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Return of the 9/11 President
But if the American people have "got to know" that torture gained information that prevented an attack, Bush needs to start making a better case. As I've written repeatedly, he has yet to offer any evidence that intelligence produced by torture thwarted a single plot or saved a single life.
The media should demand that he back it up or take it back.
And yet, Fox News's Chris Wallace responded not with a challenge but with what may go down as one of the most inappropriate and insufficient follow-ups in presidential history.
Said Wallace: "I want to follow up on that. Whether it is interrogation of terror prisoners or the intercepting of surveillance among al Qaeda members, are you ever puzzled by all of the concern in this country about protecting of rights of people who want to kill us?"
Even Bush had to come to the defense of his critics.
Said Bush: "That is an interesting way to put it. I wouldn't necessarily define some of the critics of my policy that way. I would say that they want to be very careful that we don't overstep our bounds from protecting the civil liberties of Americans."
Blogger John Amato shows video of Bush's bizarre expression while listening to Wallace's questions about waterboarding: He can't stop smiling.
Meanwhile, Richard E. Mezo writes in a Washington Post op-ed: "As someone who has experienced waterboarding, albeit in a controlled setting, I know that the act is indeed torture. I was waterboarded during my training to become a Navy flight crew member. As has been noted in The Post and other media outlets, waterboarding is 'real drowning that simulates death.' It's an experience our country should not subject people to. . . .
"Back then, we didn't call it waterboarding -- we called it 'water torture.' We recognized it as something the United States would never do, whatever the provocation. As a nation, we must ask our leaders, elected and appointed, to be aware of such horrors; we must ask them to stop the narrow and superficial thinking that hinges upon 'legal' definitions and to use common sense. Waterboarding is torture, and torture is clearly a crime against humanity."
Glenn Greenwald blogs for Salon: "The Senate today -- led by Jay Rockefeller, enabled by Harry Reid, and with the active support of at least 12 (and probably more) Democrats, in conjunction with an as-always lockstep GOP caucus -- will vote to legalize warrantless spying on the telephone calls and emails of Americans, and will also provide full retroactive amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, thus forever putting an end to any efforts to investigate and obtain a judicial ruling regarding the Bush administration's years-long illegal spying programs aimed at Americans. . . .
"What were the consequences for the President for having broken the law so deliberately and transparently? Absolutely nothing. To the contrary, the Senate is about to enact a bill which has two simple purposes: (1) to render retroactively legal the President's illegal spying program by legalizing its crux: warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, and (2) to stifle forever the sole remaining avenue for finding out what the Government did and obtaining a judicial ruling as to its legality: namely, the lawsuits brought against the co-conspiring telecoms. . . .
"[I]t isn't merely that the Democratic Senate failed to investigate or bring about accountability for the clearest and more brazen acts of lawbreaking in the Bush administration, although that is true. Far beyond that, once in power, they are eagerly and aggressively taking affirmative steps -- extraordinary steps -- to protect Bush officials. While still knowing virtually nothing about what they did, they are acting to legalize Bush's illegal spying programs and put an end to all pending investigations and efforts to uncover what happened.