Tag Archive: Dick Cheney

Sep 13 2015

Rant of the Week: Larry Wilmore – He’s Baaaaaack

He’s Baaaaaack – Dick Cheney on President Obama’s Iran Deal

Apr 19 2015

Rant of the Week: The Jon Stewart Mysteries Presents: The Case of the Iranian Agent!

The Jon Stewart Mysteries Presents: The Case of the Iranian Agent!

Apr 18 2013

They Did Torture and They Should Be Prosecuted

While we were mostly fixed on the aftermath of explosion at the Boston Marathon, a non-partisan 11-member panel, that had been convened by the  legal research and advocacy group, Constitution Project to look into the treatment of detainees after 9/11, released a 577 page report (pdf) on Tuesday.

The report relying solely on public records, interviews with detainees, military officers and interrogators, concluded that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” under the Bush administration:

The use of torture, the report concludes, has “no justification” and “damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive.” The task force found “no firm or persuasive evidence” that these interrogation methods produced valuable information that could not have been obtained by other means. While “a person subjected to torture might well divulge useful information,” much of the information obtained by force was not reliable, the report says.

At emptywheel, Marcy Wheeler points out the report contains a “number of errors, repetition of dangerous misinformation, and incomplete reporting” but it is still important and comprehensive and its conclusion valuable:

Because even this cautious, bipartisan, institutionalist report concludes the following (among other findings):

   Finding #1: U.S. forces, in many instances, used interrogation techniques on detainees that constitute torture. American personnel conducted an even larger number of interrogations that involved “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment. Both categories of actions violate U.S. laws and international treaties. Such conduct was directly counter to values of the Constitution and our nation.

   Finding #2: The nation’s most senior officials, through some of their actions and failures to act in the months and years immediately following the September 11 attacks, bear ultimate responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of illegal and improper interrogation techniques used by some U.S. personnel on detainees in several theaters. Responsibility also falls on other government officials and certain military leaders.

   Finding #3: There is no firm or persuasive evidence that the widespread use of harsh interrogation techniques by U.S. forces produced significant information of value. There is substantial evidence that much of the information adduced from the use of such techniques was not useful or reliable.

   Finding #16: For detainee hunger strikers, DOD operating procedures called for practices and actions by medical professionals that were contrary to established medical and professional ethical standards, including improper coercive involuntary feedings early in the course of hunger strikes that, when resisted, were accomplished by physically forced nasogastric tube feedings of detainees who were completely restrained.

   Finding #19: The high level of secrecy surrounding the rendition and torture of detainees since September 11 cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security.

   Finding #21: The Convention Against Torture requires each state party to “[c]riminalize all acts of torture, attempts to commit torture, or complicity or participation in torture,” and “proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.” The United States cannot be said to have complied with this requirement.

The panel was formed after Pres. Barack Obama decided in 2009 not to support a national commission to investigate the post-9/11 counterterrorism programs, as proposed by Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) and others. “Look forward, not backward”, the president said. included former Senator Asa Hutchinson (R-AL), who served in President George W. Bush’s administration from 2003-2005 as the Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security in the Department of Homeland Security, and former Representative James Jones (D-OK) who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico from 1993-1997.  Among the other members were a three-star general and former president of the American Bar Association.

Significantly the New York Times article notes this:

The United States is a signatory to the International Convention Against Torture, which requires the prompt investigation of allegations of torture and the compensation of its victims. [..]

While the Constitution Project report covers mainly the Bush years, it is critical of some Obama administration policies, especially what it calls excessive secrecy. It says that keeping the details of rendition and torture from the public “cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security” and urges the administration to stop citing state secrets to block lawsuits by former detainees. [..]

The core of the report, however, may be an appendix: a detailed 22-page legal and historical analysis that explains why the task force concluded that what the United States did was torture. It offers dozens of legal cases in which similar treatment was prosecuted in the United States or denounced as torture by American officials when used by other countries.

