Cheney And The “FOX News” Arm Of The Bush Administration Are Going Berserk!
ACLU Obtains Detailed Official Record Of Cia Torture Program
The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) documents describe enhanced interrogation techniques used as late as 2007.
Veteran prosecutor Ed Durham may face his toughest case yet after being appointed this week by Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the CIA's controversial secret interrogation program.
Veteran prosecutor John Durham has built an impressive 30-year career with the Justice Department taking down corrupt public officials, including FBI agents in bed with the mob, two Connecticut mayors and the former governor of that state.
But Durham may face his toughest case yet after being appointed this week by Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the CIA's controversial secret interrogation program.
Durham's task is to determine whether any CIA officers or contractors should face criminal charges for crossing the line on rough but permissible tactics.
The investigation is fraught with political implications. Conservatives have argued that the program, which included subjecting high-level terror suspects to mock executions, forced nudity, waterboarding and stress positions, saved lives by helping to develop intelligence that prevented multiple attacks against Americans. But liberals call the tactics torture and say the intelligence could have been gained with more conventional tactics.
Some of them are hoping the scope of his investigation widens enough to consider bringing charges against former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been the most vocal proponent of the program.
Durham is no stranger to probing alleged misconduct by the spy agency.
He is investigating the CIA for the 2005 destruction of interrogation videotapes, an assignment given to him last year by Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Although Durham, the first assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, is a registered Republican, former colleagues describe him as nonpartisan. They also say he is a relentless and serious prosecutor who isn't accustomed to losing.
"He kind of has blinders on in the sense that he doesn't worry about the politics and all the other stuff that might be swirling around, and I think that's really what makes him so successful," Warren Bamford, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, told the Boston Globe last year.
In 1999, Clinton administration Attorney General Janet Reno appointed him to probe allegations that FBI agents and Boston police officers were working with the mob. The investigation resulted in numerous convictions of public officials and charges of misconduct and influence peddling.
Michael Clark, a former FBI agent who worked with Durham for years in Connecticut told The New York Times last year the Durham's experiences in unraveling the corrupt relationships in Massachusetts as well as in convicting public officials in Connecticut, including former Gov. John Rowland, show why his methods are well suited to probing the CIA.
"John's style is dogged and focused," Clark told the newspaper, explaining that the investigation of Rowland was fraught with political pitfalls and detours. "Because he is so intent on following the facts, he refused to become involved in any political dimensions or detour."
Rowland pleaded guilty to accepting $107,000 in gifts from people doing business with the state and for not paying on them. He was sentenced to a year in federal prison.
Rebel Reports We Need a Special Prosecutor for Blackwater and Other ...
Attorney General Eric Holder should appoint a special prosecutor just to examine the role that Blackwater and other private contractors have played from the ...
By The Huffington Post News Editors
Both Obama/holder are trying to distant themselves by appointing a special prosecutor. that way they can tell the American people "I am not to blame for this investigation, blame the special prosecutor."
Cheney vs. Holder: Will former VP defy prosecutors?
Kansas City Star
Cheney told FOX News he might refuse to talk to a special prosecutor looking into the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques earlier this decade. ...
Cheney has been one of the fiercest critics of US Attorney General Eric Holder's decision last week to name a new special prosecutor to look deeper into ...
WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney said he might refuse to speak with a prosecutor investigating suspected CIA prisoner abuses, a probe he branded as political and bad for national security.
Cheney has been one of the fiercest critics of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's decision last week to name a new special prosecutor to look deeper into harsh interrogations of captured terrorism suspects during the Bush administration.
Asked whether he would talk to prosecutor John Durham if eventually sought out, Cheney told "Fox News Sunday": "It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in. I've been very outspoken in my views on this matter."
The cases under investigation include a mock execution, use of a power drill to scare a prisoner and the waterboarding of accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times.
"I'm very proud of what we did in terms of defending the nation for the past eight years, successfully," Cheney said in a recorded interview. "And it won't take a prosecutor to find out what I think. I've already expressed those views."
Cheney said he did not know at the time which methods were used in specific cases but defended the interrogators, saying "the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives."
The decision to name a prosecutor could create political headaches for President Barack Obama and distract lawmakers from his drive to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.
On Sunday, Republican lawmakers renewed their concerns about the investigation while one of Obama's key allies sought to distance the president from Holder's decision.
Democratic Senator John Kerry said he believed "there's a little bit of a tension between the White House itself and the lawyers and the Justice Department.
"And in a sense, that's good, that's appropriate, because it shows that we have an attorney general who is not pursuing a political agenda but who is doing what he believes the law requires him to do," Kerry told ABC's "This Week."
Prominent Republicans including Senator John McCain, a former presidential candidate and torture survivor during the Vietnam War, said they were concerned about the investigation's impact on morale at the CIA.
A Washington Post report on Sunday cited former intelligence officials saying CIA morale was sagging.
"I worry about the morale and effectiveness of the CIA," McCain told CBS's "Face the Nation." "I worry about this thing getting out of control and us harming our ability to carry on the struggle that we're in with radical Islamic extremism."
Senator Diane Feinstein, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she understood Holder's decision but questioned why he did not wait for her committee to finish a bipartisan investigation.
