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?



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