Condoleezza Rice avows; President is above law



Condi Rice Pulls a Nixon: If the President Orders Torture, It Must be Legal

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Students at Stanford stood still as they listened to former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice speak.  As the scholars pondered the words of the prominent woman who presented her case for waterboarding, many mused; “Is it Richard Nixon, or Condoleezza Rice?  Which person thinks a President is above the law?” One might wonder.  Those who viewed a video taped classroom conversation with Secretary Rice, today express astonishment as well.  In her defense for actions she took to advocate for this extreme interrogation techniques Condoleezza Rice both blamed her former boss, George W. Bush and justified his decision.

“The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture.”

Pupils in the room with the Bush Executive Branch envoy and the broader cyberspace community  ponder this interpretation of law and recollect.  More than three decades ago, past President, Nixon said, “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal,” Americans rejected the notion   The United States Constitution was often cited.  Yet, today, Miss Rice remembers the reference differently.  Just as Richard M. Nixon was, once physically removed from the White House, citizen Rice has become the source of infinite fascination.

The erudite educator, former Secretary Rice may recall her history; nonetheless, her recollection is not as the recently released, exhaustive, Senate Intelligence Committee reports reveal.  As National Security Adviser to former President George W. Bush, in July 2002, Condoleezza Rice verbally approved a request from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to waterboard the alleged al-Qaida terrorist, Abu Zubaydah.

Philip Zelikow, the policy representative to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the National Securities Council (NSC) Deputies Committee, remembers as the Senate narrative study states.  Indeed, he expressed his concern for his role in intense “interrogation plans”  only days before the Secretary offered her perspective at Stanford.  In his tome, Mister Zelikow asserted the Administration, inclusive of Miss Rice, was well aware of the questionable legal parameters. The Bush Cabinet understood, how lives and limbs could be crushed.  His knowledge of the macabre methods haunted Mister Zelikow for all these many years.

Today, the former National Securities Council policy commissioner feels he has stayed silent for too long.  Now that light has begun to shine on the Bush Administration’s seek-to-destroy-detainees-will strategy the former dissenter from within the Bush White House believes he must speak of what he classifies as torture.  He states, as is substantiated in the infamous “memos.”

(T)he program developed “interrogation plans” to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time.

The plan employed the combined, cumulative use of many techniques of medically-monitored physical coercion. Before getting to water-boarding, the captive had already been stripped naked, shackled to ceiling chains keeping him standing so he cannot fall asleep for extended periods, hosed periodically with cold water, slapped around, jammed into boxes, etc. etc. Sleep deprivation is most important.

Mister Zelikow retraces as Miss Rice does not.  In 2006, the United States Human Rights First organization revealed, since August 2002 almost 100 Iraq and Afghanistan detainees died, while in the custody of Americans. Accounts affirm, at least 34 of the these fatalities were suspected or confirmed homicides.  Most attest, blood was spilled at the hands of the Bush Administration.  How quickly those who approved such torturous measures forget the methods or the madness that allowed for murder.

As an expert in International Affairs; however, the Professor is likely extremely familiar with history further removed from her own personal reality.  Condoleezza Rice could possibly recite the facts as they relate to the ratification of resolution 39/46 of 10, which was adopted and opened for signature on December 1984.  On June 26, 1987, the General Assembly  put into force what the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment advised.

The approved Articles clearly outline the definition of torture, regardless of country or who might reign.  A casual reader need only peruse the first writ to understand what constitutes extreme persecution or a serious crime against humanity.

Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

The second statement explicates without exception who might have the power to ignore the initial premise.  In short, legally, the sanctioned rule, which the United States signed onto, states no man, women, child, Head of State, President, Premier, Prime Minister, or even autocrat can authorize the intentional infliction of agony.  Nor can a National Security Adviser advocate for what is essentially illegal and inhumane.

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Yet, Secretary Rice avowed; her conveyance of a communiqué did not amount to a command for consent.  She, personally condoned nothing.  Condoleezza Rice, in her statement to Stanford students declared, “I didn’t authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency, that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department’s clearance. That’s what I did.”

With International Law in mind, and her own desire not to be implicated in a high crime or misdemeanor, the once top Diplomat, now Political Science Professor and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute proclaims.

“The United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture, and so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.” (emphasis added)

Perhaps, Condoleezza Rice feels a bit uncertain.  She might think there is need to justify her actions.  As the American people speak of a possible special prosecutor, Professor Rice may fear what the Obama Administration might do.  The current President has yet to issue a pardon to Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, former Commander-In-Chief Bush or any of their cohorts.   Miss Rice may hope her words will elicit the forgiveness Richard Milhous Nixon received from his successor, Gerald Ford.  

Likely, the former Secretary of State now wonders whether her word may be a greater source of “fascination” to someone such as Sir David Frost.  She has no desire to confronted or to accidentally confess to an anchor.  Contrite is not Condie’s style.  For now, she, as other American’s can only reflect on a transcript and wonder, “Is it Condoleezza Rice or Richard Nixon who better channels a uncertain confidence?

Please ponder the program that, were it not for the officially certified clemency, might have done another Administration in.

Frost: The wave of dissent, occasionally violent, which followed in the wake of the Cambodian incursion, prompted President Nixon to demand better intelligence about the people who were opposing him. To this end, the Deputy White House Counsel, Tom Huston, arranged a series of meetings with representatives of the CIA, the FBI, and other police and intelligence agencies.

These meetings produced a plan, the Huston Plan, which advocated the systematic use of wiretappings, burglaries, or so-called black bag jobs, mail openings and infiltration against antiwar groups and others. Some of these activities, as Huston emphasized to Nixon, were clearly illegal. Nevertheless, the president approved the plan. Five days later, after opposition from J. Edgar Hoover, the plan was withdrawn, but the president’s approval was later to be listed in the Articles of Impeachment as an alleged abuse of presidential power.

Frost: So what in a sense, you’re saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

Nixon: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.

Frost: By definition.

Nixon: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president’s decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they’re in an impossible position.

Frost: So, that in other words, really you were saying in that answer, really, between the burglary and murder, again, there’s no subtle way to say that there was murder of a dissenter in this country because I don’t know any evidence to that effect at all. But, the point is: just the dividing line, is that in fact, the dividing line is the president’s judgment?

Nixon: Yes, and the dividing line and, just so that one does not get the impression, that a president can run amok in this country and get away with it, we have to have in mind that a president has to come up before the electorate. We also have to have in mind, that a president has to get appropriations from the Congress. We have to have in mind, for example, that as far as the CIA’s covert operations are concerned, as far as the FBI’s covert operations are concerned, through the years, they have been disclosed on a very, very limited basis to trusted members of Congress. I don’t know whether it can be done today or not.

Frost: Pulling some of our discussions together, as it were; speaking of the Presidency and in an interrogatory filed with the Church Committee, you stated, quote, “It’s quite obvious that there are certain inherently government activities, which, if undertaken by the sovereign in protection of the interests of the nation’s security are lawful, but which if undertaken by private persons, are not.” What, at root, did you have in mind there?

Nixon: Well, what I, at root I had in mind I think was perhaps much better stated by Lincoln during the War between the States. Lincoln said, and I think I can remember the quote almost exactly, he said, “Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the Nation.”

Now that’s the kind of action I’m referring to. Of course in Lincoln’s case it was the survival of the Union in wartime, it’s the defense of the nation and, who knows, perhaps the survival of the nation.

References for a “reasonable” Nixon/Rice reality . . .

Tortured

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Never for a moment in my life have I been “in love.”  I do not believe in the notion.  Fireworks have not filled my heart.  Flames of a fiery passion do not burn within me.  Indeed, my soul has not been ablaze.  Thoughts of a hot-blooded devotion seem illogical to me.  Such sentiments always have.  Fondness too fertile is but torture for me.  I admire many, and adore none.  For me, the affection I feel for another is born out of sincere and profound appreciation.  To like another means more to me than to love or be loved.  Excitement, an emotional reaction to another, rises up within me when I experience an empathetic exchange with someone who has glorious gray matter.

Today, it happened.  I felt an a twinge that startled me.  I stood still as he entered the room.  I expected nothing out of the ordinary, or at least nothing other than what has become his recently adopted, more avoidant, routine.  Although long ago, I had become accustomed to his face, his voice, and his demeanor, for I have known the man for more than a few years.  In the last few weeks, while essentially he is who he always was, some of his stances have changed.  Possibly, Barry has felt a need to compromise his positions, but I wonder; what of his principles.