"I think the timing of this is not very good. The intelligence committee has under way now a total look at the interrogation and detention techniques used for all of the high-value detainee," Feinstein told CBS.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart, David Morgan and Vicki Allen; Editing by Bill Trott)
Media Matters for America
The Los Angeles Times reported that the CIA documents "are at best inconclusive" as to the EITs effectiveness and offer "little to support the argument that ...
Los Angeles Times
They emerged into an existence that was hidden for most of the last eight years, but now is possible to glimpse through dozens of declassified files ..
The Washington Independent - Spencer Ackerman - Aug 28, 2009
“As to the remaining 318 remanded CIA documents, the Government shall complete its processing of thosedocuments by August 31, 2009, such that, ...
The Associated Press - Aug 24, 2009
On Monday, the Obama administration released newly declassified 2004 CIA documents detailing the Bush administration's policy of capturing suspected ...
CIA IG report repeatedly makes clear that it does not assess the effectiveness of particular techniques
IG report: "The effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be so easily measured." From the "conclusions" section of the 2004 CIA IG report on "Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities":
The Agency's detention and interrogation of terrorists has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists and warned of terrorist plots planned for the United States and around the world. The CTC Detention and Interrogation Program has resulted in the issuance of thousands of individual intelligence reports and analytic products supporting the counterterrorism efforts of U.S. policymakers and military commanders. The effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be so easily measured.
IG report: "[T]here is limited data on which to assess [EITs'] individual effectiveness." From the IG report:
Inasmuch as EITs have been used only since August 2002, and they have not all been used with every high value detainee, there is limited data on which to assess their individual effectiveness. This Review indentified concerns about the use of the waterboard, specifically whether the risks of its use were justified by the results, whether it has been unnecessarily used in some instances, and whether the fact that it is being applied in a manner different from its use in SERE training brings into question the continued applicability of the DoJ opinion to its use. Although the waterboard is the most intrusive of the EITs, the fact that precautions have been taken to provide on-site medical oversight in the use of all EITs is evidence that their use poses risks.
IG report details reasons why "[m]easuring the overall effectiveness of EITs is challenging."From the IG report:
Determining the effectiveness of each EIT is important in facilitating Agency management's decision as to which techniques should be used and for how long. Measuring the overall effectiveness of EITs is challenging for a number of reasons including: (1) the Agency cannot determine with any certainty the totality of the intelligence the detainee actually possesses; (2) each detainee has different fears of and tolerance for EITs; (3) the application of the same EITs by different interrogators may have different results; and [REDACTED]
IG report: "Some participants" in CIA program judge that assessments that "detainees are withholding information are not always supported by an objective evaluation." From the IGreport:
Agency officers report that reliance on analytical assessments that were unsupported by credible intelligence may have resulted in the application of EITs without justification. Some participants in the Program, particularly field interrogators, judge that CTC assessments to the effect that detainees are withholding information are not always supported by an objective evaluation of available information and the evaluation of the interrogators but are too heavily based, instead, on presumptions of what the individual might or should know.
Separate CIA reports on the intelligence detainees provided do not discuss the effectiveness of interrogation techniques. As The New York Times noted, the partially declassified CIA memos on "Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Preeminent Source on Al-Qa'ida" and "Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against Al-Qa'ida," do not contain reference "to any specific interrogation methods and do not assess their effectiveness."
Citing misleading Wash. Post article, conservative media falsely claim CIA reports prove EITs worked
Scarborough: Argument that EITs "never worked is just ... insanity." MSNBC host Joe Scarborough claimed that "[for] months there'd been lies that have been propagated that no good information was passed." Scarborough later asserted that "[w]hen The Washington Post actually started writing about this, there are a lot of people that are going to look so unbelievably stupid for the ignorant things they've been saying." Scarborough went on to state that while one may argue that EITs were "immoral," "the argument that this never worked is just -- it's insanity." [MSNBC's Morning Joe, 8/31/09]
Fox host Steve Doocy on EITs: "It worked. It kept ... us safe." Fox & Friends aired a video clip of former Vice President Dick Cheney's August 30 appearance on Fox News Sunday, in which Cheney argued that EITs, "specifically waterboarding," were what "persuaded" Mohammed "to cooperate." Doocy followed Cheney's remarks by saying, "OK, so there you go. It worked. It kept -- kept us safe." Co-host Brian Kilmeade later said: "[W]e have an inspector general that goes in there and decides what the conclusions are. This is the conclusions that Dick Cheney says this is a portion of what I wanted to release. It was released in Saturday's Washington Post." [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 8/31/09]
Wash. Post charge that Mohammed "cooperated after waterboarding" undermined by article's own claims. As Media Matters for America has noted, The Washington Post article that Scarborough and Kilmeade cited charged that Mohammed "cooperated" with the CIA "after waterboarding" and that this occurred "to an extraordinary extent, only when his spirit was broken in the month after his capture March 1, 2003, as the [CIA] inspector general's report and other documents released this week indicate." However, these claims are undermined by reporting elsewhere in the article, which notes that Mohammed gave false information during waterboarding and that the CIA inspector general who investigated the CIA's interrogation programs could not "reach definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of particular interrogation methods."
