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Bravo Dan Lungren. Louie Gohmert, and Andrew McCarthy

Tuesday, May 19, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I have said again and again on air and off that whether or not you view waterboarding as immoral, its use by American interrogators was not criminal. Andrew McCarthy has a very important piece in National Review today on exactly this point, which may not impress the mob on the left that wants to continue the war against Bush even as we unilaterally disarm in the war against the Islamists, but it should matter to anyone interested in the rule of law.

Congressman Dan Lungren is the very able former Attorney General of California, and he used his skills as a former top prosecutor to lead U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder into a box canyon on the issue of what is and what is not the crime of torture. In this effort he was aided by Congressman Louie Gohmert, a former federal judge. Together this pair of serious, experienced representatives made short work of AG Holder’s politicized understanding of torture. McCarthy concludes:

The bottom line is, Rep. Lungren skillfully steered Attorney General Holder into the truth: As a matter of law, CIA waterboarding -like the same waterboarding actions featured in Navy SEALs training -cannot be torture because there is no intention to inflict severe mental or physical pain; the exercise is done for a different purpose. When Rep. Gohmert’s questioning made it crystal clear that Holder’s simplistic “waterboarding is torture” pronouncement was wrong, the attorney general -rather than admitting error -tried to change the legal definition of torture in a manner that contradicted a position the Justice Department had just urged on the federal courts. It seems that, for this attorney general, there is one torture standard for Bush administration officials, and another one for everybody else.

Good to see Holder has ended all that unseemly politicizing of the Justice Department.

Read all of McCarthy’s analysis and send it to all the hysterical lefties who pronounce on torture without a clue on the operation of criminal law.

Far more important that the specifics of AG Holder’s pratfall, though, is the fact that it is yet another episode in the now four-months long effort by the new Adminstration to unilaterally disarm our side in the war with the Islamists. The damage done by President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid and their allies is deep and lasting and has occurred on many fronts but most significantly in the message of prosecutorial peril they have collectively sent every member of the military and the civilian counterterrorism force. The effort to rewrite the law to criminalize waterboarding chills the actions of everyone on the front lines of the war on terror. Today it is legal to order a drone strike on a target. Given the willingness of this Administration to revoke previous orders and to turn standard law interpretation practices on their head, who’s to say they or the next administration won’t retroactively decide such strikes are a war crime.

President Obama needs to reclaim the original position he stake out and begin to repair the damage he has done to the national security in his first four months in office, and he needs to do so immediately and regardless of the howls from his hard left supporters who would rather see their political enemies persecuted than the war effectively prosecuted.

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Archbishop Chaput on Notre Dame’s “Intellectual Vanity”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Archbishop Charles Chaput has penned a devastating rebuke of Notre Dame’s leadership. It is here on the Denver Archdiocese’s website, but I reproduce it here for easy access:


Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

“I have found that even among those who did not go to Notre Dame, even among those who do not share the Catholic faith, there is a special expectation, a special hope, for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world.”

Reverend John Jenkins, C.S.C., May 17

Most graduation speeches are a mix of piety and optimism designed to ease students smoothly into real life. The best have humor. Some genuinely inspire. But only a rare few manage to be pious, optimistic, evasive, sad and damaging all at the same time. Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, is a man of substantial intellect and ability. This makes his introductory comments to President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement speech on May 17 all the more embarrassing.[# More #]

Let’s remember that the debate over President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame was never about whether he is a good or bad man. The president is clearly a sincere and able man. By his own words, religion has had a major influence in his life. We owe him the respect Scripture calls us to show all public officials. We have a duty to pray for his wisdom and for the success of his service to the common good — insofar as it is guided by right moral reasoning.

We also have the duty to oppose him when he’s wrong on foundational issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and similar matters. And we also have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity by appeals to phony dialogue that mask an abdication of our moral witness. Notre Dame did not merely invite the president to speak at its commencement. It also conferred an unnecessary and unearned honorary law degree on a man committed to upholding one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in our nation’s history: Roe v. Wade.

In doing so, Notre Dame ignored the U.S. bishops’ guidance in their 2004 statement, Catholics in Political Life. It ignored the concerns of Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Notre Dame’s 2009 Laetare Medal honoree-who, unlike the president, certainly did deserve her award, but finally declined it in frustration with the university’s action. It ignored appeals from the university’s local bishop, the president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, more than 70 other bishops, many thousands of Notre Dame alumni and hundreds of thousands of other American Catholics. Even here in Colorado, I’ve heard from too many to count.

There was no excuse-none, except intellectual vanity-for the university to persist in its course. And Father Jenkins compounded a bad original decision with evasive and disingenuous explanations to subsequently justify it.

These are hard words, but they’re deserved precisely because of Father Jenkins’ own remarks on May 17: Until now, American Catholics have indeed had “a special expectation, a special hope for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world.” For many faithful Catholics-and not just a “small but vocal group” described with such inexcusable disdain and ignorance in journals like Time magazine — that changed Sunday.

The May 17 events do have some fitting irony, though. Almost exactly 25 years ago, Notre Dame provided the forum for Gov. Mario Cuomo to outline the “Catholic” case for “pro-choice” public service. At the time, Cuomo’s speech was hailed in the media as a masterpiece of American Catholic legal and moral reasoning. In retrospect, it’s clearly adroit. It’s also, just as clearly, an illogical and intellectually shabby exercise in the manufacture of excuses. Father Jenkins’ explanations, and President Obama’s honorary degree, are a fitting national bookend to a quarter century of softening Catholic witness in Catholic higher education. Together, they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be “Catholic” in the public square.

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has suggested that Notre Dame “didn’t understand” what it means to be Catholic before these events began. He’s correct, and Notre Dame is hardly alone in its institutional confusion. That’s the heart of the matter. Notre Dame’s leadership has done a real disservice to the Church, and now seeks to ride out the criticism by treating it as an expression of fringe anger. But the damage remains, and Notre Dame’s critics are right. The most vital thing faithful Catholics can do now is to insist-by their words, actions and financial support-that institutions claiming to be “Catholic” actually live the faith with courage and consistency. If that happens, Notre Dame’s failure may yet do some unintended good.

Bill Kristol, Byron York, Mark Tapscott, John Podhoretz, Michael Rubin and Rammesh Ponnuru

Monday, May 18, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Today’s line-up as the show originates from Philadelphia’s Union League.

We’ll be talking about the president’s Notre Dame speech and his meeting today with Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well asformer Vice President Cheney’s push for seriousness on national security.

Amaze.fm Song of the Week: “Climb Up” by Andrea Ruygt

Monday, May 18, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Very strong song and singer from last week’s competition. I was off Friday so I will play the song at the end of the second hour today.

If you are a singer-songwriter or know one, send him or her to Amaze.fm to post their tunes and compete for the weekly play.

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