Tuesday, April 21

Begala v Fleischer: Was Bush Lying about Torture?

In this clip from Anderson Cooper Paul Begala takes on Bushbot Ari Fleischer and cuts him to little teeny tiny ribbons.

Link to Transcript

COOPER: Do you believe that it did work in this case, as the vice president has -- as Vice President Cheney has indicated?

FLEISCHER: No, again, Anderson, your premise is that it is torture. And I think the only people who can determine that are people from the Department of Justice.

COOPER: But it's interesting, though...

FLEISCHER: If it is torture, if it is torture...


COOPER: ... when the Khmer Rouge did it, when the Khmer Rouge did it at Tuol Sleng prison, and you can go there, and you can see the instruments they used to water-board people, I mean, we labeled it as torture.

FLEISCHER: And, Anderson, that's why I said the only people who are in a position to make an authoritative judgment on it should be career, independent-minded people at the Department of Justice, without anybody at the White House interfering or anybody else interfering.

And then, if they decide it was, then they have got a very careful decision to make about how far and extensive do you prosecute people. Is it the people who did it? Is it the Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill who were briefed on it and didn't object to it? And who in the administration would you have to apply that standard to?

This is where this whole thing can go.

But, going back to the memo, and going back to bipartisanship, you know, it's not just the Bush people who said it was wrong to release that memo. Bill Clinton's head of the CIA said it was wrong to release those memos, because you're teaching al Qaeda operatives exactly what our techniques are.

And why do we want anybody in al Qaeda to know what the limits of our techniques are, Paul?

BEGALA: The techniques that -- the techniques that we no longer use, the techniques that were in "The New York Review of Books" and half of the newspapers and magazines in North America, Ari. I mean, it is...

FLEISCHER: Paul, it was your administration's head of the CIA who objected to the release of those memos.

BEGALA: It doesn't -- it doesn't make...

FLEISCHER: It's a Clinton official who said that.

BEGALA: It doesn't make him right. Torture is always wrong, Ari. We executed...

FLEISCHER: I agree with you that torture is always wrong. BEGALA: Excuse me for talking while you're interrupting.


COOPER: Let Paul finish.

BEGALA: We -- our country executed Japanese soldiers who water- boarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime that we are now committing ourselves. How do you defend that?

FLEISCHER: Well, again, Paul, I guess you already are the jury, the prosecutor, the judge, and a citizen all rolled into one. You have already pronounced judgment that it is a crime.

So, if it is a crime, my question goes back to. Which Democrat members of Congress who sat in on the briefings, were authorized, were told about it, while -- particularly at a time when the Democrats had the majority in the Senate, would you say need to be prosecuted, Paul?

BEGALA: Here's the thing. Ari, you think it's a political issue. And, so, you say, well, Democrats knew, or George Tenet said this, and he used to be a Democrat. And...


FLEISCHER: Because the only people you want to blame, Paul, are Republicans.

BEGALA: Again, excuse me for trying to make a point here.

FLEISCHER: That's why.

BEGALA: No, no, no.

FLEISCHER: The only people you want to blame are the Bush administration.

BEGALA: I just said a moment ago -- I just said a moment ago, if -- if George Tenet, who was head of the CIA when I was in the White House, if he says this, he's wrong, too.

The issue isn't partisan, but it's clearly people like Fleischer who want to *make* it partisan and therefore delegitimize the inquiry. People correctly points out that when Japanese soldier waterboarded our troops - we Executed Them! We U.S. Troops waterboarding members of the Vietcong they were prosecuted. What changed on 9/11? Did decency disappear, did the law change, did we lose our honor and integrity? Did we lose our minds? It doesn't matter if some Democrats in Congress were briefed on this - and by the way, since it was Secure Program any Congressmen who talked about or complained about it publically would have been violation National Security protocols, so it's ridiculous to say the "didn't object" because they COULDN't object without risking prison.


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