It appears to me that the torture issue, as Frank Rich observed in today's NY Times, is "bigger" than Obama. Rich's Op-ed provides a concise summary of where the issue currently stands. In my opinion, Obama had better get out from in front of the train! Here's a link to Frank Rich's op-ed.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/opini … ef=opinion
I hope everyone will read the front page NYTimes article dated 4-28-09 about the lies about torture told to the American public by former CIA agent Kiriakou originally on an ABC-TV interview in 2007 by Brian Ross. Kiriakou's false claims were repeated dozens of times by the mainstream media and internet blogs, citing his fabricated claims to support the CIA Bush torture program. This report confirms my longtime suspicion that CIA public statements are not to be trusted.
The Times article states that Kiriakou's now discredited statements and those from other government sources heightened the public perception of waterboarding as an effective interrogation technique. Here's a link to the NYT article. It will make you wonder who in our government and the MSM we can believe.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/busin … amp;st=cse
I think President Obama has done exactly that by turning over the issue to his attorney general. There's nothing he can do to remove himself as the No. 1 target of conservatives because they will do what they always do -- irrationally put the blame on their newest imagined enemy: Socialists!
Agree wholeheartedly with everything detailed in the Rich Op-Ed. Why is the last administration reminding me so much of a bunch of stupid fraternity boys in charge of picking the wings off of flies? Why is it reminding me of The Lord of The Flies?
It's disgusting. But doesn't surprise me at all. I have seen some unbelievable things in organizations--what surprises me always, always is the level of incompetence displayed and how far some will go to promote their unenlightened self interest. It's not just about incompetence--I believe it to be mental illness.
I am honestly not sure what Obama's approach should be. He came far, I believe, by letting his opponents bury themselves in their own muck--witness the McCain/Palin campaign. Could be this is his strategy with the torture issues. It is my understanding that he has left the issue open so that we as a country may revisit it--perhaps after our current economic crisis is more in check (which is having a large effect on many people now.)
Could also be that this will be buried in history, as many obscenities (including many of America's) have been so buried.
I think his strategy was to avoid a big fight over investigating, exposing and perhaps prosecuting those responsible so as not to create a distraction which could impede progress on his major goals--health care, tax reform, the economy. It doesn't look like an investigation and possible prosecution can be avoided. And, in my opinion, it shouldn't be avoided. Everyone involved should be investigated, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law based on the results of the investigations.
Obama has consistently been several steps ahead of his critics politically, by which I mean he does seem to always think several steps ahead in time, way past what anyone else is considering. I believe he has strong values but has spent most of his career studying how politics sank earlier politicians he admired. He thinks through everything, often several moves ahead, as though he were playing a game of chess. He's pretty shrewd.
So I think he absolutely knows he can't be the one to call for an investigation, and that he also knows one must happen.
I think it will derail his presidency to some degree, but I agree with you, it has to happen. What really shocks me is how many people are off the chart angry that it is being raised as an issue. Lots of people feel as Curious Traveler does--or at least a very vocal minority feel that way.
It's surreal. We're debating TORTURE in the U.S. As if there is anything to debate.
You may be right. I hope so. The matter shouldn't be and won't, in my opinion, be swept under the rug.
I'm sorry, but I have a major issue with this:
President George W Bush did not "invite" Al Qaeda to perform the atrocities which they did. He was a new president, faced with a horrific beyond belief catastrophe and dealt with it on an ongoing basis as best he could. How many Americans, Britons, Germans, Italians, etcetera, etcetera, would have bleated about the "inhumane" treatment of these terrorists on September 12th, 2001? Not many!
International affairs in this respect are not pleasant and never can be. Of course it is horrendous and horrific that such measures prove necessary but at the end of the day: waken up to the real world, people! These were not "innocent" little boys from your friendly home town - they were mass murderers or potentially same on a huge scale and I am afraid I can find nowhere in my heart any sympathy for them whatsoever. Maybe some of them did not murder women and children indiscriminately in the fashion of their peers - but only because they were apprehended before they had the opportunity!
I am a God fearing, Christian man - but equally I believe in "An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth."
Sympathy for those tortured in this alleged fashion? - never in a billion years!
I'm sure you've heard the saying, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Also, "Two wrongs do not make a right." How does torture achieve anything, other than that we can sink to the same level as these "terrorists" we so like to argue are some entirely different species from us? All it shows is that, really, we're not so much better than they are; that all humans are capable of terrible cruelty and violence.
I'm not sure sympathy is the issue here. I do believe people ought to be held responsible for their actions, but I do not believe in revenge (and neither did Jesus, for the record).
You are a very talented lady - definitely in the right job!
You are of course correct in all that you point out and I apologise unreservedly for allowing the "red mist" to come down. Perhaps that is often part of the problem in so many situations?
I ask forgiveness from all to whom I may have caused offence.
I believe it is 'offense' in San Francisco. Sorry, couldn't resist! ...Ah, it's OK.
I'm sure it is about Obama's goals, of course. Probably also his administration's goals, as it IS bigger than Obama. I would hope that they can achieve all goals, yes, and do what should be done concerning the Bush Admin. I don't think Obama has the 'interests' in any way, shape or form that the previous administration had--but it is about politics--or most likely strategy.
But in short--wrong is wrong. Letting it slide will not make it right.
Excellent, Lita. I am growing rapidly fond of your sense of humour (humor?) and learning that hot-blooded Scottish volatility is not always something that the wider Web audience generally appreciates!
We do know ourselves that we are too easy to rise to bait - but knowing about something and dealing with it are not always the same thing, as I am sure you know!
I appreciate the argument that these are horrible people that were tortured and our safety was in the balance. On a certain human level it makes a lot of sense.
But that is why we have laws. We cannot base our actions on the feelings of the day and use as justification who certin wrongs were done to. Yes, they were terrorists. They were terrorists that hate everything about our freedoms, including the fact that we simply do not stone those in public with whom we do not like.
If we are not going to follow the rule of law and uphold those consitutional rights that afford us our freedoms and liberties, then what exactly are we fighting for?
I believe that President Obama should leave the matter of torture from the last administration up to the Justice Department. This is no way a political matter but one of getting to the bottom of why torture(which is illegal)was signed off on and practiced over and over again. We, meaning the United States, don't condone countries that torture so we should not be hypocritical.
I agree that the matter should be left up to the Justice Department and Congressional investigations. It was a mistake for Obama to say that the CIA agents should not be prosecuted or would not be prosecuted because they acted in good faith in accordance with legal opinions and instructions from the Bush administration. They should have refused to proceed with what they knew was illegal. Moreover, the phycicians and psychologists who apparently assisted and advised in the torture violated the ethics of their professions and should also be sanctioned.
You know what truly amazes me about the whole torture issue? That any intelligent being could believe war is even possible without prisoners of war being tortured...
War is violence. It gives birth to itself and has no lasting benevolent offspring. It doesn't matter what your religion or your politics are, it is your gulliblity that is truly the issue.
If you use violence to resolve issues, violence will infect the entire process...
Geneva Convention. There are rules that govern war.
Certainly we attempt to govern war, but war (by its very nature) is intrinsically uncontrollable. It is chaos; it is entropy. It will dissemble.
In a philosophical sense, or even in quantum physics, lol, yes.
In reality, the military is governed by strict rules and must certainly be. If all were entropy, these professionals (and that is what they are) couldn't organize or function, and wars could not be fought.
I may even personally be something of a pacifist. However, I recognize that there is a code of ethics among professional soldiers and always has been among civilized nations. What has occurred would not have occurred among men (people) of honor.
What is telling is that many military officers and ex military officers have come out against the US use of torture.
Well, we have to do our best to try. And when crimes are committed they should be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. We can't stop murders either, but when we catch a murderer we attempt to bring him to justice.
Until the Bush administration I don't believe the U.S. tortured prisoners of war. In World War II, my recollection is that all the countries, with few exceptions, pretty much treated prisoners in accordance with international understandings against torture. Violations were prosecuted. Of course the Germans were guilty of unspeakable crimes against Jews during the World War II period. But for the most part they did not cross the line with prisoners of war. Neither did the U.
s. or UK. It's a mistake to think torture is inevitable. Killing yes, but in accordance with the Marquis of Queensbury rules. You're right that controlling conduct in war by soldiers is not easy. Our soldiers committed war crimes in Vietnam, but I don't recall any organized torture as in the Bush Administration.
I'm curious why you would think that war isn't possible without prisoners of war being tortured???
Lita (btw, don't even get me started on quantum physics, we'll be here all damn night, lol!):
Of course there is and should be a code of ethics. And I am not denying that it is possible for many/most soldiers to maintain their composure. But that code will eventually break down under duress at some point; I believe it is unrealistic to expect people to always remain clear-headed under warlike conditions.
If we strive harder to find peaceful solutions to our conflicts, this becomes a non-issue. The problem is: we do not strive harder to do this. We take the quick, easier path of violence, and that force will always overcome some of us--it doesn't make the people who succumb evil, it just makes them fallible (mob mentality).
I've read numerous first person accounts of tortured prisoners during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars (and yes, we could argue the definition of "American" during the first example). WWI, WWII, and Vietnam were not fought on mainland American soil, but I think it is unrealistic (if not naive) to assume that the US never engaged in torturous practices before the last several years. I have no fondness whatsoever for G.W. Bush but I think it's naive to assume torture was never practiced by the US (or any other country) in more modern wars just because we did not have camera cell phones to prove it. It was only easier to conceal. For me it's a simple matter of the amount of history I have read. Why would Americans be less susceptible to human weakness?
As for the last question, I feel I have already answered it but to summarize: You. Can't. Have. A. Nice. War.
Obama opened a can of worms. Now whether he will be able to put this behind him depends on how well or badly the the AG handles the situation and what the outcome is. As it stands now it does not look too good for him. He seems to not be clear on where he stands and going back and forth on the issue does not help that much. By saying that the torture issues should be looked into and then leaving the issue to the AG does not look good on his decision making.
I'm not sure where I stand with this issue. I do believe in "An eye for an eye...", but also believe in the saying "two wrongs don't make a right" as some have quoted on this topic. Where is the middle road? Don't tell me anyone here actually believes we can get anywhere with terrorists just by "talking" to them??? We would appear an even bigger joke than we already appear to the world. Regardless of political stance, doesn't everyone agree we, meaning America as a whole, need to show the world we mean business? We need to send out the message that we're not going to sit back and let them take advantage of us.
So, again I ask, what is the middle road? Is there one?
Bad things do happen during war, but usually they happen at the bottom of a chain of command under difficult circumstances.
The line that was crossed with the Bush administration was authorizing it from the top down. Evidence is emerging now that suggests the use of torture might have been more about gathering more bad intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq than about keeping the U.S. safe. We know torture will create false confessions. Eventually the prisoners being tortured will say whatever the torturers want to hear, so it would have been a 'good' method for an administration that was actually seeking faulty intelligence because it produces faulty intelligence, and that is well-documented.
The Bush administration authorized torture before the Iraq war started. As to the 'war on terror' (which is a propaganda phrase not a war), Condi Rice was handed a intelligence report the day before 9/11 with a title to the effect of "Al Qaida Planning to Crash Planes into World Trade Center" and she consciously ignored it. So, seriously, they were getting GOOD intelligence they totally ignored WITHOUT torture.
I still can't believe so many people think it's no big deal.
Me neither. I wonder where our "Christian" Hubbers are hiding on this issue? They are big on protecting zygotes but not possibly innocent prisoners!
If the bolded part is true, that is truly horrific and inexcusable. I recently saw the movie Rendition: very good examination of this very situation... Honestly, I tend to avoid watching or reading too much news because I get so upset about what I see happening all around the world, but I've just read too many first person accounts about the treatment of POWs in various wars to be completely shocked by what happened at Gitmo (thus, on this topic, I myself have been desensitized).
Ftr, it's not that I think torturing POWs is "no big deal"--I just think it's an inevitable result when war/physical violence is used to resolve conflict: violence begets violence (it desensitizes). When the Gitmo scandal broke, I was honestly not surprised that prisoners were being mistreated, I was more surprised that the soldiers were stupid/desensitized enough to make records and distribute them.
There is considerable truth in what you say--mistreatment of prisoners not only occurs in war but also is common in prisons around the world, including the United States. Still, nobody comes out and endorses the mistreatment of prisoners as Dick Cheney has repeatedly done wrt torture. Recently, there was a big expose in Michigan about the prevalence of rape by male guards of women prisoners. It was treated as a front page scandal and opinion was universal that something should be done about it. The governor didn't come to the defense of the Michigan Corrections Bureau or try to sweep the problem under the rug as Obama appears willing to do or defend the practice as Cheney has been doing on network TV.
I think you are right, it does happen all the time, and especially in the kinds of wars we've been having--regional conflicts where the definition of success or 'winning' is muddy at best. You're going to get bad behavior.
The information about torture being ok'd as early as 2001 as a means of gaining intelligence to justify invading Iraq was released in a report by the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 22. Here's a link to an article detailing that info:
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/ … index.html
Amen. What I always wondered about is where in left field Condi Rice came from, anyway? A youngish black woman military advisor--not to by 'cynical' about affirmative action, but how in the world? And also, so convenient for certain interests. I believe that administration was rotten to the core...and not in a monstrous evil way, either, but in the incompetent way you see (as listed in the Rich Op-Ed) among not so bright upper middle class execs and professionals in organizations creating politics and influencing others for their own ego and wealth--even career benefits. Then they go home and pat their children on the head. It sickens me. At this level, of course, the results become international deaths.
I think they were evil AND incompetent. I used to excuse Bush on the grounds that he isn't very bright, but now I see that it's totally possible for stupid people to make evil choices. And it's also possible for evil to look kinda stupid instead of dark and glamorous and exciting--Frank Rich talks about that in his column.
Condie I think is one of those first-in-the-door types that learns to play by all the rules in order to get ahead. It's often like that--the first ones in the door are conservative because they have to be--and I don't just mean black people, I mean anybody who breaks into power and is from an 'out' group.
I'm not a big Condie fan, but I don't think she was in the same league as Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld with this stuff. I think she was literally just a token. She was there for her black face and female butt. OK, now someone will get mad at me. <Sigh>
Well, that's what I think. Might was well just say it.
Don't go there - I have a thing for female politicians (although I draw the line at Angela Merkel)
Ségolène Royal and Yulia Tymoshenko, on the other hand.....
George Bush's policies kept America safe for eight years and counting. The post 9/11 mentality was a lot different up until a few months after the tragic event. Conservatives and most liberals could finally come together as one, for a change, and fight for a common cause, the "common defense".
But, as usual, it didn't take liberals long to forget about the catastrophic events and move on to more pressing social issues, such as saving the planet (that was here four billion years before we showed up, and we have the arrogance to think we can destroy),redistributing wealth from the achievers who worked 100 hours a week and risked their life savings and giving it to people who work 40 hours or less a week, if at all, and other numerous projects. Remember, we are not capable of making decisions for ourselves, even though the private sector is responible for most every inovation that is practical and worth anything.
So now, we must punish the previous administration for being successful, as liberals are wont to do, punish achievers. What we are going to accomplish, if this goes any further, is putting in grave danger, our brave men and women who are fighting evil radical Islam, preserving our freedom to sit here and blog. The left wingers and Bush Haters that are pushing this agenda will have their blood on their hands, as well as any other people affected by what is happening. I also sincerely believe that this action will do irreparable damage to our intelligence gathering capacity.
I agree that I don't believe Obama wants this to go any further, but in his willingness to appease Nancy Pelosi and her cronies, he has already openened the proverbial can-of-worms. And the thing is, Pelosi knew about the enhanced interrogations from the beginning, but now is playing dumb, which is a game she should be great at.
Spoken like a typical real estate agent!
Posts like this are so funny! Oh, yeah, Bush was quite the intellectual achiever compared to the liberals now in charge.
I'd also point out that some liberals work many hours and have numerous outside projects--BUT still maintain their humanity. Such as--torture and causing severe pain and suffering to any human being is wrong.
I remember a time not so long ago when only dictatorships tortured people and everyone is civilized countries condemned it; even Republican's condemned it. 9/11 is not an excuse for allowing torture.