Numerous media outlets have noted that CIA reports do not prove that enhanced interrogation techniques were effective
Salon's Greenwald: It is "patently clear" that CIA reports don't back claims about effectiveness of EITs. From Glenn Greenwald's August 29 blog post on Salon.com:
That the released documents provide no support for Cheney's claims was so patently clear that many news articles contained unusually definitive statements reporting that to be so.The New York Times reported that the documents Cheney claimed proved his case "do not refer to any specific interrogation methods and do not assess their effectiveness." ABC News noted that "the visible portions of the heavily redacted reports do not indicate whether such information was obtained as a result of controversial interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding." TPM's Zachary Roth documented that "nowhere do they suggest that that information was gleaned through torture," while The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman detailed that, if anything, the documents prove "that non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information the documents cite in defending the value of the CIA's interrogations." [emphasis in original; Greenwald, 8/29/09]
ABC says reports "do not indicate whether such information was obtained as a result of controversial interrogation techniques." ABCNews.com reported that the CIA recently had released two memos that "former Vice President Dick Cheney requested earlier this year in an attempt to prove his assertion that using enhanced interrogation techniques on terror detainees saved U.S. lives." The article added that the "documents back up the Bush administration's claims that intelligence gleaned from captured terror suspects had thwarted terrorist attacks, but the visible portions of the heavily redacted reports do not indicate whether such information was obtained as a result of controversial interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding." [ABCNews.com, 8/25/09]
Newsweek: The "newly declassified material does not convincingly demonstrate" that EITs "produced ... useful information." Newsweek reported that the CIA reports show that "the CIA's interrogations of suspected terrorists provided U.S. authorities with precious inside information about Al Qaeda's leadership, structure, personnel, and operations." However, the article added that "the newly declassified material does not convincingly demonstrate" that "the agency's use of 'enhanced interrogation techniques' -- including sleep deprivation, stress positions, violent physical contact, and waterboarding" was what "produced this useful information. In fact, though two of the newly released CIA reports offer examples of the kind of details that detainees surrendered, the reports do not say what information came as a result of harsh interrogation methods and what came from conventional questioning." Newsweek also reported that "based on this evidence, it is impossible to tell whether waterboarding and other brutal methods really were more effective than nonviolent techniques in extracting credible, useful information from Abu Zubaydah or other detainees." [Newsweek, 8/25/09]
Los Angeles Times: Documents offer "little to support the argument that harsh or abusive methods played a key role." The Los Angeles Times reported that the CIA documents "are at best inconclusive" as to the EITs effectiveness and offer "little to support the argument that harsh or abusive methods played a key role." [Los Angeles Times, 8/26/09]
Nearly a week after the release of the oft-delayed and much anticipated 2004 Central Intelligence Agency inspector general report, and analysis and reporting confirm much of what critics suspected, as well as raise new questions about the torture and detention program.
The new documents flesh out how ideologue lawyers hand-picked by the administration concocted spurious legal cover of torture; senior officials at CIA headquarters micromanaged the program; and that torture and detention, as extraordinary and morally hazardous departures from previous, accepted intelligence tradecraft, did not produce extraordinarily significant intelligence information.
Troublingly, the report is still heavily redacted, raising concern that other misdeeds--such as how a few detainees became ‘lost’ in CIA’s secret detention network, and the possibility of torture and mistreatment even more gruesome than previously reported--lurk under the blocks of black ink.
Extensive analysis of the IG report by The Washington Independent’s Daphne Eviatar and firedoglake’s Marcy Wheeler, both veteran watchers of documents related to Bush intelligence policy and especially the torture and detention program, bring into the focus how the Bush administration cherry-picked and finagled the legal justifications for the torture program. The role and placement of John Yoo, a former Department of Justice lawyer now teaching law at Berkeley who has penned high-profile justifications for the torture and domestic wiretap program such venues as the Wall Street Journal, appears now to have been highly irregular and out of customary Department of Justice channels. Based on the CIA IG report, Wheeler even characterizes Yoo as a ‘freelancer’ who wrote legal authorization memos that were not vetted or fully approved by DOJ. Eviatar, an attorney, called Yoo's lawyerly handiwork in the service of Bush administration policy 'legal cherry-picking.'
Yoo, for his part, did his work not only out of sight of his DOJ colleagues, but in the darkness of relative ignorance and credulousness. Medical data provided to him by CIA, on which he based his legal formulations, was inaccurate or misrepresented, according to the IG report. A September 2004 memo indicates that senior DOJ officials acknowledged problems caused by Yoo’s nakedly slipshod legal work.
CIA chiefs micro-managed detentions and interogations, removing the possibility the program occurred at a low level or somehow beyond the supervision of CIA headquarters, and confirming that Bush administration officials were involved down to the nth detail. A feature length New York Times story on the IG report detailed just how detailed CIA headquarters got into the details of its secret detention and torture facilities.
