Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Horse Race ~ YAWN! ~ Except Romney

DP Entertainment Rating: Chasms of Boredom Punctuated With Quick Descents Into Stark Terror

Don't get your Demon wrong ~ it's not that I don't regard the '08 presidential elections as absolutely crucial, or that I fail to appreciate fully what's at stake.

It's just that the media coverage of them so far has been so vapid & that almost all the candidates largely indistinguishable (with very few exceptions) that, in my view, on both sides of the slate, they're still up for grabs. Which is good, in a way. I can afford to sleep in until somebody either is revealed as really, really dangerous or really, really preferable.

Thus, I haven't really had anything worth ranting about until now.

To date, I've found the debates & attacks amusing only in several instances ~ for instance, the Clinton campaign efforts to hype the all-American "fear of a black nation" by bringing to our attention Obama's past drug use (evoking images of crime, drug-dealing & the wearing of baggy clothes by the black & brown members of the population), which dismays me deeply, seeing's that those two particular contenders hold historic places in American electoral politix--the 1st woman & the 1st black man running for President.

However, neither of those factors are enough, without more, to sway my vote. In some respects, Clinton & Obama are the same, & those are the respects that matter to me ~ the pernicious influence of corporate money in politix. They're both cut from the same cloth there, & their policy positions are not markedly different otherwise on domestic matters. Overall, I like Obama's presentation better than Hillary's. Obama may be lighter on foreign policy experience, but he hasn't been on the wrong side of the war issue, & he doesn't have to address what Hillary appears to be obsessed with: proving to the country she'd be "as tough as a man" in fighting militant Islam.

(I honestly don't worry whether she would be, but then I'm not suffering the delusion that women are inherently the weaker sex. My background & upbringing spring from proverbial hardy pioneer stock, where men are expected to be strong, & women even stronger. My personal experience is that it's as true today as it was 100 years ago).

I'm still leaning toward Edwards, who seems to understand the current death grip that corporate control has on politix (especially the military-industrial complex) must be loosed if anything in this country is really going to change & bring us back from the brink of WWIII. He's also paying attention to domestic issues, which I promise you, will make you forget Iraq/Iran if the predicted recession/depression Bush insists upon ignoring really arrives. Bush has succeeded in completely stripping &/or impeding all the social safety nets that most of us have had the luxury of not having to try to pry help from (in most cases, fruitlessly), because they've been systematically starved to death while we weren't paying attention.

I also like Dodd & Biden.

The only other thing I've found amusing to date is the odd argument between ol' Huckabee & Romney, both angling for the right-wing Christian vote. It boils down to this: whose religion is weirder?

Fortunately for me, it seems, I was innoculated at a very tender age against any particular religious doctrine by members of Huck's denomination, thanks to a babysitter who thought I would benefit by attending Baptist Sunday School. After spending several months scanning the skies for blood-red moons & otherwise seeing signs (& barely existing, miserably) in mortal fear of the Apocalypse the Baptists convinced me was imminent any minute, I have been blessedly immune to any brand of whacko religious fervor, Revelations-based, from the planet Korlob, or otherwise. Guess I'm just lucky. I prefer sane & moral humanism.

Obviously, I also can't get excited about the other GOP bandwagons: overhyped fear of Islamofascists &/or immigrants, so I'm pretty impervious to anything any GOP candidate is arguing.

Though I've never been at risk for voting Republican after the sorry shredded mess the Grand Old Party has made of everything in the past 6 years, I must note that two of the candidates are beyond frightening, & if elected, you can kiss America as we've known it completely goodbye: Mitt Romney & Rudy Giuliani.

Seems only one paper in the entire country has undertaken to probe very critically the candidates' stances on what will be the single most important issue other than the domestic economy ~ their intentions re the continued expansion of executive power.

Giulani flat-out refused to participate, but anyone with half a brain knows where he intends to go with that.

Here I'll defer to Glenn Greenwald's excellent if edgy commentary on Salon:

"In yet another superb piece of journalism, the peerless Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe submitted to the leading presidential candidates a questionnaire asking their views on 12 key questions regarding executive power. Savage's article accompanying the candidates' responses makes clear why these matters are so critical:

"In 2000, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were not asked about presidential power, and they volunteered nothing about their attitude toward the issue to voters. Yet once in office, they immediately began seeking out ways to concentrate more unchecked power in the White House -- not just for themselves, but also for their successors. . . .

