Sunday, July 12, 2009

Torture Investigation Trial Balloon

The recent release of the CIA's double secret non-program and the subsequent leak that it was Darth's idea; the IG report to Congress about the TSP; and now this Newsweek trial balloon about possible torture investigations suggests the Dems are actually getting serious about a Bush era kangaroo court. From the AG:
But in late June Holder asked an aide for a copy of the CIA inspector general's thick classified report on interrogation abuses. He cleared his schedule and, over two days, holed up alone in his Justice Depart ment office, immersed himself in what Dick Cheney once referred to as "the dark side." He read the report twice, the first time as a lawyer, looking for evidence and instances of transgressions that might call for prosecution. The second time, he started to absorb what he was reading at a more emotional level. He was "shocked and saddened," he told a friend, by what government servants were alleged to have done in America's name. When he was done he stood at his window for a long time, staring at Constitution Avenue.
Trying to fill some mid-summer dead air and deflect from the less than anticipated economic recovery that's "working as intended"? Maybe, but these latest leaks suggest something might be afoot and this something would be serious--Holder is talking about a prosecutor, whose goal is to put people in jail.

And what of Obama? He's made repeated admonitions against such backwards vision while leaving open wiggle doors and long leashes. The Newsweek article takes the ball and suggests Holder is indeed on his own (hence the article's title), which is supposedly meant to suggest Obama is totally out of the loop, something nobody but the WaPo and New York Times will end up buying. The Newsweek article itself says Obama felt he was being 'sandbagged' by Justice lawyers when they used the State Secrets defense in the Binyam Mohammed case and demanded to be more in the loop. As if. No, if this goes forward there's no doubt it will have his blessing.

So what's the play? Can the economy be so bad they'd risk the enormous public blow-back over what might be seen as a banana republic witchhunt? These are prosecutions, not post-mortems.

On a global scale it's possible Emanuel senses a once-in-a-lifetime opening to crush the GOP, at least long enough to give Dems some time to get a few key socialist-lite initiatives passed without much interference (wonder if this is where Palin comes in?). It's hard to believe Holder would press forward on such a thing without a few advantages up his sleeve. After all, this will be a choice if it goes forward.

And it will be a choice made despite the predictable charges of hypocrisy over Holder's own dealings with the Marc Rich pardon and FALN terrorists, with some conservatives reminding the media that George W. Bush put an unceremonious end to GOP investigations of Holder's actions during his early first term. That says they either don't fear the media at all or may have some bullets in their partisan pop gun to play with.

On a tactical scale this effort will disappoint Ron Paul fans since it won't be a truth investigation of the overall GWoT, just a targeted affair designed to force Yoo, Addington and others to turn state's evidence against Cheney and Bush to save from spending their remaining days in lockup. Mercy sakes, a general GWoT investigation might involve opening the CIA vaults, which could even spill a few embarrassing pre-Bush era intelligence failures dating back to Holder's own stint at Justice in the 90s. No way he voluntarily chooses that route. They can better keep the lid on a targeted investigation since it'll only focus on actions post 9/11 and only on Bush folks.

Cheney knows this, and has the next move. It'll be interesting to watch since he's currently writing a book, and with his tenure in DC a book is more a threat than a payday. Presumably such an investigation could involve giving him the coveted CIA docs he's been denied, which might suggest they know what's in them and it ain't what Cheney has advertised, calling his bluff. Perhaps if the memoirs slide a few years we'll know what happened. But he's not one to roll over easily.

It'll also be interesting to see the CIA reaction. Obama has already promised no prosecutions for the rank and file, which generally amounts to a blanket immunity allowing them to go to town on former bosses all day and Sunday. But will they? Will all of them feel that backstabber urge? Will any of them consider the precedent? There could be a lot of blow back in that area if they aren't careful. Panetta might have a sense of that right now--surely that's part of why he was sent there.

Meanwhile, all this isn't going on in a world vacuum. Certain elements out there in caves still desire a hit on America, and a hit right now would be rather crippling what with the stimulus working so well and all. The elapsed time between the first and second WTC attacks was 8 1/2 years.

MORE 7/12/09

Regards the IG report that CNN and other news outlets heralded on Friday afternoon, Andy McCarthy points out a few tidbits that weren't heralded. This one is worth a blockquote:
Before Gonzales and President Bush's then chief-of-staff, Andy Card, went to see Attorney General Ashcroft in the hospital (where he was being treated for pancreatitis), President Bush directed his administration to meet with top congressional Democrats and Republicans (Senate leaders Frist and Daschle, Speaker Hastert and House minority leader Pelosi, Roberts and Rockefeller from Senate Intel, and Goss and Harman from House Intel) to alert them that Ashcroft's deputy, Jim Comey, had refused to sign off on intelligence activities that Ashcroft had previously approved. Advised of the problem, the Gang of Eight did not agree to a quick legislative fix but, according to Gonzales's contemporaneous notes, agreed that the intelligence activities should continue. (Three years later, after Gonzales's testimony, Pelosi, Rockefeller and Daschle claimed that they hadn't agreed.)
Emphasis added to point out what seems to be a lie by top Democrats to help their party's political chances despite the national security aspect of the affair in question. It would seem President Bush and AG Gonzales might be owed an apology by a few people. After all, the report must be true since it singles out John Yoo and others for their legal findings on torture.


Mac Ranger thinks this is going about as far as the old SST program. I have to agree, being of that opinion for awhile now. But if they're not going to do it they sure are treading close to the water's edge. Marc Ambinder thinks the goal might be to rearrange the rules for future presidents--I think--while Glenn Greenwald seems to be arguing with himself as to whether a prosecutor would be confined to only going after the low level interrogators that Obama said he wouldn't go after.

HIT SQUAD 7/12/09

So it was a hit squad, just as Raw Story had been saying. But does anyone believe it was only targeting AQ leaders? Perhaps the real raw story is what defines an 'al Qaeda leader'.


Anonymous said...

The White House and congress corruption at the highest scale. American is been hijacked by crooks and corruption. We have the best government money can buy!. Our freedoms are been stripped each day. We complain and we tell them not, but they do it anyway. We don't count. See what would happen with Sotomayor she will be confirm regardless been a racist, and lack of jurisprudential judgment, we don't want her. See what the WH is doing with Honduras, See what the WH house did with GM, Chrysler, Now this!

Debbie said...

I was going to say Obama will not let this go forward, because he or other Democrat presidents might find themselves in the same situation.

Rearranging the rules for the future is not out of the question. Scary.

Deborah F. Hamilton
Right Truth

Anonymous said...

Bad weekend of the Bush administration.time for justice. there is a related post at

A.C. McCloud said...

Debbie, they would have to be fools to press forward with such a show trial, knowing that. The only way such a thing would make sense is if they figured the Democratic Party would never relinquish power again, and that's a pretty bold assumption and one they simply cannot be making. Can they?

christian soldier said...

from my post:
In Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, “the fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
The Patriot - Constitution loving American is the enemy to them...
They - the Dems- have no rules-I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to change the two term limit for the Presidency ... to keep bho there...
and so on and so on....

christian soldier said...
forgot to add this....

A.C. McCloud said...

Carol, I'm always hesitant to suggest a prez will want to do away with the 20th amendment, since both the right and left have said as much about Clinton and Bush these past 10 years.

But when Obama came out and immediately supported Zelaya's attempt to do the same in Hondoras, and is giving the bro-handshake to Chavez, and if they indeed go forward on prosecutions of the previous admin, I may become a believer.