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EDITORIAL:

Everyone knows at least one crazy relative who always manages to embarrass themselves at family functions.

You know the type. You appreciate their sense of humor or forthrightness, but sometimes they take things a beat too far.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher sometimes can be just like that. While we often appreciate his maverick nature and his outspokenness, there are times when he wanders too far into the weeds.

During a recent hearing of the subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rohrabacher appeared dismissive of FBI complaints that interrogators used inappropriate, possibly illegal techniques on suspected terrorist detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Instead, he repeatedly cited a report of panties put on detainees’ heads as comparable to “hazing pranks,” arguing it didn’t come close to the definition of torture.

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Perhaps it wasn’t the point Rohrabacher was making that struck a nerve with so many political observers. It was perhaps instead the issue of a man elected to public office steering a serious debate in a dismissive direction of frivolity. Two explanations are possible.

One is that Rohrabacher is really so obtuse as to not comprehend that the debate was about more than “panties on the head.”

At the meeting, others even tried to point out that the FBI also reported seeing physical abuse and other elements of humiliation. Rohrabacher ignored them and fixated instead on panties.

One would like to think a man who has served as a congressman for two decades would be more sensitive than this.

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The other explanation for Rohrabacher’s remarks is that he understood the issues at play and deliberately chose to ignore the gravity of discussing torture. The congressman in that case would seem to believe he is fooling everyone in painting the FBI’s findings as ridiculous. To him, it’s as if the rest of the educated world doesn’t see past his scoffings.

This is the same technique he used earlier that week when he called parts of environmentalism “pseudoscience.” While not all scientists agree on the threat of global warming, the vast majority of peer-approved science has produced vast amounts of evidence proving it’s a real and serious threat. Rohrabacher seems to believe he is the final authority and that everyone will assume he is right and join in the scoffing.

Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook, his challenger for the congressional seat, said it best.

“Torture is not to be taken lightly, especially when the prestige and moral authority of the United States government is at stake,” she said.

We hope the representative realizes this before his next speaking appointment. If not, someone needs to take his microphone away.



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