David Kirkpatrick

March 6, 2010

First time farce, second time tragedy

Read this whole piece on the Liz Cheney group Keep America Safe’s shameless attack on U.S. Justice attorneys who upheld American legal tradition and the Constitution by defending Guantanano Bay detainees. I blogged on this topic earlier this week here.

From the first link:

Interviewing Liz Cheney, Bill O’Reilly ran side-by-side photos of Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal and Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver who Katyal successfully represented in the Supreme Court. (Neal Katyal, I should mention, is my Georgetown colleague, on leave to the SG’s office.) Some readers might remember Steven Colbert’s hilarious 2006 interview with Katyal soon after the Hamdan decision. Colbert began, “You defended a detainee at Gitmo in front of the Supreme Court — for what reason? Why did you do it?” Neal replied: “A simple thing: he wanted a fair trial….” Colbert (cutting Katyal off): “Why do you hate our troops?” It brought gales of laughter from the audience. Watch the whole thing — it’s one of the few times that Colbert was actually upstaged by his guest.

First time farce, second time tragedy. Colbert’s joke is Bill O’Reilly’s reality — the reality of a nauseating reprise of McCarthyism. No one is laughing now.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

May 21, 2009

Obama and Cheney, dueling speeches

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:23 pm

I’m betting many elected GOP figures just wish Dick Cheney would head back to a secret location — any secret location — and stay out of the news.

Obama gives a speech on national security outlining his plan to keep America safe:

President Obama kicked off the debate with a far-reaching speech about the expanse and limits of the office of the presidency, defending decisions he’s already made that reverse his predecessor’s policies and also those upholding others. Addressing critics from the right and left, Mr. Obama didn’t back down from his plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center nor did he shrink from his refusal to release more photographs of abused prisoners.

He accused some critics of fear-mongering, of stoking the public’s anxieties over terrorism and without mentioning names, castigated officials of the previous administration for an “anything goes” mindset that permitted torture and a vastly broad view of executive authority. He relied in words and visual imagery on the historical documents displayed around him – the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Immediately following Obama’s speech looking toward the future and outlining a clear plan of action that represents a return to a United States once again walking softly, but carrying a big stick, Dick Cheney hits the airwaves looking not to the future, but the past. September 11 to be exact, reminding the world that the worst terrorist attack on the domestic U.S. happened under the Bush 43 watch.

He’s clearly scrambling, but he’s certainly not helping his party and he’s undermining the sitting president in ways I’m guessing he’d consider actionable if it were occurring when he and Bush were in office. The hypocrisy is not lost on the American public.

Cheney’s reputation is in shambles, he is more likely than not to face war crime charges in either U.S. or international courts and he is basically taking a large dump on the tattered remains on the Republican Party. The leftover rump might take it and ask for a little more, but every time Cheney attempts to defend the Bush 43 regime a few more holdout center-right voters turn their backs on the GOP.

From the same link above:

In line after line, Mr. Cheney drew upon the horrific imagery of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 as though they had occurred just yesterday. While commending Mr. Obama for a new Afghanistan war strategy, he accused the president of faulting and mischaracterizing Bush practices. Indeed, Mr. Cheney added as a prelude to his lengthy speech, so much so that Mr. Obama “deserved an answer.” Mr. Cheney continued to insist that the harsh interrogation methods now opposed by the president were successful in thwarting more assaults against the United States. And he argued that “seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until danger has passed.”

Here’s links to both speeches — The Obama transcript. The Cheney transcript.

May 18, 2009

The latest on the Bush 43 “war on terror”

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:09 pm

The rabbit hole becomes more deep, more dark and more criminal.

From the link:

Worthington told TPMmuckraker that the information came from transcripts of al-Karim’s combatant status review, which he has examined.

There’s no direct evidence that al-Karim was tortured. But given what we know about interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, it certainly can’t be ruled out. And if nothing else, al-Karim’s clear belief that he was brought to Gitmo in 2002 to give information about Iraq suggests just how focused on Saddam’s regime interrogators were during that period.

It’s also worth noting that looking for information about the Iraqi army is not the same as looking for information about Saddam’s links to al Qaeda, since such information presumably had a military use, rather than just a political one. But nor is it the same as looking for information that could thwart another terror attack, which is how torture defenders prefer to portray what the program did.

Update: Even more fuel on the growing fire

Then-Vice President Dick Cheney, defending the invasion of Iraq, asserted in 2004 that detainees interrogated at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp had revealed that Iraq had trained al Qaida operatives in chemical and biological warfare, an assertion that wasn’t true.Cheney’s 2004 comments to the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News were largely overlooked at the time. However, they appear to substantiate recent reports that interrogators at Guantanamo and other prison camps were ordered to find evidence of alleged cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — despite CIA reports that there were only sporadic, insignificant contacts between the militant Islamic group and the secular Iraqi dictatorship.