"Legal specialists say decisions by the next president -- either to keep using the expanded powers Bush and Cheney developed, or to abandon their legal and political precedents -- will help determine whether a stronger presidency becomes permanent.

"'The sleeper issue in this campaign involves the proper scope of executive power,' said Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor.All of the leading Democrats -- Edwards, Dodd, Biden, Clinton, Richardson and Obama -- submitted responses, as did Mitt Romney, John McCain and Ron Paul. Refusing to respond to the questions were -- revealingly -- Giuliani, Thompson and Huckabee. Significantly, if not surprisingly, all of the candidates who did respond, with the exception of Romney, repudiated most of the key doctrines of the Bush/Cheney/Addington/Yoo theories of executive omnipotence, at least for purposes of this questionnaire. I'll undoubtedly write more about those responses shortly.

"But by far the most extraordinary answers come from Mitt Romney. Romney's responses -- not to some of the questions but to every single one of them -- are beyond disturbing. The powers he claims the President possesses are definitively -- literally -- tyrannical, unrecognizable in the pre-2001 American system of government and, in some meaningful ways, even beyond what the Bush/Cheney cadre of authoritarian legal theorists have claimed.

"After reviewing those responses, Marty Lederman concluded: 'Romney? Let's put it this way: If you've liked Dick Cheney and David Addington, you're gonna love Mitt Romney.' Anonymous Liberal similarly observed that his responses reveal that 'Romney doesn't believe the president's power to be subject to any serious constraints.' To say that the President's powers are not 'subject to any serious constraints" -- which is exactly what Romney says -- is, of course, to posit the President as tyrant, not metaphorically or with hyperbole, but by definition.

"Each of the questions posed by Savage is devoted to determining the extent of presidential power the candidate believes exists and where the limits are situated. On every issue, Romney either (a) explicitly says that the President has the right to act without limits of any kind or (b) provides blatantly nonresponsive answers strongly insinuating the same thing.

"Just go and read what he wrote. It's extraordinary. Other than his cursory and quite creepy concession that U.S. citizens detained by the President are entitled to 'at least some type of habeas corpus relief' -- whatever 'some type' might mean (Question 5) -- Romney does not recognize a single limit on presidential power. Not one.

"And even with regard to his grudging allowance that American citizens should have 'some type of habeas relief,' Romney -- and only he -- implicitly endorses Alberto Gonzales' bizarre claim that -- despite the clear language of Article I, Section 9 -- "nothing in the Constitution confers an affirmative right to habeas corpus" (Question 9). Under this twisted Romney/Gonzales view, the right of habeas corpus -- which Thomas Jefferson described as "one of the essential principles of our government" and "the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution" -- is not constitutionally guaranteed to Americans but can be revoked at any time, for any reason.

"In every area, Romney explicitly says that neither laws nor treaties can limit the President's conduct. Instead, displaying the fear-mongering cowardice that lies at the heart of Bush/Cheney Republican power, Romney described the root of his view of the world this way: 'Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive.'"

"Romney recited that cowardly platitude -- what has now become the shameful flagship of the Republican Party -- in response to being asked whether the President has the power to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants even in the face of a law that makes it a crime to do so. At its core, the defining principle of the Republican Party continues to be a fear-driven repudiation of the American ethos as most famously expressed by Patrick Henry, all in service of keeping the citizenry in fear so the President can rule without limits.

"These are just some of the powers which Romney -- and, among the respondents, Romney alone -- claimed the President possesses, either by explicitly claiming them or refusing to repudiate them when asked directly:
* to eavesdrop on Americans with no warrants, even if doing so is in violation of Congressional law (Question 1);
* to attack Iran without Congressional authorization, even in the absence of an imminent threat (Question 2);
* to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops (Question 3);
* to issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass laws enacted by Congress (Question 4);
* to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified where said treaties, in his view, "impinge upon the President's constitutional authority" (Question 8)Even more disturbing were the specific questions Romney refused to answer. When asked if the President has the right to use "interrogation techniques" that Congress, by law, has prohibited in all circumstances, here is what Romney said (Question 7):

