Richard Cohen: Dim Bulb

I have come to a deep realization about Richard Cohen, columnist for the Washington Post. His failings are not so much moral and instead simply result from a lack of brain wattage. His column today demonstrates such a lack of intelligence that it becomes perfectly clear that whatever else one may say about what Mr. Cohen writes, the first principle one should adopt in reading him is to understand he just is not very smart. Today Cohen writes:

[I]t is important to understand that abolishing torture will not make us safer. Terrorists do not give a damn about our morality, our moral authority or what one columnist called "our moral compass." George Bush was certainly disliked in much of the world, but the Sept. 11 attacks were planned while Bill Clinton was in office, and he offended no one with the possible exception of the Christian right. Indeed, he went around the world apologizing for America's misdeeds -- slavery, in particular. No terrorist turned back as a result.

[MORE . . .]

If Obama thinks the world will respond to his new torture policy, he is seriously misguided. Indeed, he has made things a bit easier for terrorists who now know what will not happen to them if they get caught. And by waffling over whether he will entertain the prosecution of Bush-era Justice Department lawyers (and possibly CIA interrogators as well), he has shown agents in the field that he is behind them, oh, about 62 percent of the time.

(Emphasis supplied.) This is resplendent stupidity. Of course terrorists DO give a damn about our moral authority. Why? Because when America weakens its moral authority, it weakens American power in the world. Only simpletons like Richard Cohen and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney do not understand this basic point. It has been explained to them over and over but here, on a clear day in April 2009, Richard Cohen is just too dumb to understand this.

But to put it in even more practical terms for Mr. Cohen - the fact that the world knows that the United States not only tortured but REFUSES to condemn its past policy of torture, in contravention to the laws of war and US law, provides "the terrorists" with "confirmation" that the United States is all they say we are - immoral, depraved, hypocritical, imperialistic and racist. Is it true? Does it matter? The terrrorists can convince enough to expand their numbers and create MORE terrorists. Making us, are you listening Mr. Cohen, less safe.

Perhaps Mr. Cohen you might understand this now on a clear day in April 2009, that the Bush/Cheney policy of torture and the inability of the Obama Administration to provide a full throated rejection and condemnation of it now makes us LESS safe.

Finally, Mr. Cohen's regard for the "agents in the field" is quite amusing. Let us put it this way -- I think there are decent and intelligent people in these services, apparently Mr. Cohen does not. I imagine our agents in the field know that the Bush Administration was led by depraved and ignorant men with no moral compass or real understanding of the problems and dangers we face. They no doubt wanted to avoid the outrages and crimes their superiors ordered upon them. Not just for morality's sake, but for the sake of the safety of the American People.

By making clear that the policy of war crimes and crimes under US law enacted by the Bush Administration will no longer be the official policy of the United States, President Obama has done these "agents in the field" a great service. He has saved them from the pressure of the stupidity and depravity of idiotic superiors.

In other words, people with the mental capacity of Richard Cohen will no longer be calling the shots about "keeping us safe." And thank the Lord for that.

Speaking for me only

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    I wonder (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by CST on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:53:59 AM EST
    what he thinks the reason is for terrorists hating us.  If it isn't the fact that we've lost our "moral authority" by messing with their governments/region/politics too much in the past, I wonder what he thinks it is.  Most people don't blow themselves up for no reason at all.

    They didn't just wake up one day and decide "lets hate America".

    please read Syed Qutub (1.00 / 0) (#113)
    by star on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 07:59:05 AM EST
    This is like the bible(or quran) for most islamic jihad groups and believe me - There is no mention of American morality.. it is the freedom of expression, the mixing of sexes , freedom to work and enjoy life for one and all including women and the fact that westerners are NOT bowing to Allah is what matters to them. So please DO NOT think for a minute that 9/11 happened because of Bush. Much as I dislike him, the wheels of hatred were set in motion way before Bush was anywhere in the Horizone. and American Policies might have made it easy popoganda, but Americans need not be apologetic for getting attacked..
    American always chose to befriend muslim countires like saudi arabia and pakistan and this did not endear them any to these fanatics..

    Where did I say (5.00 / 0) (#116)
    by CST on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:02:14 AM EST
    that 9/11 happened because of Bush?

    No where.

    I know that the wheels in motion were set long before that.  I also know that our hands were hardly clean in the middle-east before Bush.  Hell, we TRAINED the Taliban.  I am not apologetic for being attacked.  Of course that was horrible and in no way were the innocent people responsible.  That doesn't mean that the suicide bombers didn't have their reasons.

    Finally, I take issue with your depiction of moderate Muslims in this thread.  My sister and her husband and many of my friends are moderate Muslims and they do not in any way hate America.  They do not choose some of the things that we choose for themselves.  That doesn't mean they hate us.


    What's holding back Congress (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by OPlo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:59:26 AM EST
    from changing the law (on waterboarding, etc.). Because it's not in their best interest politcally.

    From today's WSJ: Torture and the 'Truth Commission'

    Changing what law? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:01:37 AM EST
    Ahh (5.00 / 6) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:03:32 AM EST
    Let me tell you why   waterboarding is not only illegal, it is a war crime.

    The United States has EXECUTED soldiers for waterboarding.

    Only among sadistic  and mendacious Republicans, like those at the WSJ, is this not known.


    it is remarkable to me (5.00 / 5) (#21)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:21:22 AM EST
    how effective the torture advocates have been, with no one but Limbaugh and Hannity speaking for them, at convincing a large portion of the population that waterboarding is not illegal or not torture.

    its amazing.  they come here and make clueless comments day after day verbally shrugging and asking "whats the big deal".

    how is this even possible?


