Saturday, April 25, 2009

Once You Boil It All Down . . .

Paul Krugman summed it up in three simple sentences:
Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.

There’s a word for this: it’s evil.
And the evidence has begun to filter out that the perpetrators not only knew it was evil, but tried to cover it up!

First, there’s the Zelikow memo objecting to the legal basis used to justify torture that he says was deliberately rounded up and destroyed.

Then there’s Janis Karpinski, who is outspoken in her disdain for high level Bush officials who allowed U.S. Military personnel at Abu Ghraib - whom they now maintain to have been following orders deemed to be legal and justifiable - go to prison, rather than stick up for them at the time the abuses at Abu Ghraib first became public.

In my earlier post on this topic, I suggested that one of Obama’s multiple goals was to maximize the ability to “shake the trees” and bring out whistleblowers in order to build widespread public support for any future prosecutions.

At least one expert, former federal prosecutor Elizabeth De La Vega, agrees - explaining in this piece how appointing a special prosecutor now might cause those with important information about what actually occurred at the highest levels of the Bush administration to clam up.

For the torturers, I’m afraid the genie is out of the bottle, and there’s no way they are going to force it back inside . . . and fortunately for the country, it’s not the torturers’ three wishes the genie is going to grant!

To put it bluntly, with all the evidence that the Bush administration carefully assembled a set of “legal” documents to justify “harsh interrogation techniques,” how can they possibly stick to their story when they were willing to let U.S. soldiers rot in prison to avoid telling it four years ago?

And for Dick Cheney, who remains the leading voice of belligerent defiance regarding Bush torture policies, and who now wants to declassify documents that would save his ass when he was perfectly happy to let them stay classified when they might save the asses of the enlisted men and women who went to prison for performing techniques he now says were "necessary," the response is both completely reprehensible and completely transparent!

Dick Cheney is a grown man, behaving like a child who would let his own dog be beaten, or even euthanized, for repeatedly “eating his homework!”

Image Credit: Vanity Fair, May, 2008

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Limbaugh: “Waterboarding Just Like Kiteboarding with Richard Branson!”

In his ongoing effort to defend the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” methods, Rush Limbaugh on his radio show today, compared techniques involving nudity and stress positions, as well as being repeatedly doused with water while clinging to safety from a forced supine position, to recent photos of Sir Richard Branson kiteboarding near his private island.

“How are the so-called torture pictures at Abu Ghraib all that different from what this supermodel is happily doing during her little island vacation with Richard Branson?” Limbaugh railed.

“These liberals,” he said, “are soooo outraged about what they call ‘torture’ that they forget the fact that a slap or two on a choice part of the body is just what many people desperately crave.” At which point, he demonstrated by slapping himself several times (in an unidentified, but loudly resonating and likely jiggling, location) and crying out “There, I’m torturing myself!”* - presumably while ogling the Branson pictures and reminiscing about his Viagra-fueled Dominican adventure spent with the fellow torture buffs who happen to produce Fox Television’s 24*.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Jonathan Turley is a Stand-Up Guy, but He May Want to Sit Down Regarding Obama’s Response to Torture.

For many months, George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley has been a leading voice for the rule of law and the importance of prosecuting war crimes related to torture. He’s very compelling, clearly a man of principle, and probably someone I would be proud to see some day sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court.

But when talking about President Obama’s response to Bush era torture, Turley seems quite prone to slipping into spin, rather than fact. Here’s Turley talking to David Schuster about Obama’s decision to release the memos used to justify torture and simultaneously announce that CIA agents who followed the memos in good faith would not be prosecuted. Turley’s conclusion, that Obama is “blocking” an investigation, seems to be a pretty clear example of stretching to find the worst possible interpretation of a mixed set of facts.

While Turley has the luxury of focusing on only one, admittedly noble, goal – holding the perpetrators accountable for war crimes - President Obama has a couple of other goals as well. He needs to avoid the appearance of an overtly partisan investigation that might further incite the racist, gun toting, loonies associated with the recent teabagging phenomena from moving even closer to irrational violence. Second, he needs to maximize his ability to “shake the trees” and get good witnesses who can provide iron-clad evidence that results in irrefutable convictions that have widespread public acceptance (in order to achieve the desired “cleansing effect” on the soul of the nation).

So look at what Obama has actually done:

1) He released a set of memos that he knew would stir public outrage and increase the demand for accountability.

2) He announced that any agents who conducted torture while following orders in good faith would be immune from prosecution.

That’s it! Since we are already starting to see reports of evidence showing that some torture activities exceeded what was authorized by the newly released memos, even Turley would have to admit the likelihood that Obama knew he wasn’t offering immunity to everyone involved in torture.

Now, rather than calling for an investigation of whether or not what occurred was torture, the investigation can be centered on whether activities were conducted “in good faith” according to the rules promulgated in the memos. Even conservatives who insist that the methods currently identified as torture were necessary and justified, would have to condemn those who acted outside of the rules authorized by Bush’s legal “yes men.”

In addition, with those following the “rules” already being given immunity, for those who acted outside of those rules, the natural defense will be to try to argue that whatever they are charged with doing was sanctioned by superiors and thus was “in good faith!” In other words, Obama’s statement of immunity increases the incentive for anyone charged with acting outside of the rules authorized by the torture memos to give up the leaders who authorized them to stretch the rules or act outside of them!

My guess is that Obama knows there are such leaders, and may well be setting up the chess board so that they can eventually be prosecuted in a non-partisan fashion with the widespread public acceptance necessary to avoid derailing the rest of his policy goals.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sacramento Tea-Bagging! [Updated]

I took a few minutes at lunch today to walk through the crowd at today's Sacramento "Tea-bag" Tax protest. All I can say is WOW what a bunch of Crazy F-ing Nuts! So glad my tax dollars help pay for all of the CHP security to protect us from these angry mobs!! Here are a few pics:

Where were all these folks during the Bush administration's piling up of debt? Anyone want to take a guess as to how many of these folks will actually get a tax cut from Obama's plan?

[Update by seenos] Just had to add a few of my favorite tea-bagging pics from the day, with editorial comments:

Um, isn't that what we just did?

If we cut taxes to zero, perhaps these ladies will volunteer to defend the country for free! And what does the "No Turn On Red" sign have to do with taxes?

At least one teabagger seems to be having some reservations about joining the party!

Methinks thou protest too much!

Unlike the last president, who wanted to send your entire generation to war! In case you can't read it, the sign in the background says "Capitalism is NOT the Problem. Retarded Elitist Ivy League Lying Politicians Are!" Could you be a little more specific? Who isn't a retarded elitist ivy league lying politician these days?

One of the signs distributed by former GOP congressman, Mark Foley.

The media even found time to conduct interviews at a San Francisco tea party that had nothing to do with taxes!

And the moral of the story is that I can finally retire this image as the quintessential conservative protest photo, because the free market just produced a whole lot of new competition:

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lawrence O'Donnell Speaks for Me!

Here Lawrence destroys Pat Buchanon in their argument over President Obama and his upcoming speech at Notre Dame. Enjoy!