April 24, 2009

More not so veiled threats from Republicans with their outrage over the release of the torture memos? I think Bill Bennett is confusing what President Obama did to the way Republicans do business. Slash and burn and if you're going down take as many as possible with you. I also just love the way Cooper introduced this. "We don't take sides". Well that's great Anderson. Heaven forbid one "side" might represent the truth at times and if that's the case, you should take that "side". I don't think truth is what your after when you bring in James Carville and Bill Bennett to debate each other. One corporate Democratic DLC partisan hack vs a Repubican partisan hack. Fair and balanced right?

COOPER: Now the growing political uproar over allegations of torture and enhanced interrogations, breaking down mainly, though by no means exclusively, along party and administration lines. Now, depending on which blog or op-ed page you read, the president is either poisoning the political waters by leaving the door open to investigating torture, or Dick Cheney and company are trying to bury the ugly past and get away with crimes.

We don't take sides on this program. We present you with facts and opposing views, so you can make up your own mind.

COOPER: I'm joined now by political contributors, left and right, James Carville and Bill Bennett.

James, a "Wall Street Journal" editorial today said -- and I quote -- "By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their anti-terror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret."

If laws were broken, should there be an investigation?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, if laws were broken, of course there should be. That's the -- the job is to uphold the laws of the Constitution of the United States.

But it -- it may be that there's a way -- you know, maybe -- we certainly need to find out more about this. It might be through a commission. It might be through congressional hearings. It might be through a trial.

But I think that the public now is going to demand that we have some answers here, and the answers may be favorable to the Bush administration. They may not be favorable. But it's -- it's going to be a pursuit here. I mean, journalism's not going to leave this alone. I -- I doubt if the Congress is. And it appears that the legal system's not going to leave this alone.

COOPER: Bill, is -- by doing that, is the president injecting a poison, Bill?


BENNETT: Well, I think so, but let put me down a marker here. I think Barack Obama's going to regret that he did this.

He's going to regret that he changed his mind, too, because it looks less, frankly, right now like the rule of law, or a -- you know, saluting the rule of law, and more like bloodlust. The president said let bygones be bygones, we're moving forward, let's put this behind us, and then flipped.

And it looks, from all evidence, that he was pressured into this for political reasons.

Now, can there still be an inquiry that's not politically based? Yes. But just bear this in mind. When you build the gallows, be sure you know who it is you plan to hang, because, when all of this comes out, some of the people who are, you know, yelling the loudest for Dick Cheney's head or for these lawyers' heads -- and this is not going to happen -- may find themselves in trouble as well.

COOPER: Are you talking about Nancy Pelosi...


COOPER: ... who -- who was -- was briefed about the water- boarding, although she says she doesn't have a recollection of it?

BENNETT: I have talked to several members of Congress who are on the Intelligence Committee, people on the staff, who have said there's just no question that this stuff was approved by Bob Graham, by Nancy Pelosi, by Jane Harman, and by Jay Rockefeller.


COOPER: Bill, you believe these -- these enhanced interrogations, what some say are torture, water-boarding, most people agree in some form is torture, do you believe they worked?

BENNETT: Yes, I do. Based on what I have seen and what I have read and what reports I have heard, yes. And I also believe the director of national intelligence -- that is, Barack Obama's director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair -- who said it worked. I also believe the CIA directors, who said it worked.


COOPER: Does it matter if it did work?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, look, if you say, if you did something, you got information and you saved people's lives, I think that's information that people would...


CARVILLE: ... that people would want to know. If the information was available somewhere else, you did irreparable harm to the reputation of the United States, and you broke the laws of the United States for information that was available somewhere else, then somebody should pay the price for that.

COOPER: Bill, if it worked, is it OK?

CARVILLE: That's pretty -- pretty much what it is.

BENNETT: Well, I think it's OK anyway, given all the procedures and safeguards and the fact that a lot of our military goes through these same procedures. And we will find out all more about that as well.

But, yes, it looks very likely as if these procedures gave information which very likely prevented an attack in Los Angeles which would have resulted in the death of many Americans. CARVILLE: There's very little evidence of that, but let's hear -- and, by the way, the military is very...

BENNETT: Oh, there's plenty.

CARVILLE: ... opposed to torture. It's very opposed to it.

BENNETT: There's plenty -- there's plenty of evidence.

And stop -- stop begging the question by calling it torture.

CARVILLE: OK. I'm not begging the question at all.

I said, let's find the truth, that...


CARVILLE: ... generally, most intelligence professionals don't much care for this stuff. And some of it is against the law. We are a nation of laws.

BENNETT: Well -- well, we had bipartisan agreement, bipartisan agreement that we should do this.

As Dennis -- as Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, said, sitting here reflecting about this now is one thing, on a nice April day in the spring.


BENNETT: But, remember 2001, people were a little nervous that something like this might happen again, thought we ought to take serious measures.

These are serious measures. This is not torture. These were serious measures.

CARVILLE: Well, of course we...


BENNETT: We got information. Let's find out. Let's find out.


CARVILLE: Mr. Secretary, no one -- no one suggests that water- boarding is not torture. There's not suggestion of the .

BENNETT: Nonsense. Nonsense.

CARVILLE: Who -- who -- we convicted Japanese of water-boarding. These are war crimes, a serious war crime.

BENNETT: No, they weren't -- they weren't convicted just of water-boarding.

CARVILLE: Sure they were.

BENNETT: We water-board our own men, James. Do we torture our own men?


BENNETT: We water-board our own military people as part of our training. Is that torture? Don't be silly.

CARVILLE: Again -- again -- again, we -- we put -- we put them through resistance courses. There's no doubt -- John Boehner said water-boarding was torture.

BENNETT: It's the same thing. It's the same thing.



BENNETT: It's the same thing, James.

CARVILLE: You're saying it's not. Everybody else says it does. But...


BENNETT: They go through the exact same procedures.

Not everybody else.


BENNETT: Look, you know, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Let's see it all.


COOPER: We will leave it there.

James Carville, Bill Bennett, good discussion. Thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you. Thank you.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

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