This post is going to require a bit of a trip down the old rabbit hole, so bear with me.

Tuesday on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich argued against Mirandizing the Christmas Day Underwear Bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Stewart countered:

STEWART: Didn’t they do the same with Richard Reid, who was the shoe bomber?

GINGRICH: Richard Reid was an American citizen.

Well, that certainly wasn’t true — Reid, who was brought to justice under the Bush administration through the civilian court system, is a citizen of England. Gingrich later corrected himself, via Twitter:

@newtgingrich: On daily show was wrong re: ShoeBomber citizenship, was thinking of Padilla. Treating terrorists like criminals wrong no matter who is Pres.

(more…)

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Well, it looks like the ever-reliable DNC has folded on the highly-touted Obama campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay. I’m getting a little fed up with this “war on terror”-esque backsliding. The move apparently cuts $80 million from the new Defense spending bill, and it also conveniently avoids the issue of transferring detainees to U.S. soil, much to the delight of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.” Asked next, if he could see a day when Guantanamo detainees might be transferred to prisons on American soil, Reid refused to clarify his remarks. “We don’t want them around,” he said.

This reminds me a lot of a George Carlin routine I love:

From POLITICO:

In recent days, Obama has sent mixed signals himself as he sorts through the complexities of how to bring to trial the remaining prisoners. Republicans have used this confusion to play on the localized fears and emotions of voters about prisoners being transferred to prisons in their states.

UPDATE: Maureen Dowd and Mother Jones’ David Corn and Steve Aquino all decided to go with the NIMBY label on this story, too. You read it here first (although Dowd may have had her column out before I posted this).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi apparently was made aware of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in September of 2002. Or maybe she wasn’t, exactly. If she was aware of the possible use of torture, even in the near future — and even in the much more pro-torture environment of 2002 — she acted cowardly in failing to speak out against it.

Pelosi may have been briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques in 2002, but so what?

Pelosi may have been briefed on "enhanced interrogation techniques" in 2002, but so what?

Isn’t that the end of the discussion with regard to the speaker’s role? Pelosi’s credibility on torture may be ruined, but that does not in any way exonerate Republicans and the previous administration for their culpability in instituting the program, which in addition to being ineffective, is also morally reprehensible.

For some reason, though, the debate has shifted to San Fran Nan, whose public statements have never been difficult to ridicule. And as Mother Jones points out, the story of the briefings she may have recieved on the torture issue is old news — as old as anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan’s unsuccessful run against her in her hometown.

This is a rather crude attempt at political slight-of-hand that Republicans are using to try to squirm out of the heat that’s been brought down upon them following the release of the so-called Torture Memos, which detail the methods used against terror suspects such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was apparently waterboarded 183 times in the month following his arrival at Guantanamo Bay (here’s a report from Fox News explaining why that isn’t all that terrible, anyway).

The sick thing is, it’s working. We’re not talking about who authorized torture and why it was wrong, we’re talking about what Pelosi knew and when.

(By the way, -100 points to whoever wrote the headline on that MSNBC link: “Pelosi’s stands by torture statements.”)

Poll: Americans Support Harsh Interrogations, Don’t Want Investigation – The Atlantic Politics Channel.

This is unfortunate. I suppose this puts me in the minority, since I think “harsh interrogation techniques” is a newspeak term-of-art for torture.

Meanwhile, the normally-hawkish Christopher Hitchens applauded the president for citing Winston Churchill’s “no torture” stance during the Nazis’ bombing of London during the second world war in this article in Slate.

The disparity between the supporters of “enhanced interrogation” and “torture” underscores the efficacy of a good PR campaign.

Defining Torture Down | Mother Jones.

Kevin Drum feels a bit sick after reading the OLC’s “torture memos.” I don’t blame him. The techniques described are enough to turn one’s stomach, and add to that the utter hypocrisy involved in saying that waterboarding isn’t torture so long as it isn’t done more than twice in a 24-hour period.

The mind reels.