MSNBC was certainly the place to be Tuesday evening if you like watching a conservative take on a liberal about the value of the ACLU, and how tied into the Democrat Party that organization is. Also on the debate docket was the value of torture in terrorist interrogations.
What more could you ask for on a Tuesday evening?
Without further ado, in the left corner was Rosa Brooks of the Los Angeles Times; in the right corner was Tucker Carlson of MSNBC.
As this was scrappy and entertaining from the opening bell, I’m just going to let the tape role without any interruptions, and allow the reader to peruse the transcript that follows while watching this truly delicious segment (video available here, better fasten your seatbelts):
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome back. A remarkable story in today‘s “Wall Street Journal” calls into question the relationship between the left wing and the political spectrum here in the United States and the war on terror. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU has filed suit against an American company called Jeppersen Data Plan, Inc. The crime? Apparently that company worked with the CIA in order to bring terror suspects to third countries.
American allies like Pakistan, Egypt and Morocco. Well, those suspects are now plaintiffs in a court case that accuses the governments of those countries of torturing them, hurting them. The ACLU says that Jefferson Data Plan, is liable.
So whose side is the ACLU on? And was in the end, Rudy Giuliani right with that America would be safer with a Republican in office? Joining us once again, we are proud to welcome the Associate Editor of “The Hill” newspaper, A.B. Stoddard, and “L.A. Times” columnist, Rosa Brooks.
Rosa, the ACLU is suing a company for working in a perfectly legitimate business? That the American government is conducting?
ROSA BROOKS, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, Tucker, first of all, you are assuming that it is legitimate as opposed to—there‘s a good deal of evidence that this was illegal acts on the part of the government and illegal acts on the part of the contractors. But you know, just three quick points here.
CARLSON: Yes, I knew this would get you going.
BROOKS: Your framing the question of, you know, can the left keep us safe? Is the ACLU against us ...
CARLSON: That‘s a fair question at this point.
BROOKS: That‘s completely unworthy of you. The ACLU is not part of the government. The ACLU is not part of the national security. The ACLU is an organization of private individuals asking whether they can keep us safe is like asking if the PTA can keep us safe. It‘s not their job.
CARLSON: They can keep us less safe, I don‘t think there‘s any question they can make us less safe. They may have.
BROOKS: Nonsense. The ACLU‘s job is to try to defend the Constitution of the United States. They‘ve been doing a good job.
CARLSON: It‘s actually to carry water for the Democratic party.
BROOKS: Nonsense. They often take positions that the Democratic party doesn‘t like.
CARLSON: I haven‘t noticed that.
BROOKS: But the reason that Rivkin and Casey don‘t like the
litigation they‘ve been bringing is that, frankly, is that the Bush
administration has been losing a lot of it. Because it‘s been doing a lot
of things that are illegal, violate U.S. laws and constitutional principles
and international law. And they should be bringing this litigation because
CARLSON: Well, wait a second!
BROOKS: Because the final point is that what the U.S. government has been doing, in the war on terror, unlawful renditions of places where people to be tortured is damaging our national security interest, frankly, drawing attention to that is good for our national security.
CARLSON: How exactly does it hurt our national security and deliver them to the country from which he came or to a third country ally like, Morocco?
BROOKS: There is no question in my mind that the U.S. willingness to abandon our basic commitments to principles such as do not torture people. Do not have private contracts in other countries do our dirty work by doing things that are illegal, and violate our principals. That has hurt us in global public opinion. It is damaged our opinion to get useful intelligence from moderate Muslims around the world.
CARLSON: I don‘t know that is true or provable. I‘m sure it has damaged our opinion in Luxembourg but the question is ...
BROOKS: I think it is eminently provable.
CARLSON: ... if you were, let‘s say you were a skillful intelligent Republican and I am assuming there is one left. I‘m not sure I haven‘t seen one but let‘s just say one existed. You would take this and make a 30 second ad out of it. You would say, this candidate supports the ACLU, the ACLU is suing to stop the U.S. government from exercising its sworn duties on behalf of it‘s citizens on the war on terror. That‘s what you would do.
A. B. STODDARD, THE HILL: I think that—first of all, it is unknowable because the Democrats have not governed since September 11th of 2001. They are not—we are not in a position yet to know how whether or not they would keep us safe or not able to keep us safe.
STODDARD: So it‘s not—I mean, that‘s in the eye of the beholder.
As long as Republicans hold the White House, they can keep threatening that
the Democrats are going to be the end of all of us. But, I think that we -
Democrats from the way that they sound, are going to actually if they take the White House in ‘08, be very tough on the war on terror and that these challenges will continue ...
CARLSON: I tend—actually I do tend to agree with that. I think they will be too afraid to take ACLU position on this. I just think, very quickly, do you think it is fair to ask a question? Does this make us safer, does this imperil us? Why does no one seem to ask that question?
BROOKS: I think this particular practice—first of all, I think that the Clinton administration did use renditions. But what the Clinton administration did not do was use renditions to take people out of the legal process in order to torture them, etc. The Clinton administration used renditions to put people into the legal process.
CARLSON: Torture doesn‘t work. Everyone‘s always telling us that torture doesn‘t work. So why do we use it?
BROOKS: Because we are dumb.
CARLSON: Oh! We‘re dumb! OK, we‘re dumb. OK, right, that doesn‘t work.
BROOKS: No, but Tucker, frankly ...
CARLSON: Of course it works! Then why do people ...
BROOKS: You‘ve got to—you are accepting a few too many of their premises. That‘s the problem.
CARLSON: I don‘t know.
BROOKS: They are assuming that this stuff is helping us. I think there is substantial evidence that this is deeply undermining our ability to fight terrorism.
CARLSON: I am not endorsing torture. I am actually opposed to torture. But is just too glib, I always hear people say well, it doesn‘t work anyway. BS.
BROOKS: Well, we could ...
CARLSON: That is what every intelligence service around the world except us uses it because it doesn‘t work? OK.
BROOKS: We can talk about torture. We can talk about when it works or when it doesn‘t. But that is not at issue here.
CARLSON: This may be torture but I am told that we are out of time. We will be right back.
Video and picture courtesy Crooks and Liars.