HELL OR SOMETHING close to it burns on this earth. Its residents are so anxious to leave they go to the most extreme means, most recently in the most notable of ways [story]
. . . when Dossari did not return, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan knocked on the cell door, calling out his client's name. When he did not hear a response, Colangelo-Bryan stepped inside and saw a three-foot pool of blood on the floor. Numb, the lawyer looked up to see Dossari hanging unconscious from a noose tied to the ceiling, his eyes rolled back, his tongue and lips bulging, blood pouring from a gash in his right arm.
DOSSARI IS A DETAINEE at Guantanamo. His suicide is unusual for the fact it occurred in the presence of his lawyer, not his guards. The Joint Task Force at Guantanamo admits there have been at least thirtysix suicide attempts by twenty two detainees. Not hard to tell some have tried more than once. This has been going on for some time. A cluster of suicide attempts in 2003 highlighted the problem much earlier on. [WaPo/March 2, 2003]
The cluster of attempts has renewed criticism from human rights organizations, which have long faulted the government's decision to hold the prisoners as "unlawful combatants," without charges or protections under international prisoner of war statutes.
"As far as they know, they're going to be there forever," said Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. "It must give people a sense of desperation. . . . This is like a Devil's Island."
UN REPRESENTATIVES ON HUMAN RIGHTS have finally been invited to the prison. However, the United States says no detainees will be allowed to be interiewed alone. [story]
"They said they have nothing to hide," Manfred Nowak, U.N. special rapporteur on torture, said yesterday at a news conference in New York. "If they have nothing to hide, why should we not be able to talk to detainees in private?"
WHY INDEED? Only the devil knows.
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING HANGING TOGETHER [AP/January 24, 2005] Twenty-three terror suspects tried to hang or strangle themselves during a week-long protest orchestrated in 2003 to disrupt operations and unnerve new guards at the U.S. military camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the U.S. military said Monday.
Officials hadn't previously reported the incidents, which the military called "self-injurious behavior" aimed at getting attention rather than serious suicide attempts.
The coordinated attempts were among 350 "self-harm" incidents that year, including 120 so-called "hanging gestures," at the secretive prison that opened after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to Lt. Col. Leon Sumpter, a spokesman for the detention mission.
In the Aug. 18-26, 2003, protest, nearly two dozen prisoners tried to hang or strangle themselves with clothing and other items in their cells, demonstrating "self-injurious behavior," the U.S. Southern Command in Miami said in a statement. Ten detainees made a mass attempt on Aug. 22 alone.
THE HERETIK NOTES 120 so-called "hanging gestures" suggests the US government’s numbers don’t add up. A GESTURE OF WHAT? [al Jazeera/January 25, 2005] The incident occurred in the same year in which Major-General Geoffrey Miller had taken command of the prison with the authorised mandate of obtaining more information from the detainees. . . . The U.S. Southern Command described it as "a co-ordinated effort to disrupt camp operations and challenge a new group of security guards from the just-completed unit rotation". . . . .Alistair Hodgett, at the Washington office of Amnesty International, said: "When you have suicide attempts or so-called self-harm incidents, it shows the type of impact indefinite detention can have, but it also points to the extreme measures the Pentagon is taking to cover up things that have happened in Guantanamo. What we've seen is that it wasn't simply a rotation of forces but an attempt to toughen up the interrogation techniques and processes."
According to Guantanamo officials they differentiated between a suicide attempt in which a detainee could have died without intervention, and a "gesture" which they deemed was only aimed at getting attention.
THE HERETIK MUST ASK what kind of attention detainees received before their gestures for attention. And what kind of attention after?
ADDITIONAL RELATED READING BETTER DEAD THAN ALIVE? [The Age] Hicks told Englishman Martin Mubanga, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, he had been taken from the ship by helicopter to an unidentified place, thought to be Pakistan or Afghanistan.
