Lindsey Graham Supports Torture

Lindsey Graham once seemed like the conscience of the Republican party in the torture debate.  In yesterday’s Senate hearings on torture, he spoke in favor of interrogation techniques he has called illegal, and used false reports based on retracted misinformation to question the veracity of witnesses with opinions much like his own in 2007.

Back in 2007, Graham indicated he would oppose the nomination of Michael Mukasey over Mukasey’s support for waterboarding:

“If he does not believe that waterboarding is illegal, then that would really put doubts in my own mind…I think it would serve the attorney general nominee well to embrace that concept. He’s talked around it.”

That’s not the clearest statement in the world, but is evidence for disapproval of waterboarding, at least.  With the recent revelations about the realities of “harsh interrogation” Graham would have the political cover to plainly state opposition to torture.

In the May 13, 2009, Graham grilled witnesses called in opposition to the torture practices that Graham himself once opposed.   He claimed

“ of the reasons these techniques have survived for about 500 years is apparently they work

Graham also cited a since debunked ABC News report of April 2007 which claimed to show that a single instance of waterboarding had produced full compliance from Abu Zubaydah.  In fact, Zubaydah been waterboarded at least 83 times, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed at least 183 times and no information of any use had been obtained.  ABC subsequently admitted that it had been taken in by  former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who now claims that he himself was misinformed and believes that waterboarding is torture.  The CIA appears now to blame the entire ‘aggressive interrogation’ mess on the recommendations of two retired military psychologists, Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

So Graham’s 2007 positions have been reinforced, but the senator has tacked against his own judgment.

Graham prevaricated after the hearing, telling a reporter that “I don’t think that these techniques as a whole have made us safer, because of the problems we’ve had.

In the article quoted above, ThinkProgress characterized Graham’s shift this way:

Graham, a former JAG lawyer, has tried to walk a fine line in the torture debate. To his credit, he has been a frequent critic of the Bush administration’s interrogation program, saying that waterboarding is torture and forcefully criticizing Bush officials who have hedged on the topic. Yet he has also voted against banning waterboarding, tried to argue just yesterday that waterboarding was effective, and opposes efforts to investigate the Bush administration.

Another way to look at it: in 2007, Graham was flanking for good friend and torture supporter John McCain, fleshing out the GOP’s humanistic credentials for the Presidential campaign.  In 2009, Graham is seeking to legitimize torture and embarrass Democrats, like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, who previously implied support for the technique, but now  backtrack under the new administration.

So there is no moral principle of opposition to torture in either party, just political expediency.


Posted on May 14, 2009, in News, Politics, South Carolina and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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