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May 19, 2009

Dick Cheney, beauty queen?

Cheney4-724104 Relax, it's just an analogy -- the kind that could only have been dreamed up by Mark Steyn.

Alarmed by her erratic public performance, the speaker’s fellow San Francisco Democrat Dianne Feinstein attempted to put an end to Nancy’s self-torture session. “I don’t want to make an apology for anybody,” said Senator Feinstein, “but in 2002, it wasn’t 2006, ’07, ’08, or ’09. It was right after 9/11, and there were in fact discussions about a second wave of attacks.”

Indeed. In effect, the senator is saying waterboarding was acceptable in 2002, but not by 2009. The waterboarding didn’t change, but the country did. It was no longer America’s war but Bush’s war. And it was no longer a bipartisan interrogation technique that enjoyed the explicit approval of both parties’ leaderships, but a grubby Bush-Cheney-Rummy war crime.

Dianne Feinstein has provided the least worst explanation for her colleague’s behavior. The alternative — that Speaker Pelosi is a contemptible opportunist hack playing the cheapest but most destructive kind of politics with key elements of national security — is, of course, unthinkable. Senator Feinstein says airily that no reasonable person would hold dear Nancy to account for what she supported all those years ago. But it’s okay to hold Cheney or some no-name Justice Department backroom boy to account?

Well, sure. It’s the Miss USA standard of political integrity: Carrie Prejean and Barack Obama have the same publicly stated views on gay marriage. But the politically correct enforcers know that Barack doesn’t mean it, so that’s okay, whereas Carrie does, so that’s a hate crime. In the torture debate, Pelosi is Obama and Dick Cheney is Carrie Prejean. Dick means it, because to him this is an issue of national security. Nancy doesn’t, because to her it’s about the shifting breezes of political viability.

(Image courtesy of the Rockford Register Star)

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Ben W

I like this quote from the movie "Judgment at Nuremburg", from Chief Judge Haywood:

"There are those in our own country, too, who today speak of the 'protection of country' — of 'survival.' A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems, that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient — to look the other way.

Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what?' A country isn't a rock, It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! Before the people of the world, let it now be noted that here, in our decision, this is what we stand for: justice, truth and the value of a single human being."

Jason Taylor

I question the propriety of hitching this site's opinion to this post. The proceedure is dubious at best. Most liberals, and several conservatives have a bit of unease about it and this is a Christian thread not a political thread in any case.

Manipulating the law against ones internal political opponents is dubious too. And of course the CIA's griling of Pelosi is a retaliation for that sort of thing. But the same objection applies.

Christianity and politics overlap, not least when the question is about the limitations of Reason of State. And that would justify one thread. But at the very least, when the moderator seems to be taking a position in favor of the proceedure that is dubious because at the very least the default position should be against. If argument is to be made in favor, conceivably it should be made by commentors rather then by the moderator even indirectly through the moderator's source.

The affair is developing into what is essentially a typical, high-level feud. Does Breakpoint wish to appear to be officially taking sides in such a thing? Maybe I am misinterpreting, and of course "objective reporting" is something of a chimera. But it does seem to be that the moderator is, by the choice of essays, taking a position which is more appropriate for a non-connected blogger.

No offense is of course intended, and I hope I do not sound to sharp as I have the highest opinion of the moderator.


Jason, I'm not completely sure I know what you're getting at. But I can tell you that, as always, I speak for myself, not for BreakPoint as a whole. This is always the case with posts by any of our bloggers.

Anyway, the point of this post was simply that Steyn is right about Pelosi and Feinstein's opportunism and lack of integrity.

Jason Taylor

I guess I was getting at the point that the moderator was openly taking sides on an issue which the bloggers probably dissaggree strongly about. Admitedly that has been done before but still.

My point is that the moderator's opinion is easily mistaken for the site's official opinion.

Jason Taylor

Oh, and Ben a country is not "what it stands for", it is the people that live there. This is what it means for a country to "not survive." It does not mean, "fail to achieve what it stands for". It means "not survive".


It has sometimes seemed to me that the left assumes that security is a political convenience for the government rather then a moral imperative. The government is charged with protecting the people's safety and to be cavilier about that is worse then being cavilier about the fate of a captured terrorist.

Kim Moreland

Articles or Blogs on the BreakPoint website are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Chuck Colson or Prison Fellowship. Links to outside articles or websites are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily imply endorsement of their content.