Early on, I knew that he and I differed in some respects.  While we each loathe drama, I was never certain if he felt as I do; love need not be a tortuous trauma.  Barry spoke of the need to work together.  Yet, not necessarily in aspect of life.  At times, he advocated aggressive actions I could not consider.  This, for me, caused much confusion.  Nonetheless, I liked the man I saw before me.

I recall the day we first met, face-to-face.  We shook hands.  He smiled.  Barry was polite, not pushy.  Amiable is the way I would describe him.  Then, the second time we saw each other, we had a more extensive conversation.  He took my hand in his.  We each spoke with greater sincerity.  As Barry and I chatted, he looked me straight in the eye.  He listened to my personal tale.  Visibly, he pondered the story I shared.  Barry responded so genuinely to my inquiry, albeit an unconventional concern, I was surprised.  Indeed, I was impressed, although less than I was when I read what he had written.

His books moved me.  The more autobiographical tome endeared him to me.  His notes on hope did not lack the spirit to inspire me.  As one who “loves” to learn, which differs from the impulsive idea that I might be “in love,” a person that can kindle my earnest thirst for knowledge truly electrifies me.  I recall the moment I read the text that, all these years later, still resonates within me.  Barry humbly offered, in a discussion of empathy . . .

It is at the heart of my moral code, and it is how I understand the Golden Rule – not simply as a call to sympathy or charity, but as something more demanding, a call to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes.

Barry told tales of his mother, his grandfather, and how through his interactions with each he realized there is reason to think “about the struggles and disappointments” others have seen in their lives.  Reflection helped the younger Barry understand, every individual is not solely right or wrong.  If he were to insist that, his way was the only approach that worked, “without regard to his [or her] feelings or needs, I was in some way diminishing myself.”  Such awareness, such a superior soul; Barry showed what I believe to be a human’s greatest strength, vulnerability.  Were I to have a heart to win, the words of this gentle-man could have surely swept me off my feet.

Even his calm demeanor is as I desire and live.  Those close to me wonder of my own emotional tranquility.  From his manner and manuscript, it would seem Barry believes as I do.  Empathy elicits equilibrium.  Today, he seemed to embrace this notion once again.  We can choose to love our neighbors.  We need not torture “those who are different from us.”

Near noon, on April 23, 2009, at the Holocaust days of Remembrance Ceremony, Barry, the now President of the United States, Barack Obama spoke of this belief again.  Once more, I felt a pang for the person who oft-expressed a profound connection to the feelings of another.  The sweet soul who can bring me to tears, did so once again.  On this historic occasion, Barry shared a profound realization through a personal story.  The subject; the Holocaust and the torture our forebears felt or beheld.

In the face of horrors that defy comprehension, the impulse to silence is understandable.  My own great uncle returned from his service in World War II in a state of shock, saying little, alone with painful memories that would not leave his head.  He went up into the attic, according to the stories that I’ve heard, and wouldn’t come down for six months.  He was one of the liberators — someone who at a very tender age had seen the unimaginable.  And so some of the liberators who are here today honor us with their presence — all of whom we honor for their extraordinary service.  My great uncle was part of the 89th Infantry Division — the first Americans to reach a Nazi concentration camp.  And they liberated Ohrdruf, part of Buchenwald, where tens of thousands had perished.

Stunned, by the saga, and the words that preceded the legend, I began to believe again.  Perhaps the Barry I admire had a change of heart.  Policies he never fully embraced, might not seem reasonable to him now.

During the campaign, Barry, Senator Barack Obama only promised to investigate, not to prosecute.  Many months ago, before the August 2008 declaration, and thereafter, I had thought his stance reflected his vast ability to empathize.  Yet, in the light of the ample evidence, most if not all of which affirms the Bush Administration engaged in extreme methods of interrogation, President Obama still supports or chooses to sustain a position that negates empathy for the victims.  I shudder to think of how the Seventh Generation might be affected.

Hence, I am left to question what I thought was truth.  Was the empathy I envisioned not as sincere as I hoped it to be?  Perchance that is why, for me, love is as torture.  I have faith no one has the power to disappoint me.  Only my choices can be a source of much concern.  For as long as I can recall, I have observed, once infatuation fades, we learn as I had before Barry entered the Oval Office.  He is but another human.  He embraces and then forgets, the power of empathy and the force of our past?

When, in homage to Holocaust victims, and survivors of a heinous hostility that forever stains world history, I sensed he knew.  As I looked on, I forgot the setting.  Intent on the torrent of news on torture techniques I read and heard throughout the day, I made an erroneous connection.  As Barry, President Obama spoke of the deeds done in decades past, and those crimes committed by the previous Administration, I imagined the man I thought I knew meant to express empathy for those who suffered at the hands of Americans.  The Chief Executive, on behalf of the United States avowed.

Their legacy is our inheritance.  And the question is, how do we honor and preserve it?  How do we ensure that “never again” isn’t an empty slogan, or merely an aspiration, but also a call to action?

I believe we start by doing what we are doing today — by bearing witness, by fighting the silence that is evil’s greatest co-conspirator.

In the face of horrors that defy comprehension, the impulse to silence is understandable.

I cried.  Tremendously thankful for the oratory, indeed, I must say, for a second, I was elated.  I wondered.  Had the person many think beloved, the individual I at least treasure, decided to rescind his prior position?

Might he have rejected the thought offered recently; “nothing will be gained by our time and energy laying blame for the past,”  

Could it be the Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony helped the President to renew his faith in his earlier expression;  “(H)istory returns “with a vengeance . . . “(A)s Faulkner reminds us, the past is never dead and buried — it isn’t even past.”  I hoped.

Perchance, he had worked through a struggle I too experience.  As one who has no desire to hurt others, even those who have physically and psychologically harmed individuals, and our country’s image, how might I think prosecution is just?  

I truly embrace such an honorable ability to seek no retribution.  Indeed, I may not fall “in love”; nonetheless, I would hope to live love.  

I feel harsh reprisals are never wise.  I also accept the enduring wisdom of a finer balance.  I have experienced the need to empathize and the conflict of what I might do if one I treasure intentionally injures another.  I have come to discover, if deleterious deeds are allowed to stand, sooner or later the other, I, and perchance, society will be subjected to adulterations that individuals or a culture cannot endure.

Awful actions we accept, avoid, or merely do not acknowledge become a foundation for the future.  Humans inure.  Lest we forget the Milgram shock experiment of decades ago, or the knowledge that when repeated in the present, proves again, as a Psychologist, Thomas Blass, espoused in  “The Man Who Shocked the World.” Milgram extrapolated, to larger events like the Holocaust, or Abu Ghraib.  “people can act destructively without coercion.”  “In things like interrogations, we don’t know the complexities involved.  People are under enormous pressure to produce results.”  

I wonder how many Americans came to accept violence as a necessity on September 11, 2001.  On that dreadful day, a date that now lives in infamy, all Americans were placed in a precarious position.  With the threat of terror etched into our every cell, each of us had to ask, what were we to do.  In the 2004 edition of Dreams From My Father, the Barry, who I trusted to be so thoughtful whispered his woe for what might occur once the “world fractured.” He penned . . .

This collective history, this past, directly touches my own . . .

I know, I have seen, the desperation and disorder of the powerless: how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side, how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair.  I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder — alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware — is inadequate to the task.  I know that the hardening of lines, the embrace of fundamentalism and tribe, dooms us all.

Those are the words of the Barry I was inspired to meet, the person I was reminded of when he stood with an audience of individuals who never forget the agony of torture.  Today, as that empathetic soul, the President referred to the future, the generations to come, he stated, “We find cause for hope” when “people of every age and faith and background and race (are) united in common cause with suffering brothers and sisters halfway around the world.”  I thought of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay prison, and the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the need to empathize with victims of “extreme duress.”

Oblivious to the purpose of this particular speech, in my moment of stupor, I surmised Mister Obama had not only accepted the association, but perhaps had realized what could occur if the transgressions of the previous Administration were allowed to stand as if all was in the past.

“Barry,” Barack, the Commander-In-Chief, further elucidated; “Those [persons] can be our future . . . (D)uring this season when we celebrate liberation, resurrection, and the possibility of redemption, may each of us renew our resolve to do what must be done. And may we strive each day, both individually and as a nation, to be among the righteous.

I imagined the reference was to empathy, to the paradigms I too embrace. Punishment offers no benefits for people.  Yet, there is a need to prosecute the culpable, to ensure that people are answerable for the most atrocious aggressions.  It is vital, if we wish to prevent the numbness that humans so easily adopt, we must bring torture to the full light of day.  Torment executed in our names, I think Barry would agree, hurts us.  Surely, General and President Eisenhower did.  Mister Obama acknowledged this only hours ago .

Eisenhower understood the danger of silence.  He understood that if no one knew what had happened, that would be yet another atrocity — and it would be the perpetrators’ ultimate triumph.

What Eisenhower did to record these crimes for history is what we are doing here today.  That’s what Elie Wiesel and the survivors we honor here do by fighting to make their memories part of our collective memory.  That’s what the Holocaust Museum does every day on our National Mall, the place where we display for the world our triumphs and failures and the lessons we’ve learned from our history.  It’s the very opposite of silence.

But we must also remember that bearing witness is not the end of our obligation — it’s just the beginning.  We know that evil has yet to run its course on Earth.  We’ve seen it in this century in the mass graves and the ashes of villages burned to the ground, and children used as soldiers and rape used as a weapon of war.

Barry knows what President Obama. spoke of in his address at the Holocaust Day of Remembrance Ceremony  Love needed not be tortured.  Expressions of fondness are found in empathy, not extreme duress.

President Eisenhower understood as I had hoped, on this day, Barry Obama had.  What occurs far from view is never truly unseen.  Nor can avoidance erase the scars left on a heart. While as a country, or as individuals we may prefer to retreat to the attic as President Obama’s great uncle did, in truth, it is impossible to forget.

People who participated know this to be so. A belatedly brave Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, Ali Soufan, tell his tales of sorrowful love in My Tortured Decision.  The mediator recalls how for seven years he has remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding.  Mister Soufan, as General Eisenhower did before him saw the need to “shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.”

I inquire; what will Barry do, and what of President Obama.  Will the man who once held my hand and professed a need to be empathetic do as he declares his commitment? “(W)e have an opportunity, as well as an obligation, to confront these scourges.”  Might he instead do as he hopes we will not, “wrap ourselves in the false comfort that others’ sufferings are not our own,”

I can only hope Barry will encourage the President to heed his own call. “(W)e have the opportunity to make a habit of empathy; to recognize ourselves in each other; to commit ourselves to resisting injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take — whether confronting those who tell lies about history, or doing everything we can to prevent and end atrocities like those that took place . . .”

Let us never forget Guantanamo Bay prison, Abu Ghraib, or any America penitentiary camp, need not be our holocaust.   Tales of tortured love need not be an American truth.

References for tortured love . . .

Counter Terrorism in the White House



Rachel Maddow – former Rice confidant Philip Zelikow on the torture memos, part 1

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

In his attempt to counter a perceived threat to America, Philip Zelikow, the policy representative to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the National Securities Council (NSC) Deputies Committee, unexpectedly became the threat from within the White House.  

The Bush Administration believed the best way to deal with suspected terrorists was to inflict extreme physical and psychological pressure on these perilous persons.  Mister Zelikow offered his dissent.  In a written and verbally stated opinion, Philip Zelikow contradicted what the occupants of the Oval Office accepted as necessary.  “Individuals suspected of terrorism, can be legally tortured.”  

A short time after the Office of Legal Council (OLC) issued the now infamous judgments which allowed for officially sanctioned torment, Mister Zelikow, his superior, who was then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and her Legal Adviser, John Bellinger, gained access to the torture memos.  After a review, Philip Zelikow stated his concern.  He sensed others within the Administration might share his angst.  However, no one, inclusive of Mister Zelikow,  publicly voiced an apprehension, that is, not until this past week.

Today, Mister Zelikow writes of his silence, and the counter position he took on torture for terrorists.  In an article, the former White House insider explains why did not speak out earlier.  “In compliance with the security agreements I have signed, I have never discussed or disclosed any substantive details about the program until the classified information has been released.”

Now that the memos are in the hands of the people, the man who served as the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, feels a need to address what for too long was avoided.  In his missive The OLC “torture memos”: thoughts from a dissenter the counter force to corruption within the Bush White House speaks out.  He writes . . .

1.  The focus on water-boarding misses the main point of the program.

Which is that it was a program.  Unlike the image of using intense physical coercion as a quick, desperate expedient, the program developed “interrogation plans” to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time.

The plan employed the combined, cumulative use of many techniques of medically-monitored physical coercion.  Before getting to water-boarding, the captive had already been stripped naked, shackled to ceiling chains keeping him standing so he cannot fall asleep for extended periods, hosed periodically with cold water, slapped around, jammed into boxes, etc. etc.  Sleep deprivation is most important.

2.  Measuring the value of such methods should be done professionally and morally before turning to lawyers.

A professional analysis would not simply ask: Did they tell us important information?  Congress is apparently now preparing to parse the various claims on this score — and that would be quite valuable.

But the argument that they gave us vital information, which readers can see deployed in the memos just as they were deployed to reassure an uneasy president, is based on a fallacy.  The real question is: What is the unique value of these methods?. . .

3.  The legal opinions have grave weaknesses.

Weakest of all is the May 30 opinion, just because it had to get over the lowest standard — “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” in Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture.  That standard was also being codified in the bill Senator John McCain was fighting to pass.  It is also found in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, a standard that the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 does apply to these prisoners.  Violation of Common Article 3 is a war crime under federal law (18 U.S.C. section 2441), a felony punishable by up to life imprisonment.  (The OLC opinions do not discuss this law because in 2005 the administration also denied the applicability of Common Article 3.)

However, regardless of historic realities, long-held interpretations of international and national law,  and the writ within the insulated world of the Oval Office, those who would like to think the President is above the law, justify inhumane practices.   The so called “Right” rule, that individuals subjected to torture were not touched in ways that would cause them harm.  Conservatives clamor   . . .

The emotional debate surrounding the use of torture has been reignited by last week’s disclosure of Bush-era memos outlining the harsh interrogation practices utilized against high-profile terror detainees, and the legal opinions used to justify them. Such approved techniques involved slapping, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions, cramped confinement, “walling” (in which detainees were slammed into a flexible wall), forced nudity, and placing a suspect in a small box with insects. President Obama believes that the tactics reflect America’s loss of its “moral bearings,” which is why he discontinued their use and released the memos. But a cadre of political commentators and former Bush administration officials refute that claim, insisting that the techniques should be permissible either because they don’t actually constitute torture, or because they elicit valuable information – or both. We went through the commentary of the past few days to see who falls into this camp.

“One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn’t put out the memos that showed the success of the effort …. I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country.” –Dick Cheney, speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity

“The techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA …. As already disclosed by Director Hayden, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.” –Former attorney general Michael Mukasey and former CIA director Michael Hayden, in The Wall Street Journal

“It is, yes, good that the U.S.A. is not doing this anymore, but let’s not get too sanctimonious about how awful it was that we indulged in these techniques after watching nearly 3,000 innocent Americans endure god-awful deaths at the hands of religious fanatics who would happily have detonated a nuclear bomb if they had gotten their mitts on one. And let us move on. There is pressing business. (Are you listening, ACLU? Hel-lo?)” –Chris Buckley, on the Daily Beast

“If somebody can go through water-boarding for 183 times, 6 times a day …. it means you’re not afraid of it, it means it’s not torture. If you’ve found a way to withstand it, it can’t possibly be torture.” –Rush Limbaugh

“I don’t see it as a dark chapter in our history at all. You look at some of these techniques – holding the head, a face slap, or deprivation of sleep. If that is torture, the word has no meaning.” –Charles Krauthammer, on Fox News’ Special Report with Brit Hume

“I think it’s really pathetic for an American president to do that, and to disavow, in effect, the good faith efforts of a previous administration to protect us in ways that I think were entirely appropriate.” –Bill Kristol, on Fox News’ Special Report with Brit Hume

“I’ve been in hotels with more bugs than these guys faced, and they’re tortured?” –Mike Huckabee, on Fox & Friends

“Ultimately though, apparently, according to the evidence, this stuff worked. And some of these guys spilled some beans that saved some lives. Next time we’re in the same predicament, what’s going to happen?” –Steve Doocy, host of Fox & Friends

