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Does it matter that Alberto Gonzales advised the President of the United States that he was not bound by the Geneva Conventions, any international treaties to which the U.S. was a signatory, or federal law when it came to "coercive interrogation" techniques? Of course it does. Here's why:

In late 2002, more than a year before a whistle-blower slipped military investigators the graphic photographs that would set off the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, an F.B.I. agent at the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, sent a colleague an e-mail message complaining about the military's "coercive tactics" with detainees, documents released yesterday show.

"You won't believe it!" the agent wrote.

Two years later, the frustration among F.B.I. agents had grown. Another agent sent a colleague an e-mail message saying he had seen reports that a general from Guantánamo had gone to Abu Ghraib to "Gitmo-ize" it. "If this refers to intell gathering as I suspect," he wrote, according to the documents, "it suggests he has continued to support interrogation strategies we not only advised against, but questioned in terms of effectiveness."

When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke last spring, officials characterized the abuse as the aberrant acts of a small group of low-ranking reservists, limited to a few weeks in late 2003. But thousands of pages in military reports and documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to the American Civil Liberties Union in the past few months have demonstrated that the abuse involved multiple service branches in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba, beginning in 2002 and continuing after Congress and the military had begun investigating Abu Ghraib.

Notice the time frame - late 2002.  It is hard to believe that it is a coincidence that Gonzales solicited, received and endorsed an irregular memo from the Justice Department in August 2002 advising that the President had unfettered power to do whatever he wanted with regard to interrogating "unlawful combatants."

Update [2005-1-6 3:33:39 by Armando]: From Hofmania, LATimes Says No to Gonzales:

As a leading architect of Bush's ends-justifies-means war on terror, Gonzales pushed to justify torturing terror suspects in violation of international law, promoted military tribunals that echo Stalin's show trials, helped write the Patriot Act (which, among other powers, gives government agents vast new snooping authority) and excused the limitless imprisonment of American citizens whom the president merely suspects of terror activity. Three years into that war, much of Gonzales' handiwork has been rejected by courts, damned by the world community and disavowed by the administration -- as in the Justice Department memo quietly released last week declaring that "torture is abhorrent to both American law and values and to international norms." Gonzales' defenders argue that, as White House counsel, he was simply a passionate advocate for his client. But the most devoted counselor knows that, even in wartime, there are legal and moral lines this nation crosses at peril to its own citizens and those of other countries. Gonzales' justifications opened the door to the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The mistreatment and prisoner deaths that occurred have raised fears of retaliation against captured Americans. Those concerns prompted a dozen retired generals and admirals, along with civil rights groups, to oppose Gonzales' nomination. Our justice system relies on an attorney general willing to defend civil liberties as ardently as he pursues criminals and terrorists. That person must be someone who respects both the power and the limits of law. Gonzales' record as White House counsel is not just a series of unfortunate missteps; rather, it is a troubling window into the man's morality and his fitness to be the nation's chief lawyer. Democratic senators will surely ask Gonzales sharp and embarrassing questions about the principles that guided his tenure in the Office of Legal Counsel. These lawmakers then ought to demonstrate that they understand the principles at stake by actually voting no.
Not convinced? Follow me to extended.

An article in today's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine says that military medical personnel violated the Geneva Conventions by helping design coercive interrogation techniques based on detainee medical information. Some doctors told the journal that the military had instructed them not to discuss the deaths that occurred in detention. . . .

"Basically, it appears that the lawyer worked hard to write a legal justification for the type of interviews they (the Army) want to conduct here," one agent said in an e-mail message from Guantánamo in December 2002.

Er, that's exactly what happened. And that lawyer was Alberto Gonzales.  But wait, there's more:

The Pentagon now says 137 military members have been disciplined or face courts-martial for abusing detainees. A separate federal investigation in Virginia is looking into possible abuses by civilians hired as interrogators. Several military investigations are still pending, including ones into the deaths of about a dozen detainees.

The charges against the 137 service members, officials say, reflect a zero-tolerance attitude toward abuse - and a small percentage of the 167,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Our policy is clear," said Lt. Col. John A. Skinner, a Pentagon spokesman. "It has always been the humane treatment of detainees."

"When you see the same thing happening in three different places, you see abuses being committed with impunity, then it ceases to be the sole responsibility of the individual soldiers," Reed Brody, special counsel to Human Rights Watch, said. "At a certain point, it becomes so widespread that it makes it look like a policy."

Indeed. And the legal architect of that policy was Alberto Gonzales.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:01 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What is worse (4.00)
    What is worse?

    • The president rewarding this amoral policymaking by putting its mastermind in charge of the Department of Justice, or

    • Democratic senators who cower under the table, lacking sufficient courage to fully expose Gonzales' deeds and fight his nomination.
    •  That one is easy... (4.00)
      Your second bullet is much worse.
      There are many variations of this quote, and they will apply tomorrow.

      The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

      All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing.

      All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

      In order for `evil' to prevail, all that need happen is for `good' people to do nothing.

      And I would add that most of the Democratic senators who cower are good for nothings.

        Christine

      "It is time to look to the next horizon. For America, the hope is there. The sun is rising. Our best days are still to come."

      by jpschmid on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:04:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  those who didn't stop Hitler are worse than Hitler (none)
        ?  That wasn't the intent of the author of the quote, since it is patently untrue.  I could argue that such hyperbole is even worse, but I won't, since that isn't true either.  Here's my view:

        Worst: evil doers
        Not as bad: those who claim that the passive and appeasers are worse than the evil doers
        Not nearly as bad: the passive and appeasers
        Good: those who actively resist evil

        •  I disagree (none)
          Because as evil as they are, they are only a few people. Without those followers, they can do NOTHING.

          If nobody followed Hitler, he wouldn't have been able to do anything.

          There is a critical mass of followers. A few, and they have little power. A few more, and they can terrorize people and force them to do things. More, and they can take over.

          And then they come for us.

          Evil depends on people not believing what they're capable of until it's too late.

          The media has power. Exposing their lies and hypocrisy has power.

          There is more than one kind of media, they don't control all of them. They didn't in the Soviet Union, they didn't in China, and they don't now.

          •  we weren't talking about Hitler's followers (none)
            We were talking about good people doing nothing.
            So you're disagreeing with a strawman, and I can bow out of your private debate.
          •  Not Much Longer (none)
            You can delude the struggle by being so general as to cast too much blame at the passive mass of Americans. The problem is not so intractable.

            The quote I like is:

            "You kill the beast by cutting off its head."

            This allows us to focus on the target, it seems to me. The problem is not those pansy Democratic senators (who I agree should be widely derided), or our "blinded by the flag" compatriots, but rather the Administration which is whipping up hysteria to cover its tracks.