Agreed - torture is a disgrace in itself. Water-boarding is bad enough, but the psychological side of it is even more damaging.
Anybody who can commit an act of torture, without a twinge of conscience, should not be allowed to walk the streets. Simple as that, and no amount of obfuscation to try and deny legal rights and representation changes that.
The British government allowed British citizens to be tortured in Guantanamo (later found to be innocent), an act for which I will never forgive them. Blair should be in the dock, too.
"George Bush's policies kept America safe for eight years and counting."
Huh? It happened on his watch. Condi totally ignored a report SAYING it was going to happen. The Clinton administration begged the Bush administration to take Al Qaida's threats against the WTC seriously and they ignored them. And we're supposed to feel like Bush kept us safe?
What a load of nonsense.
Maureen Dowd obtained a copy of the transcript of Cheney's classified testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Here's a link to her column.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/opini … ef=opinion
That was a GREAT column. Dowd has a poison pen like no other, but she does capture the tone of the current debate.
You know we're deep into the Twilight Zone when the Bush apologists keep bringing up JACK BAUER, an imaginary character on a TV show, as evidence that the rest of us leftist pantywaists need to 'face reality.'
In case anybody's interested, an article in my morning paper stated that the United Nations Convention Against Torture of which the U.S. is a signatory defines torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person." So called "enemy combatants" are "persons."
What do you make of this excerpt from Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee (now federal judge Bybee) torture memo dated August 1. 2002 published in Harper's June 2009 issue:
"PREDICATE ACTS" ACCORDING TO JAY BYBEE
"You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped box with an insect. You informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. You would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect in the box with him. You would, however, place a harmless insect in the box. You informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect like a caterpillar in the box with him. If you do so, to ensure that you are outside the predicate-act requirement, you must inform him that the insects will not have a sting that would produce death or severe pain. If, however, you were to place the insect in the box without informing him that you are doing so, then, in order to not commit a predicate act, you would not affirmatively lead him to believe that any insect is present that has a sting that could produce severe pain or suffering or even cause his death. So long as you take either of these approaches, the insect's placement in the box would not constitute a threat of sever physical pain or suffering to a reasonable person in his position. An individual placed in a box, even an individual with a fear of insects, would not reasonably feel threatened with severe physical pain or suffering if a caterpillar were placed in the box. Further you informed us that you are not aware that Zubaydah has any allergies to insects, and you have not informed us of any other factors that would cause a reasonable person in that same situation to believe that an unknown insect would cause him severe physical pain or death. Thus, we conclude that the placement of the insect in the box with Zubayday would not constitute a predicate act."
[From an August 1, 2002 memorandum by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee to CIA Acting Genreal Counsel John A. Rizzo, concerning the interrogation of detained Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. According to the memo, which was released to the ACLU in April, an interrogation technique was considered torture if "severe mental pain or suffering" resulted from a "predicate act," such as "a threat of severe physical pain or suffering, a procedure designed to disrupt profoundly the senses, or a threat of imminent death." Since 2003 Bybee has served as a federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Harper's June 2009.]
My first initial reaction? How stupid! I now consider the advertising promotion copy I write a good part of the day as intellectually profound compared to the contents of that memo. Gee, only I bet he's paid more. HOW did that happen?
Leave it to a Bush appointee--but of course... Also that it is linguistic parsing/manipulation/doublespeak to a degree that it could be considered criminal.
Again--it reminds me of idiot fraternity boys in charge and pulling the wings off flies...
Obama is just another politician. He made all kinds of promises he knew he couldn't keep and now he is backpedaling and making excuses for not keeping his promises. So predictable!
Unfortunately, Obama's lack of a filibuster proof majority in the Senate is preventing him from doing everything he would like to do. On other issues he has learned some things about the practicalities involved, of which he was not aware, in some of the issues on which he campaigned. All presidents are limited by the Congress and the courts and the federal bureaucracy. Obama has certainly done some things with which I'm disappointed and which may well be mistakes. However, he's clearly not "just another politician." And it's too early to judge the quality of his presidency.
The Velvet Revolution seeks disbarment of 12 Bush administration lawyers for for their role in the torture of detainees.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/19/us/19 … ;emc=pola1
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