George Pataki Defends Torture And Gets Taken To School By Jonathan Turley

Former Gov. George Pataki apparently thinks that if you repeat yourself enough times and keep regurgitating the same lies over and over again, eventually that makes you right. Pataki along with a lot of others on the right apparently aren't too
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Former Gov. George Pataki apparently thinks that if you repeat yourself enough times and keep regurgitating the same lies over and over again, eventually that makes you right. Pataki along with a lot of others on the right apparently aren't too happy about the outcome of the trial of now convicted terrorist Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani.

Palin Adviser Wanted Execution Without Trial For Convicted Terrorist Ahmed Ghailani :

A Federal District Court in Manhattan convicted Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani yesterday on one count of of conspiracy for the 1998 terror bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. While Ghailani — the first former Guantanamo detainee to be tried in civilian court — was acquitted of more than 280 other charges, he faces 20 years to life in prison.

On cue, conservatives are outraged at the result of the trial (even though he’ll spend time in a maximum security prison for least 20 years), claiming he should have been tried in a military tribunal. Liz Cheney’s group Keep America Safe claimed that “bad ideas have dangerous consequences. … We urge the president: End this reckless experiment. Reverse course. Use the military commissions at Guantanamo that Congress has authorized.” (The Center for American Progress’ Ken Gude notes on the Wonk Room that military commissions “deliver shorter sentences than civilian courts” and “the minimum sentence that Ghailani can receive is longer than the combined sentences” of three of the four detainees who have been convicted in military commissions.)

The extremely patient Jonathan Turley wrote about the case at his blog as well and Rep. Peter King's similar reaction to Pataki's here to the verdict.

Ghailani Acquitted On Major Terrorism Charges — Rep. King Responds With Call To Change Legal System:

In a truly disturbing response to the verdict, Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) denounced the jury verdict as “a total miscarriage of justice” and insisted “this tragic verdict demonstrates the absolute insanity of the Obama administration’s decision to try Al Qaeda terrorists in civilian courts.” Of course, no one would accuse New Yorkers as being ambivalent on terrorism.

Nevertheless, Rep. King’s solution to a jury of citizens acquitting an accused person is to rig the system to avoid such juries in the future. It is the most raw demonstration that the interest in the tribunal system is the view that it is outcome determinative and pre-set for convictions. Rep. King appears to be joining the Queen of Hearts that we must have a system that guarantees “sentence first, verdict afterwards.”

Matthews sub Michael Smerconish completely lost control of this interview and allowed George Pataki to control it and talk over everyone. I think Pataki's been going to the same media training school as Ron Christie where they teach you to talk over everyone else, never come up for air, filibuster, feign outrage and hope you run the clock out so the other guests never get a chance to get a word in. This was just a shameless display by Pataki defending torture.

UPDATE: Transcript via Lexis Nexis below the fold.

SMERCONISH: We start with the political fallout over the trial of that Guantanamo detainee. George Pataki is, of course, the former governor of New York. Jonathan Turley is an attorney who`s handled national security and terrorism cases. He`s also a law professor at George Washington University.

Professor, why was a key witness not permitted to testify in this trial?

JONATHAN TURLEY, GWU LAW PROFESSOR: Well, for a very simple reason. The Bush administration tortured him. And while many people engage in euphemisms and ambiguous language, waterboarding is torture. It`s been found to be torture under international law. It`s been found to be torture in U.S. courts. And what the judge said is, I`m not going to allow in evidence that was derived by torture. And those people that want us to introduce evidence derived from torture are taking us back not just to the founding of this country. It`s a perfectly medieval concept that we long ago rejected.

SMERCONISH: So we lawyers would call this a fruit of a poisonous tree having been barred from introduction into this trial.

TURLEY: That`s right. And this is a particularly poisonous tree because what it does is it says that our country is fighting terrorism and the means used for terror, but we ourselves are willing to use torture. Why? Because it`s useful or because we`re afraid or because we hate someone.

SMERCONISH: Governor, can...

GEORGE PATAKI (R), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Yes, I -- you know...

MATTHEWS: Can anyone say that the outcome would have been different in a tribunal?

