Laugh, cry, or puke?

I wish the Fates would stop reading The Onion and making things happen accordingly. The whole thing is like Hogan’s Heroes, the ’60s sitcom set in a WWII POW camp: even when it’s sort of funny, it’s mostly creepy.

Consider the latest sequence:

1. The WaPo breaks the story that the CIA is operating a string of secret interrogation centers in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

2. The Republican leadership on the Hill demands a leak investigation, and the CIA makes a routine referral to DoJ.

3. Glenn Reynolds suggests that this proves that investigating the outing of a CIA NOC was a Bad Thing, although two years ago Glenn thought otherwise:

Subpoena [Novak] and the other reporters. Find out what happened. If somebody leaked, fire ’em. It’s easy and it’s fast, and it’s legal. [snip] You can’t have a special rule on this for journalists, because journalists don’t have special First Amendment rights, and anyway everyone is a journalist now, thanks to the Internet. This will be disturbing to professional journalists, but I don’t see an alternative. And this is a national security leak, in wartime, right?

4. Lindsay Graham, Strom Thurmond’s handpicked successor, points out that the question of whether the United States should run a gulag is a wee bit more important than the question of who let the secret out. Graham says: “Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. The real story is those jails.”

5. Trent Lott reveals that the story of the Little Red-White-and-Blue Gulag was told by Dick Cheney to a group of Republican Senators. Update And then takes it back.

6. Cheney told the Senators about the “black” interrogation sites in the course of insisting on a CIA exemption to the McCain anti-torture provision.

7. Colin Powell’s chief of staff, a retired Army colonel, says the audit trail from Abu Ghraib leads back to Cheney’s office. (Audio here.)

8. Cheney won’t discuss the torture-exemption question in public, and the White House press geek insists that the exemption is important but won’t say just what it is that it’s so important the CIA be allowed to continue to do to prisoners that it wouldn’t be allowed to do if the bill passes.

9. The President says “we don’t torture” but objects to a law that would forbid him to order anyone tortured.

Footnote Yes, you can take it as fact that those secret prisons in Eastern Europe were set up on GWB’s watch.

Update Just in case you thought Lindsay Graham was the good guy here, Graham is also pushing a bill to abolish habeas corpus as it applies to “enemy combatants.” How Graham intends to square this with Article 1, Section 9 — The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. — is beyond me.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: