The Beltway Establishment Is The Pro-Torture Lobby

Digby on the Beltway torture lobby:

[H]ere's Town Crier Chuck Todd reassuring us all that these new executive orders won't allow the terrorists to kill us all in our beds:

Todd: There are still some loopholes. Those who are worried that somehow there isn't going to be a way to get intelligence out of them [. . .] Now the administration says this does not mean they will invite new methods of interrogation back into the fold, but like I said Andrea, you could go through here with a fine tooth comb and could find plenty of loopholes that would allow certain things to happen.

Now, it's hard to make sense out of that, and I don't know specifically what loopholes he's talking about, but it's clear that Chuck Todd is seeking to reassure everyone that some kind of torture will be allowed if it's really necessary. (Boy that's a relief, huh?)

You see the Beltway's outrage here will be if torture is halted. More . . .

Balloon Juice reminds us what really outrages the Beltway, from the mouth of the doyenne of the Beltway, Sally Quinn:

[T]he Washington Establishment is outraged by the president's behavior in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The polls show that a majority of Americans do not share that outrage. Around the nation, people are disgusted but want to move on; in Washington, despite Clinton's gains with the budget and the Mideast peace talks, people want some formal acknowledgment that the president's behavior has been unacceptable. They want this, they say, not just for the sake of the community, but for the sake of the country and the presidency as well.

Is there a more discredited group of people than the Beltway Elite? Let's hope not.

Speaking for me only

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    Sally Quinn could have shortened it (5.00 / 6) (#2)
    by wystler on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:30:38 PM EST
    What really outraged the Beltway KoolKidz? The Clintons. Period.

    Bill and Hilly were sooo hoi polloi. If it wasn't Monica, it was DADT. If it wasn't DADT, it was the Travel Office. If it wasn't the Travel Office ...

    What gets under their skins now? Netroots. Progressive talkers on the radio.

    Meanwhile, they titter in confusion, wondering when the next Tim Russert will appear ...

    the Next Tim Russert (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:31:40 PM EST
    Very clever. Well done.

    Do some reporting on that will ya? (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:40:48 PM EST
    Or maybe Chuck Todd can. I happen to disagree with Michael Ratner of Human Rights Watch on that but I applaud his continued push.

    Chuck Todd has no idea if there are any loopholes. And he is cheering for them. That's the problem.


    Sad to see Todd co-opted (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by oldpro on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:54:53 PM EST
    by the village.  I always liked him...til recently.

    Ambition and careerism.  Not a good trade for integrity.


    "Loopholes" vs the real issue (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by BackFromOhio on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:11:05 PM EST
    To me, the real issue is that a nation with effective intelligence operations does not need to resort to torture for protection. The media, picking up the talking points of some Repuglicans, seems all atwitter with visions of terrorist attacks on American soil the minute one Guantanamo prisoner is released. Did I miss something, or didn't 9-11 follow a real lapse in intelligence operations, i.e., failure to heed various warnings, including the infamous Aug. 6 memo and poor coordination of information?  Joan Walsh, who is normally excellent, was hard pressed to answer Tweety last night when he grilled her as to whether she didn't think that it would be irresponsible not to torture a prisoner we knew to have secrets about imminent threats to American lives.  Why should we allow ourselves to be reduced to such desperation?
    In addition, I think it was Jeffrey Toobin who indicated that where evidence against prisoners has been tainted by torture, prosecutors will have to dig for other evidence or press other charges, such as conspiracy.  

    It's the Great Pumpkinhead, Charlie Brown (none / 0) (#7)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:42:50 PM EST
    Meanwhile, they titter in confusion, wondering when the next Tim Russert will appear ...

    Read section 6 (none / 0) (#18)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 06:45:45 PM EST

    Sec. 6.  Construction with Other Laws.  Nothing in this
    order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers,
    employees, and other agents of the United States Government to
    comply with all pertinent laws and treaties
    of the United States
    governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited
     the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States
    Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A;
    the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441;...the Geneva
    Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture.  Nothing in
    this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any
    individual may have under these or other laws and treaties.  