The report compares the torture of detainees to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. “What was once generally taken to be understandable and justifiable behavior,” the report says, “can later become a case of historical regret.”

Laura Pitter, counterterrorism adviser at Human Rights Watch, joined Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh to discuss the report,s “indisputable” evidence that the Bush administration tortured.

What Marcy said:

In short: it was torture, it was illegal, it was not valuable, and it still needs to be prosecuted.

Instead, The Justice Department instead chose to prosecute Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower John Kiriakou, who refused to participate in torture and helped exposed the torture program. Mr. Kiriakou was sentenced to prison while the torturers he exposed walk free. Nice job, Barack.

Mar 21 2013

They Weren’t Wrong; They Lied

On MSNBC’s the “Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell looked back at many of the voices who where for and against the invasion of Iraq. He said that those who were advocating for the war got it “wrong.” Well, Lawrence O’Donnell got it wrong because Pres. George W. Bush, Vice Pres. Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, at the time National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell weren’t “wrong,” they lied. They lied to Congress, the press, the world and us.

They knew they were lying. They knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear program, no connection to 9/11, Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda. They exposed a CIA agent and her operation that was tracking Iran’s nuclear program in order to discredit her husband who said there was no evidence of a nuclear program. We will never know what happened to the people who were working with her in that operation.

They have gotten away with the worst war crime of the 21st century and, perhaps, in the history of this country. Shame on them, shame on Congress and the Justice Department for not doing its due diligence and shame on us for not demanding they be held accountable.

I’m not ready to make nice

Jan 11 2013

You’re On Your Own, Dick

President Barack Obama signed the 2012 Presidential Protection Act which restored lifetime Secret Service Protection to former presidents and their spouses.

The measure Obama signed Thursday applies to presidents elected after Jan. 1, 1997, specifically Obama and former President George W. Bush. It reverses a 1994 law that ended Secret Service protection 10 years after a president leaves office. Under that law, the Homeland Security secretary could extend such protection on a temporary basis.

However, Secret Service protection for the vice president, his/her spouse and dependent children under age 16 remains unchanged.

(8) Former Vice Presidents, their spouses, and their children who are under 16 years of age, for a period of not more than six months after the date the former Vice President leaves office. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to direct the Secret Service to provide temporary protection for any of these individuals at any time thereafter if the Secretary of Homeland Security or designee determines that information or conditions warrant such protection.

I’m fairly certain that former Vice Pres. Dick Cheney is secure in his man sized safe under the sculpture near the entrance to the CIA in Langley, VA.

CIA Hq Kryptos Sculpture

Sep 02 2011

Obama’s War On American Values

In June of 2007, John A. Rizzo had been the C.I.A’s acting general counsel on and off for most of the past six years, including the period in 2002 when the Bush administration was constructing a legal foundation for the agency’s then secret detention and interrogation program. As acting council, it was Mr. Rizzo has guided many agency leaders on the legal labyrinth of clandestine operations and the often ensuing investigations.

During his confirmation hearing’s for the permanent post before the Democratic controlled Senate Intelligence Committee, Senate Democrats pressed Mr. Rizzo about whether he agreed with a 2002 Justice Department memorandum that gave legal guidance to the C.I.A. program. The memorandum argued that nothing short of the pain associated with organ failure constituted illegal torture. The memorandum had been issued at the request from the agency on the use of interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, in secret detention centers overseas. While Mr, Rizzo testified that at the time he did not object to the memorandum, he told the Senators that he now felt that it was overly broad. In September, just before the was to vote to reject him for the position, the White House withdrew the nomination without explanation. Mr. Rizzo remained in his position until the Summer of 2009 when he retired after 30 years.

Now two years since his departure, Mr. Rizzo granted an interview to PBS’s Frontline, “Top Secret America” on September 6 and what he is saying further confirms that President Barack Obama has lied, and continues to lie, to the American people about the CIA’s secret programs and who knows what else.

   I was part of the transition briefings of the incoming Obama team, and they signaled fairly early on that the incoming president believed in a vigorous, aggressive, continuing counterterrorism effort. Although they never said it exactly, it was clear that the interrogation program was going away. We all knew that.

   But his people were signaling to us, I think partly to try to assure us that they weren’t going to come in and dismantle the place, that they were going to be just as tough, if not tougher, than the Bush people.

snip

With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration.

As a candidate, President Obama had promised “a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our abilities to confront them.” He pledged to overhaul of the Bush administration’s war on terror, which he criticized for compromising American values. He had also promised in 2008, that he would filibuster the reauthorization of FISA without major reforms. He lied then, too, voting for the act’s renewal and “promising”to say, to fix it later. Needless  FISA not been “fixed” nor has the Patriot Act which has been extended for four years, unamended, at the president’s request. For this Mr. Obama has garnered the approval of admitted war criminal and former Bush Vice President, Dick Cheney who proudly proclaimed in an interview with Politico’s Mike Allen

“[Obama] ultimately had to adopt many of the same policies that we had been pursuing because that was the most effective way to defend the nation.”

Obama has continues these core Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies, strengthening them and  converting them from right-wing dogma into bipartisan consensus. Dick Cheney must be so proud.

 

Aug 26 2011

Confessions of a War Criminal

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is back in the news with the release of his tell all autobiography, “In My Time“, a revealing “memoir” of his eight years as vice president, at the same time a self indictment that chronicles his abuse of power and total disregard for the Constitution and laws of the United States. It is also an indictment of President Barack Obama who has refused to prosecute him and President George W. Bush, instead choosing cover up the evidence by declaring it “state secrets” and to block any attempts to bring these war criminals to justice.

As Greenwald noted in his Salon article:

As he embarks on his massive publicity-generating media tour of interviews, Cheney faces no indictments or criminal juries, but rather reverent, rehabilitative tributes, illustrated by this, from Politico today:

Photobucket

That’s what happens when the Government — marching under the deceitful Orwellian banner of Look Forward, Not Backward — demands that its citizens avert their eyes from the crimes of their leaders so that all can be forgotten: the crimes become non-crimes, legitimate acts of political choice, and the criminals become instantly rehabilitated by the message that nothing they did warrants punishment.  That’s the same reason people like John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales are defending their torture and illegal spying actions not in a courtroom but in a lush conference of elites in Aspen.

Jul 01 2011

Obama’s DOJ Still Covering Up War Crimes

Last week during his confirmation hearings before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Gen. David Petraeus held that the US should keep the door open for torture. This week the Obama Justice Department determined that only two detainee deaths under investigation by specially appointed prosecutor, John H. Durham would warrant any further action:

The Justice Department announced Thursday that it was opening a full criminal investigation into the deaths of two terrorism suspects in C.I.A. custody overseas, but it was closing inquiries into the treatment of nearly 100 other detainees over the last decade.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that a two-year review by a specially appointed prosecutor, John H. Durham, had determined that any further investigation into that large group of cases “is not warranted.” The inquiry into the two deaths, though, could result in criminal charges against Central Intelligence Agency officers or contractors.

Intelligence officials saw the announcement as a vindication of sorts.

The stench of hypocrisy of President Obama is hard to ignore. His “looking forward” stand does not wash in the International courts nor does making flowery statements on International Torture Day when he is covering up the Bush regime and CIA war crimes:

As we mark the anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture, I join people around the world in honoring the victims of torture, paying tribute to all those who are courageously working to eradicate these inhuman practices from our world, and reaffirming the commitment of the United States to achieving this important goal. . . . .

As a nation that played a leading role in the effort to bring this treaty into force, the United States will remain a leader in the effort to end torture around the world and to address the needs of torture victims.

That’s not just hypocrisy, it an outrageous lie. Since his election, Obama has made it clear that he would cover any and all crimes committed by the previous administration and since his inauguration has embraced and expanded some of those very same policies.

From Glenn Greenwald, it is now official, “torture crimes are now officially covered up”:

In August, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder — under continuous, aggressive prodding by the Obama White House —announced that three categories of individuals responsible for Bush-era torture crimes would be fully immunized from any form of criminal investigation and prosecution:  (1) Bush officials who ordered the torture (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld); (2) Bush lawyers who legally approved it (Yoo, Bybee, Levin), and (3) those in the CIA and the military who tortured within the confines of the permission slips they were given by those officials and lawyers (i.e., “good-faith” torturers).  The one exception to this sweeping immunity was that low-level CIA agents and servicemembers who went so far beyond the torture permission slips as to basically commit brutal, unauthorized murder would be subject to a “preliminary review” to determine if a full investigation was warranted — in other words, the Abu Ghraib model of justice was being applied, where only low-ranking scapegoats would be subject to possible punishment while high-level officials would be protected.

It is very clear that those who ordered the use of torture will not be held accountable and with the appointment of Gen. Petraeus as director of the CIA, it will most likely continue under the Obama administration. Under the Nuremberg Principles and the UN Convention Against Torture, Mr. Obama could be prosecuted for war crimes and crmes against humanity.

Mar 08 2011

The Law of War Criminals, Up Date

Two years and two months ago the American people hailed a new President and an end to our national nightmare of the Bush reign of eight years of trampling the Constitution, the laws that govern  and the economy. Since then the reality that nothing has changed comes down with crashing reality. This President, Barack Hussein Obama, is as complicit as the last President in the war on the US Constitution, International laws and treaties and human rights. Today it became evidently clear that Obama is not Bush, he’s Cheney.

Today Obama issued an Executive Order (pdf) that not only will restart the Military Commissions at Guantanamo but also orders indefinite detention for forty seven detainees without any of them ever being charged with a crime. Why? Because Obama is covering up the war crimes of the previous administration which, according to the Nuremberg Principles, is a war crime. Claims that the evidence against these men would harm national security just rings hollow.

Marcy Wheeler at FDL explains that “the new and improved Military Detention Regime has two parts”. The first part relates to the indefinite detention polices without anything other than a claim of “because I say it’s justified”:

“Continued law of war detention is warranted for a detainee subject to the periodic review in section 3 of this order if it is necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States.

. . . .this doesn’t appear to tie to any wrong-doing on the detainee’s part. “It” here appears to refer to “continued law of war detention,” suggesting that “it” may be necessary regardless of any threat posed by the detainee himself.

Also note that the standard “significant threat to the security of the United States” doesn’t invoke the war (ostensibly, the war against Afghanistan) itself. This seems very very wrong. It also seems designed to authorized the continued detention of the Yemeni detainees who we admit aren’t themselves a threat, but must be detained, our government says, because they come from a dangerous country.

(all emphasis mine)

The EO also restarts the Military Commissions where evidence that has been attained through torture is admissible.

Dana Milbank, in his Op-Ed, remarked that the conference call with reporters and “some top-notch lawyers from across the executive branch” with “ground rules required that the officials not be identified”, sounded very much like what the Bush lawyers used to say:

It was another important moment in the education of Barack Obama.

He began his presidency with a pledge to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year. Within months, he realized that was impossible. And now he has essentially formalized George W. Bush’s detention policy.

Even the Tea Baggers, like newly minted Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee(R-UT), are saying indefinite detention is wrong and calling for trials in civilian courts:

Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano, subbing for Glenn Beck on his television show, hosted Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to talk about a variety of issues. At one point, Napolitano mentioned Obama’s announcement and queried the two senators about their positions on indefinite detention. Lee and Paul both broke with the standard positions of their party, slamming the policy and endorsing trials for terrorism suspects instead. Paul said that he had met with a mother of a 9/11 victim who said that what she really wanted to see was justice, and that the best way to do that was to “have trials.” Lee said that detaining someone who “has been tried and found not guilty” is “particularly problematic”

Human Rights Watch points out that 47 of these men will never be tried. Those detainees will be able to “submit documentary evidence every six months, but will only go before the full panel once every three years”. However, as the press release states, “the use by the US of indefinite detention without trial still fails to meet the most basic elements of due process under international law”.

While Obama’s EO confirms the administration’s commitment to prosecuting  some cases in civilian courts

“Is added review an improvement? Yes. Does it make US detention policies lawful? No,”

said Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Signing an executive order does not suddenly make it legal to lock people up and hold them forever without proving they have committed a crime.”

HRW further notes:

. . .compared to federal courts, military commissions have moved very slowly. During the nine years since the military commissions were first announced, military prosecutors have brought only six cases to completion, four of them by plea bargain. Federal courts, in contrast, have prosecuted hundreds of terrorism-related offenses during the same period, convicting, among others, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.

“Any trial in the military commission system carries the stigma of Guantanamo and will be tainted by a lack of due process,” Prasow said. “A verdict in the federal court system, in contrast, would be recognized internationally as legitimate.”

As I read through the executive order and news articles, all that I could think of was that surely, Dick Cheney will approve.

Up Date: As expected, Glenn Greenwald weighed in:

None of this is the slightest bit unexpected. The new Executive Order has been previewed for months and merely codifies what has long been Obama’s policy: “long” in the sense of “since he’s inaugurated”  — not, of course, “when he was a Senator and presidential candidate.” I’m writing about this merely to address the excuse from the White House and its loyalists that the fault for this policy, this inability to “close Guantanamo,” lies with Congress, which forced the President to abandon his oft-stated campaign pledge. That excuse is pure fiction.

It is true that Congress — with the overwhelming support of both parties — has enacted several measures making it much more difficult, indeed impossible, to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the U.S. But long before that ever happened, Obama made clear that he wanted to continue the twin defining pillars of the Bush detention regime: namely, (1) indefinite, charge-free detention and (2) military commissions (for those lucky enough to be charged with something). Obama never had a plan for “closing Guantanamo” in any meaningful sense; the most he sought to do was to move it a few thousand miles north to Illinois, where its defining injustices would endure.

(emphasis mine)

He also sited an article by Daphne Linzer at ProPublica:

While the order is new, most of the ideas it contains are not. This is the third time such a board has been created for nearly the same purpose. Two similar processes to review detainee cases were in place during the Bush administration. Like its predecessors, the Obama administration’s review process will operate outside the courts and will be subject to no independent review.

While the idea is recycled, Obama now owns it.

Jan 18 2011

Damning Praise for Obama from “Dead Eye” Dick

Damning, indeed.

Cheney: Obama has learned that Bush policies were right

By Daniel Strauss

01/17/11 05:18 PM ET

President Obama has “learned from experience” that some of the Bush administration’s decisions on terrorism issues were necessary, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

In his first interview since undergoing major heart surgery last July, Cheney said he thinks Obama has been forced to rethink some of his national security positions now that he sits in the Oval Office.

“I think he’s learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he’s learned from experience. And part of that experience was the Democrats having a terrible showing last election.”

Cheney also asserted that Obama has learned that the prison at Guantanamo Bay simply cannot be closed, despite the promises he made while campaigning for the White House.

“I think he’s learned that he’s not going to be able to close Guantanamo,” Cheney said. “That it’s – if you didn’t have it, you’d have to create one like that. You’ve got to have some place to put terrorists who are combatants who are bound and determined to try to kill Americans.”

Cheney made the comments about Obama in an interview that is set to air Tuesday on NBC’s “Today.” The interview was Cheney’s first since before he underwent heart surgery in July. Doctors introduced a device into his heart that pumps blood from the ventricle chamber to his aorta.

From a “dead man walking”