So in a strange twist of fate, when I got home last night, there on CSPAN was our friend Crazy Dana Rohrabacher presiding over (to the extent that the ranking member can) the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights from last Tuesday, defending tooth and nail the right of the United States to engage in the abhorrent practice of extraordinary rendition. It was the very hearing, of course, that was written up by dday here on Friday and I must say that seeing his statements in full, context and all, really was sickening.
Seeing Rohrabacher on one hand say that the ends justify the means with respect to extraordinary rendition because of the many lives he claims the practice saves yet to then turn around and wish harm on loved ones of those in the audience, was one of the more pathetic displays by a congressman who is no stranger to compassionless conservatism. I was embarrassed as a Californian and as an American, that Dana Rohrabacher represented us in front of these members of the EU parliament. And so, of course I had to share it with you. I was going to try to upload my DVR'd video to YouTube but luckily did a search and found that mardish had beaten me to it. Let's go to the video tape (offending remarks begin at about the 8 minute mark.)
More thoughts over the flip. Also read k/o's thoughtful (what else?) dailykos diary on the subject.
Rohrabacher's combativeness in this hearing is clearly rooted in his, and the entire conservative movement's, utter contempt for Europe. But it is the Europeans here that come off as intelligent and thoughtful and it is Rohrabacher who appears curt, rude and vulgar. So it is especially satisfying to see our European friends make points that shut down Rohrabacher's f'ed up logic that the relatively small number of people who are mistakenly abducted and tortured is the price we pay for greater security.
Take Sarah Ludford, Vice Chair of the EU Parliament Extraordinary Rendition Committee, who shoots him down at 2:35:
Are we safer as a result of what the European Parliament believes has been illegal practices the last 5 years? I believe that most intelligence services would say no. The number of recruits to terrorism, the threat is greater than it has ever been both to Europe and the United States and the potential pool of terrorists is growing.
Then there's Jonathan Evans, EU Parliament member from Wales, who outclasses Rohrabacher from moment one and echoes a lot of what many on the left have felt about post-9/11 conservatives, that in their efforts to protect America, they've made it something unrecognizable.
Our case is that we must act under a due process of law. Listening to the litany of points that you have raised. I think it might be churlish to do so but I think that one could raise the argument that in a sense the end always justifies the means and having any sort of judicial process is just a further impediment. Judicial processes have developed in our countries as proper safeguards. We Europeans hold your country in high respect because you have developed those processes. And we have also for our part endeavored to develop them as well.
Evans eloquently puts into words the real loss in moral standing we've suffered in the world, a loss we've suffered because of conservatives like Rohrabacher who say things like this:
We are at war and we've got to make sure that we do not let go 50 terrorists who will go out and plant a bomb in London and kill 20,000 people in order to protect that one person who we arrested accidentally because his name is the same. That's that type of unfortunate consequence...[faint boos can be heard] well I hope it's your families, I hope it's your families that suffer the consequences.
In his appearance at this hearing, Dana Rohrabacher personified the very image of the ugly American...and he did it in the halls of Congress. At what point are his extremist rantings going to finally cross the line for those in his district? Let's make sure that 2008 is the year that we finally boot the ugly American.