The Tortured Intra-Administration Squabble Continues

The NYT has another story mapping the tensions within the White House over the torture issue (though this one, which cites Rahm directly, primarily portrays him–implausibly–as the neutral broker), this one focusing on the Holder-Panetta drama. The most interesting passage in the story, though, is this one.

At the time, Mr. Panetta felt besieged on several fronts. Mr. Blair, the intelligence director, was pushing to appoint the senior intelligence officials in each country overseas, a traditional prerogative of the C.I.A.

And other administration officials complained when the C.I.A. sent documents about the detention program to the Senate Intelligence Committee without giving the White House time to consider whether there were any executive privilege issues.

The interagency debate grew heated enough that Mr. Emanuel summoned Mr. Panetta, Mr. Blair and other officials to the White House to set down rules for what should be provided to Congress. Mr. Panetta complained that he was being chastised for excessive openness after being criticized for excessive secrecy when he pushed to withhold details from the interrogation memos.

The various issues raised by the Bush-era interrogation and detention policies have caused other tensions within the Obama team. Mr. Emanuel and others have concluded that the White House mishandled the planning for the closing of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Set aside the Blair-Panetta tension over Chiefs of Station here for the moment, which structurally in this passage is just a feint. While I’m sure the Blair-Panetta squabble over Chiefs of Station came up at the meeting, the passage focuses more closely on what CIA gave to SSCI–presumably for its extensive investigation into the torture program. This dispute was reported–as an intra-CIA squabble–back in May. And back then, Mark Hosenball reported that Panetta wanted to give full cables to SSCI, but instead compromised on giving them redacted cables.

Panetta’s instinct was to give Congress what it wanted. But undercover officers warned him that this would break with standard practice, and veteran spies worried that it would chill brainstorming between field agents and their controllers. Aiming to compromise, Panetta signaled to Congress that the CIA would turn over only redacted documents—and that it would take a long time to vet as many as 10 million pages of cable traffic.

Congressional investigators aren’t backing down, however, insisting on all of the material without deletions, including names of personnel who participated in harsh questioning, and holding subpoenas in reserve. 

Okay, so what I’m interested in is that a fight that, in May, was portrayed (by a very good journalist) as a fight within the CIA, and between CIA and Congress, is now being portrayed as a fight within the Obama Administration. And while the "other officials" named twice in this passage could well be more junior people at CIA, it seems much more likely that it is Greg Craig and John Brennan (the former because this piece is a thinly disguised Rahm rehash of his issues with Craig, and the latter because he’s the other known big player in the torture debate). Those are just wildarsed guesses, mind you, and the passage is interesting regardless of who those other officials are. But that’s my guess.

I’m interested in this both because it reveals that there’s disagreement within the White House over how open to be with Congress. And because it puts this dispute–which previously had been a CIA affair–centrally in the ongoing squabbles over torture in the White House.

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108 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    Rahm Implausibility? No kidding. The first thought I had reading, and before I got to your comment, was GregCraig and Brennan; it not only makes sense, it just flat out sounds like them from the tenor of the piece. I wonder though how much of the WH involvement in the pie is really new, or if that is just the new slant being pitched? Seems curious that Panetta jsut up and went talkabout without consulting the WH originally…..

  2. PJEvans says:

    If Obama wants to get anything done in the next couple-three years, or even after that, he’ll have to kick Rahm out. That guy does more damage with his mouth than I’d have thought possible.

  3. Jeff Kaye says:

    I can’t help but think this article and the leaks that fed it are somehow related to the new interrogation task force memo and its recommendations, especially placing the HVD super-interrogator bureau under the official auspices of the FBI (while including CIA and other agencies as part of it). What a defeat for Panetta! He’ll take heat for that. For this, and other reasons, including the problems alluded to here, I don’t think Panetta will serve very long.

    Meanwhile, Obama must be learning that you can’t finesse the torture issue. The IG report and other docs paint a picture so barbaric and horrific, I’m questioning what century I even live in (and I hope readers caught Jason Leopold’s article on the new doc describing the torture-rendition protocols, a nice companion piece to the IG report… “nice” being relative, of course).

    Great catch, Marcy, on the switch in emphasis in the narrative. The real truth must be quite chaotic. I wish I knew more about DNI and how that office is playing out in the intel community. The latter has grown so huge that near-parties have formed, swirling cliques, with billion dollar budgets and careers at stake.

    • JasonLeopold says:

      right back atcha, Jeff. Your story on Zubaydah’s psych evaluation–the real reason for it–is outstanding. Your report is such a crucial part of the entire narrative.

        • klynn says:

          I agree. The three of them could publish a collection of their pieces in chronological order as their pieces relate to one another and have a remarkable book.

        • JasonLeopold says:

          that is so incredibly kind of you to say. to be included and mentioned in that company is a huge honor for me. Thank you.

    • SKIMPYPENGUIN says:

      Pentagon > ODNI

      I think people misunderstand that Cheney’s plan from the very beginning was to plunge CIA into a scandal so that the Pentagon could take over the responsibility for intelligence. Whether he is in office now is irrelevant, that was and is still the goal.

      ODNI was a clever and ingenious feint to set up a parallel intelligence bureaucracy Cheney and Rumsfeld never intended on using. It sucked many of the oversight and administrative responsibility from CIA. The Presidents Daily Brief was delivered by CIA for over 50 years. That is now done by a deputy director or DNI. Also, DNI goes through the National Security Adviser in the actual chain of command. Secretary of Defense, in practice, does not.

      Three goals are accomplished with the Pentagon in charge of intelligence:

      1) You can spend more on it, unchecked, because it comes out of the defense budget, not CIA appropriations.

      2) Accountability – or lack thereof.

      3) Unchecked targeted killings. The argument would be that preemptive intelligence or reconnaissance conducted by military intelligence officers is not espionage. And that when they kill someone or a lot of someones, it’s not assassination, it’s warfare. Thereby sidestepping President Ford’s ban on assasinations.

      If you disagree with this assertion you are not a realist. That was and still is the plan. CIA itself was spawned from the OSS in World War 2, which was only created because after the war, veteran clandestine civilians and the predessors to Army Special Forces complained that they didn’t have autonomy and freedom to train. They argued the country needed to maintain a covert capability and felt restricted by the Pentagon. The National Security Act passed in 1947 and we got the CIA.

      A probe into the intelligence community will only do two things:
      destroy the CIA and realign the rest of the intelligence bureaucracy.

      The Pentagon already controls 85% of the budget, and after these hearings/i­ndictments­/commissio­ns will fully control the intelligence community. Which is the goal.

      CIA directors are political appointees. Presidents and their appointees come and go. Deputies and directors deep inside the bureaucracy who are career government employees stay and never leave.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Copper Green is reported by American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh to be one of several code names for a U.S. black ops program, according to an article in the May 24, 2004 issue of The New Yorker.

        According to Hersh, the task force was formed with the direct approval of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and run by Deputy Undersecretary Stephen Cambone. Hersh claims the special access program members were told “Grab whom you must. Do what you want”.
        The program allegedly designed physical coercion and sexual humiliation techniques for use against Muslim Arab men specifically, to retrieve information from suspects, and to blackmail them into becoming informants.

        According to the article, the sexual humiliation techniques were based on the book, The Arab Mind, written by the late cultural anthropologist Raphael Patai in 1973. The book claimed to be a “study of Arab culture and psychology”. According to Hersh’s anonymous intelligence source, the Patai book was “the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior”, which gave life to two themes: “One, that Arabs only understand force and, two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation”.

        Hersh claims to have spoken to a senior CIA official who said the program was designed by Rumsfeld to wrest control of information from the CIA, and place it in the hands of the Pentagon.

        According to Hersh’s sources, the program was so successful in Afghanistan, that Cambone decided to introduce the SAP program to operations during 2003 invasion of Iraq, eventually leading to the use of common soldiers instead of using special ops forces exclusively. In Hersh’s view, the program was used on detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, leading directly to the prisoner abuse by US soldiers there.

        Wikipedia

        • perris says:

          Hersh claims to have spoken to a senior CIA official who said the program was designed by Rumsfeld to wrest control of information from the CIA, and place it in the hands of the Pentagon.

          I keep saying it, that’s team b, I am not barking up the wrong tree here

          some back story;

          under ford, when cheney was rumsfeld’s underling, they devised a plan to undermine the treaty of detante, they recruited their own “cia analysis” to claim that the soviets had some scary submarine that could operae without detection, esentially “fly under the radar” and in efect have nuclear missiles a few feet from our shore

          this is what the fantasy “hunt for red october” was based

          the cia called it all crap and said outright cheney and rumsfeld were promoting a fantasy

          that was team b, they used it again to get us into Iraq

  4. JasonLeopold says:

    well, here’s a decidedly different account from the WaPo:

    Holder notified the White House that he was reluctantly leaning toward naming a prosecutor to review whether laws had been broken during interrogations — the very thing Obama had said he wanted to avoid. And the word Holder got back, according to people familiar with the conversations, was that the decision was up to him.

  5. JasonLeopold says:

    also caught this in another WaPo story on the CIA paying the legal fees of interrogators caught up in the “preliminary review.” Wonder if Mitchell/Jessen and other outside contractors’ legal are covered as part of this deal.

    On Durham’s probe regarding the destruction of the torture tapes:

    Durham has asked agency contractors to give testimony before a grand jury in Alexandria next month, according to three sources familiar with the matter. It is not clear that the witnesses will testify.

    • bmaz says:

      Good question. My guess is there is a chance although the government wouldn’t want to admit it. There is at least an argument that even as contractors, they were agents (in the legal sense) of the government during the conduct at issue.

      I thought this paragraph also noteworthy:

      In that investigation, Durham has asked agency contractors to give testimony before a grand jury in Alexandria next month, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

      • JasonLeopold says:

        should have said torture, not interrogation. Reading too many NYT/WaPo stories.

        I saw on the thread to Jeff’s story that someone left a comment saying that Lawrence Wilkerson had said at one point that 90 percent of CIA was not on board with the torture program and was doing some research to see when and where he said that but haven’t been able to find anything yet. I sent a note to Wilkerson. Just curious

        • SKIMPYPENGUIN says:

          Colonel Wilkerson will be a key part of this probe because he was and still is in Colin Powell’s camp. Powell is not opposed to actions of CIA re: torture and rendition because they’re torture. He is not opposed to it because he’s a moderate Republican. He’s opposed because he’s a General. Former; current – the mentality is the same. Control. Accountability. Accountability to the person in control. In charge. In command.

          Powell, like other senior generals and admirals, believe CIA is out of control. Meaning out of the military’s direct sphere of influence.

          Abolishing CIA and folding it into the Pentagon accomplishes that.

          Beginning to understand? Are the dots connecting?

        • klynn says:

          That was me. He stated it in an interview with Keith Olberman. It was on Morning Swim on 8/24.

          He actually said, the group responsible only comprised less than 1% of CIA. Thus, I took that to mean 99% not on board.

          It was a great interview and should be played again and again.

          • klynn says:

            His less than 1% comment starts at about 2:14. He names, “…a very select group of contractors… it starts with Tenet, McLoughlin and Rodriguez…”

            • perris says:

              I’ve commented before this almost definately represents recruits of cheney’s, “team b”

              I am really wondering why the other 99 percent have nothing to say about this…their profession has been pretty much destroyed because of “team b”, beginning with cheney and rumsfeld’s use of their “cia devision” back during ford to undermine nixon’s treaty of detante

          • JasonLeopold says:

            thank you so much for the link and a big thanks for mentioning the interview!!! It is a good one.

    • emptywheel says:

      To the lawyers in the crowd. Does this quote make sense, time wise, for you?

      In that investigation, Durham has asked agency contractors to give testimony before a grand jury in Alexandria next month, according to three sources familiar with the matter. It is not clear that the witnesses will testify.

      That is, are you surprised that Durham would be at GJ stage in what is billed as a “review” so quickly?

      I’m wondering, partly, because my BY FAR most optimistic spin on Durham as SC is that this is, partly, effectively an expansion of his torture tape mandate. And we KNOW he’s at GJ stage in that.

      So while it seems that it would be too early to have contractors identified to appear before GJ in a “review,” it would not be in the torture tape inquiry. But it could be shifting the torture tape inquiry into the primary torture (which would make the obstruction case easier, no?). And, of course, at least one of the known excess that was probably captured on torture tapes was Nashiri and the drill.

      • JimWhite says:

        NAL, but one thing that stands out to me is that I think part of the “review” already has been conducted. When Durham’s new role was announced, it was said that he was re-opening a subset of the cases referred previously. How could they know it was only a subset and/or that some merit re-opening unless they already had conducted a review of some sort?

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, that is exactly why I noted that way above. It had been my understanding that he was again winding down the tapes investigation and it does seem a might forward to be GJing in what is only a “review”; but he has the luxury of a tuned up GJ. I too take it as a positive irrespective of which prong of his job it is attached to.

      • JasonLeopold says:

        I read the paragraph in the WaPo story as Durham was still dealing with the torture tape investigation and the grand jury testimony next month of the contractors was related to his probe of the tapes. Are you thinking this is a GJ for the “preliminary review”?

        • bmaz says:

          Jason, that is the thing, I don’t think you can tell which investigation/review he is servicing if this blurb is true. At least a certain group of witnesses is going to be central, or sufficiently related, to both prongs of Durham’s jurisdiction. He may be technically bringing them in under the auspice of tapes, but be probing torture – we don’t know. Heck he may not fully know. But it is encouraging that he is hauling witnesses and engendering evidence in front of the GJ either way. And if I were him, it would be an irresistible opportunity to just investigate the whole gig. I only hope it is really true, because the scuttlebutt was that he was winding down again on tapes alone prior to this (but that doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t still have loose ends to clean up and adduce on tapes alone; that very well may be the case).

          • JasonLeopold says:

            ah! I think you answered my question I posed at the new post. So Durham can still take testimony from these contractors related to his new mandate? In that sense it doesn’t matter whether the GJ is related to the torture tape probe. Would that be correct?

            • bmaz says:

              That would be my take. As long as the witnesses are there for a legitimate purpose, he gets to adduce evidence from them. Trust me, as a defense lawyer, I would object down the line if my client was indicted, but I would lose on that. The two subjects are intertwined sufficiently that there is no way to say he is doing anything improper. And I simply do not see how you could have witnesses in front of a GJ that have evidence of torture and not start cutting in at those edges; I would in a heartbeat if I were him (caveat: I have never been a prosecutor; but have watched plenty o this stuff from the other side).

  6. JasonLeopold says:

    I’ve wondered if contractors outnumbered CIA in the interrogation area. Have not been able to find out anything about that.

    • bmaz says:

      If you buy some of the stories about the withering and decommissioning of the CIA interrogation program after Church, which I only partially do, then it may well be that there are more contractors than case agents/employees/whatever. Also have not seen any hard figures, but I sure would not be surprised, for multiple reasons. And recall, as Sara, a long time and very good commenter here, has pointed out multiple times, Shorrock made out a pretty good case that 80% of the Company’s work is outsourced in one fashion or another, and that would sure militate in favor of a high percentage of contractor interrogators/torturers as well. And, of course, it is the Cheney way you know….

      As to the Carrie Johnson/Anne Kornblut piece; jeebus, what did they do, line up Administration and agency “sources” out on the sidewalk and run em in one by one to spin? Crikey.

      • JasonLeopold says:

        Oh thanks for the reminder on Sara! Yes. I do remember. She was incredibly insightful on that issue.

        I know what you mean about the Post story. Just reads like a press release, at least in my opinion.

        Actually, come to think of it. Hayden made a comment last week at that panel discussion about contracting a lot of work out. Will have to watch that again. Even though Hayden is difficult to listen to and believe

      • MadDog says:

        …As to the Carrie Johnson/Anne Kornblut piece; jeebus, what did they do, line up Administration and agency “sources” out on the sidewalk and run em in one by one to spin? Crikey.

        This part made me laugh:

        …Obama is approaching the issues as a game of “three-dimensional chess,” said John O. Brennan, an assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. “It’s not kinetic checkers. And I think the approach in the past was kinetic checkers. There are moves that are made on the chess board that really have implications, so the president is always looking at those dimensions of it…”

        So Obama really is playing 11 dimensional chess and the rest of world as rubes can’t get past checkers?

        Yah, sure!

        I wonder if O’Brennan has ever contemplated that while Obama’s playing chess, that in fact, the game really is checkers?

        • emptywheel says:

          Yeah, I was just gonna link that one too!!

          Hahahahaha! Brennan, of all people, is pushing the multi-dimensional chess thing and doesn’t even know the minimum bid for chess these days is 11 dimensions.

    • cinnamonape says:

      I recall that there really weren’t any CIA interrogators before 9/ll. It wasn’t a task they did…leaving it to DOJ/FBI or the DoD. The few people that might v done a little of this were in their Internal investigations division (i.e. interrogating their own people), and those involved in debriefing covert field operatives. These are not at all similar to interrogating enemy prisoners.

      If they weren’t going to have DoD or the FBI do it (for the reasons, it seems, that these interrogators followed stricter non-aggressive protocols), they needed to bring contractors, preferably who were NOT seasoned interrogators immersed in the niceties of the Geneva Convention. That led to the former SERE people in the private sector. Of course there could also be folks who trained in other foreign intelligence services or just individual thugs from groups like Blackwater/Xe.

  7. SKIMPYPENGUIN says:

    Before anyone disagrees with my post, ask yourselves these questions:

    What’s Robert Gates background?
    Did he work for the CIA?
    Is now the Secretary of Defense?
    Did he replace Rumsfeld?
    Did Rumsfeld piss and moan?
    Is Rumsfeld KNOWN to bitch openly about things he disagrees with?
    Did Obama retain Gates as SecDef?
    Did Cheney have contempt for the CIA?
    Has Cheney always distrusted the CIA since the Ford Administration?
    Is Gates still SecDef?

    Answer those questions, and you will find that what I laid out in my post isn’t just plausible: that’s the plan. This is intentional. The Pentagon gains total and absolute control over intelligence, allowing it justify more spending and more hiring; there is now only once intelligence organization, making the person or persons leading it more powerful; and you have an in-house capability of hundreds of skilled future clandestine operatives. It’s the Pentagon. They can reassign any officer, any infantryman, any sniper, any computer hacker they want, wherever they want.

    And it’s warfare. Not espionage. Not assassination. Marvel at the simplicity, shudder at the consequences. I do.

    • Rayne says:

      One wrinkle in the theory is Gates’ affiliation with the Poppy Bush-James Baker generation. He’s far more in sync with them than with the Rumsfeld-Cheney generation, may have been placed in SecDef by them not so much because he’s for moving CIA’s portfolio to DoD, but because he’s more of a traditionalist wrt CIA’s functions.

      Cannot remember where I just read in last 24 hours the concern over covert and clandestine activities, and the need for a split between these functions; believe it’s Panetta who feels CIA needs to return to purely intel gathering/reporting function, but I can’t recall where I read it. Which means that there is some push to move anything not purely intel to DoD’s function. Not much of a stretch if JSOC is already conducting activities which might have been the purview of CIA in the past (although they’ve screwed them up badly in a number of cases, particularly when deniability was essential).

      Something clearly needs to be done to sort out this mess, since JSOC’s actions over the last handful of years make it look out of control, too (f*ckups don’t encourage confidence). There’s an out for Obama, if he and his team can agree to let go while they still have a thin majority in Congress. See Christopher Hayes’ piece (page 3) in The Nation — it may mean revisiting the Church Committee and asking Congress to do the dirty work.

      At least it gets the blame game out of the White House so they can stop with the circular firing squad. Might also encourage public revelation of the left-behinds who are continuing to further the Cheney agenda.

      EDIT: My bad, it was right there in that piece by Chris Hayes; according to Richard Clarke, it’s Gates who wants the covert/clandestine split:

      The principle of oversight aside, the right-wing story about the committee ruining intelligence capabilities for a generation posits a golden age of über-competent intelligence-gathering that simply never existed. The activities described in the committee report, more often than not, have a kind of Keystone Kops flavor to them. “From its beginning,” says Clarke, “when [the CIA] does covert action as opposed to clandestine activity…it regularly fucks up. I remember sitting with [Defense Secretary] Bob Gates when he was deputy national security adviser, and he said, I don’t think CIA should do covert action; CIA ought to be an intelligence collection and analysis [agency].”

      Problem being that JSOC has f*cked up covert ops under Gates’ watch. Nothing like needing US’ role in assassination kept completely under wraps but having the op go so badly that the US is exposed as acting in a “friendly” country without having given a head’s up to the country in advance. This kind of failure (repeated, I’ll add) is enough to warrant further review by Congress.

  8. MadDog says:

    The NYT has another story mapping the tensions within the White House over the torture issue (though this one, which cites Rahm directly, primarily portrays him–implausibly–as the neutral broker)…

    I laughed out loud when I read that NYT story last night.

    It seems that Rahm just can’t keep his mouth shut, and I wondered when, if ever, he’s going to get his comeuppance.

    The guy just can’t stop blabbing, and while doing so, he inadvertently makes abundantly clear that he has no principles he’d permanently adhere to, no position that he’d not abandon for something else, heck anything else, with imagined better possibilites, and no “friends” he won’t punk for other temporarily more advantageous-appearing accomplices.

    Shorter Rahmbo: “The ego that never sleeps, the ego that always speaks!

    • klynn says:

      It is interesting that all these leaks have landed in the NYT’s with threats towards a number of Administration officials’ jobs on the line but Rahm seems to be safe and “clean.”

      It seems that Rahm just can’t keep his mouth shut, and I wondered when, if ever, he’s going to get his comeuppance.

      I think those with their names in the NYT’s in the last month should have a talk with their boss as a group, without Rahm.

    • emptywheel says:

      Agree with all you say about Rahm.

      But one thing I find interesting. The WaPo Johnson-Kornblut (with Kornblut involved, it’s a sure sign of stenography) story’s function is to try to insist that Obama had nothing to do with Holder’s decision–it’s a pushback against right wing claims that Obama has politicized DOJ (and, in that sense, it is FAR too late in the process to be pushing back–they should have been doing this kabuki for the last month).

      But what is the PURPOSE of the NYT one? At a moment when the emphasis should be on “Holder made the deicison on his own” why support a big Kremlinology story at the same time?

  9. perris says:

    I wonder if it’s possible to get an active CIA official to make a public statement along the lines, “99 percent of the CIA recused themselves from these programs”

    and

    “those in the CIA that used the other programs were more successfull gathering information”

    or Obama might get something like that in there

    not gonna happne I know but if they read this blog as much as I think they do maybe it will give them something to think about

  10. JThomason says:

    A most fascinating thread. Isn’t the narrative about the push to institutionalize a secret system of justice lacking in due process. Framed in the development of the OSS after WWII, the check of the Church Committee in the 70’s, the institution of the secret courts through FISA in the 90’s, and now the attempts to legitimatize extraordinary rendition, torture, and assassination.

    The push is to authorize brutality in foreign relations with out a declaration of war but the effect is a degradation through brutality of social and economic relations under the pretext of exigency. As these conditions become strained in the era of money lender hegemony where are the checks against the migration of arbitrary violence normalized in foreign governmental operations into the domestic realms?

    Edit: Even Geronimo was afforded some benefit of the doubt as his life was spared.

  11. klynn says:

    That is, are you surprised that Durham would be at GJ stage in what is billed as a “review” so quickly?

    I’m wondering, partly, because my BY FAR most optimistic spin on Durham as SC is that this is, partly, effectively an expansion of his torture tape mandate. And we KNOW he’s at GJ stage in that.

    So while it seems that it would be too early to have contractors identified to appear before GJ in a “review,” it would not be in the torture tape inquiry. But it could be shifting the torture tape inquiry into the primary torture (which would make the obstruction case easier, no?). And, of course, at least one of the known excess that was probably captured on torture tapes was Nashiri and the drill

    .

    Great questions EW.

  12. JThomason says:

    For Buddhists he represents a bundle of qualities on the contemporary political scene. Identifying him as White Tara is a shorthand way of visualising that bundle of qualities in order to summon them up in oneself.

    Medvedev’s thing is the rule of law – he’s a lawyer. He produced a remarkable state of the nation address in November last year in which he anatomised the difficulty of making a modern state out of Russia. It was basically about being a law-based society and this, I think, is the characteristic that the Buryats and the Kalmyks identify in him when contemplating the White Tara.

    Ain’t the way the world goes round? Russian politicians are pushing for the rule of law and ours are head over heels for a private security state.

  13. tanbark says:

    Here’s a little more from the NYTimes:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08…..intel.html

    This isn’t rocket science. Where are the:

    indictments, convictions, and upholding of the convictions going to come from?

    Anyone like to answer?

    Because, at a time when we need every ounce of clout that we can muster to get that public option, and to help Joe and Jane six-pak get affordable healthcare, haring off after Cheyney and his SS-lite, however moral it may be, is clearly blowing off capital that we need, and are losing, every day.

    Going after Cheyney, etc., now, is a political snipe hunt. The least we should do is wait for another SCOTUS seat to come up, so we have some chance of sustaining any convictions we (nearly miraculously) get on them.

  14. alank says:

    The War Department generates reams of messages each and everyday. I’m sure anything the CIA (or C.I.A.) send to Congress directly or via Rahm, redacted or otherwise, is going to be utter crap. The more volume, the better to obfuscate.

  15. WilliamOckham says:

    I’ve just had a chance to skim through the comments here and I’m going to be tied up in meetings most of the day, but there’s something important here that maybe is being overlooked:

    And other administration officials complained when the C.I.A. sent documents about the detention program to the Senate Intelligence Committee without giving the White House time to consider whether there were any executive privilege issues.

    Think about the institutional issues (along with the personal issues for Brennan). For the last 40 years, the dominant contending frames for CIA wrongdoing have been “rogue agency” and “tool of the White House”. The career CIA types must have realized that redactions would have hung them out to dry while protecting the political types, so they acquiesced to Panetta’s strategy of letting it all hang out. This upsets Greg Craig for institutional reasons (executive privilege), Brennan for personal reasons (he’s probably implicated at least indirectly), and Emanuel for political reasons (distraction from his agenda).

    Panetta’s walking a tight rope here, but he’s a serious DC player. There’s more upside than downside for him (worst case he loses a sucky job). Craig probably doesn’t really care that much about this as long as no precedent is established. Brennan’s in trouble. If Obama cuts him loose (like he did Daschle), Brennan’s future earnings take a hit and there’s a small chance he gets charged. Emanuel just wishes this would all go away. The sooner we get him to realize that this is a potential winner politically for Obama the better.

  16. perris says:

    cheney is claiming it’s wrong to investigate the crimes he himself is guilty and he himself forced down everyone’s throat

    the utter gall and not one journalist brings up that point

  17. TarheelDem says:

    Mr. Emanuel and others have concluded that the White House mishandled the planning for the closing of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    And this gets slipped in out of context. Who are the “others”? And mishandled in what way in their opinion? Is Emmanuel going to walk back everything Obama said he would do?

  18. tanbark says:

    [email protected] Not a bad overview, and I think that Obama needs Panetta more than Panetta needs him. Leon HAS to go to bat for keeping Holder and DOJ from rummaging around in the Langley closets. The spook community is already suspicious of him, as a “librul” Director, and if he lays down for Holder they will purely hate him.

    Clearly, Holder has no great stomach for doing this, since he (as us Obama) is plenty smart enough to know what a distraction and waste of clout it is, in the middle of the healthcare fight. Also, the repubs are loving the prospect of an eye-gouging intra-administration brawl. It’s manna from heaven for them.

    At this point, we don’t have the luxury of committing ourselves to what amounts to a retroactive snipe-hunt that has practically zero chance of getting those indictments or convictions; we need a win on something that will resonate with that two-thirds of voters, and even if we got Cheyney into the dock, it would not help us in the coming knife-fights.

    Just now, conscience-salve for the american sins of the past is pricey stuff. We don’t have the “money” for it.

    • JThomason says:

      Its a chicken or the egg kind of thing, isn’t it? Allow principles of gentleness and civility to dissipate in a society and a sweeping health care safety net becomes all the more imperative.

    • timbo says:

      See, the weird thing is why is Obama and the Obama Administration even worried about the point you make? You’d think they’d want to get the Congress holding hearings that will shock the conscience of the American people on just how brutal and barbaric the Bush Administration was. Just thinking of the distraction to the GOP having to continually take a position that is pro-torture leading up till the next election should get them salivating about doing it to the GOP. But, for some reason–perhaps a blackmail, skeletons in the Democratic closet thing–that ain’t happening?

      It really is worrying when politicians believe that airing and clearing out barbaric past behaviors is some how bad for their own business and agenda, is it not? For that seems to be the agenda of those who would be tyrants and further the barbarisms, not those who will lead the world to a more kind and just place to exist.

  19. tanbark says:

    [email protected] Except, are you saying that going after Cheyney, etc. for their treatment of prisoners is “political winner for Obama”?

    If so, I just don’t see it. I think it will tie he and his people up in knots (as it is ALREADY doing) at a time then they, and we, badly need to be united on healthcare, and with the mid-terms around the corner, on getting us out of the clusterfucks.

    • JThomason says:

      Yours is just another species of the exigency argument where principle is sacrificed for the sake of expediency. Its a slippery slope. Health care has its place. So does rule of law.

      • bmaz says:

        And, of course, the eight year statutes start running next month on the first war crime/torture offenses after 9/11 and keep on running every day thereafter.

    • postmodernprimate says:

      Because, at a time when we need every ounce of clout that we can muster to get that public option, and to help Joe and Jane six-pak get affordable healthcare, haring off after Cheyney and his SS-lite, however moral it may be, is clearly blowing off capital that we need, and are losing, every day.

      Obama/Rahm don’t need political capital to feign support for a public option or to pass “reform” which is nothing more than a giant gift to AHIP. THEY WERE NEVER FOR A PUBLIC OPTION. It’s time to give that fantasy up. When the administration finally mounted a determined, aggressive campaign using message discipline and the bully pulpit to frame the opposition as petulant, irrational zealots, the opposition they chose was not opponents of health reform but their entire constituency for having the temerity to hold them to their words.

  20. tanbark says:

    [email protected] It is. But I’ve believed and said, all along, that Obama/we are in deep ca-ca, with our two “wars of liberation”, and the economy. We have to ask of every fight we pick, “What’s in it for us, down the road?”

    Will it help us succeed at promulgating progressive causes in the future?

    And as I’ve asked so many times: Where are the indictments and convictions of Cheyney and/or his minions, going to come from?

    What are the chances of getting them? And no one wants to talk about that. Except, one poster answered “90%” which qualifies her for the Doug Feith “dumbest person on the planet” award, if she was serious. Which I doubt, seriously.

    Too many americans simply do not have the stomach for trials, especially, american trials, of the bush-cheyney gang, nor, their handservants. Going for them now makes no political sense.
    Hell, I’ll go you one better; in the context of what’s coming, it doesn’t make any MORAL sense, because it will cost us so much support that we are going to desperately need when Obama starts to get us out of Iraq. He has to do that, or run the high risk of being a one-term president.

    The torments that we have inflicted on that country, not to mention Afghanistan, are far, far, worse than anything done to prisoners, and they are every bit as premeditated. The best we can do is get out and remind them that they have an opportunity to make the huge compromises necessary to holding the place together, or to partition it peacefully. (which, my 2C, is a more realistic, if still unlikely, scenario)

    There has been a lot of blogwork to try to gin up enough outrage to force Obama to move on BushCo trials. All that we have for it is Holder’s tepid investigation, which Panetta, as head of Langley, is vociferously opposed to. This fight will not help us. We can’t “win” it, since it involves one of his most important appointees.

    Is there a statute of limitations on these torture issues? Or on lying about them? I haven’t heard of one. Let’s get the hell out of one of the clusterfucks, deal with that leaving: give us one more seat on the Supreme Court; have some more of the truth come out…and then we’ll see what the political landscape looks like.

    • JThomason says:

      Ok. Now I see where your insight around sniping arises. Leave me your email address and I will be happy to go offline with you on this earnestly and in depth. But for goodness sake why not respect the thread and the good intentions of those who think torture prosecutions are important.

    • timbo says:

      There is no “statute of limitations” on war crimes. The failure of the American government to come clean on a whole host of issues related to torture of prisoners and the conduct of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is a failure of leadership and judgment at that level. To say that we should continue to ignore that ongoing failure in judgment in the hopes that the same folks demonstrating that failure daily will somehow solve some of the other problems of our nation and those problems that need to be resolved in the world as a whole is, frankly, a continuation of the promulgated stupidity we’ve been witness to day in and day out over the past nine years.

      • bmaz says:

        There absolutely IS a statute of limitations on war crimes in the US, and it is eight years unless the act directly causes death.

        • timbo says:

          How many deaths do you think have been caused under the war crimes statutes in the Bush Administration? My guess is that its more than a hundred…given that we went to war in Iraq under false pretenses…basically, our government lied to the UN about the need for that war. The real question now is whether the tortures and thugs from the past administration killed folks while trying to get them to “confess!” that Iraq had WMDs prior to our invasion of Iraq. Look at that angle and it becomes clear that in an ideal world there would at least be an investigation of what happened so we don’t go willy-nilly invading countries and killing without some sort of legal constraints put on such audacity.

          • bmaz says:

            My current understanding is, in the terms I think you are contemplating, about somewhere a little over a hundred. The problem I see is that for a variety of reasons, one of which you touch on somewhat, I think those are not the strongest cases to go after and there are a limited subset of people involved in those. If you want cooperating witnesses, you have to have leverage, and the passage of time is squandering that at light speed and the real crimes that, as you correctly note, are behind all this, at the top of the food chain, are being more and more accepted with each day. The momentum is being drained; this is not something we can just put off and then pick back up.

            • timbo says:

              The real problem is that the malaise, of which these crimes are terrible symptoms, will get worse and the cure will be much more painful than it would be now through a quick administration of fresh air.

              –The Choir?

  21. tanbark says:

    Ahh, but JT, “winning” has it’s place, too. Can you tell us what you think the odds are on winning indictments and convictions of Cheyney, etc?

  22. tanbark says:

    8 YEARS???!!!

    And you guys want to hamstring Obama’s administration in his first 7 months?

    With Panetta and that “senior aide” in a screaming match, coupled with the democratic disarray on healthcare, the repubs are grinning like Cheshire cats.

    Under the table, the smart ones are like: “Absolutely! Dick Cheyney did terrible things. You people should put ALL of your chips on going after him. I’m sure that 2-3rds of the american people will side with you…as will the 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court.

    • timbo says:

      If the Supreme Court does not stand for the actual rule of law and legal enforcement, we should know that now, rather than be afraid to find out.

  23. tanbark says:

    JT, there is nothing that I would say to you that I’m not saying here, and I disagree that asking you what you think the chances are for getting indictments and then convictions of Cheyney and his crew is “disrespecting” this thread, then you and I have a different idea of respect.

    • JThomason says:

      Its not important at this juncture. I can see clearly you entirely miss the point and are going to turn over tables for attention until you feel vindicated.

    • timbo says:

      The issue is not whether or not there will be any convictions, the question IS will there be any attempt made to rein in the lawless behavior of the Bush Administration and any other lawlessness being conducted under the Obama Administration. Why you would like to continue to allow this lawlessness and ignoring it is for you to know. Giving up the idea that there should be accountability in government is not a good idea…in a democracy. It might be a good idea for the cogniscenti in a dictatorship however. Where do you stand–are you for the Bill of Rights and for the Geneva Convention Against Torture or not?

  24. tanbark says:

    I would add, a large part of the reason we’re in such a fix, is that people on the left were afraid to ask the tough questions, but went along with the prevailing winds. The questions I’ve asked about the costs of going after Cheyney (which we are now seeing) relative to the benefits of it, are fair and valid.

    That you don’t want to even discuss them should tell you something about the argument.

    • JThomason says:

      Right and happily join you in hijacking the thread, no thanks. My apologies to others for my apparent emergent culpability in that regard as it stands.

      Edit: By the way I did offer you the opportunity to convince me.

    • Mason says:

      I would add, a large part of the reason we’re in such a fix, is that people on the left were afraid to ask the tough questions, but went along with the prevailing winds. The questions I’ve asked about the costs of going after Cheyney (which we are now seeing) relative to the benefits of it, are fair and valid.

      I believe you are seriously mistaken to criticize the propriety of torture investigations and prosecutions based on a cost/benefit analysis of the political consequences. Justice Robert Jackson, our Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, did not do that and Holder shouldn’t do it either. I’m not certain, for example, that it would ever make political sense to prosecute former public officials, who are members of the opposition party, for war crimes or crimes against humanity.

      The relevant issue is one of duty and responsibility to uphold the Rule of Law so that citizens have faith that everyone is subject to it. One of the main reasons we are on the road to ruin is we now have a two tiered system of justice in which the privileged wealthy few are not subject to the law. This breeds contempt for law that cannot be meaningfully measured according to some cost/benefit political analysis of short term consequences. This is why the Department of Justice must operate independently from the President.

      We cannot afford not to investigate and prosecute because that is a foundational step to restoring our shattered faith in equal justice under law and the legitimacy of our government.

  25. tanbark says:

    A moment, please: are you saying that indicting and convicting Cheyney and his people is not important at this juncture? Please clarify.

  26. tanbark says:

    I mean, if you don’t care about seeing this through to a rule-of-law ending, or shooting for that, then what IS the point that I’m missing?

  27. tanbark says:

    I’ll take that as a “No, I don’t want to talk about what the chances are of getting Cheyney indicted or convicted.

    And again, if you think that asking about the cost of doing it is hi-jacking the thread, then it is best that you don’t reply to my questions.

  28. tanbark says:

    “Due process is not a horse race.”

    I beg to differ. Right now, practically everything is a “horse race”.

    But if that’s your-get-out-of-town point, you’re welcome to it.

    Except, squandering political capital on something which you’re nearly certain to lose, and which you even admit “is not important at this juncture” in the situation we’re currently in, is asking for the hammering we’re probably going to get, a short ways down the road.

  29. Palli says:

    TO tanbark: The issues are of the same cloth…A nation that cares not for the health of the least of their brethren is a nation that can torture the humanity out of their POWs or the Cheney/Bush euphemism detainees.
    The released documents, even dedacted, read as the sins of the death panels of the Nazis.

  30. Mary says:

    What a lot of these stories seem to really highlight is tha there is no direction from the top. There are squabbles bc Obama is MIA on setting rules, boundaries and limitations. And you don’t have a Cheney. Certainly not in Also MIA Biden, but also not in Emmanuel (for all his bulldog reputation) or anyone else.

    They highlight the voids he’s left and the voids he’s creating – his lack of leadership and his lack of desire to own the process or consequences of decisionmaking.

    • timbo says:

      Mary, thank you for pointing this out. Yeah, those who are governing are simply placeholders for agendas that we see being carried out but for which they won’t take official responsibility. That’s it in a nutshell and that’s why the bad stuff, the illegalities, all that needs to be followed up on…so we actually get leaders who are and will be held accountable when they mess up, when they break the law, and when they try to cover up their misdeeds, committed with our tax dollars and under the color of whatever “authority” that they’ve been sullying for years.

  31. tanbark says:

    [email protected]; the issue is to survive politically, and to put our chips on the things that will helps america and the world, the most.

    As I’ve been saying for a while now, I don’t think that we can even get an indictment of Dick Cheyney and his people, much less a conviction that will stand, given the current makeup of the Supreme Court.

    What do you think the chances are of getting those?

    And, as I posted upthread, the Justice Department and the CIA are on a collision course on this, and I think the only winner from this is going to be the republicans.

    • perris says:

      not gonna agree with that, the issue is to survive as a country and have our children survive

      Cheney, Rumsfeld, wolfowitz all did this before, for “expedience” we didn’t prosecute them then and we pay the price today, our children will pay a greater price tomorrow if they are not charged and it will get worse as they get better at their depravity

      if this country is to survive this MUST be done

      as far as the DOJ and the CIA being in collusion, there is CIA and then there is CIA

      I might even think the CIA is involved with getting us the information we do have that sets in motion these lumbering wheels of justice

    • bmaz says:

      Good god, we must abandon the rule of law and structure of human rights protection immediately to service Barack Obama’s political ambitions!!!!

      It is the only reasonable thing to do!!!

      His screwed up compromised healthcare bill he is selling out to Blue Dogs by design is so much more important than stopping the US from being an institutionalized torture shop!!!!

      Just a fucking brilliant rationale.

  32. tanbark says:

    If Obama (and Holder) keep pushing Panetta on this, he could resign, and right now that would be a disaster for Obama. I imagine that Panetta has told the president that if he wants to rack the CIA, that he WILL resign.

    I hold no brief for the CIA, their initials should stand for the “Corporate Intelligence Agency” since their agenda and actions have reflected that, all the way back to Allen Dulles, but for Obama to use his evaporating political capital to try to put members of the CIA in the dock right now, would be insane. Panetta HAS to stand up for the agency and try to limit any investigation by Holder. If some of the people who condoned or even committed torture skate, I’d a lot rather see that, that to see Obama hamstrung in a fight that he, and we, simply cannot win, and of which, the republicans will make a TON of political hay.

    I’ve been asking what the readers here think are the chances of indicting or convicting Cheyney are. To a person, they have refused to answer…which is, in a way, honest, because they know the chances are slim and none.

    But that means that they STILL want to put our dwindling pile of political chips on a number which has practically no chance of coming up. And I don’t want to see that. As I said, it’s after-the-fact overpriced conscience-salve.
    There are too many critically important things coming down the pike for us to climb on that rickety train. We need to save our ammo. As Bmaz points out, we’ve got 8 years to go after them, and in that time, we’ll almost certainly have another SCOTUS seat to fill, and anyone who doesn’t think that will be critical in upholding any convictions on the torturers isn’t paying attention.

  33. tanbark says:

    So, Perris, if we prosecute them, what do you think the chances are of convicting them?

    And if we don’t get a conviction, or if the courts won’t uphold it, will that be better or worse than not prosecuting them?

    • perris says:

      you know, I said this about impeachment, that we HAD to make the case evenn if the trial failed,, because if we did not the country would suffer

      the record must be etched for posterity, today might not judge them guilty but the record will stand clear, and the fact that we did not let thhose crimes go unchallenged, that will stand like a monument for all to see.

      they must be brought to trial if only to show that crimes against our constitution WILL be investigated

      if crimes are not brought then these annd other criminals WILL renew, revisit, adjust and re-do

      we have no choice, othewise the invitation for more of the same is clear

  34. tanbark says:

    Dear BMaz; I did not know that Barak Obama’s political ambitions and ours were so divergent. :o)

    I too, would like to see him standing up more for progressive issues, but, as you, along with the rest of the posters on here keep ignoring, or at least, denying, if he stands up for trying to indict and convict Dick Cheyney, etcera, he is probably going to lose, and lose big.

    And as we’re already seeing, it’s causing him problems in his administration, at a time when he’s on the cusp of serious loss of support.

    It seems to me that you guys’ “rationale” is that it doesn’t matter if this parse-hunt is splitting his administration at a time when he’s fighting for a better healthcare reform bill.

    It’s simple: Putting Dick Cheyney on trial is not going to help us politically.

    It’s not going to help the economy.

    It’s not going to help us get out of Iraq, or Afghanistan.

    It’s not going to endear Obama to anything like a majority of american voters, since about half of them supported George Bush in two elections.

    And yet you people are going after this like it was the Holy Grail.

    It’s…irrational.

  35. tanbark says:

    BTW, let me be clear; when I say that prosecuting Cheyney and his coterie is not going to “help us politicall”, I’m talking about democrats and progressives.

    And I’ll go you one better: The republicans, or at least, the smart ones, will LOVE it. They will throw Cheyney and a few other people so far under the bus that you’d need to feed him with a slingshot, and then sit back and weep crocodile tears of anguish at the witchhunt for a good amurkan. Any trial will be a showpiece, a rallying point for all of the peckerheads who put these people in power; the same ones running their Munich BeerHall putsch tactics at the Townhalls.

    I’m willing to see divisiveness, but not on this. Everyone’s feet are set in the concrete, and it simply will not help our cause one iota, to put these people in a courtroom and then watch them be acquitted, or their conviction overturned by the 5-4 conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme court. Instead, the losing effort will hurt us, and it will empower the warbots.

    We need to leave this alone for now. Cheyney’s not going anywhere, unless it’s hell, if he dies soon.

  36. tanbark says:

    Timbo, I think the mistake you are making is thinking that the american voters will be shocked.

    We’ve had photo sequences of entire Iraqi families reduced to hamburger by our checkpoints in Iraq.

    Abu Grahib was like an ongoing porn/snuff flick, with cute lady soldiers hovering over dead Iraqis while giving us a smiling thumbs up.

    Our senses are inured to this. I promise you.

    Collectively, we have very little outrage left, especially, coming from the progressive viewpoint. I think the notion that bringing this out will result in a wellspring of anger at Cheyney and Bush is mistaken. It is a fishing expedition, and it won’t matter if it’s a MORAL fishing expedition. There are too many people in powerful positions that would be hurt by it. You do understand, that hundreds of thousands of people who had jackshit to do with attacking us, have died violently in Iraq, don’t you? How many prisoners have died in our custody?

    After Stephen Green and his platoon mates raped that 14 year old Iraqi girl and then killed and burned she and her family to try to conceal their crime, how much outrage were the people on here expressing about that?

    True, Green was brought to some measure of accounting, but my point is, that we have seen so much of the result of Bush’s lunatic crusade, that showing us more of it, in a courtroom, in which there’s a fair chance that all of the videos and photos of the torture have either been destroyed, or wouldn’t be admitted on technicalities, is, to me, practically useless.

    Can you tell me what we will gain, IF we can indict Cheyney, and will you be satisfied with just indicting he and his cohorts, and then watching them walk, as they likely will?

  37. tanbark says:

    Bmaz, thanks.

    And, Timbo, sorry; our posts crossed. But I have to ask, will you feel satisfaction IF the culprits are indicted, and then get off, or do you believe that there is a fair chance for convictions, and that some court wouldln’t overturn the convictions?

    • bmaz says:

      By the way, despite our relative differences in some regards on how to proceed, I will grant you that there are unlikely to be criminal charges brought out of all this. At this point, I simply want the full investigation and reportage of what happened, how and why. My concern with the statute issue is really more one of leverage for getting testimony and cooperation of people involved (this is how prosecutors get places as you know from having watched Fitzgerald) than a hard core belief that charges will ever result, and that is probably not inherently clear from my constant ranting about the statute issue.

  38. tanbark says:

    Mary DOES make a good point. but it means we get off topic some.

    Obama’s big mistake was misjudging how much a lot of americans would have supported him if he had come in like gangbusters. Closing Gitmo in his first month. Dropping one hell of a healthcare bill in the congressional hopper. Naming the war(s) for the twin bloody fuckups they are…etc…

    We wanted a leader.

    Instead, he came in and effectively asked americans:

    “What would you like me to do?”

    And the fact is, that a lot of us don’t KNOW. We know we’re up shit creek, but we don’t know how to get out.

    That Obama has been MOST decisive about continuing the bush policy of handing the keys to the U.S. Treasury to some giant corporations, is a sad fact. Maybe they WERE too big to fail. I don’t know.

    But I believe the crunch is going to the two wars. We can’t sustain those, and if Obama tries, he’s going to be a one-term president.
    And to get us out of them, he’s going to have to be superpresident, with a ton of clout and support. And there is not a ton of support for indicting Cheyney and other warbots, either for their monumental fuckups in general, or for their specific support of torture. And if we try to do it, and fail (as I believe we will) then we won’t come out of it as honorable “winners”; we will be losers, and it will make it much tougher for Obama to get us out of the shitmires.

    And that will make or break us; not whether or not we put Cheyney into minimum security for a year or three.

    • bmaz says:

      You know, what you just said is exactly what drives me bonkers. There are not a plethora of moments where there is an intersection of man, moment and mood to make wholesale changes for the public and long term better. 9/11 was one and Bush not only squandered it, but abused it for the evil and wrong. Obama’s inauguration was another, maybe not quite as powerful as 9/11 but still ripe with opportunity, and it just seems like he has frittered away so much into the nothingness. I still REALLY like the guy, but what he has done, and is doing, has driven me batshit nuts. It not only did not need to go that way for us, he would be better off too having gone more “all in” on what he said and promised when campaigning and in his books etc. It is very disappointing. And I want the healthcare reform every bit as much as you, but the things I hear do not lend the promise out of that that ought to be either. Bleech.

      • timbo says:

        I think that we’re agreed that it’s better to swallow the pill of an investigation now. It’s better for the country and our legal institutions if it is done now. It is better for rule by chance if we do not.

  39. tanbark says:

    Bmaz, I would LOVE to see the whole shittaree laid out like a filleted flounder. I just think that we’re being too impatient. I have this notion; this wish; that Obama will begin, in the next few months, a calm but firm review of all of the bullshit that went into getting us into the wars, and that people will listed, or enough people to protect he and the dems in the mid-terms, for the short term. And the torture was and is, a symptom of that stupidity, callousness, and arrogance. And that, as we go through that purgative time, we can and will look at the shameful things that were done in the name of “freedom” and “liberation”.

    I hope that americans will face the truth of how bloodily, expensively, wrong was the bush administration in dragging us over the cliff, and that they will support Obama as he extracts us, first from Iraq, and then, from Afghanistan. With the chips falling where they will.

    If they don’t, then all of this back and forth, will, I’m afraid, be smoke in the wind, and we will descend into a Churchillian/Orwellian dark night of a tyranny more subtle than that of the Nazis, but tyranny, nevertheless. We’ve been flirting with it for 8 years.

  40. Jeff Kaye says:

    What a great thread, much to chew on. I’m only sorry I came so late.

    @7 – Thanks, Jason. As with many of my articles, they were stimulated by someone in press or blogosphere. In this case, Marcy’s questions got me going.

    @10 – SP, Thanks. That was my take on ODNI, but thought maybe I was missing something. I agree that the role of the Pentagon in the torture scandal does not get the coverage it deserves. In this sense, the CIA is a lightning rod, but it is also obviously more than that. Whenever I tread down that hall of mirrors, I’m not sure what to think.

    @16 – Yes, we need to sort out this mess. But the main question is this: what kind of a country do we want to be? What kind of a society? And, at this point in history, what kind of a world will we have?

    @26 – Kind words, drational, but I don’t belong in their company. I’m glad to think I have made some good contributions, but I don’t do what Marcy and Jason do day after day, and with high quality. Plus there are other contributors that may not always show up here, but on the torture issue are primary players (like Andy Worthington, or consider Scahill’s latest work on Blackwater). I strive to be half as good as all these people mentioned.

    @54 – tanbark, we cannot parse great evil. The evils are connected. The fight for accountability on torture is not a “conscience-salve”, it is intricately tied up with the fight against militarism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need for basic human rights, health care, prison reform, etc. As the great Enlightenment figures understood, the campaign against torture was part of the whole struggle, and maybe uniquely so, as that crime exists at the nexus of state, army (intel agency today, too), national policy, racism, equality and justice. In terms maybe the U.S. public can understand, it’s a fight for the nation’s soul.

    @78 – Mary, you hit the nail on the head. The question of questions is where will we find the leadership?

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