NOW we can support…LOUDLY…a Truth Commission

Simulposted at Daily Kos

First of all, thanks to the 53163 people who signed The Petition for a Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes. Thanks to the crew at Docudharma and to Bob Fertik and his crew at Democrats.com who all worked hard to create it and promote it. And thanks to all those who worked hard on the other petitions that eventually delivered around 250,000 signatures in support of appointing a Special Prosecutor to investigate the highly organized and Presidentially approved Policy of Torture.

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Thanks to Eric Holder for doing the right thing, against great pressure and long odds. Bucking his own President to pursue justice….in a political environment where political expediency is FAR more valued than The Rule Of Law and justice.

(Shhhh! And special thanks to Holder for appointing an SP that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says WILL follow the evidence wherever it leads, even though we are pretending he is only out to produce the next batch of Lynndie Englands and let off the people who came up with The Bush Policy of Torture.)

And thanks to President Obama for appointing an Attorney General with the guts to defy his ‘policy’ (stated intention?) of ‘pragmatically’….allowing War Criminals to skate free.

Now that we have a Special Prosecutor to address the specific crimes committed, (and believe you me, we are going to have to apply some pressure/cover for the investigations to work up the food chain) it is now time to work on uncovering the Big Picture.

The way only a broad, ranging, and public Truth Commission can.

The heads of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, Patrick Leahy and John Conyers both issued statements yesterday…


“The conduct that is documented in this report illustrates the perils of the dark road of excusing torture down which the Bush administration took this nation,” he wrote in a statement. “I also believe it underscores why we need to move forward with a Commission of Inquiry, a nonpartisan review of exactly what happened in these areas, so that we can find out what happened and why. Who justified these policies? What was the role of the Bush White House? How can we make sure it never happens again? Information coming out in dribs and drabs will never paint the full picture.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.): “[M]uch more remains to be done. The gruesome acts described in today’s report did not happen in a vacuum. It would not be fair or just for frontline personnel to be held accountable while the policymakers and lawyers escape scrutiny after creating and approving conditions where such abuses were all but inevitable to occur.

“I have long believed that Department rules require a special counsel to review the entire interrogation program to determine if any crimes were committed. An independent and bipartisan commission should also be convened to evaluate the broader issues raised by the Bush Administration’s brutal torture program,” he added.

Though the DOJ, and rightly so, will have first crack at all witnesses and evidence, those proceedings will not be public until the release of the SP’s report. Aside from the usual leaks each side engages in to spin the proceedings, that is.

NOW we need a public inquiry. The key word being public.

For one thing, the SP will only be looking at the CIA side of the torture and War Crimes that Bush has admitted authorizing, there is till the Levin report to deal with…the Rumsfeld War Crimes contained in the Senate Armed Services Committee Report (pdf).

As Sen. Levin said in commenting on the report…

In my judgment, the report represents a condemnation of both the Bush administration’s interrogation policies and of senior administration officials who attempted to shift the blame for abuse – such as that seen at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan – to low ranking soldiers. Claims, such as that made by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz that detainee abuses could be chalked up to the unauthorized acts of a “few bad apples,” were simply false.

The truth is that, early on, it was senior civilian leaders who set the tone. On September 16, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that the United States turn to the “dark side” in our response to 9/11. Not long after that, after White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales called parts of the Geneva Conventions “quaint,” President Bush determined that provisions of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to certain detainees. Other senior officials followed the President and Vice President’s lead, authorizing policies that included harsh and abusive interrogation techniques.

The record established by the Committee’s investigation shows that senior officials sought out information on, were aware of training in, and authorized the use of abusive interrogation techniques. Those senior officials bear significant responsibility for creating the legal and operational framework for the abuses. As the Committee report concluded, authorizations of aggressive interrogation techniques by senior officials resulted in abuse and conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody.

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The release of the CIA’s own report, written by the CIA Inspector General, from the CIA perspective and with the well being of the CIA in mind…contains new horrors that would shock any nation not already jaded from the pictures and reports of abuse that we have been allowed to know about. And by all reports….the WORST parts are part of the 50% of the report still redacted.

Let’s think about the report for a minute.

In the report we are told that detainees were beaten to death, were threatened with death, (one of the most serious breaches of the Convention Against Torture) were made to think the person in the adjoining cell HAD been killed. Detainees were told that their children would be tortured, that their children would be killed….that their  mother would be raped in front of them….

The report confirms and documents ALL of the psychological abuse, medieval torture techniques, used in addition to waterboarding and beating people to death…

And yet still the WORST parts, parts WORSE than all that, if you can imagine that possibility….are still redacted.

ALL of the evidence on public record point to the fact that this was in fact the secret but Official and Fully Authorized Policy of the Bush Administration.

The CIA hired contractors to develop the Torture Policy. They built Secret Torture prisons in an organized, planned and funded policy. They established what amounted to a torture airline to shuttle it’s victims to secret torture prisons around the globe.

The military under Rumsfeld planned and developed and funded a program of torture techniques in Gitmo and then exported them first to Afghanistan ans then to Iraq, culminating in the horrors of Abu Ghraib.

Aside from the one confirmed case of a detainee being tortured to death, there are scores, and possibly hundreds of more cases of death by torture…

As Gen. Barry McCaffrey recently put it:

  We should never, as a policy, maltreat people under our control, detainees. We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.

Journalist and Human Rights Watch researcher John Sifton similarly documented that “approximately 100 detainees, including CIA-held detainees, have died during U.S. interrogations, and some are known to have been tortured to death.”

Short of genocide, there is no greater crime possible than torturing people to death.

And this was done as part of a planned, organized, funded, and authorized policy of torture under George Bush.

In YOUR name.

Now that the slow and grinding wheels of criminal justice have started to roll….it is time for a public accounting of the War Crimes of George W. Bush, Dick Aheney, Donald Rumsfeld. And the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress, many of them still in office, who enabled, and are attempting to cover up, the Bush Torture Policy.

It is time for a Truth Commission on not just the War crimes of the Bush Era, but ALL of the crimes. Including the politicization of the Department of justice that allowed them to commit all of those crimes.

The American People and the world are entitled to the truth about torture.

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21 comments

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  1. Photobucket

    Oh and Dick???

    Photobucket

    Fuck you…

    While Cheney’s original assertions that the docs would prove torture worked garnered reams of stand-alone print and TV coverage, the fact that the docs themselves don’t actually prove Cheney’s claims was either not covered at all, buried deep in stories, or described in highly hedged language.

    To its credit, The New York Times stated this conclusion very clearly, saying that the docs, which were released yesterday, “do not refer to any specific interrogation methods and do not assess their effectiveness.” But this came in the 13th paragraph in an article not directly focused on Cheney’s claims.

  2. Our work is cut out for us.  We need to keep up the drum beats on two major issues:  healthcare and an expanded in-depth investigation into the torture.

    So, everyone!

    Please support the ACLU’s We need a full and thorough investigation. action page.

    And, take whatever further action you are able to using David Swanson’s comprehensive “What You Can Do” list here!

    Thanks, buhdy!

  3. but I’ll thank you here, too!  🙂

    • Arctor on August 26, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    future about “just following orders” but let’s recall a few continuing problems here:

    1. Leahy and Conyers are notorious “jaw-flappers”, a lot of outrage and talk, little action.

    2. Obama still apparently believes in preventive detention/indefinite detention and rendition.

    3. Further to 2. above, you can clean-up rules for rendition as much as u like, it’s an unecessary and abusive program on its face. There is no purpose in rendition other than doing what you don’t feel comfortable to do in the “homeland.” So what, Obama will send them to countries that will just beat them with truncheons, but no finger-nail pulling-out? What’s wrong with this guy, pleez?

  4. Food for thought!

    OMG!

    I just read this comment by Doug Kahn, of Down with Tyranny, of August 25, 2009, as provided by Did Holder Just Create New Excuse to Keep Torture Photos Secret?

    Why Emanuel Nixed The Release Of The Torture Photos

    -by Doug Kahn

    Appointing John Durham as prosecutor, no matter how broad his scope of investigation, will have only one near-term result: he’ll immediately go into court to make sure the military photos of detainee abuse won’t be released anytime soon. And he’ll win.

    According to the Washington Post: “Durham’s mandate, the sources added, will be relatively narrow: to look at whether there is enough evidence to launch a full-scale criminal investigation of current and former CIA personnel who may have broken the law in their dealings with detainees.” There is absolutely no public support, and no moral justification, for prosecuting the ‘foot soldiers’ (CIA employees and the Blackwater contractors we hired as professional torturers back in 2002 and 2003) while leaving Dick Cheney and his line of command alone. So this appointment is for some other purpose.

    Here’s the timeline. In September 2008, the appeals court decided in favor of the ACLU and its FOIA request for the photos, filed in 2003. This May, the White House announced President Obama had decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court. On May 28, the administration changed its tune and asked the appeals court to “recall its mandate” to release the photos in prospect of a Supreme Court appeal. The appeals court agreed on June 10. Since then, Obama has asked for, and received, two extensions on its deadlines for filing at the Supreme Court. On August 7, they petitioned the Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

    It’s all about the torture photos, and the conniption fit CIA chief Leon Panetta threw at the White House last month. Panetta had a heated argument with a “senior White House official,” a formulation the Washington Post uses when it means Rahm Emanuel. Obama’s chief of staff versus Clinton’s chief of staff. It makes sense to me that Rahm and company concluded early this year to proceed with domestic accomplishments like health care reform and the energy bill, and that prosecuting anyone in the Bush administration would make bipartisan support from Republicans in Congress impossible. Releasing the photos (reportedly displaying horrific abuse at non-military, CIA prisons) would create a firestorm of criticism that would force Obama to act against Cheney and crew, not just the CIA guys. So the photos have to be withheld for as long as possible. You have to figure Panetta objected to having CIA employees taking the heat for boss Cheney.

    The courts have already soundly rejected arguments that letting the public see the photos would harm the detainees; they’d be redacted to hide the identities of the victims. There were claims that anger over the photos would harm US troops, by inciting more attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, also rejected. Rahm needs some specific people to be harmed in order to prevail, and naming a prosecutor gives him those people: a few CIA employees and contractors. They’ll just tell the court that the photos are certain to prejudice people who would end up being on the jury in any trial, and the pool of prospective jurors is every adult American.

    Any ethical, moral Attorney General would reject prosecuting only the little guys. So Holder appoints a prosecutor to start to get ready to begin to prepare to commence looking for evidence to use in asking a grand jury (which might be convened) for an indictment against possible suspects who might have violated the (as yet undetermined) legal instructions from unnamed Bush administration lawyers vis a vis how to grill ‘illegal enemy combatants’ (definition currently in legal limbo) in an ‘enhanced’ manner. As opposed to torturing them fair and square, as it were.

    We shouldn’t hold our breath.

    (emphasis mine)

    Could this be Holder’s REAL motivation for appointing a Special Prosecutor?  

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