PATAKI: Well, I certainly believe it would have and I hope it would have. But the professor`s recent rant is exactly what`s wrong with the whole idea of trying these murderers in a civilian court system. He just talked about not the fact that this person was intimately involved in the murder of 224 innocent civilians, including 12 Americans, but he goes after the Bush involvement in enhanced interrogation. This should be about, was this person a murderer and a criminal and a terrorist...

SMERCONISH: But Governor...

PATAKI: ... not about our system of law.

SMERCONISH: Governor, respectfully...

PATAKI: We need to protect ourselves!

SMERCONISH: ... I need to ask you -- I`ve got to ask you an evidentiary question, though, Governor.

PATAKI: Sure.

SMERCONISH: Is it so clear to you, sir, that this evidence would have come in in a tribunal? Because it`s certainly not clear to me.

PATAKI: Well, Judge Kaplan in a footnote said he had reservations about whether or not it would, and that`s perfectly understandable. But the whole point here is that we should never be having these trials in the first place. We tried that after 1993, when the towers were bombed the first time. We brought criminal proceedings in the civil justice system against those terrorists who were responsible for murder. And what was the growth (ph) of that? September 11.

SMERCONISH: Professor...

PATAKI: And now we have captured foreign combatants. This person was captured in Pakistan after being intimately involved in the murder of 224 people. We shouldn`t have to listen to the propaganda about how what the United States did was wrong.

SMERCONISH: Professor Turley...

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Hang on, men! Professor Turley, I read in "The LA Times" today that 400 terrorists since September 11 have been successfully tried in civilian courts.

TURLEY: That`s right. We`ve had hundreds of trials. I`ve been counsel on terrorism cases. We have an entire system that tries terrorism cases. We tried the blind sheik and convicted him and gave him life. We have a system that works very, very well. But the governor`s problem in this case is not just with the judge, but 12 citizens that looked at this evidence and said, We don`t buy most of these counts. But he was still convicted...

PATAKI: That -- that`s -- that`s totally wrong!

TURLEY: If I could finish, Governor...

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: Professor, you just commented on what I believe...

TURLEY: Can I just finish...

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: ... I`m critical of this administration for making the false step in the first instance to use the civilian system and not the military tribunal system. I`m not criticizing the jury. This person is a terrorist and a murder and should have had -- murderer...

TURLEY: No, but...

PATAKI: ... and should have had...

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Professor, you take the floor, then the governor. Go ahead, Professor.

TURLEY: Thank you very much for the opportunity. You are criticizing the system. You don`t like the results, and so you want to change the system. And that`s not the meaning of the rule of law. This whole debate of, Well, let`s look at the outcome to determine if we want to use federal courts, is a terrible type of argument. We don`t look at the results of cases to decide whether we want to use our court system.

PATAKI: Professor...

TURLEY: We`ve convicted hundreds of people of terrorism, and it`s a system that works very well. This individual is going to go away for at least 20 years and probably life, but because the U.S. government didn`t sweep the field on all these counts, people are saying, My God, our system must be flawed.

SMERCONISH: Governor Pataki, go ahead and respond to that, and then I want to ask you another question.

PATAKI: (INAUDIBLE) 285 charges. He`s acquitted 284 times! When we had to listen to a jury say not guilty to someone who is a criminal, who is a murderer and who is a terrorist. But for that one conspiracy conviction, this murderer, mass murderer would have walked.

And Professor, I agree with one thing you said. I`m not criticizing the decision after the fact. I was critical of the decision of the Obama administration on day one to use the civilian court system instead of military tribunals. And under the rule of law in the United States since the days of President Washington, and particularly under President Lincoln during the Civil War, we have the legal and constitutional right to try enemy combatants as military -- in those military tribunals.

And forgive me, Michael, for being a little emotional, but I was there on September 11 and I saw the consequences of our failure to respond appropriately after the bombings of 1993 and the bombings of the Cole. And I don`t want to wait until there`s another catastrophe for people to say that this decision to use the civilian court system is wrong.

SMERCONISH: Governor...

PATAKI: It has been and always will be.

SMERCONISH: ... allow me to follow up, if I may, about venue because there`s been a lot of conversation -- you`ll recall the initial plan was to try KSM in federal court in Manhattan, and a lot of concerns were expressed in these parts that the city wasn`t prepared for that. It strikes me, sir, that there has now been this successfully tried case -- meaning without any violence, without any backlash -- right here in New York. How, if at all, does that change your perspective as to whether New York should be a venue for this type of a trial?

