Thursday, April 2, 2009

Democrats Duck Bush Torture Probe

As we have said on numerous occasions and numerous blogs, if the Goopers are truly unraveling, just hide and watch the Dembulbs save them.

I know. I've seen this film before and I didn't like it the first or second time around.

Nevertheless, this time it seems a little different. Is someone being blackmailed?
BuCheney, Inc have been wiretapping for 8 years. Don't you just know that anyone of the opposition, of whom is perceived as is any threat at all has been wiretapped and something either criminal or embarrassing as hell isn't being held over their heads? (Not that that is an excuse for a truly patriotic, courageous public servant.) LOL, LOL, LOL!
Despite now overwhelming evidence that ex-President George W. Bush and many top aides engaged in a systematic policy of illegal torture, national Democrats appear to be shying away from their recommendation last year for a special prosecutor to investigate these apparent war crimes.

Last June, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and 55 other congressional Democrats signed a letter to then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey demanding a special prosecutor to investigate the growing body of evidence that Bush administration officials had sanctioned torture, which had been documented by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Not unexpectedly, Mukasey – a staunch defender of Bush’s theories about expansive presidential powers – ignored the letter. Now, however, despite even more evidence of torture and a Democratic administration in place, the calls for a special prosecutor have grown muted.

Aides to several Democratic lawmakers who signed the June 2008 letter told me that the focus has shifted to the economy and that pressure for a special prosecutor to bring criminal charges over the Bush administration’s past actions could become a distraction to that focus.

They added that the most that now can be expected is either a “blue ribbon” investigative panel such as Conyers proposed earlier this year or a similar “truth and reconciliation commission” as advocated by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. Not a single signer of last year’s letter has stepped forward to renew the demand for a special prosecutor to the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder.

The loss of Democratic interest in a special prosecutor suggests that the signers made the recommendation last year knowing that Mukasey would ignore it but thinking that the letter would appease the Democratic “base,” which was calling for accountability on Bush’s war crimes.

This readiness of Democrats to put the pursuit of bipartisanship over the pursuit of justice – after a victorious election – parallels their actions 16 years ago when President Bill Clinton and a Democratic-controlled Congress swept under the rug investigations of the Reagan-Bush-41 era, such as the Iran-Contra scandal and Iraqgate support for Saddam Hussein. [See Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

However, this time, Bush-43’s apparent violations of international laws prohibiting torture are forcing global demands for action, if the United States fails to live up to its obligations to enforce its own commitment to anti-torture laws and treaties.
Torture is a war crime that carries universal enforcement, which means that prosecutors of other nations can bring charges if the nation directly implicated doesn’t act. In that regard, Spanish investigative judge Baltasar Garzon took the initial steps last week to investigate whether six high-level Bush officials, including key lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee, violated laws against torture.

Torture Results

Also, over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the waterboarding – or simulated drowning – of “war on terror” suspect Abu Zabaida induced him to provide a host of new leads about al-Qaeda plots, but that his torture-induced claims turned out to be time-consuming dead-ends.

“Not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations,” the Post reported.

“Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida – chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates – was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.” [Washington Post, March 29, 2009]

Two weeks ago, other evidence about Bush’s torture policy surfaced when journalist Mark Danner published chilling details from a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that concluded that the abuse of 14 “high-value” detainees at CIA secret prisons “constituted torture.”

“In addition, many other elements of the ill treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” according to the ICRC report cited by Danner. Since the ICRC’s responsibilities involve ensuring compliance with the Geneva Conventions and supervising the treatment of prisoners of war, the organization’s findings have legal consequence.

The June 2008 letter from Conyers apparently was prompted by the same or similar ICRC findings, citing “several instances of acts of torture against detainees, including soaking a prisoner’s hand in alcohol and lighting it on fire, subjecting a prisoner to sexual abuse and forcing a prisoner to eat a baseball.”

