Will the real Sotomayor please stand up?

Sonia Sotomayor did the moonwalk away from her controversial statements at today’s confirmation hearing.  Eva Rodriguez of the Washington Post provides a withering assessment of Sotomayor’s performance.

Sotomayor’s most quoted comment is, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male.” Under often very effective questioning by Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, she essentially disavowed her statement. She explained that she was trying to play off of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s assertion that a wise old man and a wise old woman should be able to reach the same conclusion in a case. “My play…fell flat,” Sotomayor said in response to Session’s question. “It was bad, because it left an impression that I believed that life experiences commanded a result in a case, but that’s clearly not what I do as a judge.”

I wonder which of the five times she made the statement was she referring to at today’s hearing.

Here’s another disturbing exchange, in which Sessions asks about another of Sotomayor’s assertions in speeches that life experiences may affect a judge’s view of the facts in a case:

SOTOMAYOR: “It’s not a question of choosing to see some facts or another, Senator. I didn’t intend to suggest that. And in the wider context, what I believe I was — the point I was making was that our life experiences do permit us to see some facts and understand them more easily than others.”SESSIONS: “Do you stand by your statement that my experiences affect the facts I choose to see?”

SOTOMAYOR: “No, sir. I don’t stand by the understanding of that statement that I will ignore other facts or other experiences because I haven’t had them. I do believe that life experiences are important to the process of judging. They help you to understand and listen but that the law requires a result. And it would command you to the facts that are relevant to the disposition of the case.”

As for the second half of her response, I wish Sessions had followed up by asking how a jurist would determine the “relevant” facts in a case in light of Sotomayor’s assertion that life experiences can affect how a judge views a case.

Sotomayor’s initial response (“what I believe I was – the point I was making”) reeks of a nominee who’s been prepped exhaustively in how to deflect possibly damaging questions. Most people don’t have to recall what they “believe” they meant; they just say it.

Updated with video of Lindsey Graham taking Sotomayor to task.

Democrats outraged over plan to kill Al Qaeda leaders

The horror!  Is this really a road the Democrats want to go down?  Shrieking over a plan designed to take out top Al Qaeda terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks isn’t going to score them any points in the “strong on national security” category.  You can tell when a Democrat is losing an argument – they bring up Bush or Cheney.  This is clearly an attempt to vindicate Queen Nancy after her statement that the CIA lies “all the time” when it was revealed that she had been briefed on the very techniques she had publicly condemned.  Nancy and Co. lost round one to Dick Cheney.  My money is on Cheney in round two and beyond.

WASHINGTON — Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency has developed plans to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Qaeda terrorists, according to current and former government officials.

The plans remained vague and were never carried out, the officials said, and Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, canceled the program last month.

Officials at the spy agency over the years ran into myriad logistical, legal and diplomatic obstacles. How could the role of the United States be masked? Should allies be informed and might they block the access of the C.I.A. teams to their targets? What if American officers or their foreign surrogates were caught in the midst of an operation? Would such activities violate international law or American restrictions on assassinations overseas?

Yet year after year, according to officials briefed on the program, the plans were never completely shelved because the Bush administration sought an alternative to killing terror suspects with missiles fired from drone aircraft or seizing them overseas and imprisoning them in secret C.I.A. jails.

Mr. Panetta scuttled the program, which would have relied on paramilitary teams, shortly after the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center recently informed him of its existence. The next day, June 24, he told the two Congressional Intelligence Committees that the plan had been hidden from lawmakers, initially at the instruction of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Note that it takes the NYT five paragraphs to mention the alleged Cheney connection.  The CIA is not bound to inform Congress of programs that are in the planning stages.  Who can blame Cheney?  Loose lips sink ships.  Just ask Patrick Lahey.