Tag: Michael Mukasey

What Really Were In The Tapes and Why The Destruction!

I was going to do a quick writeup about the destroyed CIA Interrogation Tapes, earlier this week, after listening once again to ex-CIA agent John Kiriakou being interviewed, on NPR’s All Things Considered {you can listen to the interview at the link} and his interviews sounding so much like they were memorized facts that really go no where.

Fact is I don’t buy his story.

The reasons he’s out in public giving this story are my suspicions, and not yet based on facts, may never be, but than again all it takes is total honesty, by someone, to get the real story.

The whole debate, to date, revolves around one form of Illegal Torture, Waterboarding.

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was a member of the team that captured and questioned al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002. The interrogation is one of two CIA interrogations at the heart of the current controversy surrounding destroyed videotapes.

A Tale of Two Nominations


It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Back in early 1995, President Clinton had a problem. He needed to nominate a new Surgeon General and the Democrats did not control the Senate. However, the Republicans only had a slim 53 seat majority so the President felt he had a fighting chance to get his nominee through.

If he chose wisely…

Make Every Vote Count. Make ’em Count, and Make ’em Hurt.

If you haven’t looked at lordradish’s diary Peter Welch (D-VT) gets an earful about the war. People are pissed., definitely check it out. In it, I gave pause for a moment when I got to this point:

Welch wanted to clarify his voting history on Iraq. I don’t have the specifics on what he said. He laid out his history on the votes on Iraq so far, and why he voted the way he did on them. Two things… he did clarify one point about something that I don’t think many people know. Voting to allow a vote on something is not the same as voting for something. There was a particular vote that Welch voted to allow to the floor, only to vote against the actual measure itself. Some had misconstrued voting to allow a vote as a support of the bill itself.

Emphasis mine.

The point is an excellent one — we need to track the votes, and accurately discern the nature of them, if we are to have any credibility when holding pols responsible.

There’s more…make the jump.

Save your last bullet for Democrats

How many times are you gonna get punked?

Seriously.  How much can you take?  I got punked again too when I lined up behind Chris Dodd after he put a hold on telecom amnesty and promised to filibuster-it seemed so principled to LEAD NOW!-then he failed to show up for the vote on Mukasey.  So much for the “gravitas appeal.”  Punked again.  Dodd’s dad, the Nuremburg prosecutor, must be especially proud that his own son can’t take a stand on torture.  I guess that leaves me with flying saucer boy.  Dodd wasn’t alone, of course.  Most of the rest of you fuckers got punked too. 

On Dying Free: An Open Letter to Sen. Charles Schumer

Recently, in a remarkable essay for the New York Review of Books, famed Russian biophysicist and political activist Sergei Kovalev wrote:

I imagine-with both sorrow and certainty-that the Byzantine system of power has triumphed for the foreseeable future in Russia. It’s too late to remove it from power by a normal democratic process, for democratic mechanisms have been liquidated, transformed into pure imitation. I am afraid that few of us will live to see the reinstatement of freedom and democracy in Russia.

Kovalev’s words echoed something recently said to me by Meteor Blades: “I expect to die as part of the permanent internal opposition in the Democratic Party. I don’t see any more Sanderses on the horizon, of any stripe. Maybe in your lifetime, but not likely in mine.”

I cannot begin to say how disheartening it is to hear such things from such lions of political activism, both of whom went to prison rather than relinquish their right to fight for their freedom and the freedom of their fellows.  The following is a letter sent to one of my Senators, Chuck Schumer, which is my response to the conclusions of Kovalev and MB.

Look Who’s Made the Big Time


In an article today over on MSNBC, national affairs writer Tom Curry wrote a piece titled “Judiciary Committee approves Mukasey – Latest in a string of setbacks for Bush administration foes”.

Some selected quotes (by far the easiest form of blogging known to mankind, it’s been a busy day) from the article below the fold…

Important If True: “No Pennies for the Di” edition

TERRORISM TAKES A HOLIDAY: So, today is http://www.infopleas… >the day the Brits celebrate an anti-Christian, civilian-bombing, government-hating insurgent by going door-to-door and asking for money (“Penny for the Guy?”). Why do the British hate America? . . . . Michael Mukasey would approve: After he was captured, before he could detonate his bomb that was intended to destroy the Protestant Parliament, Fawkes was tortured, at the explicit direction of King James, who instructed that the torture should be gentle at first, and increase in severity. (And yes, I’m sure King James had a note from his solicitor general saying that the whole thing was perfectly OK, provided there was no organ failure.) “The torture only revealed the names of those conspirators who were already dead or whose names were known to the authorities,” according to Wikipedia. Why does Wikipedia hate America?

Intelligence Agents Call for Hold on Mukasey Nomination

Larry Johnson over at Daily Kos has released a letter to the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling for a hold on Mukasey’s nomination for Attorney General until Judge Mukasey clarifies his position on waterboarding. They ridicule Mukasey’s claim of ignorance on the subject, and suggest a classified briefing for him and other Committee leaders, which would be taped in order to “enhance the likelihood of candor”. Johnson is a former Intelligence analysis and operations officer, and was deputy director of Office of Counter Terrorism at the U.S. State Department.

The letter follows the news last Friday that Democratic Senators Feinstein and Schumer said they would vote to recommend Mukasey out of committee. The memorandum from assorted former intelligence operatives from the CIA/FBI/DIA and State Department is full of lofty calls for a return to American values and a return to the “high moral ground” supposedly held previously by the U.S. military and CIA. One only has to contemplate the history of the CIA, of how the U.S. government has trained torturers around the world, of the U.S. unprovoked invasions of Iraq and Vietnam with deaths in the millions, of the torture-assassination program that was Operation Phoenix, in addition to the fact the agents’s memorandum says nothing about other forms of torture, or about the CIA extraordinary rendition program, to recognize the bogus nature of such previously held moral values and positions.

The letter itself is worth publishing as an example of the rebellion within the governmental bureaucracy against the hard-line Bush/Cheney cabal, for whom anything goes. You can bet that these former government spooks wouldn’t have published if there wasn’t some support for their position within the active military and intelligence community.

The memorandum also demonstrates that political opposition to the Mukasey nomination hasn’t totally crumbled in the wake of Feinstein and Schumer’s genuflection to Bush. Johnson says this letter can be posted “at any blog or site, in full”, asking only for attribution to No Quarter. What follows is the full text of this letter to the Judiciary Committee:

Dear Senator DiFi: Can I be Attorney General, too?

My very dearest Senator Feinstein,

I feel like we’re old friends. Years ago, when Arianna Huffington was a Republican and you were a moderate Democrat, I sent money to your re-election campaign. A good chunk of money. I was offended that Arianna’s husband was trying to buy your senate seat. I admired your tenacity in fighting him off. I loved the bumperstickers that said: Dianne: Make him spend it all!. Those were the days, huh?

And then began our long correspondence. Okay, I wasn’t so good at writing you back- in fact, I never did- but you kept sending me letters, every month or so, describing all the fine work you were doing in Washington. I was touched that you made the effort. Having once worked for a congressman, I knew how much effort it took. And they were all personally signed by your signing machine! I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. And it went on for years and years. I could tell that you cared!

We were even once almost formally introduced. Well, not quite formally, but you did once almost bowl me over, late one night at a dim sum restaurant, when I was walking past your table, and you suddenly rose to put on your coat. Had your daughter not quickly whisked you out of the way, our introduction might have been more than formal. It might have been almost intimate! But your daughter saved the day- or night- and you were startled, and apologetic, and gracious. It was actually quite human and charming. I almost stopped to tell you how much I appreciated your recent efforts in helping get the assault weapons ban through the Senate, but having known quite a few famous people, I considered it best to not interrupt your private time.

The years went by. We had a falling out. You voted for Bush’s tax cuts. I called your office and said there would be no more money. I admit that I hadn’t actually intended to give you more, anyway, but I thought you needed to understand how disappointed I was. And you did seem to understand. You seemed to understand that relationships sometimes need work. The thoughtful letters kept coming, as if nothing had happened. It was kind of sweet. I understood that you didn’t take me lightly, and that you intended to keep trying to grow the relationship. I did my part, too. When you sponsored a bill to shut down Guantanamo, I wrote a diary on Daily Kos, to praise you. I called your office to thank you. Despite our estrangement, I wanted you to know that when I thought you deserved it, I would still always be there for you.

So, we do have a long history, together. And we have much in common. For example:

You went to Stanford University. I went to Stanford Hospital.

You were mayor of San Francisco, in the 1980s, and worked at City Hall. I went to a lot of concerts at the San Francisco Civic, in the 1980s, and often walked past City Hall.

You live in a famous Pacific Heights mansion. I’ve driven through Pacific Heights.

We both root for the 49ers and Giants. We both suffer for it.

We both know that the best dim sum in San Francisco is not found in Chinatown.

It’s almost like we’re related!

“It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American.”

“Waterboarding is torture – I did it myself”

So declared advisor to Dept of Homeland Security Malcom Nance, publicly repudiating the practice reborn from the middle ages in new and improved form by the Bush Administration. Although the Pentagon has been “banned” from using waterboarding by Congress, the same technique described below has NOT been banned from being used by the CIA.

Vote Down Michael ‘Is Waterboarding Torture?’ Mukasey

The New York Times continues to cover the Senate confirmation hearings for Bush Attorney General nominee Michael B. Mukasey. As the general consensus built for a Mukasey confirmation, doubts have crept in through the cracks, as it became obvious Mukasey was as adept at parsing his language regarding torture as former Justice Department head, the despised Alberto Gonzales.

This came out more clearly today, when Mukasey told a dubious Senate panel that he didn’t even know what waterboarding, a well-publicized CIA torture technique, was. Really. Would I make this stuff up?

“Is waterboarding constitutional?” he was asked by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, in one of today’s sharpest exchanges.

“I don’t know what is involved in the technique,” Mr. Mukasey replied. “If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.”

Has Everyone Drunk the Kool-Aid? New AG Nominee Is Right-Wing Nut

Crossposted at Invictus

So Federal Judge Michael B. Mukasey said he was against torture in his confirmation hearing, and the liberals are ready to fall all over him. His confirmation as Bush’s new attorney general is presumably a given. Never mind that he refused to comment on the secret 2005 Bush Administration memorandums authorizing harsh, “enhanced” interrogation techniques by the CIA. Listen to Mukasey get all huffy at his nomination hearing today:

When Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, suggested in his questioning that the 2005 opinions might authorize torture, Mr. Mukasey stopped him. “You characterize it as torture,” he said. “I do not know of such a policy and I hope not to find them.”

Nor would he comment in detail on the legality of the so-called warrantless wiretap program that was authorized by President Bush shortly after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been harshly criticized by civil liberties groups and lawmakers from both parties as possibly unconstitutional.

“I am not familiar with that program,” said Mr. Mukasey, who knew enough about the program to refer to it as the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the name preferred by the White House.

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