Patterico's Pontifications

2/1/2009

Andrew Sullivan tortures himself for Obama

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:25 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The L.A. Times report that Pres. Obama has preserved renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the US in the war on terrorists — and may expand them — had bloggers like Moe Lane chuckling that Obama-supporting pundits like Andrew Sullivan were now “pro-torture.”

Sully rose to the bait, claiming that:

It is not the practice of “extraordinary rendition” that the Bush-Cheney administration pioneered to supplement its own torture program. It is the practice of capturing terror suspects and rendering them to non-torturing foreign governments for detention, interrogation or prosecution.

In reality, as everyone from Al Gore to Richard Clarke to more honest lefty bloggers knows, is that Obama  is continuing the extraordinary renditions pioneered by the Clinton-Gore administration.

Sully avoids the charge leveled by critics that such renditions are illegal kidnaping, regardless of whether they result in “torture” however described.  He also avoids asking why we would be keen to snatch someone in country A and hand him over to country B, as opposed to bringing him to the US, aside from avoiding legal problems here and the probability that the target may cough up info when left to the tender mercies of the authorities in country B.

Sully, relying on Hilzoy, quotes section 5(e)(ii) of Obama’s executive order, under which a “Special Task Force” is established, among other reasons:

to study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations in order to ensure that such practices comply with the domestic laws, international obligations, and policies of the United States and do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control.

Clearly, neither Sully nor Hilzoy knows much about Chicago politics.  The establishment of “blue-ribbon commissions” to make nasty problems vanish into black holes for extended periods of time is a well-established tradition in the Windy City.  To note two prominent examples, Mayor Richard J. Daley did it after the 1968 Democratic Convention; his son did it regarding allegations of police torture in the 1970s and 80s.  A task force is a great way to move an issue onto a back burner, in hopes that people will stop paying attention.

What happens while all that studying is going on?  Obama’s executive order directs everyone to comply with the law.  Of course, so did Pres. Bush’s EO.  To Sully, the difference seems to be that the evil Boosh was a lying liar with flaming pants, while Obama is full of Hopeyness and Changitude.  To maintain that illusion, Sully really must avoid reading about Obama’s classified loopholes, which may secretly allow enhanced interrogation tactics in “extraordinary cases.”  Sully claims his past opposition was out of a concern for “ensuring that intelligence is not filled with torture-generated garbage,” despite the former CIA official quoted by the L.A. Times as noting that renditions were largely unproductive and less effective at protecting the rights and health of the targets.

Andrew Sullivan’s contortions to keep his lips planted firmly to The One’s posterior may qualify as a new entry for the Kama Sutra.

–Karl

Back to Regularly Scheduled Programming

Filed under: General — JRM @ 7:25 pm

Thanks to Patterico for having me guest-blog here; I’m an occasional blogger on the other side of this blog at The Jury Talks Back.

Although, like the Cardinals, I was second-best this weekend (Jack Dunphy got me), I hope you enjoyed my appearance.

–JRM

Super Bowl

Filed under: General — JRM @ 9:03 am

Predict the exact score.

Tie-break: Predict the number of receiving yards for Larry Fitzgerald.

Winner gets recognized at The Jury Talks Back. If you’re lucky, Scott Jacobs will use amusing profanities to describe why you beat him.

Citizen Journalists

Filed under: General — JRM @ 9:01 am

The print press is dying. The press folks say this will lead to less governmental oversight.

And, for all the bias, all the mistakes, all the populism, and all of the cash-driven behavior, they’re absolutely right.

What can be done?

Here’s what can be done: Citizens can find, and find ways to publish, on government malfeasance. It’s not as hard as you might think.

Go to your government offices and get their itemized budget. If they won’t just give it to you, file a Freedom of Information Act request (assuming your state has one; most do, as does the federal government). You can inspect them free and get copies, usually at statutory non-awful rates. There’s good advice for California residents here.

If you think there’s something more interesting than budget, go get it. If there’s a subject you have expertise in that government does, look at what they are doing. If you have questions, call people who work on that project and ask them what it is. If you have no idea where to start, look at construction change orders. And ask why that change was needed, and whether that cost was justified.

Tell them you’re an interested citizen. You might have to go up the supervisory chain. Be nice.

You’ll probably get blown off some. The percentage of successful inquiries – inquiries that show malfeasance – will not be high. But if 10% of the readership of this blog does one such inquiry every year, we can make changes. The blogosphere is doing some first-hand journalism (Patterico’s done some great stuff himself) and the readership here is more politically savvy and more interested than the average citizen.

If you try this, and succeed or fail, leave a comment. If you’re looking for a place to get the information out, leave a comment here or on one of my posts The Jury Talks Back (it’s the button on the right of this blog).

I know it’s a lot. I know it’s impractical for a lot of reasons for a lot of people. But I was a newspaper reporter, and it’s not that rough. And the newspapers are going to continue to shrink to the Puppies section, comics section, and Britney section. For those of us who care, this is one way to help society and stop governmental overreaching.

Who’s in?


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