Q Can I just follow up?
THE PRESIDENT: No, you can’t. Steve. If we follow up, we’re not going to get – I want Hillman to be able to ask a question. It’s his last press conference – not yet, Hillman. (Laughter.) Soon. You and Wendell seem –
Q Thank you very much, sir. What do you say to the argument that your proposal is basically seeking support for torture, coerced evidence and secret hearings? And Senator McCain says your plan will put U.S. troops at risk. What do you think about that?
THE PRESIDENT: This debate is occurring because of the Supreme Court’s ruling that said that we must conduct ourselves under the Common Article III of the Geneva Convention. And that Common Article III says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It’s very vague. What does that mean, “outrages upon human dignity”? That’s a statement that is wide open to interpretation. And what I’m proposing is that there be clarity in the law so that our professionals will have no doubt that that which they are doing is legal. You know, it’s – and so the piece of legislation I sent up there provides our professionals that which is needed to go forward.
The first question that we’ve got to ask is, do we need the program? I believe we do need the program. And I detailed in a speech in the East Room what the program has yield – in other words, the kind of information we get when we interrogate people, within the law. You see, sometimes you can pick up information on the battlefield; sometimes you can pick it up through letters; but sometimes you actually have to question the people who know the strategy and plans of the enemy. And in this case, we questioned people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who we believe ordered the attacks on 9/11, or Ramzi Binalshibh, or Abu Zabeda – cold-blooded killers who were part of planning the attack that killed 3,000 people. And we need to be able to question them, because it helps yield information, the information necessary for us to be able to do our job.
Now, the Court said that you’ve got to live under Article III of the Geneva Convention, and the standards are so vague that our professionals won’t be able to carry forward the program, because they don’t want to be tried as war criminals. They don’t want to break the law. These are decent, honorable citizens who are on the front line of protecting the American people, and they expect our government to give them clarity about what is right and what is wrong in the law. And that’s what we have asked to do.
And we believe a good way to go is to use the amendment that we worked with John McCain on, called the Detainee Treatment Act, as the basis for clarity for people we would ask to question the enemy. In other words, it is a way to bring U.S. law into play. It provides more clarity for our professionals. And that’s what these people expect. These are decent citizens who don’t want to break the law.
Now, this idea that somehow we’ve got to live under international treaties, you know – and that’s fine, we do, but oftentimes the United States passes law to clarify obligations under international treaty. And what I’m concerned about is if we don’t do that, then it’s very conceivable our professionals could be held to account based upon court decisions in other countries. And I don’t believe Americans want that. I believe Americans want us to protect the country, to have clear standards for our law enforcement intelligence officers, and give them the tools necessary to protect us within the law.
It’s an important debate, Steve. It really is. It’s a debate that really is going to define whether or not we can protect ourselves. I will tell you this, I’ve spent a lot of time on this issue, as you can imagine, and I’ve talked to professionals, people I count on for advice – these are people that are going to represent those on the front line of protecting this country. They’re not going forward with the program. They’re not going – the professionals will not step up unless there’s clarity in the law. So Congress has got a decision to make: Do you want the program to go forward or not?
I strongly recommend that this program go forward in order for us to be able to protect America.
Nazis, Chamberlain, WWI & II. We who question the sanity of this “war” are being compared to more than a few historical icons of late. But Rice is over the top:
Yeah? So? Is there some parallel here? Maybe she’ll explain it some day.
Secretary of State Rice compared the Iraq war with the American Civil War, telling a magazine that slavery might have lasted longer in this country if the North had decided to end the fight early.
“I’m sure there are people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold,” Rice said in the new issue of Essence magazine.
“I know there were people who said, ‘Why don’t we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves?’” Rice said.
Rice also bristled at the notion that the Bush administration’s slow response last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was because of the race of the majority of the victims.Nice misdirection there Condi. Of course we’re not accusing your Pres of racism - of letting people die of thirst and heat and neglect because they were black.
“I resented the notion that the President of the United States, this President of the United States, would somehow decide to let people suffer because they were black,” Rice told the magazine.
“I found that to be the most corrosive and outrageous claim that anybody could have made, and it was wholly and totally irresponsible.”
No Bush allowed people to suffer because they were poor - equal opportunity negelct.
Wow! She actually said it - “I don’t give a shit about Americans”.
Asked if she felt personally accountable, Rice said, “The government did its best. People aren’t perfect, and this response was not perfect. You know, I do foreign policy, I don’t run Homeland Security. I don’t run FEMA. I do foreign policy.” She added, “I did what I could to coordinate the international response.”
We all have our little fantasies. What we’d do to the boss if there were no consequences. What we’d do if we could.
So I can’t really fault Bush for this one:
“Bush appeared distracted and glanced repeatedly at his watch,” Blumenthal writes about a presidential tour during the library’s dedication. “When he stopped to gaze at the river, where Secret Service agents were stationed in boats, the guide said: ‘Usually, you might see some bass fishermen out there.’ Bush replied: ‘A submarine could take this place out.’”See, not too bad - certainly more innocuous than things I’ve said.
But here’s the money quote:
Blumenthal, who attributes his account to two anonymous eyewitnesses, adds that “Rove showed keen interest in everything he saw, and asked questions, including about costs, obviously thinking about a future George W. Bush library and legacy.Oh if only Karl were fantasising.
”‘You’re not such a scary guy,’ joked his guide. ‘Yes, I am,’ Rove replied. Walking away, he muttered deliberately and loudly: ‘I change constitutions, I put churches in schools.’”