uh oh…

Posted on Wednesday 19 December 2007

Why would George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their morality challenged legal team go so far out on a limb in order to approve and defend Torture and other deviations from the Geneva Conventions? The first report of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse was on 60 Minutes in late April 2004. The Iraq War had been in progress for [only] one year. Abu Zubaydah, whose filmed torture is the subjuct of this recent contraversy, was captured in March 2002, a year before the Iraq War, five months after we invaded Afghanistan. The infamous "Torture Memo" was sent on August 1, 2002. Gitmo Prison was opened and filled in early 2002 when we went into Afghanistan. The Administration approved this Torture and other mistreatments of prisoners from the very beginning. And they’ve defended it ferociously. I frankly wonder how much of it still goes on. It’s hard for me to understand why. If it were that productive, they’d be crowing at the top of their lungs instead of giving made-up examples. From the outside, it seems to me to be a losing proposition – losing face in the world, losing face in this country.

After the September 11th, 2001 attack on New York, we all felt kind of barbaric. I’m not sure we were ready for what we got, but we were willing to go along with more of that sort of thing than before. But, even then, I doubt we would have approved the kind of prisoner abuse that the Administration apparently decided was a really good policy from the beginning – dehumanizing the designated enemy. And I wonder where all these policies originated? I frankly doubt that the C.I.A. or the Military was clammoring for this kind of interrogation techniques. I’d be willing to bet that they were under a lot of pressure to get intelligence that supported other Administration policies – policies like invading Iraq or Iran – things we know were in the Administration’s mind before the 2001 attack on New York. And there’s ample evidence that the C.I.A. insisted on legal clearance for what they were doing in advance. They knew they were moving into a legal danger zone, even for them [see NYT, C.I.A. to Cooperate with House on Tapes].

Well, they’re in trouble now. This time, there’s no question that these tapes were destroyed because they were incriminating. They don’t have the "missing email" excuses. We know what they did and why they did it. We’re rapidly finding out the people who authorized this course of action. It’s going to be impossible to argue that this decision was made in consultation with David Addington, Harriet Miers, and Alberto Gonzales without the knowledge and opinions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

As soon as we heard about the fire in the Old Executive Office building today, we all considered the possibility that the White House staff [specifically Addington] were burning up records. Whether that’s true or not, it’s our first thought – more destruction of evidence. Varerie Plame was "outed" in the summer of 2003. Scooter Libby was convicted this time last year – almost four years later. With the U.S. Attorney firings, it was only months before the resignations began to pour in. Gonzales was gone in eight months.  It has only been ten days since the New York Times published an article about the destruction of the C.I.A. Tapes, and the information is pouring out in spite of the vigorous White House attempt to do damage control and cool off the outcry.

I think that their fixation on torture and  other not so savory methodologies is not something simple. It’s a complex combination of things. They were determined to get the intelligence to support their shaky rationalizations for going to war. They know they are right because they are narcissistic, arrogant men. They don’t seem to really care about people at some basic level, don’t have the moral restraints that we would expect in our leaders.  I think they think others are "wussies" and they go for things like "dead or alive" and "bring it on" [because they’re insecure and frightened men]. They are under the influence of the Israelis whose policies are fairly vicious. But most of all, they are incompetent people who make irrational and ultimately bad decisions based on how they feel in the moment, and then compound their bad decisions by sticking to them when it’s clear that its time to change their course. Did I mention that they have no capacity to surround themselves with good counsel, instead preferring the company of "yes-men" or other equally afflicted compatriots?

The lag time in catching up to them is decreasing. They were semi-bulletproof back when people weren’t on to their tricks. Now, everyone knows [see Dan Froomkin’s, The Tell-Tale Stall]. They’re in some deep do-do this time, and it’s getting deeper fast. We’ve watched them slide by before, but by the skin of their teeth. They’re still not out of the woods with Plame, or the DOJ scandal, and the whole prewar intelligence cloud is always in the background. Is the C.I.A. Tape thing going to be "the one?" Who ever knows such things? But it’s moving mighty fast – mighty fast…

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