May 17, 2009

It's awfully nice to see one real liberal on This Week's roundtable. Katrina Vanden Heuvel gets to the heart of the matter. (In another part of the discussion, she pointed out that the arguments over torture "aren't a political football game" and chided the other panelists that outside the Beltway, things look very different.)

STEFANOPOULUS: The White House is obviously sensitive to this charge on flip-flopping, but does it matter if you end up in a place where you're going to get a lot of support?

CARVILLE: Look, first of all, if you say that my general said I shouldn't release this, it'll cause a spike, and the president says okay, I won't release it, I mean, I think that, as George pointed out, was something he said during the campaign, we'd be awfully uncomfortable as Democrats if he was releasing these pictures tomorrow and these were things that General Petraeus and Secretary Gates were saying - and with a new command coming into Afghanistan, General McCrystal, would have said, "Don't do that," so let me tell you, as a Democrat, I'm very glad he decided to listen to what his commanders said. And it may very well be that as it winds its way through the courts, the courts will release them anyway.

STEFANOPOULUS:: That may be, and maybe part of the calculation is that they are gonna come out eventually. But we're at a critical time in Iraq now as troops are moving out of the cities, we're heading toward elections in Afghanistan and the timing here did matter.

CARVILLE: Right. And again, you would not want to be president and have the secretary of defense and your top commanders come back and say we advise against doing this. That would make me uncomfortable, and I'm a pretty good Democrat.

CHENEY: Those same people advised against doing it before the White House publicly announced they would be releasing those photos, so it's a little disingenuous to say, you know, he made the decision based on what the military commanders were saying

VANDEN HEUVEL: But it's also buying the military argument that the release of these photos will increase violence. These photos - Guantanamo, Bagram - that has been the cause for any anti-Americanism and our actions, our policies in escalating in Afghanistan.

CARVILLE: I agree with you, we became infatuated with torture. We should have never done that. However, given the reason that you have these photographs is because they exist, having said all of that, if these generals come in and you're the president and they said you shouldn't do it right now, I don't envy the decision, but I'm more comfortable as a Democrat with him making this decision than another decision.

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