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Torture Watch

What's the latest torture news?

Scott Shane writes in the New York Times: "A coalition of left-wing advocacy groups filed legal ethics complaints on Monday against 12 former Bush administration lawyers, including three United States attorneys general, whom the groups accuse of helping to justify torture."

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank finds humor in the idea of holding Bush administration officials accountable for torture: "So, forced nudity for Ashcroft, the former attorney general who once ordered the covering of the bare breasts of the Lady Justice statue?... Waterboarding for Addington, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, who haughtily brushed off lawmakers?" Hardy har har.

Emily Pierce and Tory Newmyer write for Roll Call (subscription required): "Instead of talking up their grand plans for changing the direction of the country and moving past the partisan bitterness, Congressional Democrats can't seem to get out of this debate over the harsh interrogations of terror suspects during President George W. Bush's first term.....

"'It's drowning out our message,' one senior House Democratic aide said. 'We are about to conclude a really productive work period, but torture is all you hear about.'

"Case in point: During the media frenzy over Pelosi's latest explanation of what the CIA told her about the waterboarding of detainees, reporters on Thursday laughed at one of their own when he asked the Speaker about a massive, controversial rewrite of health care policy — which just happens to be the Democrats' top priority this year.

"'Did you get booed?' Pelosi asked the lone journalist who tried to change the subject."

And while we're on the general subject, let me catch you up on the latest Cheney developments:

Robert Windrem writes in the Daily Beast that two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that former vice president Cheney's office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner in the spring of 2003. The prisoner was a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.

Jonathan S. Landay writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "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....

"'The (al Qaida-Iraq) links go back,' he said. 'We know for example from interrogating detainees in Guantanamo that al Qaida sent individuals to Baghdad to be trained in C.W. and B.W. technology, chemical and biological weapons technology. These are all matters that are there for anybody who wants to look at it.'

"No evidence of such training or of any operational links between Iraq and al Qaida has ever been found, according to several official inquiries."

Walter Pincus wrote in Saturday's Washington Post that "senior intelligence officials...acknowledged that two al-Qaeda operatives, Abu Zubaida and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, had been questioned about alleged links between al-Qaeda and Iraq when the two men underwent CIA interrogation in 2002 and 2003. But the officials denied that the questioning on Iraq had included waterboarding."

But that's hardly a blanket denial. Waterboarding was by no means the only form of coercion used upon the CIA's detainees. And what about all the other people who passed through the black sites?

Walter Pincus writes in today's Washington Post about whining from within the CIA: "Harsh interrogations were only one part of its clandestine activities against al-Qaeda and other enemies, and agency members are worried that other operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan will come under review...

"The agency's defensiveness in part reflects a conviction that it is being forced to take the blame for actions approved by elected officials that have since fallen into disfavor."

Joby Warrick reported last week for The Washington Post that the CIA rejected Cheney's request to release documents that he says show that the agency's harsh interrogation methods helped thwart terrorist plots. The CIA cited "pending legal action" as the only reason for keeping the memos secret. But it turns out that legal action consists of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits from a variety of human rights groups. So the CIA won't release the memos to Cheney because other people are asking for them, too? Ridiculous.

Howard Fineman writes in Newsweek about Cheney's recent media visibility: "[I]t's good to have Cheney around. We need someone to tell us hard, unpleasant truths. And it is useful to remind ourselves of the mistake we made in thinking that he was the man to do it."

Marcy Wheeler writes in Salon about the "Torture 13" -- Bush officials who "exploited the federal bureaucracy to establish a torture regime." Cheney tops the list, followed by his counsel and chief of staff David Addington.

By Dan Froomkin  |  May 19, 2009; 12:25 PM ET
Categories:  Torture  
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Next: Obama's Stealth Middle East Peace Plan


If the Dems are truly worried torture disclosures are ruining their message, then push for an investigation and let the investigation become the focal point.

One reason this will not happen is it'll show the failure, culpability and/or incompetence of Congress on oversight and allowing the Unitary Executive to flourish under Chaney and Obama

Posted by: Bushy | May 19, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The fact the torture issue hasn't died should indicate something.

The fact those MORONS can't figure it out is just funny.

Remember, these people are in charge of protecting and leading this country, ostensibly on the front lines.

But I suppose it's nothing new, governments have always been full of pretentious stupid people.

