Monday, April 27, 2009

Don’t Jump For Joy…Torture Is On The Table, But The Senate Intelligence Committee Will Sweep It under That Table…Some Truth Without Consequences.

Don’t Jump For Joy…Torture Is On The Table, But The Senate Intelligence Committee Will Be Inclined To Sweep It under That Table…Some Truth Without Consequences.


There will be plenty of debate and talk, more official documents come to light but the lateral shift of the issue to the Senate Committee On Intelligence is not in our interests. Increasingly legal arguments are being made that one cannot impeach Bybee from his Federal Bench for acts committed before appointment and in the exercise of his responsibilities a forehand; talk of disbarment within the clubby attorney fraternity would seem unlikely and feeble at best. We are increasingly witnessing a scenario of name calling finger point, blame fixing without consequences.  Bybee’s private comments coming to light would seem to the first step in his contrition of “salvation and redemption”.  While everyone is hurling thunder bolts in the extreme the finesse end game of escape on consequence avoidance is well under way.


Please remember the Parliamentarian’s adage: “Confuse; you lose!”  The issue is on the floor and the debate and maneuvering has begun and if you don’t see everything being thrown into the mix in growing confusion you are not paying attention.  It is our task to maintain the focus and our responsibility to rise to the heights of 1960’s upheaval to see to it that justice is done in our names.  Don’t expect Washington to have some great epiphany of conscience and responsibility.  This will not happen as too many hands are dirty, dripping with guilt.


Coming In The Next Two Days: Are You Willing To Give Up A Week Of Your Life To Occupy Washington DC.?  Are You Ready To Risk Arrest? Are Ready To Be A The Largest Drive-In, March In, Camp-In Ever Seen?


 Truth and Consequences
Chicago Daily Observer - Chicago,IL,USA
Are we supposed to look “forward” now that he's been
 impeached and ousted, perhaps simply write off his antics as politics-as-usual and let him romp off to ...
See all stories on this topic

Torture Is Foreplay for War |
By davidswanson 
Bush-Cheney justifications for war. Why were Zubaydah and Mohammed tortured so far beyond what even Dick Cheney could conceivably have fantasized was an attempt to obtain true information? Because the goal was false information, ... And astroturf groups that "oppose" wars when they bear the Republican label have turned against torture as the ultimate crime, even these many years behind the times using words like "prosecute" and "impeach", while happily accepting the ... - The Aggressive... -

A Crack in the Wall of Secrecy (Yes, but the cement mixers are running)
New York Times - United States
A measure to do just that, the State Secrets Protection Act, was approved last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but never made it to the Senate floor ...
See all stories on this topic

Glenn Greenwald: Torture Supporters Are The Ones Politicizing The ...
By The Huffington Post News Editors 
I see the Rethugs forgot about the little horse and pony show they made of the whole Clinton
impeachment, no that was revenge driven, they were doing their duties as Americuns. Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 12:53 PM on 04/26/ ...
The Full Feed from -

(Political howling of revenge and reprisal serves the end game of discrediting those who really want the truth and the process to yield results with integrity…the end run play has been called.)

Impeach Judge Jay Bybee « The Day After An Inconvenient Truth
By Cara 
Common Cause has called for the 
impeachment of federal Judge Jay Bybee for his role in signing a 2002 memo released last week that authorized torture. Put enough pressure on Congress to launchimpeachment proceedings. ...
The Day After An Inconvenient Truth -

McCain: Don't Investigate Torture Memos  (He will argue it all a matter of simple excusable bad judgment and nothing more)

CBS News -Arizona Sen. John McCain suggested today that the push to investigate and possibly prosecute Bush administration officials who crafted the legal basis for the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," such as waterboarding, may have grown from a ... 

CQ Transcript: Sens. Leahy, McCain on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’

CQ Transcriptwire






[*] SCHIEFFER: Today on “Face the Nation,” the question of torture. Does it work? Should it have been used on terror suspects after 9/11? Should the people who decided to use it be prosecuted now?

These are the questions for two people on two very different sides. Senator John McCain , Republican from Arizona, and Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Then we’ll talk about the first 100 days of the Obama administration with reporter Bob Woodward of the Washington Post and Tina Brown, editor in chief of the Daily Beast.

I’ll have a final word on the story of a man and his dog.

But first, questioning torture on “Face the Nation.”

Good morning again. And Senator McCain is in the studio with us. We begin with him.

Senator, when the president decided to put out these memos outlining the interrogation methods that the previous administration used, he apparently intended to put them out, say we’ll never do it again, and thought that would be the end of it. It has been far from that. He has really opened a can of worms.

You were among the first to condemn torture as a use for interrogator. You said it didn’t work. It put our own people in jeopardy of having the enemy use it on them. You were very, very strong about that. But now you say we should not have an investigation into this, that we should move on. Why have you decided on that?

MCCAIN: First of all, let me repeat what you just said, Bob. I have opposed torture. It’s a violation of the Geneva Conventions. I worry about treatment of Americans in future conflicts……

 Flu Kills The Torture Memos --In a 'Holy convenience, Batman!' moment, a 'unique' flu virus (one likely concocted in US Army labs) overtakes media coverage of revelations that the highest levels of the US government instructed the CIA (and private contractors) to torture terror suspects. By Lori Price 26 April 2009 Guess where the first swine flu outbreak occurred? That's right, Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1976. Thirteen soldiers died, leading the US government to force a questionable vaccine on the population -- backed by a legal liability escape clause mandated by and for the pharma-terrorists. Next, people started dying not from the flu -- but from the *vaccine.*

Democrats push for interrogation investigations
The Associated Press
Pat Leahy, chairman of the Senate 
Judiciary Committee, said he favored consolidating the variouscommittee investigations into a bipartisan commission ...
See all stories on this topic

White House Considers Releasing More CIA Memos
Wall Street Journal - USA
Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, (D., Vt.) said he agreed with the idea of releasing more memos and information from the discussions on ...
See all stories on this topic

Various Options Offered for Interrogations Probe - Washington,DC,USA

Patrick J. Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on the same program that he favored combining various congressional committee ...See all stories on this topic


Transcript: Sens. Bond, Levin on 'FNS'


The following is a rush transcript of the April 26, 2009, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be ... 

Bond: 'Torture memo' release a 'stab in the back'


Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Kit Bond (R-Mo.) on "Fox News Sunday" called the recent release of the so-called 'torture' memos a "stab in the ... 

Democrats push for interrogation investigations

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A leading Democratic senator said Sunday independent investigators should determine whether Bush administration officials ought to face ... 

Senator: Outside probe needed for interrogations

The Associated Press 

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Democratic senator wants independent investigators to determine whether any Bush administration officials should be prosecuted for ... 

Various Options Offered for Interrogations Probe 

By Kathleen Silvassy, CQ Staff Independent investigators, “perhaps retired federal judges,” should determine whether any Bush administration officials ...

Bond says torture photos endanger troops

The Hill 

By Roxana Tiron The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence panel on Sunday warned that the Pentagon's plan to release hundreds of photos documenting the ... 

Torture Debate Dominates Sunday Shows

Roll Call 

By Keith Koffler Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) charged Sunday that the Obama administration's decision to release photos of harsh interrogations of terrorist ...

McCain: Bybee Violated The Law, But It Was Just ‘Very Bad Advice'
Think Progress - Washington,DC,USA
Indeed, McCain refused to support the
 impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee -- even as he acknowledged that Bybee had broken both US and international law in ...
See all stories on this topic 

Podesta Calls For Bybee Impeachment On CNN, Delivers Your …
By admin 
Podesta added that he suspects the White House doesn't agree with the call for impeaching Bybee. The other panelists -- David Gergen and former Reagan chief.
Econonews - 

Matthew Yglesias » Podesta Calls for Impeachment of Jay Bybee
By myglesias 
5 Responses to “Podesta Calls for 
Impeachment of Jay Bybee”. Hector Says: April 26th, 2009 at 12:45 pm. Re: We'd just be saying that people who have a record of failing to discharge their duty to the law and to the constitution can't be ...
Matthew Yglesias - 

Podesta Calls for Impeachment of Jay Bybee | The Progressive Realist
By Phil Korsnes of TPR 
Today on CNN, and in a letter to John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, CAPAF [Center for American Progress Action Fund] President and CEO John Podesta called for the
impeachment of Jay Bybee: ...

BlogRevolution - Podesta Calls For Bybee Impeachment On CNN ...
Appearing on CNN's State of the Union this morning, Center for American Progress Action Fund President and CEO John Podesta called on Congress to commence 
impeachment hearings against Jay Bybee, should he decide not to voluntarily ...
BlogRevolution! -

Calitics:: VICTORY: Impeachment Inquiry Into Bybee On Consent Calendar
By David Dayen 
Impeachment Inquiry Into Bybee On Consent Calendar. by: David Dayen. Sun Apr 26, 2009 at 09:33:12 AM PDT. Several weeks of hard work have paid off, and the California Democratic Party is poised to provide a major tool in the ...
Calitics - Front Page -

Yoo alludes to his employer as 'People's Republic of Berkeley' 24 Apr 2009 Some critics of the Bush administration say John Yoo has taken a disproportionate share of the public condemnation over the memos. "It's important not to focus too much on scapegoating professor Yoo. He was a subordinate of Judge Bybee," said Katherine Darmer, a professor at Chapman University School of Law, where Yoo is a visiting professor this semester... Yoo alluded to his own uncomfortable situation at the liberal university where he has tenure, thanking the Chapman administration for giving him the opportunity to escape "the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of Berkeley."

