Monday, December 08, 2014

The Bush I Knew and Loathed--Torture Unmasked

The Torture Defendants Fan Out
By Andrew Sullivan
The Dish

Everything the president (Bush--see video below) said  is untrue – and it appears that the looming Senate Intelligence Committee report on the torture program will soon prove it. The US did torture many many people with techniques devised by Nazis and Communists, sometimes in former KGB facilities. The CIA itself admits in its internal documents that none of it worked or gave us any actionable intelligence that wasn’t discovered through legal means. The torture techniques were not implemented by highly-trained professionals, but by goonish amateurs who concealed what they were doing and lied about it to superiors. All the techniques were and are clearly illegal under US and international law.

And we’re told there is some exculpatory evidence in the report, suggesting that Bush and Cheney and even Addington were misled as well – giving the former president some lee-way to explain how he came to create a torture program that will forever taint this country and has already done so much to damage its soft power. Maybe he could tell the truth and say that the extent and nature of the torture was kept from him and that he can now see what went so horribly wrong. But nah:
Some former administration officials privately encouraged the president and his top advisers to use the report to disclaim responsibility for the interrogation program on the grounds that they were not kept fully informed. But Mr. Bush and his inner circle rejected that suggestion. “Even if some officials privately believe they were not given all the facts, they feel it would be immoral and disloyal to throw the C.I.A. to the wolves at this point,” said one former official, who like others did not want to be identified speaking about the report before its release.
The question I posed publicly to the president back in 2009 – whether he could come to terms with the reality of torture and explain how it occurred – has therefore been answered a second time. In his own book, Bush owned the torture and took full responsibility for it. Now, he has decided he will not allow a sliver of daylight to come between him and war crimes. You can chalk this up to admirable loyalty, even to those who lied to him. Or you can simply reflect on a president who cannot admit to being the first in that office to authorize such an assault on core American values and decency. Which means to say he does not have the fortitude or character to deal with reality.

And now, we’re seeing a full-court press for those Bush loyalists who want to permanently suppress the evidence of war crimes under the program. If you want to get a clue about how devastating the forthcoming report might be, just observe the pre-emptive strikes:
The defense of the program has been organized by former C.I.A. leaders like George J. Tenet and Gen. Michael V. Hayden, two former directors, and John E. McLaughlin, a former deputy C.I.A. director who also served as acting director … General Hayden added that the former C.I.A. team objected to the Senate’s characterization of their efforts. “We’re not here to defend torture,” he said by email on Sunday. “We’re here to defend history.” General Hayden appeared earlier on Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS News to say that any assertion that the C.I.A. “lied to everyone about a program that wasn’t doing any good, that beggars the imagination.”

Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., who ran the C.I.A. interrogation program, said Sunday that critics now assailing the agency were pressing it after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to do whatever it took to prevent a recurrence. “We did what we were asked to do, we did what we were assured was legal, and we know our actions were effective,” Mr. Rodriguez wrote in The Washington Post.
Rodriguez was so sure that he did nothing wrong that he destroyed the tapes recording the torture sessions! Nothing to see here … so move long. A reader writes:
I just watched the CBS Morning News report on the SSCI report, featuring two persons: Michael Hayden was featured in excerpts from Sunday’s Face the Nation, then “CBS News terrorism consultant” Juan Zarate. Both offered an identical analysis: the release of the report would “fan the flames of violence against America.”
On CNN, Candy Crowley still could not say the t-word, and let Mike Rogers argue that evidence of the gravest crimes by government officials should be suppressed because … they will inflame opinion abroad, and possibly lead to demonstrations and violence. Notice that for Rogers, the fact that the US government committed barbarisms more commonly associated with Nazi Germany or Communist China is of no concern. No one should be prosecuted, because, well, because American officials cannot be subject to the Geneva Conventions, which must be observed by every state actor – except the US. And no evidence of crimes by government officials should be released, for fear of undermining faith in said government. Those arguments belong in a dictatorship, not a democracy.
Then this detail from this morning:
Mr. Bush and his closest advisers decided that “we’re going to want to stand behind these guys,” as one former official put it. Mr. Bush made that clear in an interview broadcast on Sunday. “We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the C.I.A. serving on our behalf,” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.” These are “really good people and we’re lucky as a nation to have them,” he said.
Whatever the report says …”

Denial doesn’t get much clearer than that – and it is of a piece with the reckless disengagement, sickening indifference and grotesque negligence that marked his catastrophic time in the Oval Office. In the wake of the shock of Abu Ghraib, Bush disavowed the atrocities, insisting that they did not represent America, that they were counter to American values, and that he was shocked and disgusted by them. And yet, when a report is imminent outlining acts of torture and abuse far worse than Abu Ghraib, and directly under his own authority, he insists that whatever is detailed in the report, the culprits are heroes and patriots, and “we’re lucky as a nation to have them.”

How does one begin to square that cognitive dissonance? How to explain how a believing Christian can describe brutal torture sessions as things to defend and be proud of? And how can the torture of human beings – and the cover-up of the same – be part of American “patriotism”? This is a man not just without a conscience, but a man proud of it. He had a chance to reflect on what his fateful decision to waive the Geneva Conventions after 9/11 produced; and he has decided to own all of it. And we shall soon see what exactly that is.

My 2 cents: Ah, Republicans, can't live with em can live without them!

Obama Africanus the First -- an article FOR Justice Roberts

When the "conservative" five in particular Justice Roberts called our nation a post racial society as they eviscerated Affirmative Action and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, I would have loved to send this article "Obama Africanus the First" by Geoffrey Stone of the  University of Chicago Law School to the illustrious Justice Roberts.  Along with the immoral killing of two unarmed black men Eric Garner and Michael Brown by white cops with no accountability, I think it says it all!

Obama Africanus the First

Posted: 12/06/2014 7:42 pm EST Updated: 12/07/2014 12:59 pm EST
I've been thinking lately about the persistently vituperative and insulting attacks on President Obama since 2008. It is, of course, commonplace in American politics for presidents to be lambasted for their policies, their programs, their values, and even their personal quirks. Sometimes the tone crosses the line. John Adams was accused by a political opponent of "swallowing up" every "consideration of the public welfare ... in a continual grasp for power." James Madison was demeaned as "Little Jemmy," because he was short. James Buchanan, who once declared that workers should get by on a dime a day, came to be mocked as "Ten Cents Jimmy."

John Tyler, who assumed the presidency after the death of William Henry Harrison, was ridiculed as "His Accidency." Congressman Abraham Lincoln castigated President James K. Polk as a "completely bewildered man." Opponents of Woodrow Wilson's reinstitution of the draft in World War I accused him of "committing a sin against humanity." Critics of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal attacked him as an "un-American radical." Richard Nixon was famously known as "Tricky Dick," and of course he was not "A Crook." At the height of the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson was excoriated by his opponents as a "Murderer" and a "War Criminal."

But no president in our nation's history has ever been castigated, condemned, mocked, insulted, derided, and degraded on a scale even close to the constantly ugly attacks on President Obama. From the day he assumed office -- indeed, even before he assumed office -- he was subjected to unprecedented insults in often the most hateful terms.

He has been accused of being born in Kenya, of being a "secret Muslim," of being complicit with the Muslim Brotherhood, of wearing a ring bearing a secret verse from the Koran, of having once been a Black Panther, of refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance, of seeking to confiscate all guns, of lying about just about everything he has ever said, ranging from Benghazi to the Affordable Care Act to immigration, of faking bin Laden's death, and of funding his campaigns with drug money. It goes on and on and on. Even the President's family is treated by his political enemies with disrespect and disdain.
If one browses even respectable websites, one can readily find bumper stickers, coffee cups, and tee-shirts for sale with such messages as: "Dump This Turd" (with an image of President Obama); "Coward! You Left Them To Die in Benghazi" (with an image of President Obama); "Somewhere in Kenya A Village Is Missing Its Idiot" (with an image of President Obama); "Islam's Trojan Horse" (with an image of President Obama); "Pure Evil" (with an image of President Obama); "I'm Not A Racist: I Hate His White Half Too" (with an image of President Obama); "He Lies!" (with an image of President Obama); and on and on and on.

Now, don't get me wrong. Every one of these messages is protected by the First Amendment, and people have a right to express their views, even in harsh, offensive, cruel, and moronic ways. We the People do not need to trust or admire our leaders, and we should not treat them with respect if we don't feel they deserve our respect. But the sheer vituperation directed at this President goes beyond any rational opposition and is, quite frankly, mind-boggling.

In part, of course, this might just be a product of our times. Perhaps the quality of our public discourse has sunk so low that any public official must now expect such treatment. Perhaps any president elected in 2008 would have been greeted with similar scorn and disdain. But, to be honest, that seems unlikely.

Of course, there are those who say that this phenomenon is due in part, perhaps in large part, to the fact that President Obama is African-American. But surely racism is dead in America today, right?

One fact that might lend some credence to the theory that racism has something to do with the tenor of the attacks on President Obama is that only one other president in our history has been the target of similar (though more subdued) personal attacks.

In his day, this president was castigated by the press and his political opponents as a "liar," a "despot," a "usurper," a "thief," a "monster," a "perjurer," an "ignoramus," a "swindler," a "tyrant," a "fiend," a "coward," a "buffoon," a "butcher," a "pirate," a "devil," and a "king." He was charged with being "cunning," "thickheaded," "heartless," "filthy," and "fanatical." He was accused of behaving "like a thief in the night," of being "the miserable tool of traitors and rebels," and of being "adrift on a current of racial fanaticism." He was labeled by his enemies "Abraham Africanus the First."
But, of course, race had nothing to do with it then, either.

The Genius Disrupting Cancer -- Sixty Minutes amazing sement

This was the most excellent "Sixty Minutes" segment (see link below) or any other informative news broadcast on cancer I have ever seen. It centered on an amazing man, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who is at the cutting edge of cancer treatment.

I am not a biologist nor do I have any degree in science related subjects but I will give myself a kudo as I have loathed the slash, poison and burn Medieval-like treatments of cancer for a very long time. I loath, too, the pink ribbon phony walks for cancer as that money often goes into administrative pockets and into big pharma as well. Cancer drugs are crushingly expensive and I believe cancer research money generally does not go where it should to find the cancer treatment key -- the cancer gene(s) and individual human genome.

I have been saying as a layman for as long as I can remember when thinking about cancer that the key(s) are in the genetics of cancer and what happens to the individual cell when it cannot put on its brakes and often (not always) metastasizes.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire genius, who is at the center of the segment uses his own money and is nothing short of wonderful. I wish I could work in his milieu. I might even work for free!

Keep going, Dr. Soon-Shiong, your genius amazes me.

The link to the "Sixty Minutes" segment is here and below and is worth the short time it takes to view it.

Also worth reading is: "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Congratulation Voters

Tired of saying vote Democrats into office.  It is obvious but I will say it anyway. Get the message out and vote Democrats into office.  It is clear what will happen if you do not!