Thursday, April 23, 2009

Events Are Moving Quickly; The Escalation Of Sentiments: “Criminal Prosecutions Should Be On The Table”!

Events Are Moving Quickly; The Escalation Of Sentiments:  “Criminal Prosecutions Should Be On The Table”!


Hold Bush and His Joint Co-Conspirators Criminally Accountable! 
Breaking News: Dick Cheney Implicated in Torture Crimes

People of Spain: Help the World Prosecute Bush War Crimes!


The Investigate, Impeach And Indict Document And Memos Source Library

People of Spain: Help the World Prosecute Bush War Crimes!


Not the Better Part of Valor: Obama's Duty to Prosecute Torturers
The Watergate scandal led to the enactment of the Ethics in Government Act. Three years after Richard Nixon resigned rather than face 
See all stories on this topic


Yoo Defends Himself, while Leahy Accuses and Holder Investigates ...
By Tahman Bradley 
The chairman of the Senate 
Judiciary Committee called for a non-partisan investigation like the 9/11 Commission to look into what happened with the Bush administration's detainee policy. But if there isn't support for that notion, Leahy said .... Do they think that the vast majority of us care about the Bush admin lawyers and their legal opinions on the constitutionality of the interrogation techniques that the CIA requested permission to use? NO! It' the economy stupid...
Political Punch -

The "In-Between" Space
By crookedsmilee 
Chairman Conyers: Please enter a resolution to
 impeach Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for his role in enabling illegal acts while heading the Office of Legal Counsel. Posted by crookedsmilee at 4:14 PM ...
The "In-Between" Space -

oneheartforpeace: IMPORTANT UPDATE on Impeach Jay Bybee Campaign
By Connie L. Nash 
Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said we have to "look at" impeaching Bybee. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called on Bybee to resign, while Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said "grounds for impeachment can be made" against ...
oneheartforpeace -

Leahy Calls for Judge Bybee's Resignations and Others Call for ...
By jonathanturley 
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) rejected calls for the
 impeachment and said that Bybee was “one of the most honorable people you'll ever meet.” Well, as long as you do not meet him in a CIA interrogation room or near a waterboard. ...

Alterdestiny: A Rare Moment of Political Activism (Rather than ...
By Mr. Trend 
I am writing to ask you to please join efforts to 
impeach Jay Bybee. I know that you were one of the 79 senators to approve his original nomination to the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, and you no doubt had your reasons and ...
Alterdestiny -

Bybee's Insect Ruling: Pat Leahy demands that he resign | Crooks ...
By John Amato 
MADDOW: Do you think that it is possible that an 
impeachment inquiry is warranted in this case, if only because the circumstances that are known about Judge Bybee's career are now so different than when the Senate voted on him in 2003? ...
Crooks and Liars -



The Raw Story | Leahy: Torture memo judge should do 'honorable ...
In an appearance with MSNBC's Ed Schultz, Leahy explained, "If the 
Bush-Cheney administration told the truth about him, and he told the truth about what he did, he never would have been confirmed by the Senate. ... Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives has the sole power to initiateimpeachment proceedings. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) also suggested in a statement on Tuesday that the torture memos may provide "grounds for impeachment" of Bybee. ...
Raw Story Breaking News - (Leahy would use a resignation as a backdoor out avoidance of the very real and necessary confrontation and adjudication called for!)


NY Times Drew False "Contrast" Between Blair, Other  Obama Officials

In an April 23 New York Times "news analysis," reporter Scott Shane purported to draw a "contrast" between Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who has stated that "high value information came from interrogations in which" harsh interrogation methods were used, and "[President] Obama and most of his top aides," who "have argued that the use of those methods betrayed American values -- and anyway, produced unreliable information." In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented, Blair has also said that he opposes the use of the harsh interrogation tactics detailed in recently released memos from the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, reportedly calling the tactics "graphic and disturbing" and stating: "The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

Shane also wrote:

Many intelligence officials, including some opposed to the brutal methods, confirm that the program produced information of great value, including tips on early-stage schemes to attack tall buildings on the West Coast and buildings in New York's financial district and Washington. Interrogation of one Qaeda operative led to tips on finding others, until the leadership of the organization was decimated. Removing from the scene such dedicated and skilled plotters as [Khalid Shaikh] Mohammed, or the Indonesian terrorist known as Hambali, almost certainly prevented future attacks.

But the claim that the use of harsh interrogation techniques on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed produced "tips" that prevented an attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles, the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast, conflicts with the chronology of events put forth on multiple occasions by the Bush administration -- a fact the Times did not mention. Indeed, as's Timothy Noah has noted, the Bush administration said that the Library Tower attack was thwarted in February 2002 -- more than a year before Mohammed was captured in March 2003.

From Shane's April 23 New York Times "news analysis":

Even the most exacting truth commission may have a hard time determining for certain whether brutal interrogations conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency helped keep the country safe.

Last week's release of long-secret Justice Department interrogation memorandums has given rise to starkly opposing narratives about what, if anything, was gained by the C.I.A.'s use of waterboarding, wall-slamming and other physical pressure to shock and intimidate Qaeda operatives.

Senior Bush administration officials, led by Vice President Dick Cheney and cheered by many Congressional Republicans, are fighting a rear-guard action in defense of their record. Only by using the harshest methods, they insist, did the intelligence agency get the information it needed to round up Qaeda killers and save thousands of American lives.

Even President Obama's new director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, wrote in a memorandum to his staff last week that "high value information came from interrogations in which these methods were used," an assertion left out when the memorandum was edited for public release. By contrast, Mr. Obama and most of his top aides have argued that the use of those methods betrayed American values -- and anyway, produced unreliable information. Those are a convenient pair of opinions, of course: the moral balancing would be far trickier if the C.I.A. methods were demonstrated to have been crucial in disrupting major plots.

For both sides, the political stakes are high, as proposals for a national commission to unravel the interrogation story appear to be gaining momentum. Mr. Obama and his allies need to discredit the techniques he has banned. Otherwise, in the event of a future terrorist attack, critics may blame his decision to rein in C.I.A. interrogators.

NBC's Mitchell falsely suggests Blair letter expressed approval for interrogation methods

On the April 22 broadcast of NBC's Nightly News, while reporting on harsh interrogation methods used by the CIA during the Bush administration, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell stated that "the Obama administration's own director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, wrote his employees last week that the interrogations produced high-value information." Mitchell went on to say, "Tonight, a senior official told NBC News Blair does not back away from his private comments, even though they appear to differ from the president's rejection of the Bush policies." But contrary to Mitchell's suggestion that Blair supports the use of "the Bush policies" while Obama has "reject[ed]" them, according to the blog of the U.S. Naval Institute, in the April 16 letter that was sent "to the Intelligence Community workforce," Blair made clear he opposes the use of such techniques, which he called "graphic and disturbing." Moreover, Blair issued an April 21 statement that said he "strongly supported the president when he declared that we would no longer use enhanced interrogation techniques" and said of the methods: "The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

As Media Matters for America has documented, in his April 16 letter, Blair wrote: "Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing. As the President has made clear, and as both CIA Director [Leon] Panetta and I have stated, we will not use those techniques in the future. I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past, but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given."

From the April 22 broadcast of NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams:

MITCHELL: And the Obama administration's own director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, wrote his employees last week that the interrogations produced high-value information. And he said he did not fault those who made the decisions at the time.

But Blair left those controversial comments out of public statements he issued at the same time. Tonight, a senior official told NBC News Blair does not back away from his private comments, even though they appear to differ from the president's rejection of the Bush policies. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.

