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Torture Is All in the Subtext

Stephanopoulous: "Is this the kind of interrogation you're trying to protect?"

Hadley: "We obviously can't go into the details what have we're doing."

Stephanopoulos's conclusion: "You're basically saying trust us. But after Abu Ghraib, after the misleading statements on weapons of mass destruction and Iraq's links to al Qaeda, isn't it asking a lot of Congress and the country and the world simply to take your arguments on faith?"

Straw Man Watch

Here's an astonishing exchange from the Rose Garden on Friday:

"Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, former Secretary of State Colin Powell says the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. If a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State feels this way, don't you think that Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to wonder whether you're following a flawed strategy?"

Bush's response was a straw-man argument.

"THE PRESIDENT: If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. I simply can't accept that. It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective."

It would have been worthwhile if someone at the news conference had followed up with something like this:

"In your response to the question about Colin Powell's statement that 'the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism' you made it sound like Powell was saying we were as bad as the terrorists, and you got very angry. But that's not even remotely what Powell was saying. He's simply saying that by pretty universal moral standards, your actions are questionable. Could you please respond to that critique, rather than to a made-up one?"

No one did.

No Controlling Legal Authority?

Here's what Bush had to say about all the attempts he's made in the past to link Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda: "I never said there was an operational relationship."

And he put forth yet another straw man, in response to a question about those statements: "I would hope people aren't trying to rewrite the history of Saddam Hussein -- all of a sudden, he becomes kind of a benevolent fellow."

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