ABC News: Torture Tape Implicates UAE Royal Sheikh --Police in Uniform Join In as Victim Is Whipped, Beaten, Electrocuted, Run Over by SUV 22 Apr 2009 A video tape smuggled out of the United Arab Emirates shows a member of the country's royal family mercilessly torturing a man with whips, electric cattle prods and wooden planks with protruding nails. man in a UAE police uniform is seen on the tape tying the victim's arms and legs, and later holding him down as the Sheikh pours salt on the man's wounds and then drives over him with his Mercedes SUV. In a statement to ABC News, the UAE Ministry of the Interior said it had reviewed the tape and acknowledged the involvement of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, brother of the country's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed.

Barack Obama to release up to 2,000 photographs of prisoner abuse --Potographs to be released before May 28 25 Apr 2009 President Barack Obama is to release up to 2,000 photographs of alleged abuse at American prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan in a move which will reignite the scandal surrounding Abu Ghraib prison in 2004. The decision to make public the images sought in a legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union comes amid a political firestorm over alleged torture of prisoners under President [sic] George W. Bush.

Abu Ghraib Victims Can Sue Interrogators --Former detainees allege multiple violations of U.S. law, including torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy 17 Apr 2009 In a ruling that could have widespread implications for government contractors overseas, a federal court has concluded that four former Abu Ghraib prisoners, who were tortured and later released without charge, can sue the U.S. military contractor who were involved in conducting prisoner interrogations for the Pentagon in Iraq. U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee denied a motion to dismiss the prisoners' claims by the contractor, CACI International. The Arlington, Virginia-based company is a major contractor to the Defence Department.

Torture? It probably killed more Americans than 9/11 --A US major reveals the inside story of military interrogation in Iraq. By Patrick Cockburn 26 Apr 2009 The use of torture by the US has proved so counter-productive that it may have led to the death of as many US soldiers as civilians killed in 9/11, says the leader of a crack US interrogation team in Iraq. "The reason why foreign fighters joined al-Qa'ida in Iraq was overwhelmingly because of abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and not Islamic ideology," says Major Matthew Alexander, who personally conducted 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq.

US interpreter who witnessed torture in Iraq shot herself with service rifle 26 Apr 2009 It is possible that one of the victims of the United States' torture policy is a young, devout Mormon woman from Arizona called Alyssa Peterson. She was a soldier who not only saw the rough interrogation methods that the US military used on Iraqi prisoners, but was deeply troubled by them. Some weeks after formally protesting about them to her superiors, and asking to be reassigned, she took her gun and killed herself. The cause of her death was kept secret for two years, and the mystery of what Peterson witnessed, and the content of the notes she made, still goes on.

The Banality of Bush White House Evil By Frank Rich 26 Apr 2009 Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to "protect" us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war.Instead of saving us from "another 9/11," torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality... President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won’t vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way.

In 2002, Military Agency Warned Against 'Torture' --Extreme Duress Could Yield Unreliable Information, It Said 24 Apr 2009 The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as "torture" in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon's chief lawyer and warned that it would produce "unreliable information." "The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel," says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. Parts of the attachment, obtained in full by The Washington Post, were quoted in a Senate report on harsh interrogation released this week. [Oops! Looks like the PentaPost will have to stop calling torture 'enhanced interrogation techniques' because the Pentagon itself calls torture torture. --LRP]

UK High Court demands U.S. torture documents 22 Apr 2009 The chief justice of the British High Court on Wednesday gave the British government one week to obtain the U.S. release of classified information about the alleged torture of a British resident [Binyam Mohamed] who'd been detained at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The court indicated that it would issue its own order if the government doesn't respond or justify why continued secrecy is warranted.

British soldiers 'tortured and murdered 20 Iraqis, then covered it up with firefight claim' 23 Apr 2009 British soldiers tortured and murdered up to 20 Iraqis in cold blood, the High Court was told yesterday. It happened after a three-hour gun battle at an Army checkpoint near Basra, a lawyer claimed. Rabinder Singh said a group of local men were taken prisoner and transported to an Army camp where they were beaten with a rusty tent pole, punched, slammed against walls, denied water, blasted with loud music and forced to strip naked in the presence of a woman -- a humiliation for Muslim men. 

Did CIA 'enhanced interrogation techniques' work or not? Christian Science Monitor

The Associated Press  - The Hill  - Los Angeles Times  -

all 389 news articles » 

Congress was Briefed in Real Time on Bush-Era Torture Tactics. Is That Why They Prefer Whitewash Commissions and Closed Door Hearings?

Are Leading Democrats Afraid of a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Torture?


There are not exactly throngs of Democratic Congress members beating down the doors of the Justice Department demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder appoint a special Independent Prosecutor to investigate torture and other crimes. And now it seems that whatever Congress does in the near term won't even be open to the public. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said this week that he prefers that the Senate Intelligence Committee hold private hearings. The chair of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has asked the White House not to take any action until this private affair is concluded. She estimates that will take 6-8 months.

"I think it would be very unwise, from my perspective, to start having commissions, boards, tribunals, until we find out what the facts are," Reid said Wednesday. "I don't know a better way of getting the facts than through the intelligence committee." It is hard to imagine other Democrats bucking Reid on this and there is certainly no guarantee that the committee will release an unclassified report when it concludes its private inquiry. While Representative John Conyers says he will hold hearings, that is not the same as the independent criminal investigation this situation warrants.

Then there is the deeply flawed plan coming from the other influential camp in the Democratic leadership. The alternative being offered is not an independent special prosecutor, but rather a more politically palatable counter-proposal for creating a bi-partisan commission. This is a very problematic approach (as I have pointed out) for various reasons, including the possibility of immunity offers and a sidelining of actual prosecutions. Michael Ratner from the Center for Constitutional Rights has also advocated against this, saying this week it will lead to a "whitewash:"

We have reached a critical political moment on this issue. Obama has been forced or pushed to open the door to prosecutions, an opening I thought would take much longer to achieve. If there was ever a time to push that door open wider and demand a special prosecutor it is now. We have documented and open admissions of criminality. We have Cheney and Hayden admitting what they approved these techniques; and Cheney saying he would approve waterboarding again. We have the Senate Armed Services Report detailing how the torture program was authored and approved by our highest officials in the White House and employed in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. And we have thousands of pages of proof. There is public outrage about the torture program and the media in the U.S. and the world are covered with the U.S. misdeeds.

So at this moment, instead of human rights groups getting together and calling for a special prosecutor what do they do? Call for a commission. What this call does and it must be said strongly is take the pressure off what is the growing public push for prosecutions and deflects it into a commission. Outrage that could actually lead to prosecutions is now focused away and into a commission. Think if this list of human rights groups had demanded prosecutions. We would be closer and not farther from the goal.

There are some powerful Democrats who certainly would not want an independent public investigation, particularly those who served on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees when Bush was in power and torture was being ordered and authorized. That's because in the aftermath of 9/11, some in Congress were briefed on the torture methods in real time and either were silent or, in some cases, supported these brutal tactics or, as some have suggested, possibly encouraged them to be expanded.

While Republicans are flailing to find ways of defending all of this torture and attempting to discredit or marginalize those who speak out against it, it is interesting to note the Op-ed Thursday in The Wall Street Journal by Reprentative Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, called "Congress Knew About the Interrogations." In the piece where Hoekstra parrots the Dick Cheney blah-blah-blah about torture working, he manages to make an important point:

[M]embers of Congress from both parties have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002. We believed it was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to keep our nation safe. After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses.

Hoekstra cites the internal memo written last week by Obama's Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, to his staff in which Blair said "[h]igh value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa'ida organization that was attacking this country." (This was the memo that was originally released to the public with that sentence conveniently ommitted).

Hoekstra writes:

Members of Congress calling for an investigation of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation can't be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) added to this mix by saying that he had seen a partial list of Congress members "who were briefed on these interrogation methods and not a word was raised at the time, not one word."

Among those on the House Intelligence Committee at the time was current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She has said, "we were not, I repeat, we were not told that waterboarding or other enhanced methods were used."

"What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel ... but not that they would. And that further, further the point was that if and when they would be used they would brief Congress at that time."

But contrary to Pelosi's assertion, The Washington Post reported that Pelosi and other Democrats were "given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk:"

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

"Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing," said [Porter] Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. "And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."

Only a complete and independent investigation by a special prosecutor could get to the bottom of all of this with any credibility. In his Op-ed, Hoekstra wrote:

Any investigation must include this information as part of a review of those in Congress and the Bush administration who reviewed and supported this program. To get a complete picture of the enhanced interrogation program, a fair investigation will also require that the Obama administration release the memos requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney on the successes of this program.

