How Dick Cheney Cowed Obama

Mary has already linked to this article on how and why Greg Craig got thrown out in comments. But I wanted to make sure everyone read it. The short version of the timeline it describes is:

April 16: Obama releases the torture memos

April 17: Greg Craig moves to release Uighurs in US

April 20: Dick Cheney says mean things about Obama

Late April: A drop in Obama’s ratings on national security

April 23: Administration says it will release torture photos

April 24: Someone (!) leaks Craig’s plan on Uighurs to Congress

May 8: Obama flip-flops on torture photos

Mid-May: Obama flip-flops on military commissions and release of Uighurs

May 21: Obama’s Archive speech marks completion of national security flip-flop

In other words, after having made the right decision on the torture memos, the Obama Administration let Cheney beat them up over doing so. They did not respond publicly. Rather, they simply caved.

Precisely what Cheney wanted them to do.

I guess Dick Cheney is right–Obama can’t stand up to terrorists. Terrorists like Dick Cheney.

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101 replies
  1. perris says:

    you know, up till now cheney has failed at everything he’s ever done, imagine how inept obama must be to be cheney’s first sucess story

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Yes, this is all about how poor Obama’s grasp of power is, and particularly of what he might be up against vis-a-vis Cheney and the national security establishment. And how quickly Obama caved. The lack of a “back-up” plan. One could go on and on (and see a similar pattern in the health care battle).

      @8 – Jim, you’re absolutely right re Hayden using arguments he knew were false, whether it’s the supposed ability of “terrorists” to prepare for torture, or the faux-naif presentation re applying sleep deprivation onto a ticking time bomb “terrorist”. The actual naivete is all on Obama’s side, for not understanding that this was bogus BS. I really think he doesn’t understand it, or rather, “understands” it only though what “experts” from CIA’s CTC, or various colonels and generals and admirals tell him.

      @9 – Hayden not only has things to hide, as former head of NSA, a top military officer, a recent head of CIA, he is one of the primary architects of torture campaign. If he did not help originate it, the NSA certainly was used in its SIGINT components to transfer crucial pieces of information, and certainly was aware of everything going on. Later, he helped administer it from within the Company itself.

      @14 – You write:

      Ending the torture policy actually is the least of the issues. At least for the Obama Administration however long it lasts, the policy is public, no official is authorized to sponsor any interrogation practice that goes beyond the Army manual, and all interrogations will be conducted by the trained FBI team, which might opt to include persons selected from other agencies as essentially consultants. This covers procedure and content, and puts the interrogation process “in house” as opposed to the task of a private contractor. Interrogators are in a chain of command, and the information gained through interrogation belongs to the Feds, not to an outsourced private contractor.

      I don’t know on what you base this analysis, which is wrong in its particulars, and therefore will be in its assumptions and conclusions. First, the Army Field Manual allows for torture, particularly when its abusive techniques are used in combination. This is not just my conclusion, but that of Amnesty International, the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Center for Constitutional Rights, and others.

      Second, you say the new “high-value” interrogation team will be run by “all interrogations will be conducted by the trained FBI team.” That is not correct. The HIG is supposed to be only for very “high-value” suspects, not for “all interrogations.” Second, the HIG is staffed by FBI, CIA, and others. The FBI is titularly in charge, but the constitution of the actual interrogation teams is worked out within the HIG and is not privy to us, and certainly, in any case, will not be only FBI.

      Finally, there never was any question of the content of interrogations being in the hands of contractors versus the government. In fact, these contracting agencies are only the same governmental actors, in most cases, privatized in order to enrich the black operatives involved, to provide deniability, and to escape the pathetically thin amount of oversight there may be.

      To conclude, torture is hardly “the least of the issues”. No, it goes right to the heart of the issue. And so goes the torture issue, at this point, so goes the nation.

      • bobschacht says:

        Thanks, all, for the high level of commentary on this issue.

        Jeff wrote, starting with a quote:

        @14 – [Sara wrote]:

        Ending the torture policy actually is the least of the issues. At least for the Obama Administration however long it lasts, the policy is public, no official is authorized to sponsor any interrogation practice that goes beyond the Army manual, and all interrogations will be conducted by the trained FBI team, which might opt to include persons selected from other agencies as essentially consultants. This covers procedure and content, and puts the interrogation process “in house” as opposed to the task of a private contractor. Interrogators are in a chain of command, and the information gained through interrogation belongs to the Feds, not to an outsourced private contractor.

        I don’t know on what you base this analysis, which is wrong in its particulars, and therefore will be in its assumptions and conclusions. First, the Army Field Manual allows for torture, particularly when its abusive techniques are used in combination. This is not just my conclusion, but that of Amnesty International, the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Center for Constitutional Rights, and others.

        This of course is a reference to the infamous Appendix M to the Army Field Manual. Obama’s administration would do well to expunge this Appendix from the manual and declare it completely out of bounds.

        I would like to believe Sara’s commentary, and think there may be something to it, but I’d like to read her response to Mary and Jeff’s critique.

        Obama has a hellacious set of issues to deal with, including getting Health reform, and the economy (esp. unemployment). He can’t be fighting on too many fronts at once. His hair will be white by the end of his first term.

        Bob in AZ

    • Leen says:

      Hey the fat cats are dividing up the oil in Iraq. Not such a bad job by Cheney. The Bush administration thugs and murderers are all still running free. I think Cheney has had many successes!

      Bmaz thanks for this time line. Who was telling OBama that releasing these pictures would do harm to national security.

      Christ Cheney does not give a rats ass about soldiers lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. That yellow bellied coward sent soldiers to their deaths based on his pack of lies. He has been quite successful in his book

  2. tjbs says:

    cheney’s filthy lucre, from the crimes committed during his war, is a success in his own mind..
    As to the photo’s, imagine the evidence of war crimes and the torturers in these photos. These goons are what the President is up against led by their chief darkside goon ,dick and they all didn’t retire on 1/20/09.

    Myself,I value democracy by an informed citizenry. The freedom of the press is meant to expose the worst and best Government actions to foster debate on the way forward. These actions delay the Justice deserved to not only the tortured but the many murders,also.

  3. Jim White says:

    Aargh! The caption for the photo of Craig accompanying the article says it all:

    Obama turned to Craig to roll back Bush-era policies in the war on terrorism. But by September, Craig had been sidelined by pragmatists.

    It’s just not practical to get rid of all that Bush shit. We need it, you know.

    Grrr.

    • jrosenb0 says:

      Inspired by your comment, I submitted the following to the White House — I’d like to think that drop-by-drop we might get somewhere.

      Dear Madame or Sir:

      It is once again disappointing to see another indication that support for human rights is not that high a priority as reflected in the departure of Mr. Craig.

      As noted in a comment:

      “Aargh! The caption for the photo of Craig accompanying the article says it all:

      Obama turned to Craig to roll back Bush-era policies in the war on terrorism. But by September, Craig had been sidelined by pragmatists.”

      I hope you can appreciate the lack of credibility that is generated when President Obama speaks to China and the world about the importance of human rights and then his own Administration ‘turns a blind eye’ to the offenses of the USA in this regard in the past and even continues to defend and perpetuate such actions in the present.

      There is a Tibetan proverb: “Everything rests on the tips of one’s motivation.” What is this Administration’s motivation?

      Sincerely,

      Dr. Rosenberg
      Arlington, VA

  4. phred says:

    Just out of idle curiosity, has Obama stood up to any Republican yet?

    Given his desperation to please them, I suspect lesser lights in the GOP could cow Obama just as easily as Cheney. Cheney just has more to gain by successfully doing so.

    • kindGSL says:

      If Cheney can pull off and cover up 9/11, how hard would it be for him to have Obama killed and his wife and children tortured? Easy.

      If I was Obama I would be careful not to piss off the big guy too. The only way out of this is to expose them all.

  5. Jim White says:

    Just how stupid is Hayden? He had to be aware of this:

    Craig won early victories for the liberal agenda. Against resistance from the intelligence agencies, he drafted a series of Executive Orders that ended the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” of suspected terrorists, suspended extrajudicial powers for holding and trying detainees and set a one-year deadline to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Obama signed the orders two days into his Administration. Craig was delivering much of the change Obama had promised during the campaign.

    Just two days into office, Obama shut down (at least on paper) the torture program. As head of CIA, Hayden also had to know the history of MK-ULTRA and the abject failure of its attempts to turn minds into “blank slates”. So how in the world do we get this from him?

    “What are you doing?” Hayden, just retired, demanded in a March 18 call to Craig. If Obama released the memos, Hayden argued, al-Qaeda would be able to train its warriors to resist the techniques described in their contents.

    There is no way to “train” to “resist” the techniques employed. Waterboarding is drowning and there is no way to avoid the physiological response that takes over the body. The effects on the brain of extended sleeplessness and extended isolation also cannot be trained against. The techniques employed take the body to the limits of physiology and innate biological responses take over and push aside all voluntary actions. They also hopelessly scramble the brain and leave the victim brain-damaged for life, as shown over and over in CIA programs in the past.

    So, was Hayden shamelessly using arguments he knew to be false, or just so freakin’ stupid that he really thought those evil geniuses in al Qaeda could develop a way to overcome what we had been doing but had already announced we would never do again? Either way, he comes off as evil.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’ve long been wondering what Hayden had to hide about his role in torture. We know what Tenet had to hide (not least the fact that Langley ordered up extra torture for AZ that even the interrogators believed was unnecessary).

      We’ve got a sense of what Porter Goss is hiding (including whatever role he had in the torture tape destruction).

      So what is Hayden hiding? I suspect it pertains to using sleep deprivation after it had been found to be torture and after SCOTUS told Bush that GCs do apply.

      • kindGSL says:

        It is a circle jerk, a bordello. They have ‘clients’ in all levels of government, judges and police, military ‘trainers’, etc. They have a lot to cover up.

    • fatster says:

      Cheney doesn’t care if we think he’s evil or stupid or whatever. Cheney just wants this discussion to stop since he knows if it goes on long enough and more revelations keep popping up, that he is personally at risk for some legal unpleasantness.

      Oh, and here’s a video on that riding academy in Lithuania.

      • bmaz says:

        I love the onscreen caption “CIA Torture Center Uncovered” in that ABC video clip. Heh, that’s got to piss off the government. And as a nice parting touch, the facility is now owned and run by the Lithuanian Intelligence Services; glad to see we were able to leave a former Soviet state with a shiny new torture gulag.

      • kindGSL says:

        I can testify as to the steps he, or somebody, was willing to take to shut me up. Most of it involved spying, various torture methods like noise and electronic interruptions to my internet access.

        I also definitely felt that my life was endangered. I WAS terrorized. (BTW, PTSD sucks!)

    • kindGSL says:

      I’d like to know how Hayden thought al-Qaeda would be able to train its warriors to ‘resist’ broken bottles shoved up their ass.

  6. GregB says:

    How beautifully and corruptly poetic.

    Using old Soviet satellite nations as mini gulags.

    Meet the new boss.

    -G

  7. klynn says:

    So what is Hayden hiding? I suspect it pertains to using sleep deprivation after it had been found to be torture and after SCOTUS told Bush that GCs do apply.

    Hope that can be found out.

  8. Sara says:

    Well, I think the Time Article illustrates quite well why this is not exactly an easy problem to solve. It is so easy during an electorial campaign to claim a broad policy objective — and so difficult in governing to actually execute.

    Ending the torture policy actually is the least of the issues. At least for the Obama Administration however long it lasts, the policy is public, no official is authorized to sponsor any interrogation practice that goes beyond the Army manual, and all interrogations will be conducted by the trained FBI team, which might opt to include persons selected from other agencies as essentially consultants. This covers proceedure and content, and puts the interrogation process “in house” as opposed to the task of a private contractor. Interrogators are in a chain of command, and the information gained through interrogation belongs to the Feds, not to an outsourced private contractor. In my mind, all to the good as a forward looking policy. I can well see that some former Bush Officials who have gone on to well paid positions in the Intelligence Industrial Complex, might not like the policy all that much. Hayden, as I understand it, has moved on to a position as rainmaker with Booz Allan, and this policy takes a whole area of information management out of the mix of things he can contract-consult about. Moreover, it prevents firms such as Booz Allan from commercially dealing with private organizations and other countries with respect to new and future gathered information. I think it is smart policy.

    But the real problem with the Bush/Cheney era proceedure, and indeed with the close focus on torture is quite different, we miss the point when we just frame this as torture. The problem is what I’ve termed a disposal problem. Disposal comes in all textures and forms, and in the end the US cannot resolve the matter alone — we need to internationalize the search for solutions.

    So what is “Disposal” — it is all about what you do with non-state actors who have or are participating in illegal and terroristic activity when you apprehend them. For instance, we had a disposal problem (and still sorta have) because we covertly supported various Cuban proxy outfits which tried to overthrow Castro’s government. What do you do with such outfits when they fail, and have sufficent political influence to demand your protection? Did we really want to create a few political districts in New Jersey and Florida where single issue Cuban Policy trumped all else? Essentially we evolved into a disposal practice of letting time and generations negate single issue foreign policy passions and motivations, and stop the tendency to engage in symbolic anti-Castro actions.

    If we think about it clearly, the Jihadists present not only the US, but a whole flock of other countries with a very similar disposal problem — what exactly do you do with such non-state actors who are determined to wreck havoc where they find an opening that fits their fairly obscure religious/political agenda?

    Bush/Cheney answered that question with narrow, half-baked and unconstitutional approaches. Gitmo, Black Prison sites, law enforcement that ultimately didn’t pass muster with the Courts, and skipped that bit in the constitution about Congress having the power to establish Courts. All this was layered on with a narrow nationalism and a fearful environment that precluded serious criticism, at least in some measure because it was clothed in Faux Legal language and symbols.

    It seems to me that Obama’s task is to find a solution to the terrorist disposal problem that ultimately has some degree of international sponsorship because it represents agreement among participating nations regarding the nature of the problem, and a workable solution, that does not conflict seriously with various national interests. This is far more difficult than just outlawing torture and making certain none of your policy or proceedure supports torture. And part of finding such a solution does involve squaring off with our own nationalistic unilateralists such as Cheney and his crowd….ultimately we have to come up with a better idea that enjoys at least some degree of common international acceptance.

    To this end, I find argument about whether to release or not release torture pictures pretty much irrelevant. When has the release of such documentation ever really resolved matters? My books on the late middle ages are full of line drawings and etchings of Reformation Era torture, drawings and quarterings, use of the rack etc. I have books with descriptions of the Confederate Prison Camp at Andersonville, other books documenting how Nazi extermination actually worked. Did any of this documentation ever stop torture? Yes, I think people need to know about it, and know that it was policy of States (including ours) at various times, but has the knowledge ever stopped such policy? I simply don’t find the evidence for such a claim. I do find evidence it leads to a passion for revenge. The point is, I think, to stop the practice and any cycle that might follow. So how is this done?

    • phred says:

      Sara, why can’t we simplify matters by treating your “non-state actors” as good old fashioned criminals? Get warrants when there is probable cause, make arrests, prosecute, and incarcerate. I really do not understand why we all-of-a-sudden need a brand spanking new classification and “disposal” system just because BushCo was a corrupt and malevolent administration.

        • gundersonrogers says:

          Does not international law place such actors at risk of international courts?
          The ABC news link suggests Lithuanians are not pleased with being involved:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6AIqETSobQ
          Perhaps the negatives of economic globalism would be moderated if legal globalism were to supplant nationalism in the context of nations using national boundaries as safe havens.
          Spain’s law that permits that nation to pursue and apprehend international culprits might be a national model of a practice that needs international teeth.

        • phred says:

          That’s a good point, but how important are the terrorists that stay out of the country? The London and Madrid bombers were all in the country and were treated as criminals. Why are we the only country that can’t manage to do the same? All of the 9-11 guys, Timothy McVeigh and his buddies, and the 1993 WTC bombers were all here. Only 9-11 prompted a non-criminal response to an attack. I don’t think there is a good argument to be made that we responded properly to the 9-11 attack.

          • Sara says:

            “That’s a good point, but how important are the terrorists that stay out of the country? The London and Madrid bombers were all in the country and were treated as criminals. Why are we the only country that can’t manage to do the same? All of the 9-11 guys, Timothy McVeigh and his buddies, and the 1993 WTC bombers were all here. Only 9-11 prompted a non-criminal response to an attack. I don’t think there is a good argument to be made that we responded properly to the 9-11 attack.”

            I think the evidence is we have to think in terms of “non-state actors” — meaning nationals of various countries who act in terms of something other than another nation state, (i.e., The Government of Pakistan has no interest or participation in randomly bombing the Londer Underground). The “Caliphate” is not another nation state, it is a religious fiction that propels terrorists to commit violence in its name. You have to consider these “non-state actors” as networked by ideology, but also networked by tactics and strategy. Together they commit crimes against a fictional “anti-Caliphate.” But that fictional “anti-Caliphate” is random people riding the Underground in London, and commuters taking trains to work in Madrid. The Madrid bombers had support from linked groups in Morocco and other places in N. Africa, and the Brit/Pakistani suicide bombers in London had some of their number trained in Pakistan, and the trainers remained alive and ready to do more training while they posted to the net the “heroic” Jihad-suicide tapes of the Brit/Pakistani bombers. At this juncture the Brits are not at all satisfied that Pakistan has arrested all the right people who supported the bombing, and Pakistan has not been at all aggressive in going after them. The training camps are in the FATA, and just in the last year has Pakistan been trying hard to deal with those camps. Reality is that Pakistan does not have serious solid control over actions its citizens or residents take to do Jihad in London, it may have laws against it, but it cannot execute those laws. It may well be compromised as factions within the ISI actually support the Jihadist supporters, and power relationships within the Pakistani Government (Civilian Government not really in control of the Army or ISI) prevent exercise of legitimate legal authority.

            In the face of such realities, the question is what should states do so as to fulfill their perfectly legitimate authority to protect their citizens and their geography? Her Majesty’s Government can hardly afford to just give up in the face of this sort of mix of non-state actors who have the intent to randomly kill her subjects. Ultimately the goal has to be to get Pakistan to adequately control its citizens, residents, and geography so this is reality, but that may not be possible anytime soon. In the meantime Queen Liz’s government still has to protect British turf and the British People. Ultimately you are left with the need to clarify catagories so that you get a decent solution to the problem — and understanding “non-state actors” and how international arrangements are made to deal with them may be part of that process. I suggest that the ultimate solution (idealistic solution) is advance to a reality where legitimate governments do control what their own citizens/residents are permitted to do vis a vis another government. Pragmatism is small steps in the direction of the idealized solution.

            To put this in perspective, remember the UN has a commission on Terrorism, and it has not yet been able to come up with a defination that is acceptable to a significant majority of members. One Country’s freedom fighters are another country’s terrorists — and they haven’t yet found a way around that matter. Saudi Arabia would not formally admit that 15 of the hijackers who did 9/11 were Saudi subjects until al-Quada started bombing residential compounds in Saudi Arabia in 2003. Only 7% of Saudi Citizens accept the identity of the hijackers even now. They have been very slow to accept that private Saudi Financing played a role, and that they needed accountability (regulation) for religiously dictated charitable giving. Problem is nested in the relationship between the Saudi ruling family and the clerical establishment, which along with balance of power among tribal interests is how the Al-Saud family retains power. In essence the Saudi royals cannot define terrorism (so as to criminalize it,) unless it passes muster with the Koranic interpretations of the clerical establishment.

            To make it more complex, the basis of law in Western Societies rests in both precident and law passed by formal and legitimate legislative bodies. In Islam, the source of law is in Koranic interpretation done by scholar/clerics, and contained within various schools of Islamic Scholarship. The Shia have a more institutionalized and hierarchial scholar/cleric tradition, the Sunni recognize no true hierarchy within Clerical circles. Any Scholar/Cleric can issue a Fatwa or interpretation of the law. Huge problem, and one way or another you have to find your way around this really basic difference between Law and Culture. How exactly do you arrive at a common understanding of terrorism, or criminal terroristic acts that informs how different national legal systems deal with those responsible, given such a basic difference? If you think you can hand this off to some sort of international court without resolving this basic difference regarding the root of law, I think it important you consider that basic assumption. There simply is no easy answer.

            • Jeff Kaye says:

              Whatever the difficulties involved, one does not have to change the constitutional system and attitudes towards international law to deal with them. The amount of destruction and damage done by those who seek to restore a so-called Caliphate, by “non-state actors”, is minuscule compared to the damage done by the various military adventures of the United States in my own adult lifetime. However, I do not advocate bending the laws and traditions of the United States to deal with the latter either, and propose addressing it using the rights and laws of the United States to clean up this country.

              The “GWOT” was and is played up because the military, intelligence, and ancillary national security and industrial-technical agencies and industries needed something to replace the gravy train that had been the Cold War. The threats of Al Qaeda are a pale reflection of the ICBMs the Kremlin aimed at the U.S. “homeland”. But the ideologues who run this country are insistent that the collective PTSD that watching planeloads of helpless human beings smashed into buildings in a fiery airliner gotterdammerung engendered in the average American, who viewed (and still view) this nightmarish disastrous crime over and over on television and YouTube, that this collective PTSD (and who does not freeze inside when they see a plane fly low over a city skyline) is used to manipulate fear and make Americans dependent and docile upon their leaders.

              That’s what’s happened, and don’t think they aren’t aware of the power of such things. They don’t spend millions on psywar for nothing.

              So, the power of pictures is paramount. Oh yes.

              • Sara says:

                “So, the power of pictures is paramount. Oh yes.”

                But the problem is not one seems to be able to cite a specific historical example in which pictures of torture, or some other form of evil doing, actually moved the policy mountain. What I am questioning is the intellectual dependence on this belief without an evidence bank. I too do not believe torture should be in the tool bag of national policy or practice, but I am trying to suggest that ending that, making sure it will not happen again, has to stand on a more solid footing than just having access to pictures of consequences to look at and study.

                As to the constant loop of planes flying into buildings. I think FDR got it right on that one if you remember the end clause in his famous 1933 pronouncement about Fear. He said that creating or allowing Fear to dominate led to paralysis that made it difficult if not impossible to commit to action that might relieve the conditions highlighted by fear.

                In no uncertain terms, I would suggest Bush/Cheney et. al., ran with the 9/11 business, including looping the video of the attack on the WTC, simply because it induced fear leading to paralysis — and their interests were served by this in multiple ways. They wanted Permanent and unobstructed Power, and it is a little easier to accomplish that if many of your likely critics are paralized with fear.

                But this is not at all the same as mass viewing of pictures of US Authorized torture. Those who argue for this are, in my mind, depending on people looking at the pictures, being revolted by the pictures, and then demanding effective political action to end whatever policy allowed it. I think this is a highly unreliable assumption if your goal is to end any authority or permission to allow torture.

                I would suggest that at this point, without benefit of any pictures, Obama has pretty much made himself hostage to his anti-Torture Executive Orders. If in fact it can be shown that someone in the chain of command either tortures, or allows torture, the buck for that lands on Obama’s desk. I am not talking about things that occurred under Bush/Cheney, but things that could happen since Obama issued orders. While it is not impossible that some rogue piece of the Military and Security Industrial Complex may still house some covert torturers, where Obama has put himself pretty much guarentees that the old policy is offically dead, and that any new torture would be harshly prosecuted, and if it happens, it will damage the President.

                • Jeff Kaye says:

                  All one has to consider are the Abu Ghraib photos. Prior to their release, the torture story could barely get traction in this country. After their release, the torture machinery itself had to be slowed, many “investigations” were conducted. What would the torture issue have looked like if the Abu Ghraib photos were never released?

                  I agree that there is no instantaneous connection that would make release of the abuse photos bring about positive change. But then, you seem to believe that Obama’s executive orders have pretty much wrapped up the torture issue. I disagree, and if you have read my articles on the 2006 Army Field Manual and interrogation then you’ll understand much of why I must disagree with you on this point.

        • Leen says:

          Are you referring to the independent “torture contractors”?

          Where do you think Rahm falls in with getting rid of Craig?

          Sara’s argument seems to be this kind of brutal behavior “torture” has always gone on so why try to honor International war standards etc.

          The everybody does it argument

    • kindGSL says:

      How to deal with them?

      Try them in a court of law as criminals.

      Hayden, as I understand it, has moved on to a position as rainmaker with Booz Allan, and this policy takes a whole area of information management out of the mix of things he can contract-consult about.

      If torture for fun and profit is his game, as I think it is, we need to look into the other things he can contract-consult about, and who are his special clients.

    • Mary says:

      I’d like to, but I really can’t find much I agree with in your take on this.

      Re: the pictures – I think it’s naive and building men of straw to say that they should only have been released if they would have solved all Obama’s problems vis a vis torture. The reason they should have been released is that a court ordered them released. There is also the issue of Obama’s campaign promises of not being above the law and operating with transparency, so that “pragmatically” he just lost tons and tons of credibility by his approach. He was never believable on those points to his enemies – at least, not in any way that would garner him or his policies support – and now he’s demonstrated to his erstwhile supporters that he’s a liar and fraud and incompetent of policy formulation and follow through. I have to diagree that it’s pragmatic to toss your own credibility and integrity under the bus, just so you can hide away from leadership. Americans don’t respect it and when they sense so waves of weakness, they look for someone else to lead. He didn’t make a “pragmatic” response to a polling issue – he caved and was craven and created a vacuum that lots of other forces and entities will be trying to fill.

      To go back to one of the lesser points – the GITMO pics – one of the reasons that everyone knows they are not being released is that they demonstrate several direct lies formerly made by the Executive to the American people. Lies about the extent of abuse, lies about prosecutions of abusers, lies about a few rogue soldiers v. a planned regime of torture, etc. Not only lies, but suppression of evidence of crime leading to obstruction of justice as a) torturers were not brought to justice for their crimes against innocent civilian populations, and b) Abu Ghraib soldiers were scapegoated and railroaded in a sideshow event specifically calculated to use them as a shield against further investigation. So Obama furthers the obstruction, picture frames his “no one is above the law” campaign promise as being an outright lie, and then uses the Executive office to attack the judiciary. Not content, he permeates the whole of the Democratic majority with his torture support by strongarming (in a rare leadership moment) Democratic legislation to subvert justice. That’s not pragmatism, it’s how you lose support and votes.

      The truth is that Americans do respond to the truth when battered with it as frequently as with the opposition talking points. He’s never once utilized his position to do that – to got there – to be truthful about what has happened on torture, what is happening with innocent men being held at GITMO, what the *mission* is in the ME, etc. Let me put it this way – if I can make Indiana red necks blink and flinch with just a few facts, Obama giving a Presidential address, early on, to admit that bc of poor policies, intermingled with some very evil and bad men at GITMO, there are some innocent victims who should never have been sent there — yes, there would have been right wing furor (as always – I think that also happens when he goes out to dinner for that matter) but there would have been a big conscious shifting moment for the country and a seismic change in how the Muslim world sees us.

      Instead, he opted to be Bush Jr. Not only is that not pragmatic, it’s a slow kill poisen. All the people who never wanted him still don’t want him; those who thought he would be something are now thoroughly jaded to not just Obama the candidate, but the Democratic “like Bush, but comes in blue” party.

      It seems to me that Obama’s task is to find a solution to the terrorist disposal problem that ultimately has some degree of international sponsorship because it represents agreement among participating nations regarding the nature of the problem

      Ok – here is something where I do agree with you. But let’s look at what you are calling “pragmatic” policies and how they get you to that point.

      Obama is continuing to push the “no one leaves innocent” Bush policy for GITMO. Surprise surprise at not being able to get support when it is abudnantly clear to about a billion or so, give or take, Muslims who have been paying attention that this is not the case and when nations around the world have to deal with not only their own Muslim populations but there interactions with Muslim nations. Until we abandon the “no one leaves innocent” policies and fess up that innocent people were kidnapped/sold/disappeared and abused as a part of the Executive policy of the US, it’s going to be hard to get other countries to step up to the bat to degrade their own justice systems by taking our victims and refusing to comply with their own CAT responsibilities once they have them, or monitoring the mental and physical states and family situations and issues of our victims.

      And those countries have spoken on the “commissions v. civilian trials” issue. Obama’s opt in for commissions just makes finding a jointly sponsored and acceptable path worse. Plus, the continued coverups which are being chipped away at in proceedings in Italy, Spain, Germany, Lithuania, Romania etc. denigrates the US status as honest broker on any solution every day.

      A lack of truth may have lots of benefits in response to a “does this make me look fat” question, but in context of this country’s very public Executive branch crimes, stepping into the successor-in-crime slot rather than assuming a leadership mantle as the policy maker for criminal law enforcement isn’t pragmatic and won’t further a resolution of any issues – it’s just giving gas and spinning tires in the mud.

      There is a tremendous lot that Obama could get by with domestically (with the right PR approach) and internationally if he had: been willing to go after US torturers concurrently with trials of al-Qaeda and other terrorists; been willing to release the August 2002 “we’re holding lots of innocent people” CIA memo and proposed that in those instances where we were shipped innocent civilians to GITMO we undertake an independent commission to review and “make right”(including damages and resettlement) the situation [this obviously would not have dealt with the huge brunt of the “real” problems, as with the thousands in Iraq and the Bagram situation etc. but if you are looking for pragmatism it would be a mostly hide the ball but still come out smelling like a rose approach); and a few other items that involved some minimalist truth and transparency.

      The fact is – the more he’s retreated to Bush positions, the more he’s lost his options going forward. He’s shown that he’s weak, that he has now solid game plans and plan B-s, that he can be shifted with the political winds, and that he’s willing to give up on his strongest arguments for a temporary appeasment, even when that means that he loses those arguments for good by taking those low roads.

      That’s just mo, and I guess as a product of Indiana/Kentucky/WVa/Va I may not have my finger on the right pulses.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Nice analysis. It suggests that what Obama is protecting is not so much Bush’s crimes as his adoption of and, very likely, his continuation of many of them. That knowledge would distract from any agenda, let alone whatever it is is this president’s agenda. It would lead to a temporary upheaval, but one the last forty years have demonstrated our system would survive admirably, it not all of the Village denizens.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        You are also spot on with your comment that Obama’s hypocrisy, more than Bush’s, will do lasting damage to our remaining global prestige. The vacuum he creates will be filled internationally faster than it will be domestically, owing to our moribund, two-party system. As Glennzilla says, that system is no longer a contest between liberals and conservatives; it’s a contest between insiders vs. outsiders, of haves vs. have nots.

        Obama is in the process of doing more permanent harm to the US than George Bush. He’s proving that our descent among nations is systemic, not an idiosyncratic effect of a single personality.

        Obama could correct that course and avoid doing such lasting damage. It would require overcoming the characteristics that led to his success. He’ll need more than a fall off his donkey on the road to Damascus to pull that off. Whether he attempts to change direction will immediately be evident in his selection of advisers. The longer he ignores Dawn Johnsen and holds onto Rahm – to cover his backside in Chicago as well as on the Hill – and his Goldman financial wizards, the more obvious it is that he’s intent on staying the course.

    • bobschacht says:

      Sara,
      Your discussion of the “disposal” problem is helpful. Ultimately, I think, this may be a problem for International Courts.

      But I want to comment on what you wrote about the pictures:

      To this end, I find argument about whether to release or not release torture pictures pretty much irrelevant. When has the release of such documentation ever really resolved matters?

      What the pictures do, more effectively than anything else, is to galvanize public opinion for action. Al Gore has written significantly about this, and why TV remains the most powerful vehicle for news: its the visual images that are so compelling. Consider what happened when the pictures about Abu Ghraib were published. Now, you can argue that the issues raised by the Abu Ghraib pictures have not been “resolved,” but they did provide the impetus for many investigations, news reports, and policy discussions. Would Lyndie England (sp?) have been tried and convicted if these pictures had not been published?

      Furthermore, the pictures provide visual evidence of who was involved, and what they did. If Lyndie England had only taken the pictures, rather than starring in a number of them, would she have been convicted?

      I hope that EFF or ACLU or someone finds a basis for challenging Congress’s special law giving Sec. Gates authority to withhold the pictures.

      Anyway, Sara, please continue to write your thoughtful comments. They certainly challenge us to think!

      Bob in AZ

      The problem is not the pictures, it is our gutless Congress, which more or less averted its collective gaze and refused to do much of anything.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        What the pictures do, more effectively than anything else, is to galvanize public opinion for action.

        Strongly agree.
        If you line up the time periods in which the first images of the human fetus were published, they precede the brouhaha over abortion by a very short period of time.

        Images are galvanizing.
        Which is why we probably should have seen the destruction of the torture tapes coming; but also why someone almost certainly has them as either ‘blackmail’ or ‘insurance’. Or both.

      • Leen says:

        And what was learned from Vietnam. Don’t show the pictures! Don’t show the pictures!

        Don’t count the numbers of Iraqi dead or injured. Don’t count. And dismiss the numbers that are released (Lancet) We don’t know how many Iraqi people have died or been injured? Keep it vague or don’t even bring it up. That is what our leaders, MSM learned from Vietnam. Don’t show the pictures, don’t count the dead and injured!

        The Gulf of Tolkin/ False Pre war intelligence start the war based on lies so similar. During Vietnam we saw the pictures…kept people out on the streets.

        SHOW THE PICTURES COUNT THE DEAD AND INJURED! Wake the American people up!

    • skdadl says:

      Did any of this documentation ever stop torture? Yes, I think people need to know about it, and know that it was policy of States (including ours) at various times, but has the knowledge ever stopped such policy? I simply don’t find the evidence for such a claim. I do find evidence it leads to a passion for revenge. The point is, I think, to stop the practice and any cycle that might follow. So how is this done?

      In answer to your first question, I would say yes, actually. With increasing urgency through the C17 and C18, thinkers of all sorts in Western Europe began running through the history of their Middle Ages over and over again, partly because they could see the very near possibility of building democracies (the old dream of the Republic) and then, consequent upon that desire, because they were trying to sift out principles and structures that could stop the horrors, domestic and international, that had marked their political histories until then.

      Voltaire, eg, who was no democrat, was obsessed with torture and wrote about its practice in French history in blood-curdling detail, repeatedly, hoping to horrify people (and largely succeeding).

      He also wrote about revenge cycles, macro and micro. Many people started writing about revenge cycles, international and domestic. You can see that concern behind a lot of the thinking and writing that went into sorting out the structures necessary and sufficient to developing a justice system that would be the front line of defence for a democracy. Do victims bring charges in a democracy, eg? No. The state does. Et cetera.

      To me, the short answer to your concluding question is as obvious as it would have been to, eg, Rousseau: your own first ten amendments, the U.S. Bill of Rights (I so wish Rousseau and Diderot had lived long enough to read that), or the French Declaration, or any of the other bills or declarations or charters that have followed that all (curiously enough) say much the same thing and in more or less the same order.

      You say that it is, eg, the photos of torture that lead to “a passion for revenge.” From where I sit, it’s the general belief in much of the rest of the world that U.S. exceptionalism keeps short-circuiting accountability for torture that leads to a lot of anger, if not that often to “a passion for revenge.” I can see reasons for other nations to co-operate in liberating “detainees” from GTMO, but I don’t think most other people are going to think of that task in quite the terms you do — as “internationalizing” Obama’s “disposal” problem.

      Defenders of democracy already know how to do justice and to build and preserve just societies. The codes are there; we all know them. All we have to do now is live up to them.

      • Sara says:

        “Voltaire, eg, who was no democrat, was obsessed with torture and wrote about its practice in French history in blood-curdling detail, repeatedly, hoping to horrify people (and largely succeeding).

        He also wrote about revenge cycles, macro and micro. Many people started writing about revenge cycles, international and domestic. You can see that concern behind a lot of the thinking and writing that went into sorting out the structures necessary and sufficient to developing a justice system that would be the front line of defence for a democracy. Do victims bring charges in a democracy, eg? No. The state does. Et cetera.”

        Well, in the historical running of French Time and French Ideas I note that many of Voltaire’s ideas informed those who came to make and support the French Revolution, but then that Revolution devolved into putting the Guillotine in the public park during the so called “Reign of Terror.” I am not certain that any idealistic notions changed the dynamic of the masses going to the park to watch some head chopping.

        My point here is quite simple. I don’t believe there is good historical material that demonstrates a causal relationship between knowing the details of torture via looking at pictures of it, or its consequences, and a real motivation to act so as to get it stopped. Personally, I don’t care whether those pictures are published or not — I probably would not make an effort to look at them, largely because I normally close my eyes in movies where the really bloody parts come on screen. Still close my eyes watching “Gone with the Wind” when the camera zooms out on the rail yards filled with wounded soldiers — still cover my ears when they start to amputate a leg without benefit of drugs. First saw the film 60 years ago, and just don’t watch those parts if I can avoid them. But I understand them as part of film art designed to carry the plot of the film. I treat the hanging of Saddam and the beheading of various captured persons in Iraq in the same way — I don’t pull them up on the net. I looked at a few Abu Ghraib pictures, got the general idea, then followed closely the white-wash investigation of it all. That’s what I think important. Why didn’t the Abu Ghraib pictures cause more American Voters to hold Bush responsible for that evil in the 2004 election? I don’t see any evidence that very many voters were moved by the pictures. I don’t think more pictures are likely to change that tendency.

        • skdadl says:

          Well, I think perhaps that you and I will have to agree to disagree about intellectual history and its very slow but (to me) often encouraging influence on the much deeper movements of social history. The Terror lasted a little over a year; the European Enlightenment has now lasted at least four centuries and counting, and while we’re still trying to live up to its best standards, we are observably capable of doing magnificently humane things that would have Diderot turning cartwheels in the streets and might even make Rousseau smile. (Voltaire always smiled.) I think especially of the law that emerged from Nuremberg after 1945, eg — our renewed Enlightenment, I used to think, although it appears so dishonoured at the moment.

    • karenjj2 says:

      Other countries including India, Spain, and UK have recently dealt with criminal terrorist attacks with their existing judicial system promptly and moved on. All the US needs to do is restore the rule of law prior to post-911 “fear terrorists” yoo-opinion “laws.”

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What an abuse of “pragmatism”, as it is of “moderates” and “centrists” when used to describe Blanche Lincoln or Mary Landrieu.

    Pragmatism, like terrorism, is a technique, a tool, to get what you want. It’s being used to avoid acknowledging that what Obama wants, what he actually works to achieve, is manifestly not what he was elected to provide. Progressives who voted for him and his party will remember that for a long time.

    Instead of calling Obama a pragmatist, it might be more accurate to describe him as a Trojan horse. That poses the necessary question about what and who he has inside, besides the gift of his rhetoric.

    • kindGSL says:

      He is struggling, valiantly IMO, with the religious issue of the day. Elected as a christian and constrained by the hostile corporate press, the radical racist right and the realities of the drug war/military industrial spy complex, he is trying to thread the needle of openness and sunshine in a sea of corruption.

      We hope.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        No, he’s not. The needle he’s threading is not admitting his conservative, status quo priorities, while claiming that he’s living up to his public promises.

        The trick he’s attempting is to claim that implementing his real priorities – maintaining, institutionalizing and extending the Bush status quo – is the equivalent of living up to his campaign promises. That’s becoming like pushing a hemp rope through a size ten needle.

  10. thegris says:

    wow, reading that Time article is depressing. first off, i love how obama keeping cheney’s torture policies is “moderate”. but the sad part is how easily he folded. pathetic.

  11. alabama says:

    Folks who pronounce that Obama is not essentially different from Bush–that his policies turn out to be the same, notwithstanding his promises to the contrary–would have me understand that they know what Obama’s up to. Well, if they do, they certainly haven’t learned it from Obama’s actions or words, which are always, and evidently, ambiguous. He certainly surprises us now and then, if only with his timing, or with his knack for remaining silent, or when he drops his softer style for hard words (I’m thinking of his Health Care speech a few Saturdays ago).

    Yes, he’s ambiguous, and some folks have no inclination to put up with that way of doing business. Because they live for certainties. A number of heartfelt posts on this thread express that appetite very directly.

    To which I will add the following: Bush was never ambiguous, and neither was Cheney. They never will be. And they would feel quite comfortable, I suspect, contributing their own posts to this thread.

    • kindGSL says:

      I disagree. There is a clean bright line if our civil rights are being respected or violated.

      Bush took the destruction of our civil rights to a new extreme, we hired Obama to walk that back. Not only is he not walking it back, he is setting it up as precedent. I am sick over how little he has done in this regard.

      I HOPE that he is being slow and cautions, I know how deadly ‘they’ are, but I FEAR he is one of them and we have been hosed. Every day I have less hope and more fear as Obama makes decision after decision in what I think is the wrong direction.

      I think I am fairly typical in all that and that major media are still striving for denial. Since they enabled the treason, they don’t want to have to admit it happened.

      • sporkovat says:

        Bush took the destruction of our civil rights to a new extreme, we hired Obama to walk that back. Not only is he not walking it back, he is setting it up as precedent. I am sick over how little he has done in this regard.

        once again, please have a look at The Ratchet Effect.

        The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward.
        The Democrats’ role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don’t resist the rightward movement — they let it happen — but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.

        It is not quantum physics, or something newly discovered by science. It is the way the American 2 Party duopoly is designed to function.

        Obama is fulfilled his designated function perfectly, as expected. Don’t be surprised if all of Bush/Cheney’s police state advancements are cemented in with precedent.

      • alabama says:

        Where do we disagree? Hope and fear are surely the most pertinent, the most real, responses to the ambiguities of an Obama. I couldn’t have said it better.

        We can agree that living with ambiguity is not an easy thing. It calls for the patience, the peripheral vision, the humor and the steely nerves of a Niccolo Machiavelli. I regard the lack of these qualities–or an indifference to their development as a discipline–to be the defining characteristic of the Villagers (the exasperated Broder, for example–insisting that Obama act in Afghanistan even if results in catastrophe). Monsters of sloth, those Villagers, gagging on certitudes.

  12. klynn says:

    Just talking about Cheney and Hayden got me thinking about the Minot Bent Spear incident with the one pylon of cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads.

    I have read a number of reports and I cannot seem to extract a clear accounting for all six warheads once at Barksdale. Does anyong have a report link that states an accounting for the whole pylon in Barksdale?

    Finally, I have thought for a long time that Israel’s OPERATION ORCHARD and our BENT SPEAR involving the B-52 that flew the six nuclear-armed cruise missiles from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale were connected. I have also wondered if there is also a connection between these two events and the Pentagon’s highly-classified PROJECT CHECKMATE, a compartmented U.S. Air Force program that has been working on an attack plan for Iran? My guess, if the answer is, “Yes,” then Cheney and Hayden are at the heart of it all.

    • bobschacht says:

      You are thinking along the lines laid down by former FDL commentor Al the Spook in a series of posts in September 2007 (Make sure to read all the way down to see the other posts in this series.) The Spook’s ratiocinations have been dismissed here on FDL by subsequent commentors and at least one diary, but Kelgarries provides links to a lot of sources relating to the events you refer to, and I am not entirely convinced by the subsequent dismissals. Unfortunately, I don’t have the links to the subsequent comments. Of course, DOD did an “investigation,” and as a result a number of people were fired, but to my knowledge (a) the Pentagon’s “investigation” has not been made public, and (b) what I remember reading of the summaries of the investigation sounded to me like a whitewash designed as much to conceal as to reveal.

      Bob in AZ

      • klynn says:

        bobschacht and rOTL,

        Thanks for your responses. I only had this come to mind because I keep asking myself, what is making O not use the strength of his grassroots movement to move issues forward? Also asking at the same time, what makes Cheney flap his mouth with such crap when he has such a low rating nationally and everyone just wants him to ST_U?

        If the pylon was missing one. One is all it takes to have silent power to direct everyone like puppets.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Don’t recall hearing about ‘Checkmate’, but I’ve wondered about connections between the other two events, as well. And agree that Cheney, and almost certainly Hayden, must be at the core; certainly Cheney must be. How that ties in with the fact that GWBush would not even look at Cheney, and had **two** witnesses with him when he rebuffed Cheney’s 11th-hour insistence that Libby be pardoned is a complete mystery to me.

      But fundamentally, I agree with Sara that we have an untenable situation with respect to non-state actors and confusion. Also agree wholeheartedly that acting in ways that diminish a desire for revenge is critical.

      What those of us who no longer live tribally tend to forget is that in tribal cultures, it’s my understanding that if someone murders your brother-cousin-uncle-sister-aunt, you are ‘required’ under tribal beliefs to ‘avenge’ that death.

      Afghanistan is tribal, as I understand it.
      As near as I can tell, Iraq is somewhat similar, although I have zero expertise in that matter.

      For these reasons, sometimes I think that Kilcullen (an anthropologist by training, IIRC) offers the shrewdest analysis quite often. He seems to have the best grasp that the nature and quality of relationships among people is a critical factor in how things play out over time.
      Throw in attitudes altered by literacy, or the absence of literacy, and you have a whole new level of confusion.

      What that means for Cheney and Hayden is a complete mystery to me. But Sara’s point, that they only complicated the solutions we need to extremely complicated problems, seems astute.

    • Styve says:

      Interesting that your comment is the only one that mentions Israel, and I will look into the Israeli op you note. However, the Bent Spear incident was apparently the result of a dual nuclear chain of command, involving Cheney, per investigative reporting by Wayne Madsen.

      This is from September of 2008, and can be accessed, in full, at http://www.waynemadsenreport.com (but might require registration and a $7 membership fee).

      September 19-21, 2008 — A suspicious cell in the Pentagon linked to Air Force rival chain-of-command

      A little-reported investigation of a small Department of Defense agency from 2002 to 2004 appears to be linked to a major foreign intelligence operation and security breach in the Pentagon. WMR has been conducting an investigation of a Department of Defense Inspector General probe of the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA), which had been merged with the larger Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) on October 1, 1998. It was DTRA that in May 2008 flunked the 91st Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base in its nuclear surety inspection of the command for the security control of nuclear weapons after a number of incidents, including the August 2007 unauthorized movement of six nuclear-armed cruise missiles from Minot to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for planned use in a military strike on Iran. The movement involved a rival chain-of-command within the Air Force that bypassed the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff and led directly into the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

      […]

      The security problems at DTSA coincide with the Mossad’s involvement with two officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Air Force Reserve Colonel and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Soviet and Iran analyst Larry Franklin, who, while on active duty, served tours at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. Between 2003 and 2004, Franklin admitted that he met with two AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman and shared classified information, including SCI intelligence with them. Franklin was discovered to have had in his possession, 83 classified U.S. government documents discovered in a search of of his Kearneysville, West Virginia home in June.

      • bobschacht says:

        This is much in line with Al the Spook’s suspicions. However, Madsen’s reputation for reliable reporting is not the best. He does put some more data on the table that bears further investigation.

        Bob in AZ

  13. orionATL says:

    Oh boy,

    Here we go (actually went without knowing it) again:

    Enter stage right:

    Buttercup Obama,

    Sweet little buttercup,

    Dear little buttercup,

    Scared little buttercup I.

    Tell me, tell me true,

    When you supported Obama over Clinton

    Did you really believe obama
    could be an effective prez without any prior experience as a political executive, e.g., mayor, governor?

    Or without any executive experience in the corporate, diplomatic, non-profit, or military worlds?

    Did you believe that along with millions of other Americans?

    Fool!

  14. orionATL says:

    sara @14

    well, you certainly don’t lack courage, but that has been evident for some years now.

    as for the release of the photos not being useful “because it will not stop torture”,

    that is a straw man of your devising.

    nothing will stop humans from engaging in sadistic activities.

    the capacity to, and the protective psychology to do so without damage to ourselves, is built into our brains. (i await a, no doubt soon to be released, clever evolutionary biology explanation for why this is so.)

    no,

    the reason for releasing the photos is “economic” in a very literal sense of “political economy”:

    citizens of a democracy have a need (notice i did not say a right, though i believe they do have a right) to know what their government is doing.

    this stems from the effectiveness, if it is to be effective, of democracy as a form of government.

    democracy is effective, vis-a-vis other forms of government, only because its citizens can, if they so choose, change their rulers.

    ergo,

    if you don’t know what your rulers are doing, but hear only their explanation of “why” they are doing it,

    then you cannot be an effective, judging citizen who can make an informed decision to vote to change governors.

    the photos need to be released so that we citizens may know the specific details of the consequences of actions ORDERED by our elected leaders

    and then make voting decisions about whether we approve of these decisions or no.

  15. qweryous says:

    This seems to be a non denial denial.
    Not sure why he chose these words… but ..I report you decide.
    A nomination for quote of the week:
    “For these allegations to be true, it would have involved a massive conspiracy involving huge numbers of people”.
    This quote provided by Bill Rammel,British Armed Forces Minister.

    The quote appears in the Timesonline link:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article6926293.ece

    The Article begins “Claims that British soldiers tortured and murdered up to 20 prisoners after a battle with Iraqi insurgents [in May 2004] are to be scrutinized at a public inquiry.”

    The article then describes the High Court criticism of one Colonel Dudley Giles the second in command of the Royal Military Police who had been responsible for overseeing investigations of all allegations of abuse in Iraq.
    In order that appearances are kept up and to further prove that, in fact, there
    was no such ‘massive conspiracy’.. it seems that the effort to prove there is nothing there will require more effort to not find whatever was never there, and five years later, might be even harder to find massive conspiracy or not…

    The article continues: “… the Royal Military Police had ‘changed its command structure’. The force is redeploying 46 officers to investigate historic allegations of crimes in Iraq.”

    Not familiar enough with British sources and organizational structures to comment
    what the implications here are.

    • bobschacht says:

      The article then describes the High Court criticism of one Colonel Dudley Giles the second in command of the Royal Military Police who had been responsible for overseeing investigations of all allegations of abuse in Iraq.
      In order that appearances are kept up and to further prove that, in fact, there was no such ‘massive conspiracy’.. it seems that the effort to prove there is nothing there will require more effort to not find whatever was never there, and five years later, might be even harder to find massive conspiracy or not…

      Yeah, like those pictures at Abu Ghraib… No massive conspiracy… just a few rogue employees… nothing to see here… move on….

      Bob in AZ

  16. 4jkb4ia says:

    nahant shamed me for being a coward.
    Legislative history of Lieberman-Graham detainee photos amendment:
    Proposed as part of supplemental. Obama strongarms and makes threats to pass supplemental. Lieberman-Graham is taken out of supplemental.
    Again proposed in Senate as part of Homeland Security appropriations. Passes by unanimous consent. Goes to House for conference. Bill leaves House with 244 Democratic votes. Where there is any strongarming other than Joe Lieberman for sticking this amendment on a crucial appropriations bill susceptible to fearmongering I cannot see here.
    Mary’s general point on importance of truthtelling to the American people valid.

  17. 4jkb4ia says:

    Mary is also right that not to release the photos when the court told them they had to and legally they had so much of nothing they were only stalling is a bad message.

  18. Palli says:

    Late to the conversation, but I will channel my father: The pictures -all the pictures- are the atrocious and necessary truth of the degradation of the American idea, as yet unrealized. The images are the Truth citizens must see to stop the erosion of our human values further into the commonplace community life of citizens. The CIA and the military allowed the Cheney/Bush administration to thrust the nation back to our roots of institutionalized African slavery, American Indian genocide, Asian American concentration camps and African American lynching.

  19. tosh says:

    Among the more troubling of many troubling things in the Time article is how things were moved from Craig to Rahm. I get the feeling that people think were nutters for consistently referring to the role of Rahm and Summers in crafting Administration Policy and leading Obama. Of course Obama is willing to be lead by them.

    We groaned deeply back in November 2008 when their names were tossed out for their key roles, as it was a trifecta of things taking the bloom of the initial electoral tide of that Tuesday: Prop 8 + Rahm + Summers. We weren’t wrong.

    Same declining empire. We simply have Dems in charge to help institutionalize the cancers eating away at us.

    John

  20. tjfxh says:

    Obama believes the GOP myth that the US is a center-right country in which the majority is conservative. Obama’s strategy is to count on the base no matter how badly they get punked and concentrate on expanding Democratic control of the center, as the GOP is pushed further to the extreme right.

    Unless the base stays home in 2010, I don’t think he is going to get it and maybe not even then. Meanwhile bupkis for the progressive base that worked hard for him in 2008. Unfortunately, this is going to result in policy that exacerbates the crisis instead of resolving it, not a good omen for 2012. I think that Democratic strategists may be overconfident that the GOP cannot possibly win in 2012 with its far-right base, since independents are sure to be turned off. Maybe.

    If we have a W or L shaped recovery, or even an upside down J, instead of a V or U, things could be incendiary in 2012, and who knows what could happen. There are still some big shoes to drop that we know about, like commercial real estate toxic debt, and who knows what’s hidden of the big bank balance sheets.

  21. cate says:

    Elizabeth Drew wrote an excellent analysis (November 19) of how Craig was fired on POLITICO, “Why the Greg Craig debacle matters.” Scathing comments re Obama’s character and the narrow group of Chicago people that he listens to.

  22. novimir says:

    I m a new person. This is my first comment.

    Let me begin by saying that few if any people have done more harm to the US interests than Dick Chaney.

    That being said, I came here hoping to read intelligent and balanced comments that I don’t see elsewhere and am I am disappointed on this topic.

    We are going to have:

    – Guantanamo closed in 2010
    – Civilian trials of the highest profile detainees

    Releasing new abuse photos really does endanger our foreign policy objectives and our troops. For example, right now the Taliban in Pakistan are attributing many of the bombings in Pakistan to US agents. Releasing these photos will just help the propaganda effort against the us by providing more negative facts which are confirmed to be true which in turn makes it easier to bundle in false claims.

