May 16, 2007

Torture Party

Mitt Romney, at tonight's Republican Presidential debate:

"You said the person is going to be in Guantanamo. I'm glad they're at Guantanamo. I don't want them on our soil. I want them in Guantanamo where they don't get the access to lawyers they get when they're on our soil. I don't want them in our prisons. I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo."

Rudy Giuliani, at the same debate:

"In the hypothetical that you gave me, which assumes that we know that there's going to be another attack and these people know about it, I would tell the people who had to do the interrogation to use every method they could think of. Shouldn't be torture, but every method they can think of," Giuliani said, adding that that could include waterboarding. "I've seen what can happen when you make a mistake about this, and I don't want to see another 3,000 people dead in New York or anyplace else."

Not to be outdone, Duncan Hunter, in uber-lame fashion, offered up (note cool use of SecDef locution!):

"Let me just say, this would take a one-minute conversation with the secretary of defense," said California Rep. Duncan Hunter. "I would call him up or call him in, I would say to SecDef, in terms of getting information that would save American lives even if it involves very high-pressure techniques, one sentence: 'Get the information'.

Save McCain and Ron Paul (though McCain loses many points for the demagoguery of his oft-repeated 'the terrorists will follow us home if we leave Iraq' line) all the candidates were jumping over themselves, like Pavlovian dogs, to outdo each other regarding their alacrity to pursue, yes, 'enhanced interrogation techniques'--in response to Brit Hume's ticking-bomb hypo. Putting aside for now how low on the probability curve such a scenario would be, it was only McCain and Paul who stood firmly against torture (later the minor candidate Gilmore in Q&A on Fox said he was not for torture). With Hagel and Bloomberg not in the race, Paul a quixotic candidate, and McCain touting a variant of the flypaper fiction, while not yet grasping that regional crisis management must trump chimerical calls for victory in Iraq now, I find myself increasingly focused on Barack Obama (I am uncomfortable with another quasi-dynastic succession a la Hillary). I hope to analyze some of his foreign policy speeches in this space soon.

Posted by Gregory at May 16, 2007 04:23 AM

I will be very interested to hear your thoughts on Obama. The Republicans are all terrible... I wonder who the sad, sad hack was who came up with Romney's "double the size of Guantanamo!" applause line.

Posted by: AP at May 16, 2007 06:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I forced myself to watch the Fox event, and was really sorry that none of the candidates pointed out what a stupid question this was. It was a scenario from the 24 TV show -- coincidentally (I think) a Fox staple -- not a realistic scenario for a real President or one that offers much insight into what ought to be done with people apprehended in the confusion of a battlefield thousands of miles away who might know something that would be useful to an operation weeks or months in the future. Of course it also doesn't help if your problem is what to do with those people five years later.

Actually, many of the questions in this debate were better than the norm for this kind of event. This one appealed to that part of the audience that watches too much television.

Posted by: Zathras at May 16, 2007 06:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

what a sad state of affairs on the Republican side. And as a Mormon, I must say that Romney just makes me cringe every time he opens his mouth. Why does he keep pretending to be someone he is not? Is it really that worth for him to gain the world and lose his soul?

Posted by: Dan at May 16, 2007 11:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Clintons are not a dynasty -- a multigenerational family that passes political power from one generation to another. The Bushes are a dynasty. The Clintons are a political partnership -- they have the same experience and have shared power, albeit this is obscured by our traditional views of work and marriage, to which the Clintons have not conformed. Hillary Clinton was as much as full participant in the Clinton administration as Al Gore. To lump her in with a dynasty like the Bushes unfairly tries to redistribute the Bushes unpopularity to the Clintons.
There are lots of reasons to be interested in Obama, and lots to not prefer HRC, but concerns about dynasty are not one of them.
I am reminded that so many "wise" commentators were convinced in Y2K that George W Bush and Al Gore were equivalent since each of them had a politically prominent father.

Posted by: Tom at May 16, 2007 01:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Udoubtedly the question was sophmoric, not surprising the level of discourse both at the political level and amongst the chattering class. The correct response should have been: "'There are guidelines in place up and down the chain of command which are clear, monitored and enforced. Such a question should never come to my desk. If necessary I will clarify those guidelines and stand by the consequences incurred by those who executed or failed to execute them."

Posted by: Tamquam at May 16, 2007 02:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm glad I watched House last night instead. I prefer my gratuitously nasty people to be fictional.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at May 16, 2007 03:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One -- the only -- redeeming thing about the debate was Ron Paul. I'd never seen him speak before, but when he did, it was refreshing. Libertarianism gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I'd take even that over the rest of the Republican field, where everyone seems determined to prove that he can be the most unprincipled lickspittle.

Posted by: sglover at May 16, 2007 10:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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