At this point, I didn’t believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record. In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki’s father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration late last night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims. That’s not surprising: both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality. But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”: in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.
Former Marine commandant Charles Krulak and former Marine general Joseph Hoar, who succeeded Schwarzkopf at Central Command, dress down former VP Cheney on the issue of torture. Good for them.
… we never imagined that we would feel duty-bound to publicly denounce a vice president of the United States, a man who has served our country for many years. In light of the irresponsible statements recently made by former Vice President Dick Cheney, however, we feel we must repudiate his dangerous ideas — and his scare tactics.
This is an issue, they remind us, of both leadership and law and order. They might have added self-discipline, a characteristic that I think Dick “Fuck you, Leahy” Cheney seems to lack.
What leaders say matters. So when it comes to light, as it did recently, that U.S. interrogators staged mock executions and held a whirling electric drill close to the body of a naked, hooded detainee, and the former vice president winks and nods, it matters.
The Bush administration had already degraded the rules of war by authorizing techniques that violated the Geneva Conventions and shocked the conscience of the world. Now Cheney has publicly condoned the abuse that went beyond even those weakened standards, leading us down a slippery slope of lawlessness.
Doing the right thing, Krulak and Hoar conclude, “makes us all safer.” This was the best article I read on the eighth anniversary of 9/11.
(Hat tip to www.G2mil.com)
Vodpod videos no longer available.
C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.
The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda operative.
A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.
The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The New York Times reported in 2007 that Mr. Mohammed had been barraged more than 100 times with harsh interrogation methods, causing C.I.A. officers to worry that they might have crossed legal limits and to halt his questioning. But the precise number and the exact nature of the interrogation method was not previously known.
The release of the numbers is likely to become part of the debate about the morality and efficacy of interrogation methods that the Justice Department under the Bush administration declared legal even though the United States had historically treated them as torture.
President Obama plans to visit C.I.A. headquarters Monday and make public remarks to employees, as well as meet privately with officials, an agency spokesman said Sunday night. It will be his first visit to the agency, whose use of harsh interrogation methods he often condemned during the presidential campaign and whose secret prisons he ordered closed on the second full day of his presidency.
C.I.A. officials had opposed the release of the interrogation memo, dated May 30, 2005, which was one of four secret legal memos on interrogation that Mr. Obama ordered to be released last Thursday.
Mr. Obama said C.I.A. officers who had used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods with the approval of the Justice Department would not be prosecuted. He has repeatedly suggested that he opposes Congressional proposals for a “truth commission” to examine Bush administration counterterrorism programs, including interrogation and warrantless eavesdropping.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has begun a yearlong, closed-door investigation of the C.I.A. interrogation program, in part to assess claims of Bush administration officials that brutal treatment, including slamming prisoners into walls, shackling them in standing positions for days and confining them in small boxes, was necessary to get information.
The fact that waterboarding was repeated so many times may raise questions about its effectiveness, as well as about assertions by Bush administration officials that their methods were used under strict guidelines.
A footnote to another 2005 Justice Department memo released Thursday said waterboarding was used both more frequently and with a greater volume of water than the C.I.A. rules permitted.
The new information on the number of waterboarding episodes came out over the weekend when a number of bloggers, including Marcy Wheeler of the blog emptywheel, discovered it in the May 30, 2005, memo.
The sentences in the memo containing that information appear to have been redacted from some copies but are visible in others. Initial news reports about the memos in The New York Times and other publications did not include the numbers.
Michael V. Hayden, director of the C.I.A. for the last two years of the Bush administration, would not comment when asked on the program “Fox News Sunday” if Mr. Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times. He said he believed that that information was still classified.
A C.I.A. spokesman, reached Sunday night, also would not comment on the new information.
Mr. Hayden said he had opposed the release of the memos, even though President Obama has said the techniques will never be used again, because they would tell Al Qaeda “the outer limits that any American would ever go in terms of interrogating an Al Qaeda terrorist.”
He also disputed an article in The New York Times on Saturday that said Abu Zubaydah had revealed nothing new after being waterboarded, saying that he believed that after unspecified “techniques” were used, Abu Zubaydah revealed information that led to the capture of another terrorist suspect, Ramzi Binalshibh.
The Times article, based on information from former intelligence officers who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Abu Zubaydah had revealed a great deal of information before harsh methods were used and after his captors stripped him of clothes, kept him in a cold cell and kept him awake at night. The article said interrogators at the secret prison in Thailand believed he had given up all the information he had, but officials at headquarters ordered them to use waterboarding.
He revealed no new information after being waterboarded, the article said, a conclusion that appears to be supported by a footnote to a 2005 Justice Department memo saying the use of the harshest methods appeared to have been “unnecessary” in his case.
JANE HAMSHER Gets it done; as usual…
Because someone has to
Rahm on This Week:
STEPHANOPOLOUS: The President has ruled out prosecutions of CIA officials who believed they were following the law. Does he believe the officials who devised the policies should be immune from prosecution?
RAHM: Yeah, what he believes is, look, as you saw in that statement he wrote. And I think, just take a step back. That he came up with this, and he worked on this for four weeks. Wrote that statement Wednesday night, after he made his decision, and dictated what he wanted to see and then Thursday morning I saw him in the office, he was still editing it. He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided. They shouldn’t be prosecuted.
STEPHANOPOLOUS: But what bout those who devised the policies?
RAHM: But those who devised the policies –he believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either. And it’s not the place that we go — as he said in that letter, and I really recommend that people look at that full statement. Not the letter, the statement. In that second paragraph: This is not a time for retribution. It’s a time for reflection. It is not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back, and in a sense of anger and retribution. We have a lot to do to protect America. What people need to know, this practice and technique, we don’t useany more. He banned it.
Is that truly what the administration thinks? That people who want to see those who illegally led the country down the road of torture held to account are simply “looking back” in “anger” and “retribution”? Fifty percent of the country favor such investigations, including 69% of Democrats and a majority of independents. Is Rahm saying that President Obama believes they’re nothing more than an angry, vindictive mob, and that nobody could possibly have a rational basis for believing that our laws should be enforced?
Manfred Nowak, the United Nations top torture investigator, says that treaties entered into by the United States require criminal investigations:
The United States, like all other states that are part of the U.N. convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court.
How does Rahm rationalize the President’s stated goal to “restore our moral standing” in the world with thumbing our noses at the international agreements we’ve entered into? Is there an “except when we don’t feel like it” clause?
The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but nearly 25% of its prisoners. There is something terribly inconsistent about a Senior Administration official like Rahm Emanuel insisting that an elite few should not be subject to our laws, and that people who take issue with this have no higher motive than counterproductive rage.
Sign the petition telling Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate torture here.
Exclusive: Cheney Holds Hard-Line Stance
In an Exclusive Interview with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney Opens Up About His Hard-Line Tactics
By JONATHAN KARL
Dec. 15, 2008 —
In an exclusive interview Monday with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney issued an unapologetic defense of the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies, including the use of waterboarding, and said the prison at Guantanamo Bay should remain open as long as there’s a war on terror.
In his first exit interview and first television interview since the November election, Cheney held fast to his views on coercing information out of alleged terrorists, saying waterboarding was an appropriate means of getting information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Cheney resisted those who say the Bush administration has overstepped its bounds on torture, saying national intelligence is an art, not a science.
“On the question of so-called torture, we don’t do torture,” Cheney told ABC News. “We never have. It’s not something that this administration subscribes to.
“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.”
Cheney was also asked whether he authorized the tactics used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
“I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do,” Cheney said. “And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.”
“There was a period of time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from that one source,” he added. “So, it’s been a remarkably successful effort. I think the results speak for themselves.”
Cheney also said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks most certainly became “a prime motivation” in shaping his time in office.
“Have I changed?” Cheney asked. “Well, not in the sense that I’ve gone through some fundamental psychological transition here but I have been since that day focused very much on what we needed to do to defend the nation and I think the policies we’ve recommended, the programs that we’ve undertaken have been good program. I think those have been sound decisions and if that’s what they mean by saying I’ve changed, I’m guilty.”
Cheney Disputes Rove
The outgoing vice president also disputed former Bush adviser Karl Rove’s recent comments about the decision to go to war in Iraq.
While discussing Bush’s legacy earlier this month, Rove said he did not believe the administration would have gone to war had intelligence revealed Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction.
“I disagree with that,” Cheney said Monday. “As I look at the intelligence with respect to Iraq, what they got wrong was that there weren’t any stockpiles.”
“What they found was that Saddam Hussein still had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction. He had the technology, he had the people, he had the basic feed stock.”
Cheney added that, given Saddam Hussein’s capabilities, reputation and track record of brutality, “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.”
Cheney Says Guantanamo Should Remain Open
Cheney said the prison at Guantanamo Bay could be responsibly shut down only when the war on terror has ended. Asked when that might be, he added, “Well, nobody knows. Nobody can specify that.”
“A lot of people, including the president, expressed the view that they’d like to close Guantanamo,” he said. “I think everybody can say we wished there were no necessity for Guantanamo, but you have to be able to answer these other questions before you can do that responsibly.”
Cheney warned that prisoners released from Guantanamo could prove dangerous to the United States, adding that the problem of what to do with released prisoners had not yet been solved.
“If you release people that shouldn’t have been released — and that’s happened in some cases already — you end up with them back on the battlefield,” he said.
Cheney said the Guantanamo detainees have been “well treated.”
“I don’t know any other nation in the world that would do what we’ve done in terms of taking care of people who are avowed enemies, and many of whom still swear up and down that their only objective is to kill more Americans,” he said.
Read excerpts from Monday’s interview here.
ABC News’ Kate Barrett contributed to this report.
From the indispensable Nicole Belle at Crooks And Liars Dot Com
By: Nicole Belle
Chris Dodd thanks the netroots for their support and congratulates his colleagues for their help in the fight against retroactive immunity.
“Today we have scored a victory for American civil liberties and sent a message to President Bush that we will not tolerate his abuse of power and veil of secrecy. The President should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecom companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens. I want to thank the thousands of Americans throughout the country that stood with me to get this done for our country.”
The progressive blogs, who played a huge role in lobbying the Senate to support Dodd’s leadership against retroactive immunity, are joining in the celebration now that the FISA bill has been pulled until next year.
In an email, Athenae of First Draft writes, “Seriously, that was some awesome with awesome sauce and a side of pure, crispy win.”
Crooks & Liars has video of Dodd’s closing remarks this evening.
Jason Rosenbaum at The Seminal writes, “This victory means Dodd’s filibuster has weight. It also makes it much more likely that he will win round two as he continues to stand up for the Constitution and against telecom immunity.”
Sam Stein at the Huffington Post sets the early narrative – one which I think accurately describes how events evolved over the course of the last few days – in an article titled “Dodd’s Filibuster Threat Persuades Reid.”[..]
Also, thanks to everyone at FireDogLake for all the help driving activism today.
You can keep giving Chris Dodd the props he’s due at ChrisDodd.com
The Nine Dark Lords of the Senate
Wayne Allard: Supports Torture
202-224-6471 – fax
Kit Bond: Supports Torture
Tom Coburn: Supports Torture
202-224-6008 – fax
Thad Cochran: Supports Torture
John Cornyn: Supports Torture
202-228-2856 – fax
James Inhofe: Supports Torture
202-228-0380 – fax
Pat Roberts: Supports Torture
202-224-3514 – fax
Jeff Sessions: Supports Torture
202-224-3149 – fax
Ted Stevens: Supports Torture
202-224-2354 – fax