Conyers and the other Democrats told Mukasey then that the ICRC findings alone warranted action but were buttressed by other information that senior Bush administration officials met in the White House to approve the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced techniques” and that “President Bush was aware of, and approved of the meetings taking place.”

The letter added: "This information indicates that the Bush administration may have systematically implemented, from the top down, detainee interrogation policies that constitute torture or otherwise violate the law.

“We believe that these serious and significant revelations warrant an immediate investigation to determine whether actions taken by the President, his Cabinet, and other Administration officials are in violation of the War Crimes Act, the Anti-Torture Act, and other U.S. and international laws.

"Despite the seriousness of the evidence, the Justice Department has brought prosecution against only one civilian for an interrogation-related crime. Given that record, we believe it is necessary to appoint a special counsel in order to ensure that a thorough and impartial investigation occurs."

Still Waiting

Nearly nine months have passed since Conyers and the other Democratic lawmakers sent the letter to Mukasey. Since then, more evidence has piled up implicating at least a dozen senior Bush administration officials in sanctioning a policy of torture.

For instance, in January, Susan Crawford, the retired judge who heads military commissions at Guantanamo, became the highest ranking U.S. official who said the interrogation of at least one detainee at Guantanamo met the legal definition of torture and as a result she would not allow a war crimes tribunal against him to proceed.

Last week, Vijay Padmanabhan, the State Department’s chief counsel on Guantanamo litigation, told the Associated Press that the Bush administration overreacted after 9/11 and set up a policy of torture at the facility.

“I think Guantanamo was one of the worst overreactions of the Bush administration," Padmanabhan told the AP. He criticized other “overreactions” such as extraordinary renditions, waterboarding at secret CIA prisons and "other enhanced interrogation techniques that would constitute torture.”

Meanwhile, other Bush administration veterans, including Vice President Dick Cheney, have spoken openly about their support for and approval of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods, although they continued to insist that the tactics did not constitute torture.

During a speech at the University of Texas at Austin recently, former Attorney General John Ashcroft said, "there are things that you can call waterboarding that I am thoroughly convinced are not torture. There are things that you can call waterboarding that might be torture. …

“The point that ought to be understood is that throwing a term around recklessly for its emotional content doesn't really get you anywhere."

In waterboarding, a person is strapped to a board with his head tilted downward and a cloth covering his face. Water is then poured over the cloth forcing the panicked gag reflex associated with drowning. It has been condemned as torture since the days of the Spanish Inquisition and its use has resulted in past criminal prosecutions under U.S. law.
Before leaving office, Vice President Cheney said he approved waterboarding on at least three “high value” detainees and the “enhanced interrogation” of 33 other prisoners. President Bush made a somewhat vaguer acknowledgement of authorizing these techniques.

Admissions of Crimes

Civil rights groups said Bush and Cheney’s comments amounted to an admission of war crimes. The ACLU called on Attorney General Holder two weeks ago to appoint a special prosecutor to launch a probe into the Bush administration's torture practices.

“The fact that such crimes have been committed can no longer be doubted or debated, nor can the need for an independent prosecutor be ignored by a new Justice Department committed to restoring the rule of law,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said.

“Given the increasing evidence of deliberate and widespread use of torture and abuse, and that such conduct was the predictable result of policy changes made at the highest levels of government, an independent prosecutor is clearly in the public interest,” Romero said.
Holder has not responded to the ACLU’s request. Over the next several weeks, however, the evidence of torture should continue to mount.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to release a voluminous report on the treatment of alleged terrorist detainees held in U.S. custody and the brutal interrogation techniques they were subjected to, according to Defense Department and intelligence sources.

The declassified version of the report is 200 pages, contains 2,000 footnotes, and will reveal a wealth of new information about the genesis of the Bush administration's interrogation policies, according to these sources. The investigation relied upon the testimony of 70 people, generated 38,000 pages of documents, and took 18 months to complete.

The Justice Department also is expected to release a declassified version of a critical report prepared by its Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigated legal work by former attorneys at the Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the White House on the limits of presidential authority.

