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1/14/2009
INVESTIGATING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION A PARTISAN MINEFIELD

Is there any purpose served by investigating allegations of ordering torture, illegal surveillance, and other sins alleged to have been committed during the years of the Bush Administration?

For those of us on both sides who are slightly less partisan in our view of government and politics, it is a serious question. For those who have already made up their mind on both sides, not so much. While they scream at each other across the great divide in American politics, serious people will have to grapple with the serious questions - legal and constitutional - raised by the actions of the Bush Administration over the years.

As I see it, there are two major roadblocks to investigating previous actions of the administration. The first is that much of what has been alleged involves top secret programs, only parts of which we have been given a glimpse. It is a dead sure bet that no one has seen the legal opinions written by the Justice Department for any of these alleged abuses which makes any charges of illegal or unconstitutional actions by the Bushies even more problematic.

To base an opinion only on what has come out in the press about the Terrorist Surveillance Program, for instance, has always puzzled me. Forming an opinion without all the facts is the definition of “half-assed.” And what information we have as far as the TSP is concerned has come to us largely from anonymous sources who may, or may not, have had sufficient access to information about how the program worked in its entirety, not to mention a question of their knowledge of the legal implications involved. Compartmentalization of information in these top secret programs is a given and the number of people who would have a good overall picture of how they worked would be few indeed.

The only way to find out for sure is to investigate how the program was set up, how it was run, the technical means employed, and the legal justification for them. (Torture is a different matter that I address below.) But is it possible to investigate the workings of a top secret, on-going intelligence program without compromising its effectiveness?

And this brings me to my second major roadblock to investigating alleged abuses in the Bush Administration; the probability that any such investigating will degenerate into a partisan circus.

The Judiciary Committee under John Conyers has written two reports since 2006 that goes into excruciating detail about illegalities and unconstitutional actions by the Bush Administration. The problem is - and Conyers admits it - is that nothing in either report constitutes a finding of fact. This is not surprising given that the overwhelming number of allegations are based on newspaper accounts, studies done by liberal think tanks, or reports from partisan left organizations like Human Rights Watch and the ACLU.

Here’s Conyers from the Forward to today’s release of a 457 page list of allegations against Bush and his Administration. He is quoting from an op-ed he wrote in 2006 after the release of his initial report, “The Constitution in Crisis.” After all that ”investigating,” we are left with little better than a political indictment of actions Conyers and much of the left disagrees with:

The administration’s stonewalling, and the lack of oversight by Congress, have left us to guess whether we are dealing with isolated wrongdoing, or mistakes, or something worse. In my view, the American people deserve answers, not guesses. I have proposed that we obtain these answers in a responsible and bipartisan manner.

It was House Republicans who took power in 1995 with immediate plans to undermine President Bill Clinton by any means necessary, and they did so in the most autocratic, partisan and destructive ways imaginable. If there is any lesson from those “revolutionaries,” it is that partisan vendettas ultimately provoke a public backlash and are never viewed as legitimate. So, rather than seeking impeachment, I have chosen to propose comprehensive oversight of these alleged abuses. The oversight I have suggested would be performed by a select committee made up equally of Democrats and Republicans and chosen by the House speaker and the minority leader.

The committee’s job would be to obtain answers - finally. At the end of the process, if - and only if - the select committee, acting on a bipartisan basis, finds evidence of potentially impeachable offenses, it would forward that information to the Judiciary Committee.

Conyers admits he has no “answers” - only questions. Hence, the idea of some kind of “bi-partisan” committee to look into these allegations (there are hundreds) and discover “the truth.”

The Judiciary reports take issue with the Administration over just about every action they’ve undertaken in 8 years. Signing statements, intelligence, detention policies, rendition (begun under Clinton and expanded under Bush), warrantless searches and surveillance, the Plame Affair, the politicization of the Justice Department, the states attorney imbroglio, and “enhanced interrogation” or torture.

How many are actual allegations of crimes committed and how many are reasonable (or unreasonable) differences of opinion over politics? We won’t know unless someone, somewhere investigates what went on. The question of whether we need answers or not is moot. We do. The problem is who is going to find the answers?

Conyers’ idea of a bi-partisan committee or commission made up equally of members from both sides won’t fly. The Republicans tried it with investigating intelligence leading up to the Iraq War and the Democrats rejected the findings and substituted their own narrative. There was also the 9/11 Commission that degenerated into a partisan tug of war and that failed to assess enough blame to either Clinton or Bush while going easy on Giuliani and the intel agencies. There was also the findings of the WMD Commission most Democrats rejected out of hand.

The fact of the matter is politicians are, well, politicians and asking them to forget that primary fact of their existence is absurd. Hence, Conyers idea of entrusting such a daunting task to Congress is, to my mind, a non-starter. Even beyond the 9/11 Commission or the other investigative committee reports on the war, any body that investigates the president must be beyond partisan suspicion.

The leaves us with two choices; naming a special prosecutor (or several) to impartially investigate potential abuses or, intriguingly, set up a Commission of private citizens a la the South African Truth Commission. The latter idea has some interesting possibilities but at bottom, is a little ridiculous. In South Africa, they were dealing with decades of apartheid as well as political murders and violence. Unless you think Bush is responsible for 9/11 or actually caused Hurricane Katrina, I think some kind of Truth Commission is a just too much drama for what is at stake in any investigation of the Bushies.

A special prosecutor would probably be the fairest and most efficacious way to investigate wrongdoing during the Bush years. I think one should definitely be appointed to address the issue of torture which is not a political issue and represents some of the most serious charges of illegality against the president and his people.

