Senator Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) Official Federal Portrait
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I previously wrote about Senator Joseph Lieberman's (I-CT) appearance on Fox News on Tuesday, December 7th, where he suggested that New York Times should be subjected to an inquiry by the Justice Department on whether they committed a crime or not by publishing or reporting on the contents of the diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks. I intentionally ignored one aspect of Sen. Lieberman's remarks on Fox News because I felt that aspect deserved its own article.
Just after addressing whether the press reporting on WikiLeaks should face a Justice Department investigation or not, Sen. Lieberman added:
"And, again, why do you prosecute crimes? Because if you don't--Well, first you do because that's what our system of justice requires. Second, if you don't prosecute people who commit crimes, others are going to do it soon and again.
As someone familiar with what Bush Administration officials did when they were in power and how there are officials who should be dragged into court to face a trial for war crimes, I instantly noted the inconsistency. This remark was laughable. But, I am conscious of the fact that it also revealed those in charge of deciding who is guilty of crimes and not guilty of crimes do not think certain violations of the law are crimes.
They think waterboarding, which has traditionally been
defined as torture, an act considered to be a war crime, is permissible in some
situations. They think warrantless wiretapping is acceptable if there is information
to be gained that could be of use (and don't believe they should be required to
prove in the aftermath that what they gained was useful). They find little
problem with a CIA, which kidnaps terror suspects and uses extraordinary
rendition to send them off to countries that are known to torture suspects,
like Egypt. And, they are willing to have terror suspects imprisoned
indefinitely in secret prisons or, in the case of detainees at Guantanamo, they
are willing to prevent terror suspects from being granted due process.
On April 23, 2009, Sen. Lieberman appeared on "Fox & Friends" on Fox News. Here is a full transcript of the interview he did with host Brian Kilmeade, who expressed his gratitude for Lieberman's lack of interest in prosecuting former Bush Administration officials:
MR. KILMEADE: Senator Joe Lieberman urging the president not to prosecute. He's live at the Russell Rotunda. You're a Democrat telling a Democratic president not to prosecute a Republican -- that's not a popular move. Why shouldn't he go forward?
SEN. LIEBERMAN : I suppose that's what it means, Brian, to be an independent Democrat. Look, in the best of all worlds, interpreting what the president said in the clip you just ran, he was deferring to Attorney General Holder to make this decision. But the three of us -- Senator McCain, Senator Graham and I -- think it's a real mistake to start breaching the possibility that you criminalize a legal opinion. I mean, you could disagree with the opinions these lawyers wrote during the Bush administration about these enhanced interrogation tactics.
I disagree with some of them. I think they are reasoned opinions. It looks to me like they and the CIA people were really trying to find out exactly what would not be torture under the law of the United States. But you know, if you're going to start -- look, we had an election last year. We got a new administration. This president has prohibited these tactics from being used against suspects in the war against terrorism. So let's move on. If we start to go back, it raises the possibility we're going to -- we're basically going to find lawyers who wrote an opinion, that I presume they believed in, guilty of a crime --
MR. KILMEADE: Exactly.
SEN. LIEBERMAN : We're opening a door that's going to make it hard for any administration in the future to get the kind of legal advice that it wants, let alone deal with people who are suspects that may have information in the war on terrorism.- Advertisement -
MR. KILMEADE: As we hear, you know, there's going to be a time when this party is not in power and this president is not in the White House. Do you want to go back and investigate that administration? Is it ever going to end and is it going to help anyone except for people get political points? Sena what about those ranking Democrats that knew about these enhanced interrogation tactics on the Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee? Should they be hauled in front of Congress and investigated?
SEN. LIEBERMAN : Well, I mean, there's no end to this if you go on. That's the point. Look, the American public, I think, wants us to do two things: One is to focus on the economy today and get going again -- protect and create jobs; and two, defend America from the Islamist terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and are still looking for every opportunity to do it today. If we get into basically a political war here in Washington over what happened during the last eight years, it's going to take our eyes and our attention and our effort off of what we really ought to be doing for the American people. There is simply nothing to be gained from it and it is going to have a bad effect on every administration of any party that follows in the generations ahead.
MR. KILMEADE: As chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, I'm sure he's got to take your calls, Senator Lieberman . Make that call to the Oval Office and spare us a long, drawn out investigation. Thanks so much for expanding on the letter your put out there with Senator Lindsey Graham, as well as John McCain. Always great to see you, Senator. [emphasis added]