Thursday, April 30, 2009

100 DAYS

Obama’s first hundred days – a few assessments



The worst hundred days

The GOP is really working hard to deny the devastating implications of one of their most senior senators telling them that he no longer has a home within their increasingly extremist party. But this explanation really takes the cake

OK, maybe not:

More nonsense:
[Bill Kristol] I wonder if today’s Arlen Specter party switch, this time to the president’s party, won’t end up being bad for President Obama and the Democrats. . . .
Inhofe: Specter's Switch Is "First Visible Evidence" Of GOP Comeback!

Why Arlen Specter's defection should terrify the GOP . . .
[Dan Balz] How much more can the Republicans take? Demoralized, contracting and lacking their own agenda, Republicans yesterday saw their ranks further thinned . . .
[Gail Collins] The Republican Party has officially moved into nutcase territory. The Republican moderate caucus in the Senate is down to the two women from Maine. And we would all certainly like to listen in on their conversations on the plane ride home.

Olympia Snowe (R?-ME) is sounding pretty disenchanted
IT is disheartening and disconcerting, at the very least, that here we are today — almost exactly eight years after Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party — witnessing the departure of my good friend and fellow moderate Republican, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, for the Democratic Party. And the announcement of his switch was all the more painful because I believe it didn’t have to be this way. . . .

Another brave GOP governor makes noises about rejecting federal stimulus money, then ends up grabbing it with both hands
Sarah Palin. . .

Frustration with Michael Steele as the feckless leader of the Republican party breaks out into open warfare
Randy Pullen, the RNC's elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman's power to dole out money. . . .


Hey, how’s that Legacy Project coming along?
Though former President Bush has been out of office for 100 days -- and made a point to stay out of the headlines -- his approval numbers sunk even further in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, from 31% positive just before he left office to just 26% now.

Not surprisingly, Dick Cheney's approval numbers also went down, from 21% positive in January to 18% now.

I think NRO writer Byron York is saying here that black support for Obama doesn’t really count as support
“On his 100th day in office, Barack Obama enjoys high job approval ratings, no matter what poll you consult. But if a new survey by the New York Times is accurate, the president and some of his policies are significantly less popular with white Americans than with black Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are.”

Fox News helpfully explains that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed wasn’t really waterboarded 183 times. You see, that counts each “pour,” that is, each time water was poured into his nose and mouth to make him feel as if he were drowning (yes, they actually tabulated such things). Since there were several “pours” during each session, Fox thinks this exaggerates the number of times he was tortured. I say, each time water was poured on him, he was in fear, panic, and agony – that’s the point of course – and so each pour WAS an instance of waterboarding, as far as I’m concerned, whether it happened several times in succession or not. But it’s good to know that Fox is playing its part to minimize the accusation of torture (as if ten times, or twenty times, is any less of a crime than 183 times)

Bonus item: Michele Bachmann, nutjob
[Steve Benen] We should at least consider the possibility that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is a secret liberal activist, pretending to be a lunatic in order to make conservative Republicans appear ridiculous.
Historian Michele Bachmann Blames FDR's "Hoot-Smalley" Tariffs For Great Depression . . .

[NB: Of course, it was Smoot-Hawley. Maybe she has Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley on her mind]
Michelle Bachmann Embraces Ignorance, Reverse Causation . . .

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Well, well, well. Arlen Specter switches parties, which along with the inevitable Al Franken victory in Minnesota gives Obama his filibuster-proof majority of 60. But I wouldn’t read too much into that: Specter is notoriously unreliable and self-serving, the Republicans’ Joe Lieberman, and along with Ben Nelson he will let the Dems down on lots of key votes. The real significance of his shift lies elsewhere, I think
[Brian Beutler] But let's assume Democrats do get to 60. What then? Well, arguably, it won't necessarily mean a whole lot. It won't mean the President suddenly gets his way all the time. It won't, for instance, mean that major legislation like EFCA or cap-and-trade will suddenly sail through Congress. Those issues have proven intractable even within the Democratic caucus, and the political complications won't go away just because that that caucus is now one member larger. . . .[read on]



Why he did it:

Did Biden make it happen?

Not everyone is happy to have Specter in the party

Will Specter switch (again) on EFCA?

What this really shows is the death-wish of the GOP: systematically running moderates out of their party, challenging their own senior senators with ideologues from the right, and insisting on loyalty to narrow conservative doctrine over diversity and “big tent” tolerance. They couldn’t have a better formula for turning themselves into a small, nationally irrelevant regional party. Nice work, boys
[Jonathan Singer] Republicans are doing their darndest today to combat the already growing meme that the their party is so far out of the mainstream that it can't hold onto its moderate members. . . .
Two leading Republicans say Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to become a Democrat highlights the hostility moderates feel from an increasingly conservative GOP. . . .
Senate Republican leaders said they had received no heads-up from Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) about his decision to leave the Republican Party and run for reelection as a Democrat. . . .
[Atrios] I'm obviously not very optimistic that this will lead to good. I've lived under the wanktitude of Specter long enough to know that he rarely actually does anything positive. As Harry Reid said to a small group of bloggers last year in Denver, (quote from memory) "Arlen Specter's with us except when we need him." Question now is whether Specter will be with them when they do need him.

On the plus side, Senate staffers inform me that Republicans in the Senate are visibly in agony right now. So at least we have that!
Republicans “shell-shocked”


BEFORE the Specter decision was announced
[Chris Cillizza] The new Washington Post/ABC news poll has all sorts of intriguing numbers in it but when you are looking for clues as to where the two parties stand politically there is only one number to remember: 21.

That's the percent of people in the Post/ABC survey who identified themselves as Republicans . . .

The GOP reacts, showing that they still don’t get it
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he's glad to see Sen. Arlen Specter leave the party. . . .
[Jed Lewison] South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint tries to make the case that Arlen Specter's defection is a good thing for the GOP, saying Republicans are "seeing across the country that the biggest tent of all is the Tent of Freedom." . . .
Senate Republican leaders are pushing back hard against the notion that their party is to blame for Arlen Specter’s defection to the Democrats.

"This is not a national story. It is a Pennsylvania story," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters in a news conference following Tuesday’s GOP policy luncheon. . . .
Denial . . . Sarcasm . . . Bitterness. . . Passive-Aggressiveness . . .Self-pity . . . Anger . . . [read on]
[Rush] "A lot of people say, 'Well, Specter, take [Sen. John] McCain with you. And his daughter [Meghan]. Take McCain and his daughter with you if you're gonna," Limbaugh said on his show Tuesday afternoon, CNN's Political Ticker blog reports. Media Matters says Limbaugh also suggested that Specter and McCain also bring Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., over to the Democratic Party.


The Club for Growth? Or the Club for Extinction?
[Club for Growth] "Senator Specter has confirmed what we already knew - he's a liberal devoted to more spending, more bailouts, and less economic freedom. . . .”


Is she next?
"It is true that being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of Survivor -- you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you're no longer welcome in the tribe. But it is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party."

Wingnut reasoning: Republican loses a winnable House district, but that’s bad news for Obama and the Dems. Huh? (thanks to Mike W. for the link)

Kathleen Sebelius confirmed as HHS Sect’y, Obama Cabinet complete

The kind of people they are
Right-Wing Restrictionists Blame Illegal Immigrants for Swine Flu . . .
Michele Bachmann is at it again: Attributing flu pandemics to Democratic presidents. . . .

