Guantanamo Bay

Peter King Witness Called Groups Defending Gitmo Detainees "Anti-American," "Al Qaeda's Useful Idiots"

Rep. Peter King (R-NY recently announced the third in his series of hearings on the “radicalization of the Muslim-American community”—the GOP’s premier venue for demonstrating the kinds of attacks highlighted in PFAW’s latest Right Wing Watch: In Focus report “The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.” As part of his hearings, King plans to call Thomas Joscelyn of the staunchly neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies as a witness. Joscelyn, from his platform as a writer for the neoconservative Weekly Standard, has questioned the patriotism of organizations and individuals who spoke out against the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, calling the ACLU “Al Qaeda’s useful idiots” and claiming that lawyers who represented accused terrorists “openly opposed the American government.”

In a 2009 column, Joscelyn called the American Civil Liberties Union “Al Qaeda’s Civil Liberties Union” and “al Qaeda’s useful idiots” because the group produced the video “Justice Denied: Voices From Guantanamo,” which featured five Muslims who were imprisoned and abused in Guantanamo Bay and never faced charges. “The ACLU has worked diligently to undermine America's stance in what was formerly known as the ‘war on terror,’” he wrote, “and has even been willing to disseminate propaganda on behalf of our jihadist enemies.” He went on to criticize the ACLU and the Obama administration for opposing the use of military commissions and supporting the right of due process under the law for accused terrorists: “The ACLU cannot tell the difference between us and our enemies--as its own propaganda shows. Therefore, it does not bode well for America's counterterrorism efforts that the Obama administration is in agreement with al Qaeda's useful idiots.”

Joscelyn also jumped on the right-wing smear campaign against Justice Department lawyers who once represented accused terrorists, writing: “Now, we don’t know what assignments these lawyers have taken on inside government. But we do know that they openly opposed the American government for years, on behalf of al Qaeda terrorists, and their objections frequently went beyond rational, principled criticisms of detainee policy.”

Joscelyn also charged the Center for Constitutional Rights with “crude anti-Americanism” because the group condemned bias against Muslim Americans. He also questioned whether accused terrorists should receive any legal representation at all:

CCR’s statement calls to mind the debate some months ago about the role of lawyers in the war on terror. Some have argued that by representing “unpopular” clients they are merely adhering to a noble legal tradition in the same manner as John Adams, who defended British soldiers years prior to the Revolutionary War. Granted, some lawyers probably are compelled by their own notions of legal principle. But not all of them are.

John Adams sought to create a free society in which all faiths can be practiced and none are enforced by the state. He succeeded.

This nation’s second president probably would not appreciate CCR’s smear of the nation he helped found. And CCR is not just standing up for the “right” of a terrorist to receive a fair trial. The organization doubts whether John Adam’s America can be fair to Muslims at all.

Gary Bauer: Torture Apologist

Yesterday Gary Bauer dismissed the idea that the US was torturing people by saying that what was being done was really no different that what happens at a frat party.  Bauer's statement was notable not only for its apparent support for such methods, but also for the fact that Religious Right leaders have, for the last several years, remained mostly silent on the issue as a whole. 

But now the President Obama is in office, Bauer seems to have decided to speak out in defense of these practices and has penned two separate columns doing so today.

In the first, Bauer argues that torture is acceptable under the Just War Theory because it "creates a set of conditions that, if met, justify the use of force to save innocent lives facing imminent death" and offers this as an explanation of his point:

A Thought Experiment: You walk into your home to find an armed intruder threatening to shoot your spouse and children, trapped with nowhere to run. Fortunately, you have a gun.

You try to negotiate, but the intruder is in no mood to talk. His intention is murder.

You have seconds to decide. What do you do?

For many, the answer is clear. You fight to save your family. And most of us would call that self defense. Most Christians would agree that any action would be not only morally permissible, but also morally required.

Now imagine another scenario: You are a CIA interrogator facing an avowed terrorist who was caught in the act of preparing for murder. You know he has information about a plot to blow up an unidentified building in a large American city. Innocent lives hang in the balance.

