At Friday's hearing on torture memos, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy asked Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler whether the Department of Justice agrees with John Yoo that a president's powers cannot be limited with regard to such actions as massacring villages. Grindler did not provide an answer.

Liveblog of Leahy Hearing on Yoo and Bybee and Margolis Without Yoo or Bybee or Margolis:

Of course nobody's been subpoenaed.

10:00-10:15 delay and puffery.

10:16 Leahy running his mouth. OPR report has gaps, including Yoo's Emails which were required to be maintained by law. Leahy says he'll ask witness (Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler) about that. Says memos were "shoddy" and "twisted the plain meaning of statutes." But THAT is a violation of the anti-torture statute and a felony.

10:21 Leahy rightly says DOJ is not final arbiter, but he doesn't mention Congress's possible role. Instead he says he willy willy wishes somebody would set up a new commission. Leahy brags about having subpoenaed the memos when Bush was president. Claims he will continue to be aggressive regardless of party. Yeah? Gonna subpoena Yoo? Bybee? Margolis? When is that gonna happen, Mr. agressive nonpartisan senator?

10:23 Sessions says the memos were written when people were vewy vewy scared, which we already know and which the reports under discussion state is not legally relevant. Session mentions "three instances of waterboarding" even though he means three people were waterboarded many, many times. Sessions says that "any time you're in conflict, the anti-war groups always find something to complain about." Thus opposing torture is an excuse to oppose noble war. THIS line from people like Sessions is one result of Leahy and gang avoiding the most serious crimes of Yoo and Bybee, namely the "legalization" of aggressive war. Torture should be a footnote here, not the central topic, leaving war to serve as Sessions' excuse. Sessions then changes the topic to his concern that Xmas bomber HASN'T been tortured yet and has been treated as if he had some human rights. "Antiwar activists now populate the Department of Justice." Who knew??

10:34 Sessions still spewing his BS. Leahy serving mostly as host, having little to say himself.

10:36 Leahy notes that Senator Whitehouse -- just about the only one who might have said anything useful -- is in Rhode Island for the funeral of a soldier who died in one of the (aggressive) wars that (Leahy does not mention) Yoo and Bybee legalized.

10:37 Durbin rehearses stuff we've known for years. Torture bad. John McCain good. Nevermind that John McCain supported torture for years. Durbin says torture is wrong because, and only because, somebody could torture AMERICANS. Durbin joins Sessions in changing the topic to Miranda warnings. Says 195 "terrorists" have been prosecuted "successfully" in US courts since 9/11 compared to 3 in military commissions. WHAT does any of this have to do with Yoo's and Bybee's crimes? Durbin returns briefly to Margolis. Yields.

10:44 Senator John Cornyn wants Yoo and Bybee thanked. Maybe a heck-of-a-job medal? Cornyn says the torturers asked for memos first, but they did not. He has his chronology reversed, as NO ONE will point out to him, because there is effectively NO ONE in the room, except perhaps in the audience.

10:53 Grindler's opening remarks. -- Leahy interrupts to object to audience members holding up signs, but not to himself & Durbin failing to say a g-dmd thing of any value or to subpoena Yoo, Bybee, Margolis.

11:02 Leahy asks if missing Yoo Emails being investigated. Nice. But what about the existing evidence overwhelmingly requiring prosecution? Will Leahy ask that the torture conspirators be prosecuted?

11:06 Leahy asks if Yoo used any non-governmental Email. Grindler says he'll "pose that question". Apparently there hasn't been time in the past 5 years.

11:09 Leahy asks if OLC memos have been withdrawn. Grindler says 7 have been, and an 8th has not been because it modifies the 7. That makes sense! What about all the other memos beyond 8??

11:11 Leahy asks if all docs and index of them have been shared with his committee. Grindler won't answer. Leahy threatens to subpoena. He threatens that twice. Nobody - not even the audience - laughs. Why not? If DOJ ignores Leahy's subpoena, anyone paying attention knows exactly what he will do: Nothing. Still, threatening to subpoena is a huge step up for Leahy. However, he only wants Bush OLC memos, not Obama ones. And he has not threatened to make anything at all public.

11:17 Sessions upset about leaks from OPR.


Questions not asked: How many testicles can president crush?
Questions not asked: How many villages can president massacre?
Questions not asked: How many cities can president nuke?
Questions not asked: Can other nations' presidents crush testicles?
Questions not asked: Are there any testicles in this room?
Questions not asked: Can other nations' presidents massacre villages?
Questions not asked: Can other nations' presidents nuke cities?
Questions not asked: Can complete eradication of humanity be legal?
Questions not asked: When you massacre a village do the testicles perish too?
Questions not asked: If so, why the focus on torture and no mention of war?

11:32 Leahy raises concern about how he would feel if another nation ordered the massacring of a village. Leahy asks whether OLC believes a commander in chief's authority is without bounds. GRINDLER REFUSES TO ANSWER.

11:36 Leahy asks about water-boarding. GRINDLER REFUSES TO ANSWER. Leahy asks if a future president can violate a current executive order. Grindler says, without irony, that he would HOPE not. Neither of them mentions LAWS against torture.

11:40 Leahy wants to know if DOJ and OLC are independent of presidential influence. Grindler says nothing for a long time, using many words.

-- David Swanson is the author of the new book Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union by Seven Stories Press. You can order it and find out when tour will be in your town:
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