Thursday, February 14, 2008

If I call them terrorists, anything is legal

George Bush gave an interview to the BBC. Only his second during his Presidency, and probably his last. Matt Frei didn't quite go the Carole Coleman route but he did some catch Bush off-guard a few times, since Bush seems less well-prepared than usual. Particularly incoherent is Bush's rationale for why he'll veto the bill that restricts the CIA to interrogation techniques that the military can use:

Frei: The Senate yesterday passed a bill outlawing water-boarding. You, I believe, have said that you will veto that bill.

Mr Bush: That's not -

Frei: Does that not send the wrong signal...

Mr Bush: No, look... that's not the reason I'm vetoing the bill. The reason I'm vetoing the bill - first of all, we have said that whatever we do... will be legal. Secondly, they are imposing a set of standards on our intelligence communities in terms of interrogating prisoners that our people will think will be ineffective. And, you know, to the critics, I ask them this: when we, within the law, interrogate and get information that protects ourselves and possibly others in other nations to prevent attacks, which attack would they have hoped that we wouldn't have prevented? And so, the United States will act within the law. We'll make sure professionals have the tools necessary to do their job within the law. Now, I recognise some say that these - terrorists - really aren't that big a threat to the United States anymore. I fully disagree. And I think the president must give his professionals within the law the necessary tools to protect us. So, we're not having a debate not only how you interrogate people. We're having a debate in America on whether or not we ought to be listening' to terrorists making' phone calls in the United States. And the answer is darn right we ought to be.

Noteworthy is not just his internally inconsistent arguments (he claims the bill would be both ineffective and binding) but his willful mischaracterization of his critics and the dishonest pseudo-challenge to them: he won't say what the techniques are, beyond the military ones, that he used to prevent specific attacks on the US.

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