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Jon Stewart Inflicts Discomfort on Cliff May

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Posted on Apr 29, 2009
May and Stewart

Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was clearly on the defensive as he took the hot seat during Tuesday’s “Daily Show” with the unenviable task of debating whether or not waterboarding is torture, whether American officials have to follow the Geneva Conventions under all circumstances, and whether President Truman was a war criminal.

Note: This is the unedited version of Stewart’s interview with May.

Part 1:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

Part 2:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

Part 3:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 3
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days


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By jack, June 3, 2009 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cliff May, yet another psudeo-intellectual, neocon, espousing the only solution to everything is war.

I know him and have known others like him all my life.
they are willing to send others to die in wars created by people like himself.
These kind of people send other to die for his so called values etc. Though would poop there pants should they actually be confronted by an enemy combatant, and would never be found on the front lines with a gun.
I have know these cowards my whole life.

Purple Girl it is MOOT point! not mute point.

Idiom Definitions for ‘Moot point’
If something’s a moot point, there’s some disagreement about it: a debatable point. In the U.S., this expression usually means that there is no point in debating something, because it just doesn’t matter. An example: If you are arguing over whether to go the beach or to the park, but you find out the car won’t start and you can’t go anywhere, then the destination is said to be a moot point.

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By freedom loving american, May 3, 2009 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

Without torture how could the spirit of the insurgency have galvanized?  Why would massive amounts of people willingly die to fight the most lethal best, equipped, military ever to walk the face of the earth? However, by creating inhumane acts not seen since the inquisitions on the Iraqis friends, wives, and children the insurgences fought and died willingly.  Cheney and bush needed torture and lots and lots of it to keep the war going.
I still remember Rumsfeld joking about torture, how he stood at his desk and worked and did not think he was being tortured.
Cheney’s old companies Halliburton and its subsidiaries were paid hundreds of billions of our tax dollars to perform services never out-sourced before.  In fact, the bush/cheney administration spent a great deal of time and effort to rewrite the laws making it “legal” to out-source all the services the military always performed for themselves since the revolutionary war. While the US is destroying everything all of Iraq this only strengthens the Saudis grip on the world oil market, making the bush oil cartel hundreds of billions of dollars probably trillions of dollars. Additionally it distracted Americans while bushes banking buddies stole the rest of our tax dollars with the unregulated financial markets schemes. 

With all the terror, grieve, destruction, and horrors the bush administration with their republican aided congress caused the world and all this country lost during this republican reign of terror, much of the worst horrors will never be told, personally I believe anyone that supports these individuals should be tried for treason. 

All horrific animals that tortured, ordered torture, or knew of torture should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If not; since each republican cabal becomes more brutal than the one before they will be raping, killing, and torturing anyone they want.  This is the republican party of the 21st century.

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By youraveragejoe, May 3, 2009 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

Stewart is an entertainer, and not a very good one.  Taking Hollywood and news “celebrities” seriously is tiresome.

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By Purple Girl, May 3, 2009 at 6:41 am Link to this comment

Mute Point, the Bushies assured they have taken this controvesy out of our hands.
The Bushies actions brought into to question the very foundation of our legal system. They tainted the office of the Presidency, Our judicial system, Our Congress, and our Military. There is now No Unbiased source for the Global community to look towards to assure untainted investigations or Justice.
Our only choice is to relinquish control, Recuse ourselves and allow the International Community to judge these acts. The International Red Cross Deemed it torture- therefore it lies with in the scope of the International Courts.
No doubt Cheney et al, is trying very hard to either derail any invstigation or assure it remains on our soil.
In Good Faith and as a means to Prove we are a Nation of laws, we must provide any and all pertinent information/evidence and extradict all who face charges to any country which levels such charges. The Bushies assured that any actions we take will be considered Partial. The Legal Briefs made our legal system co defendents. Congress’ lack of oversight guaranteed our other Branches of Gov’t were inplicated. ‘Executive Power’ has defamed the Office of the Presidency and the compliance by the Pentagon made our Military complicit.
Now if we’d like to prosecute the Treason which preceeded these high crimes, then we still hold jurisdiction over that. But War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity is solely in the international legal realm.