    Convention Against Torture

    any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.

    But it could just be a clever headfake.


    That is such a great way to put it (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:41:03 PM EST
    There are novels and movies with press characters that are so gawdawful bad that they seem like a charicature.  I think we are at that point however. You could not make these people up. They have to be called out loud and clear on their B.S. , preferably by a high ranking memeber of the new administration.

    Because it's not about torture (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by lilburro on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:48:07 PM EST
    it's always about how Democrats suck.  One way or another.  For ex, I read this comment piece today in Intel News:

    Leo Panetta's purported role in the practice of extraordinary rendition during Bill Clinton's Presidency does not automatically render hypocritical his stated condemnation of torture. Nevertheless, the CIA Director nominee should be expected to clarify this potential inconsistency at his Congressional hearings later on this month. Ultimately, The Washington Times revelation and subsequent editorial, though politically loaded, raise the important issue of double standards of many Democrats. It is indeed hypocritical to condemn certain intelligence procedures as unethical when practiced by a Republican Administration, and remain silent when these very same procedures are exercised under Democratic rule. Leo Panetta and his colleagues in the new Administration would do well to remember that their occasional remarks on ethical matters inevitably become part of the public record, and will come back to haunt them should they fail to uphold the moral standards they so fervently proclaim.

    [emphasis supplied]

    Look I think the Dem Senators' oversight on Bush intelligence issues was appalling.  Accuse the Dems of hypocrisy there.  But to say the "important issue" is Democrat double standards is ludicrous.  The IMPORTANT ISSUE is whether or not we torture and carry out renditions.  Trying to make this about Clinton is absurd.  

    We have 8 years of incredibly dirty laundry.  Yes, we should find out about renditions conducted when Clinton was President.  I totally agree.  But the important issue is not Democratic double standards.  Not right now.  It's what we did and how it happened and how it can be prevented from happening again.

    Rendition vs. Extraordinary Rendition (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by BackFromOhio on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:01:52 PM EST
    I understand the difference to be that rendition means sending those we capture abroad, and extraordinary rendition refers to sending those we've captured to countries we know to torture prisoners.  Which is Panetta being accused of?  I think this distinction was made by Larry Johnson on CNN -- but I read/view so many different things that I'm sometimes confused at to what I heard or read where.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by lilburro on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 09:46:04 PM EST
    rendition has some legal context; extraordinary rendition is in the words of wiki:  "Modern methods of rendition include a form where suspects are taken into US custody but delivered to a third-party state, often without ever being on American soil, and without involving the rendering country's judiciary; they have been termed 'extraordinary rendition.'"  

    Strict rendition is grounded in more conventional legal processes.  Of course purposefully dumping someone where they will be tortured is no-one's idea of a conventional legal process.  Thus it is extraordinary.  There's no justice intended at the end.  It's just to keep the victim occupied.

    It's interesting because there has been debate about the difference between Clinton and Bush era extraordinary renditions.  The best defense (for Clinton) I have found is this, fron ondelette:

    "The terms originally meant 'rendition to justice' as in bringing, in this case terrorists, to justice by trial and charges. It was a covert and extraordinary process because it bypassed extradition, or circumvented the lack of extradition treaties.

    Olshansky states that the program was changed to include interrogation and indefinite preventive detention by the Bush administration within days after September 11."

    The need to understand what is what, and when, is obvious.  We literally don't know what we're talking about, and we need to.  Instead of waiting for messianic journalists, let's just have a declassification, okay?  We're not using it anymore right, so what's it matter?  Seriously I don't want to wait for someone with a CNN mic to walk us through this.

    Compared to others, Obama chose someone relatively cold for the D/CIA.  Come to Kappes, Brennan, Mascik, you get prettttty hot.  Pretty near torture, rendition...


