Friday, January 16

Justice has Returned to America!

Justice Has Returned to America with just three simple words - Waterboarding Is Torture!




HOLDER: If you look at the history of the use of that technique, used by the Khmer Rouge, used in the Inquisition, used by the Japanese and prosecuted by us as war crimes. We prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, waterboarding is torture.


Just for the sake of contrast, lets look at how Holder's predecessor answered that same question.

During confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) asked whether Mukasey agreed with the US government’s top military lawyers, who have stated that interrogation techniques such as "waterboarding" (mock drowning), the use of dogs, painful stress positions, and mock executions all violate the humane treatment requirements of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Mukasey replied that the military lawyers’ opinions, while relevant for conflicts "in the past," carry less weight when dealing with "unlawful combatants" today. He then went on to suggest that the humane treatment standards of Common Article 3 do not apply to interrogations of "unlawful combatants."


Hopeless Tool says What?

And what about the "rule of law" and complying with the lawful persuit of truth? For Mukasey - not so much.

Today, Attorney General Michael Mukasey "rejected referring the House’s contempt citations against two of President Bush’s top aides to a federal grand jury. Mukasey says they committed no crime." Mukasey claimed that White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers "were right" to ignore Congress’s subpoenas in the U.S. attorney scandal.


Yeah, because it makes perfect sense for the President to claim executive priveledge on a matter he supposed had nothing to do with in the first place. yeah, Right.

But now with our first real look at new AG Nominee Eric Holder - we have our first glimps that the days of General Road Block may finally be gone.

Not that this is something that that the wingers are going to fully understand.

Even after Holder's unequivocal rejection of torture techniques such as waterboarding and the concept of "Commander-in-Chief" authority to override the law, the constitution and our existing treaties - One Senator just didn't quite understand, the concept of "No, Mean, NO!" seemed lost on him. Now, who could that have been?

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) could not fathom that an Attorney General would reject a practice that both is unlawful and endangers Americans. He tried to get Holder to back off his anti-torture stance by presenting an absurd “ticking time bomb” hypothetical in which thousands of American lives are at stake. “You would still refuse to condone aggressive interrogation techniques?” Cornyn asked. When Holder replied that waterboarding is not the only interrogation method, Cornyn insisted, “Assume that it was”:



HOLDER: I think your hypothetical assumes a premise that I’m not willing to concede.

CORNYN: I know you don’t like my hypothetical.

HOLDER: No, the hypothetical’s fine; the premise that underlies it I’m not willing to accept, and that is that waterboarding is the only way that I could get that information from those people.

CORNYN: Assume that it was.

HOLDER: [Laughs] Given the knowledge that I have about other techniques and what I’ve heard from retired admirals and generals and FBI agents, there are other ways in a timely fashion that you can get information out of people that is accurate and will produce useable intelligence. And so it’s hard for me to accept or to answer your hypothetical without accepting your premise. And in fact, I don’t think I can do that.


A few minutes later, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) identified where Cornyn most likely thought up his torture-is-the-only-option scenario: “I understand Senator Cornyn’s questions. They are questions that anyone who watches Jack Bauer on ‘24′ would ask.”


At long last Jack Bauer's Evil Uncle Ernie is no longer going to be running our Justice Department. It's about freaking time.

Vyan

Thursday, January 15

Jack Bauer Belongs on Tool Academy

There's a new show that premiered this week. It's a show were a bunch of big muscled womanizing lunk heads think they're in competition to become "Mr. Awesome." As it turns out, while they chase the scantily clad girls dangled in front of them, their actual girlfriends are watching every second. They're really on a show called "Tool Academy" and they are the Tools.

After yesterday's revelation that the torture used in Gitmo has ruined the case against the 20th 9-11 hijacker, the real "Tools" appear to be George Bush, Dick Cheney, the entire Right-wing Media and Jack Bauer.

Just watch as they completely spooge over the 24 Season premiere.



In the speech that Billy, Doocy and Rushy find so inspiring Bauer, while being challenged for his treatment of a suspect named Hadib, tightens his jaw and heroically growls the following.


BAUER: When I am activated, when I am brought into a situation, there is a reason and that reason is to complete the objectives of my mission at all costs. [...]

For a combat soldier the difference between success and failure is your ability to adapt to your enemy. The people that I deal with, they don’t care about your rules. ... In answer to your question, am I above the law? No, sir. I am more than willing to be judged by the people you claim to represent. I will let them decide what price I should pay. Now please do not sit there with that smug look on your face and expect me to regret the decisions that I have made because, sir, the truth is I don’t.



OOhh... how masterful.

Most of us who live in the real world know that Jack Bauer is just a character on a tv show - unfortunately some of our governmental leaders over the last 8 years don't seem to know that since they happen to be spouting the exact same ridiculous B.S. as Bauer.

This week Vice President Cheney said when asked about his interrogation program said that ...

"I feel very good about what we did. I think it was the right thing to do,"... it would have been unethical or immoral for us not to" torture detainees


Kinda Baeur-rific, isn't it?

And President Bush? In his final Press Conference he said.


"I'm in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools...

{We }"got legal opinions before any decision was made." Bush insisted that torturing Mohammed produced "good information" that "helped save lives on American soil."


That's Baeur-tastic - except for one little detail - shit didn't happen that way.

The guys in the CIA say they didn't get jack crap from Mohammed after he was tortured.

As for K.S.M. himself, who (as Jane Mayer writes) was waterboarded, reportedly hung for hours on end from his wrists, beaten, and subjected to other agonies for weeks, Bush said he provided “many details of other plots to kill innocent Americans.” K.S.M. was certainly knowledgeable. It would be surprising if he gave up nothing of value. But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total fucking bullshit.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”


Mission Accomplished Khallid.

Ok, so the torture didn't really work with him.. KSM told us what we wanted to hear, just like Curveball who said that Saddam had "Mobile Labs for Chemical Weapons" (Guess what? He didn't) and Abu Zubaydah who supposedly led us to KSM, but uh - actually didn't.

Bush discussed Abu Zubaydah’s treatment in his 2006 announcement. “As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation. And so the C.I.A. used an alternative set of procedures.... The procedures were tough, and they were safe, and lawful, and necessary.” Soon, Bush went on, Abu Zubaydah “began to provide information on key al-Qaeda operatives, including information that helped us find and capture more of those responsible for the attacks on September 11.” Among them, Bush said, were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind, and his fellow conspirator Ramzi Binalshibh. In fact, Binalshibh was not arrested for another six months and K.S.M. not for another year. In K.S.M.’s case, the lead came from an informant motivated by a $25 million reward.


Then there as Ibn-Sheik Al-Libi who told us Saddam was supplying al-Qeada with Chemical weapons training. Guess why he said that?

According to the ABC News report, one other detainee who was waterboarded was Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the director of the Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan, who was captured in November 2001. His current whereabouts are unknown, although there are suspicions that he was finally delivered to the Libyan government. Having slipped off the radar, the government clearly does not want his case revived, not only because it may have to explain what has happened to him, but also because, as a result of the application of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," al-Libi claimed that Saddam Hussein had offered to train two al-Qaeda operatives in the use of chemical and biological weapons.

Al-Libi's "confession" led to President Bush declaring, in October 2002, "Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases," and his claims were, notoriously, included in Colin Powell's speech to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003. The claims were of course, groundless, and were recanted by al-Libi in January 2004, but it took Dan Cloonan, a veteran FBI interrogator, who was resolutely opposed to the use of torture, to explain why they should never have been believed in the first place.


For the last time: the pre-war intelligence that led us into a war with Iraq wasn't "Flawed" - the techniques Bush authorized were.

Just like Bauer - both Bush and Cheney claim that they only did what thy had to do to Save American Lives. One of our chief Special Forces Interrogators from Iraq (the guy who helped hunt down abu Masub al-Zarqawi without torturing anyone) says, That's a crock of Shit.

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. ... It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.


Bush claims he asked "what tools are available to us" - but the answer he received from John Yoo, Robert Delahunt and Alberto Gonzales in 2002 was - just pretend that the Geneva Conventions don't count and you won't get prosecuted.

Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that (the War Crimes Act) does not apply which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution," Gonzales wrote.


If Geneva was off the table (although the SCOTUS later said in Hamdan v Rumsfeld -"The HELL it wasn't!") , then all bets were off right from the start. All tactics they used from that point on - were their choice. It was Bush's choice, and he made the wrong one when he authorized water torture, sleep deprivation, stress positions and hypothermia as interrogation tactics.

Just like the Khmer Rouge, Augusto Pinchet, and the Right-Wing's darling hero Bauer.

Despite his claim that he "has no regrets" Jack - in a very Bushian way - seems to selectively forget just what he's really done, and how much of it went straight to hell.

- In the 2-Hour re-season opener "24:Redemption" Bauer had been ON THE RUN OVERSEAS TO AVOID A CONGRESSIONAL SUBPEONA.

Y'know like a mixture between Mark Rich and Karl Rove.

- The only reason he came back to the U.S. is because some Weaslely State Dept. "Bastard" tricks and blackmails him into complying with the law, by putting a bunch a kids that Bauer is protecting at risk of being butchered by an African dictator. Jack "redeems" himself by angrily giving in to the subpoena only so that the kids can be saved, not because he's made any decision to "face the music".


- But Jack Baeur and CTU have tortured kids before, including the 17-year-old son of a sleeper-cell leader, who himself - as it turned out - was completely innocent and didn't know anything. Nevermind the fact he'd already been granted immunity and was perfectly willing to talk. While they were busy and distracted doing that the bad guys SHOT DOWN AIR FORCE ONE, killed the President and captured the nuclear football. CTU later used the kid and his mother as bait, both were murdered.

Nice work Jack.

- Bauer failed to stop a nuclear suitcase bomb (a device which doesn't exist) from going off ion the outskirts off L.A., near Valencia. Bye Bye Magic Mountain. He later shot and killed one of his best friends in cold blood to protect a terrorist source that might have led them to another suitcase-bomb. He didn't.


- Jack hijacked Marine One and kidnapped President Logan out from from under the Secret Service in order to get him to admit being involved in the plot to kill President Palmer. (Which didn't work, but Logan did admit hiding his knowledge of it on tape later)


- Jack tortured his girlfriends ex-husband, Paul, just because he suspected he might be involved in a terrorist plot - but the man was innocent and didn't know anything at all. Eventually he figured out that the bad guys were using his company without his knowledge, something they could have figured out by just asking. Or getting one of the legal thingee's - whachamacallit - oh yeah, a Warrant! Paul, being a really good sport, eventually took a bullet for Jack and ended up paralyzed.


- Jack broke onto the grounds of the Chinese Consolate - which is an act of War - in order to torture and interrogate the Chinese Ambassador. The Chinese retaliated by kidnapping Bauer (and torturing him, but of course he didn't break), his girlfriend - the same one, Audrey - followed him to China - was captured, tortured and LOST HER MIND. (What was that about "No Regrets" again?) Her Dad, The Secretary of Defense, was a little peaved.


- He tortured his own brother, and his brother managed to resist it and hide the fact that the real bad guy - was their father. (Yes, this show is a rather pathetic soap opera isn't it?) Dear 'ole Dad then killed the brother to shut him up just in case he couldn't resist a second time, and setup Jack to take the blame. Real Great Family values there.

Even on their own damn show Torture Doesn't work at least half the time, now in the current season Jack's tactics are negatively influencing an FBI agent who recruited his help. She's already committed one act of torture - disabling the respirator of a wounded suspect - and Jack wasn't even there.

I'm not saying Jack hasn't had some miraculous successes for your basic FANTASY SUPERHERO WET-DREAM, but Call me "fickle"- he's not exactly a "Hero" in my book. "Mr. Awesome" he is not. Neither is Bush.

"War Criminal" sounds about right, but Lord God King of the Tools will just have to do for now.

Vyan

P.S. Wanna hear a truly great speech about torture? How about Denzel Washington as Agent Hubbard in 1998's The Seige!







PPS: I looks like the real life Agent Hubbard - Is Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder!!

This is a follow-up to my original post and I would have included it if I could, but it was happening in real time as I was posting:

Via Thinkprogress

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) could not fathom that an Attorney General would reject a practice that both is unlawful and endangers Americans. He tried to get Holder to back off his anti-torture stance by presenting an absurd “ticking time bomb” hypothetical in which thousands of American lives are at stake. “You would still refuse to condone aggressive interrogation techniques?” Cornyn asked. When Holder replied that waterboarding is not the only interrogation method, Cornyn insisted, “Assume that it was”:



HOLDER: I think your hypothetical assumes a premise that I’m not willing to concede.

CORNYN: I know you don’t like my hypothetical.

HOLDER: No, the hypothetical’s fine; the premise that underlies it I’m not willing to accept, and that is that waterboarding is the only way that I could get that information from those people.

CORNYN: Assume that it was.

HOLDER: [Laughs] Given the knowledge that I have about other techniques and what I’ve heard from retired admirals and generals and FBI agents, there are other ways in a timely fashion that you can get information out of people that is accurate and will produce useable intelligence. And so it’s hard for me to accept or to answer your hypothetical without accepting your premise. And in fact, I don’t think I can do that.


A few minutes later, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) identified where Cornyn most likely thought up his torture-is-the-only-option scenario: “I understand Senator Cornyn’s questions. They are questions that anyone who watches Jack Bauer on ‘24" would ask.


LOL!!!

Vyan

Wednesday, January 14

Gitmo Prosecutors Drops 9-11 Case Because of Torture

This is currently being covered on Countdown as I type this: This week the prosecutor in the case against the 20th 9-11 Hijacker has announced that she will drop the case base the confession offered by is tainted because - HE WAS TORTURED!


We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution. [...]



From Countdown.


More...

“I sympathize with the intelligence gatherers in those days after 9/11, not knowing what was coming next and trying to gain information to keep us safe,” said Crawford, a lifelong Republican. “But there still has to be a line that we should not cross. And unfortunately what this has done, I think, has tainted everything going forward.”


This is the bottom line right here, techniques specifically authorized by former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld as well as President Bush violated the law and has denied justice for those who mourn the many people lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

This is what Crawford said via the Washington Post:

Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani's health led to her conclusion. "The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge" to call it torture, she said.


Crawford's comment put the lie to Bill O'Reilly's claims from the other day as he discussed this with Christopher Hitchens.



I have three points on this...

1) Bill argues that people not in uniform are not covered by Geneva, this is false - the Geneva has a default position that anyone captured in a combat zone and suspected of being a fighter is to covered by the convention.

2) This view was reaffirmed by the SCOTUS in Hamdan V Rumsfeld. The President does not have the authortiy to violate Geneva or the 8th Amendment at will - Period.

3) This type of action has acted as a recruitment tool for our enemies and cost American Lives as was stated by one of the senior interrogators recent. (Looking for link!)

And what's worse is that Qhatani isn't the only one whose case has been derailed.

Via Thinkprogress.

Qahtani is hardly the only detainee whose charges have been dropped due to improper treatment. In October, the Pentagon dismissed cases against five terror suspects, including Binyam Mohamed, a former British resident accused in the “dirty bomb” case:

He has claimed he was tortured while in American custody or in countries to which he said the United States sent him. His lawyers argued Tuesday that the government was trying to avoid having to answer his accusations.

“They have been cornered into doing this to avoid admitting torture,” said Clare Algar, the executive director of Reprieve, a legal organization that represents Mr. Mohamed.


The last point, is that what Crawford alleges as illegal activity - authorized by Rumsfeld and Bush - IS DEFINED AS A WAR CRIME under the U.S. Federal Codes. Her determination in this case, and the Pentagon's similar determination has opened the door for War Crimes prosecution of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and probably - Alberto Gonzales who was the first to provide a bogus rationale for these techniques.

Vyan

Monday, January 12

President Bush's Final Insult to the Nation - Nothing Went Wrong with Katrina?

In his final press conference today, Soon-to-be-former President Bush indignantly defended the Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina - yet again displaying a total cluelessness that is both astounding and appauling.



Bush: You know, people said that the federal response was slow. Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed.


What President Without-A-Brain doesn't seem to realize is that those 30,000 people then spent the next seven days trapped in the Superdome without Food or Water!.