    Given that we are not going to try Chaney for war crimes, the best solution is to carefully preserve all the information and release it in 10 to 20 years while closing Guantanamo and having civilian trials in the US.

    For those who think this lacks the proper spirit, suppose we had released Uighers in the US. The chances they could have a normal life are zero. There would have been hundreds of protesters surrounding some small Muslim community and there would have been the need for long term security to protect the Uighers ala what is required to protect family planning centers. I didn’t read anyone thinking through the implications of taking these “idealistic actions” in 21st century America. Releasing the Uighers in America would have been a Pyrrhic victory.

    Finally, with respect to the photos, the negative consequences outside the US outweigh the potentially positive consequences within the US.

    • bmaz says:

      Welcome novimir. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that what you say about the threat from the release of the photos is true (frankly I do not buy it, but let us leave that aside), is that supposed to outweigh the fact that the law required them to be released? You see, this was not something that was, or is, a discretionary matter for Obama to decide. The law required their release, and a court so properly ordered them released. You now have a case of a petulant President, who has flip flopped horrendously on an issue due entirely to petty political interests and pressure, and a craven Congress acting out of their own petty and self serving interests, undermining Article III courts of competent jurisdiction not on a general area of law, but on a specific case and ruling. You think that is a good and proper thing??

      • novimir says:

        Per the excerpt below from the Washington Post published on November 14, 2009 your comments potentially reflect the ultimate outcome but are currently premature:

        Defense Secretary Robert Gates has blocked the public release of any more pictures of foreign detainees abused by their U.S. captors, saying their release would endanger American soldiers.

        The Obama administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court late Friday saying that Gates has invoked new powers blocking the release of the photos.

        • bmaz says:

          My comments are not premature in the least. When Obama cravenly changed his position out of sheer political expediency, there was already a court order in place and effect ordering the release of the photos. In fact, two courts, at both the District level and then the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals had so ordered and there is little, if any, doubt that the Supreme Court would have upheld those rulings. In fact, I doubt they would have granted certiorari. Then when Obama did his flip, he had Lieberman carry his water and attach a last second rider to the Homeland Security Appropriations Act to allow the Secretary of Defense to take the very actions you now describe; the House jumped on the bandwagon, again with the urging of the Administration, and Obama signed it. Obama then repetitioned the court with the new declaration by Gates under the new act.

          What I described is not premature, it is fact.

    • shekissesfrogs says:

      The car bombs that are placed in shopping areas and no one takes responsibility for them are suspected as false flags. There are others that are decidedly different, aimed at military and state targets where the Taliban does take responsibility. Fake Taliban have been killed in these explosions or in fighting that turn out to be Gurkas in costume. Another point that stands out to the Pakistanis is that the media is pushing a concept of division and nationalism that is foreign to them, and it’s a blatant signal to them that the pentagon has control of their media. Far fetched?
      If you are familiar with the “strategy of tension” (see Operation Gladio), terror is used to get the population to fall in line and approve of a security state or increased military presence. I haven’t read shock doctrine but is the same principle, I believe. Maybe it is you that should stretch your imagination to meet the possible.

  23. skippy says:

    mary has already linked to this article on how and why greg craig got thrown out in comments

    greg craig got thrown out in the comments?

  24. cate says:

    Re recommending the article written by Elizabeth Drew at Politico.com, “Why the Greg Craig Debacle Matters”, I apologize for not providing the location of the article. Go to politico.com then Ideas then “Why the Greg Craig Debacle Matters.” You can also search on the Politico home page for “Drew.” Her article is the second or third on the list. This is not the Time article that Mary linked to. Drew used to be at PBS. Her analysis is different from the one at Time that you are discussing. She discusses the role of Rahm Emmanuel and the advisors that Obama brought from Chicago and how they may have caused Craig to leave. I would have provided a link but my computer is acting up. I hope that you find Drew worth reading.

  25. fatster says:

    N.S. Sherlock. Seriously, I was wondering if they would then have the chance to try and get the torture exposed.

  26. bobschacht says:

    I have now read the longish article by Drew, and I recommend it, too. We know that Obama can walk and chew gum at the same time, but he can’t play a basketball game in which 5 balls are always in play. He needs some good counseling on executive management, because right now, the Craig debacle is a symptom of things spinning out of control.

    Bob in AZ

  27. alabama says:

    Of what possible worth is the Drew article, journalistically speaking? She makes sweeping judgments about the administration, all based on the words of one cited person,Thomas Wilner (the rest is the hand-wringing of anonymous sources). More Villager nonsense, and the hell with it.

  28. bobschacht says:

    Any chance that the Supremes will rule that the Lieberman rider is not valid?
    Did the Lieberman rider in effect amend FOIA (FOIA was the basis of the original request for the photos, wasn’t it?)

    Bob in AZ

  29. Rayne says:

    Huh. Uighurs.

    What’s the chances that some photos or tape exist of certain non-U.S. government officials visiting Uighurs during interrogation?

    And what’s the chances that revealing information about such a visit would open up a very nasty can of worms, including information about the underlying reasons why there have been conflicts in Xinjiang province?

    (By the way…ever notice how close Xinjiang province is to Afghanistan and Pakistan?)

  30. bobschacht says:

    The Greg Craig thing has me puzzled. For the first six months of the Obama administration, progressives looked with suspicion on Mr. Craig, warily referring to his ties with the likes of Karl Rove(?) and other Republicans as evidence of his likely perfidy. Now, it seems like Craig was the one fighting for the Progressive cause all along. Were we wrong about him before, or is the hype wrong about him now?

    Bob in AZ

  31. orionATL says:

    if you want to understand the gyrations of the obama presidency you need to understand this:

    from april, 2007 nytimes -http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0CE6DA1230F932A35757C0A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=4

    pay close attention to the last paragraph of the quote.

    “Obama’s Narrator

    BEN WALLACE-WELLS

    Published: April 1, 2007

    Photos: Biographer: David Axelrod with Barack Obama in the senator’s Capitol Hill office. (Photograph by Jamie Rose); Street Fighter: To find out what voters are thinking, Axelrod heads to the political wards of Chicago. (Photograph By Paul D’amato For The New York Times)

    Axelrod says that his model for the Obama campaign came last year when Deval Patrick ran for governor of Massachusetts. There are many ways in which Patrick’s run and Obama’s are similar: the optimism, the constant presence of the candidate’s biography, the combination of a crusading message of reform with the candidate’s natural pragmatism, the insistence that normal political categories did not apply, even the same, unofficial slogan, shouted from the crowds — ”Yes. We. Can!” But most essential is the way in which both of these campaigns came to use the symbolism that accompanies their candidates’ race, not by apologizing for it or ignoring it but by embracing the constant attention paid to the historic nature of the candidacy itself. The Democratic media consultant David Eichenbaum, whose candidate, Chris Gabrieli, lost to Patrick and Axelrod in Massachusetts, told me: ”What they were able to do in the Patrick campaign was similar to what they’ve been able to do with Obama. The campaign managed to energize the grass roots, but there was a sense of idealism and hope and being able to break that historic barrier that was very unifying and reached out beyond liberals or the base. It became a movement that took on a life of its own.”

    At the beginning of January, on a sunny day in the middle of the Northeast’s strange extended warm spell, Axelrod traveled to Boston for Patrick’s inaugural. Recounting it for me afterward, he said, ”I really thought a lot about this Obama thing, and I thought, You know, these are really the moments you work for, and I thought, how amazing would it be to be not at the Massachusetts Statehouse but at the U.S. Capitol for that.”

    III. …”

  32. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    obama is david axelrod’s creature,

    his pygmalion.

    americans bought a pygmalion in a poke

    when they supported and voted for obama.

    comprehension of this sad fact has been slow to dawn.

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