Ben W

Jason, it's a bit of both, but it's more about ideals and gov't structure than who's living there at the time. Was Russia the same country after it became the USSR? Or is the U.S.A. a different country than 100 years ago, since nearly all of the citizens from then are dead and we've had immigration since?


Y'know, this whole politics thingy is *so* confusing for those of us who majored in science and math. All this time I thought that far from being a moderator, Gina was a conservator like Anne, and that Roberto was the token liberator. I'm so confused... :-)

Oh, you already *own* an electronic rul- (snap!) OW!!

Jason Taylor

Ben, Russia was still Russia after it became the USSR. And the USSR had a responsibility to protect Russia. If it had neglected that(as arguably it did by the purging of the generals) it has not atoned for it's other crimes, it has simply committed another crime.

And whether or not the USA is a "different country" because the ethnic background of it's citizens is different, the USA's citizens are still citizens.

The idea that a country is more about "ideals and government structure" then "who's living there at the time" is simply the idea that abstractions are more important then people. The Constitution was made for man, not man for the Constitution.

Jason Taylor

Fair enough, Kim. And I hope you didn't take it ill, Gina.

Jason Taylor

Really, Lee? Well if she's not the moderator my objection was for nothing in any case.

Jason Taylor

I might add Ben, that the safety of the citizens is part of EVERY country's ideal. Including the US.

Ben W

- "that abstractions are more important then people."

/shrug. I believe this to be true. If you give up your morality when things get tough, was it ever really yours?

Jason Taylor

Ben, that wasn't my point. I wasn't saying that "the safety of the people is the highest law"(in fact I think the Left takes to much concern for it in other areas, like, like seatbelt laws for instance, even as it takes to little for safety vis-a-vis human threats). My point is that it is improper to define a country as "it's ideals", rather then it's citizens, and that a country's security is a moral imperative, and when a government neglects that it has committed a crime, just as if it had done an active Human Rights violation.

As for my opinion on this particular subject, I have already given it at other threads. My opinion is that "the proceedure" it is not to be approved of, but neither is it appropriate to make affectations of shock that it happens(because that shows a disturbing mixture of naivity and self-righteousness) nor is it appropriate to use such a thing as a weapon in a political vendetta(torture is bad but so is treason and the badness of the latter is not generally held to excuse McCarthyism). There have been no witch-hunts for traffic violators.

A country is it's people and the State has a duty to protect them even as it also has a duty to not use that to justify to many things. Assuming the first is not a duty but the second is, is improper. And that is my objection to Mr Haywood.

Jason Taylor

"There have been no witch-hunts for traffic violators."

Unfinished thought. The point of that was that if there is to be a witch hunt, the accusation has to be henious.
Now in fact some of the victims of McCarthyism were in fact traitors, or at least would-be traitors. That is many were open members of the Communist party which in a weird sort of way is evidence that they were innocent legally as it would be bad tradecraft for the enemy to recruit them.

But in any case, that is my point about my position. I do not claim to approve of torture. But I do fear the misuse of the accussation.

Jason Taylor

One interesting point is that all of the prisoners are at the very least REBELS against someone or other. That at least is a definite crime with precedants in tradition albeit precedants which vary sharply.

Of course this point implies the possibility of "renditing" them which is not approved of for the reason that most of their home governments would be less gentle then the CIA. Still we would hardly be so kind to ordinary decent crimanals if we received an extradition request.

Another point which has not been mentioned, is if some of them are released, are their old buddies likly to take them back? Wouldn't there be likly to be a fear that they had been "Manchurianed" which actually would be understandable as that is how the Thuggee were suppressed. In fact it would be reliativly easy to play on that simply by spreading rumors in the souks and then informing a released captive that we are doing that.
Alternatively a few could be released in the hope that they do lead us to their old buddies.

In any case, "the proceedure" is not effective whether or not it is ever moral. The first few sessions might have been different* but the information they had is obsolete. In any case there are far more humane methods. One can sow the camp with bugs and infiltrate undercover agents. And in fact, if the CIA hasn't done both these things already, they really need to look for a new line of work.

*Saying it "never works" shows a remarkable belief in human fortitude and in any case I remember it also being said earlier that one cannot subjugate a population by terror when it is historically demonstrable that one can. In both cases it sounds like a naivity about the power of incentives. As for "He'll say anything" that really applies to the rest of the infamous MICE(money, ideology, compromise, ego)foursome. And the answer is the same that, that is what corroboration is for. Be that as it may whether it "works" and whether it should be used are different questions.

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