While one must take anything Representative Hoekstra and his belligerent, torture-loving colleagues say with a grain of salt (to put it mildly), he has a point--even if he is making it in that Dick Cheney kind of way. All of the documents relating to this torture program should be released and the role of everyone involved should be brought out into the light of day to determine who is responsible for every aspect of these heinous crimes from top to bottom.

Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.His new website




Dianne Feinstein,California 

Christopher S. Bond,
Vice Chairman

John D. Rockefeller IV,
West Virginia

Orrin Hatch, Utah

Ron Wyden, Oregon

Olympia J. Snowe, Maine

Evan Bayh, Indiana

Saxby Chambliss, Georgia

Barbara A. Mikulski,Maryland

Richard Burr, North Carolina

Russell D. Feingold,Wisconsin

Tom Coburn, Oklahoma

Bill Nelson, Florida

James Risch, Idaho

Sheldon Whitehouse,Rhode Island




Harry Reid, Nevada, Ex Officio

Mitch McConnell, Kentucky, Ex Officio

Carl Levin, Michigan, Ex Officio

John McCain, Arizona, Ex Officio


Senate Intelligence Committee

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House  Appropriations Subcmte. Hearing With Atty. Gen. Eric Holder


Atty. Gen. Eric Holder faced questions about the newly released "Torture Memos" at a House Appropriation’s Justice Subcmte. He was asked about appointing an Inspector General to investigate the Bush-era interrogation policy. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the DoJ budget. 
Washington, DC : 2 hr. 20 min.

I Never Believed The US Would Turn On Its Torturers So Swiftly

The Lawyer Who Exposed Those Behind America's Interrogation Techniques Believes A Criminal Investigation Is Now Essential

Philippe Sands
| The Observer, Sunday 26 April 2009 | Article history

The world is watching as America attempts to come to terms with the abuse it unleashed in the aftermath of 9/11 and trying to digest the full implications of last week's extraordinary events. With a wide-ranging Spanish criminal investigation into torture at Guantánamo threatening to embarrass the US, Barack Obama decided to declassify legal memos sent under the Bush administration in the hope the country would move on. The opposite has happened. Ever more documents set out in meticulous detail the full extent of the cruelty: who was abused by whom, how they did it and what was done. The truth has been revealed in stark detail, from the number of times waterboarding was used to the legal deliberations that led to it. By Tuesday, President Obama had raised the possibility of US war crimes trials and far-reaching inquiries, developments that were unthinkable a month ago.

And yet perhaps it was inevitable. When Obama took office, evidence of torture was strong. Susan Crawford, the Bush-appointed head of the Guantánamo military commissions, confirmed that the use of stress positions, sleep deprivation, dogs and forced shaving on detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani was torture. President Obama's attorney general and the head of the CIA agree that waterboarding is torture. The issue was not how to characterize the acts, but what to do about them. By intervening, Spanish prosecutors seem also to have catalyzed debate on what to do about the senior lawyers and officials involved, particularly Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, Jim Haynes, John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Doug Feith, those fast becoming known as the Bush Six.

The situation remains volatile. Ten days ago, Obama assured CIA interrogators that "those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice" would not be prosecuted. Using careful words, he didn't say no to all prosecutions, period. Last Sunday, however, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel did say that. His words provoked a storm. The president promptly overrode him: "With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions," he said, "that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general ... and I don't want to prejudge that." Further investigation is inevitable.

This debate comes five years after the release of a one-page memo written by Jim Haynes, Donald Rumsfeld's lawyer at the US Department of Defense, in November 2002. The memo recommended blanket authorization for the use of stress positions, sleep deprivation, dogs and nudity, in plain violation of international law. It left open the use of waterboarding. This memo caused the torture of Mohammed al-Qahtani. The techniques migrated to Afghanistan and Iraq, notably at Abu Ghraib.

The document was a shocker. It was difficult to understand how the senior lawyers involved could have authorized torture. So I spent 18 months trekking around the US, meeting many of the officials involved. For the most part, these were ordinary, decent people. Some spoke openly and - I thought - honestly. Others plainly didn't. The higher up the political chain I went, the greater the hubris.

Early on, the very notion of criminal investigations against the senior lawyers and officials seemed almost preposterous. Yet as the idea got off the ground, it developed, fed by a seething, broad discontent that led, at last, to hearings before Congress, at which I testified three times. Last summer, 54 members of the House of Representatives called for the appointment of a special prosecutor. Hearings proceeded; thousands of pages of new documents emerged; the story firmed up; the central, dastardly role of the lawyers became ever clearer as a common plan to get around the laws came into sight. Laws didn't apply or they created no rights for detainees. Established definitions of torture were ditched. Objections from lawyers with knowledge were cast aside. Security and national interest trumped all.

Most accounts I was given held up, but not all. Diane Beaver was the military lawyer at Guantánamo, on whose erroneous legal advice the Bush administration said it relied. She told me again and again she had no knowledge of secret legal memos written in the DOJ. But last summer, a five-pager emerged, detailing a secret meeting just nine days before she signed off on her legal advice. It described a CIA lawyer alerting her to DOJ advice authorizing new interrogation techniques. The document blew away her assurances. "If the detainee dies," the CIA lawyer says, "you're doing it wrong."

The complicity and weakness of others was more obvious. Doug Feith was third in command at the Pentagon, in charge of policy. He told me that he knew nothing about any specific interrogation issues until Rumsfeld's memo landed on his desk. But that wasn't right. In the memo, Haynes wrote: "I have discussed this with ... Doug Feith." When I read the sentence aloud to Feith, his response was to tell me that I had mispronounced his name. "It's Fythe," he said. "Not Faith." Last week, a new Senate report revealed that his office was involved at an early stage in supporting new techniques.

Other claims simply collapsed. Before the House Judiciary Committee, a Republican congressman reported that waterboarding was used on only three men for a grand total of three minutes. What's all the fuss about? Congressman Franks seemed to be asking. Seemingly, his source wasn't accurate. Last week, a new document emerged to show that two men were waterboarded 266 times.

Torture has deeply damaged the reputation of the US, a country that has done more than any other to promote the idea of the international rule of law. Such harm cannot be repaired merely by putting out the documents. Accountability is needed. An investigation is inevitable, but what kind should it be? In theory, a criminal investigation and an independent or congressional inquiry are not mutually exclusive. In reality, it is difficult for them to go hand in hand. Criminal proceedings will halt the flow of information, as those who fear prosecution clam up.

Yet serious crimes have been committed and, as a nation of laws, the US is bound to investigate criminal wrongdoing. This is a difficult balance to strike. The way forward may be to begin with the fullest possible investigation by a blue chip independent commission, with the power to compel the production of documents and witness testimony. This will only be a temporary reprieve of the inevitable criminal inquiry, however, whether in the US, Spain or elsewhere, and long overdue disbarment proceedings for the lawyers.

It is testament to America's remarkable powers of re-invention - and its admirable president, who finds himself in a bind having to choose between building bipartisanship or promoting the rule of law (that should be a no-brainer) - that so spirited a debate could take place so soon after the "dark and painful chapter". Eventually the system worked. The public, the body politic and the media finally got their act together, sort of. The Supreme Court gave decisive rulings, sort of. And it's hard to imagine many other countries allowing so much material to become available so quickly.

This should shame Britain and those other countries that co-operated with the Bush administration's excesses and crimes into opening up their files, including legal opinions. In the meantime, and for the foreseeable future, the eyes of the world are on the US. And the Bush Six remain in a deep, legal black hole of their own making.

• Philippe Sands QC is professor of law at University College London. Torture Team is published this week in paperback by Penguin

Post details: Escobar: Torture whitewash from The Dark Side :: The ...
By admin 
Bush, vice president Dick Cheney, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and assorted little inquisitors wanted was above all to prove the non-existent link between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al-Qaeda, the better to justify a pre-emptive, illegal war planned by the now-defunct Project for the New ...The New York Times, in a fit of decency, at least has already demanded that Congress impeach the lawyerly Bybee, who got his lifetime seat in a federal appeals court from . ...
The Corner Report -

Emptywheel » Pelosi: Of Hidden Memos and Covert Ops Hidden in ...
By emptywheel 
Corporations are persons but people who breathe (when allowed and not being waterboarded) are not persons…great way to run 
Bush/Cheney's religious crusade. What was the Obama Administration thinking? .... The problem I see for Pelosi is that her line of “We were Duped” argumentation does nothing to explain her taking Impeachment off the table - except to put an exclamation point on just how Weak she is as a Leader whose Primary Responsibility here was Over-Sight ...
Emptywheel -

Do Look Back, Play the Blame Game–

Punish All Torturers « Setting the Record Straight
By straightrecord 
All of this behavior should have been led to articles of 
impeachment against George W. Bush and DickCheney before they left office, but impeachment has no solution other than removal from office, so that chance has been forever lost. ...
Setting the Record Straight -

Democrats' 'Battered Wife Syndrome'
For four decades, Washington's political dynamic has been the Republicans acting like an abusive husband and the Democrats like a battered wife, a pattern now repeating itself, reports Robert Parry. April 25, 2009

Real World Reasons Against Torture
Professional FBI interrogators were among those most horrified by George W. Bush's torture techniques for moral, legal and practical reasons, as former FBI agent Coleen Rowley writes in this guest essay. April 24, 2009

