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Separating Truths From Lies

Time and again, George W. Bush's White House constructed and occupied its own alternate realities to suit its political needs.

Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Then "Mission Accomplished" and, for nearly four years, the insurgency was "in its last throes." Having declared that his team was fully prepared beforehand, Bush praised them after Hurricane Katrina for going a "heckuva job." He insisted repeatedly that we don't torture. It was an official administration position that tax cuts increased tax revenues, and that the economy was strong.

The decisions based on these non-realities were, not surprisingly, among the most disastrous of the Bush era. And all along, Bush was aided and abetted by a mainstream press corps that got accustomed to presenting "both sides of the story" rather than differentiating fact from fiction -- or what might be called truth from lies. Now a large fraction of the United States seems to occupy its own reality, even served by its own news outlets.

Why do I bring this up again? Because it's anything but ancient history. This denial of reality continues to infect our political discourse over the darkest of all the Bush legacies: The policy of treating detainees with deliberate cruelty, and torturing them. It is objective fact that the Bush administration consciously adopted tactics that are not just morally reprehensible and flatly illegal, but which experts says don't produce reliable intelligence -- just coerced confessions.

The argument in defense of the administration, made primarily by those who were complicit, is that it wasn't torture and it worked. But an increasingly critical mass of investigative reporting, supported by the release of key legal documents, has made it quite clear -- at least to those of us in what a Bush aide famously and contemptuously referred to as the "reality-based community" -- that those arguments are spurious.

Nevertheless, as unsupported by reality as those claims are, they will continue to be effective with at least some the public -- and the traditional media will continue to depict this as a story with two sides -- until or unless some sort of trusted, exhaustive and official investigation takes place, rendering an authoritative verdict on what happened, why, who was responsible, and what lessons we should learn.

Mark Danner made this case brilliantly (and at length) in his second New York Review of Books essay about the International Committee of the Red Cross report on 14 detainees held at the CIA's secret prison, which he both described and Web-published.

The Bush administration's counter-narrative, championed most assertively by vice president Dick Cheney, is that if it hadn't been for the "enhanced interrogation" of terror suspects, we would have been attacked again. But as Danner puts it: "Cheney's story is made not of facts but of the myths that replace them when facts remain secret."

Danner writes: "The only way to defuse the political volatility of torture and to remove it from the center of the 'politics of fear' is to replace its lingering mystique, owed mostly to secrecy, with authoritative and convincing information about how it was really used and what it really achieved. That this has not yet happened is the reason why, despite the innumerable reports and studies and revelations that have given us a rich and vivid picture of the Bush administration's policies of torture, we as a society have barely advanced along this path. We have not so far managed, despite all the investigations, to produce a bipartisan, broadly credible, and politically decisive effort, and pronounce authoritatively on whether or not these activities accomplished anything at all in their stated and still asserted purpose: to protect the security interests of the country.

"This cannot be accomplished through the press; for the same institutional limitations that lead journalists to keep repeating Bush and Cheney's insistence about the 'legality' of torture make it impossible for the press alone, no matter how persuasive the leaks it brings to the public, to make a politically decisive judgment on the value of torture.... What is needed is ... a broadly persuasive judgment, delivered by people who can look at all the evidence, however highly classified, and can claim bipartisan respect on the order of the Watergate Select Committee or the 9/11 Commission, on whether or not torture made Americans safer."

The Bush apologists think their best argument for torture is the case of Abu Zubaida, who they insist provided information under duress that prevented further attacks. And compared to the possibly hundreds of arguably completely innocent detainees turned in to American authorities for bounties and routinely beaten, sometimes to death, at the military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, they may have point.

Yet ever since Ron Suskind came out with his book, The One Percent Doctrine, in June 2006, there's been persuasive evidence that almost all the administration's claims about Zubaida were wrong -- and that intelligence officials mischaracterized his value so Bush wouldn't lose face.

That evidence continued to mount with a March 29 Washington Post story by Peter Finn and Joby Warrick. See my March 30 post: Bush's Torture Rationale Debunked.

Now Scott Shane writes in Saturday's New York Times that the Bush administration's decision to ratchet up the brutality inflicted upon Zubaida, including repeated waterboarding, came "despite the belief of interrogators that the prisoner had already told them all he knew, according to former intelligence officials and a footnote in a newly released legal memorandum.

"The escalation to especially brutal interrogation tactics against the prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, including confining him in boxes and slamming him against the wall, was ordered by officials at C.I.A. headquarters based on a highly inflated assessment of his importance, interviews and a review of newly released documents show...

"[S]enior agency officials, still persuaded, as they had told President George W. Bush and his staff, that he was an important Qaeda leader, insisted that he must know more.

"'You get a ton of information, but headquarters says, "There must be more,"' recalled one intelligence officer who was involved in the case. As described in the footnote to the memo, the use of repeated waterboarding against Abu Zubaydah was ordered 'at the direction of C.I.A. headquarters,' and officials were dispatched from headquarters 'to watch the last waterboard session.'...

"'He pleaded for his life,' the official said. 'But he gave up no new information. He had no more information to give.'...

"Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said."

But none of this matters to the defenders of torture.

Former Bush administration officials Michael Hayden and Michael B. Mukasey wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Friday with the spurious claim that Zubaida "was coerced into disclosing information that led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh, another of the planners of Sept. 11, who in turn disclosed information which -- when combined with what was learned from Abu Zubaydah -- helped lead to the capture of KSM and other senior terrorists, and the disruption of follow-on plots aimed at both Europe and the U.S."

This although, as I've written previously, Bin al Shibh was captured almost half a year after Zubaida was, and Suskind has reported that the key information about his location came not from Zubaida but from an al-Jazeera reporter.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal op-ed page was even able to find someone -- in this case, dependable Bush apologists David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey -- to say the tactics weren't even torture.

And here, via Real Clear Politics, is Hayden on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, sticking to his guns: "In September 2006, President Bush gave a speech on the Abu Zubaydah case. He pointed out that he -- Zubaydah gave us nominal information, probably more valuable than he thought. He clammed up. The decision was made to use techniques.

"After that decision was made and the techniques were used, he gave up more valuable information, including the information that led to the arrest of Ramzi Binalshibh. After the New York Times story yesterday, I called a few friends to make sure my memory was correct, and I guess, to quote somebody from your profession, we stand by our story.

"The critical information we got from Abu Zubaydah came after we began the EITs -- the enhanced interrogation techniques."

