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Posts Tagged ‘President Bush’

The president wrapped up his address Tuesday night by asking Americans to pray for the victims — both human and environmental — of the BP oil spill. I thought it was a strange way to end his first Oval Office address during a national emergency insofar as praying makes the situation appear too big for conventional solutions. As though all that remains between us and a sea of oil is the Hail Mary.

This morning it occurred to me that this was the only thing he could really ask Americans to do.

Why? Simply stated, it doesn’t require any effort to silently invoke spirituality while stopped at a traffic signal or while chewing a gluttonous mouthful of Double Down. Actually, I take back that second part. I can’t imagine doing anything other than suffering a massive infarction while eating a Double Down.

Instead of prayer, the president could have asked us all to make sacrifices towards the goal of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Maybe he should have asked for sacrifice. It probably wouldn’t have hurt. But it would have been mostly ignored.

Americans simply don’t do “national sacrifice” anymore. During World War II, Americans were asked to ration everything from sugar to oil to cheese — even shoes. Those days are long gone. Today, we’re asked to go to Disneyland or the beach. Or we’re asked to pray. (It’s difficult to imagine the modern right-wing, for example, accepting the rationing of anything at the behest of the current president when most of them refuse to fill out a U.S. Census form. More on that presently.)

The BP oil spill has been a daily reminder of our toxic relationship with decomposed dinosaurs. On just about every blog and every cable news show, we’ve watched in shock-horror as 75,000,000 gallons of oil spew from the top of the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer. We see it. We cringe. Some of us shout, “Why, oh, why?!” Others curse Tony Hayward and BP. Maybe some of us curse President Obama or former President Bush. A clear majority of Americans are pissed off, and they’re taking it out on everyone except themselves: the ones actually buying the oil.

Once we’re exhausted with blaming and yelling, we climb into our oversized cars, crank up the air conditioner, drive to Burger King and order a ammonia-washed beef sandwich the size of a baby — while mindlessly idling at the drive-thru.

As the president pointed out last night, scientists, experts and politicians alike have been urging us to make the transition to clean energy and away from fossil fuels. In the last ten years alone, we’ve endured the largest terrorist attack on our soil and subsequently fought two wars, all prompted by American intrusions into the Middle East to satisfy our collective petro fix.

(more…)

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Conyers Slams Authors Of Torture Memos, Announces Hearings

TPM Muckraker

Justin Elliott | February 19, 2010, 5:44PM

In a statement this afternoon, [Friday], House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) says that the Justice Department torture memo report released today makes “plain that those memos were legally flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear.”

Conyers, who posted the DOJ documents on his Web site, continued:

“The Office of Legal Counsel has a proud tradition of providing independent, high quality legal advice to the executive branch. The materials released today make clear that the lawyers who wrote the torture memos did not live up that tradition.”

He announced the committee will hold hearings on the matter.

Here’s the full statement:

“For years, those who approved torture and abuse of detainees have hidden behind legal memos issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel,” Conyers said. “The materials released today make plain that those memos were legally flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear.”The Office of Legal Counsel has a proud tradition of providing independent, high quality legal advice to the executive branch,” Conyers continued. “The materials released today make clear that the lawyers who wrote the torture memos did not live up that tradition. While the Department ultimately concluded that the lawyers did not breach their minimum professional obligations, I certainly hold top lawyers at OLC to a higher standard than that, as all Americans should.

“Given the serious nature of the issues raised in this report, the Committee intends to hold hearings on these matters in the very near future.”

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Jan Egeland, Mariano Aguirre| openDemocracy, June 17, 2009

The degrading treatment meted out to prisoners of the United States-led “war on terror” over seven years has yet to be subject to proper legal scrutiny and accountability. But the responsibility is Europe’s too, say Jan Egeland & Mariano Aguirre.

In the very heart of the western world, Europe’s major ally has tortured prisoners to death – in an operation that we Europeans too were involved in. The fourteen “techniques” authorised by the George W Bush administration include semi-drowning (”waterboarding’), confinement in cramped and dark boxes, psychological torture and deprivation of sleep for up to eleven days and nights (see Mark Danner, US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites” [New York Review of Books, 9 April & 30 April 2009]).

An undefined number of prisoners have died or committed suicide as a result of mistreatment in interrogation chambers run by the United States and its allies (the last one was a Yemeni in Guantánamo). It may be recalled that Japanese military jailors who employed these techniques during the second world war were adjudged war criminals by the US’s own military-legal experts.

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By Scott Horton | Harper’s Magazine, April 27, 2009

The torture trail starts and ends in the White House. That is perhaps the most inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the flurry of documents released in the last week—first the OLC memoranda, then a newly declassified report of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and finally an amazing document that Attorney General Eric Holder released yesterday, which has still gained little attention. The Holder note presents a summary of CIA interaction with the White House in connection with the approval of the torture techniques that John Yoo calls the “Bush Program.” Holder’s memo refers to the participants by their job titles only, but John Sifton runs it through a decoder and gives us the actual names. Here’s a key passage:

“[The] CIA’s Office of General Counsel [this would include current Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo] met with the Attorney General [John Ashcroft], the National Security Adviser [Condoleezza Rice], the Deputy National Security Adviser [Stephen Hadley], the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [John Bellinger], and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] in mid-May 2002 to discuss the possible use of alternative interrogation methods [on Abu Zubaydah] that differed from the traditional methods used by the U.S. military and intelligence community. At this meeting, the CIA proposed particular alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding.”

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Sudhan @14:35 CET

By Jason Leopold | Consortiumnews.com, March 2, 2009

The CIA destroyed 92 videotapes – far more than previously known – to prevent disclosure of evidence revealing how the agency’s interrogators subjected “war on terror” detainees to waterboarding and other brutal methods, according to court documents filed by the Justice Department.

“The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed,” said a letter written by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin and filed in federal court in New York. “Ninety-two videotapes were destroyed.”

Previously, the CIA had disclosed that it had destroyed two videotapes and one audiotape of harsh interrogations of detainees. The tape destruction has been the subject of a year-long criminal investigation by John Durham, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia who was appointed special prosecutor last year by Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

In Monday’s filing, Dassin noted that a stay of a contempt motion filed by the ACLU seeking release of the tapes was allowed to expire on Feb. 28 without a request for a continuation – signaling that Durham’s investigation is now complete.

In January, Durham had indicated in a court filing that he expected to wrap up his probe by the end of February. The CIA has asked the court to give the agency until Friday to produce a list of all destroyed records, any memos relating to reconstruction of those records, and identification of witnesses who may have watched the videotapes before they were destroyed.

Dassin’s letter said some information sought by the ACLU may be classified or “protected from disclosure, such as the names of the CIA employees who viewed the videotapes.”

Dassin said the CIA “intends to produce all of the information requested to the court and to produce as much information as possible on the public record to the plaintiffs.”

Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the ACLU, said the latest disclosure “provides further evidence for holding the CIA in contempt of court.”

“The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systemic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court’s order.” Singh said. “Our contempt motion has been pending in court for over a year now – it is time to hold the CIA accountable for its flagrant disregard for the rule of law.”

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Leahy: Investigate Bush Now

Huffington Post- Sam Stein

February 9, 2009 11:44 AM

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy insisted on Monday in firm and passionate terms that a comprehensive investigation be launched into the conduct of the Bush administration, saying anything less would prevent the country from moving forward.

Speaking at a forum at Georgetown University, the Vermont Democrat suggested the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission to uncover the “misdeeds” of the past eight years.

“Many Americans feel we need to get to the bottom of what went wrong,” said Leahy. “I agree. We need to be able to read the page before we turn the page.”

The Senator also stated that Attorney General Eric Holder never gave assurances to Republican Senators that he would not prosecute Bush administration officials who may have been involved in illegalities such as authorizing torture or warrantless wiretapping.

“There are some who resist any effort to investigate the misdeeds of the recent past,” he said. “Indeed, during the nomination hearing of Eric Holder, some of my fellow Senators on the other side of the aisle tried to extract a devil’s bargain from him in exchange for the votes — a commitment that he would not make… That is a pledge no prosecutor should give and Eric Holder did not give it. But because he did not it accounts for some of the votes against him.”

At one point, Leahy slammed the lectern with his right fist, underscoring the emotion he brought to the debate. His remarks referred to claims that Holder had provided Republicans on the Judiciary Committee a pledge not to prosecute Bush officials — claims that the Obama administration denied.

Leahy framed his commission idea — which he had not discussed publicly prior to Monday — as a middle ground of sorts between those who adamantly oppose investigations and those who say “we must prosecute Bush administration officials to lay down a marker.”

MORE HERE

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bush-shoes

Perino: We’re not occupiers in Iraq; we’re guests.

THINK PROGRESS- By Amanda Terkel at 1:16 pm

During today’s White House press briefing, spokesperson Dana Perino echoed President Bush’s claim that Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi’s frustrations are not representative of the Iraqi public’s sentiments. She pointed out that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki apologized for the mistreatment of his guest. When reporter Helen Thomas pointed out that U.S. forces are actually “occupiers,” Perino bristled:

QUESTION: Why not worry about it? Does it reflect the feelings of the people?

PERINO: I don’t think that you can take one guy throwing his shoe as representative of the people of Iraq.

And I will tell you that Prime Minister Maliki and the journalists who were there in the room, who apologized on behalf of the Iraqis, saying this is not how they would treat a guest. […]

QUESTION: But he wasn’t a guest. We’re occupiers.

PERINO: No, we’re not. We are absolutely a guest.

Watch it:

Perino later added, “If — if the Iraqis didn’t want us there, we wouldn’t have been signing that agreement that allows our troops to operate there for the next three years,” ignoring the fact that Iraqis primarily supported the agreement because it set a firm deadline for U.S. withdrawal.

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