“Khalid Sheik Mohammed, I understand, was waterboarded 183 times. Did anyone care about that? Does anyone in America walk around going, ‘I’m really upset that the mastermind of 9/11 was waterboarded 183 times.’ That makes me feel better.” -Brian Kilmeade, host of Fox & Friends

“The idea that torture doesn’t work – that’s been put out from John McCain on down – You know, for the longest time McCain said torture doesn’t work then he admitted in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last summer that he was broken by North Vietnamese. So what are we to think here?” –Rush Limbaugh

“If you go beyond posing questions in an even voice, you’re torturing, according to the Times …. Most Americans understand, when life and death is there, you’ve got to do something more than the Army Field Manual.” –Bill O’Reilley

“By reading this people will be reassured and they’ll see the lunacy of the people on the left who say it’s torture. You know, you can only the use the back of your hand you have t splay your fingers when you slap them in the gut. On the face, you have to sue your fingers splayed, and you have to do it between here and here, and close to here.” –Karl Rove, on The O’Reilly Factor

“Far from ‘green lighting’ torture – or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees – the memos detail the actual techniques used and the many measures taken to ensure that interrogations did not cause severe pain or degradation.” –David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey, Justice Department officials under George H.W. Bush, in The Wall Street Journal

American opinions remain split, just as they had been in May 2005, when Philip Zelikow first offered his counter to torture.  Today, if anything is to be done to correct what was authorized for criminal behavior, the people must act.  Citizens have already seen what occurs when the public is apathetic, and awards a Commander-In-Chief absolute power.

References for a tortuous reality . . .

Tea Parties; Taxes and Torture Served

TxTrtr

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

I am a discontent and distressed taxpayer!  “Disgruntled” is a word that might describe my deep dissatisfaction with how my tax dollars are spent.  Yet, on April 15, 2009, typically thought of as “Tax Day,” I felt no need to join my fellow citizens in protest.  I did not attend a “Tea Party”.  I too believe, in this country, “taxation without representation” is a problem.  One only need ponder the profits of lobbyists to understand the premise.  Corporate supplicants amass a 22,000 percent rate of return on their investments.  The average American is happy to realize a two-digit increase.  Nonetheless, as much as I too may argue the point, assessments are paid without accountability, what concerns me more is my duty dollars did not support what I think ethical projects.

My cash funded the unconscionable and the President stated “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”  

Had outrage for criminal intent and actions been voiced, I too might have rallied round bays and buildings with buckets of brewed leaves in hand.  Yet, it seemed amongst the tea teetotalers, no one was incensed by the illegal, and what I believe to be immoral practices.

Tea Tossed

The “Teatime” participants I heard did not mention the myriad of misery Americans inflicted on adversaries.  Fury for the previous Administration’s torturous policies did not appear in the papers, or, at least, I did not read these statements.  Talk of the recently released memorandums (pdf) did not evoke much discussion.  The current crop of “grassroots” demonstrators spoke of how the Obama budget might burden their personal lives.  Angry activists vocalized a preference not to pay levees.  Few, if any, reflected on the benefits received.  

While our grievances may differ, we share a conviction.  I too am troubled by what the Obama Administration, which I helped to elect, thinks correct.

Taxes Paid

However, unlike the anxious Americans who voiced their dissent for levees paid, I am happy to give my tax dollars to the government.  For me, funds that help supply public services are vital.  I welcome the opportunity to better ensure there will be police, firemen, and women. I take comfort in the knowledge children and adults may use libraries to peruse quality books. I embrace legislation intended to better instruction.  In my life the importance of education cannot be understated.  Bridges built and maintained, roads paved, traffic signs and signals, functional sanitary sewer systems, and diseases controlled and prevented . . . As a concerned citizen, I am glad I can contribute to these ventures.

I object to what I think unlawful and debauched.  I cannot condone interrogations authorized and acted upon, in my name.  My angst is exacerbated by the current Administration assertion; these crimes are not punishable by law.  Those who tortured only did as was commanded.  At the time, the Department of Justice declares, “superiors” stated such harsh techniques were legal.

Torture Tolerated

What I would call cruel and unusual punishment, the prior President, his Vice, and Cabinet thought proper.  Each Executive stated these torturous measures were necessary to protect Americans.  The people heard proclamations that what “we” did was justified.  It was effective.  Only months ago, Vice President Dick Cheney explained; “The professionals involved in that [so-called torture] program were very, very cautious, very careful — wouldn’t do anything without making certain it was authorized and that it was legal. . .  (I)t’s been a remarkably successful effort. . . .  I think those who allege that we’ve been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the terrorist surveillance program, simply don’t know what they’re talking about.”  (Memos aside.  Please peruse Torture Memorandums. )

Dick Cheney and his compatriots seem to distinguish between citizens of this country and those who might be identified as “foreigners.”  To further elucidate the spokesperson for the Bush White House stated; “These are not American citizens.  They are not subject, nor do they have the same rights that an American citizen does vis-à-vis the government.”

The newer Administration may concur; civil rights afforded to our countrymen may not be offered to individuals classified as combatants.  While I disagree with that contention, I do believe as the Obama White House  does.  International Law states, all living creatures have an inalienable right to be treated humanely.  

Thankfully, President Obama and his Cabinet condemn tortuous practices.  Yet, the current Administration announced there is no need to prosecute.  Mister Obama affirmed, “(A)t a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”

I must ask; does this declaration ensure history will be repeated?  Individuals such as I accept that tribunals will not transform what was.  Punishment may not convince those who engaged in criminal behaviors to change.  I seek no retribution.  Yet, I do think there is a need to prosecute the culpable.  Humanitarian principles lead taxpayers such as I to declare, torture, by any definition cannot be tolerated.  As a society, we have seen how people are easily numbed by what peers think, say, and do.  Studies show the prevalence of video violence has an influence on what we later think is acceptable.  

In America, ideally, not ideologically, we understand profound principles unite us.  The greater good, the commonweal, take precedence over individualism.  As is inscribed in the Preamble of the Constitution “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish” in this country, we care.  Our fellow citizens, and future generations matter to us.  

Perhaps this profundity explains why concerned citizens, those who happily contribute to tolls are distressed by the Obama Administration’s declaration, there will be no prosecution.

Persons such as I, who are troubled by torture, understand the past permeates the present and will be the future, if what is worrisome is avoided, accepted, or is left unattended.  We, the peaceful people who are proud to pay levees of love, are not comforted by an act of contrition.  Nor does the knowledge that President Obama released the memorandums as required by law reassure us.

If intentionally inflicted physical and psychological harm can be characterized as just, and some Conservatives, such as the former Vice President, Dick Cheney, thinks it does, then it makes sense to tax payers who supported the previous President to sanction the acts outlined in recently released memorandums as sound.

Many Conservatives share this sentiment, although not all.  Lest we forget former Presidential candidate John McCain’s succinct statement on one the techniques the Bush Administration authorized.  “They should know what it [waterboarding] is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.” A  man who lives with the memory of being a Prisoner of War, the Arizona Senator emphatically stated, torture is ineffective.  That is until Presidential politics altered his position.

Could it be that candidate McCain did as the current President has done, bow to a constituency that does not demand prosecution for what the United States has defined as criminal since its inception.

Opposition to torture was verbalized before the United States became a nation.  The Declaration of Independence reminds residents of this territory, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In 1863, in the midst of the brutalities of the Civil War, President Lincoln forbade his forces from acts of cruelty, including torture.  After the barbarities of World War II, America led an emergent community of United Nations to adopt in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with its provision that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment (Art.  5).”

In 1975, the United States aided in the United Nations adoption of a separate Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.  In 1988 President Reagan signed and in 1994 the United States ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the most comprehensive legally binding international treaty prohibiting the use of torture.  The U.N. Convention’s prohibition against torture is absolute, without exceptions.

It was only during the 2006 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (pdf) that the United States turned a blind eye on its history.  Perchance the topic of terror, or the threat envisioned as the Twin Towers fell turned Americans against principled actions.  

Tax and Terror Codes; Reviled, Renewed, or Rejected?

No one can know with certainty what caused a country or countless within the continent to reject the prescribed canon that is the United States Constitution.  Nonetheless, it is clear, the American people do not insist political power be checked.  Collectively, cynicism was and is adopted.  With that acquisition, the country accepted deplorable directives.  The American populace chose to forego authentic representation.  Hence, the electorate allowed for the more heinous atrocities that followed.  Today, only personal financial concerns bring people to their feet and out onto the streets.

The transition was subtle.  Distrustful of government, the public grew to expect the worse.  Now we receive it.  We pay for torture and are pleased  when a President proclaims of “a dark and painful chapter in our history,” this too shall pass.  Personally, I fear it will not.  My fellow citizens did not address my angst when they dumped dried evergreen shrubs on lawns or in a bay.  The President’s decision to disregard what he too called interrogation techniques outlined in the official communication that “undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer” does not bring me joy.

While I did gladly pay my financial assessments, and I did not voice my dissent for torture with tea, I remain a discontent and distressed taxpayer.

References for a dire reality . . .

Karl Rove and Captain Ahab-Conyers



O’Reilly offers Rove place to hide from subpoena

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

“The Architect,” has apparently turned author.  Americans learned of Karl Rove’s newest career on January 28, 2009.  During an interview with Fox News Broadcaster, Bill O’Reilly, the long-time Advisor to former President, George W. Bush, presented his novel manuscript to an expectant audience.  Most tuned in to hear whether he would honor a Congressional subpoena.  Few expected a reinterpretation of the epic fable, Moby Dick.  Yet, there it was, a drama delivered.

In this newer version, Congressman John Conyers is cast in the role of the antagonist.  The Chair of the Judiciary Committee plays the part of Captain Ahab.  Mister Rove sees himself as the lovable whale.  Moby-Karl seeks only to defend himself against obsessive attacks from the maniacal Ahab-Conyers.  Whilst the massive mammal quietly glides through calm seas, a fanatical Captain Ahab-Conyers follows.  Captain Ahab’s anger and aggressive temperament stirs the waters.  The Chair of the Judiciary Committee creates waves.  Moby-Karl merely moves along.  He bothers no one, and wishes to go about his business, nothing more.

Fascinated, Americans listen to Karl Rove spin his yarn.  The writer tells a tale of himself and his nemesis.  The two, Mister Rove explains, have been embroiled in a battle for years.

Sailor Ahab-Conyers, envisions Moby-Karl as a giant marine mammal, fierce, and bent on destruction.  He notes Moby-Karl had successfully designed another of his divisive campaigns.  

Captain Ahab-Conyers is certain, no one has been able to capture, let alone kill, the massive beast.  However, Skipper-Conyers hopes to change that truth.  He will slaughter the slippery creature.  He will do so legally, with a summons.  The sea Commander Ahab-Conyers, wishes to commence with a Congressional investigation.  It seems clear to him, Moby-Karl will use his political influence to alter the composition of the Justice Department.  

Moby-Karl observes the Congressman-Captain is obsessed.  The massive mammal knows not why.  Captain Ahab-Conyers’ only objective is vengeance.  Moby-Karl claims the sailor is determined to do the innocent Cetacea in.

As the dramatist explains, the two had a chance encounter long ago.  Then, the largest ocean creature, Moby-Karl, smashed Conyers-Ahab’s boat.  He was under attack.  Certainly, anyone would understand, he could do nothing but fight for his life.  The alleged “monster” bit the implacable Captain.  Conyers-Ahab lost his leg in the scuffle.  

It was all “innocent” Moby-Karl cries out.  What could he do when confronted with the delusional assailant, Conyers-Ahab?  The Cetacea was defenseless.  The sea Commander had an arsenal of weaponry and a crew.  Members of Congress offered manual assistance and moral support.  The playwright Rove poses; Moby-Karl only had his own inherent compass to guide him, at least that was how Author Herman Melville presented the story in his script.

In this newer version, Moby-Karl has a capable team too.  The whale has a wily swarm of legal eagles to assist him in any battle.  On the air, the mammoth marine mammal revealed the reality within the newer narrative.

Just four days before he left office, President Bush instructed former White House aide Karl Rove to refuse to cooperate with future congressional inquiries into alleged misconduct during his administration.

On Jan. 16, 2009, then White House Counsel Fred Fielding sent a letter (.pdf) to Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin.  The message: should his client receive any future subpoenas, Rove “should not appear before Congress” or turn over any documents relating to his time in the White House.  The letter told Rove that President Bush was continuing to assert executive privilege over any testimony by Rove-even after he leaves office.

The plot thickens.  In this story, the gentle giant Moby-Karl will not be the cause of Captain Ahab-Conyers demise.  Self-destructive tendencies will not determine the fate of a fixated Judicial Committee Chair.  If he fails in his quest, Chairman Ahab-Conyers will not have only himself to blame.  The onus will be one he shares with a slew of shrewd attorneys who found their way around earlier edicts such as the one offered In September 2008.

United States District Judge John Bates ruled, “The Executive cannot identify a single judicial opinion that recognizes absolute immunity for senior presidential advisors in this or any other context,” inscribed Bates, a Bush appointee. “In fact, there is Supreme Court authority that is all but conclusive on this question and that powerfully suggests that such advisors do not enjoy absolute immunity.”

Judge Bates, who may be cast as the Ishmael character in Rove’s yarn, rejected the notion President Bush put forward.  The arbitrator ruled blanket executive privileges are not possible.  Perhaps, Mister Rove, did not consider this character when he re-wrote Herman Melville’s work.  In the revised text, it seems “The Architect” omitted the Judge’s recent decision .  

In his manuscript, Romanticist Rove chose to reflect on rhetoric that is more hopeful.  He recalls the original plot.  The blameless Moby Dick survived.  No number of sailors, recruited to assist Captain Ahab, helped him bring down a beast who hurt others only in defense of himself.  Writer, Karl Rove draws on the analogy.  He muses Legislators who support Conyers will not be able to carry out the Chairman’s plan.  

This modern-day whale has defenders unlike any the Melville Cetacea could conceive of.  Moby-Karl Rove has a lawyer, Robert Luskin.  The legal representative has helped to expand the legend.  He was able to secure a stay of execution.   A letter penned by Lawyer Ruskin convinced Captain, Chairman Conyers to postpone a response to the subpoena issued by the Judiciary Committee.

Thus, once more Captain Ahab-Conyers, and the American people are left to ask.  Is justice delayed also justice denied?

No one knows for sure.  The people cannot be sure at this point in the plot.  Did Karl Rove cast the curious character, Barack Obama?  Could the Author, Rove, the re-writer of history, make provisions for the majesty of a man not included in Melville’s narrative.  Will Moby Dick again live on?  Might Karl Rove continue to exist with Executive Privileges, or, this time, will the sea creature fall victim to circumstances unforeseen?  Stay tuned for the sequel to this epic melodrama bought to you by “The Architect!”

References for an neo-conservative Romanticism novel . . .

Speaker Pelosi Proclaims Possible Impeachment



Speaker Nancy Pelosi on prosecuting the Bush administration

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

She said it!  I never thought this day would come.  Change has truly arrived in America, even before the Presidential Inauguration.  Today, on Fox News, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, the only person who could, the woman who for so long would not, stated, she is Open to the Prosecution of Bush Administration Officials.  Oh joy!  Oh, bliss.  Never did I imagine this moment might become a reality.  Even the idea that this could be a possibility eluded me.  Today, on January 18, 2009, finally, I have hope.  I believe in the future, as Michelle Obama expressed, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country, or I will be when I see an actionable censure.

I, as the future First Lady, elucidated, feel “privileged.” to witness a transformation that most never thought probable, let alone a viable potential.  I am elated.  I hold my breath, and await what could be if only she authorizes Congress to act.  

Could it be true?  Indeed, an investigation into high crimes and misdemeanors might commence.  At least that is what an anxious nation heard as Nancy Pelosi spoke these words.  “I think you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law and do we even have a right to ignore it.”  The California Democrat who holds the highest office in respect to this process continued, and mused that there might be “other things that are, maybe, spent better looking to the future rather than to the past.”

The nuance causes much concern.  Conservative Constitutional, and International Affairs Attorney, Bruce Fein, who advocates for a Bush/Cheney impeachment, may not think the sentiment sufficient.  The former Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan, might wonder if the Speaker offered too little.  The decision is very late.  Still, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation scholar, Bruce Fein, might feel as I do. While the statement Speaker Pelosi shared is not all I had hoped for, it is a beginning.  

