Via Moe Lane. No, he’s not saying that waterboarding terrorists is as evil as genocide, but he does seem to be saying that both are sufficiently evil as to require prosecution. I’d be curious to know how and where he draws the line on prosecutorial discretion, then: When is something so “evil” that we must proceed to trial, damn the policy consequences? David Shribman wonders:
The pre-eminent point here is that in the United States, sitting presidents and winning political parties don’t sit in legal judgment of their predecessors. If they do not like their policies, and many times they do not, they change policies. They do not sue their predecessors nor seek to punish them legally. This custom has prevailed in times of severe crisis as much as in serene times.
There are myriad examples. Jimmy Carter did not seek to prosecute Henry A. Kissinger for complicity in the invasion of Cambodia and involvement in Chile, two actions that might be regarded as peculiarly subject to legal review. Richard M. Nixon did not seek to prosecute Lyndon B. Johnson for the illegal wiretapping of Martin Luther King’s bathroom and bedroom, which King did not know about until Thurgood Marshall informed him in 1964. Nor did Nixon take any action about the illegal taping of White House conversations in the Johnson years.
VDH adds some perspective:
I’ve raised this example twice now. But, really, how is waterboarding a known detained terrorist like Khalid Sheik Mohammed (who confessed to cutting off Daniel Pearl’s head [with two knives after the first went dull], and to planning the 9/11 mass murder) at Guantanamo considered a war crime, while blowing up with a Predator drone suspected terrorists (and all those, including women and children, in their general vicinity) not?
The latter victims were not given habeas corpus, and Miranda rights, and there is a greater doubt about their guilt from 10,000 feet than is the case with the much studied psychopath KSM in Guantanamo. Most suspects would prefer to be water-boarded than vaporized? Ditto the Somali pirates, whose heads were blown off during their apparent attempts at negotiating extortion, again a bit more drastic than waterboarding. Would a future President Sanford or Giuliani be right to bring charges against those in the Obama administration who green lighted assassinations of suspected terrorists—something akin to the Phoenix program in Vietnam?
It’s the Jon Stewart/Harry Truman dilemma again: When is it wrong to inflict suffering on captives in hopes of averting greater suffering later? Why do we need a Nuremberg for waterboarders but not one for drone operators who occasionally incinerate Pakistani families based on bad intel?
Below the Dodd clip, a little further perspective from Coulter on the left’s insufferable sanctimony on this subject.