Pelosi ups pressure for 'truth' panel on torture
New York Daily News - New York,NY,USA
BY Michael Mcauliff and James Gordon Meek WASHINGTON - House Speaker
 Nancy Pelosi has stepped up Democrats' calls to form a torture "truth commission," ...
See all stories on this topic


April 22, 2009

FOR seven years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. I have spoken only in closed government hearings, as these matters were classified. But the release last week of four Justice Department memos on interrogations allows me to shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.

One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use….

Zippidy Doo Da: Put the Right People in Jail
By judge chief charly hoarse 
I felt that to
 impeach Bush would be to sink to the level of the other side. Only later as the list of crimes grew and grew did I come to the conclusion that Bush and Cheney should face the constitutional remedy for high crimes and ...
Zippidy Doo Da -

HOWIEINSEATTLE: Torture Fallout Roundup (excerpts and video)
By Howard Martin 
"This was inevitable, because conservative members of the past administration, most prominently former Vice President Dick
 Cheney, continue to insist publicly and on television that torture works," says Swift, now in private practice in Seattle. "They want the fight, and that puts ... Jerrold Nadler and the New York Times' editorial board have come out in favor of impeaching Jay Bybee for his role in preparing some of the Bush administration's interrogation memos. ...

MoveOn Torture Ad Highlights Cheney For Investigation
By The Huffington Post News Editors is set to launch an aggressive new ad campaign calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the use of torture during the Bush administration and even raising the specter of targeting former Vice President Dick ...
The Huffington Post | Full News Feed -

Analysis: Interrogation debate testing White House, an influential advocacy group with millions of grass-roots advocates, has launched a petition drive to persuade Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate what it calls "the architects of Bush's torture program. ... -

Atheist Revolution: Taking a Stand Against War Crimes: Call for a ...
By vjack 
Firedoglake petition; Tell the California Democratic Party to Support the Resolution to
 Impeach Jay Bybee. I am signing all of them and encourage my readers to do the same. Again, if you come across any I've missed, please let me know ...
Atheist Revolution -

Did Cheney Order Abu Zubaydah's 83rd Waterboarding?
By Emptywheel, Firedoglake
We're mighty close to tying Cheney -- through just one degree of separation -- to "frivolous" torture. And I suspect he's aware of that. 
Read more »

A Closer Look at Obama's 'New' Position on Torture Prosecutions
By Jeremy Scahill, Rebel Reports
Is Obama really opening the door for accountability? Or will the result be a bipartisan whitewash commission? 
Read more »

Inquiry Into Torture Memos Appears Inevitable

by Liz Halloran

President Obama visited the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Va., on Monday, soon after his decision to release Bush-era memos that offered a legal justification for the use of harsh interrogation tactics., April 22, 2009 ·President Obama has long insisted that he wants to look forward — not back — at the alleged misdeeds of Bush administration officials who signed off on harsh interrogation tactics after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

But that path to the past became increasingly inevitable in recent days.

First came the release of controversial Bush-era torture memos that detailed the administration's legal justifications for the use of extreme tactics.

Then came reports — the results of a Senate Armed Services Committee investigation — revealing that the controversial interrogation method of controlled drowning, known as waterboarding, was proposed by the CIA in 2002, shortly after the capture of a suspected terrorist, and three months before Bush lawyers secretly approved the technique. Those aggressive techniques, the investigation found, were exported to military detainee facilities, including Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

And so, though Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, appeared to rule out an investigation of the memo's authors just days ago, Obama now says it will be up to Attorney General Eric Holder to determine whether any official broke the law.

'That's Not How History Works'

"The Obama administration had a choice: whether it would cover up Bush administration crimes, thereby becoming complicit, or to hold true to the president's pledges of transparency and accountability," says Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

"He has certainly delivered on transparency by releasing the memos," she said. "But transparency itself wasn't sufficient."

A chorus of voices on the left has long urged Obama to protect his self-touted accountability brand by pursuing an investigation on behalf of a country still debating the merits of what was done, in its name, in the pursuit of national security. on Wednesday sent a Web ad to its millions of members, urging them to call on Holder to appoint an independent special prosecutor to investigate the torture memo authors — including Jay Bybee, who is now a federal judge, and John Yoo, now a tenured law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

An Intelligence Committee memo declassified by the Obama administration contains a committee-generated timeline that indicates that CIA interrogators asked to use waterboarding three and a half months before then-Bush lawyer Bybee wrote a memo signing off on the "enhanced interrogation technique." The timing, officials say, strongly suggests that the memo was shaped by the CIA's request.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) told NPR on Wednesday that he wants an independent panel to look into whether top officials who authorized the use of harsh interrogation tactics should be punished.

Meanwhile, historians suggest that presidents, no matter how full their plates — and Obama's is plenty full — simply can't ignore the alleged misdeeds of the previous administration, particularly when those deeds have divided a nation.

"Presidents have to come to grips with the sins and crimes of the previous administration," says author Barry Werth, whose book, 31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today, documented President Ford's pardon of his predecessor, Richard Nixon, in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

"Ford just wanted to turn the page, and [Obama adviser] David Axelrod said this administration wanted the same." Werth says. "But that's not how history works."

Did Cheney Add Fuel To The Fire?

Conservatives themselves may have pushed Obama to open the door to an investigation of the torture memo authors, argues lawyer Charles Swift.

As a military attorney, Swift represented Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hamdan's challenge of the legality of military commissions used to try detainees.

"This was inevitable, because conservative members of the past administration, most prominently former Vice President Dick Cheney, continue to insist publicly and on television that torture works," says Swift, now in private practice in Seattle.

"They want the fight, and that puts incredible pressure on the Obama administration," says Swift, who puts himself in the "torture doesn't work" camp.

Revelations that terrorism suspects were subjected to waterboarding more than 100 times, he says, serve as the most powerful evidence that such tactics are ineffective.

Those who support the tactics, including Cheney, say they have produced valuable information that has protected the country. But the veracity of that claim has been challenged — and that has raised questions about whether such information could be gained through less aggressive methods.

In highly publicized television appearances, Cheney has claimed that by barring the use of harsh interrogation techniques, the new president has made the country less safe. That represents a sharp break with tradition, Swift says.

"It's extraordinary," Swift says — and designed to set up the president for blame, no matter when or how terrorists next attack. "It's an unfair debate."

Partisans Agree: Obama Should Steer Clear

The ACLU, which secured the release of the torture memos through a Freedom of Information request, has called for a congressional select committee and an independent prosecutor to investigate allegations of Bush-era abuse of prisoners.

"Anything short of that would be insufficient," says Singh.

Others caution against prosecution. That includes conservatives, who argue that the torture techniques work and that an investigation and prosecution would compromise national safety.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, along with independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, on Wednesday sent Obama a letter urging him not to pursue the prosecution of Bush legal officials who provided opinions on torture.

Such prosecutions, they wrote, would "have serious negative effects on the candor with which officials in any administration provide their best advice." Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also weighed in against prosecution.

Most want to avoid what would certainly be bitterly partisan congressional hearings. But on one point partisans agree: The president needs to steer clear now.

"If he starts trying to manage this, it's a mistake," says Swift. "Holder has to make it his job."

The attorney general has said he will "follow the law wherever it takes us."

Just What Kind Of Investigation?

Swift and others have suggested that Holder ask a high-ranking nonpartisan official — someone like federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago — to look at the evidence against the memo writers and determine whether there are cases to prosecute. Obama has said his administration won't pursue action against CIA agents who used techniques approved in the torture memos.

Swift, who doesn't support prosecution, says he sees as the best alternative an inquiry by an independent Truth Commission, much like the one proposed by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Under that scenario, the Justice Department could grant witnesses immunity in exchange for their testimony. This approach, Swift argues, would allow the fullest story of intelligence practices during the Bush years to emerge.