    It is your opinion that waterboarding (1.00 / 5) (#34)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:31:49 AM EST
    is illegal and a war crime. Others disagree with you.

    Waterboarding isn't even mentioned in the statute or the treaty, to my knowledge.

    Congress has failed to enact bills saying waterboarding is illegal.

    No one has been executed for waterboarding under the present treaty or statute.

    No one has had to evaluate the statute and treaty following such a huge terrorist threat like and following 9/11, and when asked to evaluate the statute and treaty when it would be limited in scope as set forth in the memos and limited only to high level detainees.


    Just to be clear (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Spamlet on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:39:34 AM EST
    "1" rating for troll posting. Over and out.

    his and most other civilized people of the world (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:40:08 AM EST
    and most other civilized people of the world

     In 1947, a Japanese soldier who used water boarding against a U.S. citizen during World War II was sentenced to 15 years in U.S. prison for committing a war crime.


    geez BTD, (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by cpinva on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:05:16 PM EST
    i could have told you all about richard cohen's intellectual low wattage, i've been reading his column for years now, ever since he started at the wp.

    a nice man, no doubt, but rigorous, critical analysis is not his forte.

    It is your opinion that waterboarding
    is illegal and a war crime.

    actually, no, it isn't. it is the federal government's opinion as well, having prosecuted and convicted law enforcement personnel for it. of course, this was pre-bush and pre-9/11, when everything supposedly "changed".

    Congress has failed to enact bills saying waterboarding is illegal.

    ponzi schemes aren't explicitly cited in any law, yet they're illegal, under the general heading of fraud. waterboarding falls under the general heading of torture, something explicitly illegal, under both US and International law.

    torture is illegal, period. aside from also being immoral, it places us at the same level as our enemies. at least, that's what i've been taught all my life.


    You are banned from my threads (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:33:06 PM EST
    Just for clarification (none / 0) (#59)
    by coast on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:13:08 PM EST
    please post link for information on EXECUTED soldiers.

    Here you go (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:15:41 PM EST
    Thanks for the link (none / 0) (#66)
    by coast on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:53:31 PM EST
    however I think yourself and Mr. Begala take some liberty with saying that these men were executed for waterboarding.  While waterboarding may have been included in the list of crimes committed by the 7 men who were eventually executed out of the 28 tried, I doubt it was waterboarding that determined their fate.  More likely it was their involvement in the invasion of Nanking, China where 20,000 women were raped and 100,000 civilans were slaughtered or possibly for the Bataan Death march where it has been estimated that 2 in 7 of the 75,000 prisoners forced to march to the prison camps were among other things beheaded, disembowled, raped, contenous marching for a week while not being fed, ect.  These acts and others are why they were executed, not for the crime of waterboarding.

    You are welcome to (none / 0) (#67)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:54:28 PM EST
    distort the truth as you wish.

    Distorting of the truth? (none / 0) (#71)
    by coast on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    No distortion that I know of.  A distortion of the truth is saying that a man is being executed because he broke into a persons house.  Neglecting to sight the fact that he raped and killed the wife and daughter in front of the husband and left the husband there to die would be destorting the truth.  Which is basically what Mr. Begala does in your link, IMO.

    There you go again (none / 0) (#72)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:12:12 PM EST
    That you do not even see your own distortions leasves me with absolutely nothing left to say to you.

    Consider yourself ignored by me for the future.


    I will look back fondly on our past (none / 0) (#82)
    by coast on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:28:36 PM EST
    confabulations.  Rest assured that my days will be a little less fulfilling. Adieu BTD adieu.

    Let'smake it simple (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:32:42 PM EST
    I am banning you from my threads also.

    I am tired of the sniping.

    you can hold any view you wish. But you can;t create your own facts.

    I of course have to question why anyone would want to deny the obvious truth, that waterboarding was not only prosecuted as torture by the Us, but that the US executed people for engaging in it.

    That is simply a fact.

    But more than that, you have invited personal attacks on me for pointing out these truths to you.

    I am not a patient man. I do not have the desire nor inclination to put up with what I consider nonsense.

    Other people like to run their threads differently.

    I run my threads as I wish.

    You are no longer welcome in my threads and will find your comment in my threads deleted.

    You are of course welcome to comment in the threads of Jeralyn, Ethan and TChris. but not mine.


    I stated in my original post that (none / 0) (#95)
    by coast on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:48:06 PM EST
    waterboarding was a crime.  IMO this was not the crime that they were executed for, which was the what I was trying to explain in my response regarding the house.  In my response, the man was being executed for killing people not for breaking into the house both of which are crimes but one is much more serious than the other.  If waterboarding was truly a crime punishable by death, why did the officer in the 1947 trial only receive 15 yrs and not death? An outright statement, like Mr. Begala's, that these men were executed for waterboarding is disingenuous and simplistic.  That was the only point I was making.  As you state, its your thread.  If you wish to ban me for this so be it.

    It is disingenuous (none / 0) (#96)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:50:40 PM EST
    to argue that torture was not the reason why they were executed.

    I can not for the life of me understand why you wish to deny that fact? Why are you not telling the truth on this?

    Your motivations are extremely suspect, and I must say, it makes me think very badly of you and I am pretty sure I do not want you in my threads precisely because of the disingenuousness of your comments.


