L.A.-based NPR show To the Point, hosted by the superb Warren Olney, today focused on "The Next Attorney General and Waterboarding." Olney speaks with Malcolm Nance, whose definitive piece on waterboarding we discussed earlier here and here (in addition to a few other pieces on torture).
Olney's second guest is Lee Casey, a lawyer who worked for Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Casey is clearly a good defense attorney, civil and articulate, performing accomplished (and infuriating) hack work for the Bushies here.
Luckily, Scott Horton of Harper's is brought on to rebut him. Horton's written quite a bit on torture, but his three most recent pieces are "The Bellinger-Sands Debate" (11/5/07) , "The Justice Department’s Culture of Torture" (11/5/07), and "DOJ Torture Memo # 6 Identified" (11/7/07). As Horton points out a few times, Casey's arguments for Mukasey and the Bush administration really only make sense as a legal defense, and Casey's dead wrong about the law being unclear about waterboarding's illegality.
And we all know the farce here. The Bush administration has tortured, and has specifically used waterboarding. Quoted at Blue Herald earlier today, Dan Froomkin's "Exposing Bush's Weakness" provides a good roundup on torture and Mukasey (as do his pieces for the previous two weeks). The standout may be a passage he quotes from Keith Olbermann's latest special comment:
It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.
Pretty much everyone knows this. The question remains for some as to whether they're aiding and abetting the Bush administration, or pursuing justice.
(An additional note: Casey adds some interesting hackery right at the end, where in a throwaway he argues that special prosecutors are bad and that they destroy lives and what not. He's intentionally vague, so who knows specifically what he really means versus what he tries to imply. I suspect he's hoping most people will think of Ken Starr, who was a disgrace and wasted millions of dollars roaming far afield of his appointed task, instead engaging in a partisan witchhunt. However, Patrick Fitzgerald was about as impeccable as one can be, and his work was ridiculously cheap to the taxpayer. Meanwhile, the truly despicable Iran-Contra gang, whom Casey no doubt knew quite well, didn't have their lives destroyed, but that should have happened. Alas, independent Lawrence E. Walsh was stonewalled by the lies by the Reagan administration and then undercut by Congress granting immunity to several of the criminals — and then Bush I issued pardons. Oh, and Cheney said they should all get off scot-free, because the president is above the law and can do anything he damn well pleases. Reagan deserved to be disgraced, and Oliver North, Caspar Weinberger and the rest should have done substantial jail time. Bush and the gang certainly deserve the same, not that Casey would like to see that, either. Of course, in the Bush gang, we've got the Nixon and Reagan gangs all over again, only worse, and they'll never stop wrecking havoc voluntarily.
Update: I should have mentioned Casey was dismissing the idea of a special prosecutor because he claimed the Justice Department could be trusted to investigate itself. Umm, yeah.)
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)