Monday, April 6, 2009

Cowardice in the Time of Torture And Rabid Rabies Ranting And Raving On The Right.


Cowardice in the Time of Torture And Rabid Rabies Ranting And Raving On The Right.



Full Reporting On: Cowardice in the Time of Torture By Ray McGovern






Cowardice in the Time of Torture

By Ray McGovern 
April 5, 2009

I used to take a certain pride by association with prominent Bronxites who have “made it.” Cancel that for Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

You might think that as African-Americans, they would be especially outraged by torture, given what blacks have suffered at the hands of white torturers in this country and abroad.

Why is it that they seem to value more their admittance into a privileged white-dominated ruling class than doing the right thing? How else to explain their stunning reluctance to hold torturers accountable and thus remove the stain of torture from our nation’s soul and reputation?

One might say that Attorney General Holder is proving himself to be part of that “nation of cowards” that he called the United States in a different context, i.e. our unwillingness to address the issue of race. What about when the victims of torture are Muslims? Where’s Holder’s courage then?

Surely, I was not the only one stunned by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s public admission that he helped authorize waterboarding of detainees. But, on reflection, there seems to have been a method to his madness; and, so far at least, the method seems to be working.

Have Holder and Colin Powell forgotten from their days growing up in the Bronx the typical reaction of bullies when caught in the act? “Okay, so waddaya gonna do ‘bout it!” It was an attempt at intimidation, and it was generally effective with those who felt not quite up to the challenge.

Looks very much as if Cheney sized up Holder correctly. During his confirmation hearings, Holder manfully agreed with Sen. Patrick Leahy that waterboarding, which subjects a person to the panicked gag reflex of drowning, is torture.

But Holder has been out to lunch since then, no doubt leaving Cheney and his torture-friendly friends smirking at having been correct in taking the measure of the new Attorney General. Call it chutzpah, intimidation, bullying — whatever; it does seem to be working.

Cheney endorsing waterboarding; Holder labeling it torture; and — Hello? Anyone home? Deafening silence.

Never mind that Holder, like President Barack Obama, took a solemn oath to faithfully execute the laws of the land. Why are they still afraid of Dick Cheney, whom even the neo-con editors of the Washington Post in 2005 branded “Vice President for Torture?”

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Holder seems to be taking his cue from the pitiable Colin Powell, now traversing the country giving lucrative speeches on leadership. Powell knew he was welcome into the club, or in this case the White House, only as long as he toed the line and was willing to offer up what was left of his reputation to the Bush/Cheney war effort.

True, in one brief spurt of behind-the-scenes assertiveness, Powell insisted that arch-prevaricator (and former CIA director) George Tenet sit behind him during Powell’s unforgettable/unforgivable speech at the UN on Feb. 5, 2003.

Could he have been so unaware as to think this might somehow shame the shameless Tenet into coming clean with the intelligence?

No way; and he knew it. Powell had already confided to then-British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that the case against Iraq was what in the Bronx we call a “crock.”

I know Powell. In the early 1980s, when he wore but one star as military assistant to the Secretary of Defense – and I was a CIA intelligence briefer – I used to do him the courtesy of pre-briefing him, to the extent I could, on what I was about to discuss during my early-morning one-on-ones with his boss, Casper Weinberger. I found Powell to be anything but naïve.

He and I had a good bit in common — growing up at about the same time a mile from each other in the Bronx, “Distinguished Military Graduates” commissioned via Army R.O.T.C. — he from City College in 1958, I from Fordham in 1961.

Initially, I was blissfully unaware of the many times he had compromised himself — in doing Weinberger’s bidding on Iran-Contra, for example. And so in 1989, I took a certain pride by association when Powell made it to the very top as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

That pride dissipated quickly as I watched Powell bend to those who were bent on launching a war of aggression on Iraq. Republican elder statesman James Baker, who was secretary of state under George H.W. Bush, has referred to Powell as the one person who could have stopped that war. Baker is right.

Caving on Torture

More to the point, Colin Powell betrayed the U.S. Army and the nation on the issue of torture.

When he got a whiff of the tortured reasoning for torture – being urged on the President by the likes of Alberto Gonzales and David Addington to somehow make torture “legal” – Powell took the coward’s way out.

He had his lawyer get in touch with the Mafia-type lawyers in the White House to ask them please, could they please ask the President to reconsider his decision to exempt al-Qaeda and the Taliban from the protections of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

Powell’s gentle demurral appears in a MEMORANUM FOR THE PRESIDENT, dated Jan. 25, 2002, drafted by Addington but signed by Gonzales. They included Powell’s argument in a paragraph at the bottom of a list of “negative” consequences of ignoring Geneva:

“A determination that Geneva does not apply to al Qaeda and the Taliban could undermine U.S. military culture which emphasizes maintaining the highest standards of conduct in combat, and could introduce an element of uncertainty in the status of adversaries.”

Powell got that right. Too bad he did not have the courage of his convictions. Too bad he lacked the guts to confront the President directly. Too bad, for he is perhaps the one person who could have stopped the torture and the debasement of the Army to which he owed so much.

Rather than put into play the wide respect he still enjoyed, in order to stop a war he knew to be illegal, Powell decided to trade in that respect for the equivalent of 30 pieces of silver.

As the Executive Summary of the Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture, released on Dec. 12, 2008, indicates, President Bush threw in his lot with the early opinions of Addington and Gonzales.

(What most folks don’t realize is that this was long before everyone’s favoritebête noire John Yoo and associates served up their ex post facto“justifications.”)

Incorporating Addington’s language, the President signed an executive order on Feb. 7 that, in the words of the Senate committee, “opened the door” to torture.

Powell not only acquiesced in this but also allowed himself to be sucked into a series of discussions in the White House Situation Room regarding which torture techniques might be most appropriate to apply to which “high-value” detainee.

Those are the sessions that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft referred to in commenting, “history will not be kind” to us.

What brings this painful flashback to mind is Rachel Maddow’s interview with Colin Powell on April 2. Not surprisingly, he danced around her questions about the White House seminars on torture. Most telling of all, however, Powell could not bring himself to admit, even now, that waterboarding is torture.

Doubling Down

On April 3, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, the fabulous fabricator of the fabled Saddam-al-Qaeda connection, upped the ante in the “so-wattaya-gonna-do-‘bout-it” challenge, and held up to ridicule the timidity of Holder and the President.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Feith pretended to be shocked at the temerity of a Spanish court that seems to be on the verge of bringing criminal charges against Feith, Gonzales, Addington, John Yoo, and two other lawyers who served up the desired opinions on how the White House could make an end-run around domestic and international law and approve the systematic torture of detainees.

Disregarding the provisions of international law that clearly do apply, Feith makes liberal use of reductio ad absurdum to “prove” that Spain has no jurisdiction to put Americans on trial for torture.

More important, Feith is so cocksure of himself that he throws down the gauntlet at the feet of the new administration: “If President Barack Obama and the prosecutors see a crime to be prosecuted, they can act.”

What, I wonder, gives Feith such confidence that he will not one day rue having said that? Has it been his watching of a long line of timid officials – both Republicans and Democrats – who lack the courage of their convictions?

Clearly, the Cheneys and Feiths of this world are betting on Obama being cut of the same cloth. The President will prove them right if it turns out that his oft-repeated “No one is above the law” proves to be just rhetoric.

And it will remain just rhetoric, if Obama delays much longer in ordering the reluctant Holder to appoint a nonpartisan, independent special prosecutor to bring the torturers to justice and end this shameful chapter in American history once and for all.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He was a CIA analyst for many years and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

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Conyers Wants Holder To Appoint A Special Counsel To Probe Bush Crimes



Rabid Ravings On The Right Is The Correct Way To Read This.  It is begging to sink in that there will be serious worldwide re-regulation of the financial market places and the far right is beginning to scream like squealing pigs of old at the slaughter house.  They have brought it on themselves, and if some in wishful thinking want to believe that new regulation will not “be for real” they must be smoking some pretty powerful stuff because it is not possible to pretend and smoke and mirror our way out of this collapse.


The only attention I think Mr. Morris deserves is that he has put his finger on the sore point of American’s financial swine; that they have so abused their position and power that the remainder of the world is going to be unwilling to trust this Congress, This Government, This Nation to re-regulate our financial institutions in the fashion that is essential for the future.  They are taking not of the obscenity of extremist expression opposing any move that even hints at closing a door on American exclusivity and exceptionalism.  Trust Us; Ha!


The world is deciding it is high time to inoculate/immunize themselves against America’s “Corporate Rape The Economy Rabies” infection!


Rarely ever has RBO taken Democratic political creature and alarmist (and rabid Clinton hater)Dick Morris even remotely serious. This time what he has to say deserves a modicum of attention. If he is correct, it’s looking more and more like the Tea Party movement has an even bigger chore ahead.

Thanks to Gateway Pundit, we learn of Morris’s April 3 claim “Obama Just Repealed the Declaration of Independence”. GP writes:

American political author and commentator Dick Morris explains in a rare video release that Barack Obama effectively repealed the Declaration of Independence [as far as the American economy is concerned] this week at the G20 Meeting in London.

her Zieve wrote April 3 at WEB Commentary:

On FNC’s Greta Van Susteren’s program, author and columnist Dick Morris noted “literally from April 2nd of this year, that is, today, it’s a whole new world of financial regulation in which, essentially, ALL of the U.S. regulatory bodies and ALL U.S. companies are put under international regulation, international supervision. It really amounts to a global economic government.”

Called the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the pending international body’s legislation*—which will of course override the US Constitution—states: “We agree to a framework of internationally agreed upon high standards. We will set up a financial stability board with a strengthened mandate to extend regulation and oversight to all systemically important financial institutions, instruments and markets” — including hedge funds, all — anything that they decide is important to the system — to endorse and implement tough new principles on paying (ph) compensation and to support sustainable compensation schemes and the corporate social responsibility of ALL firms.” The international community will now be able to determine the salaries and compensation of us all.

*Note the word “legislation” is not accurate. It is the April 2 G20 / London Summit Leader’s Statement to which they refer.

The Financial Times reported April 2:

[...] the G20 issued a communiqué that renamed the FSF the “Financial Stability Board”, with an elevated mandate to monitor global financial stability and promote medium-term reform, alongside the International Monetary Fund. The G20 also confirmed an earlier announcement that the FSB would expand its membership to include representatives from all the G20 nations for the first time – in effect turning the group into the nearest thing the world has to a prototype of a an overarching global financial regulatory group.

For the moment, FSF officials deny they plan to act like a world regulator.

Scotland’s Sunday Herald reports:

The 10-year-old Financial Stability Forum, based in Basel, Switzerland, suddenly finds itself in the unexpected role of a super-regulator with a new name - the Financial Stability Board - and ordained with new powers to patrol global capitalism.

The FSF issued warnings that high bonuses for high-risk ventures were out; that hedge funds would have their risk-taking evaluated; that accounting rules would be rewritten; that derivatives would now have to be sold through a central clearing house; and credit agencies, who got blamed for bad calls on dodgy firms, would be better supervised.

Market Watch’s Alistair Barr commented April 2:

This is the latest sign that hedge funds and credit rating agencies won’t be spared from a global push to regulate major parts of the financial system that grew outside the traditional banking network. [...]

Regulation and oversight will be extended “to all systemically important financial institutions, instruments and markets,” the group added. “This will include, for the first time, systemically important hedge funds.”

The recommendations are similar to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s proposal last month to increase regulation of non-bank financial companies, including brokerage firms, hedge funds, money-market funds and insurers through the creation of a new, large “systemic” regulator.

“[T]here will be a crackdown (although no cap) on bankers’ pay and bonuses,” The Independent (UK) adds.

The Observer (UK) reports:

A new financial stability board, bringing together central banks, national regulators and finance ministers from the G20 countries, will co-ordinate international rules in a bid to ensure that future financial crises are handled better. It will be a souped-up version of the Basel-based Financial Stability Forum, created a decade ago to include G8 members, which has led much of the work on analyzing the causes of the crunch over the past year.

It is chaired by the ebullient Mario Draghi, head of the Italian central bank, who has delivered a consistent message that we must not return to business as usual for bankers. Any “systemically important” financial institution - ie, all those whose collapse could threaten entire markets and economies - will find itself being monitored.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wasted no time, “calling the heads of Britain’s banks to Downing Street to make sure new regulations on bonuses, capital and tax havens drawn up at last week’s G20 summit are implemented properly,” Philip Aldrick writes in today’s The Telegraph (UK).

The Financial Times wrote April 2:

Exactly how the FSB will impose such global “consistency” – let alone monitor it – remains to be seen. The body has no formal powers to impose anything, and insists that it plans to work alongside the IMF, rather than supplant its activity. In practical terms, it will have little choice.

While the FSB says it will expand its secretariat, which is tiny, the permanent staff is likely to remain fairly small. That may constrain its ability to provide much independent monitoring.

In an editorial, Scotland’s Sunday Herald points out the G20 “communiqué made no mention of [the Board's] powers and there is still a danger that it will be a toothless tiger.”

Australia’s The Age shares a common sentiment:

The Financial Stability Forum, whose members include finance ministries, regulators and central banks, including Australia’s Reserve Bank, are set to be transformed by the G20 into the Financial Stability Board, with a bigger membership and mandate.

The forum currently aims to “promote international financial stability”.

‘Frameworks”, “principles” and meetings, as opposed to hard-edged rules, are its stock-in-trade.

“It has no enforcement power. It has an encouragement role,” says Ian Ramsay, corporate law expert at Melbourne University.

Its new tasks include advising on and monitoring regulation among its members, and collaborating with the International Monetary Fund on “early-warning exercises” aimed at stopping the next financial crisis.

But will the new FSB have teeth? “The language they use is moderate, advice, strategic reviews and collaboration,” Professor Ramsay says. “I’m not suggesting it’s not an important role, but it remains to be seen how much we can expect from a body which is an advisory body.”

David Benyon of OpRisk & Compliance magazine comments:

It is unclear how strong this new mandate will be, without, for example, mention of powers of ‘comply or explain’.

Finally, the Christian Science Monitor editorial board weighs in with a bit of sanity:

The G-20 did agree to coordinate each country’s new regulations through a new Financial Stability Board. But anyone who’s ever held a job of “coordinator” knows there is no authority in it.

Mark Steyn doesn’t think G20 or Obama are “serious”

No. Steyn isn’t writing specifically about the new Financial Stability Board — he doesn’t see that the G20 or Obama are “serious” about dealing with the debt being heaped upon future generations as you read.

In his March 14 NRO post The Brokest Generation Steyn pointed out that the children and grandchildren who stood behind Barack Obama “at all those campaign rallies helping him look dynamic and telegenic and earnestly chanting hopey-hopey-changey-changey … hadn’t offered to pick up the tab.”

Steyn wrote:

Are you sure you young folks will be able to pay off this massive Mount Spendmore of multi-trillion-dollar debts we’ve piled up on you?

“Yes, we can!”

We thought you’d say that! God bless the youth of America! We of the Greatest Generation, the Boomers, and Generation X salute you, the plucky members of the Brokest Generation, the Gloomers, and Generation Y, as in “Why the hell did you old coots do this to us?”

Because, as politicians like to say, it’s about “the future of all our children.” And the future of all our children is that they’ll be paying off the past of all their grandparents. At 12 percent of GDP, this year’s deficit is the highest since the Second World War, and prioritizes not economic vitality but massive expansion of government. But hey, it’s not our problem. As Lord Keynes observed, “In the long run we’re all dead.” Well, most of us will be. But not you youngsters, not for a while. So we’ve figured it out: You’re the ultimate credit market, and the rest of us are all pre-approved! [...]

This is the biggest generational transfer of wealth in the history of the world. If you’re an 18-year old middle-class hope changer, look at the way your parents and grandparents live: It’s not going to be like that for you. You’re going to have a smaller house, and a smaller car — if not a basement flat and a bus ticket. [...]

When you come to take your seat at the American table (to use another phrase politicians are fond of), you’ll find the geezers, boomers, and X-ers have all gone to the men’s room, and you’re the only one sitting there when the waiter presents the check. That’s you: Generation Checks.

The Teleprompter Kid says not to worry: His budget numbers are based on projections that the economy will decline 1.2 percent this year and then grow 4 percent every year thereafter. Do you believe that? In fact, does he believe that? [...]

[...] GM is a welfare project masquerading as economic activity. And, after the Obama transformation, America will be, too. The young need to recognize that this is their fight. They need to stop chanting along with the hopeychangey dirges and do something more effective, like form the anti-AARP: the association of Americans who’ll never be able to retire.

Accused of “dumping on” the “younger generation”, Steyn responds today:

Actually, the column in question made entirely the opposite point: - that the “Greatest Generation”, the Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y were perpetrating against those high schoolers and their kindergarten siblings the greatest act of cross-generational theft in the history of mankind.

Pause: In RBO’s humble opinion, those of the “older generation”, the “Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y”, to whom Steyn refers, include members of Congress and Barackistanis who hand-delivered this mess to the rest of us who didn’t and don’t want it. You can’t paint us all with the same broad brush.

Steyn next refers to Richard Fernandez of the Belmont Club, whom Steyn says“gets it”:

The Financial Times explains in numbers what Mark Steyn has asserted in words. We don’t have enough people to pay our bills. The advanced economies are piling up generational debt so fast they need to make children pronto so they can saddle them with unpaid obligations. Forget having kids because they’re wonderful; you need them to pay off the stimulus. The FT says the ageing bill will be a tsunami that will dwarf the current economic meltdown.

Steyn also explains that countries aren’t talking about “the demographic-economic catastrophe just beyond the horizon - say, mid-century - but within ten years. If you’re not talking about this, you’re not serious. Which is why the O-man and the G-20 aren’t serious.”

2 Responses to “The new Global Financial Security Board will do what?”

  1. on April 6, 2009 at 7:57 am Eyes Open

Cowards in leadership positions will often hide behind, “this is what the boss wants or this is what the ‘rule’ says” in order to push through an agenda. So maybe “the G-20 did agree to coordinate each country’s new regulations through a new Financial Stability Board. But anyone who’s ever held a job of “coordinator” knows there is no authority in it.” And perhaps this was a showman’s exercise is prevention.

But the real agenda will come in that actions that follows. How is US enforcing this back at home vs. other countries, are we more or less aggressive? Is the President using the FSB as justification to turn things sideways on the banks? Are individuals swiftly appointed and staffed to the Financial Stability Board, faster than let’s say individuals have gotten appointed to the open positions in Treasury?

I think a red flag could be waving in short order.


And I think that if the challenge is not met with integrity; it will be the Black Flag raised in the streets of America…and rightly so!



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