"[Romney wrote] A President should decline to reveal the method and duration of interrogation techniques to be used against high value terrorists who are likely to have counter-interrogation training. This discretion should extend to declining to provide an opinion as to whether Congress may validly limit his power as to the use of a particular technique, especially given Congress's current plans to try to do exactly that.Mitt Romney is running for President and proudly refuses to say if he would obey the law regarding torture. Worse, he's citing national security as an excuse for refusing to answer the question. He's not even President yet, and he's already insisting that it's too Top Secret for him even to participate in the debate over the President's duties to abide by the law. Even considering where our country has been taken with these matters, that's an astonishing assertion -- that the Terrorists will win if Mitt Romney expresses his views on whether the President must obey the law.

"Underscoring his authoritarian mentality, Romney refused to say that there was even a single 'executive power the Bush administration has claimed or exercised that [he] think[s] is unconstitutional' or even that there were any which were 'simply a bad idea' (Question 10). In Romney's view, the Leader has not erred at all."

Read on:


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bad News in Bushworld is Good News for Open Government

1. Torture-Tape-Gate Not Fading Away Despite Mukasey's Efforts to Suppress It

The New York Times reports that despite conflicting stories to date, an insider says that the "Torture Lawyers," as Anonymous Liberal terms them, are Administration heavyweights David Addington (Cheney's lawyer & the most dangerous anti-democratic man in alive in the country today, in your Demon's opinion), Alberto Gonzales, John Bellinger, & Harriet Myers.

"At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.

"The accounts indicate that the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes in November 2005 was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged.
"It was previously reported that some administration officials had advised against destroying the tapes, but the emerging picture of White House involvement is more complex. In interviews, several administration and intelligence officials provided conflicting accounts as to whether anyone at the White House expressed support for the idea that the tapes should be destroyed.

"One former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said there had been 'vigorous sentiment' among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes. The former official did not specify which White House officials took this position, but he said that some believed in 2005 that any disclosure of the tapes could have been particularly damaging after revelations a year earlier of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"Some other officials assert that no one at the White House advocated destroying the tapes. Those officials acknowledged, however, that no White House lawyer gave a direct order to preserve the tapes or advised that destroying them would be illegal."

As mentioned in the Times story, & also reported by CNN, " A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to appear in court Friday to answer allegations that it defied his demand to preserve evidence that may have included CIA interrogation videos of terrorist suspects in U.S. custody.... rejecting White House arguments that court intervention would be premature, since Congress and government officials are already looking into any destruction of the tapes.

"In an emergency request filed Monday, lawyers for a group of prisoners held by the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, urged the judge to step in now. They accused the White House of blocking outside inquiry into the tapes and trying to ensure that only federal agencies implicated in the destruction would carry out an internal inquiry. 'Plainly, the government wants only foxes guarding this henhouse,' attorney David Remes wrote.

"But amid administration and congressional inquiries, the government had urged [Judge] Kennedy to postpone any action, saying any hearing at this stage would be 'potentially disruptive' of 'current inquiries by the political branches into the destruction of the tapes.'

Kennedy gave no reasoning in his brief order for the parties to meet Friday at 11 a.m. But in June 2005, he had ordered officials to preserve 'all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.'"

Elsewhere, it was reported that the now-retired CIA official who actually ordered the tapes destroyed has hired a lawyer & plans to plead the Fifth ~advance negotiations in case the Bush Administration has plans to scapegoat him, we bet.

2. Another legal ruling ordered Bushco to divulge Secret Service records of visitors to the WH which it had previously refused be made public knowledge. The Plaintiffs in that particular case were seeking records of visits by top evangancelicals, but it might as well have been Cheney's energy policy cabal ~ er, friends. Another suit is purportedly pending seeking records of Jack Abramoff's ties to the WH.

[Judge] "Lamberth questioned the legality of a 2006 agreement between the Secret Service and the Bush administration in which the records were supposed to be turned over to the White House and labeled presidential documents, which would bar their release under freedom of information lawsuits.

"The judge described the agreement as 'self-serving' because it was drafted after the records were created and after the litigation had begun.

