John Kline - CSPAN
by Steve Timmer
Dec 16, 2014, 11:30 AM

I know John Kline

Yes, I know John Kline. John Kline is a friend of mine, well, a fishing friend. That is, I usually see him at least a couple of times a year, on a trout stream, at a fishing exposition, or at a clinic where persons new to fly fishing come and learn the beginnings of the art; John’s a good fly caster. I’ve even been out fishing with John on some soft spring days.

My politics are diametrically opposed to his, but the relationship’s been cordial, and I don’t try to talk politics with him. John’s from a military family, and he’s from Texas, too, so I didn’t figure there was much hope, anyway.

As a liberal web writer, people have urged me from time to time to write about John Kline and the contributions he takes from the for-profit higher education industry (because that is what it is), or his positions on student loan debt, cutting food stamps for vets, or some element of Second District politics, but I haven’t. This fall, I was asked to use the LeftMN twitter account to amplify the Bill Maher media campaign to unseat Kline. I didn’t do that, either.

When asked about why Kline has been hands off for me, I’ve just said, “John Kline and I have entirely different world views, but unlike Michelle Bachmann, it’s the same world.”

But for me, that all changed yesterday, with a Hot Dish Politics post that included this:

[Kline] called last week’s release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report that alleging torture against alleged terrorists “purely partisan.”

“This is created by Senate Democrat staffers to criticize the CIA and previous administration,” Kline said. “There may be things that are true concerning torture, and maybe not, but I don’t like a one-party report. There’s not one Republican drop of ink in that report.”

Torture, he said, “Should not be a partisan issue. We should not give (this report) objective credibility.”

This, my friends, is pure moral and semantic bullshit. Well, and dishonorable cowardice, too.

You’ve probably noticed than the torture apologists (because that is what they are) do not deny what happened to the CIA prisoners. They say, “Oh, it wasn’t so bad;” “We were protecting ‘Murican lives;” “This should have been kept confidential.”

The reason there was not one drop of Republican ink on the report is that all the Republican Senators and staff dropped their pens, turned, and fled in abject moral cowardice at what was obviously an institutional sadism approved at the very top of the administration. And you can’t squirm out of it, John, by claiming it’s just “partisan.”

Waterboarding is not partisan, John. We tried Japanese soldiers as war criminals after WWII for doing it; we court martialed one of our soldiers in the Korean War for doing it to a North Korean POW.

Anally raping a man with pureed food is not partisan, John, nor is permitting him to die of hypothermia.

The torture apologists looked into the abyss of the torture report, and just hopped in. I agree with Rula Jebreal: the apologists — like John Kline — are driving America to moral suicide. That is the true danger of the report, not a violent Muslim backlash.

So I am sorry, John, but you are an unredeemable moral cipher. Fie on you. If you ever see me on a trout stream, just walk on by. That is what I will surely do.

Update: Over at the law professors’ blog, Balkinization, Jonathan Hafetz begins a post with this lede:

In her speech on the Senate floor marking the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s release of its long-awaited report on the CIA’s Torture Program, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) declared that the report would “show the world that we are in fact a just and lawful society” and a society “governed by law.” The Senate report does much, and much that is good, but what it does not do is vindicate either justice or law.

As the professor points out, there is a difference between accounting and accountability. We got a little of the former, but we’ll never get the latter.

It’s just a report, people. Nobody goes to jail over a report. Least of all important people. Heck, some important people might even wind up with a brother who is president someday.

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