Dear White House: Your Position on Secret Torture Memos Makes No Sense to Me, So Here’s a Picture of a Kitten in a Blender


19 Comments on “Dear White House: Your Position on Secret Torture Memos Makes No Sense to Me, So Here’s a Picture of a Kitten in a Blender”

  1. …wow, that’s a whole new kind of special.

    If it makes you feel any better, the best and brightest international lawyers the world has to offer can’t make sense of the Whitehouse position on secret torture either. Neither for that matter can international law students, but that’s an entirely different rant.

    (seriously, I read the Whitehouse’s legal argument about Gitmo, and my first thought was ‘wait. didn’t these people… go to lawschool? Pass bar? Crackerjack box? why so stupid?’).

  2. Annalee: I’m starting to think it’s less stupid and more evil. Someone or -ones in the current US administration clearly want to torture people, no matter what.

  3. The lesson to be had of this administration: if you’ve got an impossible argument to make, have an none-too-bright intern write a piece of drivel and run with it. It doesn’t matter a damn what your justification for something is when you can just do it.

  4. Why do I have a feeling that this mix of incredible cuteness, lolcat, and (well earned) political outrage is a secret plot to loadtest WordPress?

  5. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang O.C., da liberal gangsta

    Why is it every time I see Dana Perino open her mouth I expect a scent of roses and poetry to come forth but instead I smell shit and hear shit? Sad juxtaposition.

  6. cisko:

    Heh. Well, that’s not necessarily the intent, but if it works that way, that’s fine. It does look like there’s only so long the background image is on the comment box.

  7. Here’s the trick:

    Operate outside of the law. Make no bones or pretense about it. Then, just to confuse the opposition, which is following the law, write up bogus “law documents” or “legal memos” that can then be argued in court.

    You get to break the law with impunity, while the opposition tries to gain redress through legal channels. Ignore all legal requests for documentation or interviews, claiming, quite illegally, that you aren’t subject to such requests.

    It helps if you get to seed the justice system with judges who share your basic beliefs, and corrupt the department that is supposed to determine whether actions are legal with people who are there to obfuscate your illegal actions.

    Banana republic, indeed. Enjoy!

  8. Wakboth, my issue is this: if I were, say, the president of the united states, and I wanted to do something of dubious legality, I would want my lawyers to say “Uh, yeah, that’s illegal under the Geneva Conventions, the 1984 Convention Against Torture, and probably under customary law. But here’s the justification we’ll use to defend you.” I would not want them to say “Oh that’s totally legal because [a bunch of BS that I as an undergrad international law student can see clear through].”

    I mean, the President’s lawyers are supposed to defend him even when he’s dead wrong. That’s why they get paid. But if I were the President, and I had no background in international law, I would want my lawyers to lay out the facts to me before coming up with their best argument that my behavior is actually legal. To their credit, no one could come up with a better argument than theirs, because there isn’t one. Torture is illegal under international law, and you really can’t make a convincing argument to the contrary. But I would want my lawyers to tell me that. That’s not what Bush’s lawyers told him.

  9. Who cares about the Americans’ circumventing of basic rights? What did that kitty ever do to you? Take it out of the blender!

  10. annalee flower horne, actually it’s more of “torture is illegal and we couldn’t even fight it on moral grounds, but let’s define torture this way, then we can say what is torture and what isn’t, and then we can get away with it.”

    The Justice Department lawyers aren’t the President’s (that’s the office of legal council, well, almost, he actually has private lawyers for that. The legal council office are public lawyers and, while IANAL, I don’t think they are actually covered under client/lawyer priveledge, the other laywer who do read this blog can correct me on that), they’re ours (as citizens).

  11. While the Justice Department isn’t of counsel to the White House, as Steve Buchheit points out, they are part of the Executive Branch, and therefore do owe ‘loyalty’ to the Executive – as a concept. The catch there is that what they owe is their best efforts to ensure legality and accuracy in proposed actions, rather than rubber-stamping. While not the Solicitor General, they’re also not a Congressional body. Unfortunately, events have led to that perception.

    The issue of torture is more complicated than merely citing the Geneva Conventions too, considering the key difference between insurgents (i.e. ‘local’ individuals who attack military targets, and are subject to the Conventions by any valid standards) and terrorists (i.e. individuals who target civilians, as well as military targets, are, properly speaking, hostis humani generis, enemies of all humanity, and do not merit Geneva Conventions protection under applicable precedent).

    For the Justice Department to do its job properly, the key (and subtle) distinctions between actual insurgents and terrorists must be examined in detail, pursuant to issuance of directives that could ensure protection where appropriate, and propose limits elsewhere.

    Unfortunately, nobody seems to be analyzing the middle route in detail, as the extremes are far more newsworthy…

  12. Ok, so a little late to be jumping back in on this thread, but:

    Doesn’t the Martens Clause make the ‘terrorist/insurgent’ distinction irrelevant? I know that international law is still playing ‘catch-up’ with regard to dealing with non-state actors carrying out acts that seem more like armed attacks than criminal actions, but Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions seems right on point when it comes to legal loopholes being used to permit torture.

    Not being a smartass or anything– as stated above I am an undergrad planning to go to law school for international law, so I probably only know enough about this to embarrass myself.

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