            It'll happen. We'll kick their asses out soon enough. Which brings me to my most favorite quote:

            "You can fool some of the people..."

            Iraq is deja vu all over again.

            by chuco35 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 08:20:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  not to mention (4.00)
      Republicans who will vote in lock step rather than on what's right -- there is NO SUCH THING as a "moderate" Republican in the final analysis.
    •  Torture Policy 2004 (none)
      Armando,

      More on the time frame.  The FBI memo that refers to Executive Order (ten times!) is dated May 22, 2004.   The agent said "We have also instructed our personnel not to participate in interrogations by military personnel which might include techniques authorized by Executive Order but beyond the bounds of standard FBI practice."

    •  Salazar's out (none)
      Newly elected democrat Ken Salazar introducing and urging the G-man's confirmation.

      Un-freakin' believable.  What a way to start your career.

      •  What Is This? (none)
        Some type of stupid, infantile, ethnic solidarity bullshit? I can't fucking believe it. SOB. After we supported and gave him money. AH. Tell me it ain't true.

        Iraq is deja vu all over again.

        by chuco35 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 08:26:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Do they have any typos on their resume? (4.00)
    Whenever I read how these monsters continue to fail upward, I try to imagine myself applying for a job with their resume.  

    Interviewer: So, Arthur, we found these essays on the internet advocating war crimes.

    Arthur: I think you'll find my marketing skills are really super fabulous!

    Interviewer: And, your background check revealed a number of business associates in countries the US has labeled the "Axis of Evil".

    Arthur: I believe in growth and expanding my horizons, and by the way my business deals have been highly profitable and created countless jobs.

    Interviewer: In these divorce papers, your ex-wife claimed you were a serial adulterer, you were addicted to both heroin and prescription drugs, and you beat her and tortured her little puppy.

    Arthur: My values are beyond reproach.  Let's talk about football.

    Interviewer: What's this about you writing for that angry liberal rag Daily Kos?

    Arthur: No comment

    Should I get the job?  Neither should they.

  •  And some wonder if the secrecy of this admin (none)

    is just because they don't like talking about work.

    These people have numerous policies they don't want the American people to know about. There is also the policy to destroy Social Security [which they are titling "saving" social security. See Josh Marshall.]

    The German SS was declared a criminal organization after Germany lost WW II because they had policies that the Bush administration's interrogation policies are beginning to resemble.

    I wonder what would happen if the UN began to investigate these American interrogation policies. The threat of that could explain the right-wing efforts to get Kofi Annan.

    Update: There are Lies, Damned Liars and FOX News.' Politics Plus Stuff

    by Rick B on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:04:02 PM PST

  •  Fucking Hubris (none)
    That's all it is. "We will do as we please, regardless of morals or effectiveness, and there is nothing anyone can do about it."

    This is disgusting. And what's more disgusting is the large number of Republicans who defend it. I'm embarrassed for my country.

  •  Old diary entry (4.00)
    Following on the previous point, the good news I took from Hersh's talk is that he doesn't think Gonzales will be confirmed, and it's going to turn on the testimony of as many as eight retired 1 and 2-star generals from the JAG Corps who are prepared to testify during the confirmation hearings that Gonzales torture memo was a complete cluster-fuck.

    One of Hersh's closing points was that BushCo is deleterious to the soul of America in a way that is much worse than the aftereffects of Vietnam. We have ceded our moral high ground, which will have disastrous foreign policy implications for decades to come. Of course, everyone here at DailyKos knew that long ago...

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/11/11/17491/694

    •  Thanks for the diary (none)
      and god I hope you (and Hersh) are right and the confirmation fails.
    •  They May Be prepared to testify (none)
      but unless someone calls them before the hearings it doesn't make any difference. Do any of the Ds on the committee have the balls to do that?
    •  Tortured nuns=moral values high ground (none)
      Why don't the gutless, clueless Dems call on Sister Ortiz (Survivors of Torture)to testify?  I mean come on!  You want to sieze the moral value issues?  Catholic nuns tortured by our buddies in Guatamala, under CIA supervision, during Papa Bush's term.  Show me ONE red state moral values person who will condone that!
  •  He will be confirmed (4.00)
    Everyone of the dems I have heard interviewed about this say they don't like him much, but that he will easily be confirmed.

    Many people are going to make alot of noise about him, but will the D.C. dems really go to the mat to publize his views on the torture, or will they just confirm him because they really don't have the power to stop him and so will give up without a fight.  that is what I want to know.

    It is the fighting part I am waiting to see.  Won't be holding my breath.

    •  I fear you are right (none)
      I spoke to Feinstein's LA office today and asked how she will vote. She said that DiFi hasn't made up her mind and is waiting to hear his answers in the hearings. I told her if she votes to confirm I will actively campaign against her after voting for her since she first ran in 92.

      Unless we get 7-10 Reps to jump ship he will be confirmed. We already know that a few of ours will vote to confirm out of "respect" for the President's choice.

    •  Me too (none)
      I see it as a test. If the Dems do not stand up against TORTURE, then I cannot see them ever voicing an opposition to anything.  If they have trouble finding a position on torture (as in, "its wrong!"), then I don't have a lot of faith in their future.  I know most Democrats voted for the Patriot Act, and for the War-I'm sick of holding my breath and hoping "maybe THIS will be when they begin to fight back," when it never seems to happen.

      Your silence will not protect you.

      by SairaLV on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:29:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  IDIOT DEMOCRATS (none)
      Gee, you'd think the Senate Democrats would be interested in finding an issue to fight in which they are so clearly on the right side that they're bulletproof.

      I guess standing up against torture that's documented by the nominee's own memos and hundreds of shocking photos and videos must look a little weak.

      They must be waiting for torture of nuns,small children, and cute furry animals.

  •  Alberto Gonzales and Cardinal Ximinez (4.00)
    Because NOBODY expects the Hispanic Inquisition!

    "All we have to fear is me." Punter 4:17

    by ex republican on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:27:42 PM PST

    •  OK I'm a (none)
      sucker for Monty Python references.  4 for you!

      P.S.  From Little Big Man:

      Custer (just before the Battle of Little Bighorn):
      "Nobody expects the attack without mercy!".  Too bad the results we're getting are so close to his.

      Social Security Piratization is Welfare for Wallstreet -
      CaliBlogger.com

      by CaliBlogger on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:40:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You may be more right than you know (4.00)
      Ratzinger emerges as top papal candidate
      Chief architect of Pope John Paul II's traditionalist moral policy, Cardinal Ratzinger, has emerged as the top papal candidate within the Vatican hierarchy, a media report has said.

      •  Predictions are worthless (none)
        JPII has been in office some 25 odd years, but none of the last four choices had been expected. Once in the Sistine Chapel "Enlightenment of the Holy Spirit" comes down on the congregation of cardinals. Free translation, there are mysterious ways in Rome, but don't chase rumors. Wait for the white smoke.

