Friday, July 15, 2005

Torture Revisited

Andrew Sullivan has essential reading on the newly released Schmidt Report which "defines humane down," essentially characterizing the abuses that occurred at Gitmo as unfortunate but consistent with "humane treatment."
The kind of techniques used in Abu Ghraib - sexual humiliation, hooding, use of dogs, tying prisoners up in "stress positions", mandatory nudity, humiliating prisoners for their religious faith, even the famous Lynndie England leash - were all developed at Guantanamo Bay under the strictest of supervision. What we were told were just frat-guy, crazy techniques on the night shift - had been deployed by the best trained, most tightly controlled, most professional interrogation center we have. The Schmidt report argues that, while some of this was out of bounds, it was only because of some extra creativity, not because the techniques themselves were illicit, or unauthorized by Rumsfeld and Bush. Abu Ghraib is and was policy - just policy absorbed by ill-trained, unprofessional hoodlums. But those hoodlums didn't get their ideas from thin air. They got them from the Pentagon and the White House.

And Sullivan's conclusion:
What you call this is semantic and subjective. But we do know one thing. When president George Bush said that the vile practices recorded at Abu Ghraib did not represent America, he was right. They don't. They represent his administration and his policies. Of that there can no longer be any reasonable doubt.

-- Eric

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Karl Rove Part II

It is Karl Rove mania here in DC right now.

First, this Byron York story was published in National Review, which features an interview with Rove's lawyer, Donald Luskin. At the end, Luskin does not deny that Rove leaked the fact that Wilson's wife worked for the Agency. Thus, Rove should still be fired.

For a thoughtful look at the journalistic principles involved in the whole sordid affair, check out this piece by Jacob Weisberg, the editor of Slate who always thinks outside-the-box. Weisberg contends that journalists need not protect sources whose motivation is to "lie and manipulate the press." I agree. If Rove - or someone else - was trying to cow those opposed to the war in Iraq by leaking Plame's identity, and given that The Times has exhausted all of the legal avenues they possibly could, I think Judith Miller should feel comfortable revealing the identity of the leaker.
-- Eric

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Karl Rove

It has been revealed that Karl Rove told Time's Matthew Cooper that Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.

There are somewhat complex legal issues at play, but the most important revelation is simple to understand. Karl Rove, the White House's Deputy Chief of Staff, leaked information about an undercover CIA agent to a reporter. Even if he did not give her name and even if he did not know she was undercover, it would have been very easy for Cooper to have figured that out. If Rove knew she was undercover, which I believe he probably did, this is treason. And even if he didn't, he should be fired.

The White House previously characterized the idea that Rove was involved as "totally ridiculous" and promised that anyone involved would be fired. They are now saying they won't comment on the "on-going situation."

First, I have followed Joseph Wilson closely, read a lot of his book, watched him on Meet the Press, and even seen him speak in person. Though I respect what he has done in his career, he does strike me as someone promoting himself. A lot of what he has said in public has been proven to be untrue. But this case has nothing to do with Joseph Wilson. A White House official disclosed information that led to a public revelation of an undercover CIA agent. If a member of a John Kerry administration had done the same thing, we would be talking about impeachment hearings.

Second, Instapundit has been strangely silent on this topic. A few dilligent bloggers have documented this. It is telling that a confirmed compromise of national security would go uncovered by a blogger who typically reports on a minute-by-minute basis on that very topic.
-- Eric

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hitchens At His Best

In Slate today, Christopher Hitchens provides some perspective with respect to the current war in Iraq and U.S. intervention in Srebrenica a decade ago. What makes Hitchens uniquely convincing is his pedigree as a very liberal, almost socialist, thinker who fully supports Bush's foreign policy aims. Regular Exit145 readers may recall Eric's review of a public talk given by Hitchens a few weeks past and newer Exit145 readers can surely look forward to more reviews of his writing.

Here is a short exerpt, but the entire piece is worth a read.
Stepping lightly over easy-listening moral cretinism like that of the Times' editorialist, one ought nonetheless to accept the implied challenge about Afghanistan and Iraq. Those of us who have supported the rescue of both countries have had to put up with a great deal of slander lately. We have been accused of being thoughtless war-mongers, sinister neo-conservative cabalists, slaves to Halliburton, agents of Zionism, enemies of innocent Muslims, laptop bombardiers, armchair warriors, and much else besides. I generally find that these loud insults conceal a surreptitious note of queasy unease. We were right about Bosnia.
--Frank