Condi Loves Torture
So now we know what was behind the wide-eyed scowl, the tightly pursed lips, and the high-heeled jack boots, and also why Condoleezza Rice also became Secretary of State, in the stead of Colin Powell. She followed orders; and in the two-way squeeze of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, Powell was reluctant to follow those kinds of orders like a lemming off a cliff.
Since the Obama Administration declassified those secret memos outlining harsh interrogation methods used against accused al Qaeda terrorists by the Bush Administration last week, a more cohesive timeline has emerged about who was involved, and who approved of them. It turns out that Condoleezza Rice, as early as July 17, 2002, verbally approved of these methods by allowing the CIA to waterboard alleged al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report.
Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft ruled for Rice that “that the use of waterboarding was lawful,” thus giving the green light to the agency on July 26.
Nine days earlier, the panel said, citing Central Intelligence Agency records, Rice had met with then-director George Tenet and “advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation of Abu Zubaydah,” the agency’s first high-value Al-Qaeda detainee, pending Justice Department approval.
Rice’s nod is believed to be the earliest known approval by a senior official in the administration of George W. Bush of the intelligence technique which current Attorney General Eric Holder has decried as “torture.”
Not only the earliest approval, but the timeline expands the small or limited role that Rice initially said that she played in written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Furthermore, it is indicated that dissenting legal views against the use of torture also proffered at this time were repeatedly ignored or shunted aside. Shunted aside even by Condoleezza Rice, and the Bushites not only sought to suppress dissent, but to destroy evidence of dissent, as former Rice assistant Philip Zelikow told Rachel Maddow two nights ago.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Not only Attorney General Holder, but President Obama believes that such techniques like waterboarding are torture. However, it wasn’t considered torture in the United States until recently. According to Wikipedia, a form of waterboarding were used with compunction on prisoners in the 1850s. During the Spanish American War, waterboarding Filipino rebels became so commonplace during the American “pacification” of the islands that congressional hearings were called. After the Second World War, the U.S. prosecuted Japanese interrogators for war crimes, which included using waterboarding against Allied soldiers and pilots. During the Vietnam War, waterboarding was also used against suspected Viet Cong, their sympathizers, and Vietnamese dissidents, so Americans already know its terrific effects on human beings. Yet even with set guidelines from higher-ups, American interrogators went over the limit (even when pressed to or instructed to do so by outside sources) according to a New York Times article:
But a footnote to a 2005 memo made it clear that the rules were not always followed. Waterboarding was used “with far greater frequency than initially indicated” and with “large volumes of water” rather than the small quantities in the rules, one memo says, citing a 2004 report by the C.I.A.’s inspector general.
I was upset when I learned that Obama was going to let CIA interrogators off the hook for merely following orders of higher-ups to engage in illegal torture techniques. I fully expected that everyone involved was going to be given a light rap on the knuckles for becoming involved in one of the most dangerous and illegal activities during the Bush presidency, not just illegal according to the laws of the United States, but according to international law which could deem these actions crimes against humanity. (As I understand, Spain is now investigating Bush-era war crimes; so any former Bushites even going abroad for a vacation could be grabbed, jailed, and prosecuted a là Pinochet and Eichmann.)
I could hear a literal gust of relief emitting from these people, and I was angered at what I felt was yet another Obama dismissal of the wishes of his constituencies. Even Keith Olbermann unloaded another one of his Special Comments on April 16, imploring Obama that, “We cannot let mistakes of the past haunt our future.”
We must focus on getting things right in the future, as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.
That means prosecuting all those involved in the Bush administration’s torture of prisoners, even if the results are nominal punishments, or merely new laws. Your only other option is to let this set and fester indefinitely. Because, Sir, some day there will be another Republican president, or even a Democrat just as blind as Mr. Bush to ethics and this country’s moral force. And he will look back to what you did about Mr. Bush. Or what you did not do.
And he will see precedent. Or as Cheney saw, he will see how not to get caught next time. Prosecute, Mr. President. Even if you get not one conviction, you will still have accomplished good for generations unborn. Merely by acting, you will deny a further wrong — that this construction will enter the history books: Torture was legal. It worked. It saved the country.
