Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bush Administration Worse Than we Thought

The Bush White House years were worse than we have thought because its aims were trite, puny and pathetic, not even remotely fueled by grand and majestic plans to protect the world. Fed as we are by books, movies and TV shows that depict evil cabals plotting the overthrow and final dissolution of the United States of America, it’s hard to believe—and we don’t want to believe it—that the boo-scare tactics of the Bush administration had nothing to do with real terrorist plots. But rather, its strategy to predict an impending “mushroom cloud” in our future had to do only with a) selling an unnecessary war in Iraq and b) defending its decision to sell the unnecessary war in Iraq. This morning, Frank Rich’s column in the New York Times, “The Banality of Bush White House Evil”, is as clear a summary of the reasons why the Bush administration lied and lied and lied as we are likely to get until the Justice Department investigates this “betrayal of American values”. And at the center of the betrayal was the need for the architects of the Iraq war to elicit “information” from Qaeda prisoners to support the argument that another (or many) attacks on the US was being planned. The hope was not that the truth would be uncovered through using torture. The hope was that the prisoners would concoct tales to get the torture to stop and that the Bush team could then use the ill-gotten info to sell their war in Iraq. It has been revealed that the so-called top man of Al Qaeda (Abu Zubaydah) who had been imprisoned was little more than a mentally ill flunky who knew nothing about the inner workings of Al Qaeda. However, Zubaydah was waterboarded 86 times in the hopes that he would finally make something up that the White House could use. And now Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) wants to revive McCarthyism by claiming there are “17 Socialists in Congress”. The United States populace has greeted Bachus’s outrage with a yawn and disinterested, “If true, so what?” What was the aim of the Bush administration when they fabricated their yarns and stories? Following is the “Project for the New American Century Statement of Principles”, as devised by William Kristol on June 3, 1997 and signed by Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, Paul Wolfowitz: “American foreign and defense policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America's role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century. We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership. As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests? We are in danger of squandering the opportunity and failing the challenge. We are living off the capital -- both the military investments and the foreign policy achievements -- built up by past administrations. Cuts in foreign affairs and defense spending, inattention to the tools of statecraft, and inconstant leadership are making it increasingly difficult to sustain American influence around the world. And the promise of short-term commercial benefits threatens to override strategic considerations. As a consequence, we are jeopardizing the nation's ability to meet present threats and to deal with potentially greater challenges that lie ahead. We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration's success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities. Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership. Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences: • we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future; • we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values; • we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad; • we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles. Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.” This is what it was all about. It didn’t work. It led to the failed war in Iraq, and the eventual collapse of the United States as a super power and the collapse of the US financially.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

“It worked!” Former CIA Director Hayden Says

The tempest continues over the releasing of info that Qaeda prisoners were tortured during their interrogations. But the justification being used now by Bush administration officials who eagerly pushed for the use of harsh interrogation techniques is nearly unbelievable. They are claiming that it’s easy today to second-guess their decisions to use torture to get information, but if a bomb or bio-weapon had killed thousands of lives, “where would the moral compass point today?” Huh? Are they saying that the Bush administration’s fear of a terrorist attack made it okay to use tactics that the US had formerly prosecuted as war crimes after World War II? The Bush administration CIA Director Michael Hayden insisted about the CIA torture program, “It worked.” And he added, “I have said to all who will listen that the agency did none of this out of did it out of duty. It did it with the best legal advice it had.” Oh please! The Nazis feared the Jews. Their program to annihilate the people they feared also worked. Chaining children to a bed to keep them from being a nuisance works. Forcing women to have their tubes tied or to have hysterectomies to keep them from getting pregnant works. Castrating boys to keep their voices from changing works. Using children as a labor force works. Polygamy works. Blackmail works. Suicide works. But the statement that “It worked” cannot justify a criminal act. There is no justification for using torture under any circumstances. And officials in the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) program that trains soldiers in survival techniques, say torture actually is ineffective. It doesn’t work. It makes prisoners lie. It makes them concoct stories. It makes them psychotic. It makes them crazed. But it doesn’t make them divulge information. There does seem to be some untoward enthusiasms though, Michael Hayden’s claim notwithstanding. There seems to be a passion, an excitement, a titillation if you will, by these Bush administration supporters of torture that’s just a wee bit troubling, a tad disquieting. You don’t think they all belong to some kind of, um, club do you? Now there’s an investigation whose time may have come.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Real Problem About the Torture Memos

The release of CIA memos about interrogation tactics used on two Qaeda operatives has occasioned a firestorm of protests from both Republicans and Democrats. But the real problem is the belief system of the Bush administration, as in: 1) The Bushmen believed and still believe that torture is good. 2) The Bushmen believed and still believe if they called torture by another name, it was not torture. 3) The Bushmen believed and still believe that lying is good. On any level of behavior that one can conceive of in a civilized society, the above items are not just bad. They are immoral and reprehensible. And defending the above immoral and wrong actions by saying they were necessary to the national security of the United States is absurd. If, as we are informed, the Qaeda operatives were subjected to the torture called “waterboarding” 266 times, it must have occurred to the perpetrators that it wasn’t working somewhere near the 10th time. And one can only assume the remaining 256 times were engaged in for fun. Now Dick Cheney says that releasing the CIA memos “endangers the country by disclosing national secrets”. Explain that to me, Dick of dicks. It was never a national secret that the US was engaging in waterboarding, among other detestable torture practices. It was never a national secret that the Bush administration had decided to inform the public that torture was not torture. It was never a national secret that saying torture wasn’t torture was a ridiculous form of “fallacious reasoning” (as the dictionary calls sophistry), and no one in the world believed it...including the far-right-religious-fanatic world that just barely inhabits the real world. Amazingly, stupid as most of the Bush administration lies were (thanks to Karl Rove’s fallacious reasoning), Karl Rove and Dick Cheney are still engaging in their sophistry to defend the torture used by the CIA, which they said wasn’t torture. Now they say admitting the untorture was torture makes us unsafe in our beds which were secure when they lied, but now because of truthtelling...not so much. Former president George Bush has not weighed-in on this issue as yet. One assumes he has not sobered up yet. And God only knows what may be revealed if he ever does get off the sauce and pills and if Laura is ever allowed to stop taking the meds that got her through those eight First Lady years. One assumes (yes, this one...ME) their combined doctors are waiting for the “forgetting” drug to be perfected before allowing the former first couple to detox.