    I honestly do not believe that it is (none / 0) (#111)
    by coast on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:16:49 PM EST
    disingenuous to argue that they were executed for reasons other than torture.  Have people been executed for committing torture, yes.  However, the men refered to in Begala's article did much more.  I take exception to his statement "Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime we are now committing ourselves."  I honestly do not believe that to be true based on the other crimes that these men committed and the case of the soldier in 1947 who received 15yrs labor and not death.

    As for me not being truthful.  I really don't know what "truth" you wish for me to tell.  You provided me with the article for which you based your initial comment.  I read the article and simply looked into a few more detailed articles on the actual trials.  Based on the facts presented in those articles, some of which I listed in my post, it was my opinion that the men were executed for crimes other than waterboarding.  That is the only "truth" I can tell.

    As for my motives, I beleive that I have stated previously that I'm a righty.  But I have never tried to troll this or any other site.  I attempt to only comment on things for which I feel I have some knowledge (although I know you would argue with that).  I simply like having discussion on current topics with people who may actually disagree with my point of view.  I think that is really the only way that we expand our understanding.

    I have been around long enough to know that your final statement basically means I'm on a short leash.  Please take any future comments, if still allowed to comment, with the knowledge that I know what is and is not trolling, and that is not what I'm doing by commenting on this site.  I apologize if that is how they have been taken.


    You are correct (none / 0) (#74)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:13:47 PM EST

    Here are the counts of indictment on which the 7 were found all or partially guilty.  Count 54 would have included waterboarding.

    # Count 1: as "leaders, organizers, instigators, or accomplices in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy .. to wage wars of aggression, and war or wars in violation of international law."

    # Count 27: waging unprovoked war against China.

    # Count 29: waging aggressive war against the United States.

    # Count 31: waging aggressive war against the British Commonwealth.

    # Count 32: waging aggressive war against the Netherlands.

    # Count 33: waging aggressive war against France (Indochina).

    # Count 35 & 36: waging aggressive war against the USSR.

    # Count 54: "ordered, authorized, and permitted" inhumane treatment of Prisoners of War (POWs) and others.

    # Count 55: "deliberately and recklessly disregarded their duty" to take adequate steps to prevent atrocities.

    You are incorrect (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:16:38 PM EST
    as usual.

    Executions were for torture.

    What is wrong with you people?


    "What is wrong with you people?" (5.00 / 2) (#87)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:33:01 PM EST
     Malignant Self Love

     There are many types of denial. When confronted by his victims, most abusers tend to shift blame or avoid the topic altogether.
    Total Denial

    1. Outright Denial
    Typical retorts by the abuser: "It never happened, or it was not abuse, you are just imagining it, or you want to hurt my (the abuser's) feelings."

    2. Alloplastic Defense
    Common sentences when challenged: "It was your fault, you, or your behavior, or the circumstances, provoked me into such behavior."

    3. Altruistic Defense
    Usual convoluted explanations: "I did it for you, in your best interests."

    4. Transformative Defense
    Recurring themes: "What I did to you was not abuse - it was common and accepted behavior (at the time, or in the context of the prevailing culture or in accordance with social norms), it was not meant as abuse."

    Abusers frequently have narcissistic traits. As such, they are more concerned with appearance than with substance. Dependent for Narcissistic Supply on the community - neighbors, colleagues, co-workers, bosses, friends, extended family - they cultivate an unblemished reputation for honesty, industriousness, religiosity, reliability, and conformity.


    Reading is fundamental (none / 0) (#78)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:18:53 PM EST
    "Itagaki, General Seishiro (1885-1948). Chief of staff, Kwantung Army, 1936-37; minister of war, 1938-39; chief, army general staff, 1939; commander in Korea, 1941; Supreme War Council, 1943; commander in Singapore, 1945. Troops under his command in China and elsewhere terrorized prisoners and civilians. Was responsible for prison camps in Java, Sumatra, Malaya, Borneo and elsewhere. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36, 54."

    And another (none / 0) (#80)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:22:44 PM EST
    "Kimura, General Heitaro (1888-1948). Chief of staff, Kwantung Army, 1940-41; vice minister of war, 1941-43; Supreme War Council, 1943; army commander in Burma, 1944-45. Helped plan the China and Pacific wars, including surprise attacks. Involved in the brutalization of the Allied POWs and was the field commander in Burma when civilian and POW slave labor built and died on the Siam-Burma Railway. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54, 55."

    More (none / 0) (#83)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:28:58 PM EST
    Kenji Dohihara:

        Kenji Dohihara voted in favour of the attack on Pearl Harbour ... He commanded the Army of the 7th Region, which includes parts of Malaysia and the islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo in Indonesia. In this capacity, he was responsible for supplying food and medicines to not only the Japanese troops, but also to prisoners of war

    Akira Muto:

        Moreover, as an officer serving under General Matsui between November 1937 and July 1938, he was charged with war crimes for his participation in the atrocities committed at Nanking.

    Iwane Matsui:

        His troops took Nanking on 13 December 1937. The Chinese army had evacuated the city just before it was taken. The ensuing occupation was therefore that of a defenceless city. The Japanese troops nevertheless carried out unspeakable atrocities: massacre, rape, pillaging and destruction were routinely committed. During a six to seven week period, more than 100'000 civilians were killed and thousands of women raped. Against this backdrop, Matsui marched triumphantly into Nanking on 17 December 1937 and remained there for several days.


    Not to the point (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:35:45 PM EST
    The 2 I mentioned were executed for torturing prisoners.

    Why you seek to deny this well known truth is for you to explain.


