STACLU Distorts Reaction to the Torture Memo

STACLU Distorts Reaction to the Torture Memo February 11, 2013

It’s been a long time since I visited the Stop the ACLU blog, which several years ago was a reliable source of fun for me to read and criticize. William Teach has a post discussing the leaking of a memo with at least part of the Obama administration’s justification for the drone strike program and he simply lies about the liberal critics he links to:

This would have driven liberals and the media bat guano insane during the Bush administration. Heck, think how much “ink” they used due to a few idiots forcing prisoners to create naked pyramids at Abu Ghraid and stone cold killers being tortured with Britney Spears music. Now you have calm, rational stories. And liberals like Emptywheel defending Dear Leader. TalkLeft isn’t much better. In other cases, the same barking moonbats who would have assailed Bush can’t be bothered to bash Obama despite this paper saying Obama is doing things liberals really, really hate.

Uh, what? Did he actually read those links? Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel) has been a loud and constant critic of the Obama administration’s many unconstitutional overreaches in the war on terror, just as she was of Bush over most of the same policies. The post on her site that he links to is criticizing Obama for not releasing all of the memos on this subject instead of the one that was leaked (probably against the administration’s wishes, but that is not clear at this time since we don’t know who leaked it).

In another post on the same subject and the same day, she rightly hammers Obama because the leaked memo, their legal rationale for the drone strikes, “defines imminence so as to have no meaning.” In another post the same day, she blasts the Obama DOJ’s reasoning in the memo, saying:

Using this logic, the government can just define all of us imminent threats, and be able to execute us without any review by a court.

And remember — while the document pretends that Congress has been involved here, it refuses (still!) to show Congress the real authorization it used. So it is basically saying Fuck You to courts in the white paper, and Fuck you to Congress by releasing it.

Does that sound like Wheeler is “defending Dear Leader,” for crying out loud? You would be hard pressed to find anyone who has been more consistent in their criticism of both Bush and Obama over their abuses of executive power in the war on terror. She ranks up there with Glenn Greenwald as one of the most consistent and eloquent critics of both administrations.

And the TalkLeft post he links to certainly doesn’t defend Obama. In fact, it quotes exactly the same statement from the ACLU that Teach does:

“This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU…. “Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen…..t the limits are elastic and vaguely defined, and it’s easy to see how they could be manipulated.”

In particular, Jaffer said, the memo “redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning.”

There certainly are many on the left who ought to be criticized for their inconsistency on these issues, particularly the Democratic leadership that has said and done nothing about this dramatic seizure of power by Obama. Very few Democratic legislators have been consistent in their criticisms, like Rush Holt, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Wyden. But the liberal bloggers that Teach links to are not only not “defending Dear Leader,” they’re loudly protesting the illogical defense of the drone assassination program. He either has some serious reading comprehension problems or he’s just plain lying.

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  • frankniddy

    “He either has some serious reading comprehension problems or he’s just plain lying.”

    There’s no reason why those two are mutually exclusive. He sounds like one of those movement conservatives who thinks literally all liberals worship Obama because St. Rush from on high says they do.

  • He ought to at least know how to spell Abu Ghraib before he tries to dismiss, with shocking minimization, what happened there. Indeed, any self-respecting foaming-at-the-mouth right winger ought to have a proper attitude toward what happened at Abu Ghraib – it was a breakdown of the all-precious chain of command (lots of people saying “I take full responsibility” while nobody actually took, you know, full responsibility) and a betrayal of the honor of the uniformed service. He ought to be foaming at the mouth for an inquisition to root to the bottom of the cowardice and tear it out, etc, etc. *pant*

  • This would have driven liberals and the media bat guano insane during the Bush administration.

    I think I see the problem here. STACLU doesn’t consider anything less than bat guano insane as legitimate criticism … which may be understandable since bat guano insane is their only stock in trade.

  • thebookofdave

    I don’t care what William Teach or anybody else says. Playing Britney Spears to a captive audience is torture. No crime or act of war justifies its use against prisoners. She is also useless as an interrogation tool; more likely to permanently impair a victim’s cognitive functions than to extract information, and ruin the subject as an intelligence asset.