In other news, 2 + 2 once again equals 4

Oh, thank heaven. Via TPM:

Eric Holder, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to be attorney general, said he believed the controversial interrogation tactic of waterboarding, used by the CIA against three terrorism suspects, is a form of torture.

"I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that waterboarding is torture," Holder said at his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday in response to questioning by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

It is a sad commentary on the state of our nation when the current Attorney General couldn't see his way clear to saying the same thing. I cannot express my relief to hear that his replacement sees no need to equivocate on something so obvious.

It brings to mind a similar response I had when I heard Biden speak about which branch of government holds the office of the Vice President. Specifically, I recall his response to the question when asked during the debate with Palin (who [surprise, surprise] obfuscated):

‘Unlike Dick Cheney, Joe Biden won’t have to create a full employment plan for lawyers and scholars to clear up something that was unquestioned for about 200 years. The vice president is part of the executive branch, period. End of story,’ said Biden spokesman David Wade.
Yes. Good. My eighth grade civics class was right after all.

I imagine that this means war is no longer peace, freedom is no longer slavery, and ignorance is no longer strength. Thank the heavens that Bush is (almost) no longer president.

1 comment:

  1. VPE Biden is a lawyer, taught constitutional law at Widener University law school, chaired the Senate Judiciary committee, and he says, quote "The idea [Cheney] doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch," endquote. By now, everyone paying attention knows that Article I does indeed lay out almost all of the constitutional authority of the VP; unfortunately for your eight grade civics teacher, and VPE Biden, Article I defines the powers of the Legislative Branch. The full Executive powers of the VP (defined in Article II) are to get up in the morning and ask "Is the President OK?" And that's it for the VP's Executive powers in the Constitution.

    As an aside, I am worried about a guy who teaches constitutional law to law students and makes such a blunder during a high stakes debate. That would be a like a medical school professor claiming the ulna is attached to the spine. She should know better than to commit such a glaring error.

    The normal constitutional duties of the VP, aside from inquiring about the health of the President, are to preside over the Senate (except during an impeachment trial of the President) and vote on bills in the event of a tie. By custom, the VP doesn't doesn't spend much time presiding over the Senate, but it is only custom, and if she chose to attend sessions and exercise her influence, the VP would clearly outrank the President pro tempore. This all sounds very Legislative-ish to me, especially the part about voting on bills.

    Now, does all that mean the VP is part of the Legislative Branch? Maybe not, but a case could be made that the VP is a highly unusual creature in the Constitution, and exactly how to categorize the VP is a question that takes some thought. It isn't a slam dunk assignment to the Executive based on potential duties.