        In 2005 - Be Liberal, Be Free Especially Amongst Family And Friends

  •  He may well be confirmed (none)
    the numbers are there, of course, but not without the torture issue getting some play and attention.  There's something of a critical mass growing what with military leaders, JAG officers, partisan Dem organizations organizing around the torture question and Hersch.  

    I still remember Robert Bork, so I haven't completely abandoned hope.  

    It won't be a walk in the park for old Alberto, that's for sure, even if he is confirmed. And if he is confirmed, don't expect the issue of torture to just disappear.  It will remain close to the surface for the next four years, which is where it should be.  

    In a democratic society some are guilty, but all are responsible. -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

    by a gilas girl on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:28:48 PM PST

    •  I think a filibuster is in order (none)
      don't you?

      The Oval Office: Because there are no corners, there is nowhere to make the President sit when he has shamed the nation.

      by BooMan23 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 05:32:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you can't fillibuster a torture monger (none)
        who can you fillibuster?
      •  I'm not sure I do (none)
        It depends upon how much opposition to Gonzales there is out among the grassroots, as well as among the military elites.  

        I'm not certain that enough Americans really care that the guy advocates torture for it to merit a filibuster.  I'm still trying to assess that.  

        I'm of the school that Americans get the government they deserve, which is why I'm all for expressing the outrage, but don't know exactly how I feel about the filibuster step.  

        In a democratic society some are guilty, but all are responsible. -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

        by a gilas girl on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 11:48:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Before and after (4.00)
    1. THE AFTER PART: I listened to Democracy Now! today.  Goodman covered a new Vanity Fair article that shows that abuse continued at Abu Ghraib AFTER the disclosures (photos, etc.).  The writer interviewed several former Iraqi detainees.

    2. THE BEFORE PART:  "[Australian citizen] Mamdouh Habib was taken to the Guantanamo Bay prison in May 2002." (Washington Post)  OF NOTE:  Habib was tortured in Egypt for six months BEFORE going to Guantanamo in May 2002.

    Please see my just-posted diary The Australian's Rendition of Torture U.S.A.-Style for more background on this.

    Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

    by SusanHu on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:35:22 PM PST

    •  What i was trying to convey ... (none)

      in item 2) -- the BEFORE part -- is that Armando points out:

      Notice the time frame - late 2002.  It is hard to believe that it is a coincidence that Gonzales solicited, received and endorsed an irregular memo from the Justice Department in August 2002 advising that the President had unfettered power to do whatever he wanted with regard to interrogating "unlawful combatants."

      Well, the Australian's "rendition" to Egypt and six months of torture occurred BEFORE Gonzales solicited/received/endorsed the memo.

      Does THAT matter?

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:38:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't forget (4.00)
        That there Gonzales endorsed and signed a January 2002 memo advising the President that the Geneva Conventions did not apply.

        The August 2002 memo was necessary because someone remembered that Congress passed a LAW and they had to get out from under that and the UN Convention on Torture, which applies to all individuals, whether POWs or not.

        I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

        by Armando on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:43:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks, Armando ... (none)
          Just so I'm clear:  Is the existence of the memos necessary for the U.S. to use "torture"?  If there's no memo, what then?  (Sorry, this is somewhat new to me.)

          I checked the WaPo story again. It says: "U.S. authorities in late 2001 forcibly transferred an Australian citizen to Egypt, where, he alleges, he was tortured for six months before being flown to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay...."

          So, is the Jan. 2002 memo in time to cover their asses on this?

          And what about the rough abuse he endured in the fall of 2001?

          [WaPo again] On Oct. 5, 2001, Pakistani authorities seized Habib, and over three weeks, he asserts in a memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, three Americans interrogated him.

          The petition says he was taken to an airfield where, during a struggle, he was beaten by several people who spoke American-accented English. The men cut off his clothes, one placed a foot on his neck "and posed while another took pictures," the document says. [end WaPo quote}

          Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

          by SusanHu on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:56:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  If we can't beat a torture monger (none)
      we can't beat anybody.  Even the generals are on our side here, yet the Senate Dems decided to roll over on this issue months ago.  

      Guess they don't want to waste their "political capital."

      (As the steamroller of Republican "capital" shifts into high gear and rolls over them).

  •  With the exception of right wingers who served... (none)
    ...I think most right wingers will support him. Afterall, it isn't about torture, it's about protecting the U.S. Why don't you liberals want to protect America? ;)

    Alberto Gonzales isn't fit to be human, much less AG.

    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

    by Alumbrados on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:39:27 PM PST

    •  It's NOT about torture - There's a BIGGER Point (none)
      We miss the point in thinking that this issue is only about the horribleness of torture.  As Alumbrados suggests, there are plenty of regular Americans who will put up with, if not actively support, torturing suspected terrorists.  It's an extension of the idea that we need to act preemptively and agressively and that this is a "new" kind of war in which the old rules are outmoded.  Under this point of view, those of us who object to terror on humanitarian grounds are seen as the usual weak-minded and naive fringe.

      The broader and much more effective approach is to focus on 2 things:

      1. How ineffective torture is in getting good information- people will say anything to get you to stop-as most cops will tell you, and, MOST importantly,

      2. How the images of torture have fueled and wildly inflamed those who would do us and our soldiers harm, AND THOSE WHO WOULD OTHERWISE BE OUR FRIENDS.  

      The biggest threat to our winning the "War on Terror" is that the people we're trying to "help" will turn against us. These photos of toruture are the most tangible evidence in this entire war of how we lack moral authority, and call into question all of our motives. They destroy our image as the "good guys", and cement our image as the "bad guys" to millions of Iraqis and others throughout the MiddleEast.

      We need to get over our knee-jerk liberal framing of this issue, and understand that in order to win it, we must make the broader case that approving Gonzalez actually hurts the war on terror by losing the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi and other Islamic people.

      For my latest ATTACK AD OF THE DAY on how to properly frame this, go to:

      http://attackadoftheday.blogspot.com

      •  can we use this (4.00)
        Do you want to win the war on terror, or do you want to support the president?

        Because you can't have both.

      •  I hate to say it ... (none)
        How ineffective torture is in getting good information- people will say anything to get you to stop-as most cops will tell you ...

        I hate to say it, but I think this is the most important point as far as changing people's minds. People who think torture is simply unethical are already in line. It's the people who grudgingly -- or not-so-grudgingly -- believe that the ends justify the means that need to be swayed. If you point out that most professional interrogators realize that torture doesn't get useful information, then it makes no sense to use torture as part of your means. If you cut that part of the support out, all you have left are the people who support torture as a method of control-by-fear. Not too many people in the US approve of that and even fewer are willing to admit it.

        Proud member of the reality-based minority

        by Bearpaw on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 08:59:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Max (none)
    Thanks for the article, but I hate to tell you, we can't publish the whole article here. Pick out the key snippets and post a link.

    I'll wait for your report before I delete your comment. Sorry, but we got to do it.

    I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

    by Armando on Wed Jan 05, 2005 at 11:40:41 PM PST

  •  International Court Of Justice (none)
    Even though it wouldn't mean squat legally, why doesn't a country or group bring a complaint before the World Court in The Hague? Any violation of the geneva convention is to be brought before them. It might not have any standing here, but it would at least embarass the Administration.
    •  Good question (none)
      Even though Bush revoked Clinton's signature from ICC, and even though he and Gonzales decided to sidestep the "quaint" Geneva Conventions, there are violations of international and humanitarian laws.
      •  There's already a precedent (none)
        for doing this.

        Germany under Hitler resigned from international treaties in the 1930's much like Bush did in 2000. During the Nuremburg trials it was argued that indeed the international community still had jurisdiction to indict and sentence the war criminals of Germany since the treaties Germany had whithdrawn from were merely an extension of universally adopted laws of war.

        The same can be said about Bush's withdrawal from the ICC.

        I wrote a letter to the UN pointing this out.

        In my opinion the ICC should be viewed as the legal arm of the UN to enforce universally adopted laws of war.

        Restore Democracy!

        by high5 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 03:25:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  damn skippy, Armando (4.00)
    And the legal architect of that policy was Alberto Gonzales.

    And the "Gitmo-ization" extends to:

    AFGHANISTAN
    Disclosed
    --Collection Center at the U.S. Air Force Base in Bagram;
    --Detention facility in Kandahar; (an "intermediate" site, where detainees await transport to Bagram);
    --Approximately 20 "outlying transient sites" (used to hold detainees until they may be evacuated either to Kandahar or Bagram).

    Suspected
    Detention facilities in:

    Asadabad*
    Kabul*
    Jalalabad*
    Gardez*
    Khost*
    CIA interrogation facility at Bagram
    CIA interrogation facility in Kabul (known as "the Pit")

    These sites may be part of the approximately 20 "outlying transient sites."

    *GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA
    Disclosed
    -U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay

    IRAQ
    Disclosed
    --Abu Ghraib (near Baghdad);
    --Camp Cropper (near the Baghdad Airport;)
    --Camp Bucca (near Basra);
    --Nine facilities under division or brigade command

    Facilities run by military divisions:
    1st Infantry Division DIF (Tikrit)
    1st Marine Expeditionary Force DIF (Al Fallujah)
    1st Cavalry Division DIF (Baghdad)
    1st Armored Division DIF (Baghdad)
    Multi-National Division-South East (Az Zubayr)

    Facilities run by military brigades:
    Dayyarah West (Multi-National Brigade - North)
    Tal Afar (Multi-National Brigade - North)
    Al Hillah (Multi-National Division - Center South)
    Wasit (Multi-National Division - Center South)

    In addition, there are a number of "brigade holding areas in division sectors" where detainees may be held up to 72 hours before transfer to Division facilities.

    Ashraf Camp. Ashraf Camp is a detention facility for Mujahideen-E-Khalq (MEK), an Iraqi based organization seeking to overthrow the government in Iran. Ashraf Camp was disclosed as a detention site for MEK detainees in February 2004, but as of June 11, 2004, the Coalition Press Information Center (CPIC) refused to discuss the status or location of the MEK detainees.

    PAKISTAN
    Suspected
    --Kohat (near the border of Afghanistan) Alizai

    DIEGO GARCIA
    Suspected
    United States and United Kingdom officials deny repeated news reports indicating that at least some individuals are being detained on the British possession of Diego Garcia, including, at one time, the leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah, Hambali (Riduan Isamuddin).

    JORDAN
    Suspected
    --Al Jafr Prison (CIA interrogation facility)

    UNITED STATES
    Disclosed
    Naval Consolidated Brig (Charleston, South Carolina). This facility is where the U.S. Government is detaining at least three individuals as "enemy combatants": two U.S. citizens, Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, as well as a Qatari national residing in the United States, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri.

    Suspected
    U.S. Naval Ships: USS Bataan and USS Peleliu.

    Ending Secret Detentions, by Human Rights First. PDF.

    Let's not forget extraordinary rendition.

    "Extraordinary renditions" have been going on for years, and they may be continuing at the present time. Secret agents lie in wait, seize the target and bundle him onto a private jet that flies off to an unknown destination. This will be a country where the local police can torture the prisoner, a real or only alleged terrorist. From that moment, the target becomes a phantom, swallowed up by a network of secret jails scattered around the globe. The CIA has admitted to carrying out at least 70 such "extraordinary renditions" in the years leading up to September 11. In reality, the US intelligence agency has not stopped since. In some cases, it has managed to thwart serious attacks by neutralising dangerous individuals. In others, it has seized so-called potential terrorists, or simple activists. In no case was the seizure authorised by judges. Here are a few cases now documented by investigations and police reports, some in Italy.

    And it was so bad Ashcroft didn't know it? I guess this leaves the president and his attorney, Alberto Torquemada.

  •  I just wanted to echo a comment above (4.00)
    passing on my thanks for front paging this topic on a regular basis.  I hope media like this has helped create some momentum to resist the nomination.  The press hasn't been kind and there are indications that some legisltors will make a stink.  If this happens, then you and all who have kept this in the spotlight deserve a measure of credit for the disciplined message delivery.
  •  Gonzales' Opening Statement To The Senate... (none)
    ...Text of remarks by Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales, as prepared for delivery to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
    It is the highest honor of my professional career to appear before you today as the president's nominee to be attorney general of the United States. I owe a debt of deep gratitude to the president for the trust he has placed in me.

    I also want to thank Senator Cornyn for his kind introduction, and for his many years of friendship. Ken Salazar was sworn in as a United States senator just two days ago. Thank you senator for your willingness to extend your hand of friendship across the political aisle to introduce me today. Although Senator Hutchison could not be with us today, I appreciate her many years of support as well.

    My family is critical to any measure of success I have had, and if I may, I'd like to introduce them to you now. My wife Rebecca _ thank you, Becky, for your unfailing support. I am immensely proud of our sons, they are hear today: Jared, Graham and Gabriel.

    I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the support and sacrifices of my parents _ my late father Pablo, and my mother, Maria. My mother is here this morning, as is my brother Tony _ a 20-year veteran of the Houston Police Department. A person could not even begin the journey from Humble, Texas, to the White House to this hearing without the foundation of a fine family, and I want to acknowledge their love and support.

