[Guest post by DRJ]
Hillary Clinton’s statement against torture is a big story from last night’s Democratic debate, especially since it conflicts with a statement by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and her earlier statement on the use of torture in exigent circumstances:
“Sen. Hillary Clinton scored with a Democratic audience last night by contradicting her husband’s belief that a terrorist could be tortured to foil an imminent plot – but what observers didn’t know is she was contradicting herself, too.
“It cannot be American policy, period,” Clinton (D-N.Y.) told debate moderator Tim Russert, who asked if there should be a presidential exemption to allow the torture of a terror chieftain if authorities knew a bomb was about to go off, but didn’t know where it was.
When Russert revealed ex-President Bill Clinton advocated such a policy on a recent NBC “Meet the Press” appearance, Hillary Clinton won huge applause from the Dartmouth College audience with a deadpan comeback: “Well, I’ll talk to him later.”
She may have to give herself that talk, too. Last October, Clinton told the Daily News: “If we’re going to be preparing for the kind of improbable but possible eventuality, then it has to be done within the rule of law.”
She said then the “ticking time bomb” scenario represents a narrow exception to her opposition to torture as morally wrong, ineffective and dangerous to American soldiers. “In the event we were ever confronted with having to interrogate a detainee with knowledge of an imminent threat to millions of Americans, then the decision to depart from standard international practices must be made by the President, and the President must be held accountable,” she said.”
John Edwards and Mike Gravel also criticized Clinton about Iran:
“Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) hit Clinton for voting yesterday to name Iran’s elite Republican Guard a sponsor of terrorism – which he said was the first step to war with Iran and all too similar to the vote both cast for the Iraq war. Cantankerous former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) pointed at her and said, “I am ashamed of you, Hillary.”
Clinton defended her vote, saying it would let the U.S. “impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran.” She said there was much to to be done to try to achieve a political solution before discussing military options.”
Finally, moderator Tim Russert couldn’t even get Clinton to commit to the Chicago Cubs or the New York Yankees.