The debate over what constituted torture and whether it works "has to be finished," he says.

Swift says a Truth Commission inquiry could provide a full review of abusive interrogation techniques — serving as a deterrent on the future use of torture. It could also offer a needed examination of how to improve what is now a very demoralized CIA, he says.

Says Werth about the debate: "This is a very big issue that goes to the heart of the kind of country we are and how we conduct ourselves in the world."

Too Late To Avoid An Examination?

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Wednesday said Obama believes that the release of the memos should provide a moment to "reflect, but not a moment for retribution."

But events appear to have moved past the point where the nation can sidestep a true, tough examination of torture and its legal proponents.

By saying he preferred to look forward, Obama extended an olive branch to Bush-era officials, Swift says.

"They took the branch, stripped it and started switching him with it," he says.


Was Critical Note Destroyed By Bush White House?

The administration may have collected, destroyed the memo on interrogations, ex-official tells NPR.

Senate Report Stirs Torture Debate

Reexamining Bush Era Interrogation Tactics

Levin: Punishment Question Next In Torture Probe

Timeline: History Of Harsh Interrogation Techniques

Senate Report Links CIA To Military's Harsh Tactics

Democrats Push For Memo Writers' Prosecution

Levin: Punishment Question Next In Torture Probe


Torture whitewash from The Dark Side
By Pepe Escobar 

It's a script worthy of Freddie Krueger, the fictional character from the 
A Nightmare on Elm Street films. Nearly five years after the irruption of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, here's another chamber of horrors, another glimpse of how The Dark Side really works. 

But the George 
W Bush torture memos released by the Barack Obama administration last week, written in legalese by Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury, are just a preview. Many will relish the newspeak. ("We conclude that - although sleep deprivation and use of the waterboard present more substantial questions in certain aspects under the statute and the use of tile waterboard raises the most substantial issue - none of these specifictechniques, considered individually, would violate the prohibition in sections 134:0•2340A.") As for the whole movie - a 21st century remix of a D W Griffith epic - it could be called Death of a Nation

The US Senate report, also just released, reads like deja vu all over again: the US establishment under Bush was a replay of the Spanish Inquisition. And it all started even before a single "high-profile al-Qaeda detainee" was captured. What 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 American Century (PNAC) in the late 1990s. The torture memos were just a cog in the imperial machine. 

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 ... Bush. 

Everyone knew about the torture. Former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, who along with Karl "Machiavelli" Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby was one of the leakers of the identity of
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent Valerie Plame in the infamous Niger yellowcake affair, admitted to al-Jazeera that "in hindsight", "maybe" he should have resigned. Former executive director of the 9/11 Commission Philip Zelikow, very close to secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, also has joined the swelling crowd of "I was against it, too, but in the end I did not resign". 

More crucially, Armitage also told al-Jazeera why this may well end up being ... just another whitewash. "I don't think the members of the Senate particularly want to look into these things because they will have to look at themselves in the mirror. Where were they? ... They were AWOL, absent without leave." Nobody should expect madam speaker 
Nancy Pelosi to investigate herself. In Washington, torture seems to be a bipartisan sport. 

Armitage also told al-Jazeera how he and his then-boss, secretary of state Colin Powell, "lost" the battle to respect the Geneva Conventions during Bush's first term. Japanese officers were tried for war crimes after World War II - by the United States - because they, among other practices, used ... waterboarding. That does not seem to apply to Bush administration officials. Welcome to another instance of American exceptionalism. 


The question is not that the torture memos should have been kept secret - as the CIA and Dick "Angler" Cheney wanted. The question is how to apply justice and uphold the rule of law. Austrian law professor Manfred Nowak, the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council's top torture investigator, is adamant: "President Barack Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA operatives who used questionable interrogation practices violates international law." 

As with the lies that led to the war on Iraq, nobody should expect from US corporate media anything other than ... whitewash. Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, carping about the role of a "great nation" but sounding like a Johnny Walker commercial, said "sometimes in life you just wanna keep walking". 

Law-abiding citizens walking all across the world, for their part, were hoping that the so-called "Bush Six" - former 
attorneygeneral Alberto Gonzales, former under secretary of defense Douglas Feith, Cheney's former chief of staff David Addington, John Yoo and Bybee from the Justice Department, and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes - would one day catch a flight to Europe for some deluxe rest and recreation and be arrested on the spot by judges claiming universal jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, just as it happened in England to that notorious, now deceased, torturer/dictator Augusto Pinochet from Chile. But it won't happen. Spanish prosecutors literally put the ball back in the US court. 

And what about Bush telling Fox News last year "they gave me a list of tools and I said, 'Are these tools deemed to be legal?' and so we got legal opinions, before any decision was made, and I think when people study the history of this particular episode they'll find out that we gained good information". 

Well, if The Great Decider had "studied the history" he would have learned he didn't protect anything, as even US interrogators have dismissed torture as useless in extracting crucial intelligence. And apparently legal counsel also told The Great Decider it was OK to torture alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's children with ... swarms of bugs. 

Unfazed, the CIA still insists waterboarding works. But with 183 waterboarding sessions, 15 seconds a session, spread over one month, who did Khalid Shayk Mohammed think he was, Iron Man? Moreover, an analyst told Vanity Fair 90% of what he revealed was "bullshit". 

As for Cheney, he will never deviate from his own "mission accomplished" script. As he recently told CNN, "My general sense ... is that we accomplished nearly everything we set out to do." Paraphrasing Tacitus, that's quite an accomplishment - to destroy the cradle of civilization in Mesopotamia and call it ... victory. 

Obama has emitted his own muted version of "Never Again!" Well, not really. Under Obama's executive orders passed in January, the CIA is still engaged in extraordinary renditions and shipping suspects to ... overseas contractors, torture-friendly US allies in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. 

Pressure, anyway, kept mounting from all quarters. The White House was forced to back down. Obama now has left the door open to prosecution of the lawyerly minions. Cheney, of course, is not backing down. Still convinced that torture is swell, he wants other memos - which allegedly demonstrate torture's effectiveness - declassified. So ideally the Obama administration should come up with a special prosecutor or better yet, a truth commission - and call Cheney's bluff. And all this is happening while an even more damning Dark Side memo has not even been declassified.

Next train to The Hague

This whole drama is shaping up as a case of American exceptionalism one cannot believe in. Without accepting full responsibility for torture - and illegal, pre-emptive wars - and without accountability, there can be no catharsis in America. Obama is enough of a smart operator to know that if his "going forward" is perceived like "look the other way", this whole thing will come back to haunt and even destroy his presidency. And if it walks and talks like a whitewash, that's because it must be ... a whitewash. 

Supposing the Obama Justice Department appoints a special prosecutor and we end up with the "Bush Six" or even Bush-era top dogs in the slammer, and not only a few minions and go-betweens, the whole Washington establishment would literally collapse - a Tower of Babel of scum and corruption. Would Obama ever muster the balls to carry it out? That's unlikely. 

That would mean in practice burying the American empire - and as Obama has provided plenty of proof in his nearly 100 days in power (from the Afghan surge to his CIA coddling) he doesn't want to go down in history as the man who unraveled the American empire. Seize the moment? No, he won't. All that's left for the rest of walking humanity is just the dream of shipping Cheney to a really accomplished destination - The Hague, so he can be duly tried for treason and crimes against humanity. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at 

Torture and Truth

4/23/09 By Terry Bankert
posted first to flinttalk

ITS TIME TO KNOW THE TRUTH We have suffered too many valueless National administrations filled with heretics hiding under the skirts of a narrowly focused Religious Right selling and forcing its dogma on the American people of all walks of life. Its time for a change. American must fight for “common” values in public policy. As a nation of laws these values are embedded in our national and state constitution and international treaties. Its time to hold the human rights violators of American and International Law (criminals) in our midst .....accountable. Its time to know the truth.