Wallace: "Not before."

Hayden: "No."

Danner's argument about the need for "a broadly persuasive judgment" is compelling, and well worth reading. I would simply add that we need a lot more disclosure before such a judgment can be reached. In fact, over at NiemanWatchdog.org, where I am deputy editor, we are today kicking off a series of articles calling attention to all the things we still need to know about torture and other abuses committed after 9/11. We chose that focus because we think that when you think about how much remains hidden, how many issues are still unresolved, how many injustices have never been redressed, and how little accountability there has been, it's hard to make the argument that we're ready to move on.

Meanwhile, the memos I wrote about on Friday continue to disgorge new information and generate debate. And it seems that President Obama, who said in a statement that those who followed the legal advice in the memos won't be prosecuted, doesn't want to see anyone prosecuted at all.

Scott Shane reports this morning in the New York Times: "C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.

"The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum....

"The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks....

"The fact that waterboarding was repeated so many times may raise questions about its effectiveness, as well as about assertions by Bush administration officials that their methods were used under strict guidelines....

"The new information on the number of waterboarding episodes came out over the weekend when a number of bloggers, including Marcy Wheeler of the blog emptywheel, discovered it in the May 30, 2005, memo.

"The sentences in the memo containing that information appear to have been redacted from some copies but are visible in others. Initial news reports about the memos in The New York Times and other publications did not include the numbers."

Sarah Gantz and Ben Meyerson write in the Los Angeles Times: "The conclusion in recently released Justice Department memos that CIA interrogation techniques would not cause prolonged mental harm is disputed by some doctors and psychologists, who say that the mental damage incurred from the practices is significant and undeniable."

No kidding. See, for instance, this report from Physicians for Human Rights.

The Associated Press reports: "An Austrian newspaper quotes the U.N.'s top torture investigator as saying President Barack Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA operatives who used questionable interrogation practices violates international law.

"Manfred Nowak is quoted in Der Standard as saying the United States has committed itself under the U.N. Convention against Torture to make torture a crime and to prosecute those suspected of engaging in it."

Nevertheless, R. Jeffrey Smith writes in The Washington Post: "The Obama administration opposes any effort to prosecute those in the Justice Department who drafted legal memos authorizing harsh interrogations at secret CIA prisons, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said yesterday....

"Emanuel's dismissal of the idea went beyond Obama's pledge not to prosecute CIA officers who acted on the Justice Department's legal advice."

The New York Times editorial board writes: "Until Americans and their leaders fully understand the rules the Bush administration concocted to justify such abuses — and who set the rules and who approved them — there is no hope of fixing a profoundly broken system of justice and ensuring that that these acts are never repeated.

"The abuses and the dangers do not end with the torture memos. Americans still know far too little about President Bush’s decision to illegally eavesdrop on Americans — a program that has since been given legal cover by the Congress."

Obama "has an obligation to pursue what is clear evidence of a government policy sanctioning the torture and abuse of prisoners — in violation of international law and the Constitution.

"That investigation should start with the lawyers who wrote these sickening memos."

Timothy Rutten writes in his Los Angeles Times column: "The president is whistling past the graveyard... when he insists that this is "a time for reflection, not retribution." Without facts, reflection is little more than daydreaming. That's why Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) is right to call for a truth commission that can render an accurate historical accounting of the executive branch's shameful conduct over the last seven years.

"A truth commission is particularly important because of the public rhetoric of former Bush administration officials -- the very ones who pushed so hard behind closed doors for permission to torture and who have argued so strenuously that the legal memos ought to remain secret.

"These officials, foremost among them former Vice President Dick Cheney, have not simply argued that releasing the memos and renouncing the kind of interrogation they sanctioned is bad national security policy or legally mistaken. Instead, they've gone well beyond that and actually insisted that torture 'worked.'"

And oh boy! Cheney will be on Fox News with Sean Hannity tonight.

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 20, 2009; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Torture  
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Comments

So ... has Obama actually put you on the payroll yet or does he have some kind of incriminating photograph?

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 20, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

why do you republican losers always assume anybody who thinks Bush is a moron is a democrat?

What a small, small mind you have. In fact, that must be a prerequisite for being a republican.

BTW, screw the democrats too.

Posted by: katavo | April 20, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Good analysis and reminder of past evidence against the GW/Cheney/Hayden mantra. But something I noticed and asked Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli on his discussion today (I didn't get an answer). Why is the story about the multiple waterboarding of the two Al Queda suspects not on the Post? I have seen it on almost every other major news web site, including WTOP.

Posted by: cpusss | April 20, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin - Wanted to send you this link so you could avoid some embarrassment. Turns out, one Barack Obama won the election and is now president. You might want to write about that guy since this is White House watch. Just looking out for you and your outstanding column. Keep up the,uh, work.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/us/politics/20web-inaug2.html?_r=1&hp

Posted by: popopo | April 20, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Bush, Cheney and Gonzales must all be prosecuted so that the world knows what took place and that we never forget what can happen when an ignorant, connected, puppet takes the highest office in the land.
I enjoyed the last line of the post--getting Hannity's name wrong.

Posted by: cherlyougest | April 20, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

So Froomkin is monitoring each post now?

Posted by: clydle | April 20, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

This is what's wrong with Obama's decision not to prosecute everyone involved. It plays right into the "no big deal" perception. It isn't very nice, but I'd love to see how well some of these chicken hawk defenders of torture held up to their own medicine if they had to take it in the after life.

Posted by: SarahBB | April 20, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

/agree, excellent analysis.

We do need an accounting or finding of fact on what occurred and then look to whom we need to prosecute. But there should be a separation between the policy makers versus the policy executors (CIA Agents). I would think, in this case any elected official or appointee would be subject to prosecution.

At the end of the day, laws were broken by those at the highest level of government and they need to be prosecuted.

Posted by: gmckinney | April 20, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

You're living in the past, Froomkin. Must be rough.

Posted by: ajsja | April 20, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Dan. No biggie but I believe his name is Sean Hannity not Scott Hannity. But please keep your focus on this issue. Enough facts, and demands for action may actually get the truth out there and war crimes enablers brought to justice. Having read Ron Suskind's 1% Doctrine I am conviced that Zubaida was already pretty schizo before being waterboarded 6 times a day for month. I would be interested in how long Hannity could handle being waterboarded before he confessed to bringing down the twin towers. Or cheating on his wife or being a pedophile. Could be an instructional moment for a lot of true-believers.

