Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Do The “Torture Memos “Mean? Your Candid Thoughtful Answers Are Needed.

What Do The “Torture Memos “Mean? Your Candid Thoughtful Answers Are Needed.

World Can't Wait

"The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment. I call on all nations to speak out against torture in all its forms and to make ending torture an essential part of their diplomacy,"

- George W. Bush, urging the investigation and prosecution of prisoner abuse and torture under his command, June 26, 2003. 


What Do The "Torture Memos" Mean?

World Can't Wait wants to know what you think about the Torture Memos released April 16, 2009, and the controversy over prosecution of those in the Bush administration responsible for torture.


First Name

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 Do you favor prosecution of those who tortured during the Bush administration? Why or why not?

 Do you feel the release of the torture memos/Senate report, and the heightened media coverage of the torture issue during the past week, has changed the political climate in this country? If so, how so? If not, why not?

 Have the above mentioned developments around the torture issue changed the way you personally view the political situation in this country? Why or why not?

 Do you draw a distinction between the "deciders (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, Tenet)," the legal team (Yoo, Bybee, Addington, Feith, Haynes, Gonzales), and the CIA agents who did the torture?

 Why do you think broader numbers of people have NOT, thus far, stepped forward to demand an end to torture carried out openly by our government?

 What do you think we should do to bring about justice and prevent current and future US governments from using torture?


To The Anti-War Movement In The United States:

That which you do not resist and mobilize to stop you will learn – or be forced – to accept.” … From the Call to Drive out the Bush Regime, 2005

Barack Obama is sending a surge of 20,000 troops to Afghanistan.

An antiwar movement that does not move immediately to oppose the Obama doctrine of shifting the central front of the war on terror to Afghanistan, no longer deserves to be called an anti-war movement.

Millions of people voted for Obama because they thought he would end the war. Yet Obama filled his cabinet with Hillary “Obliterate Iran” Clinton, Robert Gates, James Jones and Susan Rice (“a kettle of hawks,” said Jeremy Scahill).

He is not only continuing an unjust war by leaving 80,000 troops and 17 permanent bases in Iraq, and all over the region, including nuclear carrier-led task forces with enough firepower to "annihilate" any country in the region, but Obama is enlisting many progressive sections of society to support and be complicit in waging a spreading war for U.S. hegemony and imperialist expansion known as the “war on terror.”

The election of the first Black president is effectively re-branding preemptive and illegal wars of aggression to make us feel good about them. Massive anti-war sentiment and action is already being transformed into flag-waving patriotism, passivity and capitulation in the face of horrors.

The U.S. military, stretched thin and full of discontent after six years of carnage in Iraq, is now being replenished. Military recruiters are targeting Black and Latino youth, telling them if they sign up now they’ll be fighting for Obama. Their lives will be expended as cannon fodder in a brutal war of occupation that is not in their interests.

The U.S. war on Afghanistan is an unjust war of aggression—the supreme war crime. The Bush regime occupied Afghanistan and drove out the Taliban regime, not to bring democracy and liberation to the Afghan people, but to control Afghanistan and spread the U.S. empire, with the goal of permanent domination of the Middle East.

The “war on terror” begun after 9/11 by the U.S. was not just a campaign against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden, but a broad, global war to continue the U.S. position as unchallenged global superpower. This is not a war to free people from warlords of Islamic fundamentalism, a movement the U.S. funded and armed, and ironically, spread, when it was aligned with the US against the Soviet Union in the 1970’s.

The war in Afghanistan is and will be fought the same way the war in Iraq is being fought. Most of the people killed are civilians, with the U.S. justifying collateral damage and collective punishment, secret prisons, denial of due process and torture. It is wrong, unjust, illegitimate and immoral. And it won’t be otherwise, no matter who is president. There is no such thing as a “good” war on terror.