TRUTH COMMISSION House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stepped up Democrats' calls to form a torture "truth commission," urging President Obama not to give immunity to anyone who illegally abused terror thugs.[1] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday endorsed the establishment of a formal truth commission to investigate Bush administration anti-terrorism policies, including an examination of former top Justice Department lawyers who crafted the legal justifications for what critics say was torture[3] On investigating use of extreme interrogation tactics used by CIA during the Bush administration: [Nancy Pelosi stated]"My thinking has always been that we should have some kind of truth commission as suggested by Sen. Leahy. Where we had some difference of opinion was that the thrust in the Senate side had been with immunity, and I thought we should be more selective in terms of granting immunity. I believe that the direction that we're going in the investigation by certain committees of the House will be useful. It might be further useful to have such a commission so that it removes all doubt that how we protect the American people is in a values-based way."[5]

PROSECUTE BUSH ADMINISTRATION Pelosi on Wednesday seized on Obama's openness to prosecuting top Bush administration lawyers who formulated policies to strip, slap, shove and waterboard detainees said to be among Al Qaeda's worst in U.S. custody after 9/11. [1]

NO IMMUNITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS "It gives further impetus among members to have some kind of truth commission as to what happened," Pelosi said. "I do not think immunity should be granted to everyone in a blanket way," she added. [1]

Republicans oppose a probe. [1]

HOLD THE PEOPLE AT THE TOP ACCOUNTABLE Obama has insisted that CIA operators who grilled detainees shouldn't be charged for following orders from Washington. But he suggested ex-President Bush's legal team might not be off the hook, and Attorney General Eric Holder said prosecutors will "follow the evidence." [1]


Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. By forced suffocation and inhalation of water, the subject experiences drowning and is caused to believe they are about to die.It is considered a form of torture by legal experts, politicians, war veterans, intelligence officials, military judges, and human rights organizations. As early as the Spanish Inquisition it was used for interrogation purposes, to punish and intimidate, and to force confessions.[6] Complicating matters was the disclosure that the CIA used waterboarding - which simulates drowning - on 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed 183 times. [1]

UNTRUTH But ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden claimed at a congressional hearing last year that the practice ceased within a week of Mohammed's March 1, 2003, capture. CIA officials could not explain the seeming discrepancy. [1]

THWARTS.... Former Vice President Cheney claims waterboarding helped thwart plots against the U.S. [1]

CHENEY UNTRUTH MONGER Several former officials disputed Cheney. One retired counter terror official who had read CIA cables said most were plots that Mohammed "was only remotely thinking of undertaking [that] didn't even reach the planning stage." [1]

FROM THE TROLL CAVE danr Apr 23, 2009 5:17:46 AM Hey, Nancy, why don't you just invite all of those terrorist thugs out to dinner, and give them all keys to the city? You are the all time WORST politician EVER. First, you want to give ILLEGAL aliens money from hard working Americans SS, now, you want to blame people who did their jobs. How come not ONE word about the over 2,000 innocent people killed on 9/11? Oh, yeah, most of them were Americans, weren't they? You are a total disgrace to this country. [1] twotap 4/22/09 I am saying do what it takes to protect America if your boy Barrack thinks differently he should be impeached. By the way you along with your lib cohorts played your hand long ago. Get Bush get Cheney even if it means screwing America. 2010 here we come.[2] Sid Love 04.22.09“Move On”, “Focus on the Future”, “Not Dwell on the Past”. B.S. They broke the law and perverted our Constitution. Corrupted law is worse than no law at all. Let us have some accountability at a higher than Sargent level. The Justice Department lawyers who wrote these abominable “Memos” should be disbarred and prohibited from government service. The cabinet heads who encouraged or signed off on these “Memos/Findings” need to be punished. They swore to uphold and protect our Constitution. It is obvious that they did the opposite.[4]


In a sit-down with reporters in her Capitol Hill conference room, Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, said the advantage of such a commission would be that "it removes all doubt that how we protect the American people is in a values-based way." .[3]


Liberal Democrats have been pressing the issue for months with little traction, given the Obama administration's reluctance and fierce Republican resistance, but now are re-energized. Republicans moved to dash what they called a retrospective tribunal that would unfairly target officials who followed legal guidance at the time and intimidate officials going forward.[3]


“The President of the United States is taking the exact right approach,” she said, referring to controversy this week over whether the Obama administration should prosecute those who abused detainees or who drafted the policies that enabled abuse. Obama has said that no one is above the law, but that he wants to keep the focus on the future, not the past.[4] “He has to look forward. We have inherited a tremendous economic crisis in our country, enormous challenges internationally, including two wars and the threat of Al Qaeda that’s still unresolved seven-and-a-half years after 9/11. The president has enormous tasks ahead and he is right to address the challenges that he faces in a positive way going forward,” she said.[4] But she also endorsed proposals for a “truth commission” to investigate abuses of detainees during the Bush administration. “It might be further useful to have such a commission so that it removes all doubt that we protect the American people in a values-based way,” she said.[4]

Posted Here by Terry Bankert 4/23/09
You are invited to continue this discussion on my Face Book Page. - 

Time is now to uphold constitution
The Star-Ledger - - Newark,NJ,USA
Jerrold Nadler, the first member of Congress to call for 
impeaching Judge Jay Bybee, co-sponsored Conyers' legislation calling for an independent, ...See all stories on this topic


Thursday April 23, 2009, 5:30 AM 

Washington’s war criminals are finally nervous. 

The newly released torture memos, in their brutal detail, have demolished the core argument of the Beltway’s torture defenders. 

Everyone from President Barack Obama to former Vice President Dick Cheney has said the torture issue is about “the past.” But that makes no sense. Just read the memos. They clearly raise huge security questions about which rules govern our future counterterrorism efforts. 

Can executive branch opinions simply override any federal statute or constitutional precedent? What is the duty of government officials who receive “legal” guidance that flatly contradicts the law? Can presidents use secret memos to run a two-branch government, squashing court oversight by declaring programs are for “national security” or “state secrets”? 

And the big one: Are there any measures or consequences to prevent these abuses? 

It is now incumbent on all three branches of government to address those questions with investigations, oversight and accountability. That is the only way to deter future crimes and provide future officials with guidance on their duties. So far, however, few in government are providing strong leadership. 

The president deserves credit for ending torture and releasing the memos. His repeated suggestions that enforcing the law is less important than “unity” or “looking forward,” however, are unacceptable. And this week, he floated a mixed message by saying he did not want to look “backwards,” while also welcoming an independent “further accounting” of torture by Congress or an independent commission. 

Over in the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) says he supports an independent commission to investigate government misconduct. The idea drew endorsements from The Washington Post, former military and diplomatic officials from both parties and bipartisan legal organizations such as the Constitution Project. The group’s policy counsel, Becky Monroe, told me that “in order to truly move forward, we need a commission to fully investigate all of our practices regarding the detention, treatment and transfer of detainees.” 

Leahy has given several speeches about the commission idea. He held a hearing on it last month. He issued another statement on it this week. He launched an online petition at His reelection committee has even raised money off the proposal, telling supporters that a “meaningful way” to support a commission is to donate to Leahy’s campaign. “It’s safe to say Sen. Leahy will not let the idea of a truth commission slip through the cracks,” reads one fundraising e-mail, promising that Leahy “will not rest until we have fully investigated the Bush-Cheney administration’s eight-year assault on the rule of law.”

