Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Fn… Stories: Ignite, Firestorm, Furor, Fury, Furious, Ferocious…I Think It’s Fabulous!

What  Fn… Stories: Ignite, Firestorm, Furor, Fury, Furious, Ferocious…I Think It’s Fabulous! 


Holder to Testify Thursday Afternoon, Receive 250,000 Petitions Asking for a Special Prosecutor

On Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in Rayburn 2359, Attorney General Eric Holder will testify before a subcommittee. It will be webcast. At that time, After Downing Street,, ACLU, FireDogLake, Center for Constitutional Rights, and will deliver petitions to Holder asking for a special prosecutor. Sign here quick! And then please go here to contact members of the subcommittee to ask them to ask Holder why, if waterboarding is torture, the evidence (including open admission by the former vice president) is public, and the Convention Against Torture requires that we enforce our laws, he isn't doing so. Call them and ask them to ask Holder for a special prosecutor.

Obama Ignites Interrogation Furor - Washington,DC,USA
Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. , D-Mich., said his committee would hold hearings on the memos regardless of whether the OPR report is released. ...

Feingold Unloads On Peggy Noonan: "Never Heard Anything Quite As Disturbing"

Senator Russ Feingold, one of the harshest critics of the Bush administration's national security policies, says he cannot bring himself to support President Obama's apparent decision not to investigate or prosecute illegalities from those years.

"Part of what troubles me are the lawyers -- we should see their law school degrees -- who consciously wrote these memos justifying and explaining full well those outrageous arguments," the Wisconsin Democrat said on Tuesday in reference to the Bush-era torture memos released last week. "I cannot join the president, or his spokesman, or [chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel, who said we aren't going [to prosecute these people]. I can't. I just disagree with them."

Later, the Senator took a swipe at some of the rationalizations for avoiding prosecution that have been voiced by Washington lawmakers and pundits.

"If you want to see just how outrageous this is, I refer you to the remarks made by Peggy Noonan this Sunday," he said, referring to the longtime conservative columnist's appearance on ABC's This Week. "I frankly have never heard anything quite as disturbing as her remark that was something to the affect of: 'well sometimes you just have to move on.'"

"Some things in life need to be mysterious," Noonan said on Sunday about the release of the torture memos. "Sometimes you need to just keep walking. ... It's hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that."

Feingold's remarks, delivered before the Religious Action Center convention, represent some of the most forceful pushback against the line coming out of the White House to date. Emanuel and senior adviser David Axelrod have suggested that prosecution of Bush officials is likely off the tabledue to the political sensitivities that would accompany such retroactive action. On Tuesday morning, however, the New York Times reported that White House "aides did not rule out legal sanctions for the Bush lawyers who developed the legal basis for the use of the techniques."

A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a long-time critic of torture, Feingold viewed investigations and, perhaps, prosecutions as a key tool to restoring America's moral standing.

"It is truly horrifying and unforgivable that anybody operating under the auspices of the United States of America had involvement in any of this," he said. "So I'm not even completely ready to [cede the argument] that people who devised these techniques should be off the hook. I understand the argument. I also remember when people said that they were just following orders. So that troubles me and I am thinking about it."

UPDATE: Feingold responds to Obama's statement that he is open to prosecutions of some Bush officials:

"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. Horrible abuses were committed in the name of the American people, and we cannot look the other way, or just 'move on.' The final decision will be up to the attorney general and the president, but I urge the Justice Department to take this matter very seriously."

DOJ May Act On Proposal to Expand Scope of Torture Tape Probe
The Public Record - Los Angeles,California,USA
By Jason Leopold Justice Department officials are reviewing a proposal contained in a voluminous report prepared by House
 Judiciary Committee Chairman John 

 The recent release of Justice Department memos on torture indicate that the country is still in the grasp of the chillingly long nightmare created by George Bush, Dick Cheney and their administration. 

After President Obama ok’d the release, a firestorm of protest blazed across the country. 

