Suggested Summer Reading

Ashcroft’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

[T]he memorandums, by their numbers and their arguments — aimed at justifying the use of interrogation techniques inflicting pain by spelling out instances when this did not legally constitute torture and the inapplicability of international treaties — have produced outrage from international human rights groups and members of Congress, mostly Democrats.Over the past few weeks, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have disclosed memorandums that show a pattern in which administration lawyers set about devising arguments to avoid constraints against mistreatment and torture.

Mr. Ashcroft’s appearance before the committee had been scheduled before most of the memorandums were disclosed, and he looked deeply uncomfortable under the harsh questioning.

He said several times that critics consistently failed to take into account that the United States was at war.

‘Bush to the US Constitution–Drop Dead’
–Randy Paul goes through the legalities, Q&A-style.

Q: Aren’t there exceptions when torture can be justified?A: No, Article 2 Paragraph 2 states “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Q: Did the United States have a reservation regarding this section?

A: No.

Another fight shaping up over classified CIA documents

WASHINGTON, June 8 — The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee are pressing the Central Intelligence Agency to agree to a broad declassification and release of the panel’s 400-page report, which is highly critical of the agency’s prewar performance on Iraq.The agency and, ultimately, the White House have the power to decide how much of the report should be declassified, giving them great influence over a document that will focus on mistakes related to Iraq and its illicit weapons. The Senate could vote to release classified material even over White House objections, but such a step would be rare.

The jockeying pits Senators Pat Roberts of Kansas and John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the ranking Republican and Democrat on the panel, against the top C.I.A. officials who must approve decisions involving declassification. Both senators have signaled their belief that the fullest possible disclosure of the agency’s performance on Iraq is in the public interest.

A senior intelligence official said Tuesday that the report was “heavily laden” with classified material and that portions would require significant rewriting or deletions before it could be released to the public. But in an interview, Mr. Rockefeller said flatly, “We cannot have this as a heavily redacted document.”

Tom Toles on BushLogic

End Bible classes in public schools

During the infamous 1925 “Scopes Monkey Trial,” creationists opposed to the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools stretched a banner across the Rhea County courthouse that exhorted, “Read your Bible.”Rhea County still encourages Bible reading, even in its public schools, a brazen desecration of the constitutional divide between church and state.

Helen Thomas: Laura and the Twins on the Campaign Trail

WASHINGTON — Once reluctant to engage in the political arena, first lady Laura Bush and her twin daughters are joining President Bush’s re-election campaign.None of the first family’s women were eager to participate in past political campaigns, but they apparently got the high sign that they are needed this year.

“Why can’t we do what other kids get to do?” complained Jenna.

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