Egg on all Faces

via The Washington Post:

Lawmakers of all parties were briefed on torture and rendition and secret CIA jails as early as 2002. Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, John D. Rockefeller, Bob Graham, Porter Goss, Pat Roberts, were among those briefed by the CIA the WaPo reports:

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said. (emphasis by me)

Speaker Pelosi, now that one of your secrets is out, please spill the beans on what else is on your conscience and put impeachment back on the table!

Read the whole story here!

CERTIORARI DENIED

06-1613 EL-MASRI, KHALED V. UNITED STATES

Khaled is a German national who was abducted, sent to a secret prison and tortured by the CIA.

He sued for damages, and the Administration responded with a request to have the case dismissed, citing “State Secrets.” The courts, including the Supreme Court agreed.

This means that if you, or I, or anyone were abducted and tortured by our own government, all the government has to do is plead “State Secret” and we will never see the inside of a courtroom. To fully appreciate the depth of support for this doctrine, you must realize that it takes only 4 votes on the Supreme Court to grant certiorari. Thus one or more of the “liberal” block on the Supreme Court decided in favor of the Administration’s claim of privilege.

We are indeed embroiled in a War on Terror, and our own Government is the Terrorist.

Consider, too, that the only recourse is through the election process, a process wholely owned by the wealthy class. Our elections are not free and fair, and our government operates outside the rule of law.

Under these circumstances, any notion of Constitutional Rights is purely illusory.

The 4th Amendment no longer applies to any of us:
The Government can wiretap without warrants, and claim “State Secrets.”

The 5th and 6th Amendments no longer apply to any of us:
The Government can kidnap, and claim “State Secrets.”

The 8th Amendment no longer applies:
The Government can torture, and claim “State Secrets.”

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Bush Says Interrogation Methods Are Not Torture

From the New York Times:

Published: October 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.”

The remarks, Mr. Bush’s first public comments on the memorandums, came at a hastily arranged Oval Office appearance before reporters. It was billed as a talk on the economy, but after heralding new job statistics, Mr. Bush shifted course to a subject he does not often publicly discuss: a once-secret Central Intelligence Agency program to detain and interrogate high-profile terror suspects.

Read the rest of the story here.

I guess that depends on George’s definition of “people” and “torture.” Keep talking, Mr Bush.

In Our Name…..

From Truthout:

Secret US Endorsement of Severe Interrogations
By Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen
The New York Times, Thursday 04 October 2007

Washington – When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.

But soon after Alberto Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures. Continue reading

Civil liberties under threat

The Economist has launched a series of articles to analyze the impact the “War on Terror” has on the civil liberties of all of us. All articles of this series, that are available without subscription, will continue to be linked to on this blog as they are published on the Economist’s website. 

As WW I and II have been not infinite conflicts, the suspension of civil rights ended generally with the respective war. The long lasting tensions of the cold war didn’t lead to the kind of pressure on civil rights that we see today. Civil liberties were, in the long run, an asset, that discerned the western democracies from the totalitarianism in the eastern block.

Modern day terrorism is a foe, who will most probably be around for some decades, as the cold war did. However, protecting our civil liberties, even if at the risk of more terrorist attacks, is paramount to the functioning of our democracies.

The Economist’s introducing article can be found here. The first article of the series focuses on “Saying no to Torture” and can be found here.