C.I.A. to Senate Intelligence - do as I say, not as I do

The Senate Intelligence Committee is apparently getting a taste of what it’s like to be the subject of a C.I.A. investigation, and isn’t very pleased. It has partially come to light that the spies have been watching the committee, primarily over an investigation into the Bush administration’s interrogation and detention program in the wake of 9/11. Yes, it’s the long and expensive investigation into the C.I.A.’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” coming back to bite the committee.

It’s no secret that the C.I.A. was less than pleased with the findings the investigation, and when the Senate Committee managed to get their hands on a secret document that contradicted C.I.A. Director John Brennan’s contentions that their initial investigation was at least partially false, things started to get ugly. Like many other webs of intrigue in our government these days, one almost needs a scorecard to keep track.

1. The Senate Intelligence Committee engaged in an investigation of the interrogation and detention program. This cost taxpayers more than $40 million because the C.I.A. insisted that the investigation had to take place in a secure location, and all the material had to be reviewed by an outside contractor before it could be released to the committee staff.

2. The investigation found that the techniques like waterboarding used by the C.I.A. really didn’t yield a great deal of useful information. It certainly didn’t justify the use of those techniques, and placed the U.S. in a difficult situation when it came to foreign relations.

Left taking issue with Dems on civil liberties

civil liberties

Most people seem to come to libertarianism from the right.  It honestly makes sense when you think about it.  The right tends to be a place of minimal government and typically argues for more freedom.  The problems kick in on some specific issues.  Many libertarians came to libertarianism after searching for a more consistent ideology.

Me?  I’m a bit of an oddball.  I came from the left.  I came from a place of seeking more consistency on the issue of civil liberties that I was getting from the Democrats.  There have been times when I wondered if there was ever being a small “L” libertarian in the Democratic Party.  Based on what’s being reported over the party’s new platform, I can see that is a resounding “no.”

The piece points out several issues where the Democratic Party has decided to back away from their stances on civil liberties just four years ago.  Issues like indefinite detention, closing Gitmo, illegal wiretaps, and racial profiling all pretty much continue without any modification from President Bush’s era.  Even torture, for which many wanted heads on the proverbial pikes, has reportedly continued despite an executive order ending the practice.

So which conservative or libertarian publication makes such remarkes about President Obama and the Democratic Party?  Townhall?  Nope. Red State? Not even close.

The Weekly Standard? No. The National Review? Hardly. Reason? Wrong again. Try the left leaning Mother Jones.

Many on the left are less than pleased that Obama has done so poorly on civil liberties.  That says nothing over any meaningful move on gay rights (besides the appeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) or a host of other issues.

Yes, the GOP is still pro-torture and pro-war

I went into Saturday night’s debate on foreign policy fully expecting to be depressed.  Despite the party’s claims that it has learned its lessons from Bush’s mistakes, one area where the GOP is entirely unreformed is in foreign policy.  A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has not deterred the hawks of the party who still see aggressive military action as both viable and even desirable.  And yes, the party still wholeheartedly endorses torture.

The torture support is truly baffling from a party that claims to be about morality and traditional values.  On issues like abortion and gay marriage, we are told that the federal government needs to have an activist role that extends far beyond strict Constitutional mandates because the issues are so important.  On these matters, the moral case is simply so compelling that small-government ideas go out the door.  (As an aside, I am not necessarily against state-level action here, but the federal government has NO role.)

Yet when it comes to fighting terrorists, despite the moral weight clearly being on the side of humane treatment and the rule of law, Republicans line up and endorse treatment of prisoners that justified execution when the Japanese did it during World War II.  The only explanation I can come up with is that the average Republican voter is so terrified of terrorists that they take a pass on the moral dilemma here.  It’s sad to say the least that they have ceded the high ground on this issue, all for the illusion that brutal interrogations make us safer.

Podcast: Discussion About CPAC 2010 Guests: Michael Powell, Stephen Gordon

This week, Jason and Brett talk with United Liberty contributor Michael Powell and political consultant Stephen Gordon.

Their discussion centered around CPAC 2010, touching on the GOProud controversy, Ryan Sorba’s commentary, Bob Barr’s panel, torture, and a dalliance into a discussion on protectionism, free markets, and American jobs.

To download the podcast, right-click here and choose “Save Link As…” The introduction music is once again “Silence is Violence” by the always lovely Aimee Allen.