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By Bill Swensen, May 1, 2009 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John Stewart in not the first one to say that dropping the bomb on Hiroshima was a crime. Robert McNamara himself said that if we lost the war to the Japanese Americans would be held for war crimes. I don’t care how you look at it. The argument that we would have saved American service men’s lives and also Japanese service men’s lives it still doesn’t mean anything because these were soldiers who signed contracts to fight and die for their country. There is not reason we should have boomed whole cities filled with civilians with little or no military targets indiscriminately. That is a war crime. None of the children or citizen signed any contract saying they with fight and die for their country.

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By skmacksk, May 1, 2009 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

Dear Outraged,
Thank you for the absolutely indispensable information!
Mr. May is just another front man and apologist.Just what we need to help untie the Gordian knot of the Middle East: one more apparatchik!

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By blogdog, May 1, 2009 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

RE: (Yeah, Jack Bauer!!)

And how! For 6 years, every terror plot thrown at Jack has either been articulated or protected by moles in the works - some even leading back to the POTUS - what web sites have those writers been visiting?  “24” is a rolling “wack a mole,”  but now, we get “patsies” - as a Black Water clone prepares to unleash a massive “false flag” terror attack, Tony kicks down the door of a couple of innocents to nab one for a patsy, who’ll take the fall————the damn thing’s a “reality show!”

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By CharlyAndy, May 1, 2009 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

I agree with Joe.  I was surprised that Jon succumbed to the context that May created.  One thing that struck me was May’s creating what is know in the language of rhetorical analysis as a False Dilemma.  Either you tell the prisoner he has been a bad boy and ask if he wants TV in his room or you waterboard him 183 times.  There are a lot of other options, e.g. a pack of smokes and a discussion based on the real teachings of the Qu’ran.  And beyond this, setting up a fictitious hypothetical situation, i.e. We *know* this guy knows where the nuke is and how to disarm it (Yeah, Jack Bauer!!) is mendacious.  How many times have you heard the phrase, “I won’t comment on hypotheticals.”?

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By Outraged, April 30, 2009 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment

May is a neocon of Cheney fame.  Check this out:

“In early 2001, a tightly knit group of billionaire philanthropists conceived of a plan to win American sympathy for Israel’s response to the Palestinian intifada. They believed that the Palestinian cause was finding too much support within crucial segments of the American public, particularly within the media and on college campuses, so they set up an organization, Emet: An Educational Initiative, Inc., to offer Israel the kind of PR that the Israeli government seemed unable to provide itself.

At first, Emet floundered, without an executive director or a well-defined mission. But that changed after Sept. 11, and Emet changed too, into what is now the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The name is different, but the goal of influencing America’s opinion-forming classes remains.Emet became the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies thanks in large part to Clifford May, FDD’s president and an old hand at the spin game. From 1997 to 2001 he was the Republican National Committee’s director of communications. Before that he was a journalist—associate editor of the Rocky Mountain Daily News and earlier a reporter and Africa bureau chief for the New York Times.”


“The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a neoconservative think tank that claims to conduct “research and education on international terrorism—the most serious security threat to the United States and other free, democratic nations.”  However it also says:

” The FDD states the following on its website:

“FDD is a tax-exempt, non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological institution. We do not seek to advance any political party or views.”
The tax-exempt and non-profit claims are true. However, the non-partisan and non-ideological assertions are very suspect.”

Then, check this out, a video of Boehner BS….  He’s a fuck.  BTW Boehner, YES RESOUNDINGLY, we do feel safer since Obama has taken office, well except for the fact that you’re still there.  But otherwise YES.

Boehner is a sick degenerate trying to scare people.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a hand in that supposed “photo op” over New York the other day.  That man is SICK, as in manically SICK.

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By george hamilton, April 30, 2009 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Did everyone read the comment of P.T.? If not, scroll back and read it, and then reread it, and then read it again.

