Topic: Bush Administraiton
Dick Cheney emerged from his lair today and admitted to Brit Hume of FOXNEWS in a hard hitting interview that the shooting of his friend a Texas lawyer was his fault. "You can't blame anybody else. Ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend...The image of him falling is something that I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired and there's Harry falling. And it was ... one of the worst days of my life at that moment," Cheney said.
Interesting how he qualifies that by saying, "at that moment." He's over it, I guess, now it's back to screwing up the country. Asked if it was the right thing to do to leave it up to Katarine Armstrong (who's mother got him hhired at Halliburton) to inform the American public that the vice president shot someone, he gave no ground (even if it means setting Scott McClellan up for more abuse).
"I thought that was the right call. I still do," Cheney said. "I had no press person with me .... I was there on a private weekend with friends." [Reuters] He has no press person with him? What the hell kind of lame excuse it that?
Also, talking to FOX, Cheney said he had authority to declassify information. In response to a question about "Scooter" Libby saying his "superiors" had OK'd him leaking info from an NIE about Iraqi weapons capability, Shooter said, "There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority and obviously focuses first and foremost on the president but also includes the vice president...I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions."
The WaPo: Cheney was referring to an executive order on classification of information first signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995. In March 2003, just days after ordering U.S. troops into Iraq, President Bush amended order to, among other things, give the vice president the same classification power as the president."
[see moreon Cheney at Non Sum Dignus]
Limited and targeted spying?
The WaPo reports:
"The National Counterterrorism Center maintains a central repository of 325,000 names of international terrorism suspects or people who allegedly aid them, a number that has more than quadrupled since the fall of 2003, according to counterterrorism officials.
Timothy Sparapani, legislative counsel for privacy rights at the American Civil Liberties Union, says 'We have lists that are having baby lists at this point; they're spawning faster than rabbits. If we have over 300,000 known terrorists who want to do this country harm, we've got a much bigger problem than deciding which names go on which list. But I highly doubt that is the case.'"
The WaPo article goes on to say:
"Its [NCTC]central database is the hub of an elaborate network of terrorism-related databases throughout the federal bureaucracy. Terrorism-related names and other data are sent to the NCTC under standards set by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6, signed by President Bush in September 2003, according to a senior NCTC official. The directive calls upon agencies to supply data only about people who are "known or appropriately suspected to be . . . engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism. 'We work on the basis that information reported to us has been collected in accordance with those guidelines,' Vice Adm. John Scott Redd, the center's director, said in a statement."
Well, that's reassuring. I'm sure those several hundred thousand names are all legitimately dangerous terrorists and not anti-war protesters that demonstrate outside military facilities and Halliburton HQ, or anything like that.
On the torture front:
While the government is busy reading our email and listening in on our conversations and making little lists of who's naughty and nice, Abu Ghraib has reared its ugly head again.
The NYT reports: "An Australian television network broadcast [The SBS] today previously unseen pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused by American soldiers." Of course, the pentagon says there nothing new here, everything has already been investigated and 'we nailed those two dozen Pfcs to the wall.'
"The State Department legal adviser, John B. Bellinger 3d, noted that, following the instances of abuse in late 2003 and their disclosure early in 2004, there had been numerous public investigations, prosecutions and internal reviews. 'And it's unfortunate, in fact, that these photographs are coming out further and fanning the flames,' Mr. Bellinger said, referring to the Australian broadcast."
Yes, blame the messenger, that's it! I think it's pretty likely most Iraqis haven't forgotten about Abu Ghraib, but the reminder that there really hasn't been an independent investigation into who really ordered the stuff that went on there is timely. (That's what's really eating the pentagon.)
Oddly, the photos that the SBS showed were the same ones the ACLU has been trying to get the government to give up for quite a while.
The SBS reports says, "The latest photographs reveal further abuse including new incidents of killing, torture and sexual humiliation, the program’s producers said. Dateline said the photos are the subject of a legal battle in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been granted access to the photographs under Freedom of Information provisions, but the US government is currently appealing the decision."
Abu Ghraib: Jihad University:
Meanwhile, the boneheaded decision to use Abu Ghraib, Saddam's notorious torture prison, in the first place is being compounded by squeezing Iraqis in there like sardines.
NYT: American commanders in Iraq are expressing grave concerns that the overcrowded Abu Ghraib prison has become a breeding ground for extremist leaders and a school for terrorist foot soldiers. 'Abu Ghraib is a graduate-level training ground for the insurgency,' said an American commander in Iraq."
It seems that since we've stopped turning over Iraqis we capture to the Iraqi interior ministry because of their little torture and killing problem, the American military prisons have become even more over crowed than they were before. [Iraqi death squad caught in the act.BBC]
"The overall detainee population stood at 14,767 this week, an increase from 10,135 in June 2005 and a significant jump even from the end of December, when the number stood at 14,055, according to American military statistics. Abu Ghraib held 4,850 detainees as of Jan. 31, a steep increase from 3,563 last June but a slight dip from 4,924 in late December."
Amazingly, some officers are actually saying we might want to differentiate between those who just get caught up in sweeps and those that are really dangerous. Imagine that!
"These decisions have to be intelligence driven, on holding those who are extreme threats or who can lead us to those who are," another American officer in Iraq said. 'We don't want to be putting everybody caught up in a sweep into Jihad University.'"
More torutre news:
You know, Guantanmao is really a big time black eye for the US. But, what to do? If you let those 500 or so guys out, they're going to start spouting all this stuff about being tortured, which naturally are all lies. All a-Qaeda types are instructed to say they were tortured so you can't believe any of it.
Today, the long awaited UN Human Rights report came out and says "The United States government should close the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities without further delay."
The NYT: "In a response included in an appendix to the 54-page report, the United States noted that the investigators had turned down an invitation to visit Guantanamo Bay, and it rejected the findings and faulted the investigators for using selective information to support their conclusions. The investigators declined to go to the camp after being told that they would be denied the opportunity to interview detainees."
There isn't much point in going if you can't talk to the detainees, but never mind about all that, everybody knows the UN Human Rights commission is full of anti-American types.
So, if the FBI sees torture taking place at Gitmo, they must be involved in some turf war with the pentagon or something.
CNN: A memo from a senior FBI counterterrorism official has outlined three alleged cases of abuse in 2002 that FBI agents had become aware of while serving at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base prison. The complaints included allegations of a female interrogator grabbing a detainee's genitals and bending back his thumbs and a prisoner being gagged with duct tape. Another complaint talked of a dog being used to intimidate a prisoner and jailers subjecting the same prisoner to what the FBI official called "intense isolation" in a "cell that was always flooded with light."
All made up, it didn't happen!