For hours you have attempted to extract the life-saving information from him, but to no avail. The last option is one you believe will work: water-boarding, but you have only a few minutes to decide. What do you do?

Again, for most of us, the answer is clear. You do what you have to do to save those innocent lives, which in this case means water-boarding the terrorist. You are saving other people's families.

Of course, this sort of "ticking time bomb" is an extreme hypothetical situation and, from everything we know, the use of torture and water-boading wasn't done because CIA interrogators only had "hours" to stop to a massive attack.  Waterboarding people 266 times takes, well, time.

But in this other piece, Bauer takes it a step further and claims that "liberals" don't care about torture at all and really are just using this issue to attack the Bush administration.  As proof, Bauer cites the Eleno Oviedo who spent 26 years as a political prisoner in Cuba where he was regularly beaten and tortured:

The Left would have us believe its support for the investigation and prosecution of Bush era CIA officials is rooted in principle. It’s about the torture, liberals insist, not politics.

But it is about politics pure and simple. If liberals truly detest torture, why do so many of them sing the praises of Castro’s Cuba, which today incarcerates and tortures hundreds of its citizens for the “crime” of promoting basic human rights?

Have those obsessed with alleged mistreatment of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ever shed a tear for modern-day Eleno Oviedos, rotting in squalid prisons across that small island?

One could just as easily ask if Bauer had ever cared or written about Oviedos's torture before he decided to use him in his effort to attack liberals and defend the Bush administration.

He then goes on to warn that if the CIA stops using torture and the US is attacked again, it will be "the Left" that will be entirely to blame:

All of this may be prompting many Americans to wonder: Is the political left more dedicated to imprisoning political enemies than to our security? ... The Obama Administration’s decision puts innocent American lives at risk and makes another 9/11 more likely.

Is this really the game the political Left wants to play? If it is, then if (when?) America is attacked on their watch, conservatives need to be prepared to investigate all their sins of omission, all the things the Obama Administration failed to do to keep America safe, just as the Left is obsessed with the alleged malfeasance of the CIA under Bush.

Let's not forget, "Gary L. Bauer is one of America’s most effective spokesmen for pro-life, pro-family and pro-growth values."

Senate Republicans "Collude" With Right Wing Groups to Attack Sotomayor

Just yesterday, I wrote a post about how Manuel Miranda went form an obscure Senate aide to a right-wing judicial confirmation warrior after losing his job on the Hill due to the fact that he had been regularly obtaining internal Democratic documents and sharing them with right-wing groups:

From the fall of 2001 until January 2003, when Miranda left the Judiciary Committee to work for Senator Frist, he and Lundell downloaded several thousand internal Democratic documents and possibly shared them with other Republican staffers and the media. Miranda repeatedly requested files from Lundell even after he began working for Frist and thus no longer had access to the Judiciary Committee’s server. At one point Miranda even asked Lundell to “undertake a discreet mission” to gather documents and provide them to Sean Rushton, Executive Director of the Committee for Justice, so that he could build up a relationship with the press. Lundell replied that he would be “happy to assist in this covert action” and subsequently e-mailed Rushton 169 documents. Lundell and others speculated that Miranda himself also turned over documents to Rushton and others but Miranda denies this and it is impossible to know the truth as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the Committee for Justice and the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary all refused to cooperate with Mr. Pickle’s investigation. Despite this lack of cooperation, the Pickle Report does note that when the files showed up on the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary’s website, one of the documents contained a directory path that forensic review determined came from “an e-mail from a web page that was viewed and printed by Mr. Miranda with Internet Explorer.”

The irony, of course, is that Miranda defended his behavior by claiming that he was merely a “whistleblower” who was trying to expose the Senate Democrats' "collusion" with outside interest groups ... and chose to do so by obtaining and sending internal Democratic memos to right-wing interest groups. 

Which brings us to this article in The Hill today about how Senate Republicans are trying to appear moderate and fair-minded regarding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor while privately telling right-wing interest groups to dig up whatever they can on her and keep up their harsh attacks, though they are now trying to deny it:

In public, Senate Republicans have kept their distance from conservative attacks on Sonia Sotomayor — but behind the scenes, they have encouraged activists to keep their crosshairs trained on the Supreme Court nominee.

