by Deb Cupples | According to The Swamp, via Memeorandum, ex-Vice Presidnet Dick Cheney went on Fox (where else) and said that the Obama Administration's expected investigations into detainee torture "offends the hell out of me."
Of course he doesn't like the idea of torture investigations. First, torture is illegal. (see 18 U.S. Code 2340(a) and 2340.) And Mr. Cheney apparently advocated that people in the executive branch engage in torture (i.e., break the law). Some might argue that that, in itself, is a crime.
Second, Mr. Cheney never did seem to respect our nation's laws. Outing a CIA agent is illegal, yet Mr. Cheney was connected to his underling's of ex-CIA agent Valarie Plame Wilson. In court, Mr. Cheney's lawyers actually cargued that outing Ms. Plame was a good thing.
Mr. Cheney felt so above our nation's laws that he, back in 2007, tried to singlehandedly create a fourth branch of government that would have only one member: Mr. Cheney. Note that our nation's Constitution created only three branches: the executive, judicial, and legislative. Why such an odd proposal from Mr. Cheney? He did not like having to follow laws requiring him to preserve certain executive-branch records.
Why can't Mr. Cheney simply saunter off into the sunset? Why can't he be content spending his days fly fishing, sitting in corporate board rooms, and cleaning out the garage?
Blogger and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald writes:
See the rest of Glenn's piece here, which includes excerpts of the IG's report.
Unfortunately, some media folks are distorting the issue by claiming that torture is effective -- thus, law-breaking torturers should get a break. Some fictional TV shows do, in fact, make torture seem effective (e.g., "24").
Many intelligence officials and the Army Field Manual indicate that torture is not effective. Though you don't need a degree to figure this one out, many psychologists find torture to be ineffective, because someone in pain is likely to give even false answers to get the pain to stop.
Whether or not torture is effective is not actually the issue. The real issue is that torture is just as illegal as bank robbery [see 18 U.S. Code 2340(a) and 2340]. Until bank robbery is made legal, people who get caught helping themselves to a bank's money end up in rison. That's justice.
If government officials want to commit torture without going to prison, then they need to pressure Congress to make torture legal.
Until they do that, torture is a violation of law -- which means, at least in a nation that values equal justice under the law, that those who commit torture (or order underlings to do it) should be held accountable. Andrew Sullivan comments:
"The descent of the United States - and of Americans in general - to lower standards of morality and justice than those demanded by Iranians of their regime is a sign of the polity's moral degeneracy."
More confirmation, as if any were needed, of the Bush administration's indifference to the Rule of Law. From a 2-page article in The Washington Post:
"The [CIA], where appropriate, took its own disciplinary action when the Department of Justice declined prosecution," CIA spokesman George Little said Saturday.
A spokesman for the agency declined to comment on details of the episodes, but current and former government officials said the use of the gun is described in a classified CIA inspector general's report, which is slated to be released in declassified form on Monday....
A federal judge in New York ordered the release of the report in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has been reviewing the document in an effort to decide whether to launch an investigation into the CIA's coercive interrogation methods....
The U.S. anti-torture statute bans acts intended to inflict severe mental or physical pain or suffering resulting from, among other things, "the threat of imminent death" or threats of being "subjected to death." (Read article)
by Damozel | Saying that he was trying to balance "a clash between war and the defense of personal freedoms," federal district Judge Jeffrey White, a Bush appointee, refused to dismiss a lawsuit by convicted terrorist Jose Padilla against Bushie John Yoo, now a law professor at UC-Berkeley. (AP at MSNBC) While such a lawsuit would be many times less satisfactory than action by the current administration to hold responsible members of the Bush administration accountable, at least it is a step in that direction.
Judge White wrote:
by Deb Cupples | Anyone who has ever pulled off a bank heist -- or other serious crime -- likely wants to keep it secret, because secrecy is the biggest obstacle between a perp and prison.
Evidence revealed over the past several years strongly indicates that some folks working for the U.S. government have engaged in torture -- likely with encouragement from higher-up officials. Everyone, worldwide, who has faithfully read newspapers or watched TV news over the past five years knows this.
In short, the jig is up. The cat long ago darted out of the bag and is now nowhere to be found.