The U.S. occupiers consider any large gathering of Afghans inherently hostile, hence the repeated bombings of wedding parties. Even the U.S. puppet, Hamid Karzai, is warning the U.S. to stop killing civilians. And it is NOT a war to free women. According to afghan-web.com/woman/, after 7 years of US occupation:

• Every 30 minutes, an Afghan woman dies during childbirth
• 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate
• 30 percent of girls have access to education in Afghanistan
• 1 in every 3 Afghan women experience physical, psychological or sexual violence
• 44 years is the average life expectancy for women in Afghanistan
• 70 to 80 percent of women face forced marriages in Afghanistan

The deadly and self-perpetuating cycle between the terror directed at civilians by the Islamic fundamentalists fighting against the U.S. and the terror of the U.S. wars of aggression directed at civilians can only be stopped by the people of those countries, combined with the actions of people in this country who refuse to strengthen either side.

We in this country, and those of us in this movement, have a choice. We can side with “our” government, with the “good war” fought in our names, and act like American lives are more important than anyone else’s lives.

Or we can show the people living in the Middle East, and the world, that in the U.S. there is a difference between the people and their government, and that the people are taking responsibility to end an unjust war and the war crimes that have been carried out in our name. We can act like we care about the whole planet.

The antiwar movement of the last several years which confined itself to lobbying and campaigning served to demobilize mass protest. Now this movement must shake off this passive complicity and act once again in a way that is so visible and powerful it can be seen all over the world, especially in the countries that have been targets of this aggression.

An antiwar movement that does not have the principle and the conviction to oppose the crimes carried out by our government; that dodges the immediate escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and the threat of war on other places; that chooses to focus on “domestic issues” when people of the Middle East are counting on us, will commit unconscionable betrayal.

An antiwar movement needs to show common cause with the people of the world and not common cause with war criminals. Too much is at stake for the progressive movement to consult with or sound like the generals or the Commander in Chief. Too much is at stake to “wait and see” whether this is all going in the direction Obama says it is.

Visible action is urgently needed:

The USA PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, and Obama’s FISA Act must be repealed; the U.S. torture state must be dismantled, and secret rendition ended.
*Visible – orange – protests on Sunday, January 11, the anniversary of Guantanamo.

Prosecute the war criminals and STOP the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan!

*The first anti-war protest of the Obama administration January 20, 2009, Washington DC,

Six Years of Illegitimate War – Resist the Recruiters!
*Wednesday, March 18 “We Are Not Your Soldiers” Day of resistance to recruiters;
*Thursday March 19: Local protests including school walk-outs.
*Saturday March 21: United mass protests.

We in World Can’t Wait pledge to work with everyone who wants to build an ANTI-war movement.
Real change happens when people take independent action – outside the confines of government and in their own interests.

If we want to stop the continued horror of the largest imperialist power on earth dropping bombs, sending death squads and torturers anywhere with impunity – in our names -- the only way is to face up to reality, tell the truth, and get out to the people with the message that we must stop the crimes of our government.

Worldcantwait.org 866 973 4463


How ’07 ABC Interview Tilted a Torture Debate

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/business/media/28abc.html?partner=rss&emc=rss Top of Form

Bottom of Form



Published: April 27, 2009


In late 2007, there was the first crack of daylight into the government’s use of waterboarding during interrogations of Al Qaedadetainees. On Dec. 10, John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer who had participated in the capture of the suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002, appeared on ABC News to say that while he considered waterboarding a form of torture, the technique worked and yielded results very quickly.

Mr. Zubaydah started to cooperate after being waterboarded for “probably 30, 35 seconds,” Mr. Kiriakou told the ABC reporter Brian Ross. “From that day on he answered every question.”

His claims — unverified at the time, but repeated by dozens of broadcasts, blogs and newspapers — have been sharply contradicted by a newly declassified Justice Department memo that said waterboarding had been used on Mr. Zubaydah “at least 83 times.”

Some critics say that the now-discredited information shared by Mr. Kiriakou and other sources heightened the public perception of waterboarding as an effective interrogation technique. “I think it was sanitized by the way it was described” in press accounts, said John Sifton, a former lawyer for Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group.

During the heated debate in 2007 over the use of waterboarding and other techniques, Mr. Kiriakou’s comments quickly ricocheted around the media. But lost in much of the coverage was the fact that Mr. Kiriakou had no firsthand knowledge of the waterboarding: He was not actually in the secret prison in Thailand where Mr. Zubaydah had been interrogated but in the C.I.A. headquarters in Northern Virginia. He learned about it only by reading accounts from the field.