But it does not take this long to introduce a bill. At this point, Leahy is starting to look like a profile in procrastination. 

After the release of the torture memos, I asked Leahy’s office to confirm if he would introduce a bill and when. In response, an aide reiterated that he is still talking about the idea with colleagues and experts. There was no answer, however, on when an actual bill might arrive. 

For leadership in real time, you have to visit the House. In January, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced legislation for an independent commission. Last month, he published a 541-page report, “Reining in the Imperial Presidency,” outlining recommendations to restore the rule of law, including his past advocacy of a special prosecutor to investigate waterboarding. (New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the first member of Congress to call for impeaching Judge Jay Bybee, co-sponsored Conyers’ legislation calling for an independent, nonpartisan commission.) 

Conyers renewed his call for accountability last week. “As Americans digest the awful revelations in the Bush-era [Office of Legal Counsel] opinions, our nation faces a critical choice — what will we do to ensure that abuses like those described in these memos are never again ordered by our leaders or justified by our lawyers?” he asked. 

Conyers renewed his call for independent investigations and prosecutions: “If our leaders are found to have violated the strict laws against torture, either by ordering these techniques without proper legal authority or by knowingly crafting legal fictions to justify the torture, they should be criminally prosecuted. It is simply obvious that, if there is no accountability when wrongdoing is exposed, future violations will not be deterred.” 

It is so obvious, in fact, that we should stop entertaining the political fiction that upholding our Constitution is only for people obsessed with the “past.” As the revelations of torture and surveillance pile up, the future will be full of legal confusion and lawless temptation until we independently investigate these failures and enforce our laws. 

Ari Melber (, a correspondent for the Nation, writes a regular column for POLITICO.

Obama's Intelligence Chief: Banned Techniques Yielded 'High Value ...
By The Huffington Post News Team 
If we want retribution, and much is justified, we could save years of daily 24/7 "OJ-type" coverage by going after
 Bush and Cheney to determine what they did or did not do to prevent these acts of torture being used, after our own WW II experience .... Sunday's New York Times called on Congress toimpeach federal judge Jay Bybee over his... Jon Stewart · "Daily Show" Takes On Torture Supporters (VIDEO). (SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO) Last week the Department of Justice released. ...
Politics on -

4/22: On The Chopping Block
National Journal - Washington,DC,USA
George Tenet, Dick
 Cheney, [ex-VP CoS] David Addington, and George W. Bush. Would Eric Holder do that without Obama's approval? It's hard to believe that he ...See all stories on this topic


Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Impeach Donald Rumsfeld. Impeach Condi Rice. Impeach Them Now

Yes, they did torture people to elicit false confessions that would give them an excuse to attack Iraq.

Jonathan Landay should not say "find" evidence. He should say "manufacture" evidence. Otherwise the story s good:

Report: Abusive tactics used to seek Iraq-al Qaida link: The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.... A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration.

"There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used," the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity. "The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there." It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document. "There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder," he continued. "Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies." Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under "pressure" to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq. "While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq," Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. "The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results." Excerpts from Burney's interview appeared in a full, declassified report on a two-year investigation into detainee abuse released on Tuesday by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., called Burney's statement "very significant." "I think it's obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq)," Levin said in a conference call with reporters. "They made out links where they didn't exist." Levin recalled Cheney's assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.

A senior Guantanamo Bay interrogator, David Becker, told the committee that only "a couple of nebulous links" between al Qaida and Iraq were uncovered during interrogations of unidentified detainees, the report said. Others in the interrogation operation "agreed there was pressure to produce intelligence, but did not recall pressure to identify links between Iraq and al Qaida," the report said. The report, the executive summary of which was released in November, found that Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and other former senior Bush administration officials were responsible for the abusive interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan...

Pssst. Dick Cheney is a liar. Pass it on. | Jay Bookman
By Jay 
Bush Administration lie exposed. Remember Bush stating with indignation “We don't torture”!!! The more Cheney opens his pie hole, the more people realize how out of touch with reality these idiots are. .... Are they going to impeach him? Link; Report this comment. Pokey. April 22nd, 2009 2:30 pm. If these “sources” are so certain about their assertions, then why won't they go on the record??? Hmmmm?? Cheney goes on the record, these “sources” don't, thus Cheney is ...
Jay Bookman -

Breaking: Dissenter on Torture w/in Bush Admin speaks out ...
First one former 
Bush staffer, then another, and soon a flood of them will realize they don't have to live in fear of Bush and Cheney any more. They can obey their consciences and testify or write tell-all books revealing the ugliness not just of the Cheney water ... The Republicans tried to impeach Clinton for gettin' a little sumpin' sumpin' on the side. And they considered that retribution for Democrats daring to go after Nixon for Watergate and Reagan for Iran-Contra. ...
Democratic Underground Latest... -

Bob Graham: Bush Criminal Prosecutions Should Be On The Table

By The Huffington Post News Team 

The way all this is unfolding now, while perhaps not as satisfying as seeing BushCheney, and others thrown out of office, could be every bit as valuable as part of a new set of precedents as well as the reaffirmation of the rule of law ... Impeaching for a *job was a horrible mistake. Prosecuting war crimes isn't. It must be done. Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 05:30 PM on 04/22/2009. - + New JazzSax UT See Profile I'm a Fan of JazzSax UT I'm a fan of this user ...
Huffpolitics on The Huffington Post -


Rep. Nadler: Bybee Impeachment Down The Road | TPMTV
Talking Points Memo · TPMMuckraker · TPMDC · TPMtv · TPMCafe · Archive · RSS. [Hide]. TPMtv » Latest Videos. Rep. Nadler: Bybee 
Impeachment Down The Road. Added Apr 22, 2009 7:42am. tags: outside ...
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California group presses for impeachment of judge who wrote torture memo

WASHINGTON — For six years, a little-known federal judge, Jay Bybee, has worked in a Las Vegas courtroom, hearing cases for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, a furious debate over the use of torture by the Bush administration, fueled by the release of a memo written by Bybee giving legal protection to harsh interrogation tactics, has led to calls from liberal groups for his impeachment.

"He authorized illegal, unconscionable acts, and he should be held accountable," said Rick Jacobs, who chairs the Courage Campaign, a progressive grass-roots group in California. His group launched a petition drive seeking impeachment, and he hopes to spur the California Democratic Party to endorse that position at its convention this weekend in Sacramento.

Impeachment of a federal judge is the longest of long shots, but it illustrates the intense controversy in recent days over what to do about the Bush administration's interrogation methods — including simulated drowning, sleep deprivation, being slammed against walls and confinement in small boxes — used on suspected terrorists.

President Barack Obama repudiated and banned those tactics, and last week declassified several memos, including one by Bybee, to shed light "on a dark and painful chapter in our history."

As head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, Bybee in August 2002 advised the CIA in an 18-page memo that it could use harsh tactics against Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaida leader. The methods did not constitute torture, he found, because there was "no intent to cause severe pain or suffering" as defined by anti-torture statutes.

His approval allowed simulated drowning, or waterboarding, a practice U.S. officials maintained was torture when the Japanese military used it during World War II.

Obama has expressed a desire to put the torture issue to rest, but his release of the memos ignited a new round of controversy. Conservative critics said the release made the nation less safe and gave al-Qaida valuable information. Some Democrats said they showed the need for a special prosecutor, or truth commission, to investigate potential crimes and establish a clear public record. Obama said he is open to such an idea.

The lawyers who wrote the memos — Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury — already are the subjects of a coming report by the Justice Department's ethics office that is expected to be critical. It could recommend disbarment or other penalties.