On Torture, the Pressure Builds
With the flood of disclosures about the Bush administration's torture policies, President Obama and his legal advisers are under growing pressure to authorize a criminal investigation, says Ray McGovern. April 22, 2009

t r u t h o u t | How Torture Worked to Sell the Iraq War
Torture might not work as well as conventional interrogation to provide sound intelligence, but it certainly worked for 
Bush and Cheney in exactly the way they most wanted. .... top to bottom, be subjected to similar treatment as the proof keeps coming out. This data is what could have been revealed inimpeachment hearings if the Democrats had not decided to be enablers. The truth is most useful in preventing a recurrence of this blot on our national character. ...
Truthout - All Articles -

Lincoln Mitchell: Obama's Dilemma -- Torture, Accountability and ...
By Lincoln Mitchell 
As nearly every HuffPost Media Monitor (well, specifically Derrick, Clayton, Chad, "RStein," and Teresa) pointed out today, former State Department official Liz 
Cheney came on. ..... But someone like this Judge Bybee, who misused his profession to aid the Bush people carry out their torture tacticsw should be impeached, and maybe even disbarred. Judges have a lot of power and should be held to very high standards of conduct. I have no tolerance for what this guy did. ...
The Huffington Post Full Blog Feed -

Obsidian Wings: My Allegedly Vengeful Heart
By hilzoy 
Broder was in favor of the 
impeachment of Clinton and felt that honor compelled Clinton to resign his presidency because Clinton, caught in a perjury trap, denied a liaison that although disreputable was nobody's g-d business. Because where would America .... If George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and a slew of other high ranking Bush Administration officials were dragged from their cushy retirement homes by an angry mob and [redacted]. Unjust because it would be ...
Obsidian Wings -

Stop Scapegoating
Obama Should Stand Against Prosecutions

By David S. Broder
Sunday, April 26, 2009

If ever there were a time for President Obama to trust his instincts and stick to his guns, that time is now, when he is being pressured to change his mind about closing the books on the "torture" policies of the past.

Murder He Wrote: Why Aren't BushCheney and Rumsfeld Being ...
BuzzFlash - Chicago,IL,USA
But that doesn't begin to address the underlying crimes that include the unnecesary and horrifying deaths of anyone that
 Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld -- and ...See all stories on this topic 

the contrarian - The Stench of Torture | Gather
By Dave McGill 
He could be facing
 impeachment, at the very least. Another future defendant might be Cheney's right-hand man, David Addington, described as "the man behind the torture," by writer David Cole. Addington was Cheney's counsel from 2001 to ... Tags: torture, enhanced interrogation techniques, thecontrarian, news, politics, obama, president obama, barack obama, the obama administration, the bushadministration, cheney, dick cheney, vice president cheney, waterboarding, rice, ...
Hodge Podge Fun [Post Anything Group] -


Barbara Boxer On Bybee Impeachment: "I'm Very Open To That."


At a press avail following her speech at the California Democratic Party convention, I asked Sen. Boxer about the Resolutions Committee passing support for a Congressional inquiry into the actions of torture judge Jay Bybee and the imposition of all possible penalties including impeachment.  She said "I'm very open to that.... there is an ongoing investigation at the Justice Department into his work (at the Office of Professional Responsibility -ed), and we'll see how that goes.  But I'm very open to that.  And I'll remind everyone that I didn't vote for him when his nomination came up.  I was one of 19 to do so."


Needless to say, the support from Sen. Boxer will be a great help in the Resolutions Committee, when they prioritize the top ten resolutions to send to the floor of the convention tomorrow.


The other interesting tidbit from the presser was that Sen. Boxer offered no indication of her endorsement on the ballot measures for the special election on May 19.  She says she and Sen. Feinstein haven't studied the measures yet, and that they will get together in Washington and offer a joint statement once they make their decision.  "I'll let you know when I go public.  But let me say this - the budget process in California is dysfunctional, because of the super-majority needed to pass a budget and tax increases.  And until we get to the root causes of changing that, it's very difficult to do anything."  This pretty much tracks with what we've been saying for a long time.  Until you pass #1, it won't matter if you pass #2-#10.


Other topics covered included torture investigations (Boxer supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that Sen. Leahy recommended), the fate of cram-down provisions in the Senate ("Sen. Durbin is doing a heroic job... the banks are still a major lobbying group."), potential opponents in her 2010 re-election (I hope nobody runs against me!"), and the news of a budget reconciliation deal on health care in the Senate (she didn't have much to say on that other than that reconciliation should always be on the table, as it was during the Reagan years, and that the situation is "in flux.")  Boxer was at her most eloquent answering a question about the rule of law and the impression that those at the highest levels of power, be it the banksters or the torture regime, were above it.  "The law must prevail... the people should feel that something's wrong, if nothing is done on torture.  If we don't like a law, we repeal it, we don't ignore it."


Sunday Breakfast Menu, April 26


This coming Wednesday marks President Obama’s 100th day in office and if you thought you were going to get through your eggs and O.J. without hearing about it on every network, you may want to go elsewhere for brunch.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” the guests include Valerie Jarrett, one of the few prominent White House senior advisers who is a woman, and several senators, including Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Democrat from California, Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and Joseph Lieberman, the independent-Democrat.

The main headline they’ll tackle — given the makeup of the guest list — is the fallout from the president’s decision to release memos in the last week related to the Bush administration’s policies on harsh interrogation methods of terrorist suspects. In a letter signed by Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee from Arizona, and Senators Graham and Lieberman, they urged Mr. Obama not to prosecute Bush-era government lawyers.

On Thursday, the White House and the Democratic leadership in the Senate signaled that they would try to block efforts to establish an independent commission, at least for now.

It will be a similar refrain on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, is certain to reinforce the administration’s stance on the “torture” memos and give his take on the first 100 days. We expect good reviews. Newsweek’s Jon Meacham, the winner of the Pulitzer prize for his biography of Andrew Jackson this past week, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, the historian, will also weigh in. Then, Jordan’s King Abdullah II may offer up his insights on his meetings with Mr. Obama earlier this week.

In Iran, where the 100-day milestone may be less significant, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos broadcasts his interview with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who last March said he didn’t believe the United States would elect a black president.

On Fox News Sunday, Larry Summers, the president’s chief economic adviser, discusses the week’s economic headlines: bank stress tests, credit card crackdown and the auto industry. (That’s one of the first morning talk shows, at 9 a.m. in Washington so maybe Mr. Summers won’t feel inclined tonod off. )

Fox’s Chris Wallace also talks interrogation with Senators Kit Bond and Carl Levin.

CBS’ Bob Schieffer has Senators. McCain and Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Commitee, who has been calling for an independent commission akin to South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation” panel despite the administration’s resistance. Also, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast. (Her blog has another variation on the theme: Michelle Obama’s first 100 outfits.

And, if you haven’t had your fill, CBS’ “60 Minutes” profiles Vice President Joseph R. Biden. The segment is based on three days of interviews with the vice president, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and his boss.

Where's the Outrage? » O'Reilly - No investigation
By ecthompson 
O'Reilly then lists those groups that he believes hates America - the ACLU,, The New York Times and others. He is fed up. These groups just want revenge. Again, he provides not one shread of evidence to support his position. ...
Where's the Outrage? -


So Much for the Good War
... we face in Pakistan and instead has the potential to escalate, rather than diminish, this threat." Hulse also left out any notion that this anti-war anxiety could be pleasing to the Democratic base, to Code Pink. ...
TimesWatch Headlines - 

God, Guns and Grits: Rookies and Idiots Rule! (And other ...
By netfotoj 
The president says that he has no intention of fulfilling the crazies' desire to prosecute members of the Bush Administration who devised harsh interrogation tactics for harsh, murderous terrorists and then, a week later, ...
God, Guns and Grits - 

OpEdNews » A Duplicitous Deliverer? A Look at "Change" and Torture
At a minimum he should be disbarred in Nevada as an attorney and should be impeached for failure to disclose to the Senate his participation in drafting the memos. At a maximum he should serve time in Federal prison for that crime. John Yoo should likewise be dealt with. Being glorified with tenure as a professor of law is as absurd as the torture memos he is responsible for passing on to Bush and Cheney for justification in violating the law. ...
OpEdNews - OpEdNews.Com Progressive,... -

Did Judge Bybee actually write the memos? | Crooks and Liars

By John Amato 
Bybee's lack of spine makes him unqualified to be a lawyer, much less a federal judge with lifetime tenure. He should be 
impeached and disbarred no matter who was the actual author of the memos he signed and vouched for. ... It was his special pay-off for being Cheney's sock-puppet. That is what IT requested, and the same sock-puppet outed Valarie Plame, no one else!!! We'll be set off in some divergent direction with torture, treason (Harmon/Bush/Cheney), too. ...
Crooks and Liars -

Post details: Escobar: Torture whitewash from The Dark Side :: The ...
By admin 
 Bush, vice president Dick Cheney, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and assorted little inquisitors wanted was above all to prove the non-existent link between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al-Qaeda, the better to justify a pre-emptive, illegal war planned by the now-defunct Project for the New ...The New York Times, in a fit of decency, at least has already demanded that Congress impeach the lawyerly Bybee, who got his lifetime seat in a federal appeals court from . ...
The Corner Report - 