Perchance the judicious John Nichols, a Journalist, might believe Nancy Pelosi’s newfound wisdom is not as poignant as it could have been.  I know not what the man who prudently penned The Genius of Impeachment thinks of this novel declaration.  However, I trust he too was touched by what he often said he waited for, a window of opportunity.

I, personally, feel blessed for the prospect of an investigation into practices that were injurious to democracy.  More importantly, I yearn for the day when the millions of displaced Iraqis and Afghanis experience a rightness.  For too long, these persons suffered from a wrong that most feared would be a precedent never corrected.  

The innocent thousand times a thousand, troops, civilians, women, and children, who lost their lives needlessly in these same two Middle Eastern countries, I believe, would want no vengeance.  I have faith, the fallen would wish to know, they did not die in vain.  Their demise might elicit a dream.  There will be a day when people realize all that is done in our name matters,  people, of any and every race, color, and creed make a difference.  A life taken without cause could be the lesson that will teach a world.  A realization for what is right, is not a shame.  It is the blessing the dearly departed deserve.

Those willing to right a wrong will not be blamed, if by their actions, no more high crimes and misdemeanors are committed.  

There is much to be considered and remedied. There are authorizations for illegal wiretaps to rescind.  The loss of habeas corpus cannot be denied.  Propaganda that passed for press reports must be addressed.  The blindfold that stands for fairness must be replaced in what has become a politicized Justice Department.  Guantánamo Bay prison and torture “legitimized” cannot stand if humane treatment of prisoners is to matter.  Geneva Convention Rules must be sustained if there is to be a modicum of honor in war.

Much must be addressed if America is ever to be acclaimed.  There is a fierce urgency to now.  Perhaps, at last, Nancy Pelosi feels it.  Fox News reported that the Speaker “hinted that the law might compel Democrats to press forth on some prosecutions, even if they are politically unpopular.”  Wow!  I await.  Until then, I will hold the words of the California Democratic Leader dear, “That’s not up to us to say that doesn’t matter anymore.  I want to see the truth come forth.”

Nancy Pelosi, so too do I.

References for a new reality . . .


Please peruse a history of thoughts on a possible of impeachment.  View videos.  Ponder the precedence set if, as Americans, we do not embark upon the trail of Constitutional Law.  Please, consider what was and will be if prosecution is not pursued.  I thank you.

Confessions of Dick Cheney





Dick Cheney Interview ABC News

Cheney Aware of Gitmo Waterboarding

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

There was a break in the news.  On Cable News Network Wolf Blitzer was noticeably moved.  He excitedly reported; Dick Cheney confessed.  Broadcaster Blitzer’s words were a bit more tempered.  He said, “This just coming into The Situation Room.  The Vice President, Dick Cheney, has given ABC News an interview and confirming now publicly that the Bush administration did engage in the very controversial interrogation tactic of waterboarding.”  The Commentator then asked America to listen to the clip.  ABC News Correspondent Jonathan Karl inquired of the outgoing high-level government official, “Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?”  Without hesitation, the Vice President responded.  “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the — the process cleared, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do.  . . .  (T)hey talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do.  And I supported it.  

Viewers vented.  Some shifted nervously in their seats.  However, The Judicial Watch was not amused.  Nor were they elated.  The answer was not the one this Conservative organization, hoped for, groped for, and searched for though the courts, for all these many years.  Vice President Cheney did not confess to sins conceived long before September 11, 2001.  He told said nothing of the maps and charts of Iraqi oil fields.  Foreign suitors for Iraqi oilfield contracts were not discussed as they had been in March 5, 2001, six months and six days before the infamous September 11 attacks.

No, Dick Cheney, spoke of none of what might have interested Judicial Watch.  Perchance, those involved with this institute listened and wondered of the Iraq oil map. would the Vice President confess to knowledge of these?  From appearances, it seemed he would not.

Seeming pleased with his decision and participation, the man second to the Commander-In-Chief avowed, “It’s been a remarkably successful effort and I think the results speak for themselves.”  Indeed, the consequences do speak volumes, as does Dick Cheney’s willingness to disclose what for so long has been an elusive truth.  Yet, a few wondered; was this statement a confession, or merely a confirmation of what had long been known, an acknowledgment of sorts?

As the words tripped off Dick Cheney’s tongue, the public began to talk.  Millions were ecstatic.  He admitted it, they declared.  Throughout cyberspace and in local communities people were all abuzz.  Announcers throughout the airwaves and people on the streets pondered.  “Did he just say that?”  The answer was, of course he did.  Richard Bruce Cheney knew, as he has reason to understand.  He is indeed, above the law.  A myriad of moments affirmed this for him.  Given years of opportunities, the Democrats consistently have chosen not to touch him.

Oh, a few tried.  More might insist that Dick Cheney be removed from office, just as many attested to the need to indict the President.  However, nothing was done.  

Former Senator and nominee for the President, George McGovern could not convince the Democratic leadership.  Florida Congressman Robert Wexler actively campaigned to, at least, begin hearings.  In November 6, 2007 Dennis Kucinich offered a Privileged Resolution in his attempt to avail the Congress of the need to censure Cheney.  However, the Democrats averted the opportunity.

Hence, Dick Cheney trusted he was safe to speak of virtually anything.  Specifically, the Vice President was certain he was safe to discuss his role in ‘purposeful persecution.’  Mister Cheney recalled that the Democrats decreed by their silence that torture was sanctioned.  In reality, Progressives presented the President and his Cabinet with a dictum of faith in the practice.  Those who supposedly sit on the Left side of the aisle signed, sealed, and delivered a permission slip for abusive behaviors on the part of Americans in December 2002, almost six years to the day from what some had hoped was a confession.

The news today that leading Democrats, including Jane Harman and Nancy Pelosi, were informed about the torture of military prisoners and allegedly didn’t just acquiesce but actually approved it is not something that particularly surprises.  The descent into war crimes under this administration provoked very little public Democratic anger or resistance for the years in which it was used most promiscuously.  The presidential campaign of John Kerry offered only token opposition.  The subject never came up in a single presidential debate in 2004.  And the way in which the torture issue has subsequently been raised by Democrats bespeaks opportunism as much as principled outrage and opposition.

What was perhaps more extraordinary and less discussed from the ABC interview was the anomalous question posed to a reflective Vice President Cheney, had he changed.  Earlier in the interview, Dick Cheney had offered that the 9-11 terrorist attacks had definitely became “a prime motivation” for his future decisions.  He said, the events that occurred on that September day in 2001 ‘critically shaped his actions in the years that followed.’  Yet, concurrently, he attested to the fact he had not changed.  

Dick Cheney’s answer was accurate and insincere, all in the same breath.  Judicial Watch, Incorporated, “a Conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, [which] promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government,” might say this man is a marvel, an artist, and an articulate obfuscator.  Judicial Watch should know.  

When the Bush Administration formed the National Energy Policy Development Group and then proceeded to hold meetings in private, Judicial Watch sensed a clear violation of the Freedom of Information Act.  The foundation took legal actions.  “Unfortunately, on May 9, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Vice President’s Energy Task Force did not have to comply with the Federal Advisory Act.”

Hence, with a history of the Democrats and the Courts on Cheney’s side the man felt no compunction to share what might have caused some havoc, were there any mayhem to be had by opponents of the Administration.  Jonathan Karl, the ABC News Journalist, who some thought captured a confession on tape affirmed and asked for another perchance candid comment,  Mister Karl stated, “You probably saw Karl Rove last week said that if the intelligence had been correct, we probably would not have gone to war.”  He was greeted with what is arguably not a confession; nor is the retort correct, or incorrect.

Cheney: I disagree with that.

This portion of the answer is true.  Dick Cheney did differ with the notion that, were the intelligence correct, the United States would not have gone to war with Iraq.  However, his reason was not as he went on to state.  Stockpiles, an intent on the part of Saddam Hussein to supply terrorist organizations with arms or money did not incite the Vice President or likely the Administration.  Granted, Dick Cheney did and does believe as he shared on air.

This was a bad actor and the country’s better off, the world’s better off, with Saddam gone, and I think we made the right decision, in spite of the fact that the original NIE was off in some of its major judgments.