Posted by: mickster1 | April 20, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"You're living in the past, Froomkin. Must be rough."

And you're living a fantasy.

Face it, this is an issue that WILL NOT go away. Crimes were committed and somebody will undoubtedly go after Bush Administration people who committed these crimes. Obama may not want to go in that direction, but I have a feeling somebody in the International community will.

This story is as relevant today as the day it first became known.

Posted by: lightgrw | April 20, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Like most patriotic Americans, I just want to know when the International War Crimes Trials for Bush, Cheney, Yoo, and the rest of the ilk start.

How about now?

Posted by: WillSeattle | April 20, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

You're living in the past, Froomkin. Must be rough.

Posted by: One of those people that probably excused everything over the past 8 years with "It's all Bill Clinton's fault".

Posted by: CardFan | April 20, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

The more I learn about the Bush Admin. the more frightening they were. Just because they had the Supreme Court put him in office I think they forgot we live in a democracy.

Excuse me who came up with the stupid phrase "enhanced interrogation"?

We have soilders on foreign soil. What if they're "enhanced interrogated" - we would be mad as he$$ but we opened a door that will take a long time to close.

Posted by: rlj1 | April 20, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the information given by Zubaydah was just confirmed by the al-Jezeera reporter? But the subject isn't going away as long as the professionally sensitive can make a buck or a column out of keeping it alive. And that has to be the only reason; I mean do these people really give a 5hit about terrorists and their supporters? I think not and it's just a way to make $ or bash Bush.

Posted by: ronjaboy | April 20, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

George W. Bush will go down in history, as the greatest U.S. President.

Posted by: hclark1 | April 20, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

hclark1, you're pretty funny! Take that act on the road and make some money.

Posted by: whizbang9a | April 20, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

If anything torture has made this country LESS safe .

Al-Qaeda has long had the cause of corrupt, often U.S. supported, governments. Now Al-Qaeda has torture. We're really on a roll here giving Al-Qaeda causes to fight.

If one of our soldiers is captured and tortured, no one is going to take anti-torture pleas seriously, considering that we've tortured people.

Posted by: UnPatriotic | April 20, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Once you emotionally remove yourself from the issue, once you refuse to panic, it's very easy to see how the losing torture kooks, ala Brennan, and now Obama, rationalize their behavior and thinking, a constant sink hole leading only to more denial and more loss for them and the country.

This issue really isn't dependent upon the press, perhaps it's more the hand of God.

I'm no prophet, but it appears h*ll came early.

Good luck, and good luck in Afgahinstan, it's difficult to wage, much less win, a war with stupid people calling the plays.

OTOH, it occurs to me, as I've been watching, on You Tube, the Apollo lift-offs (in anticipation of Orion -- I think ahead...), our country achieved THAT intellectual greatness at the height on the Vietnam war, the turmoil, the days of rage, of the 60's.

Guess Apollo was the flip side.

So, maybe something good can come of this, too...

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | April 20, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

My email to Judge Bybee (cc'd far and wide as well):
___

Mr. Bybee;

You should be fired from UNLV, impeached by Congress, indicted for conspiracy involving war crimes, disbarred, and imprisoned. I now have a copy of your 8-1-02 memo. Notwithstanding the numerous redactions, it comprises dispositive evidence of your criminality. You were a willful, thoroughly knowledgeable, and enthusiastic advocate for the kinds of rank barbarism we decry in our enemies. And, "high value" exemplar detainees such as Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed are really just red herrings; the larger problem is that we have quite likely applied these criminal techniques against numerous nameless others, most of them likely innocent and in possession of no useful intelligence information. Your actions have contributed to the deaths and maimings of many more U.S. troops, put any subsequent American military captives at severely heightened risk of torture, and have significantly sullied our international reputation. You should be held to account. I will tirelessly do my part to see that such will be the case.

cc: Senators Reid, & Ensign, Representative Dina Titus, US DOJ

cc: Senator John McCain, Fax 202-228-2862

Begin forwarded message:

From: Robert Gladd
Date: April 19, 2009 12:31:50 PM PDT
To: john.white@unlv.edu
Cc: brian@lasvegassun.com, Christy Hardin Smith , jwalsh@salon.com
Subject: This man is unfit to practice, much less teach law -- or to serve on the bench

The Torturers’ Manifesto


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/opinion/19sun1.html?_r=1

"...In one of the more nauseating passages, Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general and now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.

These memos are not an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors’ statutory obligation. They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country’s most basic values..."

"...These memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him. And if the administration will not conduct a thorough investigation of these issues, then Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable..."

____

Jay Bybee is documentably complicit in war crimes. He should not only be impeached, in a morally coherent world, he would be indicted. It sickens me to see his name associated with my university.

Posted by: BGladd | April 20, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

You are absolutely right about this Dan, except on one key point: the "dead-enders" who refuse to believe the truth about the Bush Admin's illegal actions will NEVER concede this point. Just liten to hate radio. Just read the posts on web sites like this. And while mainstream publications like the Wall Street Journal are still giving them cover, why should they seek help for their psychosis?

If Obama will not proceded against the torturers, perhaps congress should act?

Posted by: gposner | April 20, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

You bring it up again because you are obsessed with Bush. It's easier than explaining Obama and Chavez and Ortega and the leader of Saudi Arabia isn't it?

Posted by: david-mckenzie | April 20, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"George W. Bush will go down in history, as the greatest U.S. President.

Posted by: hclark1 | April 20, 2009 2:30 PM"

Shortly after Jerry Lewis wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Posted by: thrh | April 20, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

You bring it up again because you are obsessed with Bush. It's easier than explaining Obama and Chavez and Ortega and the leader of Saudi Arabia isn't it?

----------

Obama is now complicit, too, he is hiding the criminality of the weak and stupid men.

Someone else mentioned he has no use for Obama apologists, and I agree.

Obama is HARDLY a leader, so stupid, he thinks the future of America is John Brennan, another laughable, discredited CIA torture kook.

I keep thinking of NASA today, and the elevated American thought that got us to space, and to the moon, and beyond, now.

That is hardly Brennan.

Or Hayden.

ROTFLMAO

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | April 20, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

It's hard for me to find the words to express the anger, revulsion and disgust I feel towards Tenet, Bybee, Hayden, Cheney and all the other enablers of the barbarism that has sullied our international reputation and undermined our self-respect as a nation that professes to respect human dignity. Obama and company can try to press forward and sweep this under the rug if they wish, but this is a stain on our national psyche that will not go away until people are held to account and justice is served.