As for the rest of Conyers allegations, I just don’t know. The problem with special prosecutors is that once you appoint one, they are almost duty bound to find illegality come hell or high water (i.e. Scooter Libby, Ken Starr). If it would be possible to narrow the scope of what a special prosecutor might be tasked to investigate, it might be possible that such an examination of Administration actions could rise above partisanship and would be accepted by a large majority.

But perhaps, that is only wishful thinking. Obama himself recognizes the difficulties which is why he would rather “look forward” than behind:

Obama also views waterboarding as torture. To find out who authorized its use in interrogations, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has introduced a bill creating a bipartisan commission with subpoena power. But when Obama was asked on ABC’s This Week whether he’d back such a commission, he was cautiously noncommittal.

“We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions and so forth,” Obama said. “Obviously, we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward.”

Some Democrats who have strongly opposed the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation practices say they agree with Obama’s cautious approach. Among them is the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin.

“There’s a big debate going on about holding the previous administration accountable for [its] actions, and I would say for the time being that the Obama team is focused properly on the future,” Durbin said. “Our economy is so weak; we’re in desperate need of jobs. Before we start looking at the pages of history in the Bush administration, we should be looking at the obvious need to create jobs and create a new economic climate in this country.”

There’s a good reason both Obama and Durbin are cautious and it has little to do with the state of the economy. Congress or any Commission named can easily carry out its duties. Congress, especially, can do more than one thing at a time.

The danger that both Democratic leaders see is in the extraordinary difficulty in investigating Bush in a non-partisan manner and whose findings would be accepted by a majority of Americans. If the investigation would be seen as a partisan witch hunt, it would not redound to the Democrat’s advantage and might even hurt them at the polls. This would seem to make some kind of a special prosecutor even more likely but even there, Obama and the Democrats will tread cautiously.

Perhaps there will be more of a push for the facts by the American people of what happened during the Bush years than one can currently imagine. But like Obama, Americans tend to be a forward thinking people who tend not to dwell on the past. Except in this case, there may be good reason to find out what went on at the White House during the last 8 years. Whether it can be done believably and fairly is another question entirely.

By: Rick Moran at 2:24 pm
33 Responses to “INVESTIGATING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION A PARTISAN MINEFIELD”
  1. 1
    Eddie Said:
    4:06 pm 

    Excellent points all-around, especially with the problem of how it will be received by the public at large.

    I have no faith in a Democratic Congress now or Republican Congress later to handle this appropriately. I will give respect for the Senate Armed Services committee report on torture released last month, which at least served as a good clearinghouse of what happened that is know about thus far without engaging in hyperbole or fantasy.

    Perhaps for torture, a commission of semi-public individuals (i.e. retired officers, lawyers, agents with considerable experience with the subject and institutions involved) working with the IG’s of all involved departments can investigate.
    Their mission would not be to assign criminal responsibility but merely to identify and flesh out a time line of events, identify key areas where the law was broken or subverted, note laws, regulations and procedures that are outdated or outmoded, and issue a report of findings for current and future study of how to avoid some of the mistakes and problems the Bush & late second-term Clinton governments ran into and/or created of its own accord.

    I find how the Justice Department is handling the problems it had up until 2007 to be quite admirable. While partisans scream, the inspector general keeps on issuing reports packed with detail and testimony while offering solutions to prevent most of them from happening again.
    If nothing else, that could at least be attempted by Gates @ DOD and have a reasonable chance of succeeding in offering some lessons for the future. I have little faith in the CIA or intel community at large to get something similar done, in no small part because they seem to still be obsessed with the prospect of being the fall guys in a mass prosecution.

    We also are not sure yet what kind of information and misinformation will come out of the woodworks after 20 January from disgruntled and/or outraged individuals within the government.

  2. 2
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    4:11 pm 

    I think one should definitely be appointed to address the issue of torture which is not a political issue and represents some of the most serious charges of illegality against the president and his people.

    I think this is one of the most important things our country needs to do. I know you hate me, but your position on this is why I constantly send people to read your blog.

    But like Obama, Americans tend to be a forward thinking people who tend not to dwell on the past.

    This is one of the things I hate the most about American culture. The notion of what’s past is past. Looking to the future is ridiculous without dissecting and analyzing the wrongs of the past. Part of being Forward Thinking is a hard examination of what happened, and how we got where we are. Without looking back, there can’t be any justice. Values and principals are thrown out the window, and the forward thinkers are allowed to get away with worse. I hope, for the sake of our country, that every last detail of every last potential abuse is investigated as far down the rabbit hole as humanly possible. No matter what the outcome. Even if that outcome is total vindication for the Bush administration.

    The past is not the past because it’s effects are real, and now, and ongoing. Our country is the victim, and telling the victim that the past is the past is just as horrible an injustice as what might have happened in the past.

  3. 3
    headhunt23 Said:
    4:30 pm 

    Quite frankly, if after 9/11 we hadn’t tourtured some people (like the Qhatani that Susan Crawford was wringing her hands over yesterday, I’d demand an investigation of my government.

    The biggest problem with “torture” is how is it defined? Certainly electric shock, cutting, pullout out finger/toe nails are all agreeable. Waterboarding? Boarderline in my view. Sleep Deprevation, humiliation, cold therapy…eh. Loud Music, solitary confinement, a slap, the chest punch? Not really buying it.

    Frankly, Obama would be well advised to stay far away from this briar patch. Because he knows - and he’s smart enough to know it - that if some big show is made of investigating the current administration and overturning the current way of doing business, and then 6 months later a major terrorist attack occurs on US soil, the Dem’s won’t get elected to anything in 2010.

    He’s a lot smarter to leave the air of mystery out there that we might be continuing with some of Bush’s more aggressive policies so if an attack happens, he can try to get Bush policies to take some of the blame.

    However, I do question whether his supporters are sophisticated enough to accept this.

  4. 4
    bs jones Said:
    5:12 pm 

    I believe many American’s want an overwhelmingly powerful executive branch that is above the law (at least when the president is from their own party). These people say “Let’s get er done”. They do not care about following the rule of law, especially if they think the president has good intentions and what the President wants to do is urgent. Partisan Americans may want the president of the other party investigated for law breaking, but it is a rare American that puts the rule of law above both parties.

    When I was learning about our form of government, I was taught that the branches were co-equal. I was also taught that some founders believed the legislative branch was the most important branch, not only because it writes the laws, but more importantly because the Legislative branch has the power to limit Executive power.

    Today Americans almost universally despise the Legislative branch and would prefer them to stay out of the way of the president, especially if that president is from their own party. We just don’t accept the role the Constitution sets up for the Legislative Branch (Congress doesn’t accept its role either).

    Let me give a few examples:

    Polls (allegedly) show most Americans do not support the war in Iraq, yet Congress would never cut off funding for the war. We the People would not accept it.

    President Bush’s White House broke the FISA law. Congress responded with immunity for the corporations that did the illegal wire taps.

    President Clinton committed purgery and was impeached for it. Many Americans thought this went to far. They wanted a censure vote.

    Reagan did not like the law preventing aid to the Contras. When Congress investigated Iran-Contra, American’s were unhappy with Congress.

    Congress is often afraid to execute its responsibilities under the Constitution and when it does it is usually rebuked by the people.

    I believe the Executive branch under Bush has broken the law.
    I believe Cheney has admitted this in TV interviews.
    I believe this is what many Americans want.
    I believe Obama will not pursue this law breaking.

  5. 5
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    5:14 pm 

    headhunt23

    However, I do question whether his supporters are sophisticated enough to accept this.

    Yeah? And what of the people who don’t support him, and don’t accept this? Outside of every other moral, ethical, logistical, and judicial point made about this that utterly and completely destroys your “sophisticated” logic, it has a negative effect on commerce. Stand down, and truly put some thought into what you’re saying.

  6. 6
    retire05 Said:
    6:29 pm 

    What went on in the White House for the last 8 years? Are you that blind in your BDS that you don’t know? How about doing whatever it takes to prevent another 3,000 Americans from being murdered by terrorist thugs who don’t share you philosophy of the higher “moral” ground.

    Perhaps time would be better served by investigating who leaked sensitive national secrets to the New York Times instead of worrying if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had some water run up his nose. But that would be too easy.

    Then there is the whole matter of those who consider sleep deprivation and loud music as torture (although if I had to listen to Madonna I would considered myself tortured). Since Janet Reno, with the permission of President William Clinton, did the same thing to American citizens in a compound in Waco, Texas, do we indict Clinton along with Bush?

    We had a 9-11 Commission where those who sat on the Commission itself, should have been sitting in front of it testifying why they created rules that prevented the sharing of intelligence that may have (notice I say “may”) prevented 9-11.

    On January 20, 2009, we will become a weaker nation. You can lay money on that. And the very ones whose ideals caused 9-11 will also take note.

    For God’s sake, you have been pounding on President Bush since November 5, 1999. Isn’t it time to let it go?

  7. 7
    mannning Said:
    7:12 pm 

    What many people seem to overlook is that decision-makers at many levels must act in what they believe is the best interest of the US. When the obvious possibility of solving a serious problem quickly by way of torture is presented, my bet is that many lower-level deciders would condone and aid the torture, and accept the possibility of punishment for it if they are ever caught, and the higher-level deciders in the chain would do all they could to look the other way or obfuscate the situation as much as possible. Especially if important problems get solved.

    That this is so is quite obvious. We have tortured, despite all prohibitions in place for a long time.

  8. 8
    Sara in VA Said:
    7:42 pm 

    Can’t we just chalk it up to “honest mistakes” and leave it at that? It works for people at the Treasury Department, and for Charlie Rangel.

    How can you root for Jack Bauer and then call for prosecuting “real” agents who’ve kept your family safe –all in the same week?

    I’m with retire05. High five, dude.

  9. 9
    bs jones Said:
    7:52 pm 

    In my previous post I said that many Americans do not trust Congress. I also said some Americans want their president to break laws passed by Congress if the president thinks it’s right or expedient.

    I see at least three comments posted on this thread that support that position.

  10. 10
    Ron Russell Said:
    9:30 pm 

    Bush and torture of terrorist. One hardly knows what to say, has it really gotten to the point where we can’t pour a cup of water over a terrorists’ face, we can’t deprive them of sleep, or force them to undress. In gods name what are we becoming. Has the world gone stark raving mad–absurdity has taken over. With that in mind I propose the followig: lets send convicts on a world wide cruise, and have arabs kissing jews, and finally charge freight rates across an ant hill!!!!!!

  11. 11
    yoda Said:
    9:57 pm 

    Bush broke the law. He fragrantly ignored 275 Federal laws and including among them dozens of court orders.

    As a Republican I believe in the rule of law.

    If we want to be a national party again and not relegated to to extremists, then we must prosecute Bush and Cheney and everyone else in his administration that frankly put us here in this diminishing corner.

    As as I hate to say it, the country has moved. You can kvetch about it all you want. But the law is the law and the Constitution, when followed, allows us to address these issues in court.

    We must do this.

  12. 12
    yoda Said:
    9:59 pm 

    One more thing. We were hit by the largest terrorist attack in history on Bush’s watch. he ignored a PDF that said Bin laden determined to Strike Inside the United States. You can’t seriously think he protected us from anything.

  13. 13
    Neo Said:
    10:02 pm 

    As for the Signing Statement, each of these statements allows all to see whatever interpretation the Executive branch will apply to the law. The Signing Statements impart no authority, but rather only represent a position of interpretation. Previously, these positions were understood within the Executive branch as internal policies that were unseen by the public and these positions were made public only when a statue was put up for judicial review or as regulations, stemming from these laws, were disclosed in the Federal Register.
    The Signing Statements represent a level of transparency by the Executive branch. If all bills had a Signing Statement, we would all be better served.

    The downside of a Signing Statement is that it removes the ability to flip-flop or in most cases even be flexible. It has the real effect of starting the judicial review process without even filing a suit, as it locks in many aspects of the Executive branch position.

    While many will view a Signing Statement on the Military Commissions Act as an “evil” act. It will be even more “evil” if there is no statement. The opponents of the Military Commissions Act should be waiting with baited breath to see what clarifications the Executive branch considers important enough to put into a Signing Statement, as this is the minimal test they will have to clear to have the court consider any reversals.

  14. 14
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    10:49 pm 

    What went on in the White House for the last 8 years? Are you that blind in your BDS that you don’t know? How about doing whatever it takes to prevent another 3,000 Americans from being murdered by terrorist thugs who don’t share you philosophy of the higher “moral” ground.

    I’m not blind to anything. I understand the United States and its motivations quite well. It’s not complicated. Despite what you might think, it is possible to maintain a strong moral footing while preventing terrorism. Terrorist thugs are terrorist thugs, and they can burn for what I care. What you don’t seem to be able to grasp is that 9/11 was 99% preventable. The 9/11 commission, as flawed and kneecapped as it was cited example after example of ways 9/11 could have been avoided.

    And you know what retire05!? It had NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH TORTURE. It was simple f’ing police work. That’s all it would have taken. The list is long of people who warned, people who saw, people who suspected. Warnings were ignored, ideas dismissed, and it all added up to 9/11. It was preventable, and casting off the morals and the values that were the ideal to everyone in and outside of this country was completely unnecessary.

    And you say any means necessary to justify torture. That’s bullshit. It’s a lie people use to make themselves feel better about the loss of the moral high ground. The loss of the feeling that this country truly is better than everywhere else. Your logic is a farce, and it’s wrong on so many levels. But it’s great that you feel good about it. You feel proud. You sleep better at night.

    Perhaps time would be better served by investigating who leaked sensitive national secrets to the New York Times instead of worrying if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had some water run up his nose. But that would be too easy.

    Perhaps some time would be better served by logical fallacy, intellectual dishonesty, scoffing at lost personal liberty, and gross disregard for the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. But hey, if we’ve got nothing to hide, why should we be concerned?

    Then there is the whole matter of those who consider sleep deprivation and loud music as torture (although if I had to listen to Madonna I would considered myself tortured). Since Janet Reno, with the permission of President William Clinton, did the same thing to American citizens in a compound in Waco, Texas, do we indict Clinton along with Bush?

    Torture is torture no matter the political party. Perhaps we do indict Clinton along with Bush. You make the false assumption that those of us who wish to see torture prosecuted to the fullest extent possible of the law are Democrats or liberals, or some derogatory term you spit out in disgust when describing your political opposites. It is a wrong and foolish assumption.

    We had a 9-11 Commission where those who sat on the Commission itself, should have been sitting in front of it testifying why they created rules that prevented the sharing of intelligence that may have (notice I say “may”) prevented 9-11.

    There is no may. 9-11 could have been prevented. Flawed as the Commission was it spells that much out. Not only that but many of its recommendations regarding the sharing and evaluation of legally obtained information are the very reason further attacks have been prevented. Regular, boots on the ground police and detective work, NOT torture.

    On January 20, 2009, we will become a weaker nation. You can lay money on that. And the very ones whose ideals caused 9-11 will also take note.

    Implying that we haven’t been attacked because we’re so strong and that we torture people is one the most illogical things I’ve read yet. Our intelligence agencies might be flawed, but more often than not their warnings have been simply ignored to our own detriment to appease whatever political winds seem to be blowing at the time. Then they get blamed and scapegoated later.

    For God’s sake, you have been pounding on President Bush since November 5, 1999. Isn’t it time to let it go?

    No. It is absolutely not time to let it go. It is time to investigate. It is time for fact finding. It is time figure out what the hell just happened so it doesn’t happen again. Saying let it go is a disservice to our country and everyone who cares about it.

  15. 15
    michael reynolds Said:
    2:06 am 

    Impressive post. Makes me wonder, not for the first time, why Tom Friedman is on the Op-ed page of the NYT and you’re not.

    I think a special prosecutor is taking it too far. My tinged-with-cynicism take is that we should go with a commission. A prosecutor will try to put someone in jail, and I think that’s a half step further than the country (or I) want to go. I have a horror of prosecutions that can be seen as partisan. I was relieved when Ford pardoned Bush, and I always thought the impeachment of Clinton was idiotic.

    I think we need to find out what happened. Who did what to whom and when and why. And then I think we leave it up to historians to pass judgment. Dick Cheney, who should probably be in jail, will die a peaceful death in his own bed. Not justice, maybe, but maybe better for the country than prosecution would be.

    But only “maybe better.” I’m not sure. I’m on the bubble on this.

  16. 16
    the Fly-Man Said:
    7:24 am 

    Oh Yes, Good Heavans! The rule of law most certainly can’t be defended because of the partisan circus that might develop along the way. We are either a nation of laws or we have a King. The Bush administration and Dick Cheney specifically, knew that this black mail scenario would play out exactly like it has.

    You are an hysterical nincompoop. And a partisan hack to boot. How does appointing a special prosecutor get them off the hook? And to believe that the Democrats wouldn’t turn any hearings into a circus means that you have been asleep for the last 8 years (or don’t have any brains - I tend toward the latter explanation for your stupidity). Only an idiot would accuse me of not wanting to see the laws of the land enforced. And only an ignorant slave to party wouldn’t accept the fact that no one knows which, if any, laws were broken. Conyers himself admits that.

    You know better than Conyers now? What a dolt.

    ed.

  17. 17
    the Fly-Man Said:
    8:14 am 

    Look, Rick my name is Scott, your name calling is moronic. I just flat out don’t buy the argument we can’t have hearings, investigations or other wise real accountability sessions that hold our elected officials to task because of the fear that it might turn partisan.
    Quote: “The fact of the matter is politicians are, well, politicians and asking them to forget that primary fact of their existence is absurd.” So what?Dan Burton wasted tons of time and resources with over 1000 investigations why all of a sudden when the tables are turned it’s now unnecessary because of its partisan nature? Those are my words. And see Rick I didn’t have to resort to calling you a name like a little fifth grader would. Good Luck. Sincerely, Scott

    All 1000 investigations by Burton collectively don’t matter as much as the kind of investigations targeting the Bush Administration. Not to mention the enormous publicity that would surround these investigations. One need only look at the times Petreaus and Crocker were testifying to see what kind of a circus Congress makes of vital issues.

    The problem is, you don’t want investigations. You could care less about the truth. You want Bush and Cheney hung from the highest yardarm and the facts be damned. You are a perfect example of why a congressional investigation is out of hte question.

    Obama, Durbin, and I believe the American people would reject any findings of a Congressional investigation. You gonna argue with us or are you going to accuse me again of wanting to sweep all this under the rug?

    ed.

  18. 18
    retire05 Said:
    9:53 am 

    yoda, you claim Bush broke the law. Perhaps you would like to provide documentation for that. Or are you, and your bleating heart buddies, just going by information that was provided to you by those defenders of America, the New York Times?

    Chuck Tuscon; my God, how do people like you manage to funtion.

    Perhaps you can answer why Jamie Gorelick built her wall under the Clinton Administration? Maybe it would have been helpful that the CIA could communicate with the FBI? Perhaps when the World Trade Center was hit the first time, those in power at the time should have connected the dots?

    You consider my logic a farse for one reason only; it doesn’t agree with yours. How “liberal” of you. Perhaps in all the planning by AQ we were taking the high “moral” ground, treating terrorism as a criminal, not a war, act. I am sure that is great consolation to those families who lost loved ones on 9-11.

    You say that our intelligence agencies might be flawed, but their warnings were ignored. Do you mean warnings like this:

    “Judging from news reports and the portrayal of villians in our popular entertainment, Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism. They seem to believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States and that it is becoming more widespread and lethal. They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists group. And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism.

    NONE OF THESE BELIEFS ARE BASED IN FACT.”

    The op-ed goes on:

    “I hope for a world where facts, not fiction, determine our policy. While terrorism is not vanquished, in a world were thousands of nucler warheads are still aimed across the continents, TERRORISM IS NOT THE BIGGEST SECRITY CHALLENGE CONFRONTING THE UNITED STATES, and it should not be portrayed that way.”

    That was written by Valerie Plame Wilson’s good friend, former CIA agent, and someone who remained inside the CIA loop with active agents (claiming he still does today) Larry Johnson on JULY 10, 2001. Johnson was, at the time, quite clear that his opinion was the same as those still inside the CIA.

    So while you cry over what you perceive to be the lost civil rights of non-American citizens being subjected to nothing more than an intensive fraternity hazing, and demand the rule of law be upheld, I will worry about more Americans lying under millions of tons of rubble.

    While you cry over the loss of your civil rights, I would ask you to name ONE civil right you have lost. Or perhaps you resent the fact that if you get a call from a terrorist nation, you call is going to be monitored?
    Complain to me about your civil rights when you are no longer allowed to travel from one state to another unfettered.

    Since you are so fixated on the “rule of law” in order to exercise your BDS, then can it be assumed that under that “rule of law” you are willing to see ICE locate, and deport, every illegal immigrant in this nation who have violated the “rule of law”? Or is it just certain “rules of law” that you want to pick and choose to suit your BDS agenda?

    Those who violated American standards at Abu Ghraib have been prosecuted, sentenced and are not serving prison terms without possiblity of parole. Those who cut the head off Daniel Pearle are still very much alive. Those who captured three American soldiers, an mutilated their bodies beyond recognition, requiring DNA to identify them, are still very much alive.

    Those who killed 3,000 Americans on 9-11 were willing to die for Allah and the glory of jihad. They are willing to strap bombs on themselves, or on young boys and dimwitted women, and blow innocents to hell. Yet, when it comes time for them to endure water flowing up their nasal passages, giving them what they perceive to be a chance to follow through on their beliefs of “death for Allah”, they suddenly want to live and are willing to share their secrets in order to secure that life.

    I noticed that you are guilty of “picking and choosing” the parts of my post that suit you but I would ask you again; do you think the peace protesters who waterboarded each other on the streets of Washington, D. C. should be located and prosecuted for crimes against humanity? Or do you only apply your standards to an administration that, inspite of all the odds and all the opinions of the pundits who said that another attack on American soil would surely follow in short time, did what it took to prevent the deaths of more Americans on American soil?

  19. 19
    SeniorD Said:
    10:07 am 

    If Congress wants to investigate possible illicit activity conducted during the Bush Administration, they should first clean their own house.

    “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” should be the guiding principle in Hopey/Changey Land.

  20. 20
    lionheart Said:
    11:55 am 

    Rick, you sure light up the lines when you post on this topic.

    Fly-man: name one public congressional commission in the past 50 years that has not turned into political grandstand. They’re biased, inefficient, and a huge waste of money. Furthermore, it’s not possible for a real investigation to take place publicly because of the top secret nature of most of the evidence. And even in private hearings, Congress has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to honor classified information. So hearings without all the evidence is either unfair, or a waste of time. You shouldn’t want either, and I think this summarizes Rick disagreeing with congressional investigations to ensure accountability.

    Michael Reynolds: I am stunned to read that you were relieved that Ford pardoned Bush (the top secret clairvoyant pardon). I bet that’s going to piss off Michael Moore.

  21. 21
    headhunt23 Said:
    12:32 pm 

    5Chuck Tucson Said:

    “Yeah? And what of the people who don’t support him, and don’t accept this? Outside of every other moral, ethical, logistical, and judicial point made about this that utterly and completely destroys your “sophisticated” logic, it has a negative effect on commerce. Stand down, and truly put some thought into what you’re saying.”

    A negative effect on commerce? Really? That is so stupid I don’t even need to respond to the rest of it. Yes, the people we do most of our business with really give a crap about whether or not we put some sketchy illegal aliens in jail at Gitmo.

    Oh, in response to your earlier post #2, I can probably guess now that Rick doesn’t actually hate you. He is most likely just exasperated by having to respond to your idiotic points.

  22. 22
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    12:52 pm 

    So while you cry over what you perceive to be the lost civil rights of non-American citizens being subjected to nothing more than an intensive fraternity hazing, and demand the rule of law be upheld, I will worry about more Americans lying under millions of tons of rubble.

    I like how you make it sound like only pussies care about the rule of law. Without the rule of law, nothing else matters. The constitution was a waste of time and paper. Fraternity hazing… Your logical fallacies about the nature of torture are revealing of your nature.

    While you cry over the loss of your civil rights, I would ask you to name ONE civil right you have lost.

    From the U.S. Constitution: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

    Or perhaps you resent the fact that if you get a call from a terrorist nation, you call is going to be monitored?

    I do not resent this, if it is done within the boundaries of existing law. It is perfectly reasonable.

    Complain to me about your civil rights when you are no longer allowed to travel from one state to another unfettered.

    NO. And you know what retire05, I’m going to complain about it RIGHT NOW. Right now is when it matters. Right now, BEFORE I am no longer allowed to travel from one state to another unfettered. Now is the time. When you see the abuse happening. Not later. Right now, when my president and vice president have literally admitted on camera that they approved torture. Right now when my president and vice president approved warrantless wiretapping. RIGHT NOW.

    Since you are so fixated on the “rule of law” in order to exercise your BDS, then can it be assumed that under that “rule of law” you are willing to see ICE locate, and deport, every illegal immigrant in this nation who have violated the “rule of law”? Or is it just certain “rules of law” that you want to pick and choose to suit your BDS agenda?

    BDS. Another logical fallacy. I had high hopes for the guy when I voted for him the first time around. Not so much now. What ICE does to uphold immigration laws is outside the scope of the current discussion. They do what they can with the budget they have.

    Those who violated American standards at Abu Ghraib have been prosecuted, sentenced and are not serving prison terms without possiblity of parole.

    You mean the scapegoated underlings? Good. What about their superiors, and their superiors? Not so much.

    Those who cut the head off Daniel Pearle are still very much alive.

    That’s too bad. They should be dead.

    Those who captured three American soldiers, an mutilated their bodies beyond recognition, requiring DNA to identify them, are still very much alive.

    That’s too bad. They should also be dead.

    Those who killed 3,000 Americans on 9-11 were willing to die for Allah and the glory of jihad. They are willing to strap bombs on themselves, or on young boys and dimwitted women, and blow innocents to hell. Yet, when it comes time for them to endure water flowing up their nasal passages, giving them what they perceive to be a chance to follow through on their beliefs of “death for Allah”, they suddenly want to live and are willing to share their secrets in order to secure that life.

    This is the crux of your flawed logic right here. You’re equating torturing for revenge with torturing suspects for information. I understand the thrill of revenge. I get that. Hell, it gives me a gigantic American hardon to think about getting those guys back. I’m not constrained by any holy notion of turning the other cheek. Do you honestly think I care what happens to terrorists who have killed my fellow Americans? Do you honestly think anyone really cares?

    You’re equivocating revenge punishment with interrogation and investigation. It’s such a massively flawed nightmare of assumption that in the end the result is questionable intelligence, bad leads, wasted time, wasted money and potentially lost American lives. The CIA, FBI, and U.S. Military all say this. There is a reason that the U.S. officially does not torture. Despite how badass it is to give these suspected terrorists what we think they might deserve if, in fact, we’ve got the right guy… It’s because it’s wrong and usually doesn’t work. There are better, more reliable ways to get what we need.

    I noticed that you are guilty of “picking and choosing” the parts of my post that suit you but I would ask you again; do you think the peace protesters who waterboarded each other on the streets of Washington, D. C. should be located and prosecuted for crimes against humanity?

    Of course not. It was a voluntary demonstration that could be stopped at any time.

    Or do you only apply your standards to an administration that, inspite of all the odds and all the opinions of the pundits who said that another attack on American soil would surely follow in short time, did what it took to prevent the deaths of more Americans on American soil?

    No, I apply constitutional standards, as well as the standards of the Geneva Conventions to my country and its government.

  23. 23
    michael reynolds Said:
    1:03 pm 

    Lionheart:

    Hey, Ford was much smarter and more capable than generally credited: he had the ability to alter the space-time continuum at will and reverse time’s arrow. (You may have noticed the physical resemblance to Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen.)

    Do not mess with Gerry: even the grave he could force you to get a swine flu vaccination and wear a Whip Inflation Now button.

  24. 24
    lionheart Said:
    1:33 pm 

    Michael Reynolds,

    Thanks for explaining that. I foolishly assumed he was clairvoyant- traveling time through worm-holes makes much more sense. And people thought he was dumb.

  25. 25
    retire05 Said:
    1:33 pm 

    Chuck Tucson,

    I asked you for one example of your lost of civil rights and you quote the Constitution. How is that an answer except in your damaged brain? Let’s see if I can make it so clear that even you can understand it:

    what civil rights have you PERSONALLY lost under Bush? Name one. Are you not secure in your home and papers? Have the police entered your home without a warrent and searched it? When the ACLU was busting it’s balls trying to prove that American citizens had their civil/Constitutional rights violated, why were they not able to come up with even one person?

    You offer me only the standard “hate Bush” left wing fare. Sorry, I don’t eat B/S. Nor do I chose to deal with those who try to serve it up.

    You don’t answer questions, you offer spin. No instance of where your civil rights have been violated and you refuse to answer the “rule of law” question when it comes to illegals in our midst.

    And then, to affirm how lame your logic is, you determine that because being waterboarded by a fellow peace protester was voluntary, it was not a crime. By that stardard, if you volunteer to have me shoot you in the head, creating your death, I am not guilty of murder because you volunteered to be shot.

    Thanks, you continue to show just how dimwitted you really are.

    Take your crap to you next CPA meeting. We now have a PEBO that says tough times requires tough methods. Seems you accept that from him but not President Bush.

    I am sure you will be more than happy with the socialist government that Obama is going to give you.

    Oh, and while you are on the Geneva Convention rant, please, do you care to tell me when Al Qaeda signed the Geneva Convention or post the clause in the Geneva Convention that deals with terrorists who hide behind civilians?

    You don’t accept the Constitution for what it says; you accept the Constitution for what you want it to say.

    You are bane on American socieity.

  26. 26
    lionheart Said:
    2:36 pm 

    I’ve got $20 that says Retire05 can kick Chuck Tucson’s ass in a cage match. Any takers?

  27. 27
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    3:04 pm 

    I asked you for one example of your lost of civil rights and you quote the Constitution. How is that an answer except in your damaged brain?

    Because that was a liberty lost, which is what you asked for.

    Let’s see if I can make it so clear that even you can understand it:

    I really appreciate your condescending high minded approach. If you’re trying to tell my how smart you are, I believe you. I get it. You’re very intelligent.

    what civil rights have you PERSONALLY lost under Bush? Name one. Are you not secure in your home and papers?

    No, in fact, I am not. After a technical reading of the details of the at&t federal warentless wiretapping process, it is clear to me that communications sent by me, and others who unknowingly used the CMP endpoints on the DCSNet to friends and colleagues were intercepted, analyzed, and cataloged. Thus, constituting a violation of the civil liberties of myself and everyone else who used that network, possibly you, as well. What more do you need to know? Google it. It’s all there. I’m not making this stuff up. There was a congressional investigation. It was illegal.

    Any American citizen should be pissed off and up in arms that their rights were violated, and many are. What I don’t understand is the belittlement and ridicule of people who are rightfully pissed off that their privacy has been illegally violated. Doesn’t this upset you at all?

    Have the police entered your home without a warrent and searched it? When the ACLU was busting it’s balls trying to prove that American citizens had their civil/Constitutional rights violated, why were they not able to come up with even one person?

    No. Perhaps you should refresh yourself on the concept of the National Security Letter though. Something that was recently determined to be illegal and unconstitutional.

    You offer me only the standard “hate Bush” left wing fare. Sorry, I don’t eat B/S. Nor do I chose to deal with those who try to serve it up.

    I don’t understand why being pissed off at loss of liberty classifies me as left wing to you. The constitution is designed to protect the people from the government.

    You don’t answer questions, you offer spin. No instance of where your civil rights have been violated and you refuse to answer the “rule of law” question when it comes to illegals in our midst.

    Your illegals question was absurd and a distraction from the topic. I have no real opinion on illegal immigration. I do understand that a great deal of American business is based on it, and that’s why it’s treated with kid gloves. I’m not afraid of illegal immigrants, and as to whether or not they should be blanket deported? I really don’t care. I do know that it would destroy certain areas of commerce, rip families apart, and negatively impact American business, as can be seen by the meatpackers in Iowa.

    And then, to affirm how lame your logic is, you determine that because being waterboarded by a fellow peace protester was voluntary, it was not a crime.

    Of course it was not a crime. Nobody was held against their will. The torture could be stopped at any moment. It was a demonstration. It’s not even clear if it was done correctly.

    By that stardard, if you volunteer to have me shoot you in the head, creating your death, I am not guilty of murder because you volunteered to be shot.

    Wow. You are truly a master of logical fallacy. I don’t even know how to respond to that. What you’ve described would be murder. That’s pretty clear cut.

    Thanks, you continue to show just how dimwitted you really are.

    Right. You’ve made it abundantly clear how intelligent you are already. I get it.

    Take your crap to you next CPA meeting. We now have a PEBO that says tough times requires tough methods. Seems you accept that from him but not President Bush.

    “Tough methods” doesn’t mean illegal methods.

    I am sure you will be more than happy with the socialist government that Obama is going to give you.

    I’m a capitalist. Obama will not turn the country socialist.

    Oh, and while you are on the Geneva Convention rant, please, do you care to tell me when Al Qaeda signed the Geneva Convention or post the clause in the Geneva Convention that deals with terrorists who hide behind civilians?

    It’s interesting to see how you randomly inject stuff like this into the discussion. It’s like you honestly think that because torture is illegal and wrong, someone who is against torture actually gives a shit about terrorists. You didn’t read what I wrote before.

    If you’re going to go this route, then all I can say is that it’s also U.S. Law that torture is illegal.

    You don’t accept the Constitution for what it says; you accept the Constitution for what you want it to say.

    Actually, the Constitution is quite clear on some very basic points. I very much accept and agree with what it says.

    You are bane on American socieity.

    Well then, if my getting upset about constitutional civil rights issues is that bad for American society, then I humbly, and sincerely apologize.

    “After a technical reading of the details of the at&t federal warentless wiretapping process, it is clear to me that communications sent by me, and others who unknowingly used the CMP endpoints on the DCSNet to friends and colleagues were intercepted, analyzed, and cataloged.”

    You don’t know that your communications are “intercepted, analyzed, and cataloged.” You have no idea if that is true because NO ONE KNOWS THE TECHNICAL DETAILS OF HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS!

    Even the NY Times said it is likely that your communications wouldn’t be “analyzed” or even “catalogued” - they are intercepted by a big fat dumb brute of a computer that looks for keywords and other factors and, if none are present (if you are not communicating with a terrorist or suspect person overseas) your phonecon, email, or other communication is spit out back into the ether never to be seen or heard again.

    ANALYZED? Where in God’s name could you possibly have gotten that idea? You think there are a million little NSA workers sitting around analyzing people’s calls? And the way you made it sound, that’s exactly the kind of hysterical nonsense the left has been putting out for years - the kind of civil liberties absolutism bullshit (where anything the government does to protect us is “shredding the constitution) that either marks you as a paranoid fool or partisan hack.

    ed.

  28. 28
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    4:42 pm 

    You don’t know that your communications are “intercepted, analyzed, and cataloged.” You have no idea if that is true because NO ONE KNOWS THE TECHNICAL DETAILS OF HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS!

    I know from the details that have been leaked, and because I have written simmilar software to perform simmilar functions.

    Even the NY Times said it is likely that your communications wouldn’t be “analyzed” or even “catalogued” – they are intercepted by a big fat dumb brute of a computer that looks for keywords and other factors and, if none are present (if you are not communicating with a terrorist or suspect person overseas) your phonecon, email, or other communication is spit out back into the ether never to be seen or heard again.

    Realtime analysis of data on that volume would slow communications and would be noticed. Data is split at the trunk nodes and housed for the slower analysis process. Never to be seen or heard again is joke. It’s there until a scheduled purge takes place, which could be years later depending on the schedule, if it even happens at all.

    ANALYZED? Where in God’s name could you possibly have gotten that idea?

    Because I have written simmilar software and it is far more trivial than you think. The data in question is granularized and depending on the parameters can be brought to the attention of actual human beings depending on the sift constraints.

    You think there are a million little NSA workers sitting around analyzing people’s calls?

    Nope. A million lines of code, maybe, but not a million little NSA workers. NSA workers analyze what bubbles to the surface.

    And the way you made it sound, that’s exactly the kind of hysterical nonsense the left has been putting out for years – the kind of civil liberties absolutism bullshit (where anything the government does to protect us is “shredding the constitution) that either marks you as a paranoid fool or partisan hack.

    Meh. Call me whatever you want. I’ll never understand why being worried about the loss of civil liberties gets you classified as being from the left. Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. I simply find it harder to trust the government than you do.

  29. 29
    michael reynolds Said:
    6:02 pm 

    I have a suspicion that the NSA computers work about as well as most voice recognition programs. So I’m guessing for every “Jihad!” they intercept they get half a million “Gee, Dads!”

    I understand NSA is working on a super-secret phone tree that will ask you to clarify so that it can direct you to the proper department. “Did you say ‘Fill all the shoes?’ If yes, press 1. If you said ‘Kill all the Jews,’ press 2.”

  30. 30
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    6:33 pm 

    I have a suspicion that the NSA computers work about as well as most voice recognition programs. So I’m guessing for every “Jihad!” they intercept they get half a million “Gee, Dads!”

    Voice communication is infinitely more complicated to analyze than regular internet traffic, and far more prone to false positives for the systems that do, (sort of) work.

    Phone communication is a more precise type of monitoring. You pretty much have to know what number(s) you’re going to monitor and build a phone tree off of those. You can use voice analysis software to match voices to other known voices, but it’s very very difficult for software to actually do speech/text conversion. I mean, even on the best conditions that’s difficult, but over cell phones where audio quality is minimal it’s almost impossible. Throw in accents, and it gets even worse. Often these calls have to be monitored in real time by humans, or recorded and analyzed later by humans.

    I know you all think I’m a paranoid lefty nutjob, but if anyone here has any concerns about email security, you can have a look at PGP encryption, or one of the greatest pieces of open source encryption software available right now called TrueCrypt, which can be found at http://www.truecrypt.org/.

  31. 31
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    6:55 pm 

    Amazing how some people can’t trust the Government to run health care, but trust it implicitly to never spy on them! (Since when did the right to privacy become exclusively the domain of the Left and the Libertarians?) Warentless wiretapping is an erosion of our civil liberties, plain and simple.

  32. 32
    lionheart Said:
    8:27 am 

    Warentless wiretapping is an erosion of our civil liberties, plain and simple.

    Not according to the Federal Appeals Court: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/washington/16fisa.html?hp

  33. 33
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    2:15 pm 

    Thank you lionheart for pointing out that our courts can take a while to come to their senses. Over the years, our courts have propped up many bad laws and made rulings that violate the sprit of our constitution. I see that nothing has changed…

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