The United States has been accused of using the practice of rendition with Guantanamo Bay detainees, where it takes prisoners to another country to be tortured rather than doing it on US soil. . . . . Hicks' father, Terry, confirmed that the abuse had involved sexually embarrassing things and that they involved Americans.
"He had two, 10-hour beatings from the Americans and I said to David, 'Sure they were Americans?' (because) he said he had a bag over his head and he said, 'Oh look ... I know their accents, they were definitely American'," Mr Hicks told Four Corners.
"Some pretty horrific things ... were done to him."
The program reported the abuse had included Hicks being injected and then penetrated anally with various objects.
AND WHAT MORAL ROTDOES THE ABOVE REVEAL? [Digby] Is this some sort of American sexual panic or is it official policy that sexual violence is the best way to "interrogate" prisoners?
Every time I read this stuff it makes my stomach churn. What is being described is depraved sexual violence--- rape. And I wonder about the men and women who are perpetrating these horrifying acts. This is a license to unleash the darkness which I assume exists to some extent or another in most people --- and then they are going to come back into society and we are going to expect them to behave like decent people. [via Suburban Guerrilla]
TIME AND AGAIN THE HERETIK DEPLORES not just the great damage done to the victims, but also the damage inflicted on torturers to themselves and to this country’s soul. For as The Heretik has noted before, as Digby does here, our citizen soldier torturers and their CIA counterparts at some time come home to our country. And when these whom we claim do the best for us do return to the home of the brave and the land of the free, these soul savaged torturers establish a new, indeed more base line for what conduct is acceptable and normal. Some such torturers will come home, plop down on the couch, click on the remote, and cheer some Monday Night Football.
THE HERETIK IS STRUCK AGAIN by the banality of evil, Arendt’s observation of the all too ordinary aspect of evil, made more horrible by its everyday and casual cruelty.
SPECTER TALKS THE TALK but doesn’t walk the choice walk. Arlen hearts Alito. And the Democrats fight to keep America from stepping back into the Nineteenth Century just got a lot tougher [story]
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., sent strong signals Monday that he would use all his clout to help federal appeals court judge Samuel Alito win confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Time and again Specter used his Monday afternoon press conference to defend President Bush’s nominee to the high court and to justify some of his controversial rulings.
“I think he’ll be an excellent witness,” Specter predicted. Drawing an implicit contrast with ex-nominee Harriet Miers, who withdrew last week after getting a tepid reception from the Senate, Specter said “he’s a real legal scholar beyond any question.”
KEY REPUBLICAN MODERATES will need to come round for Democrats to win on this nominee. And for the country not to lose.
Specter did not say he'd vote for Alito, but all his other comments were positive. . . . Specter seemed to go out of his way to try to persuade abortion rights supporters, of whom he is one, that Alito is not beyond the pale . . . . Specter on Monday said he did not think a filibuster would be warranted in Alito’s case. And as in the cases of Bush's conservative appeals court nominees such as Janice Rogers Brown, whom Specter helped shepherd to Senate approval last May, the senior senator from Pennsylvania appears to be giving the Right no cause for complaint.
ARLEN OF PENNSYLVANIA here seems a pale specter of a supporter of women’s right to choose. Alito opposes that and more.
INTELLIGENCE DEMANDS secrecy. Mistakes in intelligence need the light of day so similar mistakes don’t end in disaster. [story]
The National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that during the Tonkin Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam War, N.S.A. officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence to cover up their mistakes, two people familiar with the historian's work say.
IF A LESSON is to be learned, the books must be open. Neither the present nor the future are served by hiding the past. The initial mistakes made by N.S.A officers was not deliberate, but the cover up of the mistakes was.
The historian's conclusion is the first serious accusation that communications intercepted by the N.S.A., the secretive eavesdropping and code-breaking agency, were falsified so that they made it look as if North Vietnam had attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after a previous clash. President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the supposed attack to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but most historians have concluded in recent years that there was no second attack. . . . Mr. Hanyok concluded that they had done it not out of any political motive but to cover up earlier errors, and that top N.S.A. and defense officials and Johnson neither knew about nor condoned the deception.
SECRECY HAS ITS OWN inertia. Once something moves toward cover, cover remains. That blanket is most hard to pull off when to do so would reveal a body of lies.
Mr. Hanyok's findings were published nearly five years ago in a classified in-house journal, and starting in 2002 he and other government historians argued that it should be made public. But their effort was rebuffed by higher-level agency policymakers, who by the next year were fearful that it might prompt uncomfortable comparisons with the flawed intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, according to an intelligence official familiar with some internal discussions of the matter.
THOSE WHO WORK in secret cover mistakes not their own, because it is to their benefit, not our nation’s. The intelligence cult of the all seeing, all knowing eye guards well its secrets. The secret that must not be revealed is that sometimes the eye is blind.
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING [Avedon Carol] the whole of history is an embarrassment to this administration, because looking at it - any of it - shows you how absolutely ghastly their policies are.
AND MAGUIRE’S ON FIRE [Just One Minute] "Uncomfortable comparisons"? Never. If the current crop of CIA leakers say that they were right and that the White House pressured them to be wrong, well, that is God's own truth.
By odd coincidence, we will illustrate the CIA's eternal and unquestionable veracity with this old Knight-Ridder story, which can be contrasted with the Senate Intelligence Committee report from a year later.
Inexplicably, the national media expressed doubts about the CIA's credibility and impartiality in this amicus brief filed as part of the Plame investigation. THE HERETIK WILL NOTE agendas clash eternal, but odd it is the Times story is dated October 28, last Friday, a bad day for intelligence to be sure, and only published today. Hmm.
ALSO RECOMMENDED [Amygdala] This is the first hint of actual faking of the original intelligence, let alone the notion that it started as a genuine mistake at the lowest level, which was then covered up down there. This is huge historical news, since it sounds fairly definitive (although always beware first, and second, and third, and all, reports, of course; if this doesn't reteach that lesson, what does?). If you care, you'll darn well read the rest of the article.
What I found extra-fascinating is that while for about a decade I've greatly enjoyed reading pretty much everying posted by Studies In Intelligence, the unclassified historical journal of the CIA (which I post about from time to time; I have more sitting in the "To Blog" file, along with ~400 other articles just now), it never occurred to me that the NSA would have a similar institution. Turns out they do. And have similar papers (if an uglier webpage design).
IS BUSH’S BRAIN JUST A DIMWIT? Is the dark spell of Karl Rove finally leaving even Bush less entranced? Probably not. Everybody else gets some blame from Junior George. Card, Cheney, everyone but Rove. Who is fooling who? The last six months have been one fumble after another. For years we have hard the likes of this [Jonathan Chait/ LA Times]
For years, conservatives have treated the notion that Rove is the mastermind behind Bush as some sort of loopy conspiracy theory concocted by Bush-hating liberals. Andrew Ferguson's take in the Weekly Standard last year is typical: "[Bush's] Democratic adversaries have obsessed over piecing together odd, paranoid caricatures of the man who's driving them nuts — Bush as the agent of Halliburton, Bush as the idiot son of robber baron privilege, Bush the religious crank, the right-wing ideologue, the draft dodger, the front man for Enron or Rove or the Saudi royals or J.R. Ewing."
And yet the evidence has become increasingly hard to deny. After Bush won reelection, he granted Rove all-encompassing power over his domestic agenda. Rove is now overseeing the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, National Security Council and Homeland Security Council. This was simply a formal recognition of the de facto power that Rove had wielded all along.
It's hard to prove something definitely, though, without the aid of a controlled study. And the Miers fiasco offers the best proof of Rove's influence.
MAYBE WHAT THE DEMOCRATS NEED is more of Karl Rove’s ‘influence’ now, not less. If Rove leaves the White House, Bush might rebound. If Rove stays, Bush’s negative numbers might sink below zero into negative integers. Right now Bush is a place holder with little value, but for better or worse he keeps someone else from getting Bush’s ear.
RECOMMENDED READING [Lance Mannion] Brainiac twists slowly, slowly in the wind
THE PERMANENT POLITICAL CAMPAIGN of George Bush has suffered some self inflicted defeats of late. The bragger lacks the old braggadocio. The people are weary of war.[story]
The Bush team brought its campaign skills from the 2000 presidential contest into the White House and never stopped its reliance on these methods. Along with that style went the assumptions rooted in the Republican DNA of the president and those around him: The Democratic Party is not a worthy partner in the political process; repealing key elements of the New Deal is but a prelude to overturning the accomplishments of the Progressive Era; and negotiations with a partisan opponent are not opportunities to be embraced but traps to be avoided.
ARE PEOPLE CATCHING ON how much Bush marches to a different drummer? Is the drum stick he beats with something he also uses to beat down the inevitable call of the future? Are we one country looking forward in fantasy and another looking back to the mists of myth? Are our greatest days yet clearly ahead or somewhere in the clouded past? Can we ever be truly united and if so, at what cost? Is our native division a multiplicity of wealth? Will Bush’s own future brighten? Or will he now march into the past forgotten darkly?
NBC'S TIM RUSSERT will go under the microscope in any examination of the PlameOut prosecution and Scooter Libby’s role in it. The Fourth Estate, occasionally still referred to nostalgically as the free press, will face the fifth degree in unprecedented manner for how the storytellers are so often part of story, but untelling of their role. [story]
In a telephone interview on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Russert acknowledged some discomfort with his unusual role in the case, in which Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times have also contradicted Mr. Libby's account under subpoena. "We hate being in the middle of what we're reporting on," he said. "But it is what it is."
IT IS WHAT it is and what it was before that is quite a bit of bullsh*t from the boy on the major Sunday morning bully pulpit. “Reporters” these days don’t hate being n the middle of what they are reporting on, they revel in it. [October 30 Meet The Press transcript]
GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE Jeralyn Merritt dishes up some just desserts for Russert [Talk Left] Tom Maguire at Just One Minute calls Russert "The Manchurian Reporter." . . . Eric Boehlert also criticizes Russert for not being more forthcoming earlier about his role.
The curious part to me always has been why Fitzgerald allowed Russert to be questioned only about what he said to Libby and not what Libby said to him during the conversation. The New York Times reported on July 16, 2005 (quoted here)
AND MORE FROM MAGUIRE [Just One Minute] Mr. Russert hewed almost perfectly to the script, so we are back at square one - did Tim Russert mention Wilson's wife, on a no-name basis, as working at the CIA, without any job description?
But let's add a bit to the story, even if NBC does not want to. Since Mr. Russert passed on the complaint to the president of NBC News, one might think that NBC News has some notes as to Mr. Libby's specific complaint. Did they share that information with the Special Counsel, and would they care to share that with their viewers?
Pending their response, we will rely on the very fine work of Michael Crowley at The New Republic and Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft, both of whom took it upon themselves to ask the tough question that eluded Mr. Williams - what, specifically, did Lewis Libby call to complain about?
Working independently, these two came to the same conclusion - Mr. Libby's ire was *probably* raised by a Chris Matthews rant from July 8 on - have you guessed? - Lewis Libby, Joe Wilson, and Niger.
THE HERETIK HEARS loud and clear that “the reporter” Tim Russert who often barely lets guests get a word in edgewise loudly calls out from the center of this story
BUSH HEADS TOWARD COLLISION with Democrats on new Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito. Bush’s second choice after Harriet Miers rejected herself may not be choice enough for Democrats. Bush now steers to the hard right with more rough water. [story] [Bush statement]
The nomination is likely to please Mr. Bush's conservative allies, whose sharp criticism of Harriet E. Miers was instrumental in prompting her to withdraw last week. But the president is more likely to get a battle from Democrats and liberals who may believe Judge Alito's views are too extreme. . . . Over the weekend, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, warned President Bush not to pick Judge Alito, 55. "I think it would create a lot of problems," Mr. Reid said on "Late Edition" on CNN.
REID WOULD NOT rule our a filibuster, which the Republican majority may rule out of order. Senator Lindsay Graham warns against that move. Reid calls it like he see it. [story]
"If he wants to divert attention from all of his many problems, he can send us somebody that is going to create a lot of problems," Reid said of Bush on CNN. "I think this time he would be ill-advised to do that. But the right wing, the radical right wing, is pushing a lot of his buttons, and he may just go along with them."
NOW THE QUESTION is who is in charge and where are we headed. Will November have a nuclear frost? For the next few hours at least Bush won’t face hot questions on Scooter Libby. RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING LEFT BOUNCES RIGHT BACK UP. People For the American Way rejects Alito [Barbash Wapo Blog] Replacing a mainstream conservative like Justice O’Connor with a far-right activist like Samuel Alito would threaten Americans’ rights and legal protections for decades,” said Neas. “Justice O’Connor had a pivotal role at the center of the Court, often providing a crucial vote to protect privacy, civil rights, and so much more. All that would be at risk if she were replaced with Judge Alito, who has a record of ideological activism against privacy rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, and more. [via Talk Left] [Full PFAW statement]
THE HERETIK WONDERS how power will play out here, whether Bush being played out in other fields will hurt him in this new field of icebergs. The 'O'Connor Seat' will prove far more contentious than the more settled Rhenquist seat on the court.
AND NOW FOR REACTION FROM THE RIGHT HOSANNA# 1 [Professor Bainbridge]I think it's a great choice. Alito is everything Harriet Miers was not: An experienced jurist. Prosecutorial and government experience. Relatively young (55). Stellar educational credentials (Princeton and Yale). A committed conservative whose track record earned him the nickname Scalito. (Wikipedia has details on some of his decisions.)
THE HERETIK NOTES cute, diminutive names like ‘Scalito’ presage big opposition from Democrats. Sober Sam could have a more daunting nickname, maybe Atillito The Little Hun. Mention of the dreaded Scalia word places Alito on the far right, not the mainstream, many Democrats will argue.
HARD CHOICE, HARD REALITY FOR DEMOCRATS [Jack Balkin] No doubt Alito will produce a fight over ideology and constitutional interpretation, but it is a fight that Bush calculates he can win. Having such a fight, and winning it, gives him the best of both worlds: a successful nomination of a conservative to the Supreme Court and an opportunity for movement conservatives to make their case about what the Constitution should mean.
THE HERETIK SEES MORE QUESTIONS than answers right now. Joe Gandelman neatly defines them [The Moderate Voice] How total will the Democratic battle against him be? Will it go all the way towards a filibuster? If so, will it trigger the GOP's long mentioned "nuclear-option" to eliminate filibusters against judicial nominees (something actually sought by some partisans in both parties)?
Will it split the "gang of 14" moderates? If some of the Democrats eventually oppose Alito, would the GOPers agree that this was the kind of nomination that falls under the agreement? At this point, it looks like a split would be likely.
What will this do to the President's remaining three years? Will conservatives, likened to spurned lovers due to the repulsion over the later withdrawn Harriet Miers nomination, quickly forgive and return to the fold (highly likely)? Will the way the nomination is handled and gotten through the Senate effectively obliterate the Democrats and continue to spur the defection of independents from the GOP? And, if so, would it cause previous theories that the center is important to effectively became inoperative in real (e.g. poll) terms?
THE HERETIK NOTES EVERYONE is looking for a clear win here. What may happen is everyone loses.
[Tennesee Guerilla Woman] “. . . he [Alito] voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law that required a woman to notify her husband before an abortion." When the male dominated state considers ordering you to tell your husband anything, it's time to wonder what country, or what century, you are living in.
