Former Attorney General Ed Meese is interviewed
in the latest issue of GQ
--and not for his sartorial splendor. This is as depressing a statement on American liberty and justice as anything I have read these last six years.
Here are some highlights
from the Q&A:
Let's move to the Geneva Conventions. A lot of people are concerned that terrorism suspects don't have any kind of habeas corpus.
In order to be covered by the Geneva Convention, you have to fulfill certain requirements. . . . So there are a number of criteria in the Geneva Convention that are not met by everyone on the battlefield. Then there's another category of people going back to the Revolutionary Warâpeople who were in those days called spies. If they were not in uniform, they were subject to being summarily executed.
You mean they were executed without even a military tribunal?
I think there were some. Also, a "tribunal" could be a military commander ordering the hanging. I think that's what happened to some of them.
You're advocating summary execution.
Well, yeah, that happens in the military. Illegal combatants are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.
Summary executions? But wait, there's more
Jefferson wrote, "All men are created equal," not "all Americans." He said that men are "endowed by their Creator" with these rights, not endowed by "the Constitution."
But that doesn't have to do with enemy soldiers.
No surprise then that Meese is hard to nail down on whether waterboarding is torture.
It seems like some of these techniques, like waterboarding, are a long way from humane.
Well, again, I have a great deal of confidence that the administration would not engage in torture.
Would you call that torture?
I don't know. I don't know about waterboarding.
It's putting a wet rag over someone's mouth and making them think that they're going to drown.
Yeah, I don't know. As I said, I don't know enough about it to give a firm determination.
That doesn't necessarily sound like torture to you?
I don't know whether they're doing that.
And if they are?
I don't know, because I don't know enough about it.
I'm asking, if that is what they're doing, does that sound like torture?
Well, I'd have to find out how long they do it and whether it does create the impression of drowning. I've never heard of this using a washcloth in their mouth before.
Meese is not a has-been from the Reagan years. He has been a key advisor to the current White House on the nominations and confirmations of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. This is a man who is widely considered to be at the pinnacle of the powerful conservative legal movement. This is what we have come to.Update
: Meese is also a member of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group, readers have reminded me.