    Mr. Chairman, the highest objective of the Department of Justice is the pursuit of justice. This noble objective _ justice _ is reflected in human terms in the hopeful eyes of a new citizen, voting for the first time; in the quiet gratitude of a victim of crime whose rights have been vindicated in the courts; and in the pride of a person given the opportunity to succeed, no matter the skin color, or gender, or disability. For justice, properly understood, cannot in my view be divorced from the individual. It always has a human dimension and if confirmed as attorney general, I pledge that I will always remember that.

    If confirmed as attorney general, I will no longer represent only the White House; I will represent the United States of America and its people. I understand the differences between the two roles. In the former, I have been privileged to advise the president and his staff. In the latter, I would have a far broader responsibility: to pursue justice for all the people of our great nation; to see that the laws are enforced in a fair and impartial manner for all Americans.

    Wherever we pursue justice _ from the war on terror to corporate fraud to civil rights _ we must always be faithful to the rule of law. I want to make very clear that I am deeply committed to the rule of law. I have a deep and abiding commitment to the fundamental American principle that we are a nation of laws, and not of men. That commitment is the core principle that has guided all of my professional endeavors.

    Our government's most basic obligation is to protect its citizens from enemies who would destroy their lives and our nation's way of life. The Department of Justice's top priority is to prevent terror attacks against our nation.

    As we fight the war on terror, we must always honor and observe the principles that make our society so unique and worthy of protection. We must be committed to preserving civil rights and civil liberties. I look forward if I am confirmed to working with the committee, the Congress and the public to ensure that we are doing all we can to do so. Although we may have differences from time to time, we all love our country and want to protect it while remaining true to our nation's highest ideals. Working together, we can accomplish that goal.

    After the attacks of 9/11, our government had fundamental decisions to make concerning how to apply treaties and U.S. law to an enemy that does not wear a uniform, owes no allegiance to any country, is not a party to any treaties and _ most importantly _ does not fight according to the laws of war. As we have debated these questions, the president has made clear that he is prepared to protect and defend the Untied States and its citizens, and will do so vigorously, but always in a manner consistent with our nation's values and applicable law, including our treaty obligations. I pledge that, if I am confirmed as attorney general, I will abide by those commitments.

    Chairman Specter, if I may add a personal note, I want to congratulate you for your chairmanship of this important committee, and I look forward if confirmed to the many occasions we will discuss the important issues facing our country in the months and years ahead. Senator Hatch, I want to thank you for your dedicated service as chairman of this committee, for the good working relationship we have enjoyed, and for all the many kindnesses you have shown me personally. I appreciate the good working relationship I've enjoyed with Senator Leahy during my tenure as counsel to the president. I know him to be a person of good will and dedication and I have great confidence that, if I'm fortunate enough to be confirmed, we will build on that as we reach across the aisle to work together to serve the American people.

    Mr. Chairman, it is a distinct honor to appear before the committee today. I appreciate the time and attention that members of the committee and their staffs have dedicated to this hearing and to consideration of my nomination. And I look forward to answering your questions not just at this hearing, but if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, in the months and years ahead as we work together in the noble and high calling of the pursuit of justice.

    •  So , , , , (4.00)
      The White House was for torture therefore so was I.  Now that I work for the American people, who oppose torture, I'm against it.

      Is that what he is saying?

      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

      by Armando on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 12:24:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish Salazar (none)
        would call him a "sell-out".

        What is the word for Yanqui sympathizer?

        The Oval Office: Because there are no corners, there is nowhere to make the President sit when he has shamed the nation.

        by BooMan23 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 05:26:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •   Questions (none)
      If confirmed as attorney general, I will no longer represent only the White House; I will represent the United States of America and its people.

      The AG still serves at the pleasure of the President.  The members of the White House staff, serve and represent the people of the USA through their service to the President. Are you saying that you have not been representing the people of the USA before this or are you suggesting that the President does not represent the people of the USA?

      commitment to the fundamental American principle that we are a nation of laws, and not of men

      In some memo's you wrote you basically said that the President was a law unto himself:  Are you suggesting that the President is not a man?  Or that he is just a law?  Can we repeal him then?

      The Department of Justice's top priority is to prevent terror attacks against our nation.

      People who promote torture are endangering and eventually harming our troops.

      People who harm our troops are our troops are anti-American.

      American torture is creating more terrorists.

      More terrorists means more chances for them to 'get one through' and as Rummy said, 'They only need one.'

      More terrorists means that there are more likely to be successful terrorist attacks.  Thus he has been working against America all these years.  

      Torture is ineffective for getting reliable information, but if you just want to hear what you have already determined to be true, then it is effective. (Something that this administration seems to enjoy.)

      There are proven alternatives to physical and mental torture to get collaboration. (For example: Chinese treatment of POW's in Korea.  There are many lessons that can be learned from the consistency mechanism highlighted there, including understanding the frustrating behavior of our conservative bretheren who refuse to listen the facts.)

      Thus, you have promoted policies that have been against your stated goals of preventing terrorist attacks in your opening remarks.  Even though you made the mental gymnastics to justify torture at the President's request, these attempts have placed America at greater risk.

    •  SCHEDULED TO TESTIFY GONZALES HEARINGS (4.00)
      Three administration critics to testify on Gonzales confirmation

      Harold Hongju Koh, dean of the Yale Law School, who served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor from 1998 to 2001.

      Retired Admiral John D. Hutson, one of 12 high-ranking retired officers who signed a letter sent Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee to express "deep concern" about the role Gonzales played in crafting administration policy on questioning detainees.

      Douglas Johnson, executive director of the Center For Victims of Torture in Minneapolis.

    •  Top Priority? (none)
      "The Department of Justice's top priority is to prevent terror attacks against our nation."

      I thought that the top priority of the Justice Dept. was to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States? Am I wrong? I may be if so let me know.
      Also I did not hear him mention the Constitution one time!

  •  Thanks to Armando, Danner article in NY Times (4.00)
    First, much thanks to Armando for continuing to write on this issue and front page it.

    There are a couple good articles in tomorrow's NY Times on this issue, one by Dowd, another by Mark Danner entitled We Are All Torturers Now.

    Danner is the author of "Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror."  

    Here are a three key excerpts from Danner's Times piece:

    In the next few days we are likely to hear how Mr. Gonzales recommended strongly, against the arguments of the secretary of state and military lawyers, that prisoners in Afghanistan be denied the protection of the Geneva Conventions. We are also likely to hear how, under Mr. Gonzales's urging, lawyers in the Department of Justice contrived - when confronted with the obstacle that the United States had undertaken, by treaty and statute, to make torture illegal - simply to redefine the word to mean procedures that would produce pain "of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure." By this act of verbal legerdemain, interrogation techniques like water-boarding that plainly constituted torture suddenly became something less than that.

    Danner notes that, even though this nominee for Attorney General of the United States sanctioned torture,

    ...what we are unlikely to hear, given the balance of votes in the Senate, are many voices making the obvious argument that with this record, Mr. Gonzales is unfit to serve as attorney general. So let me make it: Mr. Gonzales is unfit because the slow river of litigation is certain to bring before the next attorney general a raft of torture cases that challenge the very policies that he personally helped devise and put into practice. He is unfit because, while the attorney general is charged with upholding the law, the documents show that as White House counsel, Mr. Gonzales, in the matter of torture, helped his client to concoct strategies to circumvent it. And he is unfit, finally, because he has rightly become the symbol of the United States' fateful departure from a body of settled international law and human rights practice for which the country claims to stand.

    Danner concludes:

    By using torture, we Americans transform ourselves into the very caricature our enemies have sought to make of us. True, that miserable man who pulled out his hair as he lay on the floor at Guantánamo may eventually tell his interrogators what he knows, or what they want to hear. But for America, torture is self-defeating; for a strong country it is in the end a strategy of weakness. After Mr. Gonzales is confirmed, the road back - to justice, order and propriety - will be very long. Torture will belong to us all.

    This nomination is eating me up inside, because Danner is right.  We all own this.  America's chief law enforcement officer is set to be a guy who organized the torture of hundreds, if not thousands of other human beings.  The evidence is all right there.  

    Every time I read a comment or another article on this I feel a mixture of shock, revulsion and disbelief.  This is our country?  I just keep saying, "I can't believe it."  I can't believe this guy did this.  I can't believe it.  I can't believe that our Senate is set to confirm him.  I can't believe Schumer is so comfortable with it.  I know it sounds naive, but I just can't believe that our country is going to do this.

  •  Unfortunately, (none)
    The republicans dont care how vile their guy is, as long as he is Republican.

    Question: When does Congress meet to confirm the Ohio Electors???

  •  Tony Auth (4.00)

    At least there's no Bush eulogy on why they had to die. It's better that they're laid to rest without another lie. CTrillin

    by EastFallowfield on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 04:00:36 AM PST

    •  From the two guys on the right (none)
      you would never know that Phil Gramm and Alphonse D'Amato are retired.

      The Oval Office: Because there are no corners, there is nowhere to make the President sit when he has shamed the nation.

      by BooMan23 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 05:01:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Andrew Sullivan (none)
    Andrew Sullivan vigorously condemns the torture in his blog today.  He essentially comes out against Gonzales's confirmation.  I wonder if this could have any effect on Republican senators.
  •  Advice to Gonzales (none)
    Mr. Gonzales --

    In case you are reading this, here's a little advice for today's confirmation hearings.

    First, start off with a few jokes. That always lightens the mood.

    You know, how many Iraqis does it take to plug in a light bulb...take my black torture hood, please...did you hear the one about the pile of naked Iraqis?

    Jokes are always a good ice breaker.

    Then a story. Something uplifting -- like the time you decided that the Geneva Conventions were quaint. So what if a few innocent A-rabs get tortured, right?

    That always brings down the house.

    At this point, you'll have the crowd in the palm of your hand.

    Then, you'll promise to abide by the law, you love this country, George Bush is a resolute leader, yada yada yada.

    Don't forget to play the race card -- throw in some of that immigrant shit. Congress LOVES the immigrant shit. In fact, throw in some Spanish like Bush does.

    This stuff is GOLD, Alberto. GOLD I tell you.

    You can't lose.

  •  Why does the GOP (none)
    corrupt our negroes?

    "The L.A. Times reviewed the disclosures of all nine justices for the years 1998 through 2003 and found that "Thomas accepted $42,200 in gifts, making him the top recipient. Next in that period was Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who accepted $5,825 in gifts, mostly small crystal figurines and other items."-Maureen Dowd

    Make the wetback order the electrodes and give him some $$,

    I'm so tired of this shit.

    SO tired.

    The Oval Office: Because there are no corners, there is nowhere to make the President sit when he has shamed the nation.

    by BooMan23 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 04:45:59 AM PST

  •  what about impeaching bush? (4.00)
    if you're going to oppose gonzalez, senators and generals, then you must oppose bush openly and publicly and call for his impeachment. you can't get away with this spin that bush was simply misadvised. whatever PR was in the memos, it is undeniable bush was the one who pushed for legal cover on torture by pushing for no geneva convention. i believe bush's conduct here constitutes a clear "high crime or misdemeanor"- he conspired against our legal system. it's 1000 times worse than playing word games about sex.
    •  I'd be all for it (none)
      but rule number one in impeachments is that you don't start them if you have no chance of winning them.

      I know the GOP violated this rule, but it wound up distrating our President at a critical time.

      Investigate and build the case.  But the case has to be really strong, Nixon strong, before talk of impeachment makes sense.

      The Oval Office: Because there are no corners, there is nowhere to make the President sit when he has shamed the nation.

      by BooMan23 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 04:50:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You missed the snark n/t (none)

      The Oval Office: Because there are no corners, there is nowhere to make the President sit when he has shamed the nation.

      by BooMan23 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 05:02:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  the smoking gun (none)
      Let's not forget the other bombshell on the ACLU site, the one that seems to have gotten no play in the media: the memo that says there is an Executive Order signed by Bush that authorizes specific acts of torture. Why isn't anyone the Senate or House (or op ed pages) demanding that the White House to confirm or deny this?
    •  The problem with impeaching Bush... (none)
      The problem with impeaching Bush is: President Cheney.
  •  Oregonian Editorial (none)
    I am sending this to both of my Senators.
    Bush's legacy and the law
    Gonzales may be worse than John Ashcroft, but Bush's appointments to the federal judiciary matter even more
    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    A lberto Gonzales, best known for those pro-torture memos, will succeed John Ashcroft as the nation's attorney general if he makes it through the Senate confirmation hearings that start Thursday. He is an abysmal choice. However, his appointment would be temporary -- unlike President Bush's appointments to the federal judicial bench, which last a lifetime.

    The Senate should rigorously question Gonzales and proceed accordingly. But senators should reserve their highest level of scrutiny for Bush's judicial nominees. The weakest choices must be rejected or filibustered. Though most federal judges have a lower profile than the U.S. attorney general, they have greater long-term influence as a group: When the Bush administration is long gone, these judges will be sitting in their black robes, protected by lifetime appointments and issuing binding opinions.

    -Snip-

    In 2002, Gonzales wrote a memo to Bush saying the war on terrorism "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." He also appeared to have an oversight role in a Justice Department memo that relaxed long-accepted legal and moral definitions of torture.

    Shortly thereafter, the world learned about abuses of detainees under American control at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere. Such abuses seem inevitable when an administration spends more time working around the laws than upholding the rule of law.

    In brief: Senators have myriad reasons to reject Gonzales, even if he holds up under questioning. But the real battles in 2005 should be over lifetime judges, not temporary political appointments.

    The Senate confirmed more than 200 federal judges during Bush's first term, most of whom were clear conservatives. Ten of Bush's nominees got rejected, however -- typically, for being both extremist and poorly qualified, rather than just one or the other.

    Bush has resubmitted the names of his rejected nominees; he wants total victory, not 95 percent. Some Senate Republican leaders want to change the rules so 41 senators can no longer block a judicial confirmation. This could get very ugly, especially if a Supreme Court justice retires.

    If that happens, Bush is likely to nominate Gonzales -- his loyal attorney general -- to the Supreme Court. That's when a bad political appointment becomes a judicial disaster.


    Link

    "The mark of leadership is not to standup when everybody is standing, but rather to actually standup when no one else is standing."
    Wesley Clark

    "The people don't want leaders who identify with them. They want leaders who they identify with. It's a fine, but important distinction."
    The Rude Pundit

    "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." --Thomas Paine

    by BOHICA on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 04:51:55 AM PST

  •  Fool no longer (none)
    "In short, we need these elections in Iraq to see if there really is a self-governing community there ready, and willing, to liberate itself - both from Iraq's old regime and from us. The answer to this question is not self-evident. This was always a shot in the dark - but one that I would argue was morally and strategically worth trying.

    Because if it is impossible for the peoples of even one Arab state to voluntarily organize themselves around a social contract for democratic life, then we are looking at dictators and kings ruling this region as far as the eye can see. And that will guarantee that this region will be a cauldron of oil-financed pathologies and terrorism for the rest of our lives.

    What is inexcusable is thinking that such an experiment would be easy, that it could be done on the cheap, that it could be done with any old army and any old coalition and any old fiscal policy and any old energy policy. That is the foolishness of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. My foolishness was thinking they could never be so foolish." Tom Friedman

    Mine too.  But I'm not so foolish anymore, Tom, why are you still grasping at straws?

    The Oval Office: Because there are no corners, there is nowhere to make the President sit when he has shamed the nation.

    by BooMan23 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 04:56:30 AM PST

  •  W didn't just "happen to" pick Gonzales. (4.00)
    Gonzales isn't one of those nominees about whom some embarrassing facts emerged, like Kerick. Gonzales is Bush's lawyer, his employee, and, yes, his lackey. In mid-2002, the Administration needed a convenient legal opinion to justify its actions, and charged its lawyer to produce one. Lawyers are faced with such questions all the time. Depending on the issue and their personal ethics, they either do or don't comply, and when they do, what they come up with is often what we all know as "loopholes" in the law. As in this case, that sometimes amounts to nothing more than reading the law in such a way that the illegal becomes legal, or at least not a crime. One of the most notorious uses of such lawyers was by the Mafia. The reason Bush wants him as AG is because Gonzales is willing and able to be used as Bush needs him.

    We have no idea whether Gonzales is "for" or "against" torture; he probably never ordered it nor did it himself. We do know that his employer is for torture (and other high crimes and misdemeanors), and either ordered it or at least formally condoned it. Gonzales is unethical, and thus unfit to be AG and should be blocked. But Bush, Gonzales' employer, is a criminal. And a criminal is unfit to be President of the U.S., and should be impeached.

    The Fish Stinks from the Head Down - Impeach Bush!

  •  Dear Democrats (none)
    we have had the Reichstag Fire, the indefinite detention and torture of religious minorities, and we have had a lawless war of aggression based on lies.

    How much further do you want to go down this road in the name of "working together"?

    The Oval Office: Because there are no corners, there is nowhere to make the President sit when he has shamed the nation.

    by BooMan23 on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 05:39:12 AM PST

    •  Working together. HA. (none)
      I hear you loud and clear. I can't stand all the senatorial "spirit of bipartisanship" bullshit.

      If the Dems today don't stand up and support Conyers, and reject Gonzales, I'd say it's beyond hope.

      The Republicans will NOT work with the Dems. Won't happen.

      What we MAY get is the appearance of working together, but we get fu*ked in the end. Look at the Save-Delay's-Butt rule.

      Democrats gain nothing by "working together." And they fall for it time after time.

      And while I'm at it, this is exactly why we DON'T need any conservative red-state-winning Dems on our side. They only help Bush because they won't stand with the liberals/progressives on Social Security or abortion or whatever.

      It's time to fold the big tent. It's time for a united opposition party.

      Until we get it, I'll vote Dem (or Green or Liberatarian, which I've never done in my life), but my money's on Repub every time.

  •  Do Americans care about this? (none)
    Ultimately, the Gonzales confirmation hearing rests on whether or not sufficient numbers of Americans are offended by the torture allegations. Most of us here do care and we see the harm done to our country's reputation and world standing. But frankly, I just don't think most Americans feel the same. I find that there's very little sympathy or compassion for the prisoners' situation and that there are probably more who feel that we're being too soft as feel the opposite. More than anything, this explains the reluctance of most Democratic senators to fight Gonzales's nomination. If there's no grassroots public demand on an issue, we shouldn't be all that surprised that our representatives aren't going to the mat on this one.

    By the way, I found it interesting, and perhaps reflective of the kind of senator he will be, that Ken Salazar testified yesterday in support of Gonzales. For those who were thinking that Salazar would be a new liberal hero, you may want to rethink that.  

  •  bad enough for the lawyers amongst us (none)
    but this guy tempted, corrupted and ruined the doctors, too, as you point out.

    Army Doctors Implicated in Abuse
    Medical Workers Helped Tailor Interrogations of Detainees, Article Says

    Primum non nocere? Not under Gonzales. This is horrifying. How can anyone vote for tthis guy?

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 05:50:57 AM PST

    •  the New England Journal of Medicine (none)
      where this is published, is as establishment and mainstream as it gets, by the way. These are Bush's allies on tort reform.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 05:57:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Boykin rides again... (none)
    Two years later, the frustration among F.B.I. agents had grown. Another agent sent a colleague an e-mail message saying he had seen reports that a general from Guantánamo had gone to Abu Ghraib to "Gitmo-ize" it.

    The Same General Boykin?

    It has the potential to be a public relations nightmare buried within a public relations nightmare: one of the major players in the Iraqi prison abuse scandal, it now appears, was the same general almost fired last year for describing the war on terror as a clash between Judeo-Christian values and Satan.

    According to testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, and new reporting from the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the prison abuse scandal grew out of a decision to give greater influence to the Defense Intelligence unit, led by Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence--and his deputy, Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin.

    Boykin made headlines last fall when it was revealed he had made numerous statements suggesting that America, as a Christian nation, is engaged in a battle against idolatrous Muslims. Enemies like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus," Boykin said during an Oregon church gathering last year....

    ...There is still much to be learned about Boykin's role in the current scandal, including the pivotal question of whether his anti-Muslim views may have made him more prone to dehumanizing Muslim prisoners. What is already clear, however, is that Boykin's evangelical supporters now find themselves in an awkward position. They have supported Boykin steadfastly but are wary about defending prisoner torture.

    Here is what is known so far about Boykin's role in the prison abuse scandal: He is a main strategist for Cambone, who oversees a secret program with the goal of capturing and interrogating terrorism targets. According to an article by Seymour Hersh in the current New Yorker, the unit brought "unconventional methods" to Abu Ghraib as a way of getting better  information about Iraqi insurgents....

    ...So far, Christian leaders are standing by Boykin.

    "A lot of our people are just so tired of hearing about that whole situation, especially now that we've seen [the beheading of Nicholas Berg]," Michele Ammons, spokeswoman for the Christian Coalition, said last week. "I think it's time to get over it. And that's what I'm hearing."

    Ammons, who said evangelical leaders have been consumed primarily with the gay marriage debate, added that the Christian Coalition would keep an online petition in support of Boykin on its  homepage....

    Grizzlebee's: You'll wish you had less fun.

    by sendtoscott on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 06:04:11 AM PST

  •  Texas Executions (none)
    Should not Gonzales' role in the execution spree Bush was on as governor of Texas be examined?  His work was as slipshod and indefensible as it was in the Kerik vetting.
  •  One more time... (none)
    Torture is and has been the policy of the Bush Administration.

    Alberto Gonzales was at the heart of justifying that illegal, ineffective, immoral policy.  He is, from his behavior in this case and in writing the execution memos, an unprincipled hack whose only significant loyalty is to Duhbya personally.  This should disqualify him from any governmental office.

    Of course, by this already minimal standard, Duhbya would have a hard time picking a cabinet, since all he apparently looks for is personal loyalty.

  •  gambling is going on... (4.00)
    I don't really have anything pithy to add to the myriad of excellent comments posted just above.

    Whereas Kos shows an endearing pugnaciousness in his posts, Armando, you appear to be genuinely surprised that (to quote a line) "gambling is going on in this establishment."

    Of course, that Nazi bastard will be confirmed, and of course the Dems will bleet as the emasculated, token opposition party they have become and are fated to remain.

    The war on fascism in this country is lost for a generation; the only hope for change is, itself, a catastrophic series of events (economic collapse etc) that will kick the American electorate where it hurts.

    America needs to hurt to change its ways.

    •  your cynicism strays in to naievite on a regular (none)
      basis these days. No lawyer worth his salt turns his back on the Rule of Law lightly, nor should it ever be anything but surprising when one does. Nor should it be surprising that, as disappointing as things are that the remnants of the reagan coalition won their last gasp election, everyone doesn't share your level of doom and gloomn, which would be hard to match.

      Turn on CSPAN and enjoy the theatre.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 07:18:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  if you can't (none)
        then tune in here.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 07:22:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Naive, moi? (4.00)
        Slightly over two years ago, around the time of the 2002 elections, I was among the first on Billmon's and here to utter the "F" (fascist) word, and at the time I was in a tiny, tiny minority, being called a doomsayer, a pessimist, etc, etc.

        This establishes that (1) my "doom and gloom" is not recent; and (2) so far I've been proven right.

        No offense meant, but the naivete here is squarely on your side.  Kos' site has been, generally, a glorious monument to the naivete, disappointment and crushed optimism of the American Left, from Arnold's California Victory to Black Tuesday.

        You guys continually expect better of the American Public, you think you can win, you think anything bad that comes to light is shocking and outrageous.

        I don't.  And I never did.  I squarely assessed in 2002 that a reasonably significant majority of the American Public had, in effect, turned neo-fascistic and everything else would follow logically.

        It has.

        I do believe that, given a decade or so, and a massive depression, the pendulum will swing again, so don't worry, I do not forecast a Thousand-Year Reich.

        But in the neantime, your battles are hopeless.  Where the true battle is, is not in Washington (it may even arguably be better long-term strategy to let the fascists have their sway for the moment rather than hold back the chaos) but in the hearts and minds of America.

        •  I'll take my view of things over yours (none)
          and not lose a moment's sleep. I go back to the 60's and I've heard it before. It's an old battle on the left, and always a worthy tussle (keeps both sides honest). I do have more faith in Americans than you do. Lincoln was right about fooling the people.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 07:50:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah, yes, but still (4.00)
            the Democrats are so incredibly disappointing. It is hard to keep up my hope when they continually capitulate with hardly a whimper.
            •  yes, the anatomic improbabilites are both endless (none)
              and entertaining. Spineless, gutless, testicle-less...

              "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

              by Greg Dworkin on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 09:36:05 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Well who would take a (none)
            rosy scenario over a bleak one?  Reality sucks!  That's why both parties are running on faith based fumes.  The ones with all the power keeps promising nirvana -- peace and prosperity is right around the corner -- pay no mind to our growing economic instability and debt and the wars we started and that are not going well, those are merely short-term problems.  The ones with no power do nothing more than try to hatch clever tricks that will get them some power back.  Yahoo, let's run a conservative GWB suck-up for VP -- let's beg him to join us -- that sure makes us look strong and have principles and convictions.  Hey, I know, let's run a Republican as a DEM for POTUS -- someone who reveres Reagan (and will get the "Reagan Democrats" back even though most of them are now pushing up the daisies along with Ronnie) -- someone who can say,And thank God Ronald Reagan had the vision to start that.  And like really likes the GOP, And I'm very glad we've got the great team in office: men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condolzeezza Rice, Paul O'Neill--people I know very well--our president, George W. Bush. We need them there, because we've got some tough challenges ahead in Europe.  (Well, maybe a bit short on this vision thing in 2001 for highlighting the challenges ahead as being in Europe.)

            Lupin is right -- we are no longer on the periphery of the wasteland.  We are now lost in it, comforting ourselves with mirages.  GWB has now earned "political capital" and he "intends to use it."  Considering how much he accomplished with no political capital in the past four years, how any one can not expect even worse to come.  The Democratic establishment is now trying to figure out how to take away rights from women, gays and AA without our notice.  Completely lost and only marching right.

            Lupin in right -- this country will not wake up until the economy that has made most Americans, fat, lazy and smug crumbles enough that they begin to hurt.  If the GOP is lucky the "meltdown" will be slow and incremental, allowing people plenty of time to adjust to lower expectations and forget what used to be or the realistic dreams they had.  Nobody will blame them for anything -- And if they are really smart they will keep propping up the Democratic Party and those that they can effectively diddle and control to remain in charge of it (facism always works better when the people aren't deprived of their religions -- better for the state to merley control those religions).  

            •  heard it before... (none)
              ...wasn't true then, either. Not completely, anyway (there's always elements). When you lose a close one, the world (and country) always looks bleaker than it is.

              "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

              by