Crazy Pete Hoekstra Wants to Be Governor Torture

I wanted to comment on Crazy Pete Hoekstra’s torture apology in the WSJ. The WSJ doesn’t mention it, but Crazy Pete is running for governor in Michigan in 2010. We’ve got our share of wingnuts in this state, but MI is increasingly blue, and our large population of Arab-Americans have historically been one of the swing voting blocks.

So Crazy Pete’s torture apology should be looked at as an attempt by the current or former Gang of Eight member facing the toughest electoral campaign next year (save perhaps Jane Harman, given recent revelations, but she made written objections to the torture program) to minimize the damage his support for torture will have next year. 

That said, Crazy Pete’s effort to spin his own complicity in torture is a (surprise!) thoroughly dishonest effort. He pretends to want to expose to complicitly of both Democrats and Republicans by releasing a list of the briefing’s Congress received. 

Members of Congress calling for an investigation of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation can’t be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.

So Crazy Pete wants to publish a list of briefings, much like the one released for the illegal wiretap program several years ago. I’m all in favor of that, though we could pretty much construct such a list based on existing public information. But without the content of those briefings, what’s the point? We know the CIA lied in at least two of those briefings. And Nancy Pelosi, at least, insists that the first briefing–in fall 2002–did not reveal one or two people had already been waterboarded. She also claims the CIA never informed the full Gang of Eight that they would or had used waterboarding (note, there’s confusion in the reporting in this, which appears to be due to erroeneous assumptions that BushCo briefed the full Gang of Eight on subjects that they actually only briefed the intelligence leaders on–we saw the same confusion with the warrantless wiretap program, where we know the intell leaders were the only ones briefed until 2004).  

But a mere list of the briefings is even more pointless given Crazy Pete’s own admission that there was a good deal of debate in these briefings.

After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses.

I have no doubt that at least one or two Democrats approved of at least what the CIA represented to them–Pelosi, perhaps, Jello Jay Rockefeller and Bob Graham, probably, Harman, probably not. And I’d certainly like to know who approved what.

But a list isn’t going to do that. Nor is a list going to absolve Crazy Pete of his torture taint. 

20 replies
  1. Leen says:

    Ew heard your Governor this morning on NPR. Unemployment at 12.5% GM closing plants this summer temporarily. Is there any way that Obama could be a one term President in Michigan?

  2. klynn says:


    Did you read in the FT’s that Fiat is also looking to buy GM’s Euro arm of their business?

    Are we looking at the possible merger of the two via Fiat?

    • Rayne says:

      Fiat would have trouble with the financing, IMO. JPMorganChase wrote in January that Fiat was struggling with financing of existing operations in EU — and they wrote that opinion as a stakeholder in Fiat.

      EW might know whether GM’s EU operations are profitable or not; I don’t, can only say that some parts of GM are continuing to function as normal, in spite of all the financial turmoil.

      • klynn says:

        Here’s the article.

        The focus is on Opel and Vauxhall. Fiat is trying to make some bold moves towards a “consolidation exercise.”

        • Rayne says:

          I might otherwise call that “buying marketshare.”

          Fiat would benefit from having two less brands to compete with; it might even find the financing if it showed banks it was going to kill off the worst brands of the three in terms of quality and profitability.

          But I’m skeptical given the less-than-effective job Fiat has done with a similar effort with Chrysler.

          • scribe says:

            The problem with “killing off one of the lesser brands” is that the respective governments are looking at these automakers (Opel and, to a lesser degree, Vauxhall) as jobs programs as much as anything else.

            The German government is quite concerned about preserving Opel. That concern derives, it would appear, as much from the location of Opel’s plants as anything else. Many of their facilities are located in the old East Germany – Thuringen and Sachsen – and these are also (particularly Thuringen) both areas of high(er) unemployment and relative hotbeds of NPD (neo-Nazi) activity. Finance and sex scandals aside, the NPD and underemployment are both doing quite well in that part of Germany. The calculus appears to be that, if they can keep the people employed, they will have less incentive to join and less time to participate in NPD messiness. The Germans well understand that, particularly as regards that region – both Thuringen and Sachsen voted very strongly “brown” (Nazi) pre-WWII and were areas of strong support for all aspects of that regime.

            If you want to analogize to the US (and it doesn’t directly translate), those two states are kind of like the wingnut-industrial side of Michigan, or a unionized version of Texas-Oklahoma’s industrial sector. They never were like the unionized parts of the Northeast US, with the possible exception of the redder parts of Western Pennsylvania.

            • emptywheel says:

              Hey now, our industrial side has very little overlap with our wingnut side (aside from a healthy respect for guns–but we’re a big hunting state).
              Our wingnuts our generally out west, where there’s less auto.