But my question is, if I establish myself as more powerful and more intelligent than a torture kook, and I declare the torture kook treasonous, do I now have the right to torture him in the name of protecting America from a domestic terrorist?

Will it scare all the other torture kooks into a meowing submission?

Things DO change.


Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 19, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Dan, thank you for keeping this issue front and center.

I'd call Dana Milbank an embarrassment to the Torturington Post, but the Torturington Post isn't capable of being embarrassed.

Posted by: solsticebelle | May 19, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"The agency's defensiveness in part reflects a conviction that it is being forced to take the blame for actions approved by elected officials that have since fallen into disfavor."

If that's the case then the underlings should do like most do in these circumstances and cut a deal with the Justice Department to provide evidence against their bosses in exchange for leniency.

Really, the CIA just wants to give itself cover and absolve themselves of any responsibility. Why else would they demand the ridiculously reasoned memos from the OLC? Bad legal advice is not a defense that will stand up in court. Orders to do something illegal have never stood the test in court. CIA officers had a duty to say no when asked to do something illegal. The FBI did and pulled their people out. Why didn't the CIA do the same?

They also have the ability to selectively leak classified info to support their case while witholding evidence to support their opponents case which is what is going on now with Pelosi. I don't think anyone could say with a straight face that the Bush administration was fully informing Congress when it came to the matters of national security. We have ample evidence that they were witholding information about Iraq, its WMD and links to terrorism. Why would anyone think they would tell Pelosi the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Wasn't CIA run by George "Slam Dunk" Tenet at the time? It's laughable to believe that Pelosi was fully informed of everything the CIA was doing.

Posted by: troyd2009 | May 19, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Certainly possible, or even likely, troyd2009. After all, the Cheney/Bush administration politicized every last aspect of their practices. However, the possibility exists that Pelosi knew about waterboarding. And even though I'm an Obama supporter, and strongly Democratic as a result of W, she should absolutely be subject to any investigation.

I just wish right now that she'd shut up. She's become more of an embarrassment than Biden at his worst.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 19, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: patriot76 | May 19, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

All the more reason to fire up a special prosecutor, say, Fitzgerald out of Chicago, and give him the money, staff and resources necessary to shed some light on this despicable chapter of our recent history.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | May 19, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Dana Milbank is a disgrace to the missing link.

Posted by: dickdata | May 20, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

50% of Gitmo detainees were caught by Afgahni black market delaers. They were paid big $$$$$$ for every terrorist they caught. Of course, American Armed Forces paid for it, with our money. Unfortunately, all we got was a bunch sheppards living in the hills where they never even heard of America or seen a gun. This type of intelligence tactics is plain stupid and harsh, because you hurt innocent people just to show Americans that there are terrorists and we are getting them. 99% of them were released after 3 to 4 years of lock up. Other detainees are held without charges, and being tortured even though they told everything they know, even without torturing. And this is most democratic country in the world? Bring our boys and girls back home form killing Iraqis. Iraqis haven't done nothing wrong to us. We had priority after 9/11 atack, and we ignored it. I am sick of illegal war and illegal contracts from Bush and Chenney. They cost us every day millions of dollars and they cost us our reputation and safety, They have to be tried for that at least, what they did to American people.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | May 20, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

It is funny to see these organization who use the laws and the system to diminish the greatness of the Country, and rip at it's fiber fall to the Power of the People.

The Acorn check will not cash when American's refuse to show a profit.

Now that the precedence has been set by Kommander Kenya and his Court of jesters, and car dealerships have been confiscated enmasse, many more are seeing the reality of the greed afoot.
They are gifting their inventory to the people in the community, and donating their buildings to charity.

Nothing for the Government to take and profit from, is the new plan.
Dress shops to tire dealers are doing the same thing to join the TEA PARTY avoiding
the sticky fingers of this administration.

They are moving their voter registrations to Independent party to pull the electoral college rug out from under both loansharking bank owned partys.

When candidates are chosen for having no war chests or family power ties, the illegality of using taxpayer money to fund groups like Acorn will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and anyone taking Obamaland money for this illegal purpose will pay.

Americans are an odd breed.They will give you the shirts off their backs....but If you steal from them, they steal it back , in a congealed effort.

Americans said "NO" to the Porkulous, and dictatorship revealed themselves.
Lawlessness trying to corrupt the laws, will lose to the Power of congealed mindset of the Power of people.

Posted by: dottydo | May 21, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

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