vs. those who only knew about it. But, then again, I did write:

    Now, does this also apply to George W. Bush and the rest of the Bush administration who routinely lied about torture being used (among other things) because if that’s the case then I’m in total agreement. It’s a crime. Let’s lock up Pelosi and Cheney and Rummy and Yoo and whoever else is behind all this lying.

    So…what were you referring to exactly?

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  10. E.D.,
    My point is that the ‘current’ discussion is related to whether or not the Speaker of the House lied to Congress, not Bush or Cheney, or Rummy’s ordering of waterboarding. Do you think you’re applying the same standards to Ms. Pelosi’s issue as you did to the Admin’s issue….or is it different for Democrats?

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  11. Once again, actions merit judgment. The action of authorizing torture vs. the action of knowing about it are two different things altogether. So yes, different standards apply but not because one is a Dem the other a Repub.

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  12. Well, E.D., you do seem a fair minded person. What do you think should be the appropriate consequences for the Speaker, assuming she is lying (and as far as I’m concerned that’s an assumption)?
    If she’s lying, is this a case of ‘no big deal,’ just leave it alone or should there be an ‘investigation?’
    E.D., what I’m trying to determine is your objectivity, as a thinker.

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  13. Bob-

    What do you think should be the appropriate consequences for the Speaker, assuming she is lying (and as far as I’m concerned that’s an assumption)?

    I’m not really sure. In fact, beyond asking for investigations etc. into any of this, I haven’t gone much further. I prefer to think these things through one step at a time.

    This is why I keep asking for a truth commission. I don’t have an opinion on punishments etc. because I don’t have all the facts – and we need to find those regardless of who or what might be unearthed in the process.

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  14. Boehner’s position is nothing less than laughable. Of course the CIA lies to Congress. The CIA has lied to Congress throughout it’s history. At times the CIA also lies to the President. Lying to elected officials is an integral characteristic of the CIA.

    Reading Legacy of Ashes taught me a lot.

    Next up: Boehner demands apology from Democrat for saying sky is blue.

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