    You argued (none / 0) (#94)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:46:17 PM EST
    (And using Begala's incomplete argument) that the 7 Japanese soldiers that were executed were done so for waterboarding. That is not completely true.  These men engaged in torture, yes, and there is no defense of that.  However, these men were not executed just for torture - they were executed for crimes on larger scales, including things like planning the Pearl Harbor attack, the Rape of Nanking, plundering private and public property, wantonly destroying cities, towns and villages beyond any justification of military necessity, and committing mass murder.

    Waterboarding and torture were only part of the picture.  That's all I was saying.


    That's false (5.00 / 0) (#98)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:56:17 PM EST
    Both regarding Begala and me.

    No one argued that the 7 Japanes soldiers were executed for torturing prisoners.

    Begala mentions one. I add another. Both were executed for engaging in torture.

    I am amazed that some of you would resort to falsehoods in order to defend torture.

    What is wrong with you people?


    I'm not sure (1.00 / 1) (#103)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 02:34:08 PM EST
    How you got out of my statements that I was defending torture, but ok, if that's the way you see it, then I will definitively state - I don't support torture.

    Begala said this:

    My precise words were: "Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime we are now committing ourselves.

    This, as you know, is a weasely comment by Begala.  Did the Japanese soldiers who engaged in or ordered torture get executed?  Yes.  Is that the sole or main reason they were executed?  NO.

    Even in your own post, you say that Kimura was executed for torture, but also for the planning of the wars in China and the Pacific, including surprise attacks (Pearl Harbor), and Itagaki, was also executed, not just for torture, but in connection with the Japanese seizure of Manchuria and his escalation of the war against the Allies during his term as War Minister.

    Begala's comment does not paint the whole picture.  We argue about Republicans who shade the truth - shouldn't we have all the facts here to discuss topics we care about?


    OT: Specter is changing from Repub to Dem (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:15:45 AM EST
    This doesn't make me happy (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:47:59 AM EST
    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The Dems are on their way to absolute power.

    I'm suddenly glad that the Supreme Court is dominated by ultra-conservatives and members are non-electable.  The Court is the only thing that balances us right now.


    Specter's statement (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:21:21 AM EST
    wow (none / 0) (#24)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:23:56 AM EST
    I have never seen the republican party in such a tailspin.
    it scares me a little.  what will be left when all the Specters leave?  will we still have a two party system.  god forbid we do and they ever get any power again because by then it will only be the Kitt Bonds and John Kyles.

    yea (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by CST on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:26:12 AM EST
    I'd almost prefer to keep guys like that as republicans.

    For one, I don't really want him as a democrat.  For two, that means that the other half of our 2-party system is only made up of complete nutjobs.


    exactly (none / 0) (#29)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:27:19 AM EST
    that's been the logical (none / 0) (#56)
    by cpinva on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:07:24 PM EST
    For two, that means that the other half of our 2-party system is only made up of complete nutjobs.

    since reagan


    It makes his reelection (none / 0) (#25)
    by andgarden on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:24:57 AM EST
    from impossible to near-guaranteed.

    Blatant opportunism (none / 0) (#32)
    by TheRealFrank on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:29:12 AM EST
    Surely, Pennsylvania can field an actual Democratic candidate?

    Well, yes (none / 0) (#33)
    by andgarden on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:30:40 AM EST
    but the reality on the ground is that Specter is going to have the full support of Ed Rendell, Bob Casey, and Barack Obama. No Democrat worth naming is going to challenge him.

    Bah (none / 0) (#35)
    by TheRealFrank on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:36:22 AM EST
    I hate to see Specter's weasel behavior over the years rewarded. I can only hope that he'll grow more of a spine after the pressures of being in the Republican party have gone. I'm not holding my breath, though.

    All pols are weasels (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:56:54 AM EST
    True, of course (none / 0) (#55)
    by TheRealFrank on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:05:40 PM EST
    But Specter is an especially bad example. Time and again, he has made a spectacle about how he may not vote Republican party line, only to end up doing it.

    I have more respect for Republicans who vote party line without the all the whining.


    fat lot of good his vote will do us... (none / 0) (#57)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:08:39 PM EST
    ...if he's always voting with the GOP of course.

    He won;t be (none / 0) (#58)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:12:53 PM EST
    PARTICULARLY on cloture votes.

    Party switchers tend to radicalize (none / 0) (#39)
    by andgarden on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:39:42 AM EST
    ("the zeal of the convert")

    I expect that Specter will stay Specter, but he'll have much more room to maneuver now. I'm interested to see what his party assignments will be.


    *committee (none / 0) (#40)
    by andgarden on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:39:54 AM EST
    Give him a good one (none / 0) (#60)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:13:25 PM EST
    Hell, give him intelligence when Feinsteion runs for Governor of Cali.

    DiFi isn't going to run (none / 0) (#64)
    by andgarden on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:31:29 PM EST
    It's Jerry Brown IMO.

    Funny that you mention her, though. She and Specter aren't far apart.


    Oh goody (none / 0) (#30)
    by Spamlet on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:28:12 AM EST
    Maybe we can get Lieberman back too.

    Well, I think America (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:46:45 AM EST
    IS all of the things the terrorists think we are and all the government is doing right now is proving it.  And we do what we do because we have the power to do it.  I solemnly believe that any country with the power would commit the sh*t that we do.

    But we definitely have a great brainwashing program too (I pledge allegiance, yata-yata).  We are always in the right, aren't we?  The paradoxical irony is that it's almost nationalistic to assume that our country would assume the moral high ground.  Our country is not moral to those with whom we fight.

