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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 1, 2014
GOP Outraged After AR Attorney General Candidate Removed from Voting Roll
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2009 2:11pm PT  

These are said to be among the photos of prisoner abuse/torture whose release Obama has determined to block. Some of them were obtained, and posted several years ago, by The Sydney Morning Herald (who have more here).

Remember, these prisoners were captured in the war on Iraq, so even the disingenuous claims of Geneva Conventions not applying cannot be used here.

As Drudge and Rush have (predictably) taken to ridiculing these latest noticed photos of abuse/torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. captors, I thought it worth running some of them here, so you could similarly see how "ridiculous" it is to be concerned about this sort of treatment of prisoners on our watch. I'm certain that no U.S. military family would ever object, in the slightest way, were their son or daughter treated this way after being captured by an enemy country.

'Security via obscurity' didn't work as a concept during the Bush Administration. It's difficult to fathom how the Obama Administration would believe it'll work any better for them.

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VIDEO: Rachel Maddow timelines our torture story so far...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2009 11:05am PT  

Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did a bang-up job in detailing/summarizing "our story so far," as we know it, in regard to the use of torture by the Bush/Cheney Regime. Her report goes on to include interviews with Bush's Iraq WMD inspector, Charles Duelfer, and journalist Robert Windrem, who yesterday detailed the push by "the office of Vice President Cheney" to use torture on Saddam Hussein's security goon, who had been talking and cooperating just fine after being captured in the fall of Baghdad. But he had not been saying the things the OVP wanted him to, so waterboarding was recommended.

We've now officially moved from the imaginary bad Hollywood movie realm of the use of illegal torture to stop 'ticking time-bomb' attacks against Americans, to its use in a desperate attempt to stop 'ticking political-bombs' --- such as no Iraqi WMD and no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda --- against the Bush/Cheney Regime itself.

This video should bring you largely up to date with the latest known-knowns in the torture time line, and the cynical, realpolitik motives thereof...

(And remember, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the CIA detainee who is reported to have just "committed suicide" in a Libyan prison is known to have been tortured into "confessing" a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the precise thing that the OVP reportedly sought from Hussein's captured goon. Al-Libi's forced "confession" was subsequently used over and over again by Bush/Cheney/Powell in the march to war, and thereafter found to have been completely made up by al-Libi to help put an end to his torture. When al-Libi recently turned up dead, he was in the process of being reportedly sought by prosecutors in regard to torture allegations against the Bush/Cheney Regime. Dots connecting yet?)

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'Give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/14/2009 3:32pm PT  

In case you missed it, former Navy SEAL and Gov. Jesse Ventura (I-MN) absolutely obliterated 'Worst President' Bush, 'Coward, Chicken Hawk' Cheney, 'Hanoi Hilton' Guantanamo, and the entire torture regime, on Monday's Larry King (via Crooks & Liars)...

VENTURA: In my opinion, George Bush is the worst President in my lifetime. ... So Barack Obama, President Obama inherited something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
...
I'm bothered over Guantanamo because it seems we have created our own Hanoi Hilton. We can live with that? I have a problem. I will criticize President Obama on this level; it's a good thing I'm not president because I would prosecute every person that was involved in that torture. I would prosecute the people that did it. I would prosecute the people that ordered it. Because torture is against the law. ... I was waterboarded, so I know ... It is torture. ... It's drowning. It gives you the complete sensation you are drowning...You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.
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Where the U.S. MSM continue to fail
PLUS: What of the Bush Regime's justifications for not only negotiating with, but actually working with the 'international terrorist' regime in Libya?...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2009 1:32pm PT  

Andy Worthington, who largely broke the story of the reported 'suicide' of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi in a Libyan prison, into the English-language press on Sunday (as we helped that night), picked up last night on our followup to the original story, decrying the paucity of coverage of the disturbing report in the U.S. corporate mainstream media.

Al-Libi was, after all, the 'ghost detainee' who had offered a false link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, used loudly by the Bush Administration before the war as a key justification for it, after being tortured by the CIA and Egypt, where he'd been secretly renditioned from U.S. custody at Guantanamo. He would later recant his false 'confession,' explaining that it had come about only after 17 hours of 'mock burial,' and a session of brutal beatings by his captors which followed it.

Newsweek describes the al-Libi affair today as "one of the biggest intelligence fiascos of the run up to the Iraq War" and "a major embarrassment for the Bush administration."

Worthington asked why the initial "media silence," before noting that while U.S. outlets have finally begun to cover the story, one of the better initial reports, from Peter Finn at Washington Post fails to follow up on the paper's own previous coverage of 'ghost detainees,' which included al-Libi, who had disappeared, at some point, from the Bush Administration's long list of suspected 'terrorists' captured following 9/11.

Al-Libi was one of those captives previously reported on by WaPo. His re-emergence in Libya --- where he was spotted by Human Rights Watch at the Abu Salim prison in late April, in apparent good health, but refused to be interviewed, reportedly saying only "Where were you when I was being tortured in American prisons?" --- was punctuated, just two weeks later, by the surprising news of his reported 'suicide.'

But where WaPo covered some of the points mentioned in a press release on al-Libi's death from HRW, they failed to mention any of the other 'ghost detainees' mentioned in the very same press release, whose whereabouts had been a mystery up until now. That, even though WaPo had previously reported the 'missing' status of those same detainees!

Given the disturbing fate of al-Libi --- who, HRW's Tom Malinowski charges, "was missing because he was such an embarrassment to the Bush administration. He was Exhibit A in the narrative that tortured confessions contributed to the massive intelligence failure that preceded the Iraq war" --- it's disappointing that the paper has so far failed to connect dots that could, in this case, help shine a spotlight on growing concerns about some of those other detainees: A spotlight which may help keep them alive, at this point.

There is certainly good reason to question both the timing, and reported means, of al-Libi's death, not the least of which is the point made in several media reports, including AP's, where some have "expressed doubts that al-Libi killed himself, saying al-Libi was a 'true Muslim and Islam prohibits committing suicides.'"

Yet, as Worthington notes, the Post failed to even mention the current status of the other detainees HRW discovered in the Libyan prison, even as they had similarly been sent there by the CIA following claims of abuse and torture at the hands of the U.S....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Dark Beginnings, the KUBARK Torture Manual & the storied Bush-family/CIA legacy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/13/2009 8:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Part II of a Five-Part Special Series
(Part I is here. Part III is now here. Part IV is now here. Part V is now here.)

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." -Voltaire

I don’t want to give the wrong impression. All nations possess a legitimate need to gather intelligence. There have been large numbers of extraordinarily dedicated CIA employees, like Ray McGovern and Valerie Plame Wilson, who have sought to protect this nation from harm. But there is the dark side of the agency, a covert branch which has engaged in deception, intrigue, torture and assassinations, all designed to destabilize democratic governments in order to advance and consolidate the power and influence of a US-based, multi-national corporate empire.

In Part I of this five-part series, I described how the George W. Bush administration did not wait for legal "permission" from its Department of Justice before embarking on its plan to use torture as means of forcing confessions and other information from detainees. In "Prosecute or Perish" I stressed that the current torture scandal is the product of a half-century of CIA torture; that by failing to prosecute those who tortured in our name in the same manner that we prosecuted the Japanese officers who waterboarded my father during World War II, we not only will expose our nation to the charge of hypocrisy but will endanger the very survival of our constitutional democracy and the rule of law.

As I noted in Part I, we cannot move forward unless we honestly examine our past --- which, in this instance, mandates a careful look at the origins of the CIA...

Dark Beginnings

In a sense, it may be said that the CIA was a stepchild of Nazi Germany. As noted by Joseph Trento in Prelude to Terror (2006), its founder, Allen Dulles, had done business with the Nazis before World War II. Dulles served in the O.S.S. in Bern, Switzerland. From 1945 to 1947, preceding the creation of the CIA, Dulles ran his own private and entirely illegal intelligence service in which he “began a massive ex-Nazi recruitment* campaign, using a State Department refugee office as a front.” The recruitment campaign, Prof. Alfred McCoy observed, in A Question of Torture (2006), entailed more than the use of war criminals as spies. It included German scientists “who had directed Nazi experiments into human physiology and psychology” and whose early research would lay the ground work for CIA torture techniques…

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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(But there's plenty on a comedian's jokes about Limbaugh and Hannity at the White House Correspondents Dinner)
UPDATED: 24 hours later, WaPo & UPI finally jump in with some decent coverage...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2009 2:06pm PT  

[Ed Note: See bottom of article for several late updates.]

So, it's been about 16 hours since we covered indie journalist/historian/blogger Andy Worthington's detailed report on the the reported suicide of the man who falsely "confessed," during torture, to a false tie between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The forced confession was subsequently used by the Bush Administration (Bush himself, as well as Powell and others) as justification for the war on Iraq. That, despite the fact that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi recanted his story not long thereafter, as long and widely reported.

As of this moment, not a single mainstream U.S. newspaper or broadcast outlet has reported on the story. Is it not notable? Or are our newspapers just dead set on ensuring their irrelevance by continuing to not report on news that actually matters, no matter how widely it's being reported in other parts of the world?

A search of "al-Libi" at Google News, at this moment, lists five stories in all, with The BRAD BLOG's coverage as the top story on the matter. The one, late, mainstream-ish entry is the coverage, finally, from Reuters filed one hour ago. And it's pathetic. Simply pathetic...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, whose false tortured confession was used as basis for Bush's war, has reportedly committed suicide...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2009 8:18pm PT  

British journalist and historian Andy Worthington, an expert and author on Guantanamo, reports that the man who had supplied a key false tie between Iraq and al-Qaeda --- after being tortured in Egypt, where he had been rendered by the U.S. --- has died in a Libyan prison. "Dead of suicide in his cell," according to a Libyan newspaper.

Worthington has excellent coverage of the story tonight, which, he says, is "ablaze" in the Arabic media, but so far unreported in all but one English language outlet.

"This news resolves, in the grimmest way possible," Worthington writes, "questions that have long been asked about the whereabouts of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, perhaps the most famous of 'America's Disappeared' - prisoners seized in the 'War on Terror,' who were rendered not to Guantánamo but to secret prisons run by the CIA or to the custody of governments in third countries - often their own - where, it was presumed, they would never be seen or heard from again."

The "emir" of a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, al-Libi "was one of hundreds of prisoners seized by Pakistani forces in December 2001, crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Most of these men ended up in Guantánamo after being handed over (or sold) to US forces by their Pakistani allies, but al-Libi was, notoriously, rendered to Egypt by the CIA to be tortured on behalf of the US government."

Worthington reports:

In Egypt, he came up with the false allegation about connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that was used by President Bush in a speech in Cincinnati on October 7, 2002, just days before Congress voted on a resolution authorizing the President to go to war against Iraq, in which, referring to the supposed threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime, Bush said, "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases."

Four months later, on February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell made the same claim in his notorious speech to the UN Security Council, in an attempt to drum up support for the invasion. "I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al-Qaeda," Powell said, adding, "Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story." As a Newsweek report in 2007 explained, Powell did not identify al-Libi by name, but CIA officials - and a Senate Intelligence Committee report - later confirmed that he was referring to al-Libi.

Al-Libi recanted his story in February 2004, when he was returned to the CIA's custody, and explained, as Newsweek described it, that he told his debriefers that "he initially told his interrogators that he 'knew nothing' about ties between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden and he 'had difficulty even coming up with a story' about a relationship between the two." The Newsweek report explained that "his answers displeased his interrogators - who then apparently subjected him to the mock burial. As al-Libi recounted, he was stuffed into a box less than 20 inches high. When the box was opened 17 hours later, al-Libi said he was given one final opportunity to 'tell the truth.' He was knocked to the floor and 'punched for 15 minutes.' It was only then that, al-Libi said, he made up the story about Iraqi weapons training."

Worthington concludes: "The most important question that needs asking just now, of course, is whether it was possible for al-Libi to commit suicide in a Libyan jail, or whether he was murdered. I doubt that we will ever find out the truth...Whatever al-Libi’s actual crimes, his use as a tool in a program of 'extraordinary rendition' and torture, exploited shamelessly not to foil future terrorist plots but to yield false information about al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, remains a low point in a 'War on Terror' that has few redeeming features."

UPDATE: 16 hours later, and virtually zero coverage of this story in the U.S. corporate mainstream MSM. Amazing. Details now here... [That report has now also been updated to include a few U.S. outlets finally jumping in to the story, 24 hours later.]

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Military Torture, Legal Fig Leaves & Premature Exculpation...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/6/2009 12:07pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Part I of a Five-Part Special Series
(Part II is now here. Part III is now here. Part IV is now here. Part V is now here.)

"When any modern state tortures even a few victims, the stigma compromises its majesty and corrupts its integrity. Its officials must spin an ever more complex web of lies that, in the end, weakens the bonds of trust and the rule of law that are the sine qua non of a democracy. And, beyond its borders, allies and enemies turn away in collective revulsion." - Prof. Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture (2006).

Truth and justice are essential components of democracy and the rule of law. We cannot move forward unless we honestly examine our past. Accuracy is vital to every decision we make, be it impeachment, prosecution or a restoration of our nation’s honor and integrity.

This is the first in a five-part series of articles which will strive to correct misperceptions arising from the erroneous blending of military and CIA torture. This task has become especially relevant now that the Justice Department's the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the very section which had issued the torture memos, tasked by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey with investigating itself, has now released a recommendation that none of the authors of the torture memos be prosecuted. This recommendation stands in stark contrast to our nation's post-World War II decision to prosecute German judges for war crimes at Nuremberg.

Part I addresses the relatively public involvement of the U.S. military and private contractors at Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq. It will dispel the notion that the Bush White House sought out independent legal opinions from the OLC before deciding to torture.

Part II will discuss the CIA's dark beginnings, including its recruitment of former Nazis, its devotion to covert "psychological operations" as a founding principle, the experiments on unwitting subjects that were part of a maniacal quest to crack the code of human consciousness, and the scientific studies that led to KUBARK, the CIA's torture manual.

Part III provides a vital historical account of CIA torture applied by surrogates in developing nations as a component of empire, an account that belies the suggestion made by the The New York Times that CIA torture first arose as an aftermath of 9/11.

Part's IV and V will address the CIA's involvement in extraordinary rendition and an ultra-secret system of “black-sites” into which “ghost detainees” would disappear. It will show how the techniques used on "ghost detainees" are the culmination of a half-century of CIA research and practices...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Update: Pulitzer Prize Winner: Bush must have been 'Just kidding'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2009 3:05pm PT  

George W. Bush just before the invastion of Iraq:

War crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished and it will be no defense to say, “I was just following orders.”


And let's also not forget what Saint Ronnie similarly said on these matters. Seems to me the Republicans themselves have made a very compelling case for prosecuting war criminals, such as George W. Bush.

UPDATE: Pulitzer Prize winner Eugene Robinson on Bush's pre-war statement: "I think the message there is 'just kidding, folks.'" Details, video...

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Sending them out to chase shadows...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/27/2009 11:12am PT  

Opinion by guest blogger, Ernest A. Canning

Keith Olbermann was astonished (full video below):

Despite the new wealth of evidence that the Bush administration’s desire to torture suspects was driven by a desire to gin up phony links between Iraq and al Qaeda, not by concerns about another terrorist attack, former Vice President Cheney is sticking to his story that it was all about terrorism. In part II of his interview with Fixed News, the Dark Lord accusing the Obama administration of not believing that the U.S. is threatened by terrorism.

The Fox "News" interview was vintage Cheney. He referred to torture as “a robust interrogation program on detainees” that was vital “to the very existence of the nation.”

CHENEY: What the Obama administration is doing, in effect, is saying that we don’t need those tough policies that we had. That says, either they didn’t work, which we know is not the case—they did work, they kept us safe for seven years...

You have to see a Cheney performance in order to appreciate the effectiveness of Cheney propaganda. Unlike George W. Bush, who was inclined to trip over his own tongue, Cheney has perfected the quiet lie. His words may be false but he delivers them as facts so uncontroversial you’d think he was a local network anchor reporting on traffic conditions...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2009 8:56am PT  

Reagan on torture prosecution, via Andrew Sullivan, from the days before George W. Bush decided how to use signing statements for evil, rather than good...

From his signing statement ratifying the UN Convention on Torture from 1984:

"The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called 'universal jurisdiction.' Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution."

My italics. Reagan was admant [sic] about prosecuting torture, but also prosecuting inhuman treatment that some might claim was not full-on torture. Now go read National Review or The Weekly Standard. And look what has happened to conservatism in America.

Reagan was, of course, part of the Blame-America-First crowd. Soft on terror. Friend of the evil-doers. Why did Ronald Reagan hate America?

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By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2009 1:16pm PT  

Hope? David Swanson reported last night that the AG "made [him] a promise":

As Attorney General Eric Holder left an appropriations subcommittee hearing on Thursday I spoke loudly from the third row as he prepared to leave the room:

"We need a special prosecutor for torture, Mr. Attorney General. Americans like the rule of law. The rule of law for everybody."

He replied as he approached and walked by, surrounded by bodyguards:

"And you will be proud of your country."

I was joined by others in replying simultaneously:

"Yes, we want to be proud of our country. We're ready. No need to wait."

Holder knew exactly what it would take for me to be proud of my country, and he told me directly that I would be.

Will I? Time will tell.

UPDATE 7/11/09: NEWSWEEK reports that Holder "may be on the verge of" and "leaning toward appointing" a prosecutor to investigate Bush/Cheney-era torture. Their story notes that his initial deliberations on this matter seem to have coincided with his comments as noted above. Details on all now here...

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The harsh realities of torture and following orders are quite different from the fictional world of Hollywood's anti-terror warriors, says a noted former FBI Special Agent and 9/11 whistleblower...
By Coleen Rowley on 4/24/2009 11:09am PT  

Guest Blogged by Coleen Rowley, FBI whistleblower, TIME's 2002 'Person of the Year'

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...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Fox 'News' host goes ballistic. Thank you...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2009 2:38pm PT  

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!!!":

(Hat-tips HuffPo and RAW STORY.)

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For that matter, why didn't Condoleezza Rice?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2009 4:56pm PT  

The former State Department adviser to Condoleezza Rice and executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, disclosed at Foreign Policy's Shadow Government yesterday that he offered a dissenting view to the torture memos and policies of the Bush Administration. (Ernie Canning discussed those memos and policies in detail here this morning.)

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...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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