US Rep. Joe Barton, as dumb as he looks?

I just watched US Congressman Joe Barton lower the bar yet again on expectations of intelligent discourse from Texas politicians. He has always been a dependable mouthpiece for the far right, the wacko right, etc., so when I saw that he was about to appear on MSNBC’s The Ed Show to denounce President Obama’s plan to close the detention prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and move the prisoners there to a maximum security facility in Illinois, my expectations were pretty low. I knew he would seize the opportunity to accuse the President of being weak on terror (read: opposed to torture) and national security. Which he did, of course. But he went on to hammer away at what he seemed to believe was his ace in the hole: The facility planned for the transfer, the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois, is actually a minimum security facility, he said. Therefore, the Obama administration is both foolish and untruthful when they claim that the prisoners would be moved to a maximum security prison and that the American public will be safe. When pressed several times on this point, Barton insisted that his facts were correct. Host Ed Schultz pressed him: “Does that mean the Obama administration is lying?” Barton didn’t want to go that far. Again, Schultz asked, “Are you sure of this information?” Well, yes, said Barton. That’s what my talking points say.
Some talking points. While Barton was busy lying on TV (rerun here, if you wish), I did a quick Google search. One of the first images of Thomson you’re likely to see is a big sign that reads: Thomson Maximum Security Correctional Facility.” Maybe his staff spelled it wrong when they did his talking points memo. Or maybe they didn’t bother. Maybe they can’t spell Google or Wikipedia, either. Talk about terrorism, these people are so dumb, they are scary.
Later, Chris Matthews had a two members of Congress on his show to comment on the move. The Democrat was for it and the Republican was, guess what, very opposed to it. When Matthews asked the Republican if he also supported the use of torture against detainees, he dodged the question. When Matthews pressed further and asked if that meant he opposed the Geneva Convention, which prohibits the use of torture, PERIOD, the Republican again dodged the question. He would not admit that he is opposed to the Geneva Convention. On the other hand, he didn’t say he was for it, either. Article 27 of the Geneva Convention says:
Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity. Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. Without prejudice to the provisions relating to their state of health, age and sex, all protected persons shall be treated with the same consideration by the Party to the conflict in whose power they are, without any adverse distinction based, in particular, on race, religion or political opinion. However, the Parties to the conflict may take such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war.
Now what’s so radical about that? Does supporting this idea make us stronger or weaker?

Leave a Reply