Yet, like the Bush Administration before it, the Obama Administration seems hell-bent on keeping further evidence of torture-related crimes secret. The Washington Post reports:
by Damozel | According to The Washington Post, Cheney met at least 4 times in 2005 with senior members of Congress to "maintain support" for torture, part of a "secretive and forceful" defense of the program.
Until now, anyway:
by Damozel | In other words, The Telegraph got it wrong and Taguba saw only the ones already released (Salon has published 279 photos from Abu Ghraib and those are disgusting and indecent.). See: Maj. Gen. Taguba: Abu Ghraib Photographs Censored by Obama Show Rape "and Every Indecency".
Does that mean that the 44 Obama is fighting the ACLU to keep suppressed are even worse? I don't like to imagine how that can be, and specifically so because of the apparent lack of accountability. If they are worse, is no one going to be made to answer?
Alternatively, does all this just mean that Obama isn't aware of what's already in the public domain? I don't get it.
by Damozel | The conservative British paper, The Telegraph, reports:
At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.
Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.
We covered the self-inflicted waterboarding of Mancow here. HuffPost has a good write-up of this interview with Olbermann. See what Sean Hannity -- who has yet to experience waterboarding up close and personal -- had to say to him afterward!
by Teh Nutroots | Poor little berk, I really believe that's what he thinks he was doing. Video after the jump:
by Damozel | Or, as Jesse Taylor puts it, Idiot has Self Waterboarded to Prove Torture is Torture. When will they ever learn, eh? When?
How did the radio host, Mancow, find the aforesaid torture? "Way worse than I thought it would be," he admitted. Yes, that's torture for you: always way worse than you expect. Hitch, as you'll remember, said it better: ""[I]f waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture. NBC Chicago reports:
by Teh Nutroots | I mean, look, come on: they're the CIA. Do people really think that they are on close terms at all times with the truth as it might appear to you and me? Don't we all pretty much assume that they lie reflexively, whenever they need to obscure a spot of excess zeal or whatever? Don't we all reckon that they're the ultimate ends-justify-the-means agency in America? Isn't history clear on this point?
Specter didn't go quite that far, acknowledging that it isn't official CIA policy to misrepresent the facts, but he went far enough.
"Even as the debate over the treatment of terrorism suspects during the Bush administration continues to roil political Washington, a new poll conducted for Resurgent Republic suggests that the American people -- including politically critical independent voters -- by and large support the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on suspected al-Qaeda operatives.
"Asked whether such tactics were justified, 53 percent of the overall sample said they were and 34 percent said they were not...."
Either our taxpayer-funded government officials respect and follow our nation's laws, or they don't. If they intentionally break laws without being held accountable, why should us ordinary folks face consequences for breaking laws?
by Damozel | Back and forth, back and forth. Pelosi is now trying to take back a portion of her criticism of the CIA, according to The Hill, "saying that she really meant only to criticize the Bush administration rather than career officials." You'd think she'd have got the story straight by now, wouldn't you? After all, as Deb and I have both pointed out, she's had a couple of years to prepare for all this to hit the fan. [See Did Congressional Democrats Condone the CIA's Secret Interrogation Program? (12-9-2007)].
It was always going to come up at some point. But the way she's been foundering and/or floundering you'd think it had all come straight out of right field.
by Deb Cupples | As Damozel more than adequately covered last week, Republicans accused current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of having been briefed (six or seven years back) on the CIA's use of torture -- torture being a federal crime (see 18 US Code 2340), and crimes being things that the folks working in government agencies are not allowed to commit.
Speaker Pelosi denied that she'd been briefed in detail about torture (or specifically waterboarding).
This is interesting, given that in 2003 the CIA briefed congressional leaders, including Rep. Jane Harman, and included details about the use of the apparently criminal activity known as waterboarding. We know that, because Rep. Harman wrote a letter to a top CIA lawyer days after the briefing, expressing concern over the agency's apparent torture-related crimes.
I suppose it's possible that -- at the precise moment that CIA officials were telling Jane Harman about the waterboarding -- Speaker Pelosi was on a ladies-room break.
Oops: I got the timing wrong. It turns out that Pelosi and Harman were briefed on different days.
The Talking Heads and their Memes O' Subliminal Power versus Nancy Pelosi: Tragic!....Tragic!....Firestorm!...Firestorm!...A hole she can't get out of!....Fairy dust and unicorns!
They really want you to see it their way and they're prepared to repeat the folksy cliches until you do. Talk about torture.... See it all, after the jump..