The Times story, which intended to show that attention to detail somehow imparted a degree of legitimacy on the detention and torture program, is a shiny distraction from another truth that emerged from the CIA IG report: the extraordinary and exceptional practice of torture appears NOT to have yielded extraordinary and exceptional intelligence, and certainly not any lifesaving disruption of ‘imminent attacks.’
Indeed, the program failed to stop major Al Qaeda attacks in Spain, Indonesia, Iraq, and the United Kingdom, notes Wheeler.
Nonetheless, former Vice President Dick Cheney persists with parsed claims the declassified CIA IG report ‘proves’ that torture ‘works,’ as recently as Sunday in a credulous FoxNews interview that Andrew Sullivan compared to “A Teenage Girl Interviewing The Jonas Brothers." However, the report itself forthrightly states that the detention and torture program did not stop any imminent attacks. Even former CIA Director Michael Hayden characterized the take from the program as ‘modest.’
Cheney and other advocates of the program can, at best, cite indications that the overall process of interrogation-- but not specifice techniques--produced intelligence. But there is no empirical evidence or indication in the CIA IG report that a specific torture technique yielded any one specific element of verifiable intelligence.
If such a direct and vindicating bit of evidence existed, correlating valuable, life-saving intelligence to an odious torture technique, it already would have been leaked via a highly placed, dubiously sourced, and stenographically reported story or op-ed not unlike one of those recently run in the New York Times or Washington Post in response to the announcement of a DOJ inquiry into possible criminal acts in connection to the detention and torture program. Instead: the thin gruel of Cheney’s Bill Clinton-esque parsing on FoxNews and a poorly reasoned essay penned by a spy novelist, a kind of journalistic/public relations not-a-doctor-but-plays-one-on-TV, in gobsmacked awe of real spy guys with whom he gets to do panel discussions.
Other analysis of the CIA IG report has homed in on “the dogs under the porch,” as Congressional Quarterly’s reliably colorful Jeff Stein describes the acres of black ink that obscure much of the CIA IG report. Indeed, over 60 pages of the 109-page report were redacted in part or in full, reported ABC News.
A former senior intelligence official familiar with the unredacted version of CIA IG report told ABC News that the blacked out portions contain details of how three previously unheard-of detainees, in addition to one already known, died in CIA detention and how 183 applications of the waterboard might have come close to killing Al Qaeda big fish Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The former official also said that the redactions conceal passages showing that then-CIA IG John Helgerson uncovered evidence that CIA actually lost track of a few detainees.
The coming week had promised a new dump of the documents on which the CIA IG report was based, but Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent reported Friday that the document release, scheduled for Monday, isn’t likely to happen.
Check back here for more news and analysis on the CIA IG report.
Time for a Souter-O'Connor Commission
Attorney General Eric Holder asked a special prosecutor to examine the actions of CIA interrogators who allegedly abused foreign detainees. ...
By Fred Hiatt
If President Obama has been frustrated in his desire not to look back at Bush-era detention practices, it is because he is caught between two fundamental but seemingly irreconcilable American principles.
On the one hand, this is a nation of laws. If torture violates U.S. law -- and it does -- and if Americans engaged in torture -- and they did -- that cannot be ignored, forgotten, swept away. When other nations violate human rights, the United States objects and insists on some accounting. It can't ask less of itself.
Yet this is also a nation where two political parties compete civilly and alternate power peacefully. Regimes do not seek vengeance, through the courts or otherwise, as they succeed each other. Were Obama to criminally investigate his predecessor for what George W. Bush believed to be decisions made in the national interest, it could trigger a debilitating, unending cycle.
By attempting to navigate between these two principles, Obama has satisfied neither. Last week his administration took another step down a path of investigation and recrimination, without coming any closer to truth-telling or justice as most Americans would understand it.
Attorney General Eric Holder asked a special prosecutor to examine the actions of CIA interrogators who allegedly abused foreign detainees. According to a 2004 report by the CIA inspector general, the interrogators threatened detainees with a gun and a power drill, blew cigar smoke at them to make them sick, jumped on their ankle shackles to cause pain and otherwise engaged in degrading practices not authorized by their superiors.
That last phrase is key, because it's not clear that what the interrogators did in these cases was any worse than practices that were authorized: forcing detainees to stay awake for 11 straight days, confining them in small, dark boxes for hours at a time, throwing them against walls, waterboarding. Is waterboarding -- causing prisoners to feel as if they are drowning -- less barbaric than causing them to fear they are about to be shot or drilled? Less deserving of prosecution?
Holder has answered yes to the latter question, at least for now, because it would be unfair to prosecute interrogators for actions they had been told were legal. But consider the three likeliest outcomes of his decision, none of them happy:
The prosecutor, John H. Durham, noting in part that other career prosecutors already had considered these cases and declined to pursue them, could do the same. The interrogators would have been forced into lengthy and expensive legal limbo, but the nation would be none the wiser.
Durham might choose to prosecute just these low-level CIA employees and contractors who overstepped their bounds. Or he might argue that fairness demanded following the chain of command up -- who knows how high -- to those who authorized equally abusive practices, in which case one relatively anonymous attorney will have taken on momentous decisions that Obama will seem to have shirked or settled by default.
There is a better, though not perfect, solution, one that the administration reportedly considered, rejected and should consider again: a high-level, respected commission to examine the choices made in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, and their consequences.