"Until the Bush administration, White House visitor logs had often been released by the Secret Service in response to requests from groups and news organizations.

"Melanie Sloan, executive director of the advocacy group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said her organization was 'pleased that the judge saw through the White House's transparent attempts to hide public documents from the American people.'

"The group had wanted logs for White House visits by several conservative religious commentators, including James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and the Reverend Jerry Falwell, the conservative leader who died in May."

Of course, Bushco plans to appeal the ruling, which will probably not be heard until after the dastardly duo have vacated WH, leaving the country in shreds, but better late than never.

3. And finally, saving the best news for last: Democrat Harry Reid's inexplicable neo-con lite behavior in trying to railroad through Congress a bill providing immunity for the telcoms that cooperated with Bush's dragnet of illegal spying failed, thanks to the tremendous outcry in support of Senator Dodd's proposed filibuster. The salient question here, in your Demon's opinion, is why Congress still thinks it can protect highly questionable spying programs when Bushco has yet to fess up to all of them, & as far as we little people know, Congress has not successfully gotten full information otherwise? Have they so soon forgotten Alberto Gonzales & his carefully elusive testimony strongly suggesting the revival of the once feared & disavowed TSP? Also, I note that CNN's decidedly tepid account fails to mention Bush was spying on us well before 9/11, according to the NYT. So that's up with that little kernel of completely ignored information?

Also see "Lyin' & Spyin'" entry below.

"Just trust us," yet again?


Friday, December 14, 2007

Feinstein & Schumer ~ We Couldn't Have Seen This Coming

"We thought he was a nice rule-of-law man who, when he said he wouldn't let politics interfere with the DOJ, we thought he meant appointment of Gonzales-style GOP attack dogs for purely partisan purposes. We had no idea he'd turn that against Congressional attempts to do its job under the Constitution."

Mukasey then (2 mos. ago, above).
Mukasey now, channelling Col. Klink: "We know nothink! Nothink at all! The DOJ & the CIA will investigate themselves. Trust us."

The AP story Friday:
"Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Friday to give Congress details of the government's investigation into interrogations of terror suspects that were videotaped and destroyed by the CIA. He said doing so could raise questions about whether the inquiry is vulnerable to political pressure.

"In letters Friday to leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees that oversee the Justice Department, Mukasey also said there is no need right now to appoint a special prosecutor to lead the investigation. The preliminary inquiry currently is being handled by the Justice Department and the CIA's inspector general."
Meantime, Senate Republicans blocked a bill Friday that would restrict the CIA's interrogation methods. Already passed by the House, the bill would require the CIA to adhere to the Army's field manual on interrogation, which bans waterboarding, mock executions and other harsh methods.

"Senate opponents discovered a parliamentary flaw: The ban on harsh tactics had not been in the original intelligence bills passed by the House and Senate...[...] Although it's not unheard of for new language to be added in House-Senate negotiations, the rules allow such a move to be challenged and the language stripped from the bill. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., placed a hold on the bill while the GOP procedural challenge goes forward.

"Addressing congressional demands for facts in the CIA tapes inquiry, Mukasey noted that the Justice Department generally does not give out information about pending cases.
'This policy is based in part on our interest in avoiding any perception that our law enforcement decisions are subject to political influence,' Mukasey wrote. 'Accordingly, I will not at this time provide further information in response to your letter, but appreciate the committee's interests in this matter.'

"An almost-identical letter was sent Thursday to Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee.

"Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike angrily denounced Mukasey's refusal, which they said blocks congressional oversight of the Justice Department.

"Additionally, lawmakers from both parties accused the Justice Department of obstructing a House Intelligence Committee inquiry by advising the CIA against cooperating.

"'Earlier today, our staff was notified that the Department of Justice has advised CIA not cooperate with our investigation,' House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, and the panel's top Republican, Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, said in a joint statement Friday.

"'We are stunned that the Justice Department would move to block our investigation,' Reyes and Hoekstra said. 'Parallel investigations occur all of the time, and there is no basis upon which the Attorney General can stand in the way of our work. ... It's clear that there's more to this story than we have been told, and it is unfortunate that we are being prevented from learning the facts. The executive branch can't be trusted to oversee itself.'