What the Vice President neglected to say was what the Courts ruled he did not need to reveal.  ““Executive privilege was improperly invoked by Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and now the Bush administration,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated.  No, Dick Cheney did not, would not say that.  A confession of such clarity certainly would not come from this public servant, at least not yet.  That admission would be breaking news.  Cable News Network Wolf Blitzer and every other Broadcaster, were that declaration of guilt to occur, would have a real reason to be excited.  The Judicial Watch Educational Foundation would be elated.  Were that to happen, perchance, the American people would be moved to finally act.  For now, the public acquiesces while they sit and await an authentic confession.

Confessions and Concessions . . .

So? So what?



 

Cheney; So . . . Bush: So What?

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The Bush Cheney Administration rewrote history even as it occurred.  In the waning hours of their shared reign, a committee was formed to secure their legacy.  Technically, the work to revise the past began only weeks ago.  In truth, the men in the Executive Branch endeavored to deliver a message of accomplishment from the first.  

On every occasion, when asked of the public umbrage for the Iraq War, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney offered a similar answer.  “So.”  

Shocked by the cold-hearted reactions, Americans were moved to speak of the lack of care.  Yet, no one, at least not those in Congress who could challenge such a cavalier attitude, responded in a meaningful manner.  No matter the widespread antipathy for the Presidential pair, the American people settled into apathy.  Most did not think censure was wise.  Countless claimed impeachment was impossible.  A glimpse into the souls of two men who voluntarily chose to slaughter innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan did not move people to take action.

There was an air of acceptance in America.  The people felt they could do nothing.  Hence, they did not.  Citizens of this country listened.  They sigh.  A few chuckled.  Most just ignored what they characterized as classic arrogance.  Thus, the haughtiness grew.  In March 2008, the Vice President knew the public was indifferent.  He had reason to believe that the American people thought the dream of prosecution was impossible.

When asked how that assessment comports with recent polls that show about two-thirds of Americans say the fight in Iraq is not worth it, Cheney replied, “So?”

“You don’t care what the American people think?” Raddatz asked the vice president.

“You can’t be blown off course by polls,” said Cheney, who is currently on a tour of the Middle East. “This president is very courageous and determined to go the course. There has been a huge fundamental change and transformation for the better. That’s a huge accomplishment.”

The Administration was steadfast, and said so frequently.  They would stay the course.  The mission was accomplished, although altered for the benefit of an audience.  George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, always cognizant of how history might judge them practiced the proper posit.  Indeed, in the closing days the Administration may have perfected the posture.  On December 14, 2008, little more than a month before the President leaves office, he again spun an improved interpretation of his-story.

Bush:Clearly, one of the most important parts of my job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people. There have been no attacks since I have been president, since 9/11. One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take  . . .

Raddatz: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

Bush: Yeah, that’s right. So what?

So what?  What does it matter what the truth might be, or what the American people might think.  It is of little consequence that innocent Iraqis and Afghanis were killed needlessly.  For the two Executives, neither of whom ever fought on a frontline, a deception that led to the deaths of American soldiers was but a necessary deed, a patriotic pact. Certainly, there is no reason for criticism or a critique.  

“So?”  “So what?”  The antagonistic, supercilious actions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have caused so many sorrows for the common folk torn by combat.  Yet, the mantra of the men who supposedly serve a nation, who continue to occupy the Oval Office, is essentially, ‘Oh well.’  Were that it was “so”.  If only the world had not accepted such a self-serving stance from the Bush Administration, perhaps, all would have been and be well.

So? Sources . . .

House Resolution 1531; Pardon Me?

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copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The people of this country might wish to consider House Resolution 1531, introduced by New York Representative, Jerrold Nadler.  This legislation is meant to prevent preemptive Presidential pardons, or at least try to restrain an a President whose power has gone unchecked.  

To understand the vital need for such a measure, we might only ponder the proclamation offered by the current President when his cohort, I. [Scooter] Lewis Libby was convicted.  The public was aware of the intent to commute the sentence; yet, they did as was customarily done.  Americans ignored many highly suspect practices within the Oval Office.  The word was it is not good to impeach a sitting President.  While the people posited apathy, Conservative Constitutional Lawyer Bruce Fein argued.  If investigations are delayed, and an objective to censure this Administration is obstructed, a terrible precedent would be set.  

Respondents proclaimed; once President Bush and Vice President Cheney are out of office, justice would be served.  The public would attend to the widespread abuse of power.  Now, it seems that possibility could be quashed.  The opportunities left to the man who still resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may not allow for such an action.  

By law, George W. Bush could pardon himself and the principal staffers who served at his pleasure.  (It might be noted, the White House, perchance nervous, felt a need to state it is not “inclined” to grant extensive, defensive, clemencies to prominent public servants.  The Chief Executive’s office claims there is no need for such an formal forgiveness.)

Nevertheless, as the presumption looms large, I believe the American people must stand up and attempt to reclaim the rights afforded them in the United States Constitution.  

Fellow citizens, I beseech you.  We have avoided the use of provisions our founders endowed us with.  It is time to embrace the document bequeathed to us, and do as our forefathers would have done in a similar situation.  

Please America remember; only the people can accept or end a cycle of high crimes and misdemeanors.  I invite you to tell your Congressman and woman of your concerns, sign the petition, and send a Letter to your local Editors.  Let us begin to be a government of, by, and for the people.  Please do what you can, speak out.  Silence only secures further exploitations as it has in the past, in the present, and likely will in the future.

References and Reasons for House Resolution 1531 . . .

Republican Rant; “Democrats Deregulate”



Attempted Citizen Arrest of Karl Rove

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today, citizens of this country are confronted with a record realized under the Bush Administration.  Karl Rove, “The Architect” of the Bush campaign claims no responsibility for the cause or effect of his chief candidate’s actions.  Nor does he acknowledge that his Grand Old Party might be answerable for accounts receivable.  However, others, those common folks less connected to the current Administration might disagree.  In an ominous moment, on a San Francisco stage Americans were given the opportunity to look into the future and remember earlier days and dictums.  

In an address to the Mortgage Brokers Association citizens had an opportunity to hear Karl Rove, George W. Bush, and John McCain all at once, although only one of these fine fellows sat on the platform and professed his truth, all were present in the philosophies expressed.  The theme was one each has adopted.  “So the regulators in 2005 were the Republicans, and the deregulators, the anti-regulators, the let-them-do-anything-they-want crowd, were all Democrats, with all due respect,”

“The Architect” spoke and the moneyed audience, mesmerized by the magnificence of this individual who was able to change the dynamics, through deregulation, in a consumer-driven a nation, listened, except for the few who feared the past would indeed be prologue.

A few women attempted to perform a citizens’ arrest.  The well-dressed Janine Boneparth mounted the stage where Karl Rove sat, and strove to handcuff the political guru.  She told the boisterous and bold “Bush Brain” he had committed treason.  She intended to take him into custody.

Janine, an average American could not forget the loans, credit, payments, and profits all unregulated that adversely affected millions of lives.  On more than one occasion, she heard, as she did on this day; Karl Rove admits, a lack of oversight is, responsible for the economic crisis that evolved under the auspices of George W. Bush.  Yet, she marveled, the man, who some say, was the mind behind the Bush White House façade, accepts no quilt.  Karl Rove said, Democrats done this country in.

This person who many believe is the master of manipulation, does not place the onus for the fiscal demise on a majority Republican Congress, which governed for most of the last two-terms.  Nor does the personal chum of the President, George W. Bush receive any wrath.  Certainly, Rove concurs, as Senator John McCain says on the campaign stump, as George W. once did, the Grand Old Party President is not responsible for laws loosened for the financial industry.

Lest “the Architect” and Americans forget, when it comes to deregulation, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, and John McCain were and indeed are best friends.  In February 2008, Karl Rove announced that he had contributed $2300 to the then presumptive Republican presidential nominee, John McCain.

When asked of the donation, potential President McCain said he has “always respected Karl Rove as one of the smart great political minds I think in American politics,” The perhaps, soon-to-be Commander-In-chief McCain refused to condemn campaign tactics Mister Rove used to diminish and destroy candidate McCain in the 2000 South Carolina race.  Months ago, and likely now, Arizona Senator McCain proclaimed, “Nobody denies he’s [Karl Rove is] one of the smartest political minds in America.  I’d be glad to get his advice.  Perhaps, John McCain did seek the former Presidential Advisor Rove’s counsel

Americans are led to believe that apparently, all those years in the Oval Office did not soil the hands of the Bush Brain, the Texas oilman, or their accomplice in the Senate, John McCain.  While each endorsed deregulation for decades, in the present day, the three claim to have played no role in the process of oversight reduction.  