The report concluded that three key attorneys – John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury – blurred the lines between an attorney charged with providing independent legal advice to the White House and a policy advocate who was working to advance the administration’s goals, which included a legal justification for torture, said the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contents of the report are still classified.

On April 2, the Justice Department also is expected to release three still-classified legal opinions that Bradbury wrote in May 2005, reaffirming Bush’s claimed authority to subject “war on terror” prisoners to harsh interrogations.
Jason Leopold has launched his own Web site, The Public Record, at

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

To Bush's GWOT, RIP

President Barack Obama has come under some criticism for slowing his promised withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and for beefing up U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but his 70-day-old administration at least has dumped one part of George W. Bush’s bellicose foreign policy: the phrase “global war on terror.”
Burying the “GWOT,” as it was known in Washington jargon, also is not just a semantic shift or a meaningless word game. Bush’s post-9/11 concept of eliminating “every terrorist group of global reach” created the framework for an endless war covering the entire planet, including U.S. territory. The GWOT was to be everywhere and never ending.
(Terror has been with us since....well,.....forever. It always will be, as long a mankind's head rules, uninformed by mankind's heart.)
It became the justification in 2002 for Bush administration lawyers to craft legal opinions that asserted that the President, as Commander in Chief, possessed “plenary” or total power, thus transforming the American Republic into a new-age national security state with all constitutional and legal rights left to the discretion of George W. Bush.
Justice Department lawyers like John Yoo tossed away U.S. constitutional rights almost casually. The “global war on terror” meant scrapping habeas corpus, the ancient right to challenge arbitrary arrests. Out, too, went the First, the Fourth, the Fifth, the Sixth and the Eighth Amendments. [See, for instance,’s “How Close the Bush Bullet.”]
(John Yoo should be "taken out-back and horse-whipped," as my Grandpa used to say about people whose behavior there was just no rational excuse for, under any circumstances)
The GWOT overrode U.S. treaty and other commitments, opening the door to the torture of detainees in U.S. custody. It permitted the President to dispatch military units and CIA operatives to kidnap or kill suspected terrorists around the world.
Most Americans might have associated the GWOT with the fight against Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. But the “war” actually was much broader, covering any irregular fighting force “with global reach,” which apparently was defined as any group that could pool its resources to buy an airplane ticket, whether they were holed up on an island in the Philippines, in the mountains of Central Asia, in a desert in the Middle East or in the jungles of Colombia.
Beyond intervening in guerrilla conflicts around the world, Bush's GWOT could seek “regime change” against established national governments – in Iraq, Iran and North Korea – the nations he famously labeled the "axis of evil." They were part of the GWOT, though they were not implicated in the 9/11 attacks.
Initially, Iran even joined the coalition against the Taliban as Bush moved to oust the Afghan government which had provided sanctuary to al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, Iran was still lumped into the GWOT. Some Bush administration officials, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, also raised 9/11 suspicions about Iraq, though the allegations turned out to be false.
(Dick Cheney reminds me of the spooky, old woman peaking out from behind her lace curtains.)
Muslim Resentments
Bush’s GWOT became especially unpopular in the Muslim world, which saw the U.S.-led campaign as directed primarily against Islamic militants
.(Who can possibly blame them?)
A Gallup poll in early 2002 found strong anti-American sentiment in U.S. allies and adversaries alike. The countries surveyed included Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
The lowest scores came from Pakistan, a principal U.S. ally in the Afghan war. In nuclear-armed Pakistan, only five percent of the respondents had a favorable opinion of the United States, making any counterinsurgency cooperation with Washington problematic for Islamabad politicians.
Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport said Muslims described the United States as "ruthless, aggressive, conceited, arrogant, easily provoked, biased." Newport added that "the people of Islamic countries have significant grievances with the West in general and with the United States in particular."
(The Muslims aren't by themselves! People from many other nations say the same thing, including my pals in Kiwiland, Oz and Europe.)
How Bush framed the terrorism issue also bred resentment and confusion inside the United States. In answering “why do they hate us?” Bush offered the sophomoric notion that Islamic extremists “hated our freedoms” and wanted to destroy the American Way of Life.
"They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government," Bush said in his Sept. 20, 2001, address to Congress. "They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
(This bit of b.s. was what sent me on trips to Egypt. Bush's explanation didn't make any sense. I wanted to talk with Muslims about why they hated us. As it turns out, they didn't until shock and awe. Imagine sitting in the home of an Egyptian, Muslim family while the bombs fell on Baghdad. As the scenes of death and horrendous violence appeared on their T.V., I simply lost it. Egyptian Muslims were comforting me as I wept for the people of Iraq and the people of the U.S. Ironic, eh?)
Though playing well domestically, this self-serving explanation fell flat with many Middle East experts who recognized that bin Laden's goals were focused much more on Middle East politics and had little to do with American freedoms.
Bin Laden's principal grievance was with the government of his native land, Saudi Arabia, which he viewed as corrupt. Toward this end, he sought to drive U.S. military forces from the Persian Gulf and especially from Saudi Arabia, home of the holiest sites in Islam.
Many Middle Easterners also considered Bush’s “hate our freedom” comments ignorant and insulting because it failed to recognize their legitimate concerns about U.S. policies.
In the seven years since Bush launched the GWOT, Muslims have found many more reasons to resent the United States – the bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, Washington’s neglect of the Palestinian problem, and Bush’s hypocritical rhetoric about democracy and freedom while favoring many Middle Eastern despots and locking prisoners up indefinitely at Guantanamo.
So, in inheriting Bush’s many messes, President Obama doesn’t only face the problem of two ongoing wars – in Iraq and Afghanistan – but he also must cope with political instability in Pakistan, a strategic challenge from Iran, simmering anger among Arabs over Israel’s recent war in Gaza, and a rise in regional militancy.
In that sense, a small but not insignificant step was taken by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday when she announced that “the administration has stopped using the [‘war on terror’] phrase, and I think that speaks for itself.”
But an RIP for the GWOT is not just a nod to the sensibilities of the Muslim world. Scrapping the phrase further indicates that Obama is abandoning Bush’s rationale for an imperial presidency, even if the new President hasn’t dropped all his predecessor’s policies.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