Far-right bloviators, including Cheney, Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham and Karl Rove, sought to condemn Obama for “letting the terrorists know” about the extreme techniques and therefore, supposedly, enabling them to train against the methods. (Such claims ignore the fact that awareness of U.S. waterboarding and other torture “techniques” is already widespread.) 

But most Americans were disgusted with the memos’ legal justifications for torture, some of which spelled out specific techniques in painful detail. 

On page 2 of the Aug. 1, 2002, secret memo, 10 interrogation techniques are outlined: “(1) attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap (insult slap), (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) insects placed in a confinement box, and (10) the waterboard.” 

Quoting one of the memos, The New York Times said waterboarding — mock drowning — was used on two al-Qaeda terror suspects on up to 266 occasions. 

Other methods mentioned in the memos include week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity and the use of painful positions. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) is leading an effort to establish a National Commission on Presidential War Powers and Civil Liberties to investigate torture and other possible illegal polices pursued by the Bush administration. 

On the Senate side, Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, wrote the president asking him not to rule out prosecutions until her panel completed an investigation over the next six to eight months. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is leading a separate inquiry. 

MoveOn issued a statement April 21 that said, “So far there’s been no accountability for the architects of Bush’s torture program — the top officials who justified keeping detainees awake for 11 days straight, waterboarding them repeatedly, and forcing prisoners into coffin-like boxes with insects. We need real consequences for those responsible — it’s the only way to keep this from happening again. 

“Attorney General Eric Holder can open an investigation into the torture program — but he most likely won’t unless people everywhere speak up and demand it.” 

The group has an online petition that is getting the signatures of hundreds of thousands. 

Progressive Democrats of America and the Center for Constitutional Rights are both calling for the impeachment of Jay Bybee, the author of the torture “handbook” and Bush’s assistant attorney general. Bybee is now serving as a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, a post to which he was appointed by Bush. 

Bybee not only justified torture but spelled out in gruesome detail how CIA operatives in the prisons were to carry it out. 

The Bush Justice Department legal expert set guidelines for the use of “confinement boxes” into which the victim is placed (together with insects, recalling George Orwell’s book “1984”), explained how to carry out “walling” and gave his seal of approval to “waterboarding.” 

“Cramped confinement involves the placement of the individual in a confined space, the dimensions of which restrict the individual’s movement. The confined space is usually dark,” Bybee wrote. 

“[T]hough the introduction of an insect may produce trepidation, it certainly does not cause physical pain.” 

Yet the political and legal terrain for prosecution may be more like quicksand than a paved road, some say. 

Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University, was head of the Office of Legal Counsel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He gave “great credit” to President Obama for releasing the memos and said they were a list of tortures. 

He also commented on possible war crimes. “Many, I know, wish to prosecute for war crime, and perhaps Spain still will. I doubt, given the mental requirements for criminal penalty, such would be successful, and I admire President Obama, yet anew, for taking the political heat from his left perimeter for grasping the futility of such prosecution.” 

(Kmiec was referring to Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon who wants to charge six Bush senior policy advisors with “giving legal cover” to torture at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.) 

Kmiec called for a “Nuremberg-style citizen-conducted ethics inquiry” in which Pentagon and former White House officials “would be required to self-critique why the nation they most assuredly would say they love is today embarrassed if not appalled by what was authorized.” 

However Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights argues that it’s not Obama’s decision to make as to whether torturers are prosecuted or not. 

“Whether or not to prosecute lawbreakers is not a political decision,” Ratner said. “Laws were broken and crimes were committed. 

“It is about insuring that we will not again become a nation that employs in torture. The prohibition on torture should not be dependent on who is president or on the stroke of a pen. We prosecute those who break laws to deter lawbreaking. President Obama, by granting impunity to torturers, becomes complicit with their actions. History will not judge him kindly.” 

According to reports, Obama left the door open for prosecution of Bush officials who provided the legal rationale to support torture policies. 

John Wojcik contributed to this story. 

Leahy Pushes Bipartisan Commission to Probe Bush Administration ...

FOXNews - 32 minutes ago

Democrats defend the call for probes into the drafting and use of harsh interrogation techniques, a day after President Obama opened the door for potential ...