Posted by: howardhankins1 | April 20, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Headline:

"Bushes Alternate Reality on (fill in the blank)"

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | April 20, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I think it interesting a man like Kennedy saw the power available to him and invested America in space.

Whereas Dick Cheney, he invested power in torture prisons.

And even those he couldn't manage properly, big surprise.

Msn, those people are DUMB.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | April 20, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

"So ... has Obama actually put you on the payroll yet or does he have some kind of incriminating photograph?

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 20, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse "

I was going to post on Froomkin's idiocy but this really was so clever and to the point that I defer to your superior wit today SharpshootingPugilist. Congrats.

Posted by: pwaa | April 20, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

"And all along, Bush was aided and abetted by a mainstream press corps that got accustomed to presenting "both sides of the story" rather than differentiating fact from fiction -- or what might be called truth from lies."

I nominate David Gregory and the late Tim Russert as the captains of this kind of reporting. They have both defended it and neither ever did any original reporting. (Employees of Faux News are excluded from nomination as none are journalists.)

Posted by: dickdata | April 20, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Sharpshooter, you remind me of my cat, both pussy's

Posted by: c420ach | April 20, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Obama is in a tough spot. I think he probably agrees that torture prosecutions are called for. But his short tenure in office has reinforced to us all the dramatic level of partisanship in the US, and he recognizes that prosecuting members of the Bush administration would play out as the ultimate partisan move, rightly or wrongly. It would consume the media. It would largely consume his presidency. There is so much other work to be done, he does not want to take his presidency down that path. He wants to accomplish other things. He wants to turn the country around in so many other areas.

On the other hand, the most fundamental of international laws have been broken. Can that stand? In our treaties we have pledged to prosecute if this kind of thing happens in our country. Very tough spot, indeed, for the president.

I say, go with Leahy's truth commission idea. Put the facts before the country and the world. Then let US public opinion drive the decision on prosecution. Obama needs the support of a massive public outcry for justice. He is not going to sink his presidency over the likes of Cheney, Addington, and Yoo, as much as they deserve it.

Posted by: jrgordon1 | April 20, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

You are correct in maintaining that "both sides of the argument" is a lousy way for reporters to do their job. After all, it will probably not be difficult to run a poll and find that 30% of Americans believe that one plus one is not equal to two, and an even larger percentage who believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old.

The problem is the media is that it has consistently failed to ask the appropriate questions. Anderson Cooper, one of the better ones, kept asking, "so did the torture work? Did we get actionable intelligence?"

So what if it did? And so what if 70% of Americans say Torture is ok if it saves American lives? I'm sure that's how the Japanese were interned in World War II. And I'm sure that's how the Germans justified that they now had a better society by rounding up the Jews.

When we fail to ask the questions as a society, we're no different from those who perpetrate those acts of terror. In that sense, 9-11 has been an astounding victory for Al Qaeda in bankrupting not only our economy, but also our morality.

Posted by: joecflee | April 20, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Dan.

Posted by: rjoff | April 20, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Judging from the tone and tenor of some of the comments today, you've made the wingers heads explode again. They must think '24' is real. Thanks for keeping up the good work Dan.

Just what would they think would be beyond acceptable treatment? Gas chambers perhaps?

It may be ok with some in the comment section that we have adopted the techniques of Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union, but it is not alright with me. Not in my name.

Posted by: cfeher | April 20, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Once again, a great deal of the tone of today's comments is far south of thoughtful and civil. I continue to be appalled - posters, you are capable of better intellectual expression than you are demonstrating. Please open your minds, think before you compose, and in the case of rebuttal, refute the position, not the poster.

On to the subject du jour: As bad as the subject of torture during the Bush administration appears as presented by Dan Froomkin, the disturbing aspect to me is that Obama may have, through intelligence briefings upon taking office, been somehow convinced to stake out his current position of unaccountability and transparency for "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the Bush administration.

Why? Have any of those few journalists Dan cites as skeptics of the former administration's tactics established any inside sources that would shed illumination on Obama's position? Determining the President's rationale for legally shielding Bush administration officials is just as important as the legal opinions and actions enacted by those individuals in the name of the old GWOT.

For those posters who are convinced that the interrogation techniques of the last administration were useful - and if they consider such techniques to be legal, not in violation of the Geneva Conventions, and necessary for the protection of the American people, then why would a responsible disclosure (one that does not compromise "national security"), not be in their interest as vindication of their position?

Finally, in spite of the argument as to the improved safety of this country, we are still faced with a viable Al Qaida organization, headed by the one man who should have been apprehended by all the supposed valuable intelligence gathered over the duration of the Bush administration - Osama Bin Laden.

Posted by: MillPond2 | April 20, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

the situation is classic victors justice. to the losers, even the chauffeurs and hairstylists get punished; to the victors, all sinners and sins are to be forgiven and forgotten.

never pays to be small in this world, and t'will be ever thus.

Posted by: daveinvictoria | April 20, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Dan, what gives? When are your going to give up your unhealthy fixation on the Bush White House? He's gone dude, get over it, or go off and write a book about it. It's amusing that the Post gives you so many bytes to pursue your love affair with President Bush, but it's getting old. I mean, can you not find anything to write about President Obama, or is it just that you're a hack and the good reporters are covering him?

Posted by: PLU482 | April 20, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

You're right, Dan: it's far from ancient history. We'll live with the blowback from torture for decades. The enablers and apologists for torture are given a forum to lie to the American people about what was done and what resulted from it. The whole matter couldn't be more current or relevant. To pretend that it doesn't matter any more is just one more myth that needs dispelling.

Posted by: jpk1 | April 20, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

What is coming out on the CIA torture shows that these interrogations should have been handled by professionals in the military and the Dept of Justice, either of whom have legitimate authority to capture, detain and question terrorists. There has not been a single instance of an active CIA person stepping forward as a whistle-blower, which makes it hard to evaluate these anonymous claims. By contrast, there have been numerous instances of whistle-blowing within the military and the FBI. That's because they know they have real authority to do their jobs, and so will be protected when they do them.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | April 20, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Froomkin, your column today is like a breath of fresh air. The MSM has been complicit in all of the crimes perpetrated by the Bush administration. The coverup continues. I watched Washington Week in Review last Friday evening as they glossed over the most important story of the week. Although they were protecting Bush for the past 8 years, now they are protecting the first black President.

