Tied to the mast
…but orange now and black

Chuck Todd ain’t no punk…

…and respect for that, but showing up isn’t winning the fight. In this fascinatingly raw debate Glenn Greenwald gives him the space to make his arguments and defend himself in long sentences and paragraphs. He comes off as having a terrible case of Stockholm syndrome (or, as Greenwald has and would argue, a case of knowing the line you need to take for promotion in intra-beltway media). You almost feel bad for him, he just lobs up such easy volleys for Greenwald to smash down. Greenwald trips over himself in his own enthusiasm, but smashes them, IMHO, nonetheless.

Highlight from the transcript:

But you’re assuming a black and white. I mean, the whole point of those OLC memos was showing that they were getting a set of, that the interrogators were potentially getting legal advice to, and in fact what the Bush administration was trying to do, was trying to find a legal way. They were trying to find a legal way, they were trying whatever, which is, of course, my – as a non-lawyer – my frustration with the law sometimes – is that the law isn’t clear cut. And instead, what do lawyers get paid to do? They get paid, in many ways, to find a legal way around to do something, to prove that some way is legal and to stretch what the law —GG: But that’s not the role of Justice Department lawyers to stretch the law. The president is not the client of the Justice Department lawyers —

CT: I understand that that’s–

GG: They’re not there for that purpose, and if they’re doing that, then they’re bastardizing their duties. They’re distorting the law, they’re not applying the law.

CT: So then–

GG: Let me ask you about that, then. If a president can find, as a president always will be able to find, some low-level functionary in the Justice Department — a John Yoo — to write a memo authorizing whatever it is the president wants to do, and to say that it’s legal, then you think the president ought to be immune from prosecution whenever he breaks the law, as long as he has a permission slip from the Justice Department?  I mean, that’s the argument that’s being made.  Don’t you think that’s extremely dangerous?

CT: That could be dangerous, but let me tell you this: Is it healthy for our reputation around the world – and this I think is that we have TO do what other countries do more often than not, so-called democracies that struggle with their democracy, and sit there and always PUT the previous administration on trial – you don’t think that we start having retributions on this going forward?

Look, I am no way excusing torture. I’m not excusing torture, and I bristle at the attack when it comes on this specific issue.  But I think the political reality in this, and, I understand where you’re coming from, you’re just saying, just because something’s politically tough doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.  That’s, I don’t disagree with you from 30,000 feet.  And that is an idealistic view of this thing.  Then you have the realistic view of how this town works, and what would happen, and is it good for our reputation around the world if we’re essentially putting on trial the previous administration? We would look at another country doing that, and say, geez, boy, this is–

GG: So what do you think happens – I think what has destroyed our reputation is announcing to the world that we tolerate torture, and telling the world we don’t —

CT: We have elections, we also had an election where this was an issue. A new president, who came in there, and has said, we’re not going to torture, we’re going to do this, and we’re going to do this–

GG: What do you think should happen when presidents–

CT: Is that not enough? Isn’t that enough?

GG: When, generally, if I go out and rob a bank tomorrow, what happens to me is not that I lose an election. What happens is to me is that I go to prison. So, what do you think should happen when presidents get caught committing crimes in office? What do you think ought to happen?

CT: You see, this is where, this is not – you cannot sit here and say this is as legally black and white as a bank robbery because this was an ideological, legal —

GG: A hundred people died in detention. A hundred people. The United States Government admits that there are homicides that took place during interrogations. Waterboarding and these other techniques are things that the United States has always prosecuted as torture. Until John Yoo wrote that memo, where was the lack of clarity about whether or not these things were illegal?

Chuck Todd ends the discussion expressing his wish that Greenwald had called him before putting up his original slam of a post yesterday, presumably so that they could have had this conversation off the record. Damn right he wishes that.

Aye aye, Captain


2 Responses to “Chuck Todd ain’t no punk…”

  1. Agreed. Good interview. I listened to it yesterday while I was eating ice cream that I bought from the ice cream truck. Then I wished I had bought four ice creams, because the interview is long, and it’s been hot as balls.

    I’ll try to continue the blog war tomorrow. It’s not supposed to be 95 million degrees tomorrow, so maybe I’ll be able to think straight. Holla!

    • Continue at your leisure. I tend not to get bored with this sort of thing, so I defer to your normalcy on when exactly enough should be defined as enough.

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