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By karim, April 30, 2009 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I dont know whom to loath more, Jon Stewart with his pseudo liberal, ultra nationalistic, we are such a
good country twaddle, or May who is, well, obviously just a conman. Each time America came to its senses?
He means each time filthy bigots like Stewart soothed their conscience by telling themselves to move on and hey it was all just temporal insanity.Optimism people,Obama is here!The one rule of the game though is, Americans are to godly and glorious a people to pay for their own crimes. “Liberals” and rightists agree on that.The million dead Iraqis are rolling in their graves. Just plain filthy.

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By blah, April 30, 2009 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A cleverly framed pseudo-debate to divert the audience from the real issue.

It is not about terrorism, it is about zionism.

The word terrorism has been applied these days to denote a contrived class of combattant, to delegitimate and dehumanize him and shift attention away from the fact that the combattant is fighting asymmetrically an overwhelming Western power which has invaded and colonized his homeland and subjected him to brutal oppression and humiliation for many decades.

ONly belated, after other political and military options failed (e.g. misplace trust in Western democratic processes, failed Nasserism, failed Communinism) did Islamic militancy arise and resort to the only military measures available to them.

Of course, for a Western media figure to label such people ‘terrorists’ and to debate the degree of torture that might be justifiably inflicted on them, is grotesque in the extreme, given the casual genocide and crimes against humanity which Zionists have produced for lo these generations.

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By dihey, April 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

Our current president who is fond of appearing on talk shows ought to ask Jon Stewart whether he can appear on his.

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By blogdog, April 30, 2009 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

RE: By ridinginfaith, April 30 at 6:24 am #
Witnessing 3000 American citizens dieing in front of you, would this be considered TORTURE?

Absolutely it is, and what’s needed is a genuinely honest and transparent 9/11 Investigation to bring to justice the authors and operatives of the most heinous false flag provocation of all time.

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By Anarcissie, April 30, 2009 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

In regard to the use of nuclear weapons on Japan, my reading indicates that Japan was not ready to surrender even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  An inconclusive debate had been going on among the leadership, when the Emperor in effect took the decision out of their hands and accepted the surrender.  Some of the Japanese military then attempted a coup d’etat in order to carry on the war.  The issue is extensively discussed in Wikipedia in a number of articles, and of course in many books.  Inasmuch as Japan was not a single organism with a single will, but a collection of millions of individuals, it does not have one of the simple answers usually proffered.

Bombing and extensively destroying cities, with the killing of civilians as well as military personnel, was a theoretical war crime before World War 2, but then it became common.  It is somewhat selective to fault Truman for doing with new weapons what everyone who had the power was already doing with the old.  I wish in retrospect he hadn’t done it, but once a war starts anyone may do anything.  This is why starting one unnecessarily, as Bush did, is a crime.

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By Allan Krueger, April 30, 2009 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Truman dropped the bomb to intimidate the Russians. We had fire bombed the wooden Japanese cities into ash, before the planes left their hangers!

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By Allan Krueger, April 30, 2009 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

Truman dropped the bomb to intimidate the Russians. We had fire bombed the wooden Japanese cities before into ash before the planes left their hangers with the bombs!

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By tomack, April 30, 2009 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

He should have answered the Truman question with an emphatic, YES. The comment by ERROLL is accurate; the Japanese were ready for surrender BEFORE the bomb. In addition to ERROLL’s source, this was also confirmed by then top spy guy, Alan Dulles.

We sometimes pretend we are the guys in white hats, but history proves otherwise. As far as all this goes, it too will be whitewashed, and only a few will remember or believe the truth.

There is no defense for this. Saving lives my ass; you wanna save lives? Get the fuck outta there, now.

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By David, April 30, 2009 at 6:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi, I think Cliff May and ilk are of no consequence at this point in history, they have already done the damage to the country and the military.  There is no point of return at this juncture, we as a nation stand on thie brink of bankruptcy fighting 2 unwinnable wars, with an economy standing at 8.5% unemployment officially and 15.2% unofficially.  We are watching nation after nation come to the brink of ruin (Mexico, Pakistan, and Ukraine and many others) with no way to really help them. 

As for Israel, the sad reality is that a demographic catastrophy is waiting for them in the next decade or so. 

Vitriol can not cover up reality and in this case the slow economic and military humbling of an empire that is facing overwhelming challenges around the world.

