Even the Washington Post, perhaps the prime US media instrument for protecting the CIA and obfuscating the failures of US foreign policy under its bizarre notions of the law of war and the nature of war in what its editorials call the ‘central Asian battlefield’, wrote an editorial today placing the blame ultimately where it belongs: former President Bush and Vice-President Cheney.
Unlike Iran Contra or Watergate, the question here in regard to terror war torture and criminality is not one or two missing links in the chain-of-command regarding a specific felony. Rather the observer is presented with a vast shotgun blast with as many possible missing links and evidences in the crime scenes as there are disappeared ‘terrorist’ suspects, i.e., some two hundred or so. Indeed, a rather small group involved in a criminal regime of organized torture which however, includes most of the principles of the US security state from Cheney and his aid Addington to Def. Secretary Rumsfeld, Attorney General Ashcroft, National Security Advisor Rice, and chief legal representatives in the Pentagon, Langley, the Dept. of Justice, and the White House. Any who have considered the data already available can see from their presently limited information that the elephant has no clothes.
Thus the Huffington Post includes CATO Institute pointy heads along with thoughtful commentary from the Center for Constitutional Rights. Robert Scherer’s blog at Time Magazine has by vast majority only thoughtful commentators answering it who see a systemic pattern of criminality. The Chicago Tribune writes a damning editorial about the mess. National Public Radio lambasts the Republican congressional leaders for their bizarre notions of legality in their response to release of the CIA Inspector General’s report on CIA torture policies. And the torturing chicken hawk clique, the Palin-Kagan-Kristol-Wolsey ‘global war’ on enemies crowd, are remarkably silent. (Here, by the way, a phenonena has occurred not unlike the silencing of the British Tories through New Labor support of the Iraq War: the religious GWOT right has little it can say since the Obama administration has officially taken up the strongest possible argument of theirs: let’s ‘move forward.’)
It is disturbing to view US Congressional calls for a ‘Truth Commission’ as a structural comparison of the US constitution to that of apartheid South Africa, or to consider the large numbers of persons, according to polling, willing to consider the righteousness of torture as policy for a representative government along the lines already explored by Israel as it considered its governmental and public reaction to the intifada. Indeed, the US was founded as a old-testament focused, protestant settler colony, an annexationist and religious-racial state with a doctrine of manifest destiny at its core. In this pattern, it compares more with South Africa and Israel than to, say Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Ukraine or Germany. But perhaps in the end, the US constitution more radically can grasp its historical roots in the era of the ‘Great Democratic Revolution’, roots that it ultimately shares with the terrorist Maximilien Robespierre.
Unlike the crimes against corporate groups like the Native Americans in the 19th century or Japanese internees during World War II, crimes that continue in the foreign policy of vast deliberate population displacements in Iraq or the Swat Valley of Pakistan (and caused by US foreign policy), these crimes of the US executive branch involved in a systemic torture regime may have a remedy in the courts. More importantly, the whole issue of this criminal regime of torture is a drip drip issue with which the center left can help reestablish its strength as it did after and through Watergate-Vietnam. This is no small task: the whole ‘unitary executive’ doctrine of the Bush administration back in its Carl-Schmitt inspired far-right box as a systemic active process of political justice. The tradition of the civic republic from which both Thomas Jefferson and Robespierre descend from is that of Niccolo Machiavelli who in his discourses on Livy emphasized the benefit to republics that comes from trying its criminal statesmen. This if course is the same Machiavelli who explained how princes and presidents, in the absence of republican constraint, can spew religious rhetoric and succeed in having the ends justify the means. It matters little how much spy service minions in the Washington Post like Charles Krauthammer and David Ignatius call for ‘strong intelligence’ and repeat Machiavelli’s expose of princely expedience as prescriptive policy of (princely) expedience. Even their paymasters at the WaPo are in the end forced to admit that the deposed prince has been exposed.
Meanwhile: More Material from the Foreign Press
Better Detail on Blackwater USA’s role in Renditions and Assassination Squads
The German weekly Der Spiegel reports in much greater detail on the use of Blackwater USA as a contractor involved in its extraordinary rendition plan, meetings with Blackwater employees with Vice President Cheney in regard to its activities, and much more explicit material than, for instance, appeared in the New York Times on Blackwater’s organization of assassination squad for targeted killings in Afghanistan.
Lithuania the 3rd European Union Country to House CIA Black Prison Sites
Likewise, Der Spiegel emphasized the importance of ABC breaking the news that a third country in the European Union besides Poland and Romania, namely Lithuania, has been used as a black site rendition prison by the CIA in its illegal imprisonment and interrogation policies. Lithuania, like Poland and Romania, has signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture and like them is more integrated into the international legal system and the Hague Court of International Justice than is the United States.
Helpful Contributions from the Blogosphere Regarding the CIA OIG Report
KSM – Padilla Connection
‘Looking at the KSM report, one thing I recognized was Jose Padilla. KSM said he conceived of the plot for Padilla to place bombs in high rise apartment buildings (p. 239 “striking the united states”) . Padilla was eventually convicted of attempting to kill people overseas, not in the US. It seems like much is made of Padilla in the justifications for the detainments (see also 252).
Much is also made of a Heathrow airport plot in several parts, but it doesn’t look like there is much information on this except from KSM himself.’
‘Ray’ in response to the Lede Blog at New York Times
Ashcroft’s Role in Legally Validating Extreme Torture Policies
Robert Scherer at Time Magazine’s Swampland blog emphasizes more clearly than most analysts of the documents the key role of Ashcroft in monitoring the CIAs Water Torture practices:
‘The CIA IG repeatedly brought what it viewed as abuses or violations of law to the attention of Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Justice Department, without any positive result. After a review of the program determined that one detainee had been waterboarded “in a manner inconsistent with” the description of the technique in military training and in the Justice Department legal guidance, the matter was brought directly to Ashcroft by the CIA general counsel. According to the report, Ashcroft disagreed with the CIA IG assessment. Ashcroft responded by telling the CIA that he saw no problem with waterboarding one detainee 119 times, deciding that the “CIA is well within the scope of the DoJ opinion and the authority given to CIA by that opinion.”’