    Just imagine the press ... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Robot Porter on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 05:00:54 PM EST
    making a statement like this after Watergate.

    "Thankfully there are still enough loopholes so that if it's really necessary the president can still set up private intelligence groups, illegally break into opponent's headquarters, and obstruct justice."

    Who was it? Glenn Greenwald's blog, I think (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by kmblue on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 05:23:10 PM EST
    Perhaps he was quoting someone but the gist was that the Media Elite were complicit in Bush's transgressions (in the sense of NOT REPORTING ON THEM ACCURATELY) and therefore have no wish to start airing dirty laundry.

    I'm always amused that Sally (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kmblue on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 05:24:03 PM EST
    now writes on column On Faith, considering her less than angelic personal history.

    Sally says and does (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by weltec2 on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:36:08 PM EST
    the oddest things. It's hard to believe that she is a graduate of Smith College. It is amazing to me that anyone gives her a forum. What does it say about those who do so?

    Pretty rich (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by progressiveinvolvement on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 06:14:47 PM EST
    Sally Quinn faulting Bill Clinton's sexual behavior, considering...

    Really! (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 09:15:02 PM EST
    At least he was carrying on with an unmarried girl.  I fail to see the difference, though, between Monica setting out to seduce her married boss and Sally Quinn setting out to seduce hers.  The major difference is in the end, Bill stayed with his family and Ben did not.

    let me clear this up for you: (none / 0) (#33)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 12:33:02 AM EST
    I fail to see the difference, though, between Monica setting out to seduce her married boss and Sally Quinn setting out to seduce hers.  

    bill clinton was not monica lewinsky's boss. ms. lewinsky was not an intern at the time, and she was just shy of 22. let's at least get the basic facts straight.

    aside from her hypocrisy, ms. quinn (and the rest of the media "villagers") couldn't even be bothered to get these essential elements of the story correct; facts easily enough ascertained.

    given that, why would anyone take anything this woman says seriously?


    Um, Bill Clinton (none / 0) (#34)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 01:54:33 AM EST
    just for the record, was absolutely Monica's boss.  Not only is the president of the United States the boss of every executive branch employee (and volunteer), he was most certainly the boss of the White House interns, which Monica absolutely was at the time their relationship began.

    Don't know what her age has to do with anything I posted, either.


    It's peculiar that these pro-torture media people (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Alien Abductee on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:10:53 PM EST
    are so confused. It doesn't sound like either Hayden or Blair think there's any kind of 'loopholes' or 'wiggle room' in these new executive orders and they're both saying so outright:


    President Obama issued an Executive Order today setting out new instructions for the detention, rendition and interrogation of captured terrorists. The legal and policy landscape under which the Agency has conducted itself in the global war on terror has changed in the past and we have consistently and scrupulously adjusted our efforts to reflect these changes. This Executive Order is no different. We will review the order carefully and issue appropriate guidance to ensure that we continue to act in consonance with the law and with policy direction. When our government changes its law or policy, we will follow that direction without exception, carve-out, or loophole.


    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asked Blair if his point to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) about withholding some interrogation techniques from public release was meant to circumvent the new uniform standards for interrogation. Or did it mean compliance with "more or less the design of the Army field manual right now," where some specificity on implementing the interrogation techniques is all that's withheld for operational security. "Is that what you intended by your response?"

    Blair: "The general pattern I have in mind [is that], the information more widely available is more general than [that] used against adversaries ... We have to assure the American people we are acting correctly but we don't want to provide intelligence support to those trying to come after us."

    But it's not creating a loophole for non-Geneva compliant CIA interrogation techniques? "No, sir. Not saying `Here's the document, and then, just kidding, here's the real stuff."

    This ones for you Big Tent (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by SOS on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:22:45 PM EST
    Can't help (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by SOS on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:34:40 PM EST
    crying when I hear their version.

