In a Wednesday segment on worries President Obama, in not ruling out renditions and water-boarding, may be “slipping back into the dirty old ways” of “torture” supposedly employed by the Bush administration, Hardball host Chris Matthews blurted out: “Do you think if we water-boarded Lewis 'Scooter' Libby he'd tell us the role that the Vice President played in the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife?”
When guest Michael Smerconish's answer didn't satisfy Matthews, he turned to Salon's chief, Joan Walsh, and expounded on the scope of who he thought could be physically treated like a dangerous terrorist: “Do you think water-boarding works in the case of recent political figures in this [Bush] administration who are felons, disbarred, et cetera?...Do you think we'd get the truth through water-boarding here at home?”
On the February 18 show, Matthews fretted over Obama:
He's apparently, according to the testimony we've gotten from Leon Panetta and others, he is going to consider, as an option, rendition. He is going to consider, as an option, additional authority when it comes to squeezing prisoners, using harsher techniques of interrogation. Is he slipping back into the dirty old ways?
A couple of minutes later:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think if we water-boarded Lewis 'Scooter' Libby he'd tell us the role that the Vice President played in the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife? I'm asking you a simple question because you believe in this stuff. Do you believe he would give us an honest answer if we water-boarded Scooter Libby as to the role his boss played in what he did and got in trouble for?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, PHILADELPHIA RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I believe that there must be some efficacy in water-boarding or we would not continue to have this debate. Does that answer your question?
MATTHEWS: It does in a very abstract way. I was hoping for something more applicable. Let me go to Joan Walsh. Do you think water-boarding works in the case of recent political figures in this administration who are felons, disbarred, et cetera, but will not get pardons because the President will not play ball with his Vice President? Do you think we'd get the truth through water-boarding here at home? Here at home? Do you think it works?
JOAN WALSH, SALON: Okay, this is easy for me, Chris. I don't believe in water-boarding, not even for Scooter. So I'm just -- I'm not even going to go there. So-
MATTHEWS: Okay. Good. Well let's go where we have to go tonight. In all seriousness, are you worried, as a supporter of Barack Obama in a general sense, you like his values. Do you believe he may be slipping away from them, backsliding into the old ways of torture?
WALSH: I am worried...