{Oh, no, Santa, say it ain't so!}

"In a letter Thursday to CIA Director Michael Hayden, the House panel asked the CIA to hand over by Friday all documents and cables regarding the interrogation tapes and their destruction. But the Justice Department since has advised the CIA to refuse the request, a committee official said Friday on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak for the committee.

"The committee official said the Justice Department asked the panel 'to stand back while they do their investigation' — suggesting it will block the testimony of acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo and Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the National Clandestine Service. Both have been summoned to testify to the committee on Dec. 18. Rodriguez ordered the tapes destroyed.

"Leahy said he was disappointed that Mukasey denied the details to his committee — even in a classified setting.

"'Oversight fosters accountability,' Leahy said. 'This committee needs to fully understand whether the government used cruel interrogation techniques and torture, contrary to our basic values.'

"Leahy said the tapes would be a top topic at his committee's hearing next week to consider the nomination of U.S. District Judge Mark Filip for deputy attorney general, the Justice Department's No. 2 official. It also will come up at oversight hearings of the Justice Department that Leahy said he would schedule for early next year."

Bravo! Another brilliant demonstration of the Democrats trying to close the barn door after the livestock have all escaped. Your Demon will certainly sleep better tonight, won't you?

"The videotapes, made in 2002, showed the CIA's interrogations of two terror suspects. They were made to document how CIA officers used new, harsh questioning techniques approved by the White House to force recalcitrant prisoners to talk. The CIA destroyed the tapes in 2005 but acknowledged doing so only last week.

"The disclosure brought immediate condemnation from Capitol Hill and from a human rights group which charged the spy agency's action amounted to criminal destruction of evidence.

"Intelligence officials have said the methods that were shown on the videotapes included waterboarding, an interrogation tactic that causes the sensation of drowning and is banned by the Pentagon. The issue of waterboarding threatened to derail Senate approval of Mukasey last month.

"During his confirmation hearings in October, Mukasey promised senators he would review Justice Department memos after becoming attorney general to determine whether waterboarding amounts to torture — which would deem it illegal. Earlier this week, however, Mukasey said he has not yet finished that review, and rebuffed calls from Congress to make a speedy decision.

"Mukasey's refusal Friday came after weeks of requests from Congress for details on a bevy of investigations."


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bush's Shadow Government ~ Lyin' & Spyin'

Ill: Micah Wright/Propaganda Remix
used with permission

Just in case you aren't shocked & outraged yet over the CIA Torture Tapes mess (below), your Demon goes one better by presenting other recent news of a lawsuit the ACLU brought asking the super-duper secret FISA court, which at one time was supposed to monitor spying on U.S. citizens (until Bush decided it was too much trouble) to declassify Bushco orders pertaining to it.

The FISA court, decided (alas), after inviting Bushco to weigh in, that we Americans don't need to know about secret procedures & any limits on the spying. The court, according to the ACLU, refused to determine whether Bush's claims that the information is "classified" was proper.
If that weren't ominous enough, seems Bush is determined to do a final end run around any semblance of a legal spying program (& the inconvenient limits Congress thought it could put on same) by taking it entirely out the FISA court's purview & placing spying authority solely in the hands of his new attorney general (whose views on such matters are astoundingly broad, perhaps unconstitutionally so) & the Director of National Intelligence. At least that's what I'm getting out of this report.
According to the same article, the Senate hasn't even had time to review FISA decisions Bush is apparently arguing make FISA, and the Congress that legislated under what circumstances & procedures spying (& on whom) is legal irrelevant.
Update: great op-ed from Jurist: is the spying program Bush thinks FISA & Congress can't handle the once-disavowed (& "newly" resurrected?) extra-legal Terrorist Surveillance Program? See how the information so far stacks up:
If such a program is really necessary, how is it that the greatest democracy on earth can't accomodate it ~ that is, legally?

Here we go again. Will Congress cave & let Bush engage in completely extra-judicial spying? Only complete fools are betting "not."

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

America Does Not Torture!!