    Breathless... (none / 0) (#27)
    by weltec2 on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:45:39 PM EST
    Wow, that was really something. Thanks.

    Here's what I don't get: (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by Anne on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:54:08 PM EST
    the percentage of people who are horrified that Gitmo is closing and torture is off the table are the - what? - 22% (or is it just 22 people?) who stuck with Bush to the bitter end?  The same people I hear calling into Washington Journal in the morning, usually from someplace in Texas or Mississippi, to tell America that Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ, and he's going to "get rid of" the Republicans?  Who still think Bush was the best president ever?  Why is Todd reassuring them?

    Was Todd paying any attention these last 8 years?  Or was he honing the fine art of juggling the cocktail weenies, the martini and the Blackberry while doodling on his notebook like a love-struck teenager the names of all the bright political lights he met?  

    Can we now definitively confirm that Todd - like so many of his fellow media-types - is completely and utterly unaware that anything exists on the other side of a television camera, and believes that whatever it is he and the other bubble-heads are talking about is the only reality there is?

    I'm sorry, but I don't tolerate that kind of dumb, not because of where it is coming from, but because of the utter insult it is to the people on the other side of the cameras - us.

    What an unutterable a$$.

    It's disgusting (5.00 / 4) (#29)
    by TheRealFrank on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 08:19:33 PM EST
    On the ABC news tonight, they presented this in a Really Serious manner, as: "Is this good or bad for America?"

    This is how far it's come. There is actually a news item that seriously discusses whether detaining people without due process and/or torturing them is a good or a bad thing.

    It's a world gone mad. And especially the arrogant Beltway chattering class.

    What a joke (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 08:37:21 PM EST
    After giving Bush at least a 6 year blank check, they want to think of themselves as concerned journalists now? I don't understand why they still have jobs. If most of us here were as incompetent at our jobs as they've been, we would be among the ranks of the 500,000 or so that filed for unemployment this month.

    Until we stop hearing from them, (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:15:54 PM EST
    particularly in the pages of the tradmed, they have not yet been discredited enough.

    Is there a more descredited group ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Robot Porter on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:55:01 PM EST
    than the Beltway Elite?


    The Bush Administration.

    Godwin's law (none / 0) (#12)
    by bocajeff on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 04:59:41 PM EST
    Is there some sort of Godwin's Law for the Bush Administration. It seems that no matter what the critique is of the Obama administration sooner or later it will come back to Bush...Just wondering...

    Is there a group more discredit than the Beltway Elite. YES. The Senators, Congressmen and Presidents who fail to do the job they are elected to do...

    Even So ... (none / 0) (#35)
    by wystler on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:05:37 AM EST
    The sun has set on the Bush Administration.

    Beltway Elite mediafolk are much more similar to Supreme Court justices. They're pretty much there for life.


    Wow (none / 0) (#36)
    by squeaky on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 01:35:21 PM EST
    First comment from you in a while that has a few grains of truth in it.  

    Bush is comparable to Hitler.


    The beltway establishment (none / 0) (#14)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 05:05:14 PM EST
    is full of frightened, pampered bedwetters.

    Perhaps Todd is angling for an invite (none / 0) (#20)
    by Joelarama on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:09:22 PM EST
    to Grey Gardens.

    How to stop torture (none / 0) (#24)
    by David Weisman on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:30:31 PM EST
    I guess we need more than politicians to stop the torture.  Iraq interrogator Matthew Alexander wrote about how.


    I so appreciate Todd, especially (none / 0) (#37)
    by No Blood for Hubris on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 09:15:34 PM EST
    when, on national TV, he mentioned that on the first day of the Obama administration everything was SO well organized that in the White House "no one had any trouble finding the men's room."

    Yes, he really said that.  And Brian Williams just let it fly right by.

    So, you know, torture's just another word for nothing left to  . . .  never mind.