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And You Thought We Left The Monarchy In England? Liz Cheney’s Thinking of Running for Office

Crooks And Liars- By Susie Madrak Tuesday Mar 09, 2010 7:00am

You may have been under the impression that we don’t have a monarchy in this country, but apparently we do – especially if you’re part of the Cheney gene pool:

Liz Cheney, a mother of five children, has become one of the sharpest and most outspoken critics of the new White House and has needled the Obama administration for failing to protect the nation against terrorism, and mollycoddling terror suspects while pursuing government lawyers who approved water-boarding, a method of inquisition she approves of. She called the president’s Nobel Peace prize a “farce”.

Pushed by friends and family, Ms Cheney is now reportedly contemplating a run for office herself either in Virginia, where she was raised, or in Wyoming, her parents’ home state.

A former senior state department official on the Middle East, the 43-year-old has already attracted favourable comparisons with as a more substantive version of Sarah Palin, another conservative working mother.

“She’s likely to seek office,” was the judgment of Karl Rove, the former chief adviser to George W Bush.

“I’d love to see her run for office someday,” said her father, 69, recently. “I think she’s got a lot to offer, and it’s been a great career for me, and if she has the interest, and I think she does, then I would like to see her embark upon a career in politics.”
In 40 television appearances in the past year, Ms Cheney has robustly defended her father against criticism that he was the sinister force behind war on terror policies that subverted the norms of American justice, arguing that he and Mr Bush did nothing illegal and kept the country safe after 9/11.

Imagine that. She’s been on TV forty times in the past year, for nothing more than her DNA and social connections. Yes, Marcy Wheeler calls her “Babydick” and points us to a piece in New York magazine about why NBC loves her so much:

Fox is a regular pulpit, of course, but Liz is also all over NBC, where she happens to be social friends with Meet the Press host David Gregory (whose wife worked with Liz ’s husband at the law firm Latham & Watkins), family friends with Justice Department reporter Pete Williams (Dick Cheney’s press aide when he was secretary of Defense), and neighborhood friends with Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski, daughter of Carter-administration national-security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. When Mika criticized Dick Cheney on her show last year, the former vice-president sent her a box of chocolate cupcakes.

Lawrence O’Donnell, an MSNBC pundit who engaged in a particularly testy shouting match on Good Morning America with Liz Cheney over waterboarding, says the networks have allowed her a high degree of control over her appearances. “She had up to that point been completely accustomed to having interviews go her way and ceded on her terms,” he observes. “She has been careful to make sure that the interviews worked that way.”

Marcy also reminds us that Cheney was her father’s eyes and ears in the State Department:

What Hagan describes here, of course, is out and out insubordination (or rather, BabyDick’s insubordination layered on top of Bolton’s insubordination). But what he also makes clear is that not only was BabyDick wired into Bolton’s shop (and with it, discussions that would have revealed the genesis of Joe Wilson’s trip), but she also helped Wurmser accomplish his two-fold goal of thwarting State Department efforts to set up a broad-based Iraqi government (where OVP pressed Chalabi instead) and of setting up propaganda efforts–complete with their very own NYT shill, Judy Miller–to support claims they had found WMDs.

Not that that should be a surprise. But if you’re looking for news in this big [BJ] of an article, that’s one tidbit of it.

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For much of the last decade, the Republican line about liberals has been that whenever we downplayed the urgency of the so-called terrorist threat (or dared to criticize then-President Bush for that matter) we were somehow emboldening the terrorists.

For example, during the 2004 campaign, John Kerry was annihilated by the Dick Cheney wingnut right when he said, “We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.”

Oh holy hell! Kerry said what?!

He was exactly right, of course, both strategically and rhetorically. The senator was outlining how we ought to be simultaneously destroying al-Qaeda and, in the “home of the brave,” we ought to be acting like grown-ups rather than a nation of scared little pee-pants infants frightened of unseen toe monsters lurking under the bed.

Cheney and others, in response to Kerry, were very clearly implying that terrorism was always going to be a serious and existential threat to America — that we have every right to be both terrified and terrorized — therefore we absolutely have to torture people, undermine the rule of law, preemptively invade sovereign nations and, naturally, elect Republicans in order to be safe.

What the far-right has never grasped, however, is that the whole point of a terrorist attack isn’t necessarily to kill people. The point is to terrorize. Scott Shanes in the New York Times quoted a former Homeland Security and CIA official:

“We give comfort to our enemies,” said Charles E. Allen, a 40-year C.I.A. veteran who served as the top intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security from 2007 to early last year. Exaggerated news coverage and commentary, he said, “creates an atmosphere of tension and fear, and to me that’s exactly the wrong way to go.”

Fareed Zakaria spelled it out even further this week:

The purpose of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction. Its real aim is not to kill the hundreds of people directly targeted but to sow fear in the rest of the population. Terrorism is an unusual military tactic in that it depends on the response of the onlookers. If we are not terrorized, then the attack didn’t work. Alas, this one worked very well.

In the case of the Underpants Bomber, by collectively losing our shit and inflating a minor fracas out of proportion — by acting as though this was a major bloody attack and subsequently acquiescing to full body scans and further violations of our civil liberties, we’re handing al-Qaeda an easy victory. The attempt was a failure, but the overreaction in its aftermath turned it into an easy win for al-Qaeda.

Good job, Republicans. Good job, Fox News.

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The Republican record on terrorism is pretty damn terrible. Naturally, this hasn’t stopped them from milking whatever remains of their purely cosmetic tough-guy reputation in order to fear-monger the failed Underpants Bomber incident irrespective of their lengthy history of failure, cowardice and stupidity on the issue.

I think we all understand and begrudgingly accept that Americans have a short attention span, and an even shorter memory, but the Republicans are really counting on it as they exploit the post-underpants freakout.

For example, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) said the other day:

I’m hopeful that the president will become forceful, that we will return back to the direction where we are prosecuting the war on terror

I know. It doesn’t read very well, but the senator was suggesting that we go back to the way the Bush/Cheney team ran the “war on terror” — that the previous administration’s strategy was much more effective. Another attempt to sell the inaccurate notion that shit-kicker boots, a southern drawl, a waterboard and hillbilly bumper-sticker justice succeeded in knocking al-Qaeda into oblivion.

Wrong.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new threat assessment from U.S. counterterrorism analysts says that al-Qaeda has used its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border to restore its operating capabilities to a level unseen since the months before Sept. 11, 2001.
A counterterrorism official familiar with a five-page summary of the document — titled “al-Qaeda better positioned to strike the West” — called it a stark appraisal. The analysis will be part of a broader meeting at the White House on Thursday about an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate.

This wasn’t some sort of early, post-9/11 assessment that can be scapegoated on the Clinton administration. If you recall, this NIE was released to the press in July of 2007. A year and a half before President Obama was elected, six and a half years after Bill Clinton left office, and six and a half years into the Bush presidency.

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s public relations apparatus was firing on all cylinders Wednesday morning, with the release of a predictable statement about the failed Underpants Bomber fracas. And by “public relations apparatus” I mean “cable news and Politico.”

Needless to say, Cheney is well-qualified to take an authoritative posture when it comes to terrorism. After all, he and his little buddy “kept us safe” from terrorist attacks for eight years, right? Other than the worst terrorist attack in American history, of course, along with the Anthrax Attacks, the Beltway Snipers, the thousands of terrorist attacks on our contractors and soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the attacks on our allies in London and Madrid, Cheney did a fine job keeping us safe (more about this in my book). Good job, Mr. Cheney!

So it wasn’t any surprise when Cheney stopped thumbing through Uncle Billy’s misplaced $8,000 long enough to fire off a few words about the failed Underpants Bomber attempt and the Obama administration’s response. And since Dick Cheney is a very serious terrorism expert — mainly because more Americans died in terrorist attacks on his watch than any other vice president ever — the media gobbled it up, practically unchallenged. Cheney said:

As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war.

First of all, way to condemn the attempted attack, Mr. Cheney — oh wait, you didn’t condemn anything other than the president. Sorry. You chose instead to attack the commander-in-chief while troops are in harm’s way. Weren’t you guys totally against that sort of thing, by the way? Oh right. Everything prior to January 20, 2009 doesn’t count.

But that last part about giving “terrorists the rights of Americans” and letting them “lawyer up,” is fascinating coming from Mr. Cheney.

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Whether you like it or not, if you voted for President Obama last year, you are partly responsible for this strategy. That’s not entirely a bad thing depending on your position on the war, but it’s worth repeating that the president never spoke of drawing down our forces in the Af-Pak region during the campaign, nor did he mention such a thing during his first 10 months in office.

So last night’s announcement shouldn’t come as a shocker.

Admittedly, during the campaign, he never specifically said that he would drop 30,000 additional soldiers into the war. And while he never specified the exact “30,000” number, he also never said anything about a July, 2011 date for beginning the withdrawal either. In other words, and unlike the Bushies, he’s making adjustments to his strategy based upon what’s happening on the ground rather than holding himself to a firm “smoke ‘em out” meets “bring ‘em on” endless and unchanging war policy. And, suffice to say, this underscores his considerably non-Bushie penchant for thought, rationality and informed deliberation.

Nevertheless, this thing is painfully confounding.

Yes, I obviously voted for President Obama. Yes, I understand how this strategy is, in fact, a vast departure from the Bush administration’s conduct and strategic planning (insofar as the Bushies “planned” anything — all gut). Yes, I understood the president’s hawkish language about “the good war.”

But I’m very reluctant to support this decision, because history has proved that similar plans have too easily gone horribly awry. Be that as it may, I just don’t see how the president’s solution can be avoided.

The war in Afghanistan is like a terrible form of cancer. No one wants it, but I don’t know how we can avoid dealing with it without facing serious consequences. I don’t want an escalation. I don’t want more casualties. I don’t want more spending when Congress is being miserly on domestic programs. I want the thing to end. I didn’t even want it to start in the first place.

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Blair to be called before UK inquiry to Iraq war

LONDON, England (CNN) — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be called before an inquiry into the country’s role in the Iraq war, its chairman said during the opening Thursday.

John Chilcot told media he would not “offer a list of witnesses” but that “key decision-makers in the key phases of the Iraq affair” would be called.

“You can work out for yourself who some of them will be, but apart from the former prime minister [Tony Blair] — who it’s obvious we must see — I don’t want to give a longer list today.”

Blair’s appearance before the inquiry, whenever it happens, will be of huge interest to the British public and media.

Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, announced the inquiry last month, saying it would look in depth at the lead up to and conduct of the war. However, he also said it would not appropriate blame or have any mandate to consider civil or criminal charges.

Chilcot said the inquiry would examine the period starting from the summer of 2001 until the launch of the military operation in 2003, and up to the present day.

Read more…

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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.

Continued >>

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