On “World News,” ABC included only a caveat that Mr. Kiriakou himself “never carried out any of the waterboarding.” Still, he told ABC that the actions had “disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.” A video of the interview was no longer on ABC's website.

“It works, is the bottom line,” Rush Limbaugh exclaimed on his radio show the next day. “Thirty to 35 seconds, and it works.”

Mr. Kiriakou subsequently granted interviews to The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public RadioCBS, CNN, MSNBC and other media organizations. A CNN anchor called him “the man of the hour.”

Eight months after the interview, Mr. Kiriakou was hired as a paid consultant for ABC News. He resigned last month and now works for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

His ABC interview came at an especially delicate juncture in the debate over the use of torture. Weeks earlier, the nomination of Michael Mukasey as attorney general was nearly derailed by his refusal to comment on the legality of waterboarding, and one day later, the C.I.A. director testified about the destruction of interrogation videotapes. Mr. Kiriakou told MSNBC that he was willing to talk in part because he thought the C.I.A. had “gotten a bum rap on waterboarding.”

At the time, Mr. Kiriakou appeared to lend credibility to the prior press reports that quoted anonymous former government employees who had implied that waterboarding was used sparingly. In late 2007, Mr. Ross began pursuing Mr. Kiriakou for an interview, “leaning on him pretty hard,” he recounted.

On Dec. 10, in the subsequent interview, Mr. Kiriakou told Mr. Ross that he believed the waterboarding was necessary in the months after the 9/11 attacks. “At the time I was so angry,” he told Mr. Ross. “I wanted so much to help disrupt future attacks on the United States that I felt it was the only thing we could do.”

Mr. Kiriakou was the only on-the-record source cited by ABC. In the televised portion of the interview, Mr. Ross did not ask Mr. Kiriakou specifically about what kind of reports he was privy to or how long he had access to the information. “It didn’t even occur to me that they’d keep doing” the waterboarding, Mr. Ross said last week. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

He added, “I didn’t give enough credit to the fiendishness of the C.I.A.”

Mr. Kiriakou refused an interview request last week. In a statement to ABC, he said he was aware only of Mr. Zubaydah’s being waterboarded “on one occasion.”

The C.I.A., which considered legal action against Mr. Kiriakou for divulging classified information, said last week that he “was not — and is not — authorized to speak on behalf of the CIA.”

Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, said: “This agency did not publicly disclose the frequency with which the waterboard was used, noting only that it was employed with three detainees. If reporters got that wrong, they weren’t misled from here.”

In the days after Mr. Kiriakou’s media blitz, his claims were repeated by an array of other outlets. For instance, the Fox News anchor Chris Wallace cited the 35 seconds claim to ask a congressman whether the interrogation program was “really so bad.”

Months later the claims continued to be amplified; the National Review editor Jonah Goldberg used Mr. Kiriakou’s assertions in a column last year to argue that the waterboarding was “right and certainly defensible.”

Mark Danner, a journalist who has written extensively about the covert program for The New York Review of Books, said the news reports had fed the idea that brutal interrogations could instantly glean information about terrorist plans.

“There was a completely mistaken impression put about that this technique was not cruel because it could break detainees so quickly,” he said.

(An article in The New York Times on Dec. 13, 2007 described his comments to ABC and added a quotation from Mr. Kiriakou: “I think the second-guessing of 2002 decisions is unfair. What I think is fair is having a national debate over whether we should be waterboarding.”)

When Mr. Kiriakou was later hired by ABC to provide commentary on terrorism cases, Mr. Ross said that network officials had been concerned about the appearance of a tie between the interview and the job. For that reason, “I felt that we should sort of wait,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone to think that he was promised something for the interview. He was not.”

Mr. Ross, who received a George Polk Award for a series on interrogation, expressed no regret about the Kiriakou interview and praised him for speaking publicly. He said ABC was preparing a story that would address the previous reporting.

“Kiriakou stepped up and helped shine some light on what has happening,” Mr. Ross said. “It wasn’t the huge spotlight that was needed, but it was some light.”