There has been another important institution covering for the torturers that have gotten little attention: the Congress of the United States. Complicit in the torture of guilty and innocent alike were Rockefeller, Feinstein, Leahy, Reid, Hillary Clinton, Obama, and other so-called leaders of the Democrats in Congress who went along to get along. None of these people bore witness to evil.

God is punishing America for the evil acts committed in her name: President Obama, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, national debt which can never be repaid, eternal wars, wingnuts in the wilderness. And the worst is yet to come.

Posted by: frazeysburger | April 20, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Not proud of it, but this sounds too much like the scene in the movie classic "Casablanca", when Claude Rains, playing a police official, is "shocked" to find that gambling is going on in Rick's (Humphrey Bogart's) night club, even as he is handed his "take" of the winnings.

No one can tell me that this never happened before. Renditions to nations that permit torture weren't initiated by the Bush administration.

In Vietnam, there was the "big step" method of interrogation, where VC and NVA captives were taken up in helicopters, whereupon one was thrown out and the others started talking or also took the "step."

I remember a college professor, a WWII veteran, who said the same thing was done with Japanese POWs, using light observation planes, helicopters not yet having come into use.

It is well documented that German POWs captured by paratroopers in the early hours of D-Day were summarily executed, justified by the dire exigencies of the moment.

On the other hand, US officers were prosecuted for utilizing water boarding in the Phillippines during a counter-insurgency campaign there in the early 20th Century.

With that in mind, what was the reason, not just to utilize torture techniques that military intelligence has labeled unreliable and our laws and treaties have outlawed, but to go through extensive, incriminating procedures to legalize and legitimize the techniques? I can't think of a logical, sensible answer to that question.

Finally, after the Church Committee's exposure of the "Imperial Presidency" and CIA abuses of more than 30 years ago, the prosecution of Sec-Def Caspar Weinberger and other high officials, both civilian and military, for Iran-Contra in the 1980's, why is Obama so reluctant to set up a DOJ task force to obtain indictments against the likes of John Woo and David Eagleton?

Is it because our troops are still in harm's way, taking casualties at the hands of the same enemy that those methods were used against? But, wasn't Communism still our enemy and a much greater threat in the 1980's, when the Iran-Contra prosecutions took place?

President Obama should read through that oath that he took on January 20, 2009, and make sure that in his desire to avoid political fallout he doesn't open himself up to charges of obstruction of justice, and of politicizing the DOJ even more than it was under Dubya.

Posted by: bfieldk | April 20, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't just some amorphous, faceless group of "experts" who maintain that torture does not yield actionable intelligence - it was, among others, the National Defense Intelligence College in Washington, DC. It also wasn't some crusty old Vietnam document that needed to have the dust blown off before it could be read: "Educing Information; Interrogation - Science and Art" was released in 2006, while the torture was still going on. Those who are casting about for excuses as to why the Great Man behaved as he did will have to look a little harder, I'm afraid. Perhaps you'll be a little more careful about allowing a psychopath and a dimwit in the same Presidential/Vice Presidential lineup in future.

The report named above describes captured American pilots' confessions during the Korean War, in which they admitted to having deliberately bombed civilian population centres. Of course, that never happened, and it was evident the confessions were forced. How did the American public react? I think it would be safe to say they viewed the enemy government, and their country as a whole, unfavourably. How is this situation different, except that you are supposed to be the good guys?

The really sad thing is that some people still believe Bush was a great and honourable leader who acted in the country's best interest in all things, but lesser beings dragged him down before his master plan could be realized. The last part is probably true except for the lesser beings part - there's little doubt he did plan to go much further. But that continued childlike belief is such a pathetic comment on the believers; there is something fundamentally flawed in those who recognize no moral barrier to reaching their ends, and who revel in being despised by the world. In their warped view, the more they hate you, the more jealous they are of your greatness and nobility.

Posted by: marknesop | April 20, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

I guess it escapes our Republican friends that this article is critical of Obama.

Torture is not legal in America. We are bound by treaty obligations including the Geneva Conventions to investigate and prosecute those who conduct torture. George W. Bush constructed an elaborate legal house of cards which purported to make torture legal. He used political influence to prevent his Attorneys General from investigating or prosecuting these crimes. Most of the legal opinions it was based on were rescinded even before he left office.

Now, it is Eric Holder's obligation as Attorney General under both United States law and our treaty obligations to investigate and prosecute those who have tortured. It is wholly inappropriate for the President of the United States of America to put public pressure on him to ignore the law, even if, especially if, those who violated the law were members of the Executive branch of the government.

Obama and Holder are now complicit in these crimes against humanity. By refusing to allow the wheels of justice to roll forward they are as guilty as those who actually committed these most heinous of crimes. They are not upholding U.S. law. They are not upholding our treaty obligations.

Posted by: fletc3her | April 20, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Think back to 2002. Our country had been attacked. Everyone was frightened, many people wanted revenge. We all certainly wanted to secure our country against another attack.

In that political climate, they could have sought support to introduce new legislation making torture lawful for "enemy combatants" (as opposed to members of a country's army). Hopefully it would not have become law, but wouldn't even the treat of legalized torture have been a more effective deterrent than breaking our laws --and then trying to keep it secret?

But instead, an entire chain of command broke existing law and should be prosecuted for doing so, just like any other lawbreaker.

Julie, Dem in Arkansas

Posted by: jpel | April 20, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

What makes you think that an investigation would make any difference? There is already sufficient evidence to establish the illegal and immoral acts of the Buhs Administration. The neocons will assert that the investigation is: Biased OR politically motivated OR making our country weaker OR (you name it). Rush Limbaugh and Fox News will demonize those who conduct the investigation and the 30 percent or so who are neocon true believers will call all who disagree with them socialists, communists, or facists. The only hope for our country to come clean is for support for the GOP to continue to erode until they are even less relevant than they are today.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | April 20, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

We all know Bush and his team did nothing right and Obamma and his can do no wrong. Is it so hard to accept that 9-11 was hatched long before Bush took office and these "dark and ineffective" opinions were even rendered?

The interogation methods that Bush "inherited" must have been real doozies to lead the poor terrorists to murder all those innocent Americans. You probably prefer to blame Bush and team for staging 9-11 just to justify war with Iraq and the torture of innocents.

Simple imprisonment will be considered torture by the end of Obamma's first 100 days. Instead of appologizing to every despot and playing politics with interrogation methods, Obamma and team should be explaining how they plan to uncover and combat terrorists. Nuking them in their caves is the only remaining option.

