Will Rogers famously said that he wasn't a part of an organized group, he was a Democrat. Sadly, when it comes to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), that's even more true. I understand that Nelson is a conservative Democrat and comes from a historically conservative state, but there's no excuse for his abject stupidity in discussing Guantanamo and how to deal with the detainees there.
What's so odd about Nelson's NIMBY attitude is that he himself points out the flaws in his logic: we have and are successfully housing some really dangerous men (including both foreign and domestic terrorists, like Moussaoui and Eric Rudolph) in prisons on American soil without incident. Nelson just doesn't want them here.
Well, Sen. Nelson, I'd prefer that we have a country that wasn't full of criminals and people who wish us harm too. But unfortunately, that isn't reality. I live within 30 miles of San Quentin prison and Bay Area residents (for as liberal and hippy as our reputation is) do not seem to be all that concerned about our collective safety. The fear that these people will be on American soil so that we deal with them as befitting our justice system forgets that they will also be under heavy lock and guard as well.
And then in another annoyingly wrong nod to bipartisanship, Nelson lends credit to the Republican meme of Jack Bauer/the-ends-justify-the-means issue of keeping American safe is somehow the moral equivalent of respecting the rule of law:
WALLACE: Senator Nelson, who’s right about the balance between, on the one hand, keeping the country safe and, on the other hand, living up to our values?
NELSON: Well, they probably both are in some -- to one degree or another. I don’t think anybody wants to see this country attacked again. And I think it’s also a question about whether or not it is held against us because these tactics have been used.
But look, the president, when he was running, said that we’re going to stop waterboarding. John McCain has said it’s torture. I think what we have to do is understand that this decision apparently was decided last -- last November.
But what we need to do is make sure that the intelligence information that’s gathered is accurate, that we do everything within our power to get good intelligence, and it may or may not consist of coming from enhanced techniques.
Oh holy FSM. I'm so tired of this dishonesty. NOTHING of value came from torture, and to suggest that it might is accepting the Republican framing of this issue. Nelson should be ashamed of his ignorance. If we had to torture three people over 30 days more than 200 times looking for some way to connect Iraq to 9/11 (unsuccessfully, too), then how can anyone with the least bit of common sense much less intelligence think that it kept us safe? Does Nelson actually think that the 108 detainees killed via "enhanced interrogation techniques" have actually deterred terrorism?
Think about it, Sen. Nelson, before you spout off on television again, hurting your party and the President's stance: If your son, brother, cousin or friend (even if he had jihadist tendencies--something we have not yet proven) was killed in the name of the American "War on Terror", would you be inclined to be sympathetic to the American cause, or would you too seek revenge for the US's dehumanizing treatment?
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