No, it didn’t. Not really, no matter how many pronouncements from Mordor come from Cheney or his former State Department official daughter, Elizabeth about the righteousness of the cause or the viability of the information retrieved from Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah. Marcy Wheeler already blew that one way out of the water.
But I may have miscalculated Obama, and apparently, so did the progressives and the MSM. The MSM called it an “about-face,” but I believe Obama was thinking about all this until the very last moment, leaving criminal investigations and prosecutions up to Holder. And talk about sweating people out for the last few days–the pundit onslaught has been merciless. Because it means that not only John Yoo, Steven Bradbury, and Jay Bybee who wrote these memos could face prosecution, but that Cheney, Ashcroft, Rice, Rumsfeld, Gonzales and their people who were involved in clandestine discussions and creating policy about the use of torture could be brought up on charges and face judgment. Frankly, some progressives have been insisting on a kind of truth and reconciliation committee–just like in South Africa–that would lay out once and for all the sins of the previous administration, but it would mean that no one would face jail or disbarment. I don’t think people are ready for even that prospect yet.
Of course, the GOP is saying that this is nothing but revenge practiced by the Democrats, or trying to rationalize the use of torture. That they had to do what they had to do to “protect” the country. However, when pressed yesterday, Senator John Boehner couldn’t justify its use and admitted that waterboarding was indeed torture.
The timeline, however, has yet to expose who it was that first suggested using these methods within the Bush Administration. However, I wouldn’t doubt that it was chiefly Cheney, and that he had thought about implementing it–if he ever got the chance–long before he ascended to power in the Bush II Administration, when he was taking orders from Ford and Nixon. Especially with Nixon, ideas like torture fits in with his ideas about the unitary executive. And Cheney had help, from right-wing think tanks, from magazines like the National Review, to former liberals like Alan Dershowitz and Christopher Hitchens, and even among congressional Dems like Nancy Pelosi and Jane Harman, who oughta know better. Hitchens, though, has become an apostate for finding out the hard way that waterboarding is torture.
So what about Condi Rice loving torture? How did she think that she was going to get away with this; that her fingerprints wouldn’t be found on the evidence? That she was going to skip? All for so-called national security, a security that the Bushites knew they could not back up despite the inflamatory rhetoric, and didn’t in the case of the Twin Towers? I was around when Nixon used that term to protect his cussword-laden tapes, so you know how far that got him. But Condi Rice must’ve thought, like Cheney, that since Barack Obama has a thing about “looking back,” as it were, she could skip. That the Republicans and the MSM would allow them to skip. That may not happen. Moreover, as a member of the upwardly striving black political and social orbit that knows no real allegiance except to black people of that class, she must’ve felt she could count on Barack Obama–also a member of this unofficial group–to help her walk. Doesn’t look like it now. Everyone is now suspect, and shares guilt and culpabililty. Purse-lipped Condoleezza Rice is one of them. Compared to her, the ousted Colin Powell now looks like a saint, although he took the sideways, chicken-shit route of taking orders only so far in order to get paid, rather than standing up on what principles he had left and announcing that this “conspiracy so immense” of al Qaeda and Saddam against America was foul in the first place.
I was already outraged at piano-playing, Ferragamo-loving Condi after Hurricane Katrina, so in this case I certainly am not about to cut her some slack. I know some of us used to pray that when blacks would assume the reins of power that they would not embarrass or forget black people; or worse, become so infatuated with themselves that they would jump into something just to prove they were “on the team,” or think that like white people in power, that they could escape criticism, recalls or jail terms for doing the same corrupt things. Sooner or later, though, misdeeds will catch up with them, and misdeeds blow up faster and larger for black politicians. What gets me is that they still haven’t learned this one basic lesson. Would I like to see Condi in jail? No, although that would be as interesting as fantasizing about Tricky Dick in jail as Richard Pryor did back in 1974. But I would like to see her disgraced and unable to get any job with power in Washington or the punditocracy or the think-tanks or Stanford ever again. That’s not only a wish; that’s a prayer.