Friday, November 02, 2007


‘One man’s torture is another man’s CIA-sponsored swim lesson’

It’s been a discouraging week when it comes to the right and torture. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page argued that waterboarding doesn’t necessarily constitute “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment of U.S. detainees. The National Review’s Rich Lowry argued, in Matt Yglesias’ words, that “torture a defining value of the American conservative movement.”

But a discussion on CNN the other day, featuring Republican “strategist” Rachel Marsden, takes the cake.

BLITZER: What do you think about this issue of water boarding, torture and the attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey?

CAFFERTY: I think — I feel sorry for Michael Mukasey. I think he’s trying to tread a minefield laid down for him by that sycophantic little yes weasel Alberto Gonzales. He wrote the memo in secret saying the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to American military when it came to enemy combatants. Who wrote secret memos saying the president of the United States didn’t have to follow the FISA court laws when it came to spying on Americans.

That kind of subterfuge of the American rule of law is an entirely separate issue from whether or not water boarding is torture or whether or not surveillance under these conditions or those conditions is a good idea. Now Mr. Mukasey can’t say waterboarding is torture because if he does, liability sudden accrues to a whole lot of folks and who knows what the consequences are. Meanwhile, Gonzales is wandering around happy as a clam. He ought to be in jail for what he did. […]

MARSDEN: Well, I think we have to define torture. One man’s torture is another man’s CIA-sponsored swim lesson.

She didn’t appear to be kidding.

And who is Rachel Marsden, and why is CNN putting her on the air to share these absurdities? I’m glad you asked.

Consider this report from the New York Post in May:

Security officers hastily escorted “Red Eye” contributor Rachel Marsden out of Fox News Channel’s Midtown headquarters yesterday for bizarre and erratic behavior. “She’s out of her [bleeping] mind. She was doing crazy stuff,” a spy told us. The brown-haired hottie is notorious in Canada, where authorities say she falsely accused a university swim coach of sexual harassment and harassed a Vancouver radio personality. A Fox News rep had no comment.

As Josh Marshall noted, “Now, consider that one for a second. Just how bizarre and erratic does a Fox pundit have to be? Right? CNN sure knows how to pick’em.”

I’d only add that Marsden’s “swim lesson” remark wasn’t the only gem of the interview. A few minutes prior, in the same CNN appearance, she explained:

“I think George Bush is doing fine. Looking back in the rear-view mirror, I think history will prove him right. Like I said, everything looks better in the rear-view mirror. People hated Reagan when he was in office. People hated Joe McCarthy and they said he was wrong about what he was doing. Turned out based on Verona Project that he was right. So I think history will prove George Bush right as well.”

Hmm. A far-right strategist that was allegedly too erratic for Fox News is welcome on CNN to defend McCarthyism and waterboarding, as if they were mainstream ideas.

The mind reels.

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