NOW WE HAVE THE USUAL fun and games. What is your mark?Are you a nerd, geek, or dork? A god or goddess? Or are you a zombie? Test whether you are a slut. Tell us how it turned out. Eveyone is welcome at Lefty's Lounge.
AIN’T IT FUNNY how time slips away. Time again returns to a time before. And where we are is where we have been. We move forward toward the sun, each of our steps in the shadow of the past [story]
"The problem is that the President doesn't want to make changes," says a White House adviser who is not looking for a West Wing job, "but he's lost some of his confidence in the three people he listens to the most." Those three are his Vice President, Dick Cheney, whose top aide, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, has been charged with brazenly obstructing the investigation into who leaked the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame; Bush senior adviser Karl Rove, who while not indicted has still emerged as a player in the scandal; and chief of staff Andrew Card, who gets some of the blame for bungling the response to Hurricane Katrina and even more for the botched Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers. "All relationships with the President, except for his relationship with Laura, have been damaged recently," the White House adviser says.
CHENEY WHO LOVES power and secrecy has been well served by a chief of staff , this Scooter Libby, but the American people have not. The too hands on control style, the two hands on the throat of intelligence and the casual but cruel, off hand approach to perceived enemies tells how this country got where it is today, at war in Iraq until doomsday abroad and a White House in free fall at home with further discovery of how that war was sold and how its opponents were scourged. In a story that goes so low, self delusion rules on high. [story]
It is a good bet that Cheney and Libby did not think they were conspiring to trash a political foe by ruining his wife's career as an undercover agent. Given their view of themselves and their roles in the world, especially post 9/11, it is much more likely they believed that they were somehow safeguarding the republic. It's also a good bet that they did not foresee the disastrous consequences of their conversation, as well as a series of others between Libby and government officials and several reporters in the summer of 2003. Libby, as well as his boss, operated, at least in their own minds on a higher plane.
WHAT HAPPENED TO VALERIE Plame is but a lens to view how Cheney and his surrogates view their role in government. In the case of the CIA before and after the war, call it cadre versus cabal. Cheney distrusts the incompetent CIA cadre so he forms his own intelligence unit to do battle. Battles over who should control intelligence and information that should take place in open instead take place in secret. No surprise the intelligence derived stays secret and unchallenged then as well. The secrecy and the willingness to trash both procedure and opposition place Cheney, Cheney’s Cheney, and his successor clearly off any government reservation. Their willingness to go against all others shows a distressing anti-democratic mindset with respect to no opinion nor judgement but their own. So those who think themselves on a higher plane sinks us down to some interminable eternity of hell. We pass and pause in one year before we continue down.
CHENEY’S CHENEY and his replacement David Addington place this White House squarely back in a time called Watergate 1974, a time when there was a need for a War Powers Act to remind the Executive Branch that only Congress can declare war and Congress must fund wars too. War and security are foremost in their minds and the war over who has power over war remains fresh in their minds. [story]
Even in a White House known for its dedication to conservative philosophy, Addington is known as an ideologue, an adherent of an obscure philosophy called the unitary executive theory that favors an extraordinarily powerful president.
The unitary executive notion can be found in the torture memo. "In light of the president's complete authority over the conduct of war, without a clear statement otherwise, criminal statutes are not read as infringing on the president's ultimate authority in these areas," the memo said. Prohibitions on torture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority. . . . Congress may no more regulate the president's ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield." The same would go for "federal officials acting pursuant to the president's constitutional authority."
"The Framers understood the [commander in chief] clause as investing the president with the fullest range of power," the memo said, including "the conduct of warfare and the defense of the nation unless expressly assigned in the Constitution to Congress." That "sweeping grant" of power, it continued, is given because "national security decisions require the unity in purpose and energy in action that characterize the presidency rather than Congress."