No More Refuge for Scoundrels

While the leaders of the world’s largest economies debate stimulus and regulation in London, let us hope they do not forget the compelling questions of crime and punishment. Rooted in the most massive swindles in financial history, the global crisis offers an unprecedented opportunity to prosecute the criminals whose machinations steered us toward disaster—and to deter them in the future.

Unfolding on the very doorstep of the G-20 meeting in London and in Washington is the instructive story of Joseph Cassano, former head of American International Group’s Financial Products Group, whose role in his company’s crash—which triggered the ruin of world money markets—may soon lead to criminal charges against him. What the Cassano story points up once more is how the existence of tax and regulatory havens across the world encourage nefarious conduct, lack of transparency, evasion of taxes and corporate criminality.

According to a new investigative report from ABC News, Mr. Cassano is the subject of a criminal fraud investigation by the F.B.I. that is examining how he and his colleagues in AIG’s financial products division set up the scheme to insure more than a trillion dollars of junk mortgage paper held by major banks. He walked away from those bad deals with over $300 million in personal profit. Aside from the fascinating matter of how he managed to commit these catastrophic bets without interference from his superiors, the most pertinent question is how he gamed the gaping loopholes in the international regulatory and legal systems.

Evidently Mr. Cassano established dozens of separate companies, including many that were located offshore, to handle the allegedly fraudulent transactions—a maneuver that was designed to keep the deals effectively off the books of AIG and to mislead regulators in the United States and Britain. The crooks at Enron Corporation used the same techniques, essentially, to conceal what should have been reported on their corporate balance sheets—and they too used offshore locations as instruments of fraud.