Posted by: JoeTH | April 20, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

The well-documented torture program designed and approved by the Bush regime exemplifies the extend of their Machiavellian mentality. Their rationale: "We must take a collective crap on the Constitution in order to preserve it".

Posted by: labman57 | April 20, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

The Nation clearly has an identity crisis! Their are many different Factions in our body politic; I will focus on the two I find most distressing and therefore the most troubling. First, let me say that I am essentially a Libertarian who was a registered Republican for over 30 years.
The first group and by far the one I am most opposed to is the Religious Right and the second is the Neo-Con amalgamation with the Fascist Corporate Elites. Both of these groups are based on "principals" that have lead them to their anti-social aggressive Totalitarianism approach to governance.
The Religious Right are essentially the Evangelical Christian movement applied to politics. Their core belief is based on the notion that man is broken, a sinner, that must be fixed; and fixed in the manner proscribed by their belief. Further, all who do not follow this belief must be “forced”, for their own good of course, to do what is needed.
The so-called Neo-Cons who really should be called Strassians as most of them are acolytes and followers of Leo Strauss and those I will label as Corporatist, who are really avowed Fascist, but of course would never use that derogatory term are partners who have postponed the contest to see who are the masters and who are the servants. Their view is essentially zero-sum; anything they don’t get is a loss; further, there are essentially 2 peoples in the world: those who lead and take, and those who follow and don’t get!
The scary thing is that these two groups are in an unholy alliance to impose this Totalitarianism on the nation, both believing that they are the dominate force! Together they are destroying the essential comity needed to have a viable nation. Both use the modern marketing techniques to prevent opposition and indoctrinate their supporters. Both make extensive use of Murdock’s media empire, conservative “Think” tanks to give their dogma and agendas legitimacy, and conservative “philanthropists” to fund their enterprises. One of the greatest accomplishments of these groups is to swindle the so-called MSM into a strange dichotomy mentioned in this story: the odd notion that all views must be given equally weigh and authority! Leaving what used to be the requirement for “News”; that is it true or not; we now have Faux News which is essentially opinions about some selected slice of news with no responsibility for the opinion to be based on anything remotely related to “truth”! This is a disaster for a Democracy which can only function when it citizens have information and can know that it based on truth! This lose could be fatal to our experiment; a Republic of the people , by the people, for the people.

Posted by: Chaotician | April 20, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Right now my wife is playing the "Mamma Mia'' DVD - talk about torture!

Posted by: maggots | April 20, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Obama is using the model of Truth and Reconciliation used in South Africa and before it was named as such, by President Lincoln after the Civil War. There will be truth. We will get the facts. The reconciliation will arise because of the immunity and then... then we as a people should learn from our mistakes and not repeat the fear driven mistakes of the "Bushed" years.

Posted by: drum_sing | April 20, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Froomy with the usual patented drivel. No analysis, just red meat for the lefties. Nothing new to add, just continuing to beat a dead horse. If Froomy had any new idea he didn't get from MoveOn.org, he wouldn't dare publish it for fear of inciting fratricide among the radicalized left.
By the way, bunky, your dude Obama is in the White House now. Maybe you should change the name of your column to something more appropriate - Trashing all things Republican.

Posted by: Buzz5 | April 20, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

An interesting study named the Stanley Milgram Study provides insight how given the proper motivation (money, authority figure orders, rage, etc) we could all become torturers. Here:

A number of the comments today (as usual) seem to be nothing more than transcriptions of Tea Bagger placards I saw on the Fox cable network. Talk about on the payroll and patented drivel. Or YouTube videos of Glenn Beck's 912 project meetings. What can you say about people who believe their cable TV adapter boxes are special brainwashing devices created by Commies in the 50's and are now ready to take over?

Posted by: mickster1 | April 20, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

The following story that went around for years during WWII "proved" that torture, or in Bush terminology, "non torture", works.

When Shen Shicai, the Xinjiang warlord in China during WWII, turned against the Communists whom he used to coddled, he personally tortured one of them to ask how much money the prisoner has accepted from the Soviets. With the answer 100K that he decide to be too low, he intensified the interrogation technique. So the figure went up. Still not satisfied, the prisoner said one million. That was judged too high so the technique intensified again until the figure 500K came out from the prisoner's mouth.

At that point, General Sheng was satisfied as he commented, "there you go, had you decided to say that first, you would have saved yourself from lots of suffering".

So you see, I think non torture really works. It is a simple matter of the one being interrogated finding out what the interrogator wants to hear. Get it right, both are satisfied and there is no need to torture any one.

Posted by: steviana | April 21, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Nice article, although I want to also see Nancy Pelosi and the DEMS that knew about the BUSHCO Constitution shredding party, and did NOTHING TO STOP THEM, PROSECUTED right along with BUSH & CHENEY!

As an independent, all I see are TWO CROOKED PARTIES protecting each other while picking our pockets clean!

The crazy thing is that GOP supporters point at the criminals in the DEMS and the DEMS supporters point at the criminals in the GOP and we as a country can't seem to get rid of these MAJORLY CROOKED BEYOND REPAIR PARTIES of GREED!

WAKE UP and Vote Libertarian Party: The REAL party of fiscally small government, personal liberty and responsibility!

The LP is America's 3rd largest party, although don't expect hundreds of millions in dirty money to be spent to win you over with BIG commercial campaigns, like the DEMS and GOP parties do. Sorry, but the LP does NOT ACCEPT BIG CORPORATE & FOREIGN GOVERNMENT BRIBES, and therefore can NOT compete in the EXPENSIVE popularity contest run by the GOP/DEMS.

END THE CROOKED TWO PARTY GAME!
Restore Rule of Law!
Prosecute ALL Criminals, especially those that abuse their powers as politicians!

Oh, and if the LP were in office, these costly wars would already be OVER! You would also see GOP and DEM career politicians retiring ASAP, as they have nothing on the LP and we would PROSECUTE THE WHOLE LOT of these Bribe Accepting, Pork Dealing, CROOKS and restore fiscal responsibility and Rule of LAW back to DC!

Posted by: fixitj | April 21, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

fixitj your computer's keyboard seems to be broken. It occasionally capitalizes a whole bunch of letters in a row. fixit!