March 18, 2009

Wilkerson on Cheney

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:46 pm

I’ve already posted on Andrew Sullivan’s reaction to this great piece by Lawrence Wilkerson on the ridiculousness of Gitmo, and the Bush 43 regime’s “intelligence” tactics.

He also took on Dick Cheney’s recent interview with CNN and pretty much rips it to shreds. Wilkerson is someone in a position to understand the internals of the Bush administration since  he was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

From the second link:

Recently, in an attempt to mask some of these failings and to exacerbate and make even more difficult the challenge to the new Obama administration, former Vice President Cheney gave an interview from his home in McLean, Virginia. The interview was almost mystifying in its twisted logic and terrifying in its fear-mongering.

As to twisted logic: “Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo (sic) during the Bush administration…have gone back into the business of being terrorists.” So, the fact that the Bush administration was so incompetent that it released 61 terrorists, is a valid criticism of the Obama administration? Or was this supposed to be an indication of what percentage of the still-detained men would likely turn to terrorism if released in future? Or was this a revelation that men kept in detention such as those at GITMO–even innocent men–would become terrorists if released because of the harsh treatment meted out to them at GITMO? Seven years in jail as an innocent man might do that for me. Hard to tell.

As for the fear-mongering: “When we get people who are more interested in reading the rights to an Al Qaeda (sic) terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said. Who in the Obama administration has insisted on reading any al-Qa’ida terrorist his rights? More to the point, who in that administration is not interested in protecting the United States–a clear implication of Cheney’s remarks.

But far worse is the unmistakable stoking of the 20 million listeners of Rush Limbaugh, half of whom we could label, judiciously, as half-baked nuts. Such remarks as those of the former vice president’s are like waving a red flag in front of an incensed bull. And Cheney of course knows that.

Cheney went on to say in his McLean interview that “Protecting the country’s security is a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business. These are evil people and we are not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.” I have to agree but the other way around. Cheney and his like are the evil people and we certainly are not going to prevail in the struggle with radical religion if we listen to people such as he.

January 22, 2009

Obama moves to shut down Gitmo

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:16 pm

In one of his first acts as president, Obama issued a directive to close the Guantanamo prison camp. The move restores the rule of law to our current military operations and makes the successful prosecution of international criminals in the “war on terror” much more likely.

From the link:

Saying that “our ideals give us the strength and moral high ground” to combat terrorism, President Obama signed executive orders Thursday effectively ending the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret interrogation program, directing the closing of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp within a year and setting up a sweeping, high-level review of the best way to hold and question terrorist suspects in the future.

“We intend to win this fight,” Mr. Obama said, “We are going to win it on our own terms.”

As he signed three orders, 16 retired generals and admirals who have fought for months for a ban on coercive interrogations stood behind him and applauded. The group, organized to lobby the Obama transition team by the group Human Rights First, did not include any career C.I.A. officers or retirees, participants said.

One of Mr. Obama’s orders requires the C.I.A. to use only the 19 interrogation methods outlined in the Army Field Manual, ending President Bush’s policy of permitting the agency to use some secret methods that went beyond those allowed to the military.

The Cato Institute applauds this move:

Within a day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, he has asked the military commissions judges to halt all trials in Guantanamo.  All indications point toward detainees being tried in federal courts.  This is a good decision for a couple of reasons.

First, the military commissions play into the propaganda game that terrorists thrive on.  It confirms their message that normal courts can’t address the threat that they pose.  In fact, the opposite is true.  When you convict a terrorist and lock him up with murderers and rapists, you take away his freedom fighter mystique.

January 15, 2009

Where torture has led the US

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:58 pm

The US institution of torture under the Bush 43 regime is a subject I’ve done plenty of blogging about. I think overturning a policy of non-torture put into place by then General George Washington will be on the most prominent legacies, and worst black marks on any US president, for George W. Bush.

Here’s a rountable debate on the “Torture’s Blowback” from the New York Times.

From the second link:

Susan Crawford, the senior Pentagon official who dismissed charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Guantánamo detainee, said in a published report on Wednesday that she had concluded that he had been tortured by interrogators. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution, Ms. Crawford told The Washington Post. We asked these experts — most of whom were in our previous debate on the legal challenges of closing Guantánamo — how this admission of torture might affect that closure and the prosecution of other detainees.

And following are portions of the discussion.