PATAKI: Well, Michael, first of all, I wouldn`t say that this was a successful trial. When a terrorist caught in Pakistan, responsible for the murder of 224 people, is convicted of one conspiracy charge, I think it is a failure...

SMERCONISH: But sir, that`s...

PATAKI: ... of our system of justice.

SMERCONISH: That`s the -- that`s the irony.

PATAKI: And by the way...

SMERCONISH: I mean, to me -- wait a minute. To me, here are federal jurors seated in New York who acquitted him of all those charges...

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: ... playing (ph) with the evidence they were allowed to see, which did not include the evidence of the person who said that he sold the TNT used to the blow up the embassies to the defendant. It did not include the defendant`s confession that he knew that this was going to happen the day before. They weren`t allowed to hear that testimony because...

TURLEY: Because it was under torture.

PATAKI: ... it was under the civilian system and not under our military tribunal system. And you throw around the word "torture," Professor -- you`re just dead wrong. Attorney General Mukasey and others have detailed what enhanced interrogation is allowed to do consistent with our Constitution and with human rights. And I believe -- I have confidence in those who put their lives on the line to defend us that they do it the right way. And what is being done the wrong way...

SMERCONISH: But you don`t have confidence...

PATAKI: ... is the decision of the Obama administration and Attorney General Holder.

SMERCONISH: Go ahead, Professor.

(CROSSTALK)

TURLEY: But apparently, you don`t have confidence in American citizens...

PATAKI: Yes, I do!

TURLEY: ... sitting on juries...

PATAKI: But they were not allowed...

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: They were not allowed to hear the evidence. They were not allowed to hear the testimony...

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: ... who said that he sold the TNT used to blow up those embassies to the defendant, who was acquitted of murder and terrorism.

TURLEY: Michael...

PATAKI: They did not get to hear his confession, not elicited under torture. He said that he knew the day before...

TURLEY: Governor...

PATAKI: ... that this was going to happen. They didn`t get to hear that because it was used -- it was tried in the wrong venue. In a military tribunal, this murderer would have been...

TURLEY: Governor...

PATAKI: ... convicted of murder...

SMERCONISH: Professor, go ahead.

PATAKI: ... as he should be.

SMERCONISH: Governor, let him respond. Go ahead, sir.

TURLEY: Thank you, Michael. First of all, in military tribunals, the Obama administration did change the rules, in one respect, to say that you could not introduce evidence that was derived from coercion or torture. But more importantly, the argument being made by the governor of his frustration in listening to acquittal after acquittal before getting to the conviction is basically judging the system by its outcome.

These are the same types of voices we heard back -- this goes to the beginning of our country. When John Adams was representing the accused soldiers in the Boston massacre, there were many like the governor who insisted that we should have special justice. They shouldn`t be entitled to access to our courts. And John Adams stepped forward and said, No, we`re not going to change who we are because of who we hate. We`re not going to change it because we want a particular result.

We`ve convicted hundreds of terrorists in this country, and we`ve done it in a way that is transparent and legitimate. And when the governor talks about this debate about torture, it is a debate that has made the United States a laughingstock. Internationally, we have been condemned for our use of torture.

SMERCONISH: Professor, let me ask you a question...

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Should the -- should the -- a quick answer, if you`re able. Should the target determine the way in which we proceed with these cases, whether it was a civilian or whether it was a military installation or government facility?

TURLEY: No. In my view, we should try terrorists in civilian court and use the system they`re trying to destroy to convict them. That`s how we defeat terror, not by becoming more like them, but remaining who we are.

SMERCONISH: Governor, if you`d give me a quick answer on that same question, I`d be...

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: ... who we are is to uphold the rule of law, and the rule of law in this country since our founding has been that in the case of enemy combatants, and certainly in the case of terrorists who are not American citizens and not entitled to the full protection of our American criminal justice system because they are not subject to our constitutional protections, that we have every right, and in fact, I believe an obligation, to try them in military tribunals so we can do everything in our power to bring justice to those who murdered so many of our fellow Americans who were innocent of anything but trying to lead their lives!

SMERCONISH: Gentlemen, thank you for a lively conversation -- Governor George Pataki, Professor Jonathan Turley. Much obliged.

TURLEY: Thank you, Michael.

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