Senate Democrats Praise Obama for Possible Prosecution of Bush ...

FOXNews - 18 hours ago

Many Democrats were angered when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel ruled out the prosecutions on Sunday. By Trish Turner Senate Democrats praised ...

Interrogation Policymakers Might Still Face Charges

NPR - 20 hours ago

by Ari Shapiro All Things Considered, April 21, 2009 · President Obama said Tuesday that Justice Department officials who authorized harsh interrogation ...

Obama's Truth-Commission Ideals Mesh With Congress's

Atlantic Online - 20 hours ago

President Obama, taking questions from reporters earlier today, fielded one on the possibility of a truth commission to investigate the Bush administration ...

US Senator calls on judge who wrote interrogation memos to quit

AFP - 21 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A leading Democratic lawmaker called Tuesday for federal appeals court judge Jay Bybee to resign over his part in giving legal backing to ...

'Truth Commission' hurdles remain

Politico - Apr 21, 2009

By JOSH GERSTEIN | 4/21/09 12:50 PM EDT Updated: 4/22/09 7:38 AM EDT President Barack Obama turned heads Tuesday by abruptly warming to the idea of a ...

Leahy: Torture memo judge should do 'honorable' thing and resign

Raw Story - 1 hour ago

Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on Tuesday for former torture memo author Jay Bybee to resign from his current ...

Torturers should be punished - 2 hours ago

By Amy Goodman But the four Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel memos released last week by the Obama administration's Justice Department paint a starkly ...

Feingold on Torture Judge: "Grounds for Impeachment"

The Nation. - 12 hours ago

Torture memo author Jay Bybee, who outlined procedures for inflicting cruel and unusual punishments on prisoners in US custody, should of course be ...

Obama rekindles debate over Truth Commission

The Hill - 16 hours ago

By Alexander Bolton President Obama on Tuesday revived the prospect of Congress creating a “Truth Commission” to investigate whether the Bush administration ...

Obama Quells One Uproar Over DOJ Memos

Roll Call (subscription) - 16 hours ago

By Emily Pierce and Keith Koffler Congressional Democrats welcomed President Barack Obama's statement Tuesday that he would allow Attorney General Eric ...

"Torture Memos" Release Prompts Call For Judicial Resignation ...

RTT News - 18 hours ago

(rttnews) - The White House decision to declassify a series of legal memos approving the use of harsh interrogation techniques continued to resonate on ...

House Panel To Hold Hearings On Interrogation Memos

NASDAQ - 19 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AFP)--A key US House committee will hold hearings soon on newly released Bush-era legal memoranda that authorized interrogations widely seen as ...

Conyers To Hold Hearings On Torture Memos

TPMMuckraker - 19 hours ago

By Zachary Roth - April 21, 2009, 4:39PM Rep. John Conyers, who chairs the House Judiciary committee, has announced that he plans to hold hearings into the ...

Leahy Calls For Resignation Of "Torture Memo" Author

RTT News - 21 hours ago

(RTTNews) - Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is calling for a Bush administration official who authorized ...

Feinstein: 'Right now, I don't have a comment' on impeaching Jay ...

Think Progress - 22 hours ago

By Matt Corley at 1:44 pm On MSNBC this afternoon, Andrea Mitchell asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to respond to Sen. Claire mccaskill's (D-MO) argument ...

CQ Politics | Legal Beat - Is Bybee Impeachment Realistic Possibilty?
Only 13 federal judges have been impeached by the House in American history and only seven of them were convicted in the Senate and removed, according to the Federal Judicial Center. There isn't actually any definition of what exactly ...
Legal Beat -

Torturers should be punished - Montreal,QC,Canada
A grass-roots movement, including Common Cause and the Center for Constitutional Rights, is calling on Congress to 
impeach Bybee. In Spain, Judge Baltasar ...
See all stories on this topic

Harman Goes on the Attack
Roll Call (subscription) - Washington,DC,USA
Most Democrats on the House 
Judiciary Committee — including Chairman John Conyers (Mich.) — did not respond to requests for comment about whether they would ...

Under the name of reason: Campaign to begin impeachment hearings ...
By Jim 
Russ Feingold (D-WI) said "grounds for impeachment can be made" against the Judge. We will continue to urge members of Congress to begin impeachment hearings against Jay Bybee. Thanks for all your support! Sincerely, Faiz Shakir ...
Under the name of reason - : Take Heart and Have Courage David Swanson
Impeachment, specifically of torture memo author turned lifetime federal judge Jay Bybee, is now supported by all the organizations that have backed impeachment of his bosses, plus: the New York Times, Chairman of the House Judiciary ...
Michael Moore - Must Read -

Response to Elizabeth de la Vega: Disagreement with a Friend and a Hero
By David Swanson

There are lots of supposed reasons not to appoint a special prosecutor.  The first set of such supposed reasons to come from someone intelligent and well-informed with good intentions has come from Elizabeth de la Vega.  Here is a response.

1. If we do not extend the statutes of limitations, the careful and considered delay could end up becoming immunity.  Simply claiming that the clock doesn't start ticking until the last act of conspiracy to conceal does not do it, since half the legal experts like that reasoning and half do not and we would have to argue each case, including cases that do not clearly involve conspiracies to conceal.  In fact, the most egregious crimes have involved open confessions from the highest officials.

2. The Senate as a whole will never ever approve any useful investigation except in committees, but it might convict following an impeachment that changes public awareness.

3. Congressional hearings produce relatively little.

4. Congress should extend the statutes of limitations, bust the media monopolies to produce more reporting, and reissue and enforce the outstanding subpoenas into which lots of careful work went over the past 2 years.

5. Leahy joined the DOJ in pushing a commission as a substitute, not as a first step, and anything like that begun before a special prosecutor is begun will be treated as a substitute.

6. Impeaching Bybee should begin at once.

7. A House select committee looking into restoring Congressional power and restricting presidential should begin at once or after a prosecution begins, but Conyers' or Leahy's proposal for a commission created by both houses will not go anywhere.

8. House and Senate committees should hold hearings, including to reissue all the outstanding subpeonas.

9. We should not let a hearing begin that can be seen as a substitute for enforcing laws, and there is no reason to delay enforcing laws -- certainly not a deficiency of evidence!

10. De la Vega knows the law and means well and I'm open to being convinced by her, but haven't been yet.  

House Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearings on Torture Memos

For Immediate Release
April 21, 2009-Contact: Jonathan Godfrey
Lillian German

Recently disclosed legal memoranda from the former Bush administration raise grave legal, ethical, and constitutional questions.  The use of tactics described in these memos runs counter not only to basic notions of decency, but places our own prisoners of war at risk and weakens our national security. And the fact that these memos were authored and approved by senior lawyers of the Department of Justice challenges the very notion that we adhere to the rule of law in this country.

The Office of Professional Responsibility will soon complete a report concerning the former Justice Department lawyers who wrote these memos. The Judiciary Committee will subsequently hold hearings and investigate these matters. If the OPR report is delayed further, we will have hearings in the near term in any event. Critical questions remain concerning how these memos came into existence and were approved, which our committee is uniquely situated to consider.

The president’s comments today on possible approaches to a fuller accounting of these matters are exactly right – further comprehensive review of the Bush administration anti-terror policies will be most valuable and successful if done in a truly apolitical and bipartisan manner. Having introduced legislation to establish just such a non-partisan truth-telling commission on the very first day of this Congress, that is the approach I have long favored. It has already won bipartisan endorsement and support both within and outside of government.

Harman Goes on the Attack : Democrat Slams NSA Wiretaps

By Tory Newmyer : Roll Call Staff : April 22, 2009, 12 a.m.

(OH, I Get it; It’s Not Nice To Catch A Congress member In The Big Net! (Ed.)

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday barreled into the second day of her fledgling scandal — touched off by reports of a wiretapped conversation she had in 2005 with a suspected Israeli agent — by trying to turn the tables on government eavesdroppers.

The veteran California lawmaker reportedly agreed on that phone call to seek leniency for two accused spies in return for help in lobbying Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the House Intelligence Committee gavel. But Harman fought back Tuesday with a media blitz, aggressively denying charges she did anything inappropriate and calling on the Justice Department to probe the wiretap and the leak behind the news accounts.

She even got some measured backup from Pelosi, a sometimes personal foe. Pelosi threw cold water on a New York Times report that Haim Saban — a wealthy Democratic donor and Harman’s reported counterpart on a wiretapped call setting up the deal — threatened Pelosi with withheld campaign contributions until Harman got the top Intelligence Committee post.

“Everybody knows I don’t respond to threats, so it wouldn’t be meaningful,” Pelosi said. “But it isn’t true, no.”

Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D) went further in her defense of her home-state colleague, joining Harman’s call for the Justice Department to release the wiretaps.

“I believe she has the highest integrity that she would never do anything to compromise our government,” she said.

Harman made her case in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, followed by a pair of cable news appearances. She used all three forums to categorically deny that she made any effort to intervene with the George W. Bush administration on behalf of two officials with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee charged with espionage. In the letter, Harman said she was “outraged” to learn of the wiretapping and called on Holder to release the unredacted transcripts and open an investigation into the possible wiretapping of other lawmakers.

“I think this is a gross abuse of power,” she said in a midday appearance on MSNBC. “This isn’t about me, this is about any Member of Congress. And by the way, Members of Congress have been calling my office this morning, asking whether, perhaps, in their own conversations with advocacy groups ... maybe they were inadvertently picked up on some kind of an eavesdrop, with or without a warrant.”

In a later appearance on CNN, Harman again said she wants to “make sure that Members of Congress are not routinely wiretapped without their knowledge.”

The New York Times reported last week that the National Security Agency has intercepted e-mails and private phone calls in a manner that broached legal limits that Congress placed on those activities last year. As part of that effort, and in an episode apparently separate from Harman’s, the agency attempted to wiretap a Member of Congress on an overseas trip, the report said.

But outside of Pelosi and Feinstein, most lawmakers appeared reluctant to make a public show of solidarity with Harman. Pelosi defended Harman as a “very valued Member of this Congress,” but said she did not know enough about the reported call with an alleged Israeli spy to “speak with authority” about it. Most Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee — including Chairman John Conyers (Mich.) — did not respond to requests for comment about whether they would support Harman’s push for a Justice Department review of wiretaps of lawmakers.

A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, said, “We have no plans to get involved.”

Likewise for most members of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the Justice Department. And ditto for Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who ducked a question about the matter on Tuesday.

The response from key House and Senate lawmakers was somewhat noteworthy given the bipartisan reaction to the 2006 Justice Department raid on the offices of former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.). Members in both parties cried foul over what they then viewed as a violation of the separation of powers protections.

Outside advocates of stricter surveillance regulations hope that will change. With portions of the USA PATRIOT Act expiring at the end of the year, they are eyeing the reauthorization as a vehicle to reining in some provisions of the wiretapping law enacted last year.

Caroline Fredrickson, a top lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the Harman episode could bring home for lawmakers that “wiretapping affects people — it has real consequences.”

See all stories on this topic

Obama Ignites Interrogation Furor - Washington,DC,USA
 Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. , D-Mich., said his committee would hold hearings on the memos regardless of whether the OPR report is released. ...See all stories on this topic  |
See all stories on this topic


Here are the list of current senators who voted for Bybee's confirmation in 2003:

And Those Folks That We Will Need To Keep An Eye On As Things Develop.  Thank You Sue Serpa.


Akaka (D-HI) , Alexander (R-TN) , Baucus (D-MT) , Bayh (D-IN), Bennett (R-UT) , Bingaman (D-NM), Bond (R-MO) ,Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY) ,Cantwell (D-WA), Carper (D-DE), Chambliss (R-GA), Cochran (R-MS), Collins (R-ME) ,Conrad (D-ND), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), Dodd (D-CT), Dorgan (D-ND), Ensign (R-NV) , Enzi (R-WY), Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Gregg (R-NH), Hatch (R-UT), Inhofe (R-OK), Johnson (D-SD), Kohl (D-WI), Landrieu (D-LA), Leahy (D-VT), Lincoln (D-AR), Lugar (R-IN), McCain (R-AZ), Murkowski (R-AK), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Reid (D-NV), Roberts (R-KS), Rockefeller(D-WV), Schumer (D-NY), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Snowe (R-ME), Specter (R-PA), Voinovich (R-OH)

Amy Goodman

Torturers should be punished

In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Look at Past Use

WASHINGTON — The program began with Central Intelligence Agency leaders in the grip of an alluring idea: They could get tough in terrorist interrogations without risking legal trouble by adopting a set of methods used on Americans during military training. How could that be torture?

In a series of high-level meetings in 2002, without a single dissent from cabinet members or lawmakers, the United States for the first time officially embraced the brutal methods of interrogation it had always condemned.

This extraordinary consensus was possible, an examination by The New York Times shows, largely because no one involved — not the top two C.I.A. officials who were pushing the program, not the senior aides to PresidentGeorge W. Bush, not the leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees — investigated the gruesome origins of the techniques they were approving with little debate.

According to several former top officials involved in the discussions seven years ago, they did not know that the military training program, called SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, had been created decades earlier to give American pilots and soldiers a sample of the torture methods used by Communists in the Korean War, methods that had wrung false confessions from Americans.

Even George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director who insisted that the agency had thoroughly researched its proposal and pressed it on other officials, did not examine the history of the most shocking method, the near-drowning technique known as waterboarding.

The top officials he briefed did not learn that waterboarding had been prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II and was a well-documented favorite of despotic governments since the Spanish Inquisition; one waterboard used under Pol Pot was even on display at the genocide museum in Cambodia.

They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned in internal memorandums that, morality aside, the methods were ineffective. Nor were most of the officials aware that the former military psychologist who played a central role in persuading C.I.A. officials to use the harsh methods had never conducted a real interrogation, or that the Justice Department lawyer most responsible for declaring the methods legal had idiosyncratic ideas that even the Bush Justice Department would later renounce.

The process was “a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm,” a former C.I.A. official said.

Today, asked how it happened, Bush administration officials are finger-pointing. Some blame the C.I.A., while some former agency officials blame the Justice Department or the White House.

Philip D. Zelikow, who worked on interrogation issues as counselor to Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice in 2005 and 2006, said the flawed decision-making badly served Mr. Bush and the country.

“Competent staff work could have quickly canvassed relevant history, insights from the best law enforcement and military interrogators, and lessons from the painful British and Israeli experience,” Mr. Zelikow said. “Especially in a time of great stress, walking into this minefield, the president was entitled to get the most thoughtful and searching analysis our government could muster.”

After years of recriminations about torture and American values, Bush administration officials say it is easy to second-guess the decisions of 2002, when they feared that a new attack from Al Qaeda could come any moment.

If they shunned interrogation methods some thought might work, and an undetected bomb or bioweapon cost thousands of lives, where would the moral compass point today? It is a question that still haunts some officials. Others say that if they had known the full history of the interrogation methods or been able to anticipate how the issue would explode, they would have advised against using them.

This account is based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former senior officials of the C.I.A., White House, Justice Department and Congress. Nearly all, citing the possibility of future investigations, shared their recollections of the internal discussions of a classified program only on condition of anonymity.

Leaked to the news media months after they were first used, the C.I.A.’s interrogation methods would darken the country’s reputation, blur the moral distinction between terrorists and the Americans who hunted them, bring broad condemnation from Western allies and become a ready-made defense for governments accused of torture. The response has only intensified since Justice Department legal memos released last week showed that two prisoners were waterboarded 266 times and that C.I.A. interrogators were ordered to waterboard one of the captives despite their belief that he had no more information to divulge.

But according to many Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and some intelligence officers who are critics of the coercive methods, the C.I.A. program would also produce an invaluable trove of information on Al Qaeda, including leads on the whereabouts of important operatives and on terror schemes discussed by Al Qaeda. Whether the same information could have been acquired using the traditional, noncoercive methods that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the military have long used is impossible to say, and former Bush administration officials say they did not have the luxury of time to develop a more patient approach, given that they had intelligence warnings of further attacks.

Michael V. Hayden, who served as C.I.A. director for the last two years of the Bush administration, devoted part of his last press briefing in January to defending the C.I.A. program. “It worked,” Mr. Hayden insisted.

“I have said to all who will listen that the agency did none of this out of enthusiasm,” he said. “It did it out of duty. It did it with the best legal advice it had.”

A Program Takes Shape

When Mr. Bush assigned the C.I.A. with the task of questioning high-level Qaeda captives in late 2001, the agency had almost no experience interrogating the kind of hostile prisoners it soon expected to hold.

1  | 2 | 3 | Next Page » And Here We Are!


Dick Cheney Seriously Needs to Shut the F Up 
By Melissa McEwan, Shakesville
This guy's like someone who got fired but keeps coming back to the job to tell you that you're not doing it right. 
Read more

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 -

Crazy Peggy Noonan's Latest Talking Point Isn't Just Wrong, It's Dangerous

Posted by Steve BenenWashington Monthly at 3:29 PM on April 21, 2009.

The more one sees the clip of Noonan's comments, the harder it is to understand what she was even trying to say.


It was pretty painful over the weekend to see/hear so many political pundits whitewash torture. To hear many of the leading conservative media voices, the problem wasn't with the Bush administration's illegal policies, which embarrassed the nation and undermined our national security, but rather with the Obama administration's transparency.

While most of the nonsense came from the usual suspects (Rove, Armey, Kristol), perhaps the most striking argument came from Peggy Noonan, the Reagan speechwriter turned Wall Street Journal columnist.

"Sometimes in life you want to just keep walking," Noonan said, adding, "Sometimes, I think, just keep walking.... Some of life just has to be mysterious."

It was, to be sure, one of the more ridiculous arguments of the debate. Noonan wasn't prepared to defend the Bush administration's abuses, but she suggested accountability is necessarily a bad idea because ... well, apparently it has something to do with walking.

Today, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), after criticizing the Obama administration's reluctance to prosecute alleged Bush-era crimes,marveled at Noonan's absurd argument.

[T]he Senator took a swipe at some of the rationalizations for avoiding prosecution that have been voiced by Washington lawmakers and pundits.

"If you want to see just how outrageous this is, I refer you to the remarks made by Peggy Noonan this Sunday," he said, referring to the longtime conservative columnist's appearance on ABC's This Week. "I frankly have never heard anything quite as disturbing as her remark that was something to the affect of: 'well sometimes you just have to move on.'"

The more one sees the clip of Noonan's comments, the harder it is to understand what she was even trying to say. Apparently, if someone you like commits a heinous act, and thinking about your friend's misdeeds makes you uncomfortable, the smart thing to do is pretend like you didn't hear about the heinous act in the first place.

That's not just wrong, it's dangerous -- it's the kind of attitude that says anyone can do just about anything and get away with it, because "some of life just has to be mysterious" and there's no point in holding people accountable.

If you're ever facing felony charges, give this a shot and see how well it goes over. "Your honor, I could offer a defense, and we could explore the charges against me, but sometimes in life you want to just keep walking. Some of life just has to be mysterious."

Jon Stewart was about as impressed with Noonan's argument as Feingold was.


Pelosi Now Remembers Harman Wiretap
New York Times - United States
By David M. Herszenhorn

Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged today that she had indeed been briefed about a wiretap that recorded conversations involving ...
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Pelosi Said She Knew Harman Was Wiretapped

Pelosi Said She Knew Harman Was Wiretapped - Washington,DC,USA

NSA told Pelosi of Harman wiretap years ago
Politico - Washington,DC,USA
House Speaker 
Nancy Pelosi revealed today that NSA officials briefed her on the secret wiretapping of Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif. ...
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Pelosi Said She Knew Harman Was Wiretapped

By Edward Epstein, CQ Staff

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she was first informed in a confidential briefing a few years ago that Rep. Jane Harman had been recorded by spy agencies, but that she couldn’t tell Harman or anyone else about it.

Pelosi said the briefing from intelligence agencies was usual practice in the Capitol, where top congressional leaders are always told when a member of Congress pops up during the course of secret investigations.

Pelosi wouldn’t comment on the substance of the briefing about Harman.

“I was not in a position to raise it with Jane Harman . All they said was that she was wiretapped,” said Pelosi, who said she couldn’t remember if the secret briefing took place in 2005 or 2006.

“When you are briefed on something it isn’t your role to share it with anybody else,” said Pelosi, who served on the Intelligence Committee for a decade until she entered the House Democratic leadership about six years ago. “Even if I wanted to share it with her I would not have had the liberty to share it with her,” she added at a roundtable sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

Congressional Quarterly reported April 19 that National Security Agency eavesdroppers heard Harman agreeing in 2005 to an appeal from a suspected Israeli agent to intervene in an effort to reduce espionage-related charges lodged against two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, Washington’s most powerful pro-Israel organization.

The New York Times published a similar front-page story Tuesday, adding that Harman was told in the conversation that Haim Saban, a wealthy Democratic donor, would threaten to withhold political contributions to Nancy Pelosi , also a California Democrat, unless Harman was tapped to head the House Intelligence panel. CQ confirmed that account in its “SpyTalk” blog Wednesday.

Harman has launched a media offensive to dispute the sources’ accounts, and has written to the Justice Department demanding that it release all transcripts of any recorded conversations. And Pelosi said the threat of a cutoff in donations never happened.

“Haim Saban has been a friend of mine for many years,” she said, adding that their friendship and political partnership persisted even though they disagreed on some issues, such as the war in Iraq.

“Many, many of Jane’s friends talked to me about her being named chair, but never in a threatening way,” Pelosi added.

The Speaker defended Harman. “I have great confidence in Jane Harman . She is a patriotic American,” she said.

Since Pelosi named Rep. Silvestre Reyes , D-Texas, as Intelligence chairman after Democrats took back the House in 2006, accounts have differed as to why Harman didn’t get the post she sought.

Some said it was because Pelosi and Harman differed on Iraq. Others said the two Californians had never been close. And now the latest reports raise the spectre of financial pressure on Pelosi. The speaker said none were true and that the real reason was much more mundane.

Pelosi said Democratic caucus rules provide that a member can be the party’s top-ranking Intelligence member for two terms. Harman had reached that limit when Democrats won the 2006 election, she said.

“The only reason Jane was not chosen is because she already had two terms. It had nothing to do with wiretaps or Iraq,”


Confirmed: Rep. Jane Harman Tried to Kill NSA Wiretapping Story ...
By John Byrne, Raw Story 
She was the most senior Democrat in the House dealing with intelligence affairs, and was sidelined after the 2006
 congressional elections. “October or November” 2004 would have been the month before, or the month of, respectively, .... I am registered with them primarily so that I can vote for Kucinich or some other occassional progressive that slips into the primary process. Having said that, I do usually end up voting for the Democratic candidate in most general ... Media and Technology -

Harman: "If There Are Tapes Out There, Bring It On!"

By Zachary Roth - April 21, 2009, 1:19PM

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) just appeared on MSNBC to give a guns blazing denial of the allegations inCQ's explosive report from yesterday.

The congresswoman, speaking to Andrea Mitchell, reiterated her claim that she didn't intervene with anyone -- not the Justice Department, or the White House -- in the AIPAC case. And she renewed her call for DOJ to disclose all the material associated with the investigation into her that, according to CQ's report, Alberto Gonzales helped stymie.

"If there are tapes out there, bring it on!" she said, calling the government wiretapping that reportedly picked up her conversation, "a gross abuse of power."

Harman said she had no need to make a quid pro quo with AIPAC. "I have a long friendship with AIPAC. I didn't need to cut some deal with AIPAC."

She said it was publicly known that she wanted the House Intel committee job, and added: "I believed that I had been promised that [job] in writing," by Nancy Pelosi.


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