Lanier Swann, an aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told a private meeting of conservative activists Wednesday to keep up their pressure on Sotomayor.

“Swann told us she wanted to encourage all of us in our talking points and that we’re having traction among Republicans and unnerving Democrats,” said an attendee of Wednesday’s weekly meeting hosted by Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform.

“The point was we should keep it up,” said the source. “She told us at this meeting to put our foot on the pedal.”

A second source who attended the meeting confirmed the account. Both sources requested anonymity because it was a private meeting.

Swann declined to respond to the characterization of her comments by other people present at the meeting because the discussion was supposed to remain private.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said Swann would not encourage the groups to attack the nominee.

"I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here. Those meetings are off the record, so Lanier won't respond on it, though I'm sure she wouldn't be calling for attacks," Stewart said.

Norquist, who spoke to The Hill late Wednesday at the request of McConnell's office, said that Swann was encouraging conservatives to keep up their fire on the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, not Sotomayor.

"It was all about how Gitmo is getting incredible traction and was separate from her coversation about how pleasant the Supreme Court nominee was when she visited [McConnell's] office," Norquist said.

But two sources who attended the meeting said that explanation was absurd and insisted there was no doubt that Swann was encouraging conservatives to continue their harsh criticisms of the nominee.

I wonder if Miranda was in attendance for this meeting - the article doesn't say.

Who knows - maybe he was one of the article's unnamed sources and just felt obligated to speak out about the meeting because, as he claims, its his duty to “expose corruption wherever [it is] discovered.”

FRC Uses the 9/11 Mastermind to Try to Score Political Points

I saw this article in the Washington Post yesterday about the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed at Guantanamo Bay in which he attempted to find out if the judges were fans of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson because he felt that, if they were, he could not get a fair trial:

Invoking names such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted organizer of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, probed the private opinions of the military judge who is overseeing his case Tuesday in a series of sometimes testy exchanges during a hearing on the judge's impartiality.

Mohammed, wearing a black turban, began by asking Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann about his religious beliefs and whether he had any association with the religious organizations of Pat Robertson or the late Jerry Falwell.

"If you are in one of those denominations, you are not going to be fair," said Mohammed, who switched between Arabic and English when he spoke to the judge. The judge said he had not belonged to any congregation for some time but had attended Lutheran and Episcopal churches.

I didn't write about it because I felt it was crass to try and score political points off the ramblings of a man responsible for thousands of American deaths ... but then again, I don't work for the Family Research Council:

What was most offensive was the subject matter of this interrogation-namely, the judge's personal religious views. "We are well-known as extremists and fanatics, and there are also Christians and Jews that are very extremist," Mohammed said. "If you, for example, were part of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson's groups, then you would not at all be impartial towards us." He also asked if the judge read books by Billy Graham or Pat Buchanan and wanted to know what movies he has watched. Col. Kohlmann rightly declined to answer. But this line of questioning seemed to ring a bell. It is reminiscent of the questioning, now abandoned, of judicial nominees about their religious beliefs by liberal senators during their confirmation hearings. But the Constitution is clear-"no religious test shall ever be required" for public office. The charge that only a radical secularist can be impartial on the bench, or that conservatives and evangelical Christians can never be, must be rejected from any source.

"The Terrorists Would Prefer to Have Hillary Clinton Elected President"

So says Douglas MacKinnon, writing in Townhall: "The paramount truth most liberals, and most in the media, will not allow to be spoken, is that if you are in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, if you are in favor of ending or scaling back the 'Patriot Act,' if you are in favor of stopping or even criminalizing warrantless wiretaps, if you are in favor of preventing our spy satellites from being used to protect our homeland, if you are in favor of never using facilities such as Guantanamo Bay to house murderous terrorists, if you are in favor of never letting our allies interrogate terrorists, then you are opening up the United States to a horrific terrorist attack. Period."