The GOP is a junior high school red herring monger

A red herring is a logical fallacy used by people to divert attention away from a real issue in an argument. Usually it is because the real issue can’t be defended or the person diverting the attention doesn’t want to defend the real issue. The Republican Party loves them some red herring. One example was making the 2004 general election about gay marriage instead of a referendum on the Iraq war. They are good at diverting attention, especially when they have the ear of the mainstream media who parrot their talking points. The most recent case concerns Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and when did see know about the torture used during the Bush administration. The reason the GOP brings this up is for the red herring so we might ignore the fact that torture is a war crime.

Basically, the GOP is saying that Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the CIA use of water boarding of detainees back in 2002 while she served on the House Intelligence Committee. They are implying that Pelosi is just as culpable for the war crime as President Bush and VP Dick Cheney for ordering the torture. That is since she knew about it and did nothing about it, that she approved of it then.

Pelosi says she was never told about water boarding specifically.

The villagers (aka the mainstream media) have been beating this horse for a couple of weeks, but they miss the point.

Water boarding is a WAR CRIME!!!!!!

It doesn’t matter who knew what when. Anyone who knew about it and condoned it in the government has “blood” on their hands – Democrat or Republican. There was a severe lack of outrage back in 2002 and 2003 when the torture was revealed and we found out about the abuse of detainees.

As Former Sen. Bob Graham, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee told David Shuster on MSNBC:

David, I think fundamentally what’s happening is there’s an attempt underway to try and shift the discussion away from what’s really important and that is did the US use torture? Was that within the law? Who authorized and what were the consequences of that. Those are the important issues. Whether The Speaker or anybody else knew about it is frankly sort of off on the edges.

Sen. Bob Graham backs up Pelosi and says he was never briefed on water boarding by the CIA

It’s a nice play, if it were needed.

Basically the GOP is hoping not only to divert attention away from Bush and Company, but also as threat to the Democrats if they go through with any “truth commissions” or prosecutions over the war crimes, they plan on taking some Dems with them. It is the old junior high game of “He did it too…” which we all know doesn’t absolve you of your wrong doing.

It isn’t needed because I really don’t see the Democrats rushing to prosecute anyone or to make it a front page news for long since they went along with the program back then.

That’s why a special independent prosecutor is needed.

Yes, where WAS the media while the US used torture?

The most ironic thing about this entire torture scandal isn’t that the Bushies and their neo-con lackies are trying to defend the indefensible – which is funny and sad at the same time, but that our mainstream press is now doing their job and asking tough questions and not letting the Bushies off as easy as before. I mean it looks really bad to know they ignored the topic since 2001 when it first came out.

I’m with blogger wmtriallawyer who wrote:

Oh yes, outside of the loons of Hannity, et. al., now many in the mainstream media are showing their absolute indignation (HARUMPH! HARUMPH!) after the Obama administration released the memos to show what we all already knew: the United States of America tortured prisoners, and tried to cook up legal justification for it by calling it enhanced interrogation techniques.

Well, welcome to the club Shep and Norah and whoever else. But you are seven years too late in your outrage.

Where were you this was actually going on? Where were you when the evidence was seeping out? Shoot, where were you when the Bush administration basically admitted they were doing it?

Silent as lambs, you were.

Media Starts Doing Job 7 Years Too Late

So, while I am happy this issue is being treated how it should be – as illegal and un-American – I want to know where the media was seven years ago?

Obama has no right to decide if torture memos should be investigated or prosecuted

On Thursday, the White House and Department of Justice released four more memos written by President Bush’s Department of Justice rationalizing the use of torture toward detainees caught during our “war on terror”. President Obama said in his comments on the release said “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” However, due to current Federal and international law, the President and Department of Justice have no choice but to investigate and prosecute anyone who allowed the torture or performed it.

Nothing disgusted me more than learning about the torture condoned by the Bush administration and then reading the memos that have been released by the DOJ showing the bizarre lengths the neo-cons in the Bush DOJ went to justify the “legality” of the torture.

I was extremely disappointed to learn that President Obama doesn’t want to investigate and prosecute those who wrote the memos, ordered their writing, or the people who carried them out.

This isn’t like what happened to President Nixon after he left office. Nixon’s crimes were more of a political nature and the “little guys” who carried out his illegal plans did face justice.

The memos released Thursday dealt with torture – which is a war crime and crime against humanity. The penalty for crimes against humanity can be death or life in prison. The memos show that all levels of the Bush administration knew about the torture and allowed it to happen. One of the men who wrote one of the memos is now a Federal District Court Judge and there are calls now to impeach him.

The Huffington Post had a good article summarizing the issue:

Manfred Nowak, the UN rapporteur on torture, says that the US must try those who used harsh interrogation tactics in accordance with the UN Convention Against Torture.

Calling for an independent investigations and the compensation of victims, Nowak told the Austrian daily Der Standard:

“The United States, like all other states that are part of the UN convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court… The fact that you carried out an order doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility.”

Opposition Grows To Obama’s Decision Not To Prosecute CIA Agents

Some former Bush administration have made the laughable argument that release of the memos reveals secrets to “our enemies” and has some how made us all “less safe”. The fact is we have known these methods have been used for some time – “our enemies” knew it too and used it for recruiting purposes.

The other point is torture isn’t just immoral, it’s also ineffective and counterproductive as written by a former interrogation officer Matthew Alexander in an op-ed in the Washington Post and his book on the subject:

I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology — one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they’re listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of “ruses and trickery”). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.

I’m Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq

There is also an online petition that asks the President to appoint a special prosecutor:

No Amnesty for Torturers