    It took me many years to figure this out.  It actually took 9/11 and the ridiculous flag-wrapping that followed to end all doubt.

    Moral High Ground... (none / 0) (#49)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:55:20 AM EST
    ... is hard to define, but I contend that it is actually real. "Might" can postpone "Right" but not entirely deny it  nor can it define what is "Right".  I don't think Socrates was barking up the wrong tree with some of his meta arguments.

    Sad, isn't it, that people like Cohen (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:57:02 PM EST
    are the ones with the big media platform?

    I am so tired of these people who think that all that matters is whether torture works, and that as long as we can show that it does, it's all good.

    I'm equally over those who want to make this about what the terrorists think, or want or believe.  Is our self-esteem so low that we are now gauging our actions and policies on the basis of what a bunch of terrorists will think of us?  Or on what they did to us first?  Are we 9 years old and whining to Mom that "he hit me first?"

    I don't know - maybe I am just too old for this new moral relativism, where we make decisions on the basis of whether what we're doing is better than or worse than what has been done in the past.  "Not as bad as the Holocaust," or "not as bad as Darfur" are comparisons that give us no credibility on the injustices and inhumane treatment that is going on around the world - it isn't the number of people who are treated inhumanely that makes the difference, it is that we condoned the inhumane treatment in the first place that makes us no better.

    Lack if intelligence is no excuse for Cohen to have written that garbage, but it does make me wonder why he, and people like him, are considered worthy of the big bucks and the platform.

    And I wonder what these columnists (none / 0) (#77)
    by lilburro on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:16:40 PM EST
    think is going to happen when we prove "it works" - how do they think our soldiers are going to be treated down the line?  And when they're treated that way, what will our enemies say?  I think I can guess.

    These columnists are opening the gates of hell.


    interesting point... (none / 0) (#107)
    by of1000Kings on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 02:56:31 PM EST
    our Republican Moral Party can spend all the time and money proving that torture works and that will just give our enemies more incentive to use it, considering it will have been proven to work...

    seems like we might be better off proving that it only works to get information that you already knew in your own mind before the torture began (whether or not the info is true, it's what you wanted to hear)...


    this is way beyond (none / 0) (#109)
    by Jen M on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:08:00 PM EST
    moral relativism

    It is disposable morality.

    By the same people who insisted so vehemently that "character matters"

    So much for that.


    Moderate Muslims will appreciate (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by lilybart on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:01:26 PM EST
    that we will no longer torture detainees.

    Yes, they care about our morality and it matters.
    We NEED the good will of moderate Muslims to fight terrorists.

    Imagine moderate Muslims who know a guy upstairs is making bombs. They don't HATE America so they turn him in.

    The muslims next door HATE us because we torture and abuse their people. They don't turn in the bomb maker.

    Terrorists can only hide out with people who favor their cause. If America is the country we are supposed to be, they won't feel compelled to help terrorists.

    My theory.

    Moderate Muslims (none / 0) (#115)
    by star on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 08:16:58 AM EST
    Even them most moderate muslim do not think American is a moral country - and moral for them is more about who is sleeping with who how many times and the open acceptance of gays and lesbians..the rate of teen pregnencies and unwed mothers.. this is how Muslim world seems America. trust me i should know , I am part muslim and do sit through sermons every week in mosques..
    There is such a wide spread misunderstanding of the muslim world and islamic cultural outlook. torturing prisoners is WAY down the list of moral issues for MOST MUSLIMS..espescially those living outside USA. They are used to harsh and inhuman treatment in their day to day life- let alone when in prison. Ask any muslim, they will prefer to be in American Jail anyday to one in their own country. I have relatives in India, who ask me 'why is America doing this to itself' about the torture memos.. by the way I was asked this when Bill clinton was beign impeached as well..

    Still dont get it (1.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Iamme on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:04:36 AM EST
    We can wordsmith this all day and get into contradictory philosophical debats and mind fekk ourselves.  

    A.) The terrorist never cared what our torture policy was.
    B.) They dont care what it will be.
    C.) Giving them additional fuel for their fire only incites them more.  On the eve of the big game teams dont want to give any more motivation to their opponents.  They are already geared up enough.

    I would like to see the "moral" political stance folks get sent to a room with a terrorist who has an AK47 and enough ammo.

    Not to see them killed but to let them try and talk him out of killing all of them.  Do you think he would stop?

    Mr terrorist I am moral and stand on the high ground and opposed all the torturing.  Whack off with the head and we will video it so we can show everyone we did it.

    Morality is fine for those that sit in the safety of their houses or offices.  I for one am a realist.  

    1.) The terrorist want to kill us all.
    2.) They have no morals
    3.) They are loving us for giving them more fuel for their fire.
    4.) I dont want to be in a tall building with them around.
    5.) They only understand one thing.  FORCE.

    So be moral just dont try to sell it to a realist.

    Morality (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by CST on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:11:41 AM EST
    Is for people with morals.

    P.S. - as for your "smoking gun" scenario, I don't think any of us are saying you shouldn't be able to defend your own life if someone has a gun to your head, or that you can "talk them out of it".  We sure didn't try to "talk the nazis out of it".  That is not the same thing as torturing people who are in your custody without a gun.  Nice strawman though.


    Morality is for people with morals? (none / 0) (#84)
    by bocajeff on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:30:10 PM EST
    What if the opposing side has two different sets of morals? One believes flying a plane into a building is moral. One believes it is not. Which is moral? According to you they both are.

    p.p.s. (none / 0) (#91)
    by CST on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:34:02 PM EST
    there is such a thing as right and wrong.  Personal beliefs are not the same thing as morals.