Posted by: mickster1 | April 21, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Lots of whining as usual about how Froomkin can't move on. Well, moving along would seem reasonable if we were talking about a few minor transgressions, like taking bribes from lobbyists or boffing an actress or two behind the First Lady's back. But we're talking instead about what appears to be a massive, premeditated undermining of the Constitution, and a former US President who appears to have reneged on much if not all of the oath he supposedly took on inauguration day. That to me seems like a big story. In fact, I'd say that an administration that attempted to secretly alter the laws they swore to uphold in order to commit acts that have been universally denounced since the Inquisition is way up there. Many of us understand that we have barely pulled back from the edge of an abyss called the end of American Democracy. Those of you who like to engage in cheap keyboard namecalling will never understand this, nor will you understand that a very large number of those you call the enemy are just as outraged at President Obama for not doing anything about it as you are at him for just about everything else. Froomkin shouldn't let go of this because it's an epic crisis, the kind that we've never seen in our lifetimes. It's affect on future presidencies will probably never end.

Posted by: SanDiegoBS | April 21, 2009 3:03 AM | Report abuse

Visualize Radar O'Reilly of M*A*S*H. That's the equivalent of Zubaydah. Certainly a cog in the machine of al Qaeda, but not a kingpin. Torturing a doofus like that isn't smart, it's stupid revenge.

I won't enter my long list of reading on why torture is counter-productive to intelligence gathering. IF you want to know more, ask.

Posted by: boscobobb | April 21, 2009 3:19 AM | Report abuse

joecflee wrote
"In that sense, 9-11 has been an astounding victory for Al Qaeda in bankrupting not only our economy, but also our morality."

----
Joe, it wasn't al Qaeda, it was Cheney & Bush that did the morality and the bankrupting. Attributing anything more than destruction of some buildings (and certainly the deaths of 3,000 people) to al Qaeda is giving them too much credit.

Cheney's plan from 1986 was to become vice president and then run a shadow government. Bush's plans were to reward his cronies financially. Each got what he wanted.


Posted by: boscobobb | April 21, 2009 3:32 AM | Report abuse

I think Obama doesn't want to lead on the prosecution issue, he's going to allow Holder to proceed since Holder seems to have both the tenacity and legal chops to prosecute.

It's easier for Obama to join that parade than lead it. He has plenty of other things to be doing.

However, I, and many millions of others, will be patriotically angry if nobody from the top isn't prosecuted. I could live with CIA interrogators getting a pass AS LONG AS the people who made the decisions and wrote the legal opinions are prosecuted.

Posted by: boscobobb | April 21, 2009 3:35 AM | Report abuse

The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks....

Anyone tortured that much would claim anything to get it to stop. As for being a planner of 9-11 i have my doubts. I'm sure he didn't have the tools to shoot a missile into the Pentegon......etc

Posted by: twdindep | April 21, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Justification of torture "because it worked" is a road we don't want to go down. I've yet to read commentary from those of Thiessen's point of view that address a larger issue, indeed consequence, of the pro-torture position.

Setting aside that a double-standard is intolerable in any context, the Thiessens of the world are saying that whenever torture can potentially provide useful information, it should be employed.

Equally absent from the pro-torture side is any qualification of the application of torture. It would appear they believe any head of state down to local law enforcement would have this "tool" at their disposal by similar application of torture's efficacy and society's acceptance of the cost-benefit bottom line. Am I the only one who believes that this line of thought is medieval, debases its practitioners, and not worthy of any nation, no less the United States?

It is a chilling thought that inhumanity can be coolly and rationally employed by people who otherwise seem to have moral fiber. No raving lunatics or slobbering degenerates need apply, we have the cream of American society in white shirts and black limousines ready to defend what the world thought was indefensible.

“We had to do this” (i.e. the means justifies the ends) became national policy for misery. Did the conservative right learn this in Sunday School or Bible class? Since when did evil to stop evil become morally in-vouge?

“It worked” could also have been the glib reply of the Soviet guards of the gulag or Cambodian guards of the Khmer Rouge. Isn’t it painfully obvious that torture is ALWAYS justifiable in the torture’s mind?

The pro-torture crowd cannot contain the 800 lb gorilla in the room-- the double standard that American torture is acceptable because we saved American lives. Isn’t it painfully obvious that people die in every war on both sides, and that by this standard each adversary would ALWAYS have sufficient justification to save the lives of their side by torturing captors?

So I guess the pro-torture argument really does boil down to this (that is, IF you are intellectually honest): In 2009, torture is BACK ON THE TABLE. Hey, you, heads of state, dust off those racks, sharpen the knives, find those lost bamboo shoots, cause torture is making a comeback courtesy of the new American RIGHT TO TORTURE.

And because no double standard would ever be accepted by our foreign enemies, get ready to support our own returning tortured troops because posttraumatic stress syndrome ain’t seen nothing yet.

Posted by: johdi | April 21, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse


Obama is using the model of Truth and Posted by: drum_sing, "Reconciliation used in South Africa and before it was named as such, by President Lincoln after the Civil War. There will be truth. We will get the facts. The reconciliation will arise because of the immunity and then... then we as a people should learn from our mistakes and not repeat the fear driven mistakes of the "Bushed" years."

-------------

Astute, if true. When a nation-destroying bloodbath seemed inevitable at the end of South Africa's Apartheid, Desmond TuTu famously explained of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings, that (paraphrased) "we as a Christian people believe that if one admits to his transgressions, we must accept and forgive..." (or something like that).

Forever this process should be remembered as the only way to avoid the retribution, vengeance and continued mayhem that arises from heinous acts.

Leahy and Obama may very well be on the same page. If at the end, Bush and Cheney will not repudiate their actions, their punishment will be in the total loss of their respectability in the population-- the equivalent of eternal condemnation in history for their acts against the society they "led".

Posted by: rowens1 | April 21, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Here's a story that's doing the rounds locally and internationally. Predictably, it will make all Bush supporters and forgivers even prouder to be American:

Mossad, the KGB and the CIA compete in The Intelligence Olympics. One event is catching a monkey in an African forest. Within an hour, Mossad is back with a monkey. Three hours later the KGB is seen on the horizon with a monkey. More hours pass with no sight of the CIA. Just before sunset CIA agents are seen walking back with a badly bruised and bloodied limping elephant. The elephant is heard trumpeting: I am a monkey, I am a monkey, I am a monkey ...


