Friday, April 11, 2008

Micromanaging torture from the White House basement (and the Texas connection)

There's no blaring headline in the Washington Post online about this story. Nothing even very significant that I can find from the source, ABC News, on their website. There is a story there, however about how "absolutely appalling" Dick Cheney thinks Rev. Wright's comments were.

(In the comparison between waterboarding and a minister's sermon quoting US Ambassador -- to Iraq, no less -- Edward Peck as saying the United States had abandoned its moral authority, I would have to say that Cheney's judgment is again demonstrated to be as full of shit as his cold, dark heart.)

Top Bush aides, including Vice President Cheney, micromanaged the torture of terrorist suspects from the White House basement, according to an ABC News report aired last night.

Discussions were so detailed, ABC's sources said, that some interrogation sessions were virtually choreographed by a White House advisory group. In addition to Cheney, the group included then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then-secretary of state Colin Powell, then-CIA director George Tenet and then-attorney general John Ashcroft.

At least one member of the club had some qualms. ABC reports that Ashcroft "was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

"According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: 'Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.'"

Here's the video of last night's report by Jan Crawford Greenburg and a text version by Greenburg, Howard L. Rosenberg and Ariane de Vogue.

They write: "Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding...."

"As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room."

Ashcroft again, the only member of the Bush adminstration with half a conscience.

So let's review: waterboarding is torture, and torture is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions (once described as "quaint" by Alberto Gonzales). The reason the US and several other countries agreed to be bound by the terms of Geneva way back when was so that our own soldiers captured as prisoners of war would never be subjected to such treatment.

And the reason why phrases such as "enhanced interrogation techniques" and "enemy combatants" were devised by the corporate marketing wizards running the nation's foreign policy was for no better reason than to attempt to evade prosecution as war criminals.

And so that we never forget that the roots of Bush administration evil can almost always be traced back to our beloved Lone Star State, James Ho -- who together with John Yoo wrote the original DOJ memo outlining the legal justification of torture -- has recently been named the solicitor general of Texas by Attorney General Greg Abbott.

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