Friday, January 16, 2009


Something you would never hear uttered by any Bushie:

"Waterboarding is torture."

Those words were uttered by Eric Holder in his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

We've known it all along. It has always been considered torture. We tried and executed Japanese for doing it.

And we know it has been done in our name, sanctioned at the highest levels (i.e., by George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney).

Every time Dubya or Condi has said "the United States does not torture" I have wanted to scream to the high heavens, "The fuck we don't, you criminals!"

For contrast with nominee Holder, consider the confirmation hearings of Mealymouth Michael Mukasey, the current pathetic excuse for an Attorney General who could not bring himself to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture. As summarized at the NYT on All Saints' Day 2007:
Mr. Mukasey has adamantly refused to declare waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning, illegal. In doing so, he has been steering clear of a potential legal quagmire for the Bush administration: criminal prosecution or lawsuits against Central Intelligence Agency officers who used the harsh interrogation practice and those who authorized it, legal experts say.
I hasten to underscore "those who authorized it."

Back on 21 December 2004 The New Standard had an article noting this:
Dec. 21, 2004 – Repeated references in an internal FBI email suggest that the president issued a special order to permit some of the more objectionable torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib and other US-run prison facilities around Iraq. The email was among a new batch of FBI documents revealed by civil rights advocates on Monday. Other documents describe the initiation of investigations into alleged incidents of torture and rape at detention facilities in Iraq.

The email, which was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, represents the first hard evidence directly connecting the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and the White House. The author of the email, whose name is blanked out but whose title is described as "On Scene Commander -- Baghdad," contains ten explicit mentions of an "Executive Order" that the author said mandated US military personnel to engage in extraordinary interrogation tactics.


The specific methods mentioned in the email as having been approved by the unnamed Executive Order and witnessed by FBI agents include sleep deprivation, placing hoods over prisoners? heads, the use of loud music for sensory overload, stripping detainees naked, forcing captives to stand in so-called "stress positions," and the employment of work dogs. One of the more horrifying tools of intimidation, Army canines were used at the prison to terrorize inmates, as depicted in photos taken inside Abu Ghraib.
All that is bad enough, but waterboarding? Let's go to the horse's ... mouth:

"I asked, 'What tools are available for us to gain information from him?'"

So the Decider Guy all but says, "I authorized torture." It's really not very subtle and it sounds as though he is daring the world to do anything about it. After all, he got "legal opinions."

[There is an especially nasty ring of the Inferno reserved for Yoo and Bybee and their ilk.]

As for the results from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, David Rose reported in Vanity Fair (16 December 2008 web edition):
As for K.S.M. himself, who (as Jane Mayer writes) was waterboarded, reportedly hung for hours on end from his wrists, beaten, and subjected to other agonies for weeks, Bush said he provided “many details of other plots to kill innocent Americans.” K.S.M. was certainly knowledgeable. It would be surprising if he gave up nothing of value. But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total fucking bullshit.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”
Jonathan S. Landay wrote this for a McClatchy Newspapers article that appeared in The Olympian on 4 January 2009:
WASHINGTON—Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called "water-boarding," which creates a sensation of drowning.

Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said at one point in an interview.

"Good programs." "Sound decisions."

An angel of light.

By contrast, let's return to the confirmation hearing of Eric Holder:
"No one is above the law," Holder said, "and we will follow the evidence, the facts, the law, and let that take us where we should."

Mcjoan, my ever reliable source on torture updates, comments at Daily Kos:
And while that sounds promising, Holder also said he didn't want to "criminalize policy differences," which would run contrary to the pledge to follow the law, wherever it leads. After all, if waterboarding is torture and the Bush administration admits that they used waterboarding, we clearly aren't talking about mere policy differences. Time will tell.
You knew I was not going to let this topic go, no matter how infrequently I post these days.

Yes, given the opportunity I would gleefully dance on Bush's grave. Not that you doubted it. And I don't think a 2x4 upside the head is uncalled for in the case of those who have enabled this narcissistic sociopath in his reign of destruction. If you voted for him in either election and see me walking down the street with a big piece of wood, avoid me. Some are feeling charitable as he leaves office and I am not among them.

Frankly, I did not think we would get this far without attacking Iran. There are a few days left but it is highly unlikely at this point. I am very relieved to admit I was wrong.

--the BB

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