In a debate Tuesday in Orange, Yoo, a law professor at University of California-Berkeley who is currently a visiting professor at Chapman University, defended the interrogation tactics as appropriate and constitutional in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Oakland-born Bybee, 45, is the one memo author who holds public office — lifetime tenure as a federal appellate judge. Liberal groups say Bybee's decisions amount to severe misconduct that rises to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors," the grounds for impeachment and removal.

Bybee wrote "an instruction manual on how to break the law," said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., a member of the Judiciary Committee who favors impeachment.

Senate Democrats have been more cautious. Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said "the decent and honorable thing for him to do would be to resign."

But Leahy and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who also is on the Judiciary panel, sidestepped questions about impeachment.

"Had this been known at the time, he most likely would not have been confirmed," Feinstein told NBC. Asked about impeaching Bybee, she added, "I'm not prepared to get into that at this time."

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said calls for Bybee's removal were "outrageous."

"To call for him to be impeached when he was trying to give the proper legal advice is just ridiculous. It would be like impeaching a member of Congress for voting the wrong way," he said.

Impeachment requires a majority vote in the House, leading to a trial in the Senate. Removal from office requires a two-thirds Senate vote.

Many legal experts say Bybee's actions were legally faulty, even unethical and unprofessional, but that impeachment is an extreme remedy.

Obama clearly has no interest in impeachment. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Obama was focusing on his ambitious agenda, and "the memos and their release should be a moment for us to reflect, but not a moment for retribution."

Liberal activists disagree. "It's never a distraction to hold officials accountable," Jacobs said.


50 years of CIA Torture

The BRAD BLOG : Fixing the Facts and Legal Opinions Around the Torture Policy
The Case for ‘Looking Forward’ to the Impeachment of Jay S. Bybee…

Posted By Ernest A. Canning On 22nd April 2009

At the same time he took a step forward, releasing [1] the four Justice Department torture memos he described as a “dark and painful chapter in our history,” President Barack Obama assured CIA employees, who tortured under cover of these quasi-legal sophistries, they would not be prosecuted. The President said [2] this was “a time for reflection, not retribution…nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibb explained [3] that the President insisted on “looking forward.” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder not only seconded the President’s promise not to prosecute, but vowed to provide [4] legal counsel to defend these war criminals and to pay the damages awarded to their victims.

Great Britain’s Times Onlinequoting an unnamed former official [5], suggested there may be cases where the CIA exceeded the DOJ guidelines; perhaps even killed detainees. The President’s hint at immunity does not extend to officials who exceeded the guidelines. Although the President, in his remarks, made no mention of those who ordered torture, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos [6] last Sunday that the President did not believe “those who devised the policy” should “be prosecuted.”

The President’s promise not to prosecute generated a firestorm of protest from the legal community. Law Professor Jonathan Turley blasted the effort [7] to equate law enforcement with “retribution.”

He is trying to lay the ground work for principle when he is doing an unprincipled thing….President Obama himself has said that waterboarding is torture, and torture itself violates four treaties and is considered a war crime. So the refusal to allow it to be investigated is to obstruct a war crimes investigation.…There aren’t any convenient or inconvenient times to investigate war crimes. You don’t have a choice….You have an obligation to do it, and what I think the President is desperately trying to do is to sell this idea that somehow it’s a principled thing not to investigate war crimes because its going to be painful…It will be politically unpopular because an investigation will go directly to the doorstep of President Bush…and there’s not going to be a lot of defenses that can be raised for ordering a torture program.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) who serves on a House Intelligence Sub-Committee, added fuel to the firestorm by contrasting [8] the President’s advancement of the “I was only following orders” defense to the principles our nation applied at Nuremberg after WWII. Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said [9] the President’s refusal to prosecute violates the UN Convention Against Torture.

Before discussing the refreshing news that we have a President who, in the face of such a powerful critique, is not afraid to reverse course, let’s consider what it means to “look forward” given that the principle author of these torture memos, Judge Jay S. Bybee, [10] now sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, passing judgments on others. Absent incapacity or impeachment, there he will stay for the rest of his life…

Recalibrating Obama’s Moral Compass

By the morning of April 21, The New York Times reported [11] that “administration officials” were now saying “Emanuel meant” only that the President did not want “officials who ordered the policies carried out” to be prosecuted. “The lawyers who provided the legal rationale” are apparently fair game. By the afternoon, London’s Guardian reported that [12] the President now says the decision whether to prosecute “Senior members of the Bush administration who approved” torture rested with the Attorney General. The President referred to torture as America’s loss of its “moral bearings.”

As I noted previously, in “Prosecute or Perish,” [13] the President’s illogical formulation of not looking back was incompatible with the very essence of the rule of law. It is only by “exploring the the dark recesses of our past” that “we can develop a light for examining — and changing — the future.” (John Perkins, The Secret History of the American Empire (2007)). The rule of law, by definition, entails investigation of and prosecution for crimes previously committed.

There’s no denying the intellectual capacity of our charismatic President. His ability to deliver uplifting oration is second to none. Yet, his political instinct to seek out the center exposed a critical moral flaw. When it comes to torture and to the very foundation of the rule of law, there is no “common ground.” The President and the Attorney General have both taken a solemn oath to faithfully execute the law. To refuse to enforce the law is to obstruct justice.

It is not enough that the President has said that the Attorney General may look to prosecute those who ordered torture. We must insure that he and the Attorney General resist the temptation to again seek a middle ground where there is none, lest they destroy their own “moral bearings.” Turley suggests [14] the best way to insure that is by way appointing a truly independent career prosecutor to act as a special prosecutor. The activists’ petition [15] which asks the AG to appoint that special prosecutor would certainly serve to steady Eric Holder’s moral compass. But, as Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor with 20 years of experience, has forcefully argued [16] the immediate appointment of a special prosecutor potentially entails serious draw backs, making it, in her opinion, a poor tactical choice.

A jolt is needed to insure that the President’s moral compass points true north. That jolt requires a repetition of that shining moment when Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and briefly seized hold of the nation’s conscience by reading aloud [17] 35 articles of impeachment against George W. Bush. What America and the rule of law need is for the Honorable John Conyers, Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, to initiate hearings to determine whether now-Circuit Court Judge Bybee should be impeached — hearings at which Congress would have the right to fully investigate what went on inside the CIA’s hidden dungeons.

Accomplice to Torture

As noted in the March 29, 2009 update to “Prosecute or Perish,” Judge Bybee is the target of a criminal complaint filed by Spanish prosecutors pursuant to the Geneva Conventions and the 1984 Convention Against Torture. The evidence against Bybee is his own words, recorded in a long-ago released memo to Alberto Gonzales [18] interpreting the 1984 Convention Against Torture as implemented by U.S. statutes. To appreciate the gravity of the legal gymnastics Bybee performed, consider first, The Third Geneva Convention:

No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatsoever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

The federal statute, which implements the 1984 Convention Against Torture, proscribes “any act” which intentionally inflicts “severe pain or suffering…whether physical or mental” for the purpose of extracting “information or a confession.” “Mental pain or suffering refers to prolonged mental harm caused by– [emphasis added]

(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;

(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;

(C) the threat of imminent death; or

(D) the threat that another individual will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.

As the Bybee/Gonzales memo confirms, a provision of the USA/Patriot Act makes conspiracy to commit torture a crime.

The Bybee/Gonzales memo reflects the twisted reasoning of a Mob lawyer. Focusing on the words “severe pain and suffering,” Bybee claimed an act would not amount to torture unless the physical pain inflicted was equal in “intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”

Bybee construed the “application, or threatened…application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality” to include only those acts which “penetrate to the core of an individual’s ability to perceive the world around him, substantially interfering with his cognitive abilities, or fundamentally alter his personality.”