Bonus item: Ahhh, I love it: if Cheney had run for President

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Conservatives love to complain about “moral relativism” -- but look at them talk about torture now

We know the Bush gang’s strategy of using selective intelligence to deceive the public. Dick Cheney wants docs declassified that will help him make the case that “torture works” – but not other docs that say it doesn’t


Marcy Wheeler, Queen of the Timeline, shows how the Bush gang used dubious information elicited by torture to build the case for the Iraq war

Putting the “swine” in swine flu
[John Nichols] When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year's emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans. . . . But former White House political czar Karl Rove and key congressional Republicans -- led by Maine Senator Susan Collins -- aggressively attacked the notion that there was a connection between pandemic preparation and economic recovery. . . . [T]he Republicans essentially succeeded. The Senate version of the stimulus plan included no money whatsoever for pandemic preparedness.
We're in a public heath emergency and we don't have an HHS director because of GOP obstructionism . . .
Flu Or No Flu, Health Sec’s Nomination Will Still Require 60 Votes, GOP Says . . .
“Some people think that declaring a state of emergency about the flu was a political thing to push the Sebelius nomination through,” said Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women of America . . . Wright said that she’d heard the speculation “on talk radio,” and wanted to be skeptical, but “there’s too much of a basis in that argument to easily dismiss it.”

Rush helps
After the break, Rush attacked the UN for issuing a warning for a worldwide flu pandemic, claiming that it is "by design" to get people to respond to government orders. The media fall right in line with this stuff, Rush said, amplifying the nature of the crisis. Rush -- in his capacity as public health expert -- added that "the flu's a common thing." [read on]

“Why does God hate the Republicans?”

The Dems may not use reconciliation to push through health care with a filibuster-proof vote, but they’d be crazy not to at least threaten it to force some Republican sanity on the issue

Is the GOP starting to cut its losses in the endless and futile Coleman Senate fight?

Guess who’s NOT going to telecast Obama’s prime time press conference?

Faux News
Fox manipulates video to attack Obama . . .

Michele Bachmann (R-Looneytunes), another great public face for the GOP

Bonus item: Miss California on gay marriage

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Monday, April 27, 2009

The CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any "specific imminent attacks” . . . [read on]

[McJoan] Here's what we know, based on the public record as represented above. A) Torture is illegal. B) The architects of the torture regime were informed that the "harsh interrogation techniques" they intended to use were torture, and that those methods were unreliable. C) Against that counsel from a military agency, torture was deployed--excessively, and it was used in part to extract information from detainees about ties between al Qaeda and Iraq, ties that the best intelligence the administration had access to had already deemed nonexistent, in order to justify the planned invasion--the chosen war--in Iraq.

We've known much of this for years, actually, and that the moment for deciding on how to reckon for it was coming. The Bush administration certainly foresaw it, and as Mark Danner points out in an essential op-ed in today's Washington Post, they prepared for it . . . [read on]

The infamous OLC memos didn’t just rationalize torture; they seem to have made it impossible for CIA members who did object to do anything about it

Does torture “work”? Well, it probably can elicit some true and valuable information, and probably it has. But that’s not the issue
[Mark Kleiman] I agree with Megan McArdle about the unwisdom of making the claim that "Torture never works” . . . [read on]

Why Don’t They Claim al-Nashiri’s Waterboarding Worked? . . .
[Matt Yglesias] The orthodox conservative position at this point, it seems to me, is that waterboarding is not torture. Nor is having someone dangle from his shackled arms in a manner so painful as to prevent sleep for a period of days. What’s more, these non-torturous “harsh techniques” are highly effective at gathering intelligence. But if that’s true, and these are legal and effective means of securing reliable information, why are we doing so little of it?

After all, people doing organized crime investigations face a lot of challenges in terms of getting information from people. Maybe cops should do routine undercover drug buys, build a case against low level dealers, and then waterboard the guys they’ve arrested and move further up the food chain. . . .[read on]

The new craven line of defense: we told the Dems what we were doing and they didn’t stop us, so they can’t criticize us now

Why that’s a load of crap:
The Bush Administration Did Not Give Legally-Required Prior Notification to Congress . . .
Pelosi: Of Hidden Memos and Covert Ops Hidden in Supplementals . . .

John McCain: poor George Bush and his pals just got bad advice. He KNOWS that's not true

David Broder, always consistent: torture investigations would upset the cozy bipartisan tea party that he seems to imagine Washington politics can be, and so they’re a bad idea

Another victim of torture: Alyssa Peterson

More on the Harman wiretap
Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert says he learned from a CIA-connected “whistleblower” in 2006 that Bush administration officials were suppressing the existence of a wiretapped conversation between Rep. Jane Harman and a suspected Israeli agent. . . . [read on]

Rick Perry, Gov. of Texas, was hinting at secession a couple of weeks ago. But now that he needs the Federal government’s help, guess what?
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas asked the C.D.C. to send 37,430 doses of Tamiflu. . . .

You tell me: are these the signs of a healthy political party?
Another loony Republican threat from Texas . . .
Mocking is all the GOP deserves . . .
Please, make the stupid stop . . .

Fun to watch the abject reversals of Republicans who dare to suggest that Rush doesn’t run their Party

Fox News does another poll
"Do you believe Barack Obama's three point six trillion dollar budget plan will help stabilize the nation's economy, or not?"

Bonus item: Interesting – which Senators like each other?

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Sunday, April 26, 2009



Saturday, April 25, 2009


The classified reports Dick Cheney wants released, which show what a great job torture did of keeping the country safe, were commissioned well after the events took place and kept in a file in Cheney’s office. Now, why would they have commissioned those reports, if not to use as a defense in cases just like the present situation?

Why Cheney (I assume) asked for those reports to be developed in the first place

John Boehner takes up Cheney’s cause
[Greg Sargent] John Boehner and the House GOP leadership have adopted a new position on torture: The only classified info Obama should release about the torture program is that which could prove Dick Cheney's claim that torture worked to be true. This is not an exaggeration. It really is their position. . . . [read on]

Who taught the CIA how to torture?,-Said-Agency-that-Runs-Programin-2002

More internal docs showing the Bush gang knew the torture legal defenses were just a fig leaf

Boo effin’ hoo: now Judge Jay Bybee says “so sorry” for his pro-torture work. How did he think he got to be a federal judge? Is he going to resign that too?

Interesting speculation: Jane Harman, while not the most reliable Dem on some policy issues, is a firebrand against torture. The timing of the release of information about her dealings with the Israeli agent raises the question: why now?

Paul Krugman, America’s conscience?
“Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” So declared President Obama, after his commendable decision to release the legal memos that his predecessor used to justify torture. Some people in the political and media establishments have echoed his position. We need to look forward, not backward, they say. No prosecutions, please; no investigations; we’re just too busy. . . . [read on]

Well put
[PB] I think something else tends to get lost in the current arguments about torture. The whole issue has been framed as "moving forward" and looking to the future (good) versus doling out "retribution" and dwelling on the past (bad). This is not merely the Republican framing of the issue, as Obama and many Democrats seem to have accepted this framework.

But this framing is entirely wrong. A better way to look at is that we can either choose to do something about the fact people were tortured by the United States government, or we can choose to ignore it. Either outcome will have a profound effect on what happens in this country "moving forward." . . . [read on]
‘Torture Works’ is Not a Defense . . . [read on]

The other reasons not to torture

More word games

Reconciliation: some inside baseball. The short version is that the Dems are preparing to push through health care in a manner that doesn’t allow GOP filibusters, and only requires 50 votes to pass. The Repubs are irate, but then, they did it when they had the upper hand – why shouldn’t the Dems?

Why would a Democrat oppose Obama’s nominee for the OLC? Over abortion rights?

Whee! The nut from Minnesota is back in action

Sigh. Minnesota Supreme Court sets a long date to get around to hearing the Coleman appeal. They’re in no hurry, apparently

Take a hint, Norm
[Jim Tedisco, NY-20] "This was a close campaign every step of the way. Ultimately, it became clear that the numbers were not going our way and that the time had come to step aside and ensure that the next Congressman be seated as quickly as possible. In the interest of the citizens of the 20th Congressional district and our nation, I wish Scott the very best as he works with our new President and Congress to address the tremendous challenges facing our country.”

Sarah Palin kisses future presidential aspirations goodbye?

CNN, which just hasn’t done enough to hire tired old Republican operatives as their “analysts” (yes, they hire tired old Democratic operatives too), just added another one

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, April 24, 2009


The Republicans are in the difficult spot of trying to pull off an argument that goes something like this: Whatever the Bush gang did, it can’t be called “torture,” because the US doesn’t torture – and even if we did, it was necessary and good that we did it. But we didn’t, and anyone who says we did hates America. And anyone NOT willing to torture, if that’s what it takes to keep the country safe, hates America too. Got that?
Charles GRODIN: You're for torture.

Sean HANNITY: I am for enhanced interrogation.

More disputes over “verbiage”
Boehner admits Bush admin. used "torture"
[Steve Benen] It's safe to assume he'd like to take this one back. . . .
House Minority Leader John Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel, explaining away his boss' use of the word "torture" to describe U.S. interrogation practices: "It is clear from the context that Boehner was simply using liberals' verbiage to describe these interrogation techniques. The United States does not torture."
Shepard Smith: 'We Are America, We Do Not F---ing Torture!'

Obama keeps leaving the door open to investigations of Bush/Cheney torture policies, but also keeps saying he doesn’t want them. Well, he might get them anyway
The White House and the Democratic leadership in the Senate signaled on Thursday that they would block for now any effort to establish an independent commission to investigate the Bush administration’s approval of harsh interrogation techniques. . . .

It’s probably going to happen:

A Torture Timeline

35 missing CIA prisoners: what happened to them?

Apparently the requests for extra “latitude” (ahem) in interrogations came not from CIA personnel, but from the private contractors the Bush gang relied on so heavily

There is growing evidence that the Bush gang KNEW torture elicited false information, but they wanted an Iraq/Al Qaeda link come hell or high water
[Digby] All day I've been seeing torture apologists all over TV frantically trying to block this particular line of inquiry. They know that it's potentially the most explosive revelation of all. If the White House ordered torture to try to get the prisoners to falsely confess to links between al Qaeda and Iraq ... well all bets are off. . . . [read on]

So now we have the State Dept, the FBI, and the service branches all speaking out against the Bush gang’s justifications for torture

Yeah, that’ll work
[Jed Lewison] Over the past couple of days, Karl Rove and Fox News have offered a new argument in defense of the Bush administration's torture policies.

Now, they say, waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) yielded intelligence that led to the disruption of an al Qaeda plot to attack the tallest building in Los Angeles, the Library Tower (which both Bush and Rove called the Liberty Tower, for some reason). There's just one problem with Rove's new story: it couldn't possibly be true.

As Timothy Noah pointed out in Slate, the Los Angeles attack was foiled in February of 2002. KSM was not captured until March of 2003, however -- more than a year later. . . .


Discussions of torture make the he said/she said brand of journalist uneasy – after all, what is the pro-torture position? Well, Dick Cheney has given them an out. “The two sides disagree about whether torture produces useful intelligence or not.” At last, “objectivity” reigns
[Dday] Greg Sargent is right - the media has managed to find a "he said, she said" entryway into the torture debate by focusing on the irrelevant data point of whether or not torture works. It doesn't - ask Bush's FBI Director - but turning this into a debate humanizes the tactic, turning it into some option that's open to reasonable disagreement instead of a universally rejected, illegal action. We don't have a debate over whether stealing from rich investors through a Ponzi scheme "worked." It's illegal and that's the end of the story. . . [read on]

What's the difference between the "harsh interrogations" I keep reading about in The Post and actual "torture"? If it's the same thing, then why not just call it "torture"? I don't get it. . . . [read on]

Torture doesn’t work:

It really doesn’t:

Hard to find many willing to take Dick Cheney’s side on this one – but MSNBC managed to find someone . . .
[David Waldman] On what planet does it make any sense for Liz Cheney to be on national television telling everyone that torture isn't torture because her daddy told her so?

Here’s another way for the media to play it safe on torture – you see, it’s just the lefties who are upset about it. If it’s just another partisan squabble, the press doesn’t have to take sides on it

Fox News is very upset about torture . . . when other countries do it

More from Fox:

Why the vehement GOP opposition to Dawn Johnsen to become head of the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)? Worried that she’ll be too tough on her Bush-era predecessors?

The last time I looked, abortion was LEGAL
[Taegan Goddard] Senate Republicans refused today to allow a confirmation vote on his health secretary nominee Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, the Washington Post reports.

She is the last Cabinet member awaiting Senate approval.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected, "arguing that lawmakers needed more time to consider her 'fairly contentious' selection. A handful of Republicans have complained about Sebelius' support for abortion rights . . .”


The exile of the GOP into the political wilderness: an historical analogy
[JB] I know it's a little boring, but if you're looking for an analogy for today's Republican Party, the best one may be the most obvious: the GOP of the early 1930s, which suffered electoral disasters after a long period of electoral success, faced a popular Democratic President who succeeded a violently unpopular Republican one, and was unhealthily dependent on a base concentrated in one area of the country. . . . [read on]

Wait! The Repubs have found a way back. This is brilliant strategy!
RESOLVED, that we the members of the Republican National Committee call on the Democratic Party to be truthful and honest with the American people by acknowledging that they have evolved from a party of tax and spend to a party of tax and nationalize and, therefore, should agree to rename themselves the Democrat Socialist Party.

How will future generations judge the willful ignorance and denial of the Republicans over the growing crisis of global warming?

Here’s one Republican who won’t be apologizing to Rush Limbaugh

Bad news for the GOP in 2012 – these are percentages AMONG REPUBLICANS
In a head-to-head match up, Obama would beat Palin, 53% to 41%.

The survey also shows Obama beating Mike Huckabee, 49% to 42%, Newt Gingrich, 52% to 39%, and Mitt Romney, 50% to 39%.

Bonus item: My head’s spinning
[MM] Last week, conservatives were complaining Obama was establishing a socialistic fascist dictatorship.

This week, conservatives are complaining Obama does not want to torture his opponents.

Extra bonus item: the most outrageous media moments of Obama’s first hundred days

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Thursday, April 23, 2009


This is much too big a story to be trying to do long-distance. But it is becoming crystal clear now that the Bush gang’s torture PRECEDED any legal “justification” for it, that when they did get the justifications they knew they were a sham, that they knew torture wasn’t effective, and that they knew that some of the victims had already told pretty much everything they knew. This is why an investigation is needed – this is NOT a mere squabble over policy, or good intents gone wrong
Administration, Military, Knew Techniques Were Torture, Ineffective--Pressed Ahead Anyhow . . .
[Atrios] The Saddam-al Qaeda-9/11 connection was always transparently false. It was an obvious fabrication. I don't know if all involved with torturing the shit of people knew that, but certainly the people pushing for the "information" did. So false confessions were, you know, what they were looking for.
Condoleezza Rice, John D. Ashcroft and other top Bush administration officials approved as early as the summer of 2002 the CIA's use at secret prisons of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a technique that new Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has described as illegal torture . . .
[WP] Intelligence and military officials under the Bush administration began preparing to conduct harsh interrogations long before they were granted legal approval to use such methods -- and weeks before the CIA captured its first high-ranking terrorism suspect . . .

The smoking gun:
The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist. . . . [read on!]


Carl Levin’s (D-MI) blockbuster
“Intelligence and military officials under the Bush administration began preparing to conduct harsh interrogations long before they were granted legal approval to use such methods -- and weeks before the CIA captured its first high-ranking terrorism suspect, Senate investigators have concluded." . . . [read on]

ANOTHER release from the Senate: a torture timeline

Abu Zubaydah: waterboarded at least 83 times (in one month)
How the Bush administration waterboarded a low-level operative, who was brain-damaged, 83 times . . .
[Emptywheel] One thing this narrative makes clear is that the July 10, 2002 intelligence from Abu Zubaydah came before the interrogation plan for Abu Zubaydah was done. . . .
Abu Zubaydah’s FBI Interrogator Removes the Legal Cornerstone of the Torture Regime . . .
FBI Agent Who Interrogated Abu Zubaydah: The Torture Advocates Are Lying to You . . .
Zubaydah Interrogator: Torture Was Unnecessary and Ineffective . . .

What did they get out of him? Not much:


“Inconvenient” – that’s how the Bush gang characterized Philip Zelikow’s legal analyses showing that torture really WAS illegal, and that’s why they tried to destroy all copies of them

[Emptywheel] The destruction of Zelikow's memos is clear evidence of criminality. . . .

The State Dept still has copies:

The FBI too
[Digby] Following up on my post yesterday about the Bush administration being very well aware that the FBI and others in the administration objected to the use of torture and refused to allow their agents to participate . . .

The point in bringing this up isn't to say this stuff is news. It isn't. But the torture apologists are behaving as if government experts were of one mind on this and that any patriot would have gone along. But the FBI disagreed and withdrew themselves from the program entirely because they believed it was illegal. This was something that people in the Justice Department knew, the Pentagon knew, the NSC knew and certainly the White House knew. And it meant nothing to them. Theyjust had some lackeys write a couple of secret memos and went right on torturing.

Giving Bush administration officials any credit for acting in good faith --- or out of ignorance --- is totally absurd in light of this. The FBI's adherence to the rule of law in this situation (and the fact that the Bush administration let them do it without reprisals) proves that others could have done the same thing. It's quite clear that Bush and Cheney knew they didn't really have a leg to stand on.

The missing 2007 memo

Key torture apologist still employed by CIA

People seem to be taking the Cheney line seriously, that if torture produced (some) useful intelligence that made it okay. But anyone who has thought about this for two minutes already has rejected that line of excuse. Moreover, we know that even if it were a legitimate justification, it can’t be used in cases like Zubaydah’s

The press helps shift the debate:
Even the most exacting truth commission may have a hard time determining for certain whether brutal interrogations conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency helped keep the country safe. . . .

[Steve Benen] Adm. Dennis C. Blair, President Obama's national intelligence director, . . . . had he been in a position of authority when these interrogation techniques were approved, "would not have approved those methods." Got that? He knows the abuse led to some "high value information," but despite this, Blair still would have rejected the tactics.

Dick Cheney’s credibility – let’s keep him front and center as the face of the Republican party

The Junta Party
[Josh Marshall] In former Banana Republics, in their post-transition- to-democracy phases, you'll often have a Junta Party. It's an opposition party whose main goal isn't to get elected so much as to maintain the legacy of the former junta regime, defend its record of service to the state and most of all keep its former leaders from being put on trial or shipped off to the Hague. . . [read on]


Three blind mice
Trio Of Senators Ask Obama Not To Prosecute Bush Attorneys . . .

CQ is reporting that Senate Judiciary Patrich Leahy is determined to proceed with a torture inquiry. . . .


Hillary Clinton calls out the GOP’s stupidity


Yes, stupidity

Atrios sums up today’s Republican party
Irrelevant Lunatics Throw Pointless Tantrum

On ousting DHS Janet Napolitano:

On the environment:

On secession:

A “clownish, vindictive amateur” (guess who?)

I keep telling you, the comments from Bachmann, et al. are hinting at armed insurrection – they know JUST what they’re playing with
[Josh Marshall] In what I guess you might call another sign that the GOP is getting back in touch with the grassroots, an outfit called the "Ohio Militia" is calling for a Million Armed Militia Members March on Washington.

The organizers hasten to point out that this will be a "peaceful demonstration. No shooting, no one gets hurt. Just a demonstration. The only difference from any typical demonstration is we will all be armed."

The faces of the GOP
Cheney, Rove, Gingrich . . .


Rush throws his (considerable) weight on the side of torture
"We have allowed — we have allowed these guys, Obama and his buddies over at the CIA and in Congress, to water down the definition of torture to mean anything that makes a person uncomfortable. . . . " [read on]

Health care reform is coming, one way or another
Democrats Consider Bypassing G.O.P. on Health Care Plan

What? You mean it ISN’T “fair and balanced”?

Bonus item: I guess they have bureaucrats and lawyers in the UAE too
[David Kurtz] ABC News obtained a videotape smuggled out the UAE showing the crown prince's brother torturing a man with whips, electric cattle prods, and wooden planks with protruding nails before pouring salt in the man's wounds and running over him with a Mercedes. A man in police uniform also appeared on the tape, aiding the sheik.

Confronted with the tape, the UAE had this peculiarly candid yet defiant response:

In a statement to ABC News, the UAE Ministry of the Interior said it had reviewed the tape and acknowledged the involvement of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, brother of the country's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed.

"The incidents depicted in the video tapes were not part of a pattern of behavior," the Interior Ministry's statement declared.

The Minister of the Interior is also one of Sheikh Issa's brother.

The government statement said its review found "all rules, policies and procedures were followed correctly by the Police Department."

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The program began with Central Intelligence Agency leaders in the grip of an alluring idea: They could get tough in terrorist interrogations without risking legal trouble by adopting a set of methods used on Americans during military training. How could that be torture?

In a series of high-level meetings in 2002, without a single dissent from cabinet members or lawmakers, the United States for the first time officially embraced the brutal methods of interrogation it had always condemned.

This extraordinary consensus was possible, an examination by The New York Times shows, largely because no one involved — not the top two C.I.A. officials who were pushing the program, not the senior aides to President George W. Bush, not the leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees — investigated the gruesome origins of the techniques they were approving with little debate. . . . [read on]

More stunning revelations in a newly released Senate committee report
The report focused solely on interrogations carried out by the military, not those conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency at its secret prisons overseas. It rejected claims by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others that Pentagon policies played no role in harsh treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq or other military facilities. . . .[read on]


So Dick Cheney, the Dark Lord of government secrecy, is perfectly happy to release classified information when it serves him politically. Hey Dick, let’s make a deal: full release of everything, documents, tapes, videos of torture sessions. Then we can let the American people decide

"It's important not to personally attack the new president. I've never done that."

-- Dick Cheney, in an interview on Fox News, defending his critical comments on the Obama administration. He later suggested President Obama was weak.

Down the memory hole
[David Kurtz] Via Spencer Ackerman, I see that former Bush State Department official (and 9/11 Commission executive director) Philip Zelikow now says that not only did the Bush torture architects solicit terrible legal advice from the likes of Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury -- but they actively worked to erase any evidence that dissenting legal advice was given . . . [read on]


Other memos we haven’t seen yet . . .

Hmmm. . . is prosecution of the authors of the bogus legal advice that rationalized torture still on the table?
Obama: Torture Prosecutions For Bushies Is A Question For AG . . .
White House: Rahm Didn't Mean What He Said On Not Prosecuting Bushies For Torture . . .
Obama recognizes: whether to prosecute is not his decision . . .


But if you’re going to prosecute the memo authors, don’t you also have to go after the officials who told them to do it?

I don’t know if the Bushies were blackmailing Jane Harman or not – but she certainly carried their water for them
[Christy Hardin Smith] Boy, wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall when Jane Harman runs into John Kerry after this choice bit from Jeff Stein:

According to two officials privy to the events, Gonzales said he "needed Jane" to help support the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections. . . .


Joe Lieberman, back on Fox
Lieberman: Memo release "helps our enemies" . . .


Another Republican has to kowtow to El Rushbo
[Josh Marshall] Another Republican congressman has to issue apology to Rush. This time it's Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS).

Sometimes I wonder if Rush just gets one of these guys to stick his head above the parapet every month or so so he can ritually take them down and make sure everyone still knows who's boss.

And another?

Newt Gingrich, still sucking up to the theocrats, accuses an Obama judicial appointee of preferring Allah to Jesus


Bonus item: Heh
[DP] If only Saddam Hussein had been smart enough to solicit a legal opinion from his government lawyers that gassing people was within the law, he could have been playing golf in Myrtle Beach right now.

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***