Unzipped body bag, Abu Grhaib photo: Salon

Bushco sez: "And we'll destroy evidence to prove it to ya."
Update: Obfuscation & Denial 101: the only things Hayden, Bush are really proficient at:
Hayden testified before Congress today in the matter of the destruction of CIA tapes showing "robust interrogation" methods. Hayden professes not to know a thing about it, as it occurred when Tenet was head of the CIA & tapes were destroyed under Goss. And despite reports by a CIA agent that the interrogation techniques had been approved at the "highest levels" of Bushco, Preznit Bush sez he didn't know nothing, neither.
~ Highly credible & honest in matters regarding torture as they've so far proved themselves, the CIA and the DOJ announce that they're investigating themselves ~ We can't wait for the results ~
The New York Times reports today that only after a Congressional investigation of the destruction of CIA tapes was announced, the CIA & the DOJ decide to get on board with conducting their own investigations of themselves. And conflicting stories already abound.
"The announcement comes amid new questions about which officials inside the C.I.A. were involved in the decision to destroy the videotapes, which showed severe interrogation methods used on two Qaeda suspects, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
"The agency operative who ordered the destruction of the tapes in November 2005 was Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the chief of the C.I.A.’s national clandestine service, known as the Directorate of Operations until 2005. On Saturday, a government official who had spoken recently with Mr. Rodriguez on the matter said that Mr. Rodriguez told him that he had received approval from lawyers inside the clandestine service to destroy the tapes.
"This disclosure could broaden the scope of the inquiry into the tapes’ destruction. Several officials said that top lawyers at the White House and the Justice Department advised the C.I.A. in 2003 not to destroy the videos.
"Current and former intelligence officials said that the agency’s senior lawyer, John A. Rizzo, had not been notified about the decision and was angered to learn about the destruction of the tapes, which could complicate the prosecution of Abu Zubaydah and others.
"Mr. Rizzo’s position, together with the fact that the C.I.A. inspector general, John L. Helgerson, is now examining the matter, indicates a greater level of internal concern at the agency over the destruction than Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, indicated in his message to agency employees on Thursday. General Hayden’s message said that Mr. Helgerson’s office had reviewed the tapes in 2003, but did not mention whether the inspector general had signed off on their destruction.
"In a statement released on Saturday, General Hayden said he welcomed the inquiry and the 'C.I.A. will cooperate fully.'”
"Investigators will gather facts to determine whether a full inquiry is warranted. If it is determined that any agency employee broke the law, the standard procedure would be for Mr. Helgerson to issue a criminal referral to the Justice Department.
"The investigation comes after both the Senate and House intelligence committees started their own investigations into the destruction of the tapes. In a statement on Saturday, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, said the inquiry would be an 'important first test' for Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to demonstrate his independence. 'I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer as to why Congress was kept in the dark about this matter,' he said.
"Officials have acknowledged that the destruction of evidence like videotaped interrogations could raise questions about whether the C.I.A. was seeking to hide evidence of coercion. A review of records from military tribunals indicates that five lower-level detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, were initially charged with offenses based on information provided by or related to Abu Zubaydah.
"Military defense lawyers said the fact that interrogation tapes were destroyed could provide a way to challenge other cases that may be based on information from Abu Zubaydah, though such challenges would face major legal obstacles under the current rules for military prosecutions. They said the defense could argue that the tapes might have raised questions about whether the information was believable or whether Abu Zubaydah had invented it simply to stop aggressive interrogation techniques. Col. Steven David, the chief military defense lawyer for the Guantánamo war crimes cases, said at a trial, 'The inference is they destroyed it because it was bad for them.'
"He said the disclosure of the destroyed tapes 'raises serious concerns' about other potential prosecutions, but it was too early to say how many, or how serious the damage might be. In any case based on information from Abu Zubaydah, defense lawyers could raise the issue of the destroyed tapes as a way to challenge the case. From a defense lawyer’s perspective, Colonel David said, 'the issue becomes what is lost, what is destroyed, what else has been destroyed and what else is out there that we are not aware of.'"
Joe Biden, meantime, called for the appointment of a Special Counsel, an idea poo-pooed by other Democrats who apparently think America trusts them to get to the bottom of it (despite the fact that they've so far failed, miserably, in any endeavor we weary American citizens can think of, to successfully even slow ~ never mind stop ~ the Bushco juggernaut of improbable, heretofore unthinkable & truly fantastic War on Terror campaigns).
Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002 (Nancy Pelosi included), No Protest:
Democrats have generally failed to heed voters with respect to Bushco arrogance & continued law-breaking: "Democrats' Year of Living Fecklessly":


