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David Brooks: Cheney Lost to Bush/Rice, not to Obama

Condoleezza Rice, unsung hero of the Bush administration?
The Bush-Cheney period lasted maybe three years. For Dick Cheney those might be the golden years. For Democrats, it is surely the period they want to forever hang around the necks of the Republican Party. But that period ended long ago.

By 2005, what you might call the Bush-Rice-Hadley era had begun. Gradually, in fits and starts, a series of Bush administration officials — including Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, Jack Goldsmith and John Bellinger — tried to rein in the excesses of the Bush-Cheney period. They didn’t win every fight, and they were prodded by court decisions and public outrage, but the gradual evolution of policy was clear.

From 2003 onward, people like Bellinger and Goldsmith were fighting against legal judgments that allowed enhanced interrogation techniques. By 2006, Rice and Hadley brought Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in from a secret foreign prison to regularize detainee procedures. In 2007, Rice refused to support an executive order reviving the interrogation program. Throughout the second Bush term, officials were trying to close Guantánamo, pleading with foreign governments to take some prisoners, begging senators to allow the transfer of prisoners onto American soil.
[...]
Cheney and Obama might pretend otherwise, but it wasn’t the Obama administration that halted the practice of waterboarding. It was a succession of C.I.A. directors starting in March 2003, even before a devastating report by the C.I.A. inspector general in 2004.

When Cheney lambastes the change in security policy, he’s not really attacking the Obama administration. He’s attacking the Bush administration. In his speech on Thursday, he repeated in public a lot of the same arguments he had been making within the Bush White House as the policy decisions went more and more the other way.
[...]
As for the treatment of terror suspects, Jack Goldsmith has a definitive piece called “The Cheney Fallacy” online at The New Republic. He lists a broad range of policies — Guantánamo, habeas corpus, military commissions, rendition, interrogation and so on. He shows how, in most cases, the Obama policy represents a continuation of or a gradual evolution from the final Bush policy.
[...]
Obama has taken many of the same policies Bush ended up with, and he has made them credible to the country and the world. In his speech, Obama explained his decisions in a subtle and coherent way. He admitted that some problems are tough and allow no easy solution. He treated Americans as adults, and will have won their respect.
frandroid: INGSOC logo, from Orwell's 1984 (totalitarianism)
Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects [nytimes.com]

C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.

The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda operative.
Words fail me.


Op-Ed: The Torturers’ Manifesto [nytimes.com]

In one of the more nauseating passages, Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general and now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.

These memos are not an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors’ statutory obligation. They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country’s most basic values.

It sounds like the plot of a mob film, except the lawyers asking how much their clients can get away with are from the C.I.A. and the lawyers coaching them on how to commit the abuses are from the Justice Department. And it all played out with the blessing of the defense secretary, the attorney general, the intelligence director and, most likely, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
[...]
That investigation should start with the lawyers who wrote these sickening memos, including John Yoo, who now teaches law in California; Steven Bradbury, who was job-hunting when we last heard; and Mr. Bybee, who holds the lifetime seat on the federal appeals court that Mr. Bush rewarded him with.

These memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him. And if the administration will not conduct a thorough investigation of these issues, then Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable. If that means putting Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales on the stand, even Dick Cheney, we are sure Americans can handle it.

After eight years without transparency or accountability, Mr. Obama promised the American people both. His decision to release these memos was another sign of his commitment to transparency. We are waiting to see an equal commitment to accountability.

Please put Cheney on the stand. I want to see Fox News implode.

Speaking of which: But Can Obama Make the Trains Run on Time? [nytimes.com]

“Rhetorically, Republicans are having a very hard time finding something that raises the consciousness of the average voter,” said Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party who recently lost a bid to became national party chairman.

So Mr. Anuzis has turned to provocation with a purpose. He calls the president’s domestic agenda “economic fascism.”