As talk continues about possible prosecutions of people involved in the interrogations, waterboarding is once again a hot topic. Last week, Sean Hannity, a conservative Fox News host, said he would agree to be waterboarded (for charity) when a guest proposed that he experience it.

But the recent Justice Department memo has led some commentators to revisit their earlier impressions about the technique.

“I’ve always been on the fence about whether waterboarding constituted torture,” Mr. Goldberg of the National Review wrote last week, but if the figures are true, “then I think the threshold has been met.”

He added: “Debating whether it was worth it still seems open to debate, depending on the facts.”

Scott Shane contributed reporting from Washington.





Time for the Dems to Get Some 'Chicago Way' in Their Spines

by Ed Tubbs  |    www.opednews.com--


In director Brian De Palma's 1987 classic film,The Untouchables, Kevin Costner, as Eliot Ness, has recruited Sean Connery, playing tough cop Jim Malone, in the federal government's effort to get gangster Al Capone. Malone tells Ness, like it is, when he counsels the fed on the "Chicago way": "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue. That's the 'Chicago way.'"

There's been an awful lot of street noise that's gotten called 'lessons learned,' from prior experiences. But, unless a behavior or an action is demonstrably altered as a consequence of those lessons taught, ain't nothin' been learned.

Republicans have demanded what amounts to veto power over not only presidential department and judicial appointments, but over executive orders as well. Utah's Robert Bennett, a Republican, has placed a hold on the nomination of David Hayes to be Interior's Deputy Secretary. The reason: At the end of his last term, the Bush Interior Department approved hundreds of oil and gas leases on tens of thousands of acres of public lands, three of which are immediately adjacent national parks in Utah, all without the legally required public review. When the current Interior Secretary called a time out to consider the effects on the environment of the leases, Bennett wielded the veto axe over the Hayes nomination.

In the same spirit, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have demanded the right to deep-six any Obama judicial appointment they feel might tilt the now highly conservative federal court system the least to the middle. Any Democratic wiggle from acceptance of the demand will trigger a Republican nuclear attack.

Now that the most lurid details of the Bush administration deprecations have been leaking to light, by the most recent polls, a majority of Americans are demanding full investigations, that wherever the evidence leads . . . so be it. But Republicans are threatening a legislative nuclear war should investigations be commenced. (Conveniently forgotten is how the GOP overturned every stone and pebble along the White River, all to effectively assassinate a Democratic president they despised. When they found nothing on the river, they spent fifty million more to uncover a stain on a blue dress, and then impeached the fellow for lying about something each and every one of the Republicans would also have lied about!) 

Generally disbarment is imposed as a sanction for conduct indicating that an attorney is not fit to practice law, willfully disregarding the interests of a client, or engaging in fraud which impedes the administration of justice. In addition, any lawyer who is convicted of a felony is automatically disbarred in most jurisdictions.

In the United States legal system, disbarment is specific to regions; one can be disbarred from some courts, while still being a member of the bar in another jurisdiction. However, under the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which have been adopted in most states, disbarment in one state or court is grounds for disbarment in a jurisdiction which has adopted the Model Rules.

Disbarment is quite rare.[citation needed] Instead, lawyers are usually sanctioned by their own clients through civil malpractice proceedings, or via fine, censure, suspension, or other punishments from the disciplinary boards. To be disbarred is considered a great embarrassment and shame, even if one no longer wishes to pursue a career in the law; it is akin, in effect, to a dishonorable discharge in a military situation.

Because disbarment rules vary by area, different rules can apply depending on where a lawyer is disbarred. Notably, the majority of US states have no procedure for permanently disbarring a person. Depending on the jurisdiction, a lawyer may reapply to the bar immediately, after five to seven years, or be banned for life.[1]

Bar-association rules, which are established by state associations—Mr. Gonzales is licensed in the state of Texas in addition to being admitted to the Supreme Court bar—typically forbid “conduct that involves deceit, fraud or misrepresentation.” There are also various means of censuring lawyers for bad behavior that fall short of disbarment, such as a public reprimand.