Also, you can subscribe to the RSS of JUST our podcasts here, or you can find our podcasts on iTunes here.


The Torture Loophole Preserved

Two hundred, thirty-three years ago:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…

We all know that the injustice of slavery clouded the reality of these brilliant words. However, years of progress, and certainly the election of Barack Obama, was to set aside such errors and enshrine equality amongst all people of earth. I believe that these “unalienable Rights” are such that no government nor individual can infringe upon these rights as they are natural to all people. These rights, in my mind, involve life, liberty and property. It is arguable whether rights such as that to a writ of habeas corpus or those granted under the Bill of Rights fall under such classification. That question has been one of significant debate in our federal courts over the last several years.

In the aftermath of September 11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration notably expanded the interpretation of provisions which excluded such rights. In the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress passed legislation which prevented unlawful enemy combatants from submitting a writ of habeas corpus to the federal courts thus restricting such prisoners to legal recourse via a military tribunal. This was challenged in Boumediene v. Bush with the Supreme Court ultimately overturning the provision allowing for Guantanamo detainees to to challenge their detentions in federal court.

These Tortured Times

Though I don’t always agree with Andrew Sullivan, his letter to George W. Bush in the most recent issue of the Atlantic Monthly carries a moral force to be reckoned with. Andrew does not re-neg on his support for the war on terror or the Iraq war, yet he manages to convey the destructiveness of the Bush administration’s policies to the US Constitution and the American national honor. There. I said it— “national honor”. Because national honor is exactly what our country lacked when Bush and his cohorts left office.

Though “national honor” is the kind of term that raises red flags for me, reading Andrew’s letter left me famished with a hunger for national honor, for something like the moral integrity at the heart of the American struggle to be (and hopefully to remain) “the land of freedom and opportunity”.

Though I do not agree with Andrew’s arguments for the war in Iraq, I am moved by the intellectual integrity which led him to write this article cum letter. Since the letter is by no means a postcard, I’ve excerpted the sections which I found to be most compelling, but it deserves to be read in its entirety. Andrew begins by situating himself in a moral context— the context for which he believes war is just and necessary.

Torturous Terms of Art

The matter of torture has been discussed over the past several years in connection with its use as a “tool” in the “Global War on Terror” or the “Overseas Contingency Operation” as it has now been called. Dick Cheney has been recently making rounds in an attempt to salvage some credibility and to fuel the partisan fire.

Ron Paul: What if the American People Learn the Truth?

See Video

What if we wake up one day and learn that the terrorist threat is a predictable consequence of our meddling in affairs of others and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?

Esquire Boycotts Bob Conley and B.J. Lawson

I bought this month’s issue of Esquire, which endorses politicians in 482 races across the United States. The magazine overwhelmingly endorses Democrats, so I thought it would be a given that they would endorse Democrat Bob Conley, a Ron Paul supporter, over Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham. To my surprise, they didn’t. Even more disappointing was the bizarre endorsement of Graham:

A former Navy JAG lawyer, Graham swears that he opposes torture. But what can explain his amendment that purports to ban the practice - and then pointedly refuses to define it, while allowing evidence obtained by it into military courts? Graham once carried the moral position on this issue: his capitulation is deeply disappointing. But no one can dispute his intellectual heft or his hard work for his state.

You can support torture or the Constitution — not both.


What is torture, if not punishment? The legal definition of torture is (basically) “severe mental pain or suffering.” When torture is used as an interrogation tactic, many people seem to forget the basis of our justice system: The principle that it is better to let a guilty man go free than to punish an innocent one. This idea dates back to our founding and can even be found in the Bible.

The U.S. Constitution cites rights for the accused and for the convicted, and torture is not on the menu. That is, for American citizens.

Since torture has been used as a form of “enhanced” interrogation on non-Americans, however, the discussion is more than the rule of law. Our very morality is in question.

We must ask ourselves if it is moral to set aside the Bill of Rights in certain situations. These amendments to the Constitution were ratified in order to document the most basic of all human rights that shall not be infringed under any circumstances. The law doesn’t explicitly say “under any circumstances” because it doesn’t have to. People who were born somewhere else are no less deserving of humane treatment, even if, and especially if they have been accused of a crime. Too many government actions are taken with the good intention of saving lives, and rarely are the unintended consequences considered.

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