“We’ve so overused the word ‘socialism’ that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago,” Mr. Anuzis said. “Fascism — everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.”
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Bush's Secret Dictactorship:

The memo was one of nine previously undisclosed Office of Legal Counsel documents released by Obama's Justice Department yesterday, most of them making baldly spurious legal arguments to support any number of unprecedented tactics that were either contemplated or employed by the White House.
[...]
At about the same time the documents were being released, Attorney General Eric Holder was making a speech putting them in context: "Too often over the past decade, the fight against terrorism has been viewed as a zero-sum battle with our civil liberties," Holder said. "Not only is that school of thought misguided, I fear that in actuality it does more harm than good. I have often said that the test of a great nation is whether it will adhere to its core values not only when it is easy, but also when it is hard....
[...]
"There is no reason we cannot wage an effective fight against those who have sworn to harm us while we respect our most honored constitutional traditions. We can never put the welfare of the American people at risk but we can also never choose actions that we know will weaken the legal and moral fiber of our nation.""This theory of presidential power argues, in essence, that when the President acts in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, he may make his own rules and cannot be bound by Congressional laws to the contrary. This is a theory of presidential dictatorship.

"These views are outrageous and inconsistent with basic principles of the Constitution as well as with two centuries of legal precedents. Yet they were the basic assumptions of key players in the Bush Administration in the days following 9/11."

Scott Horton blogs for Harper's: "We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship. The constitutional rights we learned about in high school civics were suspended. That was thanks to secret memos crafted deep inside the Justice Department that effectively trashed the Constitution. What we know now is likely the least of it."

The article linked at the top has links to many more reactions.

If Obama's only success is to clean up this legal mess, he will already have accomplished great work...

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If Republicans block Eric Holden at Justice, I nominate Keith Olbermann as a backup!
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Did you watch the Daily Show?  The juxtaposition of quotes from Obama's inauguration speech with nearly identical quotes from Bush?  That was a good TDS suckerpunch.
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Maybe you've seen the "two Bushes" footage... That was at the Press Conrrespondents Dinner in Washington. What came right after that was much funnier...

Stephen Colbert roasts President Bush
frandroid: A large sandworm in front of the fremen invoking him (great worm)
Timer Harper in the Star:
In Iran, a galvanizing of a splintered nation. An end to hopes for political reform, a rally-around-the-leader phenomenon common among the victimized, an ability to rebuild a nuclear program in two to four years.

The text in bold... You would think that a certain U.S. president would remember how he consolidated his power, eh?

But the cost of inaction could be even higher: a defiant nation with an apparently unstable leadership steeped in hatred for Americans in the heart of the Middle East with nuclear capabilities.

Swap around "Americans" with "the Middle East". Again, is anyone not reminded of what the political landscape was like in late 2001?

"It's going to be tough because they are led by ideologues who have a weird sense of history."

Once again...

Before he did so, he dismissed any influence of the United Nations, according to state media. "They know they cannot do a damned thing," he said.

Further...

And at the end of the article, someone actually does point out how Bush should look back on his own history to understand what the reaction would be:

But Pollack adds a sobering point. If the administration truly believes it cannot live in a world in which Iran has nuclear weapons, the military option may be the only way to prevent that.

But it would be seen as an unprovoked attack on a country that has attacked no one. It would be likened to Osama bin Laden's attack on the U.S., Pollack said, reminding his audience how the United States responded to that.


---

He argues, as many do, that Bush already has congressional approval and needs not go back to lawmakers.

This is of course a complete mockery of democracy.

The full article: U.S. strike on Iran could make Iraq look like a warm-up bout

pot-pourri

Aug. 25th, 2005 10:49 am
frandroid: "End the lock-out" with a CBC logo shaped into a lock (End the lockout!)
A war of cultures? More like a clash of superstitions. If George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld had overseen the Cold War, we'd all be speaking Russian today.--Vinay Menon in The Star. AHEhaEhaEh.

ETA: Our constitutional right to play hockey!!! from the blog of a locked-out CBC worker.

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