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Sanctimonious Sean Hannity In A Frenzy Against Torture Ban

Reported by Ellen - December 16, 2005

It figures that a bully like Sean Hannity would not be happy that John McCain's anti-torture provisions are about to become law. Who else would introduce a discussion by asking if a ban on torture would "help or hurt the war on terror?"

A further clue to Hannity's thinking was found in his opening question, since torture is already illegal, isn’t the new legislation “redundant?”

Avi Cover, from Human Rights First, said the amendment also banned cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

Hannity's gotcha question of the night was whether shooting a gun in the air and scaring someone to death, which Hannity claimed was an interrogation technique that saved lives, should be banned. When Cover said he thought so, Hannity not-so-politely disagreed.

In fact, the scenario Hannity was referring to came from an editorial in USA Today in which the interrogator, Army Lt. Col. Allen West, fired his revolver (the article doesn't say it was fired in the air) to frighten a suspect. According to the article, West was "accused of torture, charged with assault and drummed out of the military." If West's actions were already illegal, then the McCain amendment would have no effect on the kind of behavior Hannity was advocating. This also rendered moot Hannity's attacks against the McCain Amendment and, later, against Cover, on those grounds. But logic and truth have never been Hannity's strong suit.

Alan Colmes pointed out that Bush flip-flopped to accept the ban because he didn't have public support or support in Congress for his threatened veto. Colmes said that while harsh interrogations might work sometimes, "overall, they don't work for the most part."

Hannity rudely interrupted. "Who says?"

Actually, Sean, a group of 33 retired intelligence officers says. In a December 9 letter to Senator McCain, they wrote,

As retired professional intelligence experts and interrogators, we understand how vital accurate intelligence is to US efforts to combat terrorist violence by groups like Al Qaeda. We have seen first-hand the central role that human intelligence gathering has played in countering the threats posed by these radical groups operating in the Middle East, South Asia, and other regions, as well as here at home.

We are proud to have served our country, and we remain deeply committed to supporting efforts to confront the serious terrorist threats facing the nation. In our view, the use of torture and other cruelty against those in US custody undermines this fight. Such tactics fail to produce reliable information, risk corrupting the institutions that employ them, and forfeit the ideals that attract others to our nation’s cause.

Hannity pooh-poohed the idea that terrorists were going to be good to US soldiers as the result of a ban on torture. Cover replied, "Criminals don't obey the laws of the United States but what do we do with them?"

A seething Hannity could barely get the words out. Banging his hand on the desk as he spoke, Hannity said, "Aggressive interrogation will save lives and you don't have the courage to stand up and aggressively (sic) these guys on the battlefield. They have information that will save our troops' lives. We must extract that information. Legally. But extract it."

Cover agreed that aggresive interrogation saves lives but must not be cruel, inhuman or degrading.

Hannity agreed with that but said he worked with a different set of definitions (Comment: Probably the same set as Alberto "if a vital organ isn't threatened, it's not torture" Gonzales uses, I presume.)

Cover said McCain agreed with his definitions.

"Doesn't mean he's always right."

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