    Like the personal belief that torture is o.k.  That is not a moral belief - no matter how hard you agree with it.


    Again, please read Cohen's argument... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:12:44 AM EST
    ...In full. He brilliantly destroys his own case with his last two paragraphs.  If a government decides to forgo the Moral High Ground the entire world slowly turns against said government.  The Nazi's security apparatus kept Hitler and most Germans pretty safe for a decade (35 years if you count the 20s)--but it meant that Germany faced progressively larger and larger alliances set against her borders. America was beginning to face a hostile confederation of nations at the tail end of Bush's reign and for now Obama's effectively broken up that gathering storm.  The issue is actually larger than terrorism.

    However, the Nazis were not defeated (none / 0) (#37)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:39:24 AM EST
    by Islamic terrorists, obviously. Cohen is talking about terroists. Apples and oranges.

    so (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:42:36 AM EST
    your argument is, then, that we should adopt the tactics and morals of the terrorists.

    I just want to understand your point.


    There's a good case to be made (none / 0) (#48)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:52:20 AM EST
    that the Nazi's were a group of terrorists who managed to seize power.

    the result of (none / 0) (#50)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:55:22 AM EST
    a takeover by the Taliban would not be that different than a takeover by Nazis.  slightly different demographic groups targeted but not that big a difference really.
    the Nazis probably had better organizational skills.

    They were also hip to technology... (none / 0) (#52)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:01:46 PM EST
    ...and had sexier uniforms. Taliban not so much.

    yeah (none / 0) (#53)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:02:33 PM EST
    the Taliban could totally take some fashion tips.

    Yes, both thugs (none / 0) (#104)
    by KeysDan on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 02:37:51 PM EST
    with an agenda.

    Interesting (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by sj on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:18:13 AM EST
    Moral beings are not realists?  So by that reasoning, realists are at best amoral, and likely immoral.

    Interesting perspective.  


    You are quite right. (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by TheRealFrank on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:28:21 AM EST
    You don't get it. At all.

    It is not about what terrorists think. It is about what everybody else thinks.

    The whole "terrorists aren't moral" is a blatant strawman, and a bad one at that.

    Hey, criminals aren't moral, so why should we be, right? Let's all define our own morality relative to terrorists. Yeah, that's great. They have won, in your case.


    I completely get it. (1.00 / 5) (#69)
    by Iamme on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:58:42 PM EST
    If someone is trying to kill you.  3000 dead in the towers and you play by the rules when they dont have any rules you certainly will lose.  Win this thing then we can be moral all we want.  They said only bring knives to this fight.  We are moral we follow the rules.  Bang your dead.  They didnt play by the rules.

    So lets make sure I understand.  They kill 100,000 more of us because we play "by the moral rules" or they only kill 10,000 of us because we "go for the throat".  Thats 90,000 American lives saved.  I am all for that.

    I am not a war monger.  Tell them to stop killing, raping, beheading, and invading and I imagine all the Americans come home.

    It makes me wonder at what death toll does your high and mighty morality get challenged?  How many more 9/11's does it take before you come down off your throne of morality. How many more children have to lose their parents here and in pakistan or any other place these nutjobs are?

    How many of you would stand in front of the dead friends and family of the 9/11 victims and preach your morality.  

    The irony is that you get to post your opionion here as do I because of what America is.  Warts and all.  You just dont want to get your hands dirty to defend the rights you have.  Make no mistake there is no country on planet earth that does not have some skeletons in the closet.  Utopia would be nice but it doesnt exist and never will.  

    So yeah I get it, if I had my way not a single solitary soul on this planet would be killed by another human being.  But it never has and never will work that way.  Glad we defend your right to think how you want.

    How dare you? (5.00 / 5) (#100)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 02:09:02 PM EST
    We had the intel to stop 9/11 and your Party, and the PResident selected by the SCOTUS, was criminally negligent at doing his job about it.

    how dare you and them stand before those victims after you and your supported the worst President in history?

    You should be ashamed of yourself. If you were capable of it.


    Your Arguement Ignores At Least One Fact. (5.00 / 2) (#102)
    by CDN Ctzn on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 02:21:32 PM EST
    When it comes to acts of "Terrorism" the US wins hands down in the number game.
    9-11: 3000 Americans dead
    Iraq War: At least 1/2 Million Iraqis (the majority of them innocent civilians) dead, with some estimates at over 1 million.

    That, on top of our State sponsered Terrorism (see CIA involvement in Indonesia and Latin America re:Chalmers Johnson "Blowback" and Naomi Klein "Shock Doctrine" to name a few) and Ding, Ding, Ding, we have a Winner!!
    USA, USA, USA Bo-Haa.


    Depravity (none / 0) (#99)
    by lobary on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 02:03:31 PM EST
    "Let's win this thing, then we can't get back to being decent human beings with operative consciences. America, f*ck yeah!"

    Yes, you are a war monger, you just refuse to own up to it.

    If you had your way, nobody would suffer at the hands of terrorists and evil-doers, but because these forces of wrong exist in the cruel, twisted world in which we live...you have no choice but to cast aside as worthless the values that separate us from them.

    These values are meaningless if we only practice them when it's easy to do so.

    I have some advice for you--turn off your TV. Jack Bauer is a fictional character chasing fictional problems.