Frank Rich: The Banality Of Bush White House Evil
By The Huffington Post News Editors 
And they wanted to 
impeach Clinton for a sexual encounter!?! No, this time we have to Drop the hammer... Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 12:31 AM on 04/26/2009. - + New RJII See Profile I'm a Fan of RJII I'm a fan of this user permalink ... Yes, our Constitution must be strengthen and we need to learn from our mistakes...but for anyone to think that this thing can not develop legs on it own and end up as a appetizer for many that longed to bring Bush and Cheney to ...
The Full Feed from -

the contrarian - The Stench of Torture | Gather
By Dave McGill 
He could be facing
 impeachment, at the very least. Another future defendant might be Cheney's right-hand man, David Addington, described as "the man behind the torture," by writer David Cole. Addington was Cheney's counsel from 2001 to ... Tags: torture, enhanced interrogation techniques, thecontrarian, news, politics, obama, president obama, barack obama, the obama administration, the bushadministration, cheney, dick cheney, vice president cheney, waterboarding, rice, ...
Hodge Podge Fun [Post Anything Group] - 

Democrats Buckle Once Again - They Are The Worst «


My Allegedly Vengeful Heart

In an unprecedented, shocking development, David Broder is against any sort of accountability for what he refers to as "torture": 

"If ever there were a time for President Obama to trust his instincts and stick to his guns, that time is now, when he is being pressured to change his mind about closing the books on the "torture" policies of the past."

I normally think that there's a presumption in favor of enforcing the law, and that people who think it should be ignored have the burden of proof. So what sorts of arguments does Broder offer in support of his view? Well:

"Obama is being lobbied by politicians and voters who want something more -- the humiliation and/or punishment of those responsible for the policies of the past. They are looking for individual scalps -- or, at least, careers and reputations.

Their argument is that without identifying and punishing the perpetrators, there can be no accountability -- and therefore no deterrent lesson for future administrations. It is a plausible-sounding rationale, but it cloaks an unworthy desire for vengeance."

To which I have two responses. First, who died and made David Broder Sigmund Freud? How on earth does he presume to know what the actually motivates those of us who think that the people who authorized torture should be investigated? Speaking for myself: I have never met David Broder. As far as I know, he has no idea that I exist. So how does he know that underneath my "plausible-sounding rationale" lurks "an unworthy desire for vengeance"? And how, stranger still, does he presume to know this about everyone who thinks this -- a group that (as Greg Sargent notes) included 62% of the American publicbefore the latest memos were released?

Second: let's just stipulate for the sake of argument that all of us who favor investigating torture do, in fact, have "an unworthy desire for vengeance". So what? Suppose our "plausible-sounding argument" is actually true: "without identifying and punishing the perpetrators, there can be no accountability -- and therefore no deterrent lesson for future administrations." In that case, by not investigating torture now, we would be setting ourselves up for future government lawbreaking. Isn't it obvious that preventing this matters more than anyone's motives?

What matters is whether this is the right thing to do. If it is, then we should do it. If it isn't, then we should not. Motives don't matter here -- any more than it would have mattered if some of the people who favored getting into World War II had an unreasonable hatred of Germans in general, or the people who brought Brown v. Board really just wanted to get into the history books.

Broder's best stab at an actual argument is this:

"The memos on torture represented a deliberate, and internally well-debated, policy decision, made in the proper places -- the White House, the intelligence agencies and the Justice Department -- by the proper officials.

One administration later, a different group of individuals occupying the same offices has -- thankfully -- made the opposite decision. Do they now go back and investigate or indict their predecessors?

That way, inevitably, lies endless political warfare. It would set the precedent for turning all future policy disagreements into political or criminal vendettas. That way lies untold bitterness -- and injustice."

When people talk about "criminalizing policy differences", there's a crucial, question-begging assumption, namely: that no one actually broke the law. If that's right, and if we know that it is, then of course investigating previous administrations for law-breaking is just a "vendetta". But whether or not laws were broken is precisely the point at issue.

If laws were broken, then the fact that they were broken as the result of "a deliberate, and internally well-debated, policy decision, made in the proper places" is no excuse -- if anything, it makes investigation and prosecution all the more important. And it also means that the people who favor prosecution are not the ones who "criminalize politics". That honor goes to the people who broke the laws while holding public office.

If we care about the rule of law, and about the idea that ours is a country of laws, not of men, then we should investigate those who break the laws, especially when they hold high office. The Presidency is a public trust, not a license for criminality.

Hilzoy 3:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (97)



"The memos on torture represented a deliberate, and internally well-debated, policy decision, made in the proper places -- the White House, the intelligence agencies and the Justice Department -- by the proper officials.

Um David.....when you remove your head from your nether regions, a quick Google (you do know how to Google I hope) should reveal that your claims of a "deliberate and well-debated policy decision" are intensely belied by the facts.

In fact just this week, Philip Zelikow (who did such great work earlier obfuscating the 9/11 Commission's work) revealed that when he wrote a memo of dissenting opinion about proposed changes in torture policy to the White House, their immediate reaction was to try and locate every instance of the memo and destroy them.

Do the names Shinseki and Taguba ring a bell David? You may remember that when they tried to involve themselves in a healthy debate, both of them found themselves out of work.

These bush torture team proponents weren't looking for a debate. When they got answers they didn't want from people under them, they either rejected the output and demanded something which buttressed their cause, or fired the authors outright. are simply a useless piece of Post furniture.

Posted by: dweb on April 25, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

If the facts about torture are made public, all of them, then every belief of David Broder's working life is shown to be a complete, sick, lie. So of course he's against it.
Multiply Broder by everyone in DC. Then multiply it again by Wall Street. Accountability means the end of their self-esteem, and more importantly, power. The Constitution and the rule of law mean nothing compared to that. God wanted them in charge. He said so.

Posted by: JMG on April 25, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

In all this, I keep thinking about the victims. They are being victimized again by the US doing this - having this specious media messaging which is denying criminality, denying torture and denying their very humanity and victimization.

Victims of torture will never be made whole. They will never receive complete justice. But for their torturers and their facilitators(that would be all of us in the US since it was done in our names) to not only deny them an acknowledgment and apology, but to refuse to self govern, is to lay bare the lie of the US and the impotence and catastrophic failure of the Constitution. Broder is the embodiment of that impotence and failure.

Posted by: tribulation periwinkle on April 25, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

"That way, inevitably, lies endless political warfare."

We are already in endless political warfare. The question is what we are going to do about war crimes that have already been committed and that are otherwise likely to be repeated in future Republic administrations.

Posted by: Ross Best on April 25, 2009 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Trying to redefine this as a policy difference is the only gambit these people have left.

It is clear that torture is against U.S. law.
It is clear that torture is against international law.

Torture, for legal purposes was defined generations ago to include all of the depraved actions that the Bush Administration gave the green light.

That they are circling their wagons around "policy differences" is all they have. They got nothin'.

All of the details of what, when, why, and who will be made public, and people will be prosecuted. If not here, then in international court. They may be better off here, but then we still execute prisoners...

The 'policy difference' meme has to be squashed though, now. If it is allowed to live, then this will happen again. It will also be used as a defense by another country who decides that torturing American servicemen and service women is just a policy difference with the United States.

Posted by: jcricket on April 25, 2009 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK


I appreciate your steadfast patience with dumbing down the obvious.

I just couldn't make myself do it as often and as well as you're willing to do.

Thank you. I have aspirin. Want one? 
I do. MMmmm. Need two.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 25, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

If it is ever to be demonstrated the error of my conviction that the Y2K nuts almost had it right, that with the appointment in the face of loss of both the popular and electoral vote by an activist court stacking with ideological judges of GW Bush to the presidency effectively marked "The End of America"...

Posted by: Ten Bears on April 25, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

It seems like an innocent conjunctive move, but the "and/or" in Broder's phrase "Obama is being lobbied by politicians and voters who want something more -- the humiliation and/or punishment of those responsible for the policies of the past" tells you all you need to know about the deep thinking going on in this has-been's column. Punishment for those who broke the law, if that's what the process reveals (and his writing this at all assumes that he understands the probabilities of that), is attached to humiliation? Is that what Broder thinks the American public wants with all the other things going on? What about justice? Principles? The Constitution?

Broder, your logic is humiliating.

Posted by: Corambis on April 25, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if you read the 18 pages of comments logged into the WaPo's posting for broder he is getting a mouthful....His support is limited to less that 10.

from page 18...I quote.

dh458 wrote:
THEY BROKE THE LAW...what part of that statement don't you understand. A kid steals a candybar from a store, the kids BROKE THE LAW. On behalf of my son, who is on his 4th deployment - until you walk in his shoes (for the 4th time), STFU!
4/25/2009 12:34:44 AM

Posted by: myshadow on April 25, 2009 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

A "deliberate and internally well-debated policy decision" to commit acts that are specifically prohibited by law is usually referred to as a criminal conspiracy.

Posted by: Kuyper on April 25, 2009 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

One administration later, a different group of individuals occupying the same offices has -- thankfully -- made the opposite decision.

