Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dick the Dick

Yesterday, the Obama administration following the order of the circuit court of appeals, released hundreds of pages of material, (much of which was heavily redacted), relating to the CIA and torture during the Bush administration. The administration fought the lawsuit brought by the ACLU under the freedom of information act, on the grounds that releasing the documents would harm national security. They lost. About the same time Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was appointing a special prosecutor, still working on related matters, to look into whether there was sufficient evidence to bring charges against the people involved. Evidence had been mounting that there were serious accounts of "over-reaching" made by the CIA and outside contractors concerning torture of prisoners. Rep. Whitehouse (D-RI) had for months said that the people involved did not follow even the rules, as outlined by the Bush administration, and that they needed to be investigated. That's saying something.

So, you may have heard that some of these tactics involved stripping a prisoner naked, putting a hood over his head, and clicking a gun next to his temple, making the sound like the bullet was put in the chamber, and threatening to kill him. Other allegations involved telling a detainee that if he didn't talk, they would rape his mother in front of him, and shooting a gun off in the next room, then taking the detainee out of his room past an agent on the floor pretending to have been shot. And we have all heard about waterboarding.

In the abstract I can't say that if the point of the interrogations were to scare the beejezus out of the detainees to get them to talk about information regarding the terrorists plans for future attacks, that they were totally wrong. After all, we had been attacked and were trying everything to prevent another attack. But in reality, torture is torture. Torture is illegal according to our laws. If we are a nation of laws, we must follow them, and they apply to everyone from the agents who performed these tortures on up to the officials who authorized them.

Now what really pisses me off is Dick Cheney. Call him Darth Vader, call him Shooter, call him the most dangerous, scary, and power grabbing man ever to hold the position of vice president. He released a statement yesterday saying this "fuels doubts about this administration's ability to be responsible for our nations security." Really? This coming from the man who accused the Obama administration of putting our national security in danger because they decided to close Guantanamo Bay prison, when his own president decided it best to close it, and he was silent. President Bush didn't have the guts to do the right thing, at least Obama does.

It seems like now that he is out of office he cannot keep quiet about anything. When he was in office he believed everything they did should be kept secret. A man who from the very beginning of their administration would not release the names of his energy task force. An administration who had to be sued for those names, and who turned out to be buddies from energy companies from Texas like Haliburton.

Remember that he was the one who went on Meet the Press and when asked by Tim Russert about his concern for the number of Americans who were increasingly not supportive of his war of choice in Iraq said, "So?" Remember he was the one who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the press about being an undercover CIA agent. He was the one who let his right hand man, Scooter Libby fall on the sword for him, not for leaking her name, but for lying about where he heard it. Cheney was the one who was so furious at President Bush during his last week in office for saying no to pardoning Mr. Libby that he asked him three times to change his mind after he had been told no. Talk about someone who is not in reality. Can you imagine if something happened to President Bush and Cheney became POTUS?

Lastly, remember about two months ago when Cheney and his patronage job, assistant state department kind of hack, blow-hard daughter named Lynn, both went on TV and said the skies are falling. Be afraid, be very afraid of Barack Obama. At that time they were practically begging the Obama administration to release these documents. They said it proves the point that valuable information was secured by these techniques.

Well, they got their wish. Only trouble is, now they are critical because they were released. It should be pointed out that while the documents do say information was obtained about future terrorist plots, that information did not necessarily come from the advanced interrogations. If they were paying attention they only had to watch a congressional panel questioning what happened. They had some panelists who knew a little about what they were talking about and some panelists who were clueless. The most interesting and informative panelist was a CIA agent testifying in-cognito behind a box. He was the one who first interrogated Kalid Sheik Mohammed. (the one whom the Cheney's often cite as their most prolific information witness). The agent said that KSM was more than willing to spill the beans during the interrogation. If I remember correctly, one of the carrots they gave him were candy bars.

The agent said that the interrogations were so successful that they were continuing for a day and a half and saw no reason to stop the carrot instead of the stick routine. All of a sudden a call came through from the administration that they were to stop these methods, and new people and new methods would be used. The agent felt that he had developed a rapport with KSM and could not understand why they were stopping. Then the waterboarding started. He was waterboarded something like 80 times. The agent said they got nothing from the waterboarding but that when they stopped and acted reasonable, they got more information. Then they waterboarded again and got nothing. He said he was finally asked to leave and did not know what, if anything more they got from him.

So, who are you going to believe? A career CIA agent who had no hidden agenda, who was not a partisan for any administration, and who believed in his country and his calling? Or, are you going to believe one of the biggest liars and crushers of the constitution and all it stands for, in the history of this country.

One more thing. President Obama said that he would rather not look back but look forward and focus on the challenges we face today. I could not agree more. But if the attorney general does decide that he needs to pursue this, then I think they should start with the people at the top first. Go after the ones who gave the orders. Start with Cheney, then on down. Don't buy for a minute that these agents and contractors were lone wolfs acting without orders. They got away with it in the Abu Graihb scandal. They should not get away with it now.

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