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Prevaricator in Chief Redux

T-shirt available here:

~ Wherein we all delight in watching Bush's head explode ~

My, my, my. Your Demon just has to share the day's mirth by pointing out that, for a change, someone in the mainstream media is critically addressing the Bush-Cheney rationale for war on a middle eastern country ~ this time Iran ~ which seems to be their idea of a grand farewell gesture in an administration distinguished only in its disastrous effect on foreign policy, & which may well take generations from which to recover. (Not to mention the salutary results we've obtained with Russia & China of late.)

Today's most entertainining news are two pieces in the WaPo, one an analysis of Bush's not-very-convincing position when it came to light that he may have known a National Intelligence Estimate was on the way that didn't support his belligerent campaign of war-mongering with respect to Iran.

"President Bush got the world's attention this fall when he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran might lead to World War III. But his stark warning came at least a month or two after he had first been told about fresh indications that Iran had actually halted its nuclear weapons program.

"The new intelligence report released yesterday not only undercut the administration's alarming rhetoric over Iran's nuclear ambitions but could also throttle Bush's effort to ratchet up international sanctions and take off the table the possibility of preemptive military action before the end of his presidency.
"'It's a little head-spinning,' said Daniel Benjamin, an official on President Bill Clinton's National Security Council. 'Everybody's going to be trying to scratch their heads and figure out what comes next.'

"Critics seized on the new National Intelligence Estimate to lambaste what Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards called 'George Bush and Dick Cheney's rush to war with Iran.' Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), echoing other Democrats, called for 'a diplomatic surge' to resolve the dispute with Tehran. Jon Wolfsthal, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, termed the revelation 'a blockbuster development' that 'requires a wholesale reevaluation of U.S. policy.'

"But the White House said the report vindicated its concerns because it concluded that Iran did have a nuclear weapons program until halting it in 2003 and it showed that U.S.-led diplomatic pressure had succeeded in forcing Tehran's hand. 'On balance, the estimate is good news,' said national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. 'On the one hand, it confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it tells us that we have made some progress in trying to ensure that that does not happen.'"

Elsewhere in the WaPo, Dan Froomkin observes,

"By concluding that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago, the national intelligence estimate released yesterday undermined a key element of President Bush's foreign policy. It raised questions about whether the president and vice president knowingly misled the public about the danger posed by Iran. And it added to Bush's profound credibility problems with the American people and the international community.

"But to hear Bush talk about it at the White House press conference this morning, the new NIE vindicated his beliefs and makes his warnings about Iran more potent.

"It was neck-snapping spin even by Bush standards. He intentionally misread the report's central point, failed to acknowledge a huge change in his argument for why Iran is dangerous and exhibited pure bullheaded stubbornness.

"When Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Silva noted that Bush appeared dispirited and asked if he was troubled about what this would do to his credibility, Bush replied: 'No, I'm feeling pretty spirited, pretty good about life, and have made the decision to come before you so I can explain the NIE. And I have said Iran is dangerous, and the NIE doesn't do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world. Quite the contrary. I'm using this NIE as an opportunity to continue to rally our colleagues and allies. . . .

"And so, you know, kind of Psychology 101 ain't working. It's just not working, you know? I am -- I understand the issues. I clearly see the problems and I'm going to use the NIE to continue to rally the international community for the sake of peace.'"

(Translation: "My mind was made up for me long ago. Don't try to confuse me with the facts & inconvenient questions, you pesky gnat.")

After all, kittens, why have we taken the enormous time, trouble, blood & deficit expenditures to invade Iraq if not to establish a toe-hold in the MidEast & a strategic postion from which to bomb nutso Islamofascists to smithereens if they dare intefere with our agendas there?

If you're not depressed enough regarding missed opportunities to avert the World War III the crazed warmongering neocons continue to salivate over, read this, about Condi Rice's mysterious refusal (perhaps she's being undermined by said warmongers in Cheney's office?) to engage in diplomacy at a key moment last year by Fred Kaplan on Slate: