Back in December 2007, when I wrote "Torture is Wrong, Illegal and It Doesn't Work," I mentioned that "the FBI agent who reportedly had the best chance of foiling the 9/11 plot, Ali Soufan, the only Arabic-speaking agent in New York and one of only eight in the country, and who has since resigned from the FBI, could and should tell people the truth of how the CIA's tactics were counterproductive."
Well guess what?! HE FINALLY DID SO ON WEDNESDAY! The points Soufan makes are very instructive as our country begins to unravel the differences between the fictional world of Hollywood's "Jack Bauer," and the real world dilemmas and questions of morality and legality as faced by actual intelligence and law enforcement officers.
"My Tortured Decision" is how former FBI Agent Soufan titled his New York Times op-ed, speaking out to specifically refute a number of Dick Cheney's lies about how torture "worked." The truth, according to Soufan, is quite the opposite from how Cheney continues to paint it...
Shepard Smith's days at Fox "News" may have to be numbered at this point. Even the filthy Judith Miller, for Chrissakes, is joining him in being appalled by the torture memos.
"If there was torture, there was a crime. If there was a crime, there were criminals who ordered the torture," he says to the reprehensible apologist Clifford May before he and Miller both concur that these "horrendous techniques are illegal"...
But later, Smith completely blows his stack on Fox's online-only show The Strategy Room, pounding on the table and SHOUTING: "We are America! I don't give a rat's ass if it helps! We are America! We do not fucking torture!!!":
Zelikow not only dissented from the party line, admirably, but he also learned at one point that while the administration disagreed with his opinion, they were taking it a step further by actually going out of their way to destroy all copies of his memo. As he explained at FP yesterday:
At the time, in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn't entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives.
While it's admirable, I suppose, that he's finally speaking up to reveal that at least someone in the Bush Administration dissented from their tortured legal justifications for war crimes, the question must be raised as to why Zelikow didn't simply resign when it became clear that the administration was going far beyond simply disagreeing with him. They were stepping over what would seem to clearly be the line of legality, by actually destroying (or attempting to), all copies of his opinion.
Surely that was a red flag that something was gravely amiss there, no?
Zelikow was on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last night (complete video and transcript below), and she asked directly if he'd considered resigning at that point. But I find his answer rather unsatisfying, in my opinion...
At the same time he took a step forward, releasing the four Justice Department torture memos he described as a "dark and painful chapter in our history," President Barack Obama assured CIA employees, who tortured under cover of these quasi-legal sophistries, they would not be prosecuted. The President said this was "a time for reflection, not retribution...nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibb explained that the President insisted on "looking forward." U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder not only seconded the President's promise not to prosecute, but vowed to provide legal counsel to defend these war criminals and to pay the damages awarded to their victims.
Great Britain's Times Online, quoting an unnamed former official, suggested there may be cases where the CIA exceeded the DOJ guidelines; perhaps even killed detainees. The President's hint at immunity does not extend to officials who exceeded the guidelines. Although the President, in his remarks, made no mention of those who ordered torture, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told ABC's George Stephanopoulos last Sunday that the President did not believe "those who devised the policy" should "be prosecuted."
The President's promise not to prosecute generated a firestorm of protest from the legal community. Law Professor Jonathan Turley blasted the effort to equate law enforcement with "retribution."
He is trying to lay the ground work for principle when he is doing an unprincipled thing....President Obama himself has said that waterboarding is torture, and torture itself violates four treaties and is considered a war crime. So the refusal to allow it to be investigated is to obstruct a war crimes investigation.…There aren't any convenient or inconvenient times to investigate war crimes. You don't have a choice....You have an obligation to do it, and what I think the President is desperately trying to do is to sell this idea that somehow it's a principled thing not to investigate war crimes because its going to be painful…It will be politically unpopular because an investigation will go directly to the doorstep of President Bush…and there's not going to be a lot of defenses that can be raised for ordering a torture program.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) who serves on a House Intelligence Sub-Committee, added fuel to the firestorm by contrasting the President's advancement of the "I was only following orders" defense to the principles our nation applied at Nuremberg after WWII. Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said the President's refusal to prosecute violates the UN Convention Against Torture.
Before discussing the refreshing news that we have a President who, in the face of such a powerful critique, is not afraid to reverse course, let's consider what it means to "look forward" given that the principle author of these torture memos, Judge Jay S. Bybee, now sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, passing judgments on others. Absent incapacity or impeachment, there he will stay for the rest of his life...
What follows below is a letter I sent to AG Eric Holder last week, on behalf of VelvetRevolution.us (of which The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder), calling for his immediate investigation of all political prosecutions at the DoJ during the Bush era, including those of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and Mississippi attorney/Democratic fundraiser Paul Minor. On the heels of the DoJ's dismissal of charges against Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, the DoJ needs to similarly vacate charges against anyone who was specifically targeted, for political reasons, by the Bush Admin's perversion of justice at the DoJ.
There are now well over 700 organizations and individuals, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Ray McGovern and Scott Horton currently signed on to the letter, and you are invited to do so yourself via the campaign's main page at RestoreJusticeAtJustice.com. More details are over there. We hope you'll both sign on, and help spread the word.
Here is the letter to Holder, sent last week just before Minor's wife passed away, and prior to the release of the Bush regime's appalling torture memos which we will, no doubt, be dealing with in a future campaign...
Of course, the video above underscores the plain truth that the "protesting" tea baggers sore losers, had no real clue what the hell they were even doing at their tiny "protests" on Wednesday, which they only showed up for, to protest against their own best interests, because Fox "News" told them to. The photo below (courtesy "rumproast") may say it all...
All of Wednesday's confused, desperate (though rather amusing) "protests" were, of course, dwarfed in size, actual meaning, and actual grass-rootsness, by dozens of actual grass-roots protests during the Bush years, such as this one against the Iraq War and these when Bush was inaugurated in '05, even though somehow Fox "News" forgot to promote those actual protests, and the rest of the corporate media forgot to cover them at all.
But ssshhhh...don't tell the tea baggers sore losers, they think they've started a "revolution"...
[Updated at bottom of article with video of trial testimony and the judge's dismissal of the case.]
Along with everything else that's been going on over the past week or two in the criminal investigation hand count of the 2006 Pima County (Tucson), AZ, special election (see our detailed special coverage here and here, with a bit of followup coming tonight, by the way. [UPDATE: Here's that late report.]), local election integrity watchdog John Brakey has had a trial of his own to contend with this week, following his arrest last September, while serving as an official observer during a post-election hand-count "audit" of the state's primary election on behalf of both the Democratic and Libertarian Parties.
As The BRAD BLOG reported at the time, Brakey had noticed that a number of ballot bags, selected for the hand-count, had missing or broken security seals on them. When he asked about them, he was promptly arrested on the orders of Pima's "Election Director Gone Wild" Brad Nelson, a Republican and long-time foe of Brakey's.
The case against Brakey, heard in court this afternoon, was dismissed by Judge Luis Castillo after the county presented its evidence on the charges of "trespassing," as we were informed today by Brakey and his attorney Bill Risner, who wouldn't even need to plead their own case to the judge today...
During the exchange between Rove and Roe, as reported by Schroeder, Rove tells Roe that he has a file on Feeney, and Roe, who was angry with Rove for cracks he'd made on Fox "News" at Feeney's expense just after the extremely corrupt FL Republican had lost his 2008 election, says angrily to Rove: "You guys wouldn't be in the White House without Tom."
Given the coverage we've offered over the years on Feeney, and former Republican computer programmer Clint Curtis' allegations against him, several folks --- including our friends Marcy Wheeler of emptywheel and Patty Sharaf, filmmaker of Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story --- sent us the link to the Politico article, asking our opinion on what Roe may have meant by that crack.
In the interest of keeping links to that story from continuing to pile up in our Inbox, here's our take on Roe's purported comment to Rove...
Republican Army and Marine vet caller to Rush: "You're one reason to blame for the Republicans losing...You're a brain-washed, Nazi...Anybody who could believe in torture, has got to have something wrong with them...What's the matter with you?! You never even served in the Army!"
Rush replies: "You're stupid and ignorant...you don't know diddly-squat..."
Seriously, give it a listen above right. Media Matters has the transcript, Scholars and Rogues has more details. It's getting ugly out there in Limbaugh Land.
Must-Listen Musical Addendum: And as long as we're on the topic...We'll opportunistically take this opportunity to share Rush 'admitting' he's 'a Nazi'. If you haven't heard this brilliantly hilarious satirical tune, featuring Rush in his own words (as created by Atlanta's WNNX-FM), well, get your goose-stepping boots on, turn it up loud, and hit play below...
In my previous piece, "Prosecute or Perish", here at The BRAD BLOG --- in which I argued that criminal investigations and, where appropriate, prosecutions of the Bush/Cheney cabal for war crimes was not merely mandated by our treaty obligations but vital to preserving our constitutional democracy and the rule of law --- I referenced an allegation by Seymour Hersh that the Bush regime had created a highly secretive "executive assassination ring" which reported only to Dick Cheney's office and which had "been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people and executing them and leaving."
How can a nation that calls itself just convict the Japanese officers who waterboarded my father, yet refuse to so much as investigate high officials from our own government who authorized the same war crime and, as newly alleged, even much worse...
A hand count of thousands of paper ballots that could trump all of the above, at least in regards to national importance, will quietly occur next week in a highly-secured Maricopa County, AZ, facility, as part of a years-long criminal investigation. Ironically, coming as late as it does, three years after the election, the results of the count, no matter what they may be, will not affect the actual outcome of that election --- even if it is found that the results were originally rigged by elections officials.
After almost three years; hundreds of legal documents; scores of hours in courtrooms; precedent-setting legal findings forcing the public release of Diebold computer databases supposedly recording how citizens voted in their own elections; allegations of potential hacking and fraud believed to have been possibly carried out by election official insiders; indications of tampering described as the result of "human error" by a report commissioned by the state AG, as part of a criminal investigation subsequently described by critics as a "whitewash"; arrests of local election integrity advocates; and lord knows how many articles documenting it at all here at The BRAD BLOG over those years, the paper ballots from the curious 2006 Regional Transit Authority (RTA) election in Pima County (Tucson), AZ, will finally be counted, beginning next Monday, as part of a criminal investigation being carried out by the state's Attorney General.
The hand-count of all 120,821 ballots from that special election will be carried out not in Pima, but under the supervision of "certified professionals who work for the Maricopa County (Phoenix) Elections Department," according to a 2-page letter [PDF] sent by the AG's office to the chairman of the Democratic Party of Pima County. The "strictly-monitored" count will either settle, once and for all, the matter of whether that election was conducted fraudulently by election insiders manipulating the vulnerable electronic Diebold tabulation system --- or it won't...
While out on the stump for VA's Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, former Gov. Mike Huckabee made an hysterical joke to the laughing assembled crowd of Republicans, instructing them to "Do the lord's work" by not letting voters to the polls if they don't plan to vote for McDonnell.
HUCKABEE: You have two jobs. One - get all those people who are gonna vote for Bob out to the polls and vote. If they're not gonna vote for Bob, you have another job. Let the air out of their tires and do not let them out of their driveway on Election Day. Keep 'em home. Do the lord's work, my friend. I'm giving you an opportunity...yes, do the right thing.
Of course, it was just a joke. Who in the Republican Party would ever do such a thing in this country?!
Well, other than the guy in the video on the right, Paul Weyrich, one of the founding fathers of the modern Republican vote suppression movement, who, until he recently died, was a regular, legendary consultant to the nation's top Republicans, and also another hysterically funny Republican Baptist just like Huckabee.
WEYRICH: Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome - good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
McDonnell's Democratic opponent in the VA race, former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, wasn't laughing. He sent a letter to supporters describing Huckabee's comment as "no joking matter," noting: "People died for the right to vote in this country, and we have to protect it." Rachel Weiner has the full letter tonight at HuffPo.
Beyond that, we'll spare you the photographs of the who-knows-how-many African-Americans who not only were kept from voting in this nation by others just "doing the right thing" and "the lord's work," but who were strung up in trees by their necks in order to keep them from voting and to send the hilarious message to others that they'd best not be let out of their "driveways" come Election Day. We'd go on, but it's all just so funny, we can't even keep typing.
There's folks to the right of Ann Coulter? Well, yeah, since Coulter is little more than a phony "conservative" opportunist (and voter fraud felon). We always enjoy it, of course, when these guys eat themselves alive. So who are we to stop them? And we're equally glad to know that the cowardly Coulter also now runs away during interviews with them on the radio, just as she did with us way back in 2005.
Here's the latest video campaign, launched by the anti-choicers on the right, wherein Coulter can't run fast enough...over and over again. As Coulter's '08 endorsed Mitt Romney is likely the closest thing resembling a "legitimate" front-runner for 2012 --- at least by GOP standards --- it'll be fun to watch this internecine fight ramp up between now and then...
(Hat-tip Wendy Norris, who has more at Colorado Independent)