Impeach (and Disbar) Jay Bybee

I sat at my desk and did my work - Adolph Eichmann

I was pleased to see that the New York Times is calling for the impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee of the United States Court of Appeals for the NInth Circuit.   Bybee is a former Assistant Attorney General under George W. Bush who authored memos justifying the torturing of prisoners in the "war on terror." I've just read one of the memos in its entirety and it is truly appalling -- classic amoral, sanitized, legal bureaucratese, utterly removed from its human consequences and deliberately obtuse with respect to the actual practices being engaged in and the state of the law governing them.

Waterboarding is torture plain and simple and has been so held by clear American legal authority.  Mr. Bybee's memo makes no mention of this fact nor does it in any way indicate that there is precedent to consider the practice torture, something he could have discovered with a rudimentary google search. 

He was rewarded for being a good and loyal soldier to the regime with a lifetime sinecure on what has long been characterized as America's most liberal federal court of appeals.   (No doubt another fuck you to liberals by George W.)

Government lawyers have an ethical duty to uphold the law and to serve the American people and Constitution, not simply the wishes of their political masters.  A judge has the even higher duty of administering justice impartially, without fear or favor.  It is apparent that Mr. Bybee lacks the minimum level of integrity or basic human decency necessary to sit on the bench. 

The Times is correct - Congress should take immediate steps to impeach him and a complaint should be filed against him with the bar to have his license revoked.  It is time for people other than low level enlisted service personnel to be held to account for these crimes committed in our collectve name. . 

Posted by Sir Charles at 08:01 PM | Permalink


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Although I strenuously wish that Bybee was removed from his judicial office, I am concerned that Congress would not have authority to do that.

The constitution says that Federal judges serve during a term of "good behavior." I'm just not sure if it can seriously argued that misconduct before the judge took office would satisfy the absence of good behavior standard. If someone can point to some legal authority that shows me that I'm wrong, then great. If not, I think focusing on impeachment proceedings might be a waste of time.

A reader writes:

I am a lawyer who has practiced in Washington for more than 20 years.  I'm not sure I have the words to describe my reaction upon reading the Bybee memo, but it's fair to say it sent chills down my spine.

"...Lawyers are a cynical lot - it comes with the territory - but we all know that we have some basic obligations to our clients. One of them is to tell them the truth, and not to conceal facts or law that the client should know about. Even as you must represent your client zealously in disputes, you are required as an officer of the court not to hide adverse precedent. And failing to tell your client about cases that run against the client's preferred result is a profound dereliction of duty.

In that context, the Bybee memo is a lawyer's worst nightmare. It's an F-minus in law school, a zero on the bar exam, grounds for firing a first-year lawyer for an utter lack of understanding of what the practice of law requires.

It is beyond conception to imagine a competent lawyer not even mentioning the cases when the U.S. prosecuted Japanese soldiers for waterboarding, let alone asserting that "there have been no prosecutions" under the specific statute. It is nearly as inconceivable that the memo concludes that the insect technique, used against someone with a known insect phobia, would not cause "severe mental pain."

The only rational conclusion is that this memo is not, in fact, legal advice at all, at least not in the sense that a lawyer would use the term.  

None of the people involved in writing are incompetent, after all, and none of them would have made these kinds of elementary mistakes in writing for a private client.  It was written purely to provide cover.  To do that, Bybee and the others involved in these memos knowingly subordinated their oaths as officers of the court and their ethical obligations to give carte blanche to the interrogators and those who directed them.  Perhaps they thought it was their patriotic duty; perhaps they thought that the "chatter" mentioned in the memo created an exigent circumstance that demanded that shortcuts be taken; or perhaps they expected that the memos never would see the light of day.  I doubt we'll ever really know.  Regardless of the reason, though, the dull legalese conceals an utter lack of respect for the law and for any constraints that the law might require.  And that's what's really chilling about it.

...And so Obama's refusal to investigate war crimes is itself against the law. And so torture's cancerous route through the legal and constitutional system continues, contaminating the future as well as the past, rendering the US incapable of upholding Geneva against other nations, because it has violated Geneva itself, and giving to every tyrant on the planet a justification for the torture of prisoners.

