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2004: Schumer Supported Torture
of course schiester is the same hypocrite who voted against protecting the identities of CIA agents as a congressman in 1994 then was the lead rat-mouth pointing fingers in the plame affair...
SCHUMER: Mr. Chairman, thank you.
And, Mr. Attorney General, I know this hasn't been an easy day for you. And we respect your being here. But in all due respect, I have to say sometimes you're your own worst enemy.
[B]And I'd like to interject a note of balance here. There are times when we all get in high dudgeon. We ought to be reasonable about this. I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never, ever be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake. [/B]
[B]Take the hypothetical: If we knew that there was a nuclear bomb hidden in an American city and we believed that some kind of torture, fairly severe maybe, would give us a chance of finding that bomb before it went off, my guess is most Americans and most senators, maybe all, would say, "Do what you have to do." [/B]
SCHUMER: So it's easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used. But when you're in the foxhole, it's a very different deal.
And I respect -- I think we all respect the fact that the president's in the foxhole every day. So he can hardly be blamed for asking you or his White House counsel or the Department of Defense to figure out when it comes to torture, what the law allows and when the law allows it and what there is permission to do.
The problem is not in asking the question. The problem isn't with the issues being explored. The problem is there has to be very careful guidance, and it should be made public. And most people are reasonable and would understand that. If it doesn't, it has no legitimacy.
And the penchant for secrecy, the fact that JAG lawyers had to release this is what, I think, ends up making this issue far more difficult -- or that's what's reported in the papers that JAG lawyers might have released this -- makes it more difficult.
To me, it's the same thing as what happened in the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act, as it emerged from the Congress, ended up being fairly balanced. But people wanted to scrutinize it, as they should, as they should with torture, as they should with any of these things.
Whenever security and liberty are in balance, that's just the point where the founding fathers wanted open and wide debate.
Well, you know, librarians all across this country thought that all the books were being looked at. And it took a year. I wrote you letter after letter saying, "Make it public."
Finally, you made it public. No libraries. And the provision -- I think it was 215, as I remember -- wasn't used. But not before large numbers of people got into a whole panic.
So secrecy is the issue here. There has to be open debate, and particularly on an issue like this one, which is a sensitive issue, which is a difficult issue, which in our new world where everything is public makes your judge, the president's job in this difficult world difficult. And I appreciate that difficulty. I really do. I don't agree with the ideologues on either side here, far left or far right.
So I would renew the request that you make these memoranda public.
SCHUMER: If they're not tight enough, if they allowed too many loopholes, we certainly don't want torture to be used willy-nilly. We don't want the whim of a lieutenant to say, "Hey, there's security at stake here. We should use it."
But we also don't want the situation like I mentioned in Chicago to preclude it. But it's got to be done carefully. And if it's public. And if there's debate you can be sure it'll be careful. That's what the founding fathers in their wisdom said.
Now, you said two different things in response to the questions of Senator Leahy, Kennedy and Feinstein. You said you couldn't release them because they were privileged. But I tend to doubt that because they were evidently widely distributed. It's not the president hearing from the counsel.
Then you said they couldn't be released because they're classified. I tend to doubt that because you can redact whatever needs to be redacted in terms of classified. Certainly the balancing tests would not be classified because they can't be terribly specific.
Why can't you release these documents? Why can't we have a discussion in this brave new post-9/11 world? And Lord knows, I live with it as much as anybody, coming from the city I do and knowing people that were lost. Whey can't we start doing these things publicly, openly, understanding that there are many different views and coming to a consensus or as close to a consensus that we're going to?
So I renew my plea and the plea of others. Why can't you release these memos? And let's have a debate. Maybe they're not 100 percent. They're probably not 100 percent right. Maybe they're 10 percent, maybe they're 90 percent; we don't know.
Could you again reiterate to me the specific reasons why these memos can't be made public and we can take the debate from there?
ASHCROFT: I think the reason -- and it's not that -- if I did say that I was asserting executive privilege, I don't believe I said that and I didn't intend to say I was asserting the privilege. I think only the president asserts the privilege and I have not done so.
ASHCROFT: I have stated a reason and that is that the president has a right to receive advice from his attorney general in confidence, and so do other executive agencies of government.
ASHCROFT: And this does not mean that there can't be debate on such topics. It just means that the private advice that the president gets from his attorney general doesn't have to be a part of the debate.
There's nothing in what I am saying here that would restrain debate, either in the Congress or in the public, about such issues. You've given I think a little dissertation on this -- I don't mean anything pejorative about that; it's the kind of thing you would get in law school. Some professor would toss out the deal and set these things up and it would be the occasion for the kind of give and take in the debate which might well be appropriate.
And I commend that kind of debate except when the persons involved in the actual conduct of a war signal the parties to the war the entirety of the strategy and the understanding of the way the war may be conducted. There are times when that's not in the best interest.
And if I may just say this, I know this: that our armed forces train our own people to resist interrogation techniques. As soon as we know what the interrogation techniques are, we go to our own armed forces and we say, "This is the way you resist these interrogation techniques."
Now, for us to advertise by way of a variety of means, whether it includes one kind of disclosure or not, exactly the way in which we do things, may not be the right way to conduct policy at the time of war.
Senator Biden talked about the fact that there may be things that we would do in order to protect and secure the interests of our own citizens, who are part of these -- our responsibility at war. That strikes home at my house.
SCHUMER: But, sir, you're saying there is no...
HATCH: Senator, your time is up.
SCHUMER: Well, I just want to make this one point.
HATCH: All right.
SCHUMER: Maybe I don't understand it fully. You're saying that you're not asserting privilege, but then you're saying, "When I speak to the president directly, I want to do that privately," so you're, sort of, asserting privilege.
ASHCROFT: I am asserting the need for the executive branch to be able to receive confidential advice regarding the state of the law as a function of the doctrine of separation of powers.
SCHUMER: But these memos were more -- they had an effect on policy and what happened. They weren't just your private advice in a discussion with the president one evening. They're far more authoritative than that. Thousands rely on that.
And I'd be happy...
ASHCROFT: I am not going to comment on the documents that you allege provided a basis for a news story.
I think Schumer is a D-bag but this quote rings very true.
[QUOTE]The problem is not in asking the question. The problem isn't with the issues being explored. The problem is there has to be very careful guidance, and it should be made public. And most people are reasonable and would understand that. If it doesn't, it has no legitimacy.
And the penchant for secrecy, the fact that JAG lawyers had to release this is what, I think, ends up making this issue far more difficult -- or that's what's reported in the papers that JAG lawyers might have released this -- makes it more difficult[/QUOTE]