              • scribe says:

                I was thinking of those parts of MI north of Saginaw, and especially places like the UP.

                About the time of the Supreme Court’s flag-burning case (1990 or so) I was driving through the UP and stopped in a general store on the side of the road for chips or something. The guy had the walls covered with all sorts of wingnuttery about burning flags. I was in a law school where some of the faculty had been on the other side of that issue, including the briefing, etc. I let that slip in a non-committal way (youthful indiscretion) and wound up looking down the barrel of Mr. Storekeeper’s .44 magnum long-barrel.

                Keeping my cool, we calmly discussed the fact that I was attending a law school in an urban setting where bursts of Uzi fire (it was toward the end of the crack epidemic, too) were not uncommon to hear after dark such that, while the brandish was impressive it was not conclusive*, and that my attendance at a school where such topics as flag-burning were discussed and advocated by the faculty did not mean I endorsed the position, merely the right to express it (as I am sure Mr. Storekeeper would agree is a useful approach to freedom).

                He sold me my chips.

                * Something like “that’s a very impressive gun, there. .44, right? Y’know, I’ve had guns pointed at me before and we both know neither of us is going to do anything silly, OK?”

    • scribe says:

      German radio reported that yesterday, and the day before. There has been a lot of back and forth on that, with the last report I heard (coming from a government official) being one word: “Quatsch”.

      BTW, that translates as “nonsense” with the meaning of “bullshit”.

      One of the nice things about German is that “Quatsch” can also be used as a verb, “quatschen”, i.e., “to nonsense”. It conjugates, too. It’s also (though I’m sure a lot of people will disagree) the same root as the Yiddish word “kvetch”, which has itself made its way into (Noo Yawk) English, though with a meaning more like “to bitch” or “bitching”

  3. klynn says:

    Should we start a “pool” as to whether or not more than the “list” will be released before the pictures?

    The winner can donate all to Marcy’s drive.

  4. klynn says:

    Fiat would benefit from having two less brands to compete with; it might even find the financing if it showed banks it was going to kill off the worst brands of the three in terms of quality and profitability.

    The insight of the day, if not the month. Well stated. (my emphasis)

    Darn those CDS’s.

    The German’s appear smart enough to fight it.

  5. phred says:

    EW, I heard Bob Graham interviewed yesterday on NPR’s On Point program. Mostly he was talking about his book, but at the very end he was asked about what he knew about the torture program from his briefings as a member of the Gang of Eight. He said that as Chairman of SSCI from mid-2001 to the end of 2002 he was not briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques.

    Here is a link to the program, unfortunately they don’t have a podcast or transcript posted yet. When they do, skip ahead to the last 5 minutes or so.

  6. Palli says:

    I have a simplistic viewpoint, so here is my query:
    Would someone speculate about what might have happened if any one of these Democratic Gang of Eight had simply faced the bullet, “broken” the supposed classified silence and spoke to the public about this during the Bush administration. Self-sacrifice is a virture. Would we have had open trials of treason against that lawmaker? Would planes have fallen from the sky? Heart attacks in the cafeteria? What good are objecting letters placed in safes?
    If military officiers and GIs are supposed to resist illegal or immoral orders…shouldn’t elected officials.

    • scribe says:

      Most likely, the mood of the country having been as enraged as it was, the following would have happened:
      1. the offending Congresscritter would have had to do a Dick Durbin Weeping Apology (TM) (remember when he called Gitmo a “Gulag Archipelago”? – he was right but forced to apologize for it after public outcry) and
      2. been either forced to resign or elected out.
      3. Then the respective house would have stripped the offending member of their Speech and Debate privilege (there’s a provision in the rule for that), probably on a voice vote, and
      4. the offending critter would have been indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced for illegally divulging classified information, and he’d be sitting next to Joe Nacchio for the next couple decades.
      5. Then McCain and Graham and Levin and Sensenbrenner would have cobbled up an Enhanced Interrogation Act of 2003 and appended it to the budget, and legalized torture.

      And we would be in a much worse-off spot than we are now.

      Lesson: every dead body tossed in the river or buried in a shallow grave will, eventually, come to the surface, but often it is more productive to wait for nature to take its course.

  7. Palli says:

    Scribe: Thanks, OK, you are right…but as I am not a lawyer, it is still- even this week of forward momentum- difficult to trust that a modicum of justice will come with patience and yet that justice is useless to the victims. What the evildoers of Cheney/Bush administration have done is proven, once again, there are unamericans among us.

  8. Gunner says:

    Well EW, looking at this nut job Pete, it looks like I will be busy in 2010 making calls to make sure he DOES NOT WIN! we need to stay blue in MI.

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