Did we get any useful information from initiating systemic torture under the Bush 43 regime? Apparently not.
Cheney and his apparatchiks continue to insist that they got reliable and vital information from these torture sessions, but they can never verify it:
Since 2006, Senate intelligence committee members have pressed the CIA, in classified briefings, to provide examples of specific leads that were obtained from Abu Zubaida through the use of waterboarding and other methods, according to officials familiar with the requests. The agency provided none, the officials said.
We sold our souls for lies.
Yep, he’s still on it and rightly so. The atrocities committed under the Bush 43 regime should never be repeated. We, as citizens of the United States of America, should make certain the rules of law and standards laid down by our founding fathers and our first president, George Washington, are carried out with grace, humility and strength.
Torture, even for the most evil amongst us, is never an option. It is a tool of the weak and frightened. The United States is neither.
From the link:
Even the word “torture” can be too vague and abstract a term. So let us state in plain English how Bush, Cheney, Tenet, et al. actually got information. They did it by subjecting prisoners to repeated drowning, or freezing, or heating, or sadistically long sleeplessness, or shackling or crucifying them until the pain could be borne no longer, or beating them until they pleaded for mercy, or threatening to kill or torture their children or wife or parents. Or all of the above in combination, in isolation, and with no surety of ever seeing the light of day again, with no right to meaningful due process of any kind, sometimes sealed off from light and sound for months at a time, or bombarded with indescribable noise day and night in cells from which there was no escape ever. This is what “under coercive conditions” actually means. It drove many of the victims into become mumbling, shaking, insane shells of human beings; it killed dozens; it drove others still to hunger strikes to try to kill themselves; and it terrified and scarred and “broke” the souls of many, many others. For what? Intelligence that cannot be trusted, and the loss of the sacred integrity of two centuries of American history. Did it save lives? We do not know. We do know that the people who are claiming it did have been unable to bring any serious case to justice based on their original claims, and are the people who are criminally responsible for the torture they have committed. Why would they not say it saved lives? And yet we have no other way to know. And we have the terrifying possibility that false information procured by torture provided a pretext to torture others in a self-perpetuating loop in which any ability to find out the actual truth is lost for ever. That, after all, is how some of the flawed intelligence that took us into Iraq was procured.
On prisonor abuse charges.
This is most likely the beginning of the floodgates. A day of reckoning is looming fast for a large portion of the Bush 43 regime.
From the link:
A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County’s federal detention centers.
The indictment criticizes Cheney’s investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees by working through the prison companies.
Gonzales is accused of using his position while in office to stop an investigation into abuses at the federal detention centers.
(via: the Daily Dish)
There is a historical precedent for presidents using executive privilege after leaving office, but legally the ground is pretty shaky.
I think Bush and his entire administration would be doing this at their own peril because the threat for international war crime prosecution is very, very real. And if a Democratic Congress decides Bush is stonewalling them one time too many, I doubt he finds much support in DC to protect every member of the Bush 43 regime.
I’ve already seen calls from the right to look into torture and other war crime policies put into practice by Bush. Our nation deserves no less because we remain a democratic nation of laws, domestic and international.
From the link:
The New York Times today raises the notion that after leaving office, George W. Bush may claim that executive privilege still applies, allowing him and members of his administration to continue to frustrate Congressional efforts to gain access to information on issues ranging from harsh interrogation tactics to the U.S. Attorney firings scandal.
Congressional Democrats, as well as outside watchdog groups, say they are determined to go on pursuing investigations into Bush administration malfeasance on these and other matters.
The Timesexplains that if Barack Obama, after taking office, decides to release information from his predecessor’s tenure, Bush could file a lawsuit claiming executive privilege. The dispute would likely go to the Supreme Court, and there appears to be little precedent that would guide a ruling.
Harry Truman made such a post-hoc claim of executive privilege in 1953, when subponaed to testify before a congressional committee about why he had appointed a suspected communist to the IMF. The committee backed down, meaning the claim became a historical precedent — and was subsequnetly invoked by Richard Nixon, while still president in 1973, when he refused to cooperate with the committee investigating Watergate.
But a lawyer who helped hastily put together the argument on Truman’s behalf today tells the Times: “I think, legally, we wrong.”
Looks like the Iranians fear talks without preconditions. The Bush 43 years of foriegn policy seems more and more like it totally played into the hands of despots.
It’s almost as though the Cheney-influenced DoD wanted to foment conflict instead of making the world safer for the US and other nations. (A bit of snark there, because that’s clearly been the MO, at least in the Middle East.)
From the link:
Since 2006, Iran’s leaders have called for direct, unconditional talks with the United States to resolve international concerns over their nuclear program. But as an American administration open to such negotiations prepares to take power, Iran’s political and military leaders are sounding suddenly wary of President-elect Barack Obama.
“People who put on a mask of friendship, but with the objective of betrayal, and who enter from the angle of negotiations without preconditions, are more dangerous,” Hossein Taeb, deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Wednesday, according to the semiofficial Mehr News Agency.
Found this link via the Daily Dish.
In a move the McCain campaign probably looks at as a, “Thanks, but no thanks,” the most unpopular vice president in US history officially endorsed McCain.
Since Obama’s campaign has worked hard to tie McCain to the Bush 43 administration, this seems to be better news for his last-minute news cycle and can’t do anything but hurt McCain.
From the link:
A few moments ago in Ohio, Barack Obama tweaked his ongoing mockery of Dick Cheney’s McCain endorsement a bit.
“Yesterday, Dick Cheney came out of his undisclosed location,” Obama said. “He said that he is, and I quote, ‘Delighted to support John McCain.’ He’s delighted. You’ve never seen Dick Cheney delighted before. But he is. That’s kind of hard to picture.”
“So I would like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement,” Obama continued, “because he really earned it. He worked hard for it.”
McCain has been such a loyal supporter of the Bush-Cheney agenda that the opportunity to endorse him has made even Cheney smile. Funny.
I doubt it’ll come to pass, but I’d like to see the culpable parties — and as sitting president the buck stops with George W. regardless what he does, or does not, know — be held responsible for sacking and looting our body politic, treasure and heritage. Read: the Constitution, I think treasure needs no further clarification, and championing torture and war crimes.
In a start to this process the Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed suit against Bush, Dick Cheney and the National Security Agency.
From the CIO.com link:
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges that the NSA is conducting mass surveillance on U.S. residents, even as Bush and other officials say the program only targets U.S. residents when they communicate with overseas terrorism suspects. Filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the lawsuit is a class-action complaint on behalf of all residential customers of AT&T’s telephone and Internet services.
The lawsuit alleges that the NSA has installed equipment to conduct mass surveillance at AT&T telecom facilities in San Francisco; Atlanta; Seattle; Los Angeles; San Diego; San Jose, California; and Bridgeton, Missouri. “We allege a nationwide network of such NSA vacuum-cleaner surveillance facilities that would indiscriminately collect communications of all of the people who use AT&T’s network,” said Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney at EFF.
This story has been playing out for a long time now, and I’m still dismayed it hasn’t received more attention.
Essentially, at the end of the day either the Bush 43 administration is supremely incompetent, or it has systematically engaged in cover-up for quasi — or more likely il — legal activities.