Torture is not an optional policy, and Obama does not have the legal option of ignoring it. But the main thing Broder doesn't seem to understand is that this became part of a culture. The MP's at Abu Ghraib had turned these "interrogation" techniques into a form of entertainment. We must never let this disregard for humanity become a mere "policy disagreement", as Broder calls it.

Posted by: Danp on April 25, 2009 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Broder assumes at least two things.

One: that the Bush administration made a 'deliberate, and internally well-debated, policy decision ... by the proper officials.'

We've seen proof that at the very least _internally well-debated_ is untrue, if you accept that destroying memos offering opposing viewpoints undermines the notion of 'well-debated'--but still, let's grant for a moment that he's correct.

Two: that at the highest levels, ignorance of the law _is_, in fact, an excuse.

As far as I can tell, that's his complete argument. "They didn't know they were breaking the law, so they shouldn't be help accountable."

Am I missing anything?

Posted by: gussie on April 25, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus. If Obama were prosecuting Bush officials for cutting taxes or No Child Left Behind, then yes, that would be "criminalizing policy differences." Torture is a freaking crime against humanity: it is not an acceptable policy in the civilized world.

Posted by: Mark S. on April 25, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Well of course no one is criminalizing "policy."

But there's another side to this. Who are the people who were tortured, and do we owe anything to them? The argument from Broder is that Democrats were not wronged by the torture and therefore have no legitimate motive--aside from political retribution--for prosecution. But that ignores that there were actual human beings who have been wronged by these so-called policies.

For example, let's say that the CIA picked up an innocent American teenager--Broder's granddaughter, say--off the street, tortured her under this program, and then let her go. Would Broder still consider investigations and prosecutions to be about political scalps, reputations, and careers? If not, then what's the difference between the two situations?

Posted by: Halfdan on April 25, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent post! So what if a tinge of righteous satisfaction -- or, if you will, vengeance -- accompanies the fierce belief that we should be a nation of laws and that none of us, NONE, is above the law? As angry and offended as I have been the last eight years, the reason I want the perpetrators of these unconscionable and abhorrent crimes to be brought to justice is that I believe justice can exist and I feel safer (not triumphant, safer) living in a society where it does prevail. Either we believe in law or, like Broder we believe in covering up our friends' culpability and our own blind refusal to stand for justice. The laws protect us all, especially when government goes rogue.

Posted by: SF on April 25, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

So the critics of moral relativity were in reality experts at it.

The "We can find a justification for any activity" philosopy, goes well beyond what is reasonable or right.

If I were a soldier going to Afganistan I would want my government to be able to be outraged at the notion of torture of prisoners--both ours and theirs.

Posted by: Cycledoc on April 25, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Broder is America's official asshole. He is indulging freely in the ad hominem fallacy, in which motives are fraudulently presented as changing factual considerations. Even if people were vindictive, it wouldn't make the punishment wrong if it's just anyway. (So, vindictive feelings about terrorists invalidate our desire for retributive response?)

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on April 25, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow I have misplaced David Broder's 2003 column on the case for invading Iraq in which he said "It is a plausible-sounding rationale, but it cloaks an unworthy desire for vengeance."

Posted by: Don on April 25, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

David Broder, September 2006, on William J. Clinton:

"My view... was that when President Clinton admitted he had lied [about Monica Lewinsky] to his Cabinet and his closest associates, to say nothing of the public, that the honorable thing was for him to have resigned... What bothered me greatly about his actions was... what he told the Cabinet, his White House staff... [a]nd he told the same lie to the American people. When a president loses his credibility, he loses an important tool for governing -- and that is why I thought he should step down..."

Broder's bottom line is that is fine to criminalize private behavior involving two adults, but catastrophic to criminalize public behavior that violates long standing US law, the US military's code of conduct, and appears to have been used to support a war on false premises. And this guy is getting paid by the Washington Post, that blew the Watergate affair wide open back in the 1970s. Of course, back then, the Post employed reporters and not overpaid, overstuffed "journalists", and their chief executive was "only" a woman, Katherine Graham.

Posted by: vhh on April 25, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to add something to the general discussion here. The first Republican president in my lifetime was Richard Nixon -- a lawbreaker, who was not held accountable for his crimes thanks to the second Republican president of my lifetime, Ford. The third RPOML was, of course, Reagan, and there was the whole Iran-Contra thing. Another lawbreaker, depending on how you view his level of senility at the time. Again, no accountability, thanks, in part to the fourth RPOML who pardoned a bunch of people so that we could close the books and look forward and not go on vendettas for truth, etc etc. And thus we come to the last RPOML, George W Bush, whose lawbreaking manages to dwarf all his illustrious predecessors in both scope and sheer sociopathy. And, as is always the case with Republicans, he will not be held accountable in any way, protected not by another Republican, but this time by a (nominal) Democrat.

There is right, and there is wrong. Most of us have a moral compass of sorts that helps us out. Sure, there are gray areas -- I have a tendency to speed when I'm behind the wheel and have to watch it lest I break the law in which case I am quite sure no policeman would tell me that he's just interested in looking forward, and not in giving me a ticket. During the last several decades, it has become clear that Republicans either do not know wrong from right, or they feel -- with just cause -- that the rules do not apply to them.

I can't be the only person to have looked at the sorry state my country has been led to, after years of governmental neglect and abuse. If we're going to pull ourselves out of the abyss we're in, punishing wrongdoers would be an excellent start. It would show that actions have consequences.

(PS: I would be remiss in pointing out the one president in my lifetime who was held accountable for his dastardly deeds and wrongdoing, the likes of which has never been seen before or since: Bill Clinton.)

Posted by: zhak on April 25, 2009 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

If someone disapproves of punishment that is meted out, they call it "vengeance." If they approve of it, they call it "justice." It's the same as the difference between "terrorist" and "freedom fighter."

Posted by: Lee on April 25, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

2009_4_25 Broder is a fascist

Just want to pile on here. Aside from Broder's sycophantic, wet-lipped fluffing of authoritarian power and its practitioners, his 'jus folks' covering of Cheney, et al.'s flabby white asses with his sloppy kisses, there's the terrified, gutless coward at the core of his pathetic existence. Mr. Broder, in other words, is a loudmouthed chickenshit, just like the arrogant, murderous bastards he's so strenuously trying to protect with his oh-so-reasonable, one note "comity" song and dance. It's fun to point out the parallels between America's reichwing and Orwell's dystopia; Broder, on the other hand, is the real deal, one of the true architects of psyop reconfiguration. All in the name of Main Street. Shirley Jackson had this douche bag's number a long time ago. 


The Banality Of Bush White House Evil | By FRANK RICH | Published: April 25, 2009


WE don’t like our evil to be banal. Ten years after Columbine, it only now may be sinking in that the psychopathic killers were not jock-hating dorks from a “Trench Coat Mafia,” or, as ABC News maintained at the time, “part of a dark, underground national phenomenon known as the Gothic movement.” In the new best seller “Columbine,” the journalist Dave Cullen reaffirms that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were instead ordinary American teenagers who worked at the local pizza joint, loved their parents and were popular among their classmates.

On Tuesday, it will be five years since Americans first confronted the photographs from Abu Ghraib on “60 Minutes II.” Here, too, we want to cling to myths that quarantine the evil. If our country committed torture, surely it did so to prevent Armageddon, in a patriotic ticking-time-bomb scenario out of “24.” If anyone deserves blame, it was only those identified by President Bush as “a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values”: promiscuous, sinister-looking lowlifes like Lynddie England, Charles Graner and the other grunts who were held accountable while the top command got a pass.

We’ve learned much, much more about America and torture in the past five years. But as Mark Danner recently wrote in The New York Review of Books, for all the revelations, one essential fact remains unchanged: “By no later than the summer of 2004, the American people had before them the basic narrative of how the elected and appointed officials of their government decided to torture prisoners and how they went about it.” When the Obama administration said it declassified four new torture memos10 days ago in part because their contents were already largely public, it was right.

Yet we still shrink from the hardest truths and the bigger picture: that torture was a premeditated policy approved at our government’s highest levels; that it was carried out in scenarios that had no resemblance to “24”; thatpsychologists and physicians were enlisted as collaborators in inflicting pain; and that, in the assessment of reliable sources like the F.B.I. director Robert Mueller, it did not help disrupt any terrorist attacks.

The newly released Justice Department memos, like those before them, were not written by barely schooled misfits like England and Graner. John Yoo, Steven Bradbury and Jay Bybee graduated from the likes of Harvard, Yale,Stanford, Michigan and Brigham Young. They have passed through white-shoe law firms like Covington & Burling, and Sidley Austin.

Judge Bybee’s résumé tells us that he has four children and is both a Cubmaster for the Boy Scouts and a youth baseball and basketball coach. He currently occupies a tenured seat on the United States Court of Appeals. As an assistant attorney general, he was the author of the Aug. 1, 2002, memo endorsing in lengthy, prurient detail interrogation “techniques” like “facial slap (insult slap)” and “insects placed in a confinement box.”

He proposed using 10 such techniques “in some sort of escalating fashion, culminating with the waterboard, though not necessarily ending with this technique.” Waterboarding, the near-drowning favored by Pol Pot and the Spanish Inquisition, was prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II. But Bybee concluded that it “does not, in our view, inflict ‘severe pain or suffering.’ ”

Still, it’s not Bybee’s perverted lawyering and pornographic amorality that make his memo worthy of special attention. It merits a closer look because it actually does add something new — and, even after all we’ve heard, something shocking — to the five-year-old torture narrative. When placed in full context, it’s the kind of smoking gun that might free us from the myths and denial that prevent us from reckoning with this ugly chapter in our history.

Bybee’s memo was aimed at one particular detainee, Abu Zubaydah, who had been captured some four months earlier, in late March 2002. Zubaydah is portrayed in the memo (as he was publicly by Bush after his capture) as one of the top men in Al Qaeda. But by August this had been proven false. As Ron Suskind reported in his book “The One Percent Doctrine,” Zubaydah was identified soon after his capture as a logistics guy, who, in the words of the F.B.I.’s top-ranking Qaeda analyst at the time, Dan Coleman, served as the terrorist group’s flight booker and “greeter,” like “Joe Louis in the lobby of Caesar’s Palace.” Zubaydah “knew very little about real operations, or strategy.” He showed clinical symptoms of schizophrenia.

By the time Bybee wrote his memo, Zubaydah had been questioned by the F.B.I. and C.I.A. for months and had given what limited information he had. His most valuable contribution was to finger Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the 9/11 mastermind. But, as Jane Mayer wrote in her book “The Dark Side,” even that contribution may have been old news: according to the 9/11 commission, the C.I.A. had already learned about Mohammed during the summer of 2001. In any event, as one of Zubaydah’s own F.B.I. questioners, Ali Soufan, wrote in a Times Op-Ed article last Thursday, traditional interrogation methods had worked. Yet Bybee’s memo purported that an “increased pressure phase” was required to force Zubaydah to talk.

As soon as Bybee gave the green light, torture followed: Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times in August 2002, according to another of the newly released memos. Unsurprisingly, it appears that no significant intelligence was gained by torturing this mentally ill Qaeda functionary. So why the overkill? Bybee’s memo invoked a ticking time bomb: “There is currently a level of ‘chatter’ equal to that which preceded the September 11 attacks.”

We don’t know if there was such unusual “chatter” then, but it’s unlikely Zubaydah could have added information if there were. Perhaps some new facts may yet emerge if Dick Cheney succeeds in his unexpected and welcome crusade to declassify documents that he says will exonerate administration interrogation policies. Meanwhile, we do have evidence for an alternative explanation of what motivated Bybee to write his memo that August, thanks to the comprehensive Senate Armed Services Committee report on detaineesreleased last week.

The report found that Maj. Paul Burney, a United States Army psychiatrist assigned to interrogations in Guantánamo Bay that summer of 2002, told Army investigators of another White House imperative: “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful.” As higher-ups got more “frustrated” at the inability to prove this connection, the major said, “there was more and more pressure to resort to measures” that might produce that intelligence.

In other words, the ticking time bomb was not another potential Qaeda attack on America but the Bush administration’s ticking timetable for selling a war in Iraq; it wanted to pressure Congress to pass a war resolution before the 2002 midterm elections. Bybee’s memo was written the week after the then-secret (and subsequently leaked) “Downing Street memo,” in which the head of British intelligence informed Tony Blair that the Bush White House was so determined to go to war in Iraq that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” A month after Bybee’s memo, on Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney would make his infamous appearance on “Meet the Press,” hyping both Saddam’s W.M.D.s and the “number of contacts over the years” between Al Qaeda and Iraq. If only 9/11 could somehow be pinned on Iraq, the case for war would be a slamdunk.

But there were no links between 9/11 and Iraq, and the White House knew it. Torture may have been the last hope for coercing such bogus “intelligence” from detainees who would be tempted to say anything to stop the waterboarding.

Last week Bush-Cheney defenders, true to form, dismissed the Senate Armed Services Committee report as “partisan.” But as the committee chairman, Carl Levin, told me, the report received unanimous support from its members — John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman included.

Levin also emphasized the report’s accounts of military lawyers who dissented from White House doctrine — only to be disregarded. The Bush administration was “driven,” Levin said. By what? “They’d say it was to get more information. But they were desperate to find a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq.”

Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to “protect” us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from “another 9/11,” torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality.

Levin suggests — and I agree — that as additional fact-finding plays out, it’s time for the Justice Department to enlist a panel of two or three apolitical outsiders, perhaps retired federal judges, “to review the mass of material” we already have. The fundamental truth is there, as it long has been. The panel can recommend a legal path that will insure accountability for this wholesale betrayal of American values.

President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won’t vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We don’t need another commission. We don’t need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.


The Truth About Torture, Where It Came From, Who Brought It Here

Let's cut to the chase. No amount of mealy-mouthed obfuscation, desperate chatter, or careful legal analysis can obscure the fundamental facts here: what the Bushies did to the "high value" detainees was torture, and worst of all it didn't do any good. Talk about pointless AND useless! Not to mention in total contravention to everything America stands for. We don't torture. When Bush said that, he was lying, and he knew he was lying. You can spin legal arguments all day, but as the science fiction writer Douglas Adams once noted, even if you do prove black is white and white is black, you'll be run over by a truck the next time you use a [marked road] crossing. As one poster noted at TPM: "If only Saddam Hussein had been smart enough to solicit a legal opinion from his government lawyers that gassing people was within the law, he could have been playing golf in Myrtle Beach right now."

The prosecution of torturers has nothing to do with retribution or the politicization of policy differences and everything to do with honoring the sacrifice, in altogether too many cases the ultimate sacrifice, of our parents and relatives who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II. Our parents did not serve and sacrifice so Nazi tactics would be implemented, defended, admired, paid for, and rewarded by the United States Government. As confirmed by a recent official unanimous bipartisan Senate report, the torture tactics of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were brought to America by George W. Bush whose grandfather helped finance Hitler. George W. Bush is the fifth in a line of politicians who have betrayed our country.

First, Nelson Rockefeller, as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs during World War II, arranged for the Standard Oil Company, in which he and his family held substantial amounts of stock, to sell oil to the Nazis through South America. This oil fueled the Nazi war machine which killed uniformed American soldiers, sailors, and aviators.

Second, Richard Nixon, as a Presidential candidate in 1968 was recorded on audiotape, encouraging the South Vietnamese government to thwart the peace proposals being made to end the conflict in Vietnam by the President of the United States of America, Lyndon Johnson. Nixon's treachery resulted in the continuation of the war and the deaths of thousands of uniformed American soldiers, sailors, and aviators.

Third and fourth, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, as, respectively, candidates for President and Vice President in 1980, encouraged the Iranian government to continue to hold Americans hostage at the U.S embassy in Tehran in return for a promise of weapons if Reagan won the election. After Reagan was inaugurated he kept his promise and secretly delivered the weapons to what Reagan referred to as the terrorist government of Iran.

In 1986, in violation of an explicit Congressional ban on support to terrorists in Nicaragua and as reported by a major American television network, Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush caused weapons to be delivered to the terrorists in Central America in exchange for illegal drugs which were then unlawfully imported into the United States. The terrorists supplied by Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush in Nicaragua murdered many people. The number of people who died in the United States as a result of the illegal drugs Reagan and Bush caused to be unlawfully imported into the United States is not known.

Barack Obama solemnly swore that he would preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States which, due to the application of Article VI and the Convention Against Torture, requires prosecution, if supported by the evidence, of those who engaged in or enabled torture. A prosecution by the Obama Administration's Justice Department (or a Special Prosecutor) would not involve retribution (political or otherwise) of any type, kind, or description. Each prosecution would just be Barack Obama faithfully executing that which he solemnly swore to do as required before the people of the United States let him begin executing the duties of President. The investigations and, as appropriate, prosecutions exemplify a forward looking focus on the future.

But you don't have to look as far back as WWII. How about this year?

The United States Senate Armed Services Committee official bipartisan report (without apparent dissent from any Senator of any party) arguably establishes that George W. Bush conspired to commit torture.

Others with potential criminal culpability (which could result in sentences of multiple lifes in prison to be served consecutively) based on the official government report include Richard Cheney, David Addington (an alleged attorney serving as an advisor to Cheney), Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of State Condoleezea Rice, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, United States Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, John Rizzo (an alleged attorney who allegedly worked for the CIA), Jonathan Fredman (an alleged attorney who allegedly worked for the CIA's CounterTerrorist Center), Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (commander of U.S. and "coalition" forces in Iraq), U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller (commander of the Guantanamo detention operation), and U.S. Army General Richard Myers, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The report also stated that the deaths of two detainees in U.S. military custody were homicides.

According to the Senate Armed Services Committee: "The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority."

Republican Jack Goldsmith, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel, wrote that a memorandum written by United States Circuit Judge Jay Bybee essentially stated the policy that the President and actions taken at the direction of the President are not subject to United States law. This policy was first enunciated and followed by Republican President Richard Nixon who was impeached by the House in July 1974 and resigned early the next month after the Republican leadership of the Senate informed Nixon that he would become the first U.S. President to be convicted and removed from office if he did not resign.