From

David Cole is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, and the author, most recently, of “Justice At War: The Men and Ideas That Shaped America’s ‘War on Terror,’” and the essay “Closing Guantanamo,” published in Boston Review:

Susan Crawford’s admission that Mohammed al-Qahtani was tortured, and that as a result she had to drop the military’s prosecution of a man thought to the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks illustrates just how costly the Bush administration’s short-sighted and immoral policies of coercive interrogation have been.

More than seven years later, it is not clear those practices have stopped any particular attack, but the Bush administration has yet to obtain a conviction against any of those behind the terrorist attacks.

From

Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor and author of “Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad,” is legal affairs editor at National Review.:

As someone who has supported the military commission system, I must concede that it has performed abysmally, and Wednesday’s news reflects more of the same.

A short recap of its failings: The judge in the first military commission trial incorrectly instructed a jury on the definition of a “war crime” (a concept one would have thought rather basic to a “war crime” trial). The same judge gave the defendant — who had been a confidant and bodyguard of Osama bin Laden himself — a get-out-of-jail-free card. (I’ve been critical of various aspects of using the criminal justice system to counter terrorism, but one thing cannot be denied: terrorists convicted in our courts have gotten appropriately severe sentences — decades or more in prison.) Finally, a general in the appointing authority (the body that oversees the commission process) suggested that statements derived from waterboarding could be used as evidence.

And from

Diane Marie Amann is a professor of law and director of the California International Law Center at University of California, Davis. In December she observed Guantánamo military commissions proceedings on behalf of the National Institute of Military Justice:

Last month, I was in the gallery of the Guantánamo courtroom built for the trial of the 9/11 case. I saw six defense tables, but there were only five defendants. There had been no official explanation for the absence — until now. Susan Crawford’s conclusion that Mr. Qahtani, the sixth man, was tortured — confirming what anyone following military commission proceedings already assumed — raises anew questions about what effect illegal interrogations will have on this and other post-9/11 cases.

June 18, 2008

More on Bush 43 and torture

With Congress looking into the torture program of the Bush 43 regime, there’s plenty of news and analysis out there.

Here’s Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent:

In August 2004, a Defense Dept. panel convened to investigate detainee abuse after the Abu Ghraib scandal issued its much-anticipated report. Interrogation techniques designed for use at Guantanamo Bay, which President George W. Bush had decreed outside the scope of the Geneva Conventions, had “migrated” to Iraq, which Bush recognized was under Geneva, concluded panel chairman James Schlesinger, a former defense secretary. Schlesinger’s panel, however, did not explain which officials ordered the abusive techniques to transfer across continents — or how and why they became Pentagon policy in the first place.

Tuesday the Senate Armed Services Committee answered those questions. In a marathon hearing spanning eight hours and three separate panels, the committee revealed, in painstaking detail, how senior Pentagon officials transformed a program for Special Forces troops to resist torture — known as Survival Evasion Resistance Escape, or SERE — into a blueprint for torturing terrorism detainees.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), released numerous classified documents from the crucial period of mid-2002 to early 2003, when the policies of abuse took shape inside the Defense Dept. “Senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality and authorized their use against detainees,” Levin said. “In the process, they damaged our ability to collect intelligence that could save lives.”

And Scott Horton at Harper’s :

In a series of hearings, Congressional leaders are trying to get to the bottom of a simple question: who initiated torture techniques in the “war on terror”? What was the process by which it was done? On whose authority was it done? The use of torture techniques became a matter of public knowledge four years ago. In response to the initial disclosures, the Bush Administration first decided to spin the fable of a handful of “rotten apples” inside of a company of military police from Appalachia and scapegoated a handful of examples in carefully managed and staged show trials. When further disclosures out of Bagram and Guantánamo made this untenable, they spun a new myth, this time suggesting that the administration had responded to a plea from below for wider latitude.

In fact at this point the evidence is clear and convincing, and it points to a top-down process. Figures near the top of the administration decided that they wanted brutal techniques and they hammered them through, usually over strong opposition from the ranks of professionals.

Yesterday’s hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee helped make that point, and brought a new focus on a figure who has been lurking in the shadows of the controversy for some times: William J. Haynes II, Rumsfeld’s lawyer and now a lawyer for Chevron. Two things emerge from the hearing. First, that Haynes was effectively a stationmaster when it came to introducing torture techniques in the “war on terror,” circumventing opposition from career military and pushing through a policy of brutality and cruelty, by stealth when necessary. And second, that Haynes lacks the courage of his convictions, a willingness to stand up and testify honesty about what he did.

 

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers