Smerconish Loves Him Some Torture

[media id=6980] Chris Matthews and Christopher Hitchens take on Michael Smerconish for his pro-torture views. Smerconish uses the "ticking time bomb"

Chris Matthews and Christopher Hitchens take on Michael Smerconish for his pro-torture views. Smerconish uses the "ticking time bomb" scenario which is a ridiculous argument and one better left for the screen writers of 24. Hitchens has really come around on this issue since volunteering to undergo waterboarding himself and if Chris Matthews could stop talking over him every once in a while, he might have had a better chance making his arguments against Smerconish. That said the two of them do manage to make Smerconish look as foolish as he is for taking this stance. Waterboarding does not produce reliable information and it's a war crime and Smerconish is just dead wrong.

John Amato:

Smerconish is also staking out the position that torture is a wonderful thing no matter if the ticking time bomb scenario is in play or not. Whatever it takes is his mantra and I expect as soon as Obama takes the presidency, the right wing zealots will ramp this thing up to insane proportions.

It is truly sickening to witness this in real time. We prosecuted the Japanese for torture on our own troops, but to justify some sick sense of loyalty to the Conservative movement on Smercs part---he's willing to compromise the moral high ground to go on the air and praise the use of torture just shows us how far the Conservative movement has fallen .

More transcripts below the fold:

MATTHEWS: Michael, you're an attorney. What happens if it's determined by the courts at some point in the near future that we do have to apply the Geneva Conventions code with regard to torture or non-torture of prisoners, even when they're non-state detainees? What happens to the president in that regard? He found in his-in his document I've got in front of me in 2002 that we can torture, basically, we're not obliged to follow the Geneva Conventions.

Is the president legally culpable here under some future tribunal in this country for having decided that he can ignore the Geneva Conventions in this case?

SMERCONISH: I think not. Frankly-well, frankly, the law doesn't say much of anything in this regard. I mean, I think I know what went on here. They turned to John Yoo, who, frankly, was at a third level in the administration, and they asked him to create new law in this regard. Now, oddly enough, he's out at Berkeley.

The direct answer to your question is al Qaeda doesn't wear the uniform of any particular nation. They're not a signatory to the Geneva Convention. They're not going to play by those rules, so why should we? If they were playing by them, maybe I'd have a different posture in this regard.

MATTHEWS: So you're consistent...

HITCHENS: I don't believe you would, sir. I mean, what if some-the next conspirator is an identifiable member of the Pakistani armed forces? Are you going to tell me that what you just said, that all measures are allowable, doesn't apply because he's wearing a uniform, but he's the mastermind of what happened in Bombay, what might be going to happen in London tomorrow? You can't be serious.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Michael, would you apply the Geneva Conventions if one of the people...

SMERCONISH: Christopher...

MATTHEWS: ... who committed a horrible act against us was, in fact, a state official? Would you apply the Geneva Conventions there or not, or do whatever it takes?

SMERCONISH: Christopher is correct. I would not apply the Geneva Convention there, either. One of the individuals from the Mumbai attack, one of the terrorists survived and is in custody. And if that individual was believed to have actionable intelligence about a future attack, any means necessary to exact the information from him I would support.

Listen, the Indians apparently used truth serum, and I don't hear anybody beefing-I've read all about it in the U.K. press. They've detailed it. Nobody's beefing about the means that are being used in India about this...

HITCHENS: Well, what if they...

MATTHEWS: Well, let me-let me try to apply this...

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: What if it was a blowtorch?

MATTHEWS: What about the Japanese soldiers, the generals or whatever, the officer corps who were convicted of war crimes for using waterboarding against some of the flyers who were part of the Doolittle raid over-you know, the "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" heroes? I mean, from their point of view, they were operating in self-defense. Would you say that they were operating morally by waterboarding one of our flyers? I'm just asking you tit for tat here, from their point of view, the Japanese point of view.

SMERCONISH: In that...

MATTHEWS: I don't defend the Japanese...

SMERCONISH: No...

MATTHEWS: ... empire in one instance, but where do you draw the line morally on what's in and what's out, or does it just depend whether you're American or not? Is that it, if you're American, anything goes?

SMERCONISH: Chris, I'm all about defending American interests.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: In other words, your moral system is based on, if you're an American, anything goes. If you're in the other country, we try you for war crimes. You lose the war, we cut your head off, or whatever it takes, we execute you. In other words, your morality is entirely nationally based. I'm just asking.

SMERCONISH: And I'm going to answer, if you'll give me the chance. Yes, my moral code is dictated by the fact that I want our leaders to be guided to protect American lives first.

MATTHEWS: OK, so a Japanese colonel...

SMERCONISH: Chris...

MATTHEWS: ... or general...

SMERCONISH: Chris, we...

MATTHEWS: ... who operates under the same code and waterboards an American flyer, how would you judge him morally or legally? You, as an attorney.

SMERCONISH: That is not the current-that is-that is...

MATTHEWS: No, I'm asking you to judge...

SMERCONISH: ... not the current circumstance with al Qaeda.

MATTHEWS: No, I'm asking you, what would you do? You said anything goes in terms of defending this country. That's pure nationalism. I accept it. I'm close to you on that, except I think there are limits. I'm just asking if you have any.

SMERCONISH: I don't have any limits relative to al Qaeda. None.

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