In this scenario, America becomes a city on a hill, where the rule of law is optional and torture acceptable if parsed into legal memos that do not pass the most basic professional sniff-test.

America Becomes A Banana Republic.

You may envision swift, sure justice, but that is only for poor people. politically connected folks will hire fancy lawyers (who may say the same things as public defenders but will get lengthy, nay, interminable hearings on those sayings, where a judge would have no compunction about shutting down the appointed lawyer. we all found scooter libby's trial setting hysterical---we all get laughed at no, that would be good, screamed at, when we ask for a trial date that far out just to do something as silly as prepare a defense), will launch well-funded P.R. campaigns that will be all over the talk shows and op-eds, and will be given massive and serious attention for their every utterance on the case (read your local courts section and contrast, every court beat reporter is pro-prosecution in the everyday case, and i bet you don't even really notice that). in the end, there might be some convictions, but the law is unsettled and there would be appeals and there are a lot of republican judges, many highly partisan, who would suddenly have a tremendous interest in proof of mental states, and juries drawing unwarranted inferences, and no-longer-vague due process concerns and, as in the north and Poindexter cases, would likely reverse.

All of which would leave the Obama administration, after years of devoting massive resources to the prosecutions (and possibly having to go the special prosecutor route) bruised and battered with no real gain for the national interest or our international reputation. of course, the lesson for the wing nuts would be to go hard at political prosecutions whenever they are in power, and we would have a cycle of political prosecutions, i think.

Sorry to be so unidealistic, but the criminal justice system, while very necessary, is not a pretty place or an effective one for resolving societal or political questions. better, by far, i think to expose the secrets, expose the lies, release the memos, scorn the perpetrators, hold them up to public disapproval, let them live in fear of ever going abroad, and teach us all by discussion and example that we disapprove of these things and will not repeat them. leave us free, in short, to address the major problems we face without the endless debates over the minutia of what charge to bring and who said what when and what did they really intend. they will be painted far guiltier without the trials. Political solution, played out by the administration or in senate hearings (and yes, north and sullivan made a mockery of those too) is better than the price we will pay, monetarily, politically, and socially, for prosecutions. (wait, that sounds idealistic, maybe it's the criminal justice system that is harsh and sausage-grinding. it is, who else could make Martha Stewart or Ted Stevens sympathetic.)

No law is self-enforcing. the executive and its prosecutors always have discretion to investigate to determine how much investigation is necessary. there is no "crime" in not bringing a prosecution; let's not be so pure that we turn our guy into a criminal in our zeal to be most right.

I’d argue that bringing these absurd sexting prosecutions to ruin teenagers lives is a greater prosecutorial crime than not bringing charges against the bush gang. shun them, teach against them, ruin them and their beliefs for eternity, but let's not tear ourselves apart and miss out on solving our more basic problems to vindicate our blood lust. we can call it law and the rule of law, but two decades in the courtroom has persuaded me that prosecutions are rarely pure and are all too often personal and spiteful.

Now, moving to disbar Yoo and Bybee in an effort to cost them their positions and livelihood, I like that idea.

And generally anything that Andrew Sullivan is for, I’m against. He is a born prosecutor---always right, always pure, and always fully condemning


MCCAIN ON 'BAD ADVICE'.... On CBS's "Face the Nation" this morning, John McCain dismissed the entire idea of criminal wrongdoing in relation to the Bush administration's torture policies. "No one," McCain said, "has alleged 'wrongdoing'" on the part of former administration officials. Headded, "We need to put this behind us. We need to move forward."

In the same interview, however, McCain also said this:

"[Bybee] falls into the same category as everybody else as far as giving very bad advice and misinterpreting, fundamentally, what the United States is all about, much less things like the Geneva Conventions. Look, under President Reagan we signed an agreement against torture. We were in violation of that."

Right, we were in violation of that. It's kind of the point of the debate.

The problem, then, is with John McCain's definition of "wrongdoing." As Metavirus noted, the reference to the agreement endorsed by Reagan was the United Nations Convention Against Torture, signed in 1988. The Bush administration, McCain conceded, was "in violation of that."

Given this, it sure would be helpful if McCain could clarify matters for us. McCain believes Bush administration officials aren't guilty of "wrongdoing," so there's no need for any kind of investigation. McCain also believes Bush administration officials violated U.S. and international law.

So, I'm curious -- what, exactly, does McCain consider "wrongdoing"? And why should U.S. officials deliberately ignore evidence of violations of the law?


We need to remember that John McCain has never been noted for the quality of his intellect!

Posted by: Tom on April 26, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

God, what a bullet we dodged, almost having this moron and his psychopathic running mate in the White House.

Posted by: rob! on April 26, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks much for the link. To McCain's point about moving on, however, if McCain admits that the Bush administration violated the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture, that means that the people that formulated the torture policy are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. I just don't get how we can "move on" from fundamental violations of U.S. and international law that we routinely call on other nations to prosecute.

Posted by: Metavirus on April 26, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Ut oh--whatever mental acuity Señor Grampa had left is leaving the building...

Posted by: Anna Granfors on April 26, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

McCain and Broder and the rest of the dim bulbs just can't imagine that sometimes Americans do bad things.

Posted by: gizmo on April 26, 2009 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

"No one," McCain said, "has alleged 'wrongdoing'" on the part of former administration officials.

...at least, not on Fox News. But there is plenty of evidence that the Bush Administration knewthey were engaged in wrongdoing: 1) destroying inconvenient legal opinions 2) designing techniques that would not leave scars 3) pretending the Abu Ghraib MP's were acting independently, and blaming Karpinski for not supervising them properly 4) hiding detainees from the Red Cross. And John McCain was never anything more than an enabler.

Posted by: Danp on April 26, 2009 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm...so under Reagan we signed an agreement not to torture? Sounds like a talking point we should hear a lot from the side who opposes torture. So why the hell is McCain bringing it up? To prove what nutball hypocrites the GOP are?

We need to stop with the Bush era euphemisms. Waterboarding is WATER TORTURE. They're not "detainees," they're POWs. We tortured our POWs. End of story.

Harsh Methods Approved As Early As Summer 2002

Holder Declassifies Timeline of Actions by Top Bush Administration Officials Regarding Interrogation.

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Peter Finn

Washington Post Staff Writers 
Thursday, April 23, 2009

Condoleezza Rice, John D. Ashcroft and other top Bush administration officials approved as early as the summer of 2002 the CIA's use at secret prisons of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a technique that new Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has described as illegal torture, according to a chronology prepared by the Senate intelligence committee and declassified by Holder.

At a time when the Justice Department is deciding whether former officials who set interrogation policy or formulated the legal justifications for it should be investigated for possible crimes, the timeline lists at least a dozen members of the Bush administration who were present when the CIA's director or others explained exactly which questioning techniques were to be used and how those sessions proceeded.

Rice gave a key early green light when, as President George W. Bush's national security adviser, she met on July 17, 2002, with the CIA's then-director, George J. Tenet, and "advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation of Abu Zubaida," subject to approval by the Justice Department, according to the timeline.

Abu Zubaida, a Saudi-born Palestinian whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, was captured in Pakistan in March 2002. He was the first high-value detainee in CIA custody, and the agency believed that the al-Qaeda associate was "withholding imminent threat information," according to the timeline.

Rice and four other administration officials were first briefed in May 2002 on "alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding," the timeline shows. Waterboarding is a technique that simulates drowning.

A year later, in July 2003, the CIA briefed Rice, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Attorney General Ashcroft, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and National Security Council legal adviser John B. Bellinger III on the use of waterboarding and other methods, the timeline states. They "reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy."

"This was not an abstract discussion. These were very detailed and specific conversations," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. "And it's further evidence of the role that senior administration officials had."

At that point, the United States had also captured Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, who was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, according to recently released Justice Department documents.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were not briefed on the program until September 2003, the narrative shows. "Strikingly, unless there is a further story in records not yet shown to us, the secretary of state and the secretary of defense were not involved in the decision-making process, despite the high stakes for U.S. foreign policy and for the treatment of the U.S. military," said  Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.).

Reached in California, Bellinger declined to comment. Attempts to contact Ashcroft and Tenet through spokespeople were unsuccessful. Rice did not respond to an e-mail, and a spokesman for Gonzales declined to comment. The CIA also declined to comment.

"This chronology is misleading and incomplete and does not reflect the NSC review process or the information presented to the NSC," said a former White House official involved in the deliberations.

Cheney has said repeatedly that the CIA program was legal and critical in breaking up a series of planned terrorist attacks. He has called on the Obama administration to declassify memos examining the effectiveness of the interrogation policies he supported.

In the fall of 2002, four senior members of Congress, including  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), now speaker of the House, were secretly briefed on interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, according to U.S. officials. Pelosi has confirmed that she was then "briefed on interrogation techniques the administration was considering using in the future. The administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Justice Department had concluded that the techniques were legal."

In early 2004, a comprehensive report by the CIA inspector general raised new questions about the program, including queries about the waterboarding of three detainees. It said the interrogations were not clearly legal under an international treaty the United States had signed known as the Convention Against Torture, which bars cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that falls short of torture.

A fresh legal review by the Justice Department prompted Ashcroft to inform the CIA in writing on July 22, 2004, that its interrogation methods -- except waterboarding -- were legal. The following month, the head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel added that even waterboarding would be legal if it were carried out with a series of safeguards according to CIA plans. By May 2005, the department had completed two more reviews of the program that came to the same conclusion. Those were among the memos President Obama released last week.

After the leak in 2005 of a Justice Department memo that narrowly defined the type of activity that would constitute torture, Rice traveled to Europe in an effort to quell the international uproar. As her trip was getting underway, she said: "The United States government does not authorize or condone torture of detainees. Torture, and conspiracy to commit torture, are crimes under U.S. law, wherever they may occur in the world."

Rice also said at the time that the administration's policy "will be consistent" with the international convention prohibiting "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." A former aide said that gaining administration approval for Rice to make this statement was "a move forward."

Staff writer Glenn Kessler and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


WASHINGTON (CNN) — An independent commission is needed to determine who authorized the use of abusive interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists, a leading advocate of such a panel said Sunday.

"I want to know who was it who made the decisions that we will violate our own laws; we'll violate our own treaties; we will even violate our own Constitution," Sen. Patrick Leahy told CBS' "Face the Nation."

"That we don't know," said Leahy, D-Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We don't know what that chain of command was."

Former President George Bush repeatedly denied that his administration authorized the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. But a set of legal opinions released earlier in this month documented the Bush administration's justification for coercive interrogation techniques including waterboarding, which has been considered torture since the Spanish Inquisition.

A Senate Armed Services Committee report released last week showed that top Bush administration officials gave the CIA approval to use waterboarding as early as 2002. And in 2003, a meeting that included then-Vice President Dick Cheney, CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General John Ashcroft and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed the use of coercive tactics, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The releases have fueled calls for investigations of former administration and led to arguments from Bush's defenders — including Cheney — that the tactics produced information that saved American lives.

Leahy first proposed the idea of a nonpartisan "commission of inquiry" in March. He said Sunday that he was not "out for some kind of vengeance," but added, "I'd like to read the page before we turn it."

Lawrence Wilkerson: Disbar The Bush Lawyers And Get A Special ...
By The Huffington Post News Editors 
Karl Rove and Pat Buchanan are giving theirs away and Dick Cheney has changed the label on his stash and is trying to pass it off as moonshine. George Bush is the only one quietly in a corner drinking his. They said this was the greatest batch since WWII, ... Why is that Congress impeached Clinton for lying about getting his willy slicked but they have no political will to even investigate war crime torture? The sky used to be blue in my world ya know, but not anymore. ...
The Huffington Post | Full News Feed - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thenewswire/

The Daily Wrap

Today on the Dish we got a glimpse at what real heroism during the interrogations looked like. A glimpse at the swine flu, however, looked bad. An assortment of quotes on torture came back to haunt George Bush, John McCain, and Newt Gingrich, while other apologists began to plan a legal defense. I took a look at Obama's 100 days, worried about his entrenchment in Iraq, and joined Manzi in a discussion comparing torture to warfare.

Recalling A Time (Not Long Ago) When U.S. Senators Were People And Not Political Partisans





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