While Bybee graciously conceded that driving someone “to the brink of suicide,” “a drug-induced dementia” or “significant memory impairment” would qualify as “a profound disruption of the senses or personality,” he asserted the abuse must produce “psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years” before it met the statutory definition of torture. “The waterboard,” though it constitutes a threat of “imminent death,” would not be a war crime, in Bybee’s view, unless it produced “psychological harm of significant duration.”

The reasoning of Bybee — again, he’s now a federal judge with a lifetime appointment — would have produced a failing grade for a first year law student. “Other procedures calculated to disrupt” focuses on the method employed by the torturer, not the ultimate harm inflicted on the victim.

In recognition that his interpretation of U.S. war crimes statutes was pure B.S., Bybee’s memo to Gonzales turned to “Unitary Executive” theory. He made the astounding claim that even if Congress intended to proscribe torture, “the Department of Justice could not enforce [the statute] against federal officials acting pursuant to the President’s constitutional authority to wage a military campaign.”

The newly released memos include an Aug. 1, 2002 memo [PDF] [19] from Bybee to John Rizzo, the Acting General Counsel of the CIA. In it, Bybee sanctioned the use of ten techniques which the CIA intended to apply in interrogating suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah. The techniques included “walling,” “cramped confinement,” “wall standing,” “stress positions,” “sleep deprivation,” “insects placed in a confinement box” and “the waterboard.”

Walling entails slamming the detainee into a flexible wall. Wall standing entails an individual made to stand [emphasis added] “four to five feet from a wall, with his feet spread….His arms are stretched out in front of him, with his fingers resting on the wall…[supporting] all of his body weight. The individual is not permitted to move or reposition his hands or feet.” Stress positions, as applied to Zubaydah, would likely include “sitting on the floor with legs extended straight in front…arms raised above his head; and…kneeling on the floor while leaning back at a 45 degree angle.” Bybee’s memo notes that Zubaydah appeared “quite flexible despite his wound,” but the nature of the wound is not described.

Recall that during WWII it only took the Japanese Kempetai [20] a single waterboarding session, albeit over the span of hours with multiple lapses of consciousness, to convince my father to sign a false confession that he was a British agent, even though my father believed he was signing his own death warrant. A separate May 30, 2005 memo from the DOJ’s Stephen Bradbury [PDF] [21] revealed that Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002.

The Washington Post [22]reported:

In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions….Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced.

The question naturally arises as to whether 83 waterboarding sessions reflects a degree of sadism or efforts akin to “fix[ing] the facts and the intelligence around the policy”, as the Bush Administration is alleged to have done, in order to take the nation into war in Iraq, as reported in the “Downing Street Memo”. Or maybe it was both.

Democracy Now reports [23]: “In 2007, a former CIA officer publicly claimed that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only thirty-five seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.” The Bradbury memo reveals that the supposed “9/11 mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, which just happens to be the month of the invasion of Iraq.

Bybee, who made a transparent effort at CYA by limiting his opinion to the facts provided by Rizzo, seemed to draw comfort in Rizzo’s assertion that the CIA did not intend to “deprive Zubaydah of sleep for more than eleven days at a time.” Time and again, Bybee claimed the techniques would neither inflict “severe physical pain and suffering” nor cause “long-term psychological effects.”

Anyone familiar with the CIA’s research and application of the twin techniques of sensory deprivation and self-inflicted pain would tell you that the opposite is true.

A Half-Century of CIA Torture

The CIA’s involvement in torture did not begin in the post-9/11 era. As Prof. Alfred McCoy explained during a stunning and explosive Feb. 17, 2006 interview [24] on Democracy Now, in “the most famous of photographs from Abu Ghraib, of the Iraqi standing on the box, arms extended with a hood over head and the fake electrical wires from his arms…you can see the entire 50-year history of CIA torture.”

The photo embodies two basic CIA techniques, sensory deprivation and self-inflicted pain. “From 1950 to 1962, the CIA ran a massive research project, a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind, spending over $1 billion a year to crack the code of human consciousness, from both mass persuasion and the use of coercion in individual interrogation….They tried LSD,…mescaline,…all kinds of drugs,…electroshock, truth serum, sodium pentathol. None of it worked.” The first breakthrough, McCoy says, came via a joint CIA/Canadian Research Board study conducted by Dr. Donald O. Hebb at McGill University, who persuaded “student volunteers” to participate in a study where they would be subjected to sensory deprivation. “Within 48 hours,…they would suffer, first hallucinations, then ultimately breakdown.” The second breakthrough came via the research analysis of two eminent Cornell University Medical Center neurologists, who, in evaluating Soviet torture techniques, discovered that pain was most effective when “self-inflicted.”

McCoy addressed the issue of self-inflicted pain in A Question of Torture (2006). Where Bybee made the remarkable claim that “wall standing” — in which a victim’s fingers must support his entire body weight — merely induces muscle fatigue, McCoy points to a 1956 CIA-commissioned, Cornell University study of KGB torture techniques which revealed that the simple act of standing in place for eighteen to twenty-four hours produces “‘excruciating pain’ as ankles double in size, skin becomes ‘tense and intensely painful,’ blisters erupt oozing ‘watery serum,’ heart rates soar, kidneys shut down, and delusions deepen.”

The research on sensory deprivation and self-inflicted pain led to publication of the formerly secret CIA manual KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation-July 1963. [25]

I’ll try to offer more detail in a future article, on the inter-generational CIA complicity in torture. But suffice to say for the moment, if such practices are not finally brought to an end, once and for all, hopefully through accountability for those who justified them — fixing the facts around the policy — the President’s promise that it won’t happen again is little more than a vague wish.

We need accountability in hopes of looking forward, not back, beginning with U.S. House Judiciary Hearings on the matter of the Impeachment of Judge Jay S. Bybee.

Note: You can join with The New York Times in calling for Bybee’s impeachment [26] by signing the petition now being circulated by the Center for Constitutional Rights, right here. [27]

Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California State Bar since 1977 and has practiced in the fields of civil litigation and workers’ compensation at both the trial and appellate levels. He graduated cum laude from Southwestern University School of Law where he served as a student director of the clinical studies department and authored the Law Review Article, Executive Privilege: Myths & Realities. He received an MA in political science at Cal State University Northridge and a BA in political science from UCLA. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th infantry, Central Highlands 1968). 


O'Reilly revived "wall" falsehood to suggest Holder -- not Bush officials -- should be "prosecuted"

Discussing the possibility that the Obama Justice Department could prosecute Bush administration officials who authorized torture, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed during the April 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor that "[Attorney General] Eric Holder and [former Attorney General] Janet Reno put the wall up between the FBI and the CIA, which led to the 9-11 attacks. If anybody should be prosecuted it's him. ... Holder is your guy." In fact, the 1995 Justice Department memo and guidelines to which O'Reilly referred only addressed communications among divisions within DOJ, clarifying longtime unwritten restrictions on the sharing of information between the FBI's intelligence arm and DOJ's criminal division. They had no impact on communications between the FBI and the CIA, the Department of Defense, or any other agencies. O'Reilly should know this; when he previously adopted the "wall" falsehood, 9-11 Commission member and former Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA) told O'Reilly that the policies in question made "no limitation on any intelligence agency sharing anything with any other intelligence agency at all."

