There are many representatives in Congress who make self-satisfyingly "bold" statements that, if they had anything resembling a conscience, should cause them to hang their heads in shame. Few are quite so consistently adept at the practice as Texas Rep. Lamar Smith.
As ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, the rabidly partisan Republican representative can usually be heard whining about the number of hearings called by committee chairman John Conyers that deal with issues he'd rather not address. You know - ridiculously unimportant issues such as torture of detainees, warrantless wiretapping of Americans, political prosecutions of Democratic opponents, the outing of a covert CIA agent, and any number of felonious fabrications concocted by an administration possessing as much respect for the rule of law and the Constitution as Hitler had for the Torah.
Lamar compared Scott McClellan to Judas (by implication, elevating George W. to Jesus status) for "selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver." As one commenter on Think Progress states:
Aside from the fact that this brain dead hick can barely read the random collection of monosyllabic words on his prepared text, aside from the fact that he misrepresents the few facts contained in those notes, I must wonder if he realizes that launching these ad hominem attacks on a White House staffer who worked for Bush for pretty much his entire political career places the chimp's judgment into serious question.
Another commenter offered:
It's hard to believe that someone so juvenile and asinine has the responsibility of creating laws of the land. Smith hasn't matured beyond junior high. Why is that so common among Republicans?
One of Smith's most recent displays of reprehensible regurgitation of John Yoo-inspired talking points came in his opening statement at a hearing on interrogation rules featuring torture advocate and former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft.
After the obligatory remarks about how many hearings the committee had wasted on worrying about the torture of "known terrorists," and reminding everyone that the United States does not torture (wink, wink), Smith throws out this gem:
"The Supreme Court has determined that unconstitutional acts of torture are those that shock the conscience. And what shocks the conscience depends on the circumstances and purpose of the interrogation. For example, if someone were picked at random on the streets of New York and subjected to special interrogation techniques, it would undoubtedly shock the conscience. But what if that person was one of the 9/11 terrorists, or perhaps a known terrorist who was found in possession of explosives, the blueprint for a U.S. embassy, and expresses his desire to kill Americans? ... Using legal means, even as a last resort, to gather information that could save hundreds or thousands of American lives does not shock the conscience."
Putting aside the ridiculous qualifier about techniques such as waterboarding, induced hypothermia, forced nudity, and prolonged sleep deprivation being "legal means," how does one even begin to address how convoluted and downright despicable Smith's reasoning is? If a "technique" would shock the conscience when used on an American, how could it be acceptable for use on someone from another country? If it shocks the conscience for an American soldier to be waterboarded by an enemy in order to gain actionable intelligence, especially when that soldier is operating inside the country in which his torturer lives, how can it even be imagined that it would not shock the conscience for Americans to travel across the globe, kidnap a person from his own country, and perform the very same act upon him at Guantanamo?
If that foreigner believes that an American has information that could save hundreds or thousands of his countrymen's lives, and uses torture as a last resort because no good American soldier would willingly give up intelligence that could risk his mission or the safety of his friends, how is that any different from what Lamar Smith says is acceptable when the tables are turned?
What Smith's philosophy, and that of most of his authoritarian Republican buddies, boils down to is a simple disrespect for the rule of law, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and everything that America was meant to be about. It is rooted in prejudice and exceptionalism. It is the inconceivable claiming of rights for one's self, while denying the same rights to others not fortunate enough to be included in a specific group.
It is in the same spirit that made one man owning another acceptable because he was of a different color, or came from a different continent. It is the same Jim Crow reasoning that said it was okay to have different laws for blacks and whites. It is the same arrogance that spurred England in pursuit of empire and Manifest Destiny. And it is the same mistake made by England when they tried to subject American colonists to different laws than those which applied to subjects dwelling within the kingdom proper.
And it is exactly what 99% of Republicans in the United States Congress believe.
It will also contribute greatly to their downfall. When it comes to law and human rights, America cannot afford to have a double standard. An illegal act that shocks the conscience in one case cannot suddenly become legal when circumstances make it more convenient. There is no room in America for two sets of laws when it comes to basic human rights.