Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bush and Dick, Executive Power and the CIA

Note: This was an assignment for one of my courses, "Torture and the Law" which was taught by Lisa Hajjar in the summer of 2006 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I will keep this post up because its rather entertaining, but it does not reflect the content that will be on display thereafter.

No Texans were harmed in the making of this blog. The views of George W. Bush and Dick Chaney expressed therein are fictional interpretations of their mental state of mind with a splash of exaggeration thrown in.

Personal correspondence between the President and Vice President has just been discovered by Seymour M. Hersh and will be made public for the first time here. Two memo’s follow.

27 November 2005


I hope you and David had a nice holiday. As you know I went home for Thanksgiving. In between my golf game and my hunting session my mom was reading me some current events as she often does. It appears someone over at ABC News has been reporting leaked information about CIA interrogation tactics as reported here. On a separate but related matter, have we figured out how to “buy” ABC yet? You would think controlling one major network news outlet would be enough.

Well it appears that no one is taking much notice about these leaks, but we should shore up the crack in the infrastructure before its too late. The person responsible might become all too familiar with this information; you know what I am saying to you Dick?

I do not understand why people make such a big deal about this stuff. Don’t they understand this is the only way to get information out of people?

Marty Lederman is making a lot of noise:

"If our enemies used these techniques on U.S. military personnel, no one would, in public debate, deny that such techniques (especially Nos. 4-6) are impermissible forms of torture."

Descriptions follow:
5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.
I really don’t see what the big deal is. Poor and homeless people all over our country deal with worse conditions, they should be happy they have the shelter of a cell to protect them from the elements.

Rumsfeld discussed about
4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.
in 2 December 2002 memo, and I think he has a valid point. Most working Americans can agree they are on their feet all day. Clearly what he said had some effect, going from a 4 hour limit to a 40 hour limit. Although the description that was leaked sounds more like this video Laura and I were watching the other night. (Don’t tell her I told you, but I’ll let you borrow it when I get back into the office.)


1 December 2005


You need not worry about these matters. Let the OLC do their job and when the time comes I will tell you what to say. In times like these when were are under scrutiny, we need to maintain face, stick together and create a unified front. We can discuss this more over lunch if you wish.


On a more serious note:

Not only is it a relief that we have some whistle blowers in the cowboy like institution we call the CIA, the outlaw interrogators that operate under the cover of off the books black ops need to be held accountable.

Our security as a nation is important, but is torture ever the answer? As Ariel Dorfman poignantly stated:

I can only hope that I would say no to such a temptation, such a proposal, I can only hope that we would have the compassion and the wisdom to reject the path of rage. I can only pray that we would not act as if we were gods, knowing better than out fellows what is right and wrong, who deserves to live and who to die. I can only pray that humanity will have the courage to say no, no to torture, no to torture under any circumstance whatsoever, no to torture no matter who the enemy, what the accusation, what sort of fear we harbor; no to torture no matter what kind of threat is posed to our safety; no to torture anytime, anywhere; no to torturing anyone; no to torture.

While people like Posner have criticized Dorfman, but I think his heart felt plea has a place in the debate. With Kim Scheppele deconstructing the myths inherent in the “ticking bomb” scenario, we really have no justifiable excuse to torture in the first place.

The McCain Amendment was supposed to corral everyone under the same umbrella and make the Military, CIA, OGAs, and Private Contractors responsible for the same rules and benefiting from the same protections. Yet, it still appears that the CIA doesn’t have to answer to anyone. Who has jurisdiction over them? Better yet who has jurisdiction over persons committing acts against other people in other countries that “never happened”? If we have no record of their operations and they have unlimited resources to create alibis for themselves, how well can we really play watchdog?

Ultimately, the point is we should not have to. The people of this country should be able to rely on the agencies that were created to gather intelligence and protect national security interests with out worrying that people are being tortured in the process. Torture, as we all know, is against domestic and international laws, especially the Geneva Conventions. Why is it that once again the American people are left not trusting the government? Torture not only brings down the moral of the troops and people involved in the acts, but it makes the public question what is right in the world. If you cannot trust the people that are supposed to serve and protect you, where do you go from there?

As of late, certain people in the Bush Administration have made attempts to call what they are doing humane, to justify techniques like waterboarding and the long time standing method. This is unacceptable. Like Ariel Dorfman I am appalled, and as a nation we should stand against torture, always. The problem is, as a whole people are against torture. How then do we make people accountable for their actions?

When the Administration signed the McCain Amendment into law, they were expecting to clear out the Hamdan case. Further more, they already had a plan of attack to make the actions they were already taking legal under the Amendment. If all that is necessary to be in compliance with the rules is to rewrite the rules and then classify those rules so we never get to see them, as is the case with the new Army Field Manuel, then the government has become like the CIA. They have become accountable to no one and it is up to congress and the Supreme Court to reign them in.

There is no public outcry, but we need to create one. We need letters to congress demanding action, protests, marches, sit-ins. The government acts without permission because they have been getting away with it for years. They will continue to get away with it until this debate moves from the academic circles to peoples dinner tables. When our troops become the victims of similar treatments, as many in the JAG have predicted, then people will start to wonder how we ever started down this path. This path that we are on is not far from no return.

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