As Media Matters for America noted, on the August 22, 2005, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that former deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick's "involvement in building a symbolic wall between U.S. intelligence agencies and those investigating criminal activity" aided in creating "mass confusion among the agencies that are supposed to protect us" before the 9-11 terrorist attacks. O'Reilly also declared, "[W]hat I know to be true is that there was a tremendous amount of confusion, from 1995 onward after this crazy act that Janet Reno for some reason in her office made everybody aware of, that intelligence sources overseas were not to brief criminal investigators like the FBI." Gorton responded in part by saying that "[t]here was no limitation on any intelligence agency sharing anything" and that "nothing Jamie Gorelick wrote had the slightest impact on the Department of Defense or its willingness or ability to share intelligence information with other intelligence agencies." Gorton also noted that the purported "wall" predated Gorelick and Reno and was actually "created by laws sponsored by the Church Committee back in the 1970s" and "went all the way through until after 9-11 was over."

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft noted in his testimony before the 9-11 Commission on April 13, 2004, that the Gorelick memo provided the "basic architecture" for the 1995 guidelines established by Reno that formalized rules for intelligence sharing that were already in place. But, as the 1995 guidelines clearly state, the Gorelick memo and the guidelines applied only to intelligence sharing "between the FBI and the Criminal Division" within the Justice Department, not "between the FBI and the CIA":

SUBJECT: Procedures for Contacts Between the FBI [intelligence/counterintelligence functions] and the Criminal Division Concerning Foreign Intelligence and Foreign Counterintelligence Investigations

The procedures contained herein, unless otherwise specified by the Attorney General, apply to foreign intelligence (FI) and foreign counterintelligence (FCI) investigations conducted by the FBI, including investigations related to espionage and foreign and international terrorism. The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that FI and FCI investigations are conducted lawfully, and that the Department's criminal and intelligence/counterintelligence functions are properly coordinated.

While repeating the "wall" falsehood, O'Reilly also falsely claimed that "Holder was second in command to Janet Reno" at the time the "wall" was created. In fact, Holder did not replaceGorelick as deputy attorney general until 1997 -- two years after the Justice Department issued the 1995 memo and guidelines that conservatives claim created the "wall."

From the April 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:…

The Just Foreign Policy Newsroom

How Bush's Torture Helped al-Qaeda

Though George W. Bush's defenders say his torture policies worked, al-Qaeda captives told fake stories about Iraq and bought time for al-Qaeda to regroup in nuclear-armed Pakistan, reports Robert Parry. April 23, 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

Connecting CIA Torture to Abu Ghraib
Bush administration memos suggest how the CIA's brutal interrogation methods spread to Iraq and contributed to the costly Abu Ghraib scandal, reports Robert Parry. April 21, 2009

Ducking America's Torture Disgrace
The release of four Justice Department "torture" memos offers more proof of Bush administration crimes, but President Obama shies away from prosecutions, as ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman says. April 17, 2009

Bush's Hypocrisy on War Crimes
In March 2003, when Iraqi TV videotaped some captured U.S. soldiers, President George W. Bush said those who abuse captives "will be treated as war criminals," but just not him, Jason Leopold notes. April 16, 2009

Help Us Hold Bush Accountable
The U.S. news media mostly averts its eyes from the need to hold George W. Bush accountable for war crimes, but not us. However, we need your support. Please give what you can. April 15, 2009

Anatomy of Bush's Torture 'Paradigm'
In explaining how America got on the road to torture, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern traces the start of the sadistic journey to George W. Bush's tough-guy swagger after 9/11. April 14, 2009

CIA Videos Predated Bush Memo
Some the CIA's destroyed videos of harsh interrogations were made before George W. Bush's Justice Department created a legal cover for practices that crossed the line into torture, Jason Leopold reports. April 11, 2009

US Media and the Memory Hole
Rather than tell the American people the truth about unpleasant history, the U.S. news media prefers to assign such facts to a memory black hole, media critic Norman Solomon observes in this guest essay. April 10, 2009

America, Torture and Hypocrisy
The newly disclosed Red Cross report on George W. Bush's torture policies represents a challenge to American democracy -- to finally face up to the dark side of recent U.S. history, writes Robert Parry. April 9, 2009



Just Foreign Policy News
April 22, 2009

1) A newly declassified Senate report ties abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo directly to former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the New York Times reports. "The paper trail on abuse leads to top civilian leaders, and our report connects the dots," Senator Carl Levin, said. "This report, in great detail, shows a paper trail going from that authorization" by Rumsfeld "to Guantánamo to Afghanistan and to Iraq," Levin said.

2) President Obama declined to rule out legal consequences for Bush administration officials who authorized harsh interrogation techniques applied to terrorism suspects, saying the attorney general should determine whether they broke the law, the Washington Post reports. Obama said if Congress is intent on investigating the interrogation practices, an independent commission might offer a better means to do so than a congressional panel. "I am pleased that the president made clear that he has not ruled out investigations or prosecutions of those who authorized torture, or provided the legal justification for it," Senator Feingold said.

3) European prosecutors are likely to investigate CIA and Bush administration officials on suspicion of violating an international ban on torture if they are not held legally accountable at home, the Washington Post reports. 

Watch Rachel Maddow tonight, if you missed it, on her first segment, "High Crimes?"

She shows, with Ron Suskind, that the torture program came from the White House.

Momentum seems to be building pretty fast in the direction we want to go!

Other segments on the show are worth watching, too!

And Keith Olbermann's Countdown was dynamite, too:


PRIVCORR: A Little Torture Here, a Little ......
By wvng 
Thanks, Oh Wise Men Of Washington. 
It's always a bit traumatic remembering those crazy days of 2002 when only stupid dirty fucking hippie bloggers thought invading Iraq was a bit of a bad idea. John Cole: Torture Got Results ... Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy said Wednesday that if Republicans do not back an independent commission to investigate the George W. Bush administration's detainee interrogation program, he will launch a committee probe. ...


Impeach Torture Architect Bybee

We need your help to impeach one of the legal architects of the Bush administration Torture Program who is now, incredibly, a federal judge.

Last week, President Obama released four torture authorization memos written by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) under the Bush administration that devised a legal framework for the justification of the Torture Program. The memos were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit the Center for Constitutional Rights helped file with the ACLU and other organizations.   

The memos were intended to provide legal cover for officials to carry out abhorrent, illegal and ineffective techniques that were approved at the highest levels of the Bush administration in violation U.S. and international law and the U.S. Constitution.

One of the principal authors was Jay Bybee, the former head of the OLC and today a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. His flagrant contempt for the rule of law is utterly inconsistent with his judicial position and speaks directly to his competency to function in that office.  It is unacceptable for an individual who abused his status as a government lawyer and violated the law in conspiring with other members of the Bush Torture Team to sit as a federal judge, someone who hears and decides issues of constitutional import. At the time of his confirmation hearing, his role in the Torture Program was secret,  as was the program itself. Jay Bybee’s actions constitute High Crimes and Misdemeanors by any standard. 

In a strong editorial yesterday, The New York Times called for Bybee’s impeachment. We agree. Write to Rep. John Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee today to demand they hold a hearing to determine whether grounds exist for Bybee’s impeachment. When you send your letter, your name will automatically be added to a petition that we will use to build a national movement to demand the prosecution of those high level officials who committed crimes when they planned, authorized, justified and carried out the Torture Program.

Bybee’s impeachment will be a first step in holding the Torture Team accountable for their actions. His August 1, 2002 memo is available

High level government officials are not above the law. 
We must send a clear message to all future officials – and to the victims of the torture policies – that the crime of torture is unacceptable and will not be swept under the carpet.  If we allow these crimes to be committed with impunity, we are doomed to repeat one of the darkest chapters in our history. Join us to see Jay Bybee impeached and advance the movement for prosecutions and accountability.

Click here to learn more about our campaign for prosecutions and accountability for Bush administration officials.



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