Senator Levin to Do Live Chat on Ongoing Senate Investigation into Detainee Abuse at 11 ET Tuesday

levinhighres.thumbnail.jpgWe had a very engaged liveblog discussion during the Senate Armed Services Committee’s hearing on Detainee Abuse a few weeks ago. Tomorrow, the Chair of the Committee, Senator Carl Levin, will do a live chat at FDL to talk about the next steps in the Committee’s investigation. Senator Levin will join us at 11 AM ET on Tuesday.

In his statement from that earlier hearing, Levin gave a detailed description of how DOD adapted its SERE training techniques for use on prisoners.

So, how did it come about that American military personnel stripped detainees naked, put them in stress positions, used dogs to scare them, put leashes around their necks to humiliate them, hooded them, deprived them of sleep, and blasted music at them. Were these actions the result of “a few bad apples” acting on their own? It would be a lot easier to accept if it were. But that’s not the case. The truth is that senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. In the process, they damaged our ability to collect intelligence that could save lives.

Today’s hearing will explore part of the story: how it came about that techniques, called SERE resistance training techniques, which are used to teach American soldiers to resist abusive interrogations by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions, were turned on their head and sanctioned by Department of Defense officials for use offensively against detainees.

During June’s hearing, a lot of new questions were raised (and DOD General Counsel Jim Haynes proved to have as fuzzy a memory as every other senior Bush official). Tomorrow, join us to talk with Senator Levin about how the investigation will move forward.

  1. zAmboni says:

    EW, Totally off topic here….

    Was that you & the hubby’s dryer I saw earlier today sitting at the Big George’s outlet? The price tag was turned over and had scribbled on it “T Wheeler.”

    Our washer died last night…going to probably pick up a washer/dryer from them sometime tomorrow.

  2. dosido says:

    FDL continues to take my breath away. David Iglesias, Richard A. Clarke, John Dean, Joe Wilson, plus many elected officials and more come here and talk with bloggers. I am but a humble voter with no excess cash to throw at their feet and still they come. It’s an egalitarian dream come true here at the Lake.

    Thanks for all you do Marcy & co.

  3. PraedorAtrebates says:

    Remember to get a “What about accountability?” question in early. Don’t let him dodge that one.

    Hearings are all well and good. What about consequences and corrections?

    • bobschacht says:

      Well, unfortunately, you’re confusing Constitutional roles. Except for impeachment, the job of Congress is to write laws, not enforce them. Congress has no powers to try and convict; for that, basically, they can only refer something to the DOJ.

      Basically, about all Congress can do is to haul the AG’s ass over to Congress and explain why he’s not doing his job– and then impeach him if they don’t like the answers. But even if they did impeach and convict, Bush would just name an Acting AG and run out the clock.

      This is why it is so important that Congress exercise its due diligence in approving an AG. They have failed to do so for the past 7 years, and we have been paying a heavy price for it.

      BTW, Congress also is supposed to approve the DAG or AAG, aren’t they? What’s up with that?

      Bob in HI

  4. dosido says:

    A good read on legal issues and detainees:

    Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terror
    by David Cole of the Center for Constitutional Rights

    Really lays out the case of why US citizens are not rioting in the streets over Gitmo: Ashcroft abusing immigration law, it’s us versus them, etc. Then discusses the constitution really laying out human rights for citizens and non citizens alike (which was always my uneducated “take”).


  5. Mary says:

    I can’t think of many questions to ask Levin that wouldn’t come out very angry and resentful towards him personally, so I’ll stay away from the chat live and just read through later.

    I hope he sleeps well, after sitting on his hands so long, then using them to co-sponsor the DTA. They have a helluva mess now, one that Judge Roberts laid out for them in detail years ago, and I’m sure they’ll solve it in the fine, abusive, sweep things under the rug, cover our own asses, fashion that have brought to every other facet of the Armed Services committee oversight.

    Just what do you do when the Executive has complete authority over immigration – the detainees have been kidnapped and shipped out of their countries in flagrant disregard of Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions – that war crime is implicit in the determination that any of the detainees were not enemyb combatants – they are entitled to release by the govt in GITMO (but not Iraq or Afghanistan or blacksites or proxy prisons) but after we’ve made torture fodder out of them for years and years not too many countries want the – and their own countries will torture and kill them so shipment there is in violation of the Torture Conventions (not that those mean much, apparently, what with the dismissal fo the el-Masri and Arar cases).