WHO LAMENTS THE WAYS of Libby may more fear the ways of his successor Addington. Both I. Lewis Libby, the ill named Scooter, who was Cheney’s Cheney and David Addington who now takes the Chief of Staff Job under Cheney, have a love of Executive Power ungrounded in the Constitution that simply is a threat to democracy. Unasked is how a President unbound by laws in a foreign realm could then be bound in the domestic sphere. Those who see a President with a need for power in war abroad can easily find war at home or the threat of war their President would need to seize more power. This is all so simple. It is also most unamerican. If we buy into their delusion, their nightmare will be our own.
RECOMMENDED READING THE BIG ENCHILADA [Frank Rich/Truthout/ or NY Times] In our current imperial presidency, as in its antecedent, what may look like a narrow case involving a second banana with a child's name contains the DNA of the White House, and that DNA offers a road map to the duplicitous culture of the whole. The coming prosecution of Lewis (Scooter) Libby in the Wilson affair is hardly the end of the story. That "Cheney's Cheney," as Mr. Libby is known, would allegedly go to such lengths to obscure his role in punishing a man who challenged the administration's W.M.D. propaganda is just one very big window into the genesis of the smoke screen (or, more accurately, mushroom cloud) that the White House used to sell the war in Iraq.
After the heat of last week's drama, we can forget just how effective the administration's cover-up of that con job had been until very recently. Before Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation, there were two separate official investigations into the failure of prewar intelligence. With great fanfare and to great acclaim, both found that our information about Saddam's W.M.D.'s was dead wrong. But wittingly or unwittingly, both of these supposedly thorough inquiries actually protected the White House by avoiding, in Watergate lingo, "the big enchilada."
SO THE HERETIK SINGS THE SONG Let’s do the time warp again. When people speak of the earlier Watergate, its corruption and its reach, one inevitably hears the refrain: It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup. But the crime and the coverup are two parts of the same poison culture. One strand jumps over the other in an endless downward spiral that leaves us twisted. THE PRICE OF LOYALTY [Alter/Newsweek] The conventional Washington explanation is that this is just old-fashioned politics. As long as you don't lie to a grand jury, there's nothing illegal here. But the consequences of a bias for loyalty over debate—even internal debate—have been devastating. The same president who seeks democracy, transparency and dissent in Iraq is irritated by it at home. O'Neill tells his story in a book by Ron Suskind called "The Price of Loyalty," and that title is the missing link in explaining the failure of the Bush presidency. The price of loyalty is incompetence. Issues don't get aired; downside risks remain unassessed.
THE HERETIK KNOWS THE SONG It’s just a jump to the left, it’s just a jump to the right. We are at the jumping point after which informed, free government crashes and burns.
ALSO RECOMMENDED MORE ON ADDINGTON [Murray Waas/National Journal] Addington shares with Cheney and Libby the view of increasing presidential power and authority and setting strict limits on the release of executive branch information to both Congress and the public.
As early as May 2001, Addington was the point person for the White House in deflecting requests by congressional Democrats and later the General Accounting Office (now named the Government Accountability Office) for information about the energy policy task force convened by Cheney's office.
During confirmation hearings of Alberto Gonzales to be attorney general, it was revealed that Addington helped draft the White House memo that concluded that the Geneva Convention against torture did not apply to prisoners captured in the war on terror. The memo declared that terrorism "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."
Last May, Amnesty International called for foreign governments to launch a broad investigation into U.S. torture policies and the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. The organization included Addington among a list of officials who should be questioned for their role in writing "various legal opinions that may have provided cover for subsequent crimes."
Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general during the Reagan administration who is now in private practice, argues that the White House has pressed the issue of presidential powers and executive privilege farther than any previous administration, and far beyond what the democratic process warrants.
Addington has been part of a team that has asserted "a broad omnipotence of the president," Fein said, including the ability of the president to declare anyone an "enemy combatant" and to hold them indefinitely without legal representation.
INDICTING DICK [Empty Wheel/ The Next Hurrah] So Fitzgerald still has his work cut out for him if he thinks he's going to indict Dick anytime soon.
THE HERETIK COMMENDS the thoroughness of Empty Wheel's analysis day in and day out.