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By Magginkat, April 30, 2009 at 4:18 am Link to this comment

Cliff May is a disgusting, self-righteous, creep and that’s on his good days.

John Stewart made him look like the screeching, idiotic fool that he is.

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By ridinginfaith, April 30, 2009 at 3:24 am Link to this comment

Witnessing 3000 American citizens dieing in front of you, would this be considered TORTURE?

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By Joe, April 30, 2009 at 12:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Its very sad that Comedians are the closest thing to a left of center opinion in our news media. 

As for Stewarts arguments;  they were fairly weak
He calls it temporary insanity
He opposes prosecution of anyone
He doesn’t bring up the fact that some were tortured to death, but instead lets him get away with saying we only tortured 3 people.  Even if on some twisted world view you don’t count Abu Gharib, what about the many Cia black Sites?  Are we supposed to believe there was less then one inmate per prison?
And then of course if you get into Abu Gharib you have to start acknowledging that most of the people tortured were not terrorists, and many were totally innocent of any crime whatsoever

But even with his weak arguments it still makes him the most anti-torture person on TV.  Its sad really

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By blogdog, April 30, 2009 at 12:06 am Link to this comment

RE: Clifford admitted “only” two(2) people were tortured,

Actually, he said that only two were “waterboarded.” Hardly matters. The complexity of the psy-op is myriad.

1. Torture is used to convince your average punter that they mean business in the War Of Terror.

2. Torture is reported to convince dissidents and selfdeterminists everywhere that they mean business and none are immune.

3. Torture is used to convince their own grunts in the trenches that as ridiculous as the anti-terrorist protocols appear, they mean business. Follow orders, or else.

Never mind that the chief operatives calling the shots in the Global War Of Terror are 6 moves ahead of every situation, the torture is to convince everyone, that its all real and that they mean business - so, don’t anyone dare question any of it - capiche?

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By P. T., April 29, 2009 at 11:14 pm Link to this comment

The so-called Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a Zionist-expansionist front group that tries to sell Americans on the idea of fighting Israel’s wars for it.

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By drwaz, April 29, 2009 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment

I watched Jon Stewart at his worst, while this ranting, finger pointing, maniac, cliff May continued to spew his utter nonsense. I was hoping that Stewart would throw the jerk out.

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By jr., April 29, 2009 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

Cliff May is another salesman with a bias, a convincingly good actor, and a liar!!!  Clifford admitted “only” two(2) people were tortured, as though even that was all right, but what they neglected to mention was that there are five(5) people in Spain and one(1) in Britain claiming that america used torture tactics on them, too.  And what about those countless numbers of peoples that were tortured but have since died as a result of their injuries, because they’re dead and no longer have a voice, don’t they count??  Let u.s. remember, the politicians have not only been playing on words, and on we the people, but also on that which has been deemed secret in the interest of national security, in the interest of the system that justified the use of torturing.

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By mark, April 29, 2009 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


Kudos to you my friend! You’ve hit the nail on the head.

As you say, it’s all about nomenclature.

The Bush Admin wanted desperately to say we were at war because (to their way of thinking) it gave the POTUS broad power.

At he same time they didn’t want to classify captured combatants as prisoners of war because POWs have rights per legal norms and established precedent.

They certainly didn’t want them to be treated as criminals as that term contemplates trials, the right to confront witnesses, etc.

So they made up a category and treated the “enemy combatants” as they pleased.

Thank you for your insightful comment.

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By blogdog, April 29, 2009 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

May is either a rich or a useful fool:


Now it has emerged that Kuwaiti national Khalid Shaikh Mohammed did indeed perish in the raid, but his wife and child were taken from the apartment and handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in whose hands they remain.

Zubaydah turned out to be mentally ill

In June 2006, Simon & Schuster published a book titled The One Percent Doctrine authored by Ron Suskind. In the book, Suskind writes that sources in the intelligence community revealed to him that Abu Zubaydah knew nothing about the operations of al-Qaeda, but rather was al-Qaeda’s go-to guy for minor logistics such as travel for wives and children. Suskind notes that Zubaydah turned out to be mentally ill,

Al Queda is essentially a data base of patsies

Former agent for French military intelligence Pierre-Henry Bunel has this to say about ‘al Qaeda’:

“The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the ‘TV watcher’ to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism…”

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By troykm1, April 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’d like Jon Stewart a lot more if he were not channeling O’Reilly throughout this exchange. How about conversing instead of shouting?

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By Francis H, April 29, 2009 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t think John Stewart was qualified to debate this.  Torture just doesn’t work.  Our hypocrisy put us in more danger.  The info we coerced substantiated false intel on Iraq.  Period.

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By dsmith, April 29, 2009 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“If” was in every sentence Mr. May uttered. He created a false agruement when he said, “If you knew a person had information that would save lives shouldn’t he be tortured?” Answer… We didn’t “Know” the prisoners had info that would save lives…but we tortured them anyway.This is the same argument neocons, like May and others, said about Saddam…“We think Saddam poses a threat to the US…we have to attack him now!” Creating the false impression that he had nuclear weapons…which, of course, he did not.

Col. Jacobs, who has a lot more experience than Mr. May said, “I got a hell of a lot further with a pack of smokes or food than trying to terrorize prisoners.”

Waterboarding is the tip of the iceberg. Stewart should have asked..“How about rendition?” Where the CIA loaded up captives on airplanes to be sent to foreign countries where their military would hook the captives testicals to electric wires, or they are beaten with bats until they are almost, and in some cases, dead.” This is not even being discussed because it didn’t happen at the hands of our soldiers/CIA)... we only arranged for their torture…but we never laid a glove on them because..WE DONT TORTURE!

Last 2 things..A tortured person will eventually tell you anything you want to hear…real or imagined. Secondly, Mr. May kept talking about al Queda. That organization did not exist in Iraq before our invasion. The prisoners in Abu Grabe…were all Iraqis…the people we supposedly liberated and ended up torturing.

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By Thomas O. Anderson, April 29, 2009 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

Check him out folks. Cliff May is an outrageous apologist for the state of Israel. He’s a bred and nurtured propagandist designed to sell America the idea Zionists have long dreamed of: terrorism is America’s problem too.

And like our Zionist centered media, his job is to make us focus on the so-called terrorists, and subvert all debate on why people would commit suicide to halt a murderous, land grabbing empire.

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By Erroll, April 29, 2009 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is difficult to know what was more tortuous, listening to Cliff May attempting to twist himself into knots defending torture or listening to Jon Stewart’s tepid responses to what May was saying. May claimed that the United States did not torture before 2003. He may wish to do a little research as U.S. soldiers watched as the ARVN tortured the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war [as former Green Beret made clear in the powerful documentary Sir! No Sir!] if not also having U.S. soldiers participating in that heinous practice themselves.

May facetiously asks Stewart if he thinks Truman should be tried as a war criminal for having dropped not one but two nuclear bombs on Japan at the end of World War II. Stewart says that he should but neglects to mention [as Gar Aperovitz laboriously notes in his magnum opus The Decision To Use The Atomic Bomb And The Architecture Of An American Myth] that the Japanese were ready to surrender. The only condition that they requested was that their emperor remain on the throne. Truman said no to their entreaty even though he then allowed this to happen during the occupation of their country. As Alperovitz makes clear, the bombs were dropped in order to make a demonstration to the Soviet Union regarding the power that the U.S. possessed with these bombs.

Stewart then mimics Obama by stating that the United States must “move forward” instead of prosecuting those, including high ranking members of the Bush administration, who sanctioned these policies. This after lecturing May about how this country is supposedly about obeying the rule of law.

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By KDelphi, April 29, 2009 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Anybody know where there is a transcript? I cant get this fricking flashplayer to work on here or Common Dreams or Daily Show. I am out of RAM…

I am glad that Stewart (on DVR) differentiated battlefield law from “prisoner” law, though. Bush made it all the more difficult by making them “non-person” (enemy combatants—whatever hell that is).

People are complaining about trials. If both parties hadnt decided to give them new legal status, they would most certainly be POWs or tried in a normal court of law.

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