    Oh well, another day, another platitude and another request for donations to the enablers and complicit.

    • skdadl says:

      Mary, although I agree with everything you’ve written there, that was a great hearing / series of panels, so revealing of several key figures, especially Haynes. I’ll go back to read over (and watch if I can find YouTubes) what I can to refresh the ole memory.

    • Hugh says:

      Re the DTA from my scandals list:

      December 30, 2005, Bush signs into law the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill which contains the McCain Detainee Treatment Act which ostensibly limits harsh interrogation techniques. The act is weakened by the Kyl-Levin amendment which allows evidence gained by torture and restricts habeas corpus rights of detainees to challenge their treatment. Bush completely vitiates the provision by appending a signing statement which states that the President will abide by its limitations, if he feels like it.

  6. pinson says:

    Great catch Marcy – very cool. I would suggest to the senator that he needs to bring the people who prosecuted Lyndie England and the other Abu Ghraib defendants before the committee. Ask them why it was that these low-level operators were prosecuted. Why did they not go after the higher ups? Who told them they couldn’t? Then bring those decision-makers before the committee and on up the chain. England and Co. obviously didn’t think this stuff up all on their own.

  7. chetnolian says:

    OT but not OT
    This on a day where, over here in the UK at any rate, we have had two big news items. First, the International Criminal Court prosecutors have suggested charges be brought against the President of Sudan, a country which does not recognise the ICC. The official US reaction has been to disapprove, I wonder why?

    And the Israelis, despite disapproval from the US military at the highest level and US State Dept, make it clear they are still, as a nuclear power, seriously considering aggression (let’s call it what it is)against Iran in case it might also become a nuclear power. I wonder who in the USA told them not to worry about those wimps; we are on your side whatever you do?

    I fear for the World, and especially for what the USA, which I dearly wish to love, will do to it.

  8. foxman says:

    Jim Haynes proved to have as fuzzy a memory as every other senior Bush official

    Has anyone compiled a list of the number of times “don’t recall” was used by Gonzales and all the others? It would make a great question for Dana Perino to recite the list of names and number of “don’t recalls” and then ask her if there might be some toxin in the White House water causing this disability.

  9. freepatriot says:

    off topic but …

    we got a good old fashioned bank run going on here in California

    they keep telling the people that the bank is solvent

    most popular response:

    good, now give me my fucking money ???

    we got a hoover like situation going on here, folks, cept that meltdown happened after the 1928 election

    how many congressional seats did the Democrats win in 1932 ???

    • strider7 says:

      could you elaborate
      I’m trying to find out about my bank’s solvency and am having a hell of a time getting any info on them

  10. JimWhite says:

    I look forward to the live chat. I’m sure there will be many very good questions.

    OT–Am I the only one with my shorts in a knot over the latest missive from Stuart Taylor over at Newsweek? Click my name for the full story.

    • skdadl says:

      Jim, I just visited and read your terrific post on Stuart Taylor. Very well done. And let’s hear it for Luis Moreno-Ocampo — nice catch, Jim. Sometime soon I’m just going to crib you, as I do so many here, EW especially. (I’m slow, but I give credit.)

      • JimWhite says:

        Thanks for your kind remarks. That column by Taylor really made my blood boil. His insistence on pardons for torture is something that needs hard push-back on as many fronts as we can get. I’m hoping that more prominent bloggers will take this on and make it a big issue.

        By the way, if you dig around on the ICC website, you will see that Moreno-Ocampo has started preliminary investigations of the US for war crimes. The document is a couple of years old and states that there is sufficient evidence that the US has committed war crimes, especially in terms of detainee abuse. One trigger for filing charges that hadn’t been met at that time was that it hadn’t been shown that the abuse was a top-down policy. Obviously, the revelations about the “torture councils” and Bush’s approval of them takes care of that. The other trigger is that they have to allow the US to prosecute first. Ironically, if Taylor got his pardons for everyone involved, that would probably be the final trigger to release Moreno-Ocampo to file charges. I think that would be a huge problem, though, because the pardons just send such a terrible message to the rest of the world about what we are.