    Well (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:47:01 AM EST
    if the problem was ONLY Cohen, I might not care so much what he says. The problem is that the press corps is still stuck in Bush worship. This column sounds like it could've been written by one of George W. Bush's speechwriters. Sheesh.

    What made me laugh (none / 0) (#2)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:49:31 AM EST
    is that he said that "Moral Authority" means fekk all, and then in a grossly obvious contradiction gives an example of a regime that traded in "Moral Authority" for Authoritarianism and set the entire world against them in the Second World War. Even a monster like Stalin (Unlike Hitler!) knew you had to have good worldwide press to survive a politically viable figure.

    So, I'm a simpleton (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:54:31 AM EST
    If the US came out today and said, "Yes, we tortured.  It was wrong.  We are doing what we can to fix this.  It will not happen again."  And then we released all the prisoners being held in black ops prisons, Bagram, and Gitmo today, then groups like Al-Qaeda would stop growing their membership and stop plotting attacks on the US and its allies and its citizens.

    I'm not defending Cohen, but I agree - the terrorists DON'T care about our morality.  It's about MONEY and POWER, and if they can succeed in humbling or bringing down the US, well, then they will have both.  

    This has nothing to do with our morality in the world.

    Maybe I am the simpleton (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:56:12 AM EST
    because I have no idea what your comment is supposed to mean.

    Again (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:05:42 AM EST
    The terrorists do not hate us because of our "lack of moral authority" in the world.  They hate us for our wealth, our power, and our support of Israel.  If we gave up everything today that you say is the reason they hate us, guess what?  They would still hate us.

    There have been terrorist activities by the forerunners of these same groups against us and our allies for decades - this is not a new phenomenon.

    This torture debacle is only an easy excuse for them now.


    Of course, you miss the point entirely. (5.00 / 6) (#23)
    by TheRealFrank on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:23:31 AM EST
    It is not about terrorists caring about morality. That is a strawman.

    It is about everybody else caring about morality. Allies around the world. Moderates. People everywhere who will see that the US is a country of high moral standards and will condemn violence directed against it. People who will prevent terrorists from committing their crimes.

    Talking about terrorists caring about morality or not is a cheap diversionary tactic. It is not the issue at hand, and it is a very lame excuse. "It might be OK to torture because terrorists don't care about our morality" is what I read between the lines of Cohen's piece. Excuse me? Are we measuring our own moral standards by what terrorists think now?


    And us (5.00 / 4) (#26)
    by eric on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:25:36 AM EST
    caring about our own morality.  If we torture, we are undermining ourselves.

    Exactly (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Spamlet on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:26:22 AM EST
    It is about our own moral standards. And, secondarily, about our standing among everybody else.

    Terrorists of course care about our moral standing (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by samtaylor2 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:39:54 AM EST
    They use the image of a young man being tortured in some nameless prison to recruit more soldiers.  This is one of the major reasons why  toture is so dangerous.  The other reason is that by allowing torture we allow our own minds to be corrupted.  The fact that we allow and condone violence in this manner will only add to the violence in our society (see Israel and the connection of the occuption to a rise in domestic violence and abuse).

    A side note.  The NY times had an interesting article about the ABC interview setting the stage for the acceptance of torture as a legitimate method to help save lives.  


    Thewn ypu missed my point entirely (5.00 / 1) (#114)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 08:02:05 AM EST
    Your entire commentary in this thread has been disappointing to me. I must admit I expected better understanding of the issue.

    No, the world was turning on America. (none / 0) (#16)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:14:38 AM EST
    McCain would have faced a very hostile Russia and China and a completely apathetic Japan, UK, Germany and France to counter that hostility.

    The elimination of these interrogation (1.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:36:36 AM EST
    techniques, which occurred previously, has had and will have zero, or virtually zero, impact on making the US and its soldiers safer from terrorism and terrorists.

    However, the elimination of the techniques and the releasing of the legal memos will likely make the US less safe from terrorism and terrorists.

    The latter statement is not meant as an argument for torture.


    prove it. (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by cpinva on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:18:35 PM EST
    However, the elimination of the techniques and the releasing of the legal memos will likely make the US less safe from terrorism and terrorists.

    i've seen this right-wingnut assertion made countless times over the past couple of weeks, with nothing to back it up, other than the speaker's opinion.

    frankly, whether or not we're safer without using torture is totally irrelevant to the issue at hand. no one seriously claims we will be. we will, however, reclaim our national honor, by prosecutiong those responsible for its use.

    of course, there's no empirical data to support the claim that we'll be less safe not using torture.

    i'll take "not torture", for $500 alex!


    My statement is based on my views. (1.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:12:44 PM EST
    My views are influenced by discussions with my son, an Army Ranger who has recently returned from his second deployment in Iraq, and his friends.

    Can you offer any "proof" that my statement is not correct?


    You are banned from my threads (none / 0) (#90)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:33:44 PM EST
    Farewell. (1.00 / 0) (#112)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:38:59 PM EST
    I have enjoyed my time on this site and learned alot. While I didn't start posting for awhile, I started observing during the Duke lacrosse rape case three years ago (and have looked at the site almost daily).

    I realize that many of you didn't agree with much of what I said, but I would like to think a few of you may have learned a few things from my posts about things like business and paused to listen to a different view or two.

    I know some of you thought I was a Republican or this or that, but, as I'd said before, I was a Clinton supporter (and never voted for Bush).

    I think some of you might be surprised to learn that virtually all of the political reading/learning I do is from this site, the NY Times and Yahoo News, as well as a few books. I have never looked at another political website other than TalkLeft.

    The good news for me is that not spending the time to post on this site will surely make my wife happy.

    Thanks to all, including BTD (and Jeralyn for having this site).

    Green26 (my college jersey color and number, back in the old days)


    You are banned from my threads (none / 0) (#93)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:36:54 PM EST
    Note the last two paragraphs of... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:57:03 AM EST
    ...Cohen's argument.  The Germans of ww2 were beaten, in part, because they lacked the Moral High Ground and deeply offended the sensibilities of 90% of the globe. The Moral to the Material in that case was as ten is to one.

    It is a false statement for (none / 0) (#43)
    by samtaylor2 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:41:50 AM EST
    the major reason that the reports of the holocaust were not widely reported at that time (at least at the level that we connect WWII and the holocaust today).

    I said anything about the Holocaust? (none / 0) (#47)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:51:28 AM EST
    Most Russians understood that the Germans were engaging in a war of extermination.  That's why they absorbed such huge casualties  in order to win.  And the war was won with their blood. Honestly I wasn't thinking too hard about the Holocaust aspect of german policy as it relates to Foreign Relations.

    Wasn't saying you were (none / 0) (#65)
    by samtaylor2 on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:53:29 PM EST
    Sorry it was written like that

    well, the impact wouldn't be immediate (none / 0) (#105)
    by of1000Kings on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 02:48:05 PM EST
    but it would have an impact 4 or 5 generations from now...

    not that Christians care about the future, though, as the 2nd coming should be hear any day...


    here, not hear (none / 0) (#106)
    by of1000Kings on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 02:48:21 PM EST
    hate when I do that....

    please post his conclusion... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:54:36 AM EST
    ...it is a classic example of contradiction.  Would the Allies in ww2 have won if they had not held at least 62% of the Moral high Ground and the Nazi's traded Morality in for a paranoid homicidal security state?

    I leave that for the reader (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 10:58:27 AM EST
    high Cohenism (none / 0) (#18)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:16:26 AM EST

    First of all (none / 0) (#22)
    by lilburro on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 11:21:49 AM EST
    it is pretty much a complete untruth that Obama has "waffled over" whether or not to prosecute CIA interrogators.  He has said, Panetta has said, and DNI Blair has said they WILL NOT.  But for some reason columnists like Cohen and Ignatius like to ignore that and try to enflame the nation.  Here Cohen is standing with Mike Huckabee for God's sakes.

    FURTHERMORE, it never ceases to amaze me that MSM writers suck up to disenchanted spies.  They seem to take any change to intelligence policy quite personally.  Mr. Cohen seems to regard himself as an "agent in the field."

    His column perfectly displays what actual ex-CIA Mel Goodman wrote about recently in CIA & Washington Post: Joined at the Hip.  To quote:

    Surely senior journalists from the mainstream media must understand that reliance on anonymous CIA clandestine sources is neither good reporting nor professional journalism. Many of these "anonymous sources" almost certainly are former and current CIA officials seeking to protect themselves. George Tenet, John McLaughlin, and John Brennan are individuals who fit that description.

    Also, you are right, Cohen is pretty dim:

    If the threat of torture works -- if it has worked at least once -- then it follows that torture itself would work. Some in the intelligence field, including a former CIA director, say it does, and I assume they say this on the basis of evidence.

    Um. OK.  One of nice things about some of the recent revelations is that it has shown up even the "good spies" to be deceivers of the public.  So for example, John Kiriakou, who came out to ABC with his waterboarding accounts and how awesome it was and how Zubaydah's torture saved so many lives.  Basically none of that was true.  All this has been covered recently.  But I guess Cohen missed it.  

    There's simply no reason to believe a demonstrable war criminal is telling you the truth.  I mean, c'mon.

    well geez, (none / 0) (#63)
    by cpinva on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:25:56 PM EST
    torture worked for the salem witch trials, didn't it? got all those folks to admit to something that's kind of physically impossible, and were then hung.

    ok, maybe a bad example there. actually, i can't think of a good example.

    c'mon someone, help me out here!

    Anyone Who Has Read (none / 0) (#97)
    by CDN Ctzn on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 01:51:27 PM EST
    the "sermons" or "pronouncements" of Osama Bin Ladin knows that our moral bankrupcy has been one of his greatest rallying cries. He has been using our arguements of moral superiority against us for some time now and it has proven to be a successful recruiting device as well as a vehicle to raise millions of dollars(?) in support of his cause.
    While I am in no way advocating his positions, to say that, "Terrorists don't give a damn about our morality" is not only completely false and absurd, it shows a complete disconnect with reality!

    did I mention (none / 0) (#101)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 02:09:43 PM EST
    that I love the headline of this post?

    I hate to break to Cohen but the (none / 0) (#108)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 04:38:45 PM EST
    terrorist have already won.

    (CNN) 2004 -- The Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera released a full transcript Monday of the most recent videotape from Osama bin Laden in which the head of al Qaeda said his group's goal is to force America into bankruptcy.

    We went down so easily.  Osama got a twofer with us.  He never dreamed the trade center buildings would collapse the way they did under their own weight, and in 2004 he probably thought the only bankruptcy he could bring us was through a middle east war.  But because we were in lizard brain mode everybody gave BushCo all the power......didn't question them because they feared questioning a "war time" president, and the BushCo deregulation themes collapsed the structure of our economy.  Yup, lizard brain is a good thing, just forget about thoughtful stupidity like the importance of preserving "moral authority".

    I don't think (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by Jen M on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:09:24 PM EST
    He really counted on President Bush cooperating so fully.