F-King Assclown!!

Thinkprogress has a list of exactly how slow the federal response actually was.


– National Guard troops did not arrive in the area until two full days after the levees were breached.


This of course, just as it did in Iraq - helped lead to widespread looter by both the hungry and the greedy.





Most people were just trying to survive.


– Bush did not leave his vacation home or assemble a task force until Wednesday, two days after the hurricane made landfall and the levees were breached.


Just like when he was told "Bin Laden Determined to Strike inside the U.S", when Katrina hit - Bush was too busy clearing brush on his Horse-less Ranch, to bother doing what he claims was his "Number one" duty: Protect the nation. Eventually he did do something, he went to have some Cake with John McCain.



And when he was done with that... he went to play some guitar.



Meanwhile New Orleans looked like THIS:






– By Thursday, three days after landfall, FEMA had yet to set up a command and control center.

– FEMA Director Michael Brown said he had not heard about the more than 3,000 evacuees stranded in the convention center until Thursday. Many evacuees had been there since Tuesday morning.


It's really odd that it took him that long, since one of those evacuees - was a member of FEMA. Marty Bahamonde, who was sending Brown text messages from his Blackberry from inside the Superdown.

Seattle Times: On Aug. 31, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown to tell him that thousands of evacuees were gathering in the streets with no food or water and that "estimates are many will die within hours." "Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," Bahamonde wrote. "The sooner we can get the medical patients out, the sooner we can get them out."

No response came from Brown.


In his defense, Brown actually did relay this message up the line to Michael Chertoff and to the Whitehouse with a request for more resources and support. They gave him BUPKIS!

Back to Thinkprogress.




– On Friday morning, Bush praised Brown: “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.” He also said he was “satisfied with the response.”


Yeah, right!


– FEMA did not finalize its request for evacuation buses until Sunday, six days after Katrina hit. The buses “trickled into New Orleans, with only a dozen or so arriving the first day,” noted the Wall Street Journal.

– The Superdome was finally evacuated on Sunday, a full seven days after 30,000 evacuees had arrived there.


This is what happened to more than 3000 of the people that the Coast Guard "Saved".



And this...



And this...



Nice job, Bushee!

Besides the fact that Bush was Personally WARNED that this could happen prior to landfall, and that FEMA has done a simulation called Hurrican Pam which predicted the complete distruction of the city, his response to this issue, even after all this time, with so much evidence to the contrary, is just mind-bogglingly assholish!. Yes, the Coast Guard did a great job - but they were the ONLY ONES DOING THEIR JOB!!


Everything else fell apart. The cities resource were strapped, all the buses they had were destroyed in the storm. The Police cars were swamped didn't have boats, and the Bushies were more interested in making a Democratic Governor Suck IT than allowing her to use her own National Guard to help.

NEW YORK Former FEMA director Michael Brown says politics were a factor in decisions over whether to take federal control of areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Brown, in a lecture in New York, says some in the White House suggested only Louisiana should be federalized because it was run by a Democrat, Governor Kathleen Blanco. He says he recommended that all affected areas be federalized. That would have put the federal government in charge of all agencies responding to the disaster.

Brown says someone at the White House said Blanco's "a white, female Democratic governor and we have a chance to rub her nose in it." He didn't identify the person.


In his defense Bush suggests that the question of "doing more" somehow means he should have landed Air Force One in the middle of a disaster area. He then goes on to point of how ridiculous that idea would have been since his presence would have "drawn resources" away from the problem.

Let me just speak directly to Mr. Bush in all seriousness for a second:

    Hey Shithead, the resources WEREN'T EVEN THERE TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS - bringing in AF1 and it's ontourage of vehicles, back up planes and whatever would have helped. Doing anything would have helped. They could have used that shit to get people out of city - or to bring them Food and Water.

    Nitwit.

    Sorry, President NITWIT, to you.


This man - this so-called "President" - is and was a National Disgrace!! He stranded Americans - on American soil. ABONDONED THEM TO SUFFER AND DIE for a week, and he now says "Don't Tell me the Federal Response was SLOW!!"

Fuckerhead!

Good Bye and Good F-n Riddance!

Vyan