Posted by: AlanDownunder | April 21, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The Prez is not going after the lawyers who wrote the memos. He is leaving that to Congress. And it's a good idea. Let Congress set up truth commisions, investigate, and find legitimate (there are lots, I'm sure) facts for the Justice Dept. to file a prosecution for. Since Congress during most of the Bush era was rubberstamping GOP, those GOP members can fight it, and look like co-consprirators, or they can put country before party, and realistically help. It should be Congress starting this, not the WH. The Congress is supposed to be the checks and balance of the Executive Branch. Not a good idea to have one Adminstration investigate another. The ball is in Congresses court now, where it should be.

Posted by: katem1 | April 21, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

When Reagan got elected these were the kind of things I thought would happen. He ended being a real leader. When Bush got elected or rather appointed by the supeme court, I had a feeling that the economy would go to .... in a hand basket and that was that. But for 9/11 he would been a one-termer. Bush made it an "opportunity" to invade Iraq. 9/11 could have been prevented if the listless administration paid attention to and had acted upon it! The first error was ABC (anything but Clinton), then comes all this garbage of concocted intelligence to support the "opportunity". Poor Colin Powell got dragged in also! It seems there was no truth in sight for the last eight years. It was all an emotional game played to harness support for a second term, and all .... broke! Nixon did some crooked things to win all fifty states on the electoral map. But Bush barely made it in the second time! All of these lies so he could be a two term president. Sorry truth has a way of coming out and destroying the so coveted legacy. What a shame, we lost eight years for/on nothing. Ego vindication does not must not equate to two terms.

Posted by: YouSee | April 21, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The right answer is to support Senator Leahy's proposal (e.g., his recent article in Time magazine) to have a full Congressional investigation. In my view, due to the seriousness of these questions, the Supreme Court should be actively involved in the legal evaluations.
I signed up on his website. Here is the Senator's reply. It includes the link to that website. Anyone who supports the idea that we should have a complete investigation into these issues, can go directly to the Senator who is running that initiative.

* * *
Thank you for signing my petition at BushTruthCommission.com,
urging Congress to consider the establishment of a truth and
reconciliation commission to investigate Bush-Cheney Administration abuses.

Now, please urge your friends and family to sign the petition as well:

http://www.bushtruthcommission.com/forward

Thank you for supporting this important effort.

* * *
In my view, we need to have all the facts laid out, clearly and responsibly, and if action is needed, to do it in front of the people, as our laws demand. No more skulking and secret memos, PLEASE!!
Some of the issues I want that commission looking into:
WMD & the Downing Memo;
Presidential signing statements on so many bills that were passed;
The many "legal opinions" that do not have force of law but were used in PLACE of law - not just about the Geneva Conventions but about surveillance of Americans, the Plame debacle, etc. etc.; The no-bid contracts for Halliburton in Iraq and seemingly related firing of Corp of Engineer whistle-blowers;
The numerous allegations of war-crimes, such as fire bombing;
The curious hiring of a SecTreasury just before his company was given billions of dollars from the Treasury....
we could go on for days, just listing the problems we have seen these past years.

As I asked both my senators when I signed Senator Leahy's website - stop the rumors. Investigate before the public. If action is required, take it. Ultimately..... PLEASE FIND OUT.

Posted by: TramplingGrapes | April 21, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The reluctance of President Obama to presecute those who carried out various sadistic torturous acts on captured suspected terrorists sends a very dangerous message, not only to the world, but also here in USA where a number of black men have ended up dead or permanently injured while in police custodies.

Any human being willing to apply any of the methods described in the Bush’s justice department torture memos to another human must be feared. A person cable of obeying such directives must have been carefully selected, most likely because of their sadistic character traits. If the USA wants to have friends around the world, such characters must not be allowed to be allowed to roam the world at will because they have no soul. These are the kinds of people encouraging natural resources motivated genocide because they feel they have the rights to pretty much anything anywhere and anybody who gets in the ways must be dealt with. In other parts of the world where they operate, they encourage other people do the dirty work on their behalf, giving them "plausible deniability". The world would be at peace without such characters!

I remember one case in New York in which some police officers inserted a plunger in the rectum of a young black man (Abner Louima) while in their custody. Despite the fact that this young man had done nothing, his colon, small intestines and stomach were damaged in this horrific criminal act. Yet, you could find other people cheering about the destruction of a human being intestines for no reason other than hatred. The people supporting torture have the same character traits!

Leaving terror suspect in diapers for days hoping they will give you some information is inhuman. What is ironic about the whole torture ordeal is that almost 7 years of applying them, Osama bin Laden and other ring leaders are still at large. Most likely, some of the suspected terrorist were innocent!

Posted by: kadianga | April 21, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

2 words: Wannsee Conference.

The Nuremburg trials set the international standard that "just following orders" is not a defense to crimes against humanity, including torture. The U.S. has signed all the relevant conventions.

Even more so, the policy makers, the planners, and the writers of legal memoranda hold exceptional accountability, much more than the rank and file perpetrators who were "acting in good faith" by following orders. Orders from who? Policies written by who? Clearly the White House Counsel should be held to answer for their actions that directly and very specifically gave instructions literally how to torture captives. The fact that Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and others sat in an office directing torture conducted overseas in real time is not only chilling but leaves them potentially culpable for the charge of crimes against humanity.

Whether by truth commission or investigation or by actual criminal trials, the American people deserve answers how the last administration went so far off track from established rules of justice, not to mention violating our own Constitution (6th Amendt. against cruel & unusual punishment).

(For reference: The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in a Berlin suburb January 20, 1942, to inform Department heads responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich had been appointed as the chief executor of the "Final solution to the Jewish question," during which they set policy and plans for the extermination of European Jews.)

Posted by: leschatdeux | April 21, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

If the present administration does not look into these atrocities then they become complicit and will be the same as the last regime.

Posted by: kml | April 21, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

This writer deserves the noble peace prize for literature. Everything said and done, I think the Bush crime family has given Obama a warning. The warning was "Leave it Alone" or else you or your future is over.... And then they laughed the whole way home.

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | April 21, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Did any of you go to Nam? Most of the guys I know who did had to buy coffee and donuts from the Red Cross. So they can go to h---. Lets see What can we charge Obama with? I am sure the corrupt people he has put in office. How about Acorn? The new God that was put in office. He and the ones who put him there will reap what they have sown in the final days to come. I can hear it now Bush is at fault. No morals, lies, everyone has rights, but the victims. Obamination is what we now have. God help all

Posted by: getreal12 | April 22, 2009 2:49 AM | Report abuse

Dear getreal12 - so what is the point you are trying to to make?

Your post is an ad hominem.

Posted by: TramplingGrapes | April 22, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

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