Last Saturday night, I watched the last debate before the New Hampshire primary. The first candidate on the stage was Barack Obama showing the confidence he must have in the wake of his enormous victory a few days earlier in Iowa.
He was followed by John Edwards and Bill Richardson. Then appeared Hillary Clinton.
I am a supporter of Hillary. Her unexpected loss to both Obama and Edwards in Iowa scared the hell out of many of her supporters, including me. What would be the affect of that loss on her demeanor and inner spirit, I wondered. She carried the day, even though Obama and Edwards both attacked her. The moderator, pointing this out, mentioned she was being “double barreled.” Her immediate quip, “You noticed” carried the moment for her.
For the first time in claiming the title of change agent, she mentioned the obvious fact that she was a woman, competing equally with men at the very top of our society.
She is right to do so.
She pointed to the political successes in her life and it was clear she had bounced back and erased the impact of the Iowa loss. We will soon see how New Hampshire voters feel about all of these candidates. The citizens of that state vote tomorrow. Ultimately, the Super Tuesday primary scheduled for Feb. 5 will determine the final outcome. That primary will involve a huge number of states.
I’ll confess now that I will be silently praying to God that Hillary wins tomorrow and thereafter, even though I know it is foolish to think the Almighty — in whom I believe — intervenes in elections. Ridiculous, but who knows?
My hope is that at the end of the two-year election process which should be shortened to five weeks — the time allotted to elect the British parliament and its prime minister — the candidates chosen to run in the general election will be Hillary Clinton and John McCain. They are, for me, the pick of the litter.
Last year, I prophesized that the Democrats would end up with a ticket comprised of Hillary and Barack. Many thinking it impossible to have both a woman and a black elected on the same ticket laughed uproariously.
I doubt they are still laughing, even though some would suggest a change in the order. Not I.
There is no question in my mind that the CIA operatives who decided to withhold and destroy the interrogation tapes showing the use of waterboarding on terrorist suspects, committed the crime of obstruction of justice.
Lee Hamilton and Thomas H. Kean, co-chairs of the Sept. 11 commission, have stated according to the Dec. 22 New York Times, ". . . their reading of the report [prepared by Philip D. Zelnikow, director of the Sept. 11 commission] had convinced them that the agency had made a conscious decision to impede the Sept. 11 commission’s inquiry.”
While the director’s report does not specifically state that the CIA’s withholding the videotapes was unlawful, it, according to the Times, “notes that federal law penalizes anyone who ‘knowingly and willfully’ withholds or ‘covers up’ a material fact from a federal inquiry or makes ‘any materially false statements to investigators.’”
Waterboarding is torture. Ask John McCain. Torture should never be authorized by law.
I believe that in the case of a ticking bomb, an American agent using torture to elicit information that in fact saves thousands of people from death and injury should be pardoned. But if the agent’s brutal and otherwise unconscionable acts did not succeed in that goal, he should be prosecuted criminally.
A judge would, on conviction, decide if leniency was warranted. America’s laws should never allow torture to be used. I am convinced that the new attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey, will pursue violators of the law, including those who engage in torture.
There are those who take the view that torture can never be forgiven by the government and anyone engaging in it must be severely punished. While I appreciate the feelings of people who come to such conclusion, I believe it is not a reasonable response to the ticking bomb.
J. Edgar Hoover Disgraced the FBI
Why does the FBI building still bear the name of J. Edgar Hoover, one time director of the FBI?
The New York Times reported on Dec. 23, “A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty.” Hoover asked President Truman on July 7, 1950 to implement his plan.
The suspension of habeas corpus permitted by the Constitution under very limited circumstances, was intended to prohibit the courts from contesting the imprisonment of any person who was “potentially dangerous to national security.”
The Times reported, “The Constitution says habeas corpus shall not be suspended ‘unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.’ The plan proposed by Hoover, the head of the F.B.I. from 1924 to 1972, stretched that clause to include ‘threatened invasion’ or ‘attack upon United States troops in legally occupied territory.’”
While the president did not act on the Hoover request, the Times reported, “In September 1950, Congress passed and the president signed a law authorizing the detention of ‘dangerous radicals’ if the president declared a national emergency. Truman did declare such an emergency in December 1950, after China entered the Korean War. But no known evidence suggests he or any other president approved any part of Hoover’s proposal.”
We are very lucky that, for the most part, despotic requests such as Hoover’s were not often granted during our history. The outrageous and unconscionable act of interning Japanese-American citizens in World War II under FDR, confirmed as lawful by the Warren United States Supreme Court, is perceived by most American citizens as a regrettable, heinous aberration.
Ultimately, the U.S. Congress authorized the payment of $20,000 in reparations to each person interned. This is far too little, but nevertheless, it represents an important apology.
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