Countless among the common folk see through the veil that protects the current President, the potential Commander-In-Chief, and Karl Rove.  Citizens who chose to be more conscious and conscientious have acted on what they believe is truth for quite some time.  Karl Rove, away from the  safety and sanctuary of the White House, which protected him as Deputy Chief of Staff, met many a countryman or women who thought he must be placed behind bars for transgressions against the State and its people.  

Since August 2007, “The Architect” has not been a public servant, or an Advisor to the President; yet, the American people do not forget the adversarial influence the “Bush Brain” had on official policy.  Many, trust even as a political pundit, an analyst for Fox News, and writer for the Wall Street Journal, this man has clout.  Amongst the constituency, there is a belief that Karl Rove can and does unconstructively change the culture, the climate, and the country.  His rhetoric may reap lucrative rewards; nonetheless, numerous have faith the man is a crook.  Hence, common folks try to take “Turd Blossom” into custody.  These civilians must not yet have heard the message; the Democrats did the deeds that cause such grave calamities.

On March 9, Rove gave a speech — the fee was a reported $40,000 — at the University of Iowa.  What was described as a hostile crowd greeted his remarks, often interrupting with shouted questions.  Replied Rove:

You got a chance to ask your questions later and make your stupid statements.  Let me make mine.

Two people tried to make a citizens’ arrest of Rove for his crimes as a member of the Bush administration.  At one point, according to CNN, someone in the audience yelled, “Can we have our $40,000 back?”  To which the man sometimes known as “Bush’s Brain,” replied, “No you can’t.”

No one can recover funds from the man or men who some say stole our nation’s sanity, although many have tried.  Nor can they apprehend “The Architect” of America’s demise.  Secret Service surrounds George W. Bush and John Sidney McCain.  For now, there is no chance these men will be brought down.

Any who try to arrest the more accessible White House advisor will likely be greeted with a Rovian reprisal.  A denial, a declaration such as ‘the Democrats done us in,’ or a dig to the abdomen might accompany an attempt to detain the infamous “Bush Brain.”

Janine Boneparth learned this lesson on October 21, 2008, at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention.  Karl Rove elbowed Boneparth away.  She was then escorted off the stage.  Karl Rove acted as though nothing occurred.  He continued to deliver his message and debate former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

The true demons, Karl Rove declared are the Democrats. While the Progressives worked to reinstate some sense of regulation, often their efforts were obstructed.  The Conservatives intent on a free market, a for profit society, thwarted attempts to reform a system so flawed as to cause century’s old financial institutions to crumble.  Americans, or Karl Rove, need only look at the record of the current leader of the Republican Party to affirm the veracity of what was and is.  An assessment may help Misters Rove, Bush, and McCain to remember; the Republicans opted for deregulation

“I Don’t Think Anyone Who Wants To Increase The Burden Of Government Regulation And Higher Taxes Has Any Real Understanding Of Economics.” During a McCain Town Hall in Inez, Kentucky, John McCain said, “When we come out of this recession and we will because I believe that the fundamentals of our economy are good … Sen. Clinton [a Democrat] wants the government to make the decisions for you on your health care, I want the families to make the decisions on their health care. I don’t think anyone who wants to increase the burden of government regulation and higher taxes has any real understanding of economics and the economy and what is needed in order to ensure the future of this country.” [McCain Town Hall in Inez, Kentucky, ]

The implication or allegation is the Democrats will do America wrong again, just as they have done in the world according to Karl.  Mister Rove, Senator McCain, persons who support Grand Old Party, and surely the President proclaim Progressives posit restraint on a free enterprise system.  Contrary to the recent claims of Karl Rove that Democrats deregulate, John McCain states, Liberals will lead this country down the path of bigger government.  At least that was what Senator McCain swore to then before the bailout.

During this town hall meeting, Senator McCain expressed his empathy.  He recognized Americans were hurting.  He spoke of how hard it is for the average Joe or Jane to survive in  times such as these.  Damn those Democrats.  

As the Presidential aspirant assessed the economic crisis, he surmised that he had a solution, much as George W. Bush did, and the current President’s Brain, Karl Rove did and does.

Senator McCain stated his deep conviction, as he had months earlier, before he voted for a mega-billion dollar government bailout for big-businesses.  Back in the day, before it was unpopular to be a Republican or deregulator  John McCain avowed.

“Let’s Reduce Regulation.” While speaking about the economy in St. Louis, Missouri, John McCain said, “I’m asked all the time are we in a recession or not in a recession. And I don’t know the answer to that because it’s kind of a technical term . . .I do not believe we should raise your taxes. I think it would be the worst thing we could do. And that means to me I think the tax cuts need to be made permanent. When you’ve got a bad economy, the worst thing you can do is increase people’s tax burden. Let’s reduce it. Let’s reduce regulation.”  . . .

“We Need To Return To The Reagan Years . . . We Need Less Regulation.” As shown on PBS’s “Washington Week,” John McCain said, “We need to return to the Reagan years. We need to have fiscal conservatism. We need less government. We need less regulation. We need to end of spending spree which has eroded our base of Republican support.”

The words reverberated. The sentiments were consistent with those oft affirmed by Republicans, Chief executive Bush, and the guru, Karl Rove.  Were is the operative word.  When Americans were led to believe freer markets would benefit them, the Rove and McCain message was Democrats were wrong to impose regulations.  Now that the population has realized a harsh reality, profits do not trickle down the tables have turned.  Rove, his friend George W., and fellow Republicans such as Senator McCain revel in regulation.   Witness the recent vote for a $700 Billion dollar rescue plan.  President Bush, Republican appointees such as Treasury Secretary Paulson, and of course, John McCain endorse more government and greater restrictions.  

Blame the Democrats for what you have done also works for the Grand Old Party when wizardry is necessary.  Perchance this theory explains the recent vote for a “bailout.” In an interview with Mike Wallace, John McCain elucidates.  The senior Senator from Arizona helps Americans to understand, the constructs of deregulation, and Socialism.  The Presidential aspirant envisions no dichotomy, or does he?

McCain: So is one of the tenets of socialism redistribution of the wealth? Not just socialism – a lot of other liberal and left wing philosophies – redistribution of the wealth? I don’t believe in it. I believe in wealth creation by Joe the Plumber.

Wallace: But, Senator, you voted for the $700 billion bailout that’s being used partially to nationalize American banks. Isn’t that socialism?

McCain: That is reacting to a crisis that’s due to greed and excess in Washington.

And what this administration is doing wrong, and what Paulson is doing wrong, is not going out and buying up home loan mortgages, home mortgages, and giving people new mortgages at the new value of their home so they can stay in their home.

They’re bailing out the banks. They’re bailing out these institutions.

Wallace: But you voted for that.

McCain: Of course. It was a package that had to be enacted because the economy was about to go into the tank. . . .

But the point is that, of course, when a – when a – that’s the reason why we have governments, to help those who need help, who can’t help themselves, and when time of crisis to step in and do what’s necessary to preserve the lives and futures of innocent people.

Well-done Senator McCain.  The prose of the now “populace” political pundit and the potential President reveal a rabid reason for citizens unrest, or desire to arrest the former Bush “advisor.”  

As, “The Architect” perchance crafts another campaign.  Another Presidential aspirant is directed to “deregulate” as Rove reveals Republicans do or do not.  After a careful assessment of the facts, folly, and flippant reality Karl Rove and John McCain present, Americans might muse as Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell did. Perhaps we are as Dorothy in the Land of Oz.  The man behind the curtain, and the gent who stood in front of it for oh so many years, join John McCain as he now leads in the pledge.

“Less Government, Lower Taxes, Less Regulation, Safer America Is What I Can Give America . . . I can make a case that a less government, lower taxes, less regulation, safer America is what I can give America. But I don’t underestimate the size of the challenge” . . . or the vastness of the veils needed to disguise the decree of deregulation.

Mister Rove was “Right.”  Democrats [sic] such as John McCain [?] have foisted a lack of directives and direction onto Americans.  Some may say “G-d bless America.”  As the Presidential Election nears, citizens might consider, if attempts to arrest Karl Rove or restrain John McCain fail, then “Lord help America. The Grand Old Party will have  its way with us once again.  

References for Republican Regulations and Democrats Deregulation . . .