Thursday, April 09, 2009

Blackmail: GOP Threatens To Filibuster
Nominees If Obama Releases Torture Memos

From the Daily Beast courtesy of the Huffington Post news wire:

Senate Republicans are now privately threatening to derail the confirmation of key Obama administration nominees for top legal positions by linking the votes to suppressing critical torture memos from the Bush era. A reliable Justice Department source advises me that Senate Republicans are planning to “go nuclear” over the nominations of Dawn Johnsen as chief of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh as State Department legal counsel if the torture documents are made public. The source says these threats are the principal reason for the Obama administration’s abrupt pullback last week from a commitment to release some of the documents. A Republican Senate source confirms the strategy. It now appears that Republicans are seeking an Obama commitment to safeguard the Bush administration’s darkest secrets in exchange for letting these nominations go forward.

More here.

And just a couple of years ago, Senate Republicans, when they were in the majority, were so outraged by the possibility of Democrats filibustering Bush's judicial nominees that the GOP was ready willing and able to use another version of "[going] nuclear," or as they called it then "the nuclear option," that is, using a simple majority vote to end the Senate rule allowing unlimited debate as a strategy for indefinitely forestalling unwanted legislation. My my, how times have changed. Well, Republican Senators' use of the word "nuclear" as a metaphor to describe politics surrounding the filibuster tactic hasn't changed. But their hatred of the filibuster certainly has. Now they love it.

Good thing for the Republicans that the Democrats backed down; if they hadn't, the GOP would have no weapon today for extorting the White House into essentially becoming an accomplice after the fact to Bush and Cheney's brutal torture regime.

Of course, this is a total outrage. Never mind the fact that the Republicans are so depraved and amoral that they would deny the executive branch key personnel over what is an essentially unrelated issue. What's so disgusting here is how the GOP so unashamedly wants the United States to join a club that includes the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, the Spanish Inquisition, the Mafia, and various other third world dictatorships, despotic regimes, and evil organizations. Torture is immoral and evil. If America practices torture, America is immoral and evil. If we do not repent, if we do not bring the people who authorized and directed this torture regime to justice, our nation will continue to be immoral and evil. It is a total outrage that the Republicans just don't care.

I see two possible outcomes from this extortion scheme. The first, and most likely, is that the Democrats and President Obama back down, in the name of "bipartisanship" or "political expediency" or "pragmatism" or some other cowardly euphemistic bullshit. This would be awful, but unsurprising. The second possible outcome is that the Democrats in the Senate tell the "loyal opposition" to fuck off, and employ their own "nuclear option," using their majority status to change Senate rules and end the filibuster forever. This would be the most favorable outcome, effectively ending the choke hold Senate Republicans have placed on all manner of much needed legislation, but much more importantly, would also open floodgates of damning evidence against the Bush administration.

I'll jump and sing and dance if the Dems do the right thing.