Monday, April 14, 2008



Piero della Francesca's 1455 masterpiece, "Flagellazione" ("The Flagellation") has been subtly updated

This weekend the ACLU tried shaking the corporate infotainment media out of its sudden fascination with bitterness by insisting it take a look at Bush's admission that he was personally involved with illegal torture of prisoners who had fallen into American hands. We had mentioned on Thursday that several top Regime operative including Cheney, Condeleeza Rice, Rumsfeld, Tenent, Ashcroft and Powell-- had approved clearly illegal torture policies. Although the media has apparently decided that it isn't as big a deal as Hillary and McCain throwing in their lots to try to destroy Obama over a badly worded-- but nonetheless true-- comment about how the Bush Economic Miracle has driven many of it's victims into bitterness and frustration, Bush also admitted to ABC News that he was also aware and approved. The ACLU's reaction: for Congress to appoint an Independent Counsel to investigate the Regime:
In a stunning admission to ABC news Friday night, President Bush declared that he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details of the CIA’s use of torture. Bush reportedly told ABC, “I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.” Bush also defended the use of waterboarding.

...The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on Congress to demand an independent prosecutor to investigate possible violations by the Bush administration of laws including the War Crimes Act, the federal Anti-Torture Act, and federal assault laws.

“No one in the executive branch of government can be trusted to fairly investigate or prosecute any crimes since the head of every relevant department, along with the president and vice president, either knew or participated in the planning and approval of illegal acts,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Congress cannot look the other way; it must demand an independent investigation and independent prosecutor.”

Fredrickson added, "Congress is duty-bound by the Constitution not only to hold the president, vice president, and all civil officers to account, but it must also send a message to future presidents that it will use its constitutional powers to prevent illegal, and immoral conduct."

One of the Blue America-endorsed candidates, Rabbi Dennis Shulman, a moral tower of integrity, who is running against extremist Bush rubber stamp Scott Garrett in northern New Jersey (NJ-05), sent me a response to Bush's admission yesterday:
"It is not enough for us to merely condemn the use of torture by the CIA, although American values mandate that we oppose torture vigorously. 

We as a country, and our elected officials in particular, must also confront the lies that the Bush administration and its allies have put forth in support for torture. These abhorrent tactics have not only have failed to collect useful intelligence to protect our nation, but they endanger our own fighting men and women by placing them at enhanced risk of facing torture themselves while reducing our standing overseas.

Congress must live up to the power of our shared ideals and hold Bush and his team responsible for their actions."

At one time you might have expected to hear that from John McCain, but no longer. He's most recent action on torture was to encourage Bush, give him fake cover and then to applaud his veto of anti-torture legislation passed by Congress. One place I knew I could go to find the best information on the Bush Regime and torture was at Digby's Hullabaloo, where Digby, D-Day, and Tristero have all been blogging away furiously about a situation the media has either chosen to ignore or just can't understand.

Yesterday Booman also sent me a serious question that must be answered. I know he also sent it to Nancy Pelosi staffers and she, more than any other American, should respond:
The ACLU wants a special prosecutor to investigate Bush's admission that he authorized torture. I think that is a swell idea that is likely to go nowhere.

I hear John Conyers asked an assembled crowd today in Philadelphia whether any of them would object to impeaching the president. No one objected. Then he asked whether anyone would object to impeaching Cheney. Again, no one objected. I don't know the full context of Conyers' remarks, but the timing indicates it is related to Bush's admission.

If you were strategizing a blogswarm to get Congress, the press, and the administration to do something, what would you suggest we focus on? Should we focus on the lack of media coverage? Should we focus on getting a special prosecutor? Should we focus on getting the administration to comply with requests for documents and testimony from congressional committees?

I'm asking because I'm not sure what we should do, only that we should do something.

Suggestions will be accepted happily with a profound sense of revulsion and regret. I did ask some of the Blue America candidates if they had any thoughts on this. Tom Perriello, who is running against Bush rubber stamp imbecile Virgil Goode, Jr, in southern Virginia summed it up well. "America's greatest strength has always been our moral leadership, and torture is unAmerican. As a national security analyst, I know the use of torture creates bad intelligence and puts our troops at risk, and as a person of faith, I know it threatens the soul of our country." You might also take a look at his interview at RaisingKaine for more insight.

Another Blue America candidate, Eric Massa, served much of his life in the U.S. military and is appalled by the actions of the Regime. "Once again, we find ourselves deeply distressed by President Bush's failure of leadership. The fact of the matter is that torture, in any form, is immoral, illegal, and ineffective as an intelligence tool. Fortunately President Bush will be out of office soon, but we must work hard to end his legacy of incompetence and illegality by sending his rubber stamps in Congress packing as well."

And, like myself, Leslie Byrne, who was already a member of Congress and is running to reclaim her old seat in northern Virginia, believes that this isn't something to be brushed under the rug. Leslie believes in accountability. "It is now known that torture was approved at the highest levels of the Bush Administration, in defiance of treaties, American law and custom. This administration will be regarded by history as absolutely lawless. I believe that they should be held accountable."

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At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

""It is now known that torture was approved at the highest levels of the Bush Administration..."

As if there were ever any doubt.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in Pa...Regarding BO comments??
Its what's a matter with Kansas redux For many the jobs are gone, and won't be coming back EVER!!!!. Finally we have someone willing to speak the truth, and he's trashed. If Ed Rendell wasn't so fixated on electing Annie Oakley so Midge Rendell could become a supreme court judge, maybe he would see the a lot of us agree with Obama. And we don't want another President we can have a beer with..

Pennsylvanians are Mad as Hell.AND BITTER And apparently Nutters office in Philly and Caseys in Harrisburg are hearing about this.

What ever happened tot he Abu Gharib photos and video that the public never saw but some legislators did??? Including childen??? What have we become?? Is there ANY one in DC willing to hold any of these war criminals responsible...

At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All i can think about is the "bad apples " sitting in prison cells for following orders. The abu gharib deciders all denied knowing anything at that time while they sat around and talked about the smallest details of torture.
Whats sadder was the people and the msm belived them!
thank you for a darn good post.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger jsrutstein said...

Howie, I can't thank you enough for not only supporting my candidate, and next Congressperson, Leslie Byrne, but also for getting her on the record on so many important issues. I'm doing what I can both directly volunteering for her campaign and on the blogs, like Raising Kaine. It would be great if you could use your platform here and influence elsewhere to alert voters in VA-11 that:

1) the deadline for registering to vote is May 10;

2) you don't have to register as a Democrat to vote in the primary; and,

3) the primary is June 10.

Leslie has a competitor with a lot of name recognition and lots of money. Leslie has a lot of name recognition, too, but I'm not sure people realize that eight weeks from tomorrow they have a chance to vote for an authentically antiwar candidate.


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