Such a commission would investigate not just the Bush administration but the government, including Congress. It would give former vice president Dick Cheney a forum to make his case on the necessity of "enhanced interrogation techniques." It would examine the efficacy of such techniques, if any, and the question of whether, even if they work, waterboarding and other methods long considered torture ever can be justified.
Some on the left would object because the goal would not be prosecution and punishment; as in South Africa, amnesty might be promised in exchange for truth-telling. Some on the right, and some in government now, would worry about damaging national security with public airing and rehashing of past misdeeds.
But a fair-minded commission -- co-chaired by, say, former Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter -- could help the nation come to grips with its past and show the world that America is serious about doing so. It could help Americans understand how this country came to engage in what many regard as vile and un-American practices. It might help the country respond better the next time it is frightened.
The alternative, for Obama, is a series of debilitating revelations, prosecutions and arguments that could drip-drip-drip through the full length of his presidency.
Torture Investigation Begins
United States Attorney General Eric Holder has concurrently released the heavily redacted CIA Inspector General (CIAIG), John L. Helgerson's report and appointed Special Prosecutor John H. Durham. “As attorney general, my duty is to ...
Misblog - http://toocan.com/lunog/index.php/misblog/
Rubber Hose: Cheney Logic
... justice department. but what cheney didn't notice is that his claim that the president is the "chief law enforcement officer" completely undermines his main argument against the holder's appointment of aspecial prosecutor. ...
rubber hose - http://upyernoz.blogspot.com/
Sunday Show Round Up: Kennedy Remembered, Cheney Blasts Obama on ...
By Sue Bennett
Ted Kennedy and the Obama administration's decision last week to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the role of CIA officers in past detainee investigations. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney ...
Politics Daily - http://www.politicsdaily.com/
Aren't the dog days of August supposed to be the laid back part of the year? Not this summer. On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed a special prosecutor to probe CIA interrogation methods. Since then, an eruption of non-stop emotion has dominated discussion of what promises to be yet another depressingly familiar round of high-decibel squabbling between left and right.
Most liberals and Democrat are demanding to know whether any laws got broken during the Bush-era prisoner interrogations. Most conservatives and Republicans dismiss it as a waste of time and a witch hunt.
But this isn't going to become your usual political food fight. Because it involves the Central Intelligence Agency, terror, and a broader debate over national security and civil liberties, there's also no shortage of politicians and pundits ready to strike tough guy poses in front of a public still unclear about what the government actually gleaned from the interrogations. And with former Vice President Dick Cheney defending the practice of roughing up prisoners to get them to talk, tactics that he claims saved American lives, the investigation is sure to revive earlier debates about the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq.
Read more about the CIA secret interrogation program:
Read CIA Memo here
CIA Probe Angers Those on The Left and Right
2 Administrations, 2 Views of CIA Report
Unfortunately, we're reaching the point where honest disagreement is likely to go off the rails. In the aftermath of Holder's announcement, the differences between the Bush and Obama administrations already are coming into fuller view with reports of growing rift between CIA Director Leon Panetta, now portrayed as "a fall guy," and the White House. According to the Wall Street Journal, the fall guy designation "has been months in the making."
"Mr. Obama is contending with an angry left (my italics) that's riled by his decisions to retain some Bush-era counterterrorism policies. He's facing Congressional liberals still baying for Bush blood. He's hired Attorney General Eric Holder, who is giving the term "ideological purity" new meaning. Mr. Obama's way to appease these bodies? Hang the CIA and Mr. Panetta out to dry."
Purposely or not, the Journal's turn of phrase suggests how the defenders of the agency (as well as die-hard critics of the Obama administration) have decided to frame this debate. It's no longer going to be about legality but about saving lives. "Jack Bauer doesn't screw around with reading suspects their Miranda rights when there are time bombs to defuse." (Don't you love how Hollywood ties up loose ends within 60 minutes of airtime?) The argument put forward by Bush era officials is that the CIA saved lives but now that's been forgotten by an "angry left" more interested in settling old scores than in securing the nation's safety.
You can read much the same argument in the blogosphere. In her Commentary piece, Jennifer Rubin approvingly cites the WSJ piece as proof positive that an "outrage" which threatens to imperil national security is in the works. An even more dire warning is raised in guest op-ed on CNN.com by Ruben Navarrette Jr. (I'm quoting at length because the piece speaks volumes about how the right sees this:
"It's not every day that you see an administration devour itself. But that's pretty much what happens when you have the Justice Department investigating the CIA. This will poison the relationship between the entities, which still have to work together to keep America safe in the war on terror."
"And we're expected to believe that Holder is acting on his own, without approval from the president. Obama has said he wants to "look forward, not back" and called this "a time for reflection, not retribution."
"Yet, this week, the White House said that decisions "about whether someone broke the law are made independently by the attorney general."
"This is not a good look -- not for Holder, not for Obama and not for the administration. Just ask the American people. In May, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey found that 57 percent of those questioned didn't want Congress to investigate Bush officials who authorized harsh interrogation procedures. Forty-two percent supported an inquiry. Fifty-five percent of people also didn't want an investigation by an independent panel. At the time, no one asked how respondents would feel about a special prosecutor conducting his own investigation, but it's a good bet that this will also be unpopular."