Jack Blum, a former Senate staffer who helped to lead the investigation of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International more than a decade ago, told ABC reporters that the abuse of tax havens “is the other very important issue underneath the AIG scandal. All of these contracts were moved offshore for the express purpose of getting out from under regulation and tax evasion.”
Massive fraud has been at the center of this  crisis from bottom to top, as everyone paying attention must know. The criminal mind-set extended from the bankers and mortgage agents who made loans to unqualified borrowers and sometimes tricked them into signing agreements they could not fulfill. (Among the most industrious marketers were many with actual criminal records, whose entry into the mortgage industry was not blocked by the state regulators.) They marketed those same bad loans with false assurances of their soundness to convince investors to buy them—and somehow induced rating agencies to offer hollow testaments to their creditworthiness. Investors then resold the toxic packages to other investors both here and abroad. At every step, the inflation of the bubble was hastened by fraud, forgery and deception.

At the highest levels, those fraudulent transactions were aided by the existence of “secrecy spaces” in nice quaint places from Switzerland to Anguilla, where the malefactors could rely upon local authorities to collude in their conspiracies. Not only do the governments in the tax and regulatory havens pretend not to see what their corporate visitors are doing, but they actively shut out the scrutiny of anyone who might take action.

The costs imposed on the world by those selfish little entities are too great to ignore any longer. Vast amounts of taxable wealth, last estimated to exceed $12 trillion, are hidden in the protected banks of tax-haven principalities, with annual losses to the U.S. Treasury that may well be greater than $100 billion. But those same places appear to have provided a regulatory twilight zone where financiers like Joseph Cassano could run wild and ruin the rest of the world for profit. The urge to cheat on taxes and the desire to evade regulation represent the same destructive impulse, which governments around the world should now take steps to suppress.
Joe Conason can be reached via email at
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cheney's Moles In Obama Administration

We were suspicious that something like this was going on on Inauguration day, when it was reported that Cheney was moving into his new digs in Virginia, close to D.C.  Why not his home in Maryland that, at his insistence, was blacked out on Google earth. Why didn't he go home to Texas/Wyoming, like most V'P.'s do? 

Why? he's still running the shadow government, that's why.

AUDIO-- Seymour Hersh: Cheney ‘Left A Stay Behind’ In Obama’s Government, Can ‘Still Control Policy Up To A Point’

By GottaLaff

I've been following Seymour Hersh forever, especially lately. No sense in stopping now.

So. You want to know what the Nation of Dick has been up to now? Yes? You may regret it:
[...] Hersh replied that though “a lot of people that had told me in the last year of Bush, ‘call me next, next February,’ not many people had talked to him. He implied that they were still scared of Cheney. “Are you saying that you think Vice President Cheney is still having a chilling effect on people who might otherwise be coming forward,” asked [Terry] Gross. “I’ll make it worse,” answered Hersh, adding that he believes Cheney “put people back” in government to “stay behind” in order to “tell him what’s going on” and perhaps even “do sabotage”:
HERSH: I’ll make it worse. I think he’s put people left. He’s put people back. They call it a stay behind. It’s sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you’ve driven out the, you know, you’ve lost the war. You leave people behind. It’s a stay behind that you can continue to contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney’s left a stay behind. He’s got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what’s going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there’s still people that talk to him. He still knows what’s going on. Can he still control policy up to a point? Probably up to a point, a minor point. But he’s still there. He’s still a presence.
[...] In 2006, Robert Dreyfuss reported for The American Prospect that when Cheney helped staff the Bush administration in 2001, he put together a “corps of hard-line acolytes” that served “as his eyes and ears” in the federal bureaucracy. Former officials called them “Dick Cheney’s spies.”

Additionally, before leaving office, the Bush administration aggressively placed political appointees into permanent civil service positions as part of a process known as “burrowing. [Laffy Note: My post on that here] Some of the burrowed former political appointees have close ties to Cheney, such as Jeffrey T. Salmon, who was a speechwriter for Cheney when he served as defense secretary. In July, he was named deputy director for resource management in the Energy Department’s Office of Science
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.