There are two possible punishments for impeachment and conviction. The first is removal from office. The second is permanent unpardonable disqualification from holding any federal office. Under the U.S. Constitution, Richard Cheney could be elected to, and serve, two full terms as President. The House Judiciary Committee has not commenced hearings to determine whether Richard Cheney should be impeached, convicted and permanently disqualified from holding any federal office (for example, President).

And, of course, have you communicated with your representative and senators to direct and instruct them to impeach and convict alleged torture enabler United States Circuit Judge Jay Bybee currently collecting a government salary and purporting to dispense justice in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit? If so, what response did you receive? If not, why not? He's getting ready; he's retained a defense attorney.


  • Goldman's games
  • The big banks and their affiliated securities houses (joined at the hip since Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Phil Gramm repealed Glass Steagall) are pleased to offer the American investing public a Royal Left Handed Threaded Big Screw.
  • The political descendants of Rose Mary Woods, or, a shredding we will go.
  • The effort should be to stop any bank mergers resulting in a bank with assets in excess of $50B to $75B and, over time, to break-up any banks with assets in excess of $100B. In the interim, banks with over $100B in assets should be required to be very well capitalized (with cash and stable immediately marketable U.S. government obligations on the order of at least 20% of assets - the bankers may object that this will reduce profits - too bad).
  • Summers and Geithner are stupid and/or warped and/or co-opted and/or corrupt enough to support this debt to equity conversion plan. The key issue: Is Obama stupid enough?
  • Elliot Spitzer case: we still don't know everything. Spitzer was posed to shut down predatory lending just before the Feds took him down, in a case in which he was never charged, and in which there was, in any case, no possible federal charge.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss the creation of a congressional panel to investigate the causes of the financial crisis and worsening recession.

David Broder and media culpability for Bush crimes


I read David Broder's truly wretched screed yesterday -- in which he demands immunity for Bush officials from investigation and prosecution and attacks those who advocate accountability -- and decided that I wouldn't write about it until today because I didn't want it to infect my Saturday.  For purposes of catharsis, I did immediately note on Twitter that Broder's article was "a tour de force of Beltway sickness - even for him" and that "the Washington press corps has exactly the 'dean' it deserves."  Fortunately, Hilzoy,Scott Lemieux and Roger Ailes -- among others -- have now made most of the points quite conclusively that need to be made about the morally depraved joke that David Broder is, leaving just a couple of observations worth noting.

To justify the absolute immunity he wants for government lawbreakers, Broder describes the Bush era as "one of the darkest chapters of American history, when certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion in hopes of extracting information about threats to the United States."  But that's easy to say now that the Bush presidency is over and the evidence of its criminality so undeniable.  But Broder never said any such thingwhile it was all taking place, when it mattered.  In fact, he did the opposite:  he mocked those who tried to sound the alarm about how radical and "dark" the Bush presidency was and repeatedly defended what Bush officials were doing as perfectly normal, unalarming and well within the bounds of mainstream and legitimate policy.

As but one example, Broder -- in a September 15, 2006Washington Post chat -- was asked by a reader about an Editorial inThe New York Times which appeared that morning that warned of the grave dangers of abolishing habeas corpus and the protections of the Geneva Conventions, as the soon-to-be-enacted Military Commissions Act sought to do.  In other words, back then, theTimes Editorial Page was warning of exactly the policies -- "certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion" -- which Broder today, with Bush safely gone, cites as examples of our "darkest chapter."  Yet here is what Broder was saying about these things when it mattered:

Kingston, Ontario: I'm rather surprised by your and your correspondents' calm tone of voice this morning. Unless the New York Times editorial page is wildly off-track, the U.S. is in the grip of a major constitutional crisis, with the government trying to set aside long established guarantees of legal behavior, both internally and in relation to international law. Where's the sense of urgency?

David S. Broder: Far be it from me to question the New York Times, but I'd like to assure you that Washington is calm and quiet this morning, and democracy still lives here. Editorial writers sometimes get carried away by their own rhetoric.

On other occasions, Broder mocked those who suggested there was anything extremist or radical about Bush's "counter-terrorism" policies; hailed "Bush's conviction that the quest for freedom is a universal truth"; proclaimed his confidence in Donald Rumsfeld's pre-war Iraq plans; and compared 2002 war opponents to "Jane Fonda in Hanoi or antiwar protesters marching under Viet Cong flags."  

Just compare what Broder wrote about the Bush presidency on November 14, 2004, to what he wrote today:


Some of my colleagues in the pundit business have become unhinged by the election results. The always diverting Maureen Dowd of The New York Times wrote the other day that "the forces of darkness" are taking over the country . . . Bush won, but he will have to work within the system for whatever he gets.  Checks and balances are still there. The nation does not face "another dark age," unless you consider politics with all its tradeoffs and bargaining a black art.


Obama, to his credit, has ended one of the darkest chapters of American history, when certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion in hopes of extracting information about threats to the United States.

What Broder states today as fact (that the Bush presidency is "one of the darkest chapters of American history") is almost verbatim that which, when it mattered, when it was happening, he vehemently and repeatedly denied -- and, of course, given that he works in the most accountability-free profession of all (establishment punditry), he does not even have the minimal honesty to acknowledge that.  Like so many of his colleagues, Broder played a critical role in defending these crimes and insisting that they were not taking place.

This is a crucial and oft-overlooked fact in the debate over whether we should investigate and prosecute Bush crimes.  The very same pundits and establishment journalists who today are demanding that we forget all about it, not look back, not hold anyone accountable, are the very same people who -- like Broder -- played key roles in hiding, enabling and defending these crimes.  In light of that, what is less surprising than the fact that, almost unanimously, these very same people oppose any efforts to examine what happened and impose accountability?  Back in January, I wrote the following about the virtual unanimity among establishment media figures against investigations and prosecutions:

Bush officials didn't commit these crimes by themselves. Virtually the entire Washington establishment supported or at least enabled most of it. . . . As confirmed accounts emerged years ago of chronic presidential lawbreaking, warrantless eavesdropping, systematic torture, rendition, "black site" prisons, corruption in every realm, and all sorts of other dark crimes, where were journalists and other opinion-making elites? Very few of them with any significant platform can point to anything they did or said to oppose or stop any of it -- and they know that.

Many of them, even when much of this became conclusively proven, were still explicitly praising Bush officials. Most of them supported the underlying enabling policies (Guantanamo and the permanent state of war in Iraq and "on terror"), and then cheered on laws -- the Military Commissions Act and the FISA Amendments Act -- designed to legalize these activities and retroactively immunize the lawbreakers and war criminals from prosecution.

So when these media and political elites are defending Bush officials, mitigating their crimes, and arguing that they shouldn't be held accountable, they're actually defending themselves. . . . They can't indict Bush officials for what they did because to do so would be to indict themselves. Bush officials need to be exonerated, or at least have their crimes forgotten (look to the future and ignore the past, they all chime in unison), so that their own involvement in it will also be cleansed and then forgotten.

Earlier this week, Paul Krugman made a similar point:

One addendum to today’s column: the truth, which I think everyone in the political/media establishments knows in their hearts, is that the nine months or so between the summer of 2002 and the beginning of the Iraq insurgency were a great national moral test — a test that most people in influential positions failed. . . . But for those who stayed “sensible” through the test,it’s a moment they’d like to see forgotten. That, I believe, is the real reason so many want to let torture and everything else go down the memory hole.

Imagine if a police officer were stationed in front of the hospital room of a key witness in a criminal trial, in order to protect the witness from attack, but instead, the officer fell asleep or wondered off to watch TV and, as a result, the defendant's associates were able to enter the room and murder the witness.  Asking establishment journalists if they favor investigations and prosecutions of Bush crimes is like asking that police officer whether he favors an investigation and consequences for what happened or whether he instead prefers that the whole thing just be forgotten and everyone look instead to the future.  People who bear culpability in the commission of destructive and criminal acts always oppose investigations and accountability -- i.e., what they'll call "looking backwards" or "retribution."  They're the last people whose opinions we ought to be seeking on that question.

* * * * *

Directly contrary to the way the establishment media is describing these facts, polling data has consistently shown that large majorities of Americans favor investigations into Bush crimes and large percentages favor criminal prosecutions.  Even with virtually the entire pundit class united in opposition, yet another poll on that question -- from The Washington Post/ABC News today -- finds that a majority (51-47%) answered "yes" when asked:  "Do you think the Obama administration should or should not investigate whether any laws were broken in the way terrorism suspects were treated under the Bush administration?"  It's amazing how much The Hard Left has grown.

* * * * *

More than anything else, Broder's column illustrates the Central Creed of Beltway Culture, which should be memorialized on plaques throughout that city:

When poor and ordinary Americans who commit crimes are prosecuted and imprisoned, that is Justice.  

When the same thing is done to Washington elites, that is Ugly Retribution.

* * * * *

See also:  this post from earlier today on Time Magazine's coverage of drug decriminalization in Portugal and this post on one of the most brazen acknowledgments yet that most establishment journalists operate with no standards.


UPDATE:  For a perfect example of how etablishment journalists and pundits -- including our ostensibly "liberal" ones -- cheered on many of these crimes, see Digby.


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