        • WilliamOckham says:

          You are certainly correct about the Taylor column. This bit is especially offensive:

          Pardons would not be favors to criminals. One can argue that officials could have or should have resigned rather than implement questionable legal judgments, but there is no evidence that any high-level official acted with criminal intent. The officials involved appear to have approved only interrogation methods found legal by administration lawyers, and in particular by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). According to long tradition, the OLC is considered a sort of Supreme Court of the executive branch.

          There is, of course, a mountain of evidence that the highest officials in the Administration acted with criminal intent. Taylor’s argument is literally a restatement of the “I was just following orders” defense.

  11. skdadl says:

    Btw, anyone who is interested can go to C-SPAN, search “senate armed services,” and the first two links up will give you the entire hearing (7 hours). Well, I thought it was gripping, anyway.

  12. Hugh says:

    Needless to say, Levin also voted to promote Generals Petraeus and Odierno into their current positions as head of CENTCOM and Commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, respectively.

  13. Hugh says:

    Levin also added language to the Farm bill that was supposed to close the Enron loophole but didn’t. He was the ranking minority member at the time of the June 2006 Coleman-Levin report on excessive speculation in crude oil futures markets which laid out what had been going on since 2004 and which we have seen become really noticeable in the last year, and essentially did nothing about it for those 2 years.

  14. nonplussed says:

    I am still looking for a reason why we didn’t just use our existing torture methodology as delineated in the Army Technical Manuals which were used for decades at the infamous School of the Americas (SOA) now renamed to a much more innocuous sounding Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

    These manuals were prepared by the U.S. military and used between 1987 and 1991 for intelligence training courses at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA). Some of the material was similar to the older CIA manuals described below. The manuals were also distributed by Special Forces Mobile Training Teams to military personnel and intelligence schools in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Peru.

    There were CIA Manuals addressing “Coercive Interrogation Techniques” dating from 1963, so we have plenty of source material, there was obviously no need to develop new techniques.

    • bmaz says:

      To be fair, actually it may make it all worse depending on one’s view, we have not developed any new techniques that I have seen. Most all torture modalities are very old, many dating back to medieval times and earlier. Sadly, our “development” consisted of nothing more than deciding whether to copy the techniques of the Spanish Inquisition, Ghengis Khan, African tribes, the Nazis, the Chinese and North Koreans, the Vietnamese etc. and a host of other murderers, butchers, war criminals and masters of genocide. There is yer development for ya.

  15. Loo Hoo. says:

    Bummer. Rachel cut off the Biden part of the Library Sale. I don’t like that. Bet selise is downright pissed.

  16. Mary says:

    Yeah Hugh, you are touching on a few of the reasons I just have to stay away from the live chat. I hope they have a good discussion and touch on some issues and share some info, but with everything that was already known and in the public realm by the time the DTA was cycling around, I have a very hard time with Levin’s involvement. Tack on the way the crimes against civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq have received nothing from the armed services committees in the way of oversight or pressure, and then add on that they all had to have Dana Priest force their butts off the chairs over the Walter Reed fiascos and they needed to have Stolz and blogs hammer on them over baseline adequate equipment for the troops and the unrelenting deployment after deployment after deployment and the moral waivers etc. – all with the committee seemingly either ignoring or having to be drug along by the crowd of media and popular input before they do anything useful, and I’m just not in the right frame of mind for that kind of interaction.

    OTOH, there is a lot of good and beneficial stuff that could be discussed by the Senator so I hope that it all goes well and is productive and I’m going to keep my unhappy self away from it to give it a better shot at being productive.

  17. Hmmm says:

    Ya know, looking at it dispassionately: If ya actually wanted to trigger a broad popular insurrection in the US — a condition which I seem to recall would trigger a whole boatload of Executive powers far far beyond anything we’ve thus seen, including but not limited to the whole continuity-of-government no-election ball o’ wax, then intentionally crashing the banks could just be a pretty darned effective move.

  18. Mary says:

    25 – well, apparently they didn’t inlcude the “Frequent Flyer” aka “Operation Sandman” program, where a detainee is physically moved every three hours for maximal sleep deprivation. I was shocked enough that they did this for three solid weeks with Kahdr and now it looks like they did it for 50 days with Hamdan.

  19. masaccio says:

    EW, I have to work, so here is my question: Most of us who read transcripts and liveblogs are depressed by the quality of the questions at these hearings. Wouldn’t it be better to use the old procedures for investigative hearings, with trained and prepared lawyers and investigators asking the questions.

    • bmaz says:

      Aye. I just think that in this day and age of teevee coverage, whether it is cspan, cable or network, they cannot pass up the chance to mug like clowns in front of the camera. Any face time is good face time and it suffices for their purpose to spew out meandering statements and act like they are questions. Doesn’t matter if it is so conjoined, compound and inarticulate that a person wanting to give an honest answer couldn’t. They have served the only purpose they care about; they have promoted themselves. Actually questioning witnesses in a manner to elicit usable evidence is an art form; and for the most part, they ain’t got it. I even know of occasions where congresscritters worked with professionals to get a carefully constructed set of questions laid out perfectly to get key facts and evidence to support the larger point the hearing was held for in the first place, and they just blithely wandered off into their standard diatribe bohunk anyway. It is very ingrained…

  20. PetePierce says:

    We have Carl Levin to thank for the following:

    1) Unmitigated support of the Bush FISA rape
    2) Unmitigated support of crappy car milage setting us 20 years or more behind European mpg requirements along with John Dingell and the rest of the Michigan delegation who have done nothing to stop the closing of 35 GM plants with the closing of 15 more big 3 plants imminent. One could argue strongly that Levin, Dingle and the rest of the Michigan delegation have hastened the demise and closing of the Big 3 Auto plants they are trying to save (and Debbie the Dingdog Dingell) formerly worked for GM for years.

    All of the Michigan delegation has worked diligently to oppose any milage improvement per CAFE and to stall it’s implemenatation as long as possible, improved mpg implementation is not required until 2022 thanks to the work of some strange bedmates Jessie Helms and Carl Levin.

    The destructive work of Carl Levin towards fuel economy, helping to raise your price dramatically at the pump is detailed here.

    How Carl Levin and the Michigan Delegation Screw With Your Pain at the Pump

    In 1990, Richard H. Bryan, a Nevada Democrat, teamed up in the Senate with Slade Gorton, Republican of Washington, and proposed lifting fuel standards again over the next decade, with a goal of 40 m.p.g. for cars. Amid furious opposition from Detroit, liberal Democrats from automaking states, like Carl Levin of Michigan, joined conservative Republicans like Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who died on Friday, to block new CAFE standards. “It was one of the most frustrating issues in my Senate career,” says Mr. Gorton, who left the Senate in 2001.

    Dan Becker, then a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, still remembers his shock when he saw Mr. Levin and Mr. Helms, diametrically opposed on most issues, walk amiably together onto the Senate floor to cast their votes. “This wasn’t East-West, right-left, or North-South,” he says. “But had we passed that bill, we’d be using three million barrels less oil a day now.”

    That amount may not sound like much, given total global consumption of 85 million barrels a day, but it’s more than OPEC’s spare capacity now.

    Mr. Levin didn’t return calls for comment. But Representative John D. Dingell, the powerful Democrat from Detroit who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, argues — as he did more than a decade ago — that tightening CAFE standards unfairly penalizes domestic automakers while rewarding foreign rivals who make more small cars.

    Mr. Dingell, who has defended the automakers fiercely during his 52 years on Capitol Hill, decided to support the stronger CAFE standards last year. But he does not apologize for his longtime stance. “The American auto industry has sold the cars people wanted,” he says. “You’re going to blame the auto industry for that or the American consumer? He likes it sitting in his driveway, he likes it big, he likes it safe.”

    Levin proposes to fillibuster any fuel economy legislation because he is a shill or cheap trick for his 3 top donors, GM, Chrylsler and Ford. Levin secured legislation allowing Chrysler to classify the PT Cruiser as a truck instead of a car.

    I have driven these and PT Cruisers aren’t trucks.

    Carl Levin got a concession from one of the chief moronessas in the Senate, DiFi to get regulations favorable to light trucks that are 70% of Chrysler’s sales.

    I wonder if Levin will talk about FISA, the complete failure in Iraq, or the ascendancy of the strongest Taliban ever now in complete control in Afghanistan in his capacity as Senate Armed forces committee or his efforts to keep fuel efficiency standards commensurate with the year when he got his driver’s license, 1950.

    • PetePierce says:

      Modification on FISA–Levin voted against FISA but did nothing substantive to block its passage otherwise.

    • emptywheel says:

      Um, Pete,

      Levin, like every Michigander, is terrible on cafe. Though when I spoke with Mark Schauer the other day about national impatience with Michigan’s opposition to CAFE, he said, “CAFE is moot at this point.”

      That said, I’m curious how you claim that Levin had “1) Unmitigated support of the Bush FISA rape” if he voted AGAINST immunity and AGAINST the bill.

      • PetePierce says:

        As I followed up, I corrected that Levin voted against the bill (and as you say he voted aqainst immunity) long after it was certain that Bush once again would stomp a few Democrats with the help of most of them. I don’t know what Levin did substantively though to lead or participate in the fight against the rape.

        I can’t remember any major Bill Bush has wanted in the last several years that he hasn’t gotten with the help of the democrats with the exception of an Immigration Bill and his attempt to privatize social security. His attempt to privatize medicare has been a complete failure and it has increased in cost.

        He has however excelled in having the taxpayers bail out banks, (including a number in the future) Fannie May, Freddie Mack, Delta Airlines, the college loan program. That’s strange behavior for someone how brags he’s “cutting taxes” or “controlling domestic spending.”

        Levin also consistently recommended IG reviews that are essentially worthless.

        I don’t know what Levin on Armed Forces has done to keep the Taliban from completely building up to dominate Afghanistan for 6 years or to stop the fiasco in Iraq.

          • emptywheel says:

            No, not quite fast enough.

            PP is apparently ignorant that, in the depths of the Iraq debacle when no one opposed it, Levin did so, vociforously.

            Levin is an ornery guy. He doesn’t take kindly to assholes telling him he’s wrong. But then, the overwhelming part of the time, he’s right. So I’m going to focus my time on a bunch of Senators who don’t think for themselves on the tough issues.

            • PetePierce says:

              PP is cognizant enough as to Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan and Levin’a amendment that Levin as Chairman of Armed forces has done nothing substantive to put a dent in the hemorrhange of trillions in Iraq, stop the Dover coffins that aren’t photographed nor advocated photographing them (what has he done substantive to put a dent in the fiasco in Iraq Marcy because I sure missed it–please do fill me in).

              What has Levin done as Chair of Armed Forces to stop the Taliban from quickly gaining ascendancy in Afghanstian or to keep us from pissing away 12 billion in Pakistan with absolutely no bang for the buck. The dems control that committee theoretically but you wouldn’t know it considering the toilet our foreign affairs or armed forces conduct is in to this minute.

              Pakistan in the Shitter Levin has no clue

              Afghanistan in the Shitter Levin has no clue

              I also have not been able to find with an electron microscope one scinitilla Hillary Norma Rae “Ahm da man on Senate Armed Forces” has ever done to stop the financial and blood hemorrhage. She was really on top of Afghanistan and Pakistan flexing her Norma Rae “ah da man” muscles on that Armed Forces Committee for eight years wasn’t she?

              Levin’s so called amendment against the surge was a collage of obfuscating legalease. It was kind of silly actually and why Feingold voted against it because it made the UN Security Counsel resolution the final arbiter of the use of force in Iraq. It also gave Bush a continual out because it did nothing to restrict troops in Iraq for “self defense” which was part of the lie Bush told in going in.

              Section 4 of the amendment granted “authorization for use of United States Armed Forces pursuant to a new United Nations Security Council Resolution.” Section 3 of the amendment urged the U.N. Security Council to demand unrestricted access to Iraq by U.N. Weapons inspectors and authorized “necessary and appropriate military force” by U.N. member states if the government of Iraq refused to comply.

              So clue me in EW, what precisely would Levin’s amendment have accomplished given the actual wording?

              And Levin has been Chairman of Armed Forces now for two years and what has he accomplished there?

          • PetePierce says:

            No I self corrected on the vote. Otherwise where is the backtracking? I’m not backtracking a scintilla on Levin’s lack of work to defeat Bush and the rest of the disingenuous jello Dems on FISA, his total shit postures on CAFE (gas cheap over there in Arizona–or is it climbing towards $12 a gallon faster than Rodney Harrison on speed or faster than Belichick can steal signals imitating the assholes wiretapping your email and phone for years. He needed to steal a few more in Arizona v. the Giants.

            I’m sure not backtracking on Levin’s complicit votes with Bush every time on Iraq (it will continue to kill thousands of Americans and Iraqis for many years to come); his total lack of attention to Afghanistan which is now under the stable viable control of the Taliban with moreAmericans killed in the last two months there than Iraq.

            • emptywheel says:


              I will repeat this, and be done. Carl Levin’s position on Iraq has not budged for 5 years. That means for 3 of those years, he was one of the few people pushing back effectively. And coming from an SASC Chair, that’s pretty powerful. I understand you’d like to jettison what few liberals we’ve got in the Senate, but I’m not going there with you.

              • PetePierce says:

                I haven’t seen a significant win against Bush by any of those liberals. Help me with that. What vote did I miss? I’ve been watching the votes pretty closely since the midterms in 2006 and reality made the hype look absurd.

                There is nothing about FISA you don’t appreciate, and it was a total disaster and it’s not going to be put back in the tube. And it succeeded because this country is characterized by a potent amalgam of total ignorance and apathy. The day after the FISA vote I couldn’t find anyone with a “decent education” that had a clue about it–that it happened, how it happened, or what it meant. All I got were blank looks when I asked people.

                As an index of how little this country or even the so-called politically cognizant have a grip on this, I remember an article from a couple days ago in NYT that quoted Dem groups nonchalantly brushing FISA off like Obama mimicking Jay-z.

                Obama Supporters on the Far Left Cry Foul:

                Many Obama supporters said the most vocal complaining about various policy positions was largely relegated to liberal bloggers and people who might otherwise support Ralph Nader, the independent candidate, or Dennis J. Kucinich, the liberal Ohio congressman who dropped out of the presidential race earlier this year.

                “I think it’s accentuated by the fact that Obama’s appeal is an appeal to idealism,” said Kari Chisholm, who runs a blog,, and does Internet strategy for Democratic candidates. “They believe their ideology is the only idealism and Obama’s is very mainstream. I’m not surprised they’re getting a little cranky. They’ve always been kind of cranky. A mainstream Democrat has always been too mainstream for them.”

                Some of Mr. Obama’s supporters say he is less vulnerable to accusations of flip-flopping on issues because his campaign ultimately has been built on his biography and philosophy.

                “I don’t think the test on him is in an explicitly narrow set of check boxes that have to get filled,” said Kevin Looper, executive director of Our Oregon, a liberal advocacy group. “I think it’s about do his campaign and his message embody serious changes for the direction of the country?”

                Mr. Looper and many other supporters said Mr. Obama was solid on core Democratic concerns like the environment, social and economic justice and how to balance taxes among economic groups. Of course, his stands on more specific issues appeal to many supporters, too.

                As to Obama’s ridiculous cave on FISA these two writers to the editor got it right:

                To the Editor:

                As a repeat donor to the Obama campaign, I was bitterly disappointed in Senator Barack Obama’s “yes” vote on FISA on Wednesday. Several times during the campaign, Mr. Obama swore that he would fight against, and filibuster, any bill that provided retroactive immunity for FISA violations. On Wednesday, he voted to pass just such a bill.

                Although Mr. Obama has shown many heterodox positions, this is completely different. With this bill, he broke his promise, for the sake of capitulating to the Bush-Cheney administration and gutting the Constitution. This betrayal by Mr. Obama is as baffling as it is inexcusable. He has lost my support.

                Bryan Erickson

                Eagan, Minn., July 10, 2008


                To the Editor:

                The analogy between Senator Barack Obama’s yea vote on Wednesday for the FISA amendment act and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s yea vote in October 2002 for the Iraq resolution is not to be missed or understated.

                Mr. Obama did not want to hand John McCain a cudgel with which he could be attacked as soft on terrorism during the presidential campaign. But is that not precisely the reason Mrs. Clinton, who at the time still had not decided whether to run against the incumbent George W. Bush in 2004, voted for the authorization of military force in Iraq?

                In each case, passage of the bill was a foregone conclusion, so the only effect of a negative vote would have been potential harm to an imminent presidential bid.

                Is Mr. Obama now ready to concede that Mrs. Clinton, rather than showing poor foresight, was just exercising good political judgment?

                James Tocco

                Cincinnati, July 10, 2008

  21. masaccio says:

    bmaz, we all know that, which is why I limited it to the investigative hearings. We don’t care about the posturing on the ones that don’t matter.

    Your argument suggests an interesting approach: we get the local people to send letters to the editor and call-in shows, reciting the stupid questions. Embarrassing them might limit this kind of idiocy. Of course, the paper tends to spell their names correctly.

    • bmaz says:

      Well I agree with you 100%. Quite frankly, if you want to really go for impeachment, you vote up an investigation and turn it over to experienced staff attorneys who do the lionshare of the workup put of the public eye, and do it professionally and efficiently. The critical question is whether they really want to go at this impeachment thing or if Pelosi and Conyers are just giving us and Kucinich the limited shine on to shut us and him up. My money is all in with the latter.

  22. Valtin says:

    Let’s keep our eye on the prize everybody! The SASC is having hearings looking into torture, with an emphasis on how SERE came to be involved in reverse-engineering its own program to provide torture techniques to interrogators.

    At the hearings a few weeks ago, Sen. Levin presented a timeline of how torture was implemented at Guantanamo and elsewhere, beginning for requests by Richard Shiffrin, a Deputy General Counsel in the Department of Defense, in July 2002. Yet Shiffrin made requests as early as December 2001, according to Lt. Col. Baumgarten of Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), responsible for the SERE program. This is according to Baumgarten’s own testimony. Yet, inexplicably, this was never followed up by anyone on committee, nor mentioned by Sen. Levin himself in his timeline narrative. And this is despite the fact the SASC has, according to Baumgarten himself, documentary evidence of the earlier solicitation.

    But the Dec. 2001 timeline issue is potentially explosive, as it predates approvals Bush got from his OLC re torture of prisoners, exposing Bush and probably plenty of others to war crimes charges, and or impeachment. We must demand the SASC release these documents as part of more relentless and effective investigation, one that leads to the truth, no matter how high up or where it goes.

    I humbly suggest that others take me up on this and make sure Levin is asked about the Baumgartner Dec. 2001 solicitation from the administration.

    For more, see my article on this, “Media & Gov’t Torture Cover-up: Sen. Levin, Release the 12/01 SERE Docs”

    • bmaz says:

      Valtin – I took a look at your website, you have some very thorough material on the torture brigade in our government. Very nice; and good suggestions here for Sen. Levin. I hope that you will be able to participate tomorrow with Sen. Levin. Noting your bay area location and interest in the area of tortured/coerced interrogation, I am curious if you are familiar with the work of Dr. Richard Ofshe at Berkeley? Welcome, and I hope you stop back by Emptywheel.

      • Valtin says:

        I’ll be here for the liveblog (though it’s kind of early for me, West Coast time).

        As for Ofshe, I’m familiar with some of his work on false memories, but never went too far in reading up on that subject. It has some overlap on the issues I’m investigating, and I found it got me too far afield, and I haven’t been able to find a way to integrate it into my articles. Some of the early workers on government investigation into “brainwashing” later go involved in the cult/deprogrammer/false memories issue. It’s a controversial and important topic.

        • bmaz says:

          Interesting. I am kind of the converse. I have seen, and some time ago briefly scanned through Ofshe’s work on false memories, but focused on his work with coerced confessions. I used him as an expert in a couple of cases and he did superb work. You are correct that he really doesn’t apply directly to the torture situations; although in some regards it strikes me that there is a lot of commonality between coerced confessions in criminal cases (which Richard does a lot of work in) and evidence/confessions obtained by torture. For one, the work product of both is effectively useless operationally because of the extreme degree of unreliability. At any rate, I know he is in your area there and I found him to be a great guy and fascinating to talk to.

          As to the West coast time issue, believe me, I fully understand. I have the same issue. Constantly.

        • Valtin says:

          That only shows my ignorance of important areas of Ofshe’s work. I’m not familiar with his work on coerced confessions, and will get to it right away. Isn’t it always true that we ignore the resources or people in our own back yard? The issue of torture spins off in many directions: psychology, history of the Korean War, of biological weapons, MKULTRA, constitutional and international law, etc. etc.

  23. Leen says:

    Exciting Senator Levin visiting.

    Hope someone ask about Addingtons 3-5 trips to Gitmo.

    Were outside contractors involved with the “enhanced techniques?

    Just what branch of government does Senator Levin believe the Vice President operates out of? Has he ever heard of the “barnacle branch”?

    And Doug Feith this morning too.
    Feith at 10:00

    Does he consider prisoners being naked naked?