"What do Americans know that the Obama Justice Department doesn't? Maybe this: If you wanted to demoralize and destroy the country's intelligence agencies, and thus put its people at risk, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more effective way of doing it than by prosecuting CIA agents who did the nation's dirty work and acted in good faith, oftentimes after consulting with lawyers about the legality of their methods."
Really? There's so much to say that it's hard to know where to begin. But before weighing into the debate, you should read the CIA memo from 2004 detailing the methods used during prisoner interrogations. Up until the release of the memo, there was no shortage of smug dismissal that this was much more than rough stuff to deal with rough characters. Some of that still goes on. The other day I watched a Fox newsreader ask Karl Rove about whether it was wrong for interrogators to blow smoke into a detainee's face -yes, that was a technique, one I suppose the CIA invented for non-smokers - and wasn't this a bit ridiculous to prosecute? It was obviously a softball question and Rove knocked it out of the park. He might have had a tougher time dismissing other forms of coercion, such as smashing prisoners against the wall, waterboarding, putting them into stress positions or confining them into small spaces.
For the sake of argument, let's posit that torture once in a while works. What about those many cases where it doesn't?
During the upcoming debate, someone might want to consult Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for his opinions on the topic. In the military journal, Joint Force Quarterly, he argued that the U.S. ought to focus on "policy and execution problems" which are being exploited by the nation's opponents. "Each time we fail to live up to our values or don't follow up on a promise, we look more and more like the arrogant Americans the enemy claims we are," Mullen wrote. That's a big brain on display. Mullen knows how to deploy military might with lethal results, but that's just part of the job description. When someone in his position reads about incidents of prisoner torture, he knows that his task just became that much tougher.
Back in Washington, the politics of the moment will influence how this story unfolds. Holder, the nation's Attorney General, is supposed to uphold the law, and not worry about where the chips might fall. It won't be easy, though, especially if his office concludes that laws were broken. Like the AG's who preceded him, he also is a political appointee as well as a party partisan. But that goes with the job. If Holder's worth his pay, he'll make the argument that following the constitutional example set out by the Founding Fathers makes the country stronger.
Wanna bet how long it takes somebody to call him out for being a wuss?
Wall Street Journal - Reuel Marc Gerecht A clever, streetwise classmate of mine at the Central Intelligence Agency's junior officer training program—a former Delta Force ...
The New American - Joe Wolverton, II In an effort to distance himself from the much-criticized interrogation methods used by the Bush administration and its agents, President Barack Obama has ...
Khabrein.info - Aug 27, 2009WASHINGTON, Aug 28 (KUNA) -- The director of a new High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) -- to be housed inside the FBI (Federal Bureau of ...
The Obama administration insists that a new interrogation unit will comprise interrogators from several agencies, including the CIA, and will continue to ...
And, yes, I DO take it personally: Note to DOJ Special Prosecutor ...
Note to DOJ Special Prosecutor John Durham: the "Decider" is the one ultimately accountable. david swanson in antemedius... On April 11, 2008, ABC News produced a video interview of Bush during which he was asked about meetings his top ...
And, yes, I DO take it personally - http://takeitpersonally.blogspot.com/
The Australian - Brad Norington DICK Cheney has declared he has no qualms about the harsh treatment of terrorist suspects during the Bush administration, even if CIA interrogators acted ...
Former Vice President Dick Cheney is accusing President Obama of breaking his promise not to prosecute CIA agents for acts committed in the prior ...
ABC News - Jake Tapper
Officials from the Bush administration this week entered the debate over national security, although President Barack Obama's administration ...
Former Vice President Dick Cheney offered quite a bit of nonsense on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, but perhaps the most entertaining thing was hearing him ...
msnbc.com - Domenico Montanaro
On FOX yesterday, Cheney said of Attorney General Holder's decision to open up investigations into some CIA detainee abuses, "I think it's a terrible ...
Officials from the Bush administration this week entered the debate over national security, though President Obama's was not the only administration subject ...
Atlanta Journal Constitution
A large segment of the Republican Party is rallying behind former Vice President Dick Cheney as its champion on matters of defense and national security. ...
Christian Science Monitor - David Montero
The former vice president called US Attorney General Eric Holder's probe on detainee treatment a "political act" and said "it will depend on the ...
WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday condemned the Justice Department's decision last Monday to investigate suspected CIA prisoner ...
NPR - Mark Memmott
Two leading Republicans -- former vice president Dick Cheney and 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain -- said on the Sunday talk ...
In an interview with Fox News yesterday, former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the use of harsh interrogation techniques and criticized the Obama ...
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney said he might refuse to speak with a prosecutor investigating suspected CIA prisoner abuses, ...
Winnipeg Sun - Peter Worthington
With US Attorney General Eric Holder appointing federal prosecutor John Durham to investigate alleged abuses by CIA interrogators, ...
Chicago Tribune - Josh Meyer
WASHINGTON - -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney lashed out at President Barack Obama and the attorney general Sunday, ...
MiamiHerald.com - Patrick Buchanan
`Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.'' George Orwell's truth comes ...
Former US vice president Dick Cheney and former presidential candidate John McCain Sunday took the Obama administration to task for ordering probe against ...
Chris Wallace recently gave Dick Cheney a forum to lecture about how Obama's Justice Department is making a horrible mistake in looking into things that ...
CNN - Dugald McConnell
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday said his claim that enhanced interrogation techniques -- including waterboarding -- produced ...
ASHLEY HALL: The former US vice-president has weighed into the decision to investigate the interrogation tactics the CIA used under the Bush administration. ...
Washington Post - Alexi Mostrous
Former vice president Richard B. Cheney on Sunday condemned the Justice Department's decision to investigate suspected CIA prisoner abuses ...
DAWN.com - Anwar Iqbal
'The courts in Pakistan have ruled that AQ Khan (above), the father of the Pakistan nuclear weapon, who provided assistance to the Iranians, ...
Los Angeles Times - Josh Meyer
The former vice president says he is offended by the Justice Department's decision to investigate the cia's interrogation methods. ...
TIME - Michael Scherer
Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace was able to get an important, and clarifying, admission from Vice President Dick Cheney in an interview that was broadcast ...
Sam Donaldson and Liz Cheney spiritedly debated the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether or not torture occurred during CIA ...
WASHINGTON — A key Democratic senator Sunday criticized a US Justice Department investigation into abusive CIA interrogations of Al-Qaeda detainees as ...
Kansas City Star - Yael T. Abouhalkah
Former VP Dick Cheney appears ready to ratchet up the stakes of his opposition to the Obama ...
The Associated Press - Lara Jakes
WASHINGTON — Besieged during the Bush administration for bending to the White House's will, the Justice Department is again accused of playing politics with ...
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday sharply criticized the Obama administration's decision to investigate the abuse ...
ABC News - John Cochran
"I think it's an outrageous political act that will do great damage long-term to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult ...
US Senator John McCain, a torture survivor from his days as a captive during the ...
Cheney Offers Sharp Defense of C.I.A. Interrogation Tactics ...
Obama administration spokesmen are portraying the president as unable to overrule Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to have a special prosecutor determine whether to prosecute CIA interrogators who were cleared by Department of ...
Cliftonchadwick's Blog - http://cliftonchadwick.wordpress.com/
Cheney Says Obama, Not Holder, Is Chief Law Enforcement Officer ...
By Mary Jacoby
It was because of interference like that, that Nixon went down, only in that case it was a special prosecutor working for the AG. So if Holder says “this is a crime, I need to act”, Obama can't really stop him. ...
Main Justice - http://www.mainjustice.com/
David Swanson is a Tom Paine for Our Time: Read His New Book
David Swanson Is No Tom Paine; He’s All Talk And No Action!
I’m Going To Vomit!!
David Swason Is Just That: “A Commentator” who would be one of the first to run for cover if there were a real resort to armed uprising. I would not spend a nickel on his book. I have seen him in action here in DC and I do not number him among real patriotic, but the pretend Capitalist Patriots!
"Swanson has been an indefatigable COMMENTATOR and activist tirelessly advocating for the dismantling of the imperial presidency and the restoration of the principles of our Constitution. His energy and passion are infectious, as is his cogent reasoning. 'Daybreak' urgently reminds us that good political intentions are not sufficient to ensure the continuation of our democracy; informed vigilance is vital to that task."
-- Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher, BuzzFlash.com
"If Tom Jefferson were with us today, he would be saying that we still must burst the chains of monkish ignorance and superstition and break the bindings that strangle our liberty. But Jefferson - like Paine - is gone. So it falls to another from Virginia to sound the signal for a rising on behalf of the republic and our own freedom. That man is David Swanson, and this remarkable book is his - and America's - CALL TO ARMS."
-- John Nichols, from the Introduction
And Here is The Proof Of The Bullshit Sellout!
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by David Swanson is available Tuesday, September 1st.
If everyone buys it on Tuesday, September 1st, at Amazon.com, it will jump to the top of the political bestsellers there, displacing Glenn Beck. Here's the link:
The book says $19.95 on it, but Amazon is selling it now for $13.57, and if you buy two or more the shipping is free. That means you can get one for your congress member or two for your senators or one for your local library or a friend, and pay no shipping.
I'm heading out on a tour of 45 cities around the country, where I'll encourage people to support local independent book stores as well as our friends at BuzzFlash.com, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't use the internet to jump the book to the top of Amazon on day one, make it known, and thereby encourage independent book stores to stock it. I'll be very grateful for anything you can do to spread the word and make this happen, and for your buying and reading the book, letting me know what you think in an online discussion forum, telling others about it, and posting your review at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, and elsewhere. Your review on such sites can reach more readers than a corporate newspaper, so please post one. Please spread the link http://tinyurl.com/daybreakbook to your lists and on FaceBook and Twitter. Graphics and more information are available here. And I'll hope to see you on the road and sign and discuss with you the book you've already bought and read!
I discussed the book today on The Urban Journal: take a listen! I also talked about it this morning on KMNY 1360 Rational Radio in Dallas, Texas, which is organizing a Progress Forum that I'll take part in on September 19th, as well as -- on the same day in Dallas -- a public debate at which I will argue for the prosecution of George W. Bush for War Crimes. I've put out a challenge to anyone who wants to debate that in any city I'm coming to (subject to scheduling and the preferences of local event organizers). Toward the same end, the blogosphere is now drafting an indictment of Bush for torture and we need your help improving it online. You'll see from my schedule below that I'll be on the road a lot, but I'll be back in Washington, D.C., to speak at Busboys and Poets on September 13th and on October 3-4 to attend WhoDecidesAboutWar.org, and to protest the occupation of Afghanistan on October 5th. Are you ready to join in nonviolently resisting the continuation and escalation of illegal wars? Sign up to join us: http://nogoodwar.org
Here's what some good people have been kind enough to say about Daybreak:
"David Swanson's masterful exposure of the emergence of a monarch-like president coupled with an effete, irresponsible, and constitutionally ignorant Congress is well worth the price of admission. An aroused public with a litmus test of honoring the Constitution is urgently needed to prevent the Republic from capsizing." -- Bruce Fein, Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan
"Daybreak offers a powerful and compelling picture of what real change in America could look like. The world needs more true advocates of democracy like David Swanson!" -- Thom Hartmann, Author, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight
"Daybreak is an eye opener about how our nation was hijacked by the Bush administration and how much repair work we, as citizens, must do. David Swanson, who has been a one-man wonder leading the charge for accountability, writes a compelling narrative that inspires not just outrage, but ACTION." -- Medea Benjamin, CoFounder of Code Pink and Global Exchange
"David Swanson is the most thoughtful, determined, and energetic progressive activist in America, and one of the most important voices of his generation. He's also a unique bridge between traditional real-world organizing and the brand new world of online activism. His combination of cheerful organizing, passionate speaking, and brilliant blogging is an inspiration to everyone who craves a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world." -- Bob Fertik, President of Democrats.com
"In this important book, David Swanson carefully documents the myriad ways in which Bush-Cheney has amassed unprecedented imperial power, while Congress has abdicated its constitutional duty to check and balance the executive. A useful guide to restore the balance of powers and reclaim our constitutional system of government." -- Marjorie Cohn, President of National Lawyers Guild
"If Tom Jefferson were with us today, he would be saying that we still must burst the chains of monkish ignorance and superstition and break the bindings that strangle our liberty. But Jefferson - like Paine - is gone. So it falls to another from Virginia to sound the signal for a rising on behalf of the republic and our own freedom. That man is David Swanson, and this remarkable book is his - and America's - call to arms." -- John Nichols, from the Introduction
"Our times cry out for a smart, witty and courageous Populist who hasn’t forgotten how to play offense. Luckily we have David Swanson." -- Mike Ferner, National President of Veterans For Peace, author of "Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq."
Please buy the book on Tuesday, September 1st, at Amazon.com:
I Suggest We Boycott Amazon Until Swanson Is Willing To Lead With Those Who Would Rise Up In Our Streets!
Book Tour Schedule:
(Note that there are three -- and only three -- dates still available. This is all the time I can spend away from home. Believe me, I just turned down a tour of Hawaii :-)
Aug. 30 Maryland
Sept. 1 Charlotte, NC
Sept. 3 Charlottesville, VA
Sept. 6 Kent, OH
Sept. 7 Morgantown, WV
Sept. 8 Cleveland , OH
Sept. 9 Columbus, OH
Sept. 10 Toledo, OH
Sept. 13 Washington, DC
Sept. 16 Kansas
Sept. 17 Kansas City, MO
Sept. 18 Oklahoma City, OK
Sept. 19 Dallas, TX
Sept. 27 Fire Dog Lake Book Salon
Oct. 3 Washington, D.C., WhoDecidesAboutWar.org
Oct. 9, 10, 11 Albuquerque, Santa Fe, & Taos, N.M.
Oct. 12, 13 Tampa / St. Petersburg, FL
Oct. 14 Miami, FL
Oct. 15 Orlando, FL
Nov. 3 Philadelphia PA
Nov. 4 Kutztown, PA
Nov. 5 Bangor, ME
Nov. 6 Portland, ME
Nov. 7 M's Vineyard, MA
Nov. 19 Davis, CA
Nov. 20, Nevada City, CA
Nov. 21, Fresno and Fair Oaks, CA
Nov. 22, Bay Area, CA
Nov. 23, Los Angeles, CA
Nov. 24, Orange County, CA
Dec. 1, New York City
Jan. 5 Seattle, WA
Jan. 6 Portland, OR
Jan. 7 Lincoln City, OR
Jan. 8 Corvallis, OR
Jan. 13 Santa Rosa, CA
Jan. 14, 15 San Diego, CA
Jan. 16 Ventura, CA
Jan. 17 AVAILABLE
Feb. 19 Oxford, MS
Feb. 20 Atlanta, GA
Feb. 21 Woodstock, NY
Feb. 22 St. Louis, MO
Feb. 23 AVAILABLE
Feb. 24 AVAILABLE
Feb. 25: The Book Tour Endeth