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Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in At TMV, Breaking News, Crime, Featured, Government, International, Law, Terrorism | 44 comments

Bush: ‘We Don’t Torture’ (Updates)

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In an interview in September 2006 with then-CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, President George W. Bush said, “I’ve said to the people that we don’t torture, and we don’t.”

Today, eight years later, a 528- page summary report, the result of “an exhaustive, five-year Senate investigation of the CIA’s secret interrogations of terrorism suspects” tells a much different story.

According to the Washington Post, the investigation “renders a strikingly bleak verdict of a program launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, describing levels of brutality, dishonesty and seemingly arbitrary violence that at times brought even agency employees to moments of anguish.”

The Post:

The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee delivers new allegations of cruelty in a program whose severe tactics has been abundantly documented, revealing that agency medical personnel voiced alarm that waterboarding methods had deteriorated to “a series of near drownings” and that agency employees subjected detainees to “rectal rehydration” and other painful procedures that were never approved.
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The 528-page document catalogues dozens of cases in which CIA officials allegedly deceived their superiors at the White House, members of Congress and even sometimes their own peers about how the interrogation program was being run and what it had achieved. In one case, an internal CIA memo relays instructions from the White House to keep the program secret from then-Secretary of State Colin Powell out of concern that he would “blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s going on.”

Almost as damning, “The report’s central conclusion is that harsh interrogation measures, deemed torture by program critics including President Obama, didn’t work.”

Read more here

Update:

Of course, Dick Cheney, who has not read the report yet and who has been a staunch supporter of torture has come out to praise the torturers: “They deserve a lot of praise,” Mr. Cheney said. “As far as I’m concerned, they ought to be decorated, not criticized.”

Hubristic and petulant as always Cheney added, “[the program was] the right thing to do, and if I had to do it over again, I would do it.”

To Cheney’s “credit” — if that is an appropriate term under the circumstances — he admits that he and the rest of the White House knew all about it, and, characteristically, calls the reported conclusion by the Senate Intelligence Committee that the C.I.A. misled the White House, “just a crock.”

Read more here

And, in contrast, the statement by Secretary of State John Kerry:

“Release of this report affirms again that one of America’s strengths is our democratic system’s ability to recognize and wrestle with our own history, acknowledge mistakes, and correct course. This marks a coda to a chapter in our history. President Obama turned the page on these policies when he took office and during week one banned the use of torture and closed the detention and interrogation program. It was right to end these practices for a simple but powerful reason: they were at odds with our values. They are not who we are, and they’re not who or what we had to become, because the most powerful country on earth doesn’t have to choose between protecting our security and promoting our values.

Now this report sheds light on this period that’s more than five years behind us, so we can discuss and debate our history – and then look again to the future.

As that debate is joined, I want to underscore that while it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant to reexamine this period, it’s important that this period not define the intelligence community in anyone’s minds. Every single day, the State Department and our diplomats and their families are safer because of the men and women of the CIA and the Intelligence Community. They sign up to serve their country the same way our diplomats and our military do. They risk their lives to keep us safe and strengthen America’s foreign policy and national security. The awful facts of this report do not represent who they are, period. That context is also important to how we understand history.”

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  • dduck12

    Fact: We do torture and we do murder (see drone attacks).

    • JSpencer

      Just curious, do you equate torture with drone attacks?

      • dduck12

        Two separate and reprehensible activities. Just curious, do you equate comments with opinions.

        • JSpencer

          Thank-you for your answer. I think torture has no use whatsoever in this world, while drone attacks sometimes do.

          ” Just curious, do you equate comments with opinions.”

          Comments are sometimes opinion, sometimes fact.

          • dduck12

            Sometimes being the operative term. Sometimes they can be counterproductive and divisive.

    • Rambie

      Were you as equally against drone attacks with GWB was President?

      • dduck12

        Why do you ask?

        • Rambie

          To gauge your conviction on the issue.

          • dduck12

            Why. Do you care?. Be honest.

          • Rambie

            Because, wrong is wrong, it doesn’t matter who’s in office at the time. Like those who didn’t worry about the deficit until the office changed hands, many of those decrying drone strikes NOW weren’t against them prior to 2009.

          • dduck12

            So I was wrong without even answering the question. So, you assume I was for droning because many weren’t. You see now why I wanted to know why.
            Practically everything the government has done in foreign policy has been wrong, either at inception or later.
            I know you are dying to know if I was for or against droning during Bush’s terms, as if anyone cares around here, well I was initially for it, but like BO and others, I did change my mind- mine during the end of Bush’s last term.
            Now you can say I am wrong, if you wish.

          • Rambie

            No, I said “many” and I didn’t mean to imply your positions. That’s why I asked how your opinion has –if at all– changed over time.

            Personally, I had a neutral opinion at first on the program. But the multiple screw-ups that have killed innocents have also made me question the real value of the program as it currently exists.

            Perhaps that does make us both wrong?

          • dduck12

            Sorry for being overly cautious, but there are some unfriendliness in the neighborhood.

          • Rambie

            No worries. I’m sure we’ll be on opposite sides on an issue again soon. 🙂

  • SteveK

    I think this problem with the truth is a congenital… And it’s plagued the last 4 Republican Presidents.

    “I am not a crook.” – Richard Nixon (note: I voted for him twice)
    “I did not trade arms for hostages.” – Ronald Reagan (note: ditto above)
    “Read my lips… no new taxes.” – George H.W. Bush
    “We don’t torture.” – George W. Bush

    I’d say the 2nd and the 4th lies are the ones that did the most damage to America and our reputation around the world.

    • dduck12

      Obama: we do not murder.

      • Jack Gordon Mills

        Is this intended to minimize the actions under the Bush administration? Because it seems so.

        The fact that Obama employs drone strikes (Bush did too, but anyway) does not excuse torture. Nor does it make extraordinary rendition okay. Nor indefinite detention. Nor extra judicial proceedings that lead to indefinite detention.

        Torture is wrong. Period. Pointing out that Obama has ordered drone strikes does not make it any less wrong.

        • JSpencer

          “Torture is wrong. Period. Pointing out that Obama has ordered drone strikes does not make it any less wrong.”

          Thank-you. Straight talk is always refreshing.

          • dduck12

            Who said it did. Did I?

          • JSpencer

            I’m not always sure what you’re trying to say dd. As I stated, I’m a fan of straight talk. And yes, I saw your clarification after your intial comment.

        • dduck12

          Did you not read this, above? “Two separate and reprehensible activities.”

      • ShannonL

        I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
        I did not inhale

        I was born in the United States (just kidding)

    • Slamfu

      I don’t think you should include HW Bush in that list. Yes, he went back on that promise, but for the right reasons. He had new information, and it was needed to balance the budget, which in my mind makes him the last decent GOP President we’ve had. He took a huge political hit in order to do the right thing and it cost him the re-election. HW Bush is a good man and a good President in my book.

      • Terrific point, slam. I have become a bigger fan of HW too. Though I frequently disagreed with him on policy, I admire his competence (he had held just about every important job in government) and judgement. Compared to his spoiled, know-nothing son, he was Winston Churchill.

        His personally costly decision to raise taxes was absolutely the right one at the time. That kind of commitment to serving the country seems sadly quaint now.

      • I think George H W Bush should be near the top of any list of dishonest presidents. He did not go back on this promise because of having new information. He went back on it because candidate Bush was willing to say anything and do anything to pander to the far right or do what he thought would help him win. The promise was just a campaign tactic, not something he actually meant. In some ways I disliked him more than Reagan at the time, such as when he would attack the ACLU and campaign in those flag factories with the implication that he was the good patriotic candidate, as opposed to those evil, anti-American Republicans.

        Certainly much of the which came from Bush’s lips came from Lee Atwater and Peggy Noonan, but he is still responsible for what he did and said.

        President Bush was far more moderate than candidate Bush but that does not excuse what he did politically. HW Bush was a very bad man in my book–and I bet his evil nature was largely responsible for the evil acts of his son.

        • JSpencer

          I think the view of him as a moderate has more to do with our current vantage point than it does his actual performance, which is to say, the bar has been moved..

  • dduck12

    Please try to understand, all presidents use plausible deniability and let their Holders and lawyers cover their asses.

    • Rambie

      “Please try to understand, all presidents use plausible deniability..”

      Totally agree, and seems many members in Congress just stay ignorant of facts. It’s a sad state our government is in.

    • To a degree, but some far more than others.

      While I don’t agree with Obama’s use of drones, it would be far easier to judge him if we had access to the information he had. He came into office far more opposed and changed his view when presented with the arguments from those who supported their use. Unfortunately we will never see the information Obama saw to convince him. It is also likely that those who convinced him did not discuss the downsides and moral issues.

  • Slamfu

    We also never lie to cover our asses while violating human rights.

  • dduck12

    Now what? RC has spoken against GHWB. Will we hear crickets or what. Oops, is that off topic, a highjacking, a segue, an article from WSJ Opinion, Fox droppings?

    • Perhaps off topic but not high jacking, and definitely not something from the WSJ or Fox. Note that my comment on GHWB was in response to a couple of previous comments on him, not an attempt to change the subject.

      • dduck12

        I have no problem with a topic exploring broader areas, unless it is completely “off”. It makes for a mor e nuanced discussion.

  • tidbits

    If we are to have an honest discussion regarding the moral and ethical underpinnings of our foreign and defense policy, then using drones in violation of international law and, in the process taking civilian lives, belongs in the same discussion with torture.
    We have foreign and defense policies that belie any serious moral or ethical consideration in their execution (pun noted). We do not get to criticize along partisan lines. All of our leaders are guilty of amorality and/or immorality in the name of preserving our supposedly morally superior republic. And we share the guilt in electing them.

    • dduck12

      Thanks.

    • ShannonL

      I think it is part of the same discussion, but two different moral questions. A third question that also needs serious consideration is the execution of American citizens involved in terrorist activities overseas.
      I still think torture is by far the most egregious of the three and stands out on its own.

      One thing is for sure… our days of feeling moral superiority over the rest of the world are over. Like many things in the news these days, one has to wonder if this is new or if we have always behaved this way and the flatting of information and news is exposing our long hidden truths. me thinks we have always been like this…

  • archangel

    Hi there, I know you are delighted to see The Archangel again so soon. Here’s the deal. Stick to the topic of the post, NOT each other. Take it offline and away from here if you want to duke or duchess it out. Return to the topic of the post and all will be well. And The Archangel will be happy.

    I dont know if you realize, but it is against the law to dishearten an Archangel at this time of year. So, be good. I have other duties, I have to get in shape to sing over a manger in the middle of a desert on a midnight clear very soon. I have to save my energy. You know the job description: angels bending near the earth
    To touch their harps of gold!
    “Peace on the earth, good will to men…”

    My other angel-friend St. Nikolas, who you call ‘Santa’ is making a list and checkin’ it twice… You know the rest.

    Esp when a topic is so serious, I know it can be harder to hold to civility sometimes. Hold to civility, nonetheless. We can learn from one another, and ignore what doesnt fit for us.

    Thanks

  • John Richter

    Are you saying he lied? RIGHTTTTT… Next thing, you will be trying to tell us he lied about the Patriot Act and spying on citizens.

  • John Richter

    Release the hundreds of pictures Rumsfeld said were so sick and let us decide.

  • The_Ohioan

    Though this probably should be in a separate thread, since the subject has been raised it might be well to understand the difference between international law about torture (very clear), and about civilian casualties using drones (not so clear). The American citizen targeting is a national law situation. (I think)

    Here is what the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson QC (in 2013) had to say about the drone program.

    [Emmerson acknowledges that: “If used in strict compliance with the principles of international humanitarian law, remotely piloted aircraft are capable of reducing the risk of civilian casualties in armed conflict by significantly improving the situational awareness of military commanders.” But, he cautions, there is “no clear international consensus” on the laws controlling the deployment of drone strikes.

    The special rapporteur concludes by urging: “the United States to further clarify its position on the legal and factual issues … to declassify, to the maximum extent possible, information relevant to its lethal extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations; and to release its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted through the use of remotely piloted aircraft, together with information on the evaluation methodology used.”]

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/18/drone-strikes-us-violate-law-un

  • dduck12
    • The_Ohioan

      Yep. An American law that has gotten us in a lot of trouble with international laws we’ve signed on to.

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