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Torture? A-OK With The "All-Stars"

Reported by Nancy - December 10, 2005 -

Friday night (12/9) on Special Report, with Jim Angle subbing for Brit Hume, the "All-Star" panel (a misnomer if ever there was one) unanimously agreed on two topics: torture is A-OK (corollary: Sen John McCain doesn't know what he's talking about & is trying to tie the administration's hands, no pun intended); & 2) we don't need no stinkin' civil liberties because Congress is looking out for us (corollary: the USA PATRIOT ACT [possibly a bigger misnomer] is the best thing since sliced bread). The panel -- Charles Krauthammer, Mort Kondracke & Fred Barnes (aka the usual suspects) -- dragged out every tired cliche in the book to justify their extremism.

Second things first: Mort Kondracke seemed to have some reservations about sunset provisions, or lack thereof, in the USA PATRIOT ACT (which the panel & Angle all simply referred to as "the Patriot Act"). But as soon as Kondracke started to mention that, Fred Barnes jumped in & talked over him, & -- surprise, surprise -- there wasn't time to go back & hear more from Kondracke on that. Krauthammer claimed (although even he admitted he had no evidence to back up the claim) that the Patriot Act has kept us safe from attack since 9/11. Otherwise, the panel was quite pleased with the package currently being negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee to reconcile the different versions passed by each chamber, even advocating that the White House should essentially browbeat any Republican, who might be considering not voting for it, back into line.

But the "discussion" about torture -- ah, that was classic. Angle introduced the topic by saying it's a discussion people don't want to have [comment: not this crew: they were champing at the bit]. We heard the "ticking bomb" scenario. There was some hair-splitting about what does & doesn't constitute "cruel" or "inhumane" treatment, with Angle displaying a few phrases from current US law regarding torture. There wss mocking derision about whether we should provide comforts like "a nice warm cell" to prisoners. There was gloating from Krauthammer that a couple of minutes of waterboarding "broke" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which according to Krauthammer (& again he admitted he had no evidence to back up the claim) probably foiled some dastardly plot. All of the panel, although admitting that McCain had himself been tortured (none of them, however, admitted that this might mean that he knows what he's talking about when he says torture doesn't work), were opposed to the amendment he has offered to bills in the Senate that would absolutely & definitively outlaw torture as a tool used by the US (nothing that would be called "cruel, unusual or degrading" would be allowed).

The bottom line, for both topics: Just trust the Bush Administration. They know what's best. They're working hard to keep us safe.

Comments: No one ever addressed the fact that the prisoners they were talking about are SUSPECTS, not even charged with -- much less tried for or convicted of -- any crime whatsoever. Don't get me wrong: I'm not condoning torture of convicts, but given the fact that the US has already been shown to be torturing "suspects" & the fact that everyone swept up by the US military &/or CIA is considered a "suspect" of some kind, shouldn't we pause & take a deep breath before we start wholesale torturing? And don't even get me started on whether holding someone as a prisoner for years -- without access to legal assistance, without communication with the outside world, without any rights at all -- is torture (it is, imho).

Although the classic "ticking bomb" scenario was approvingly mentioned, no one ever brought up the fact that there is no such case on record, where torture of a suspect has averted some terrible disaster. The entire segment was an utterly appalling display of the most callous disregard for human dignity

Brit Hume interviewed Charles Krauthammer earlier this month on the topic of whether the US should ever torture "captives" & I've had trouble writing about it because, frankly, the very idea that anyone who pretends to love this country could advocate toruture makes me physically sick. Just to give you the flavor of his views, which he barely had time to flaunt as a member of the "All-Stars" panel, here are some direct quotes from his interview with Hume:

Krauthammer on torture in general: "it’s a very narrow definition. Organ failure & death. ... the definitions are less important than the question of what can you do to whom under which conditions? ... that’s simply not so that it doesn’t work."

Krauthammer on waterboarding: "It’s cruel, it’s inhumane, it’s degrading. ... it’s horrible. It’s like a mock execution over & over & over again. If it gave us information ... I would say it was not the wrong thing to do."

If you'd like to complain to Fox about this, email: [email protected]

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (the "All-Stars" & their views on torture or on the USA PATRIOT ACT). O/T comments will be deleted. As if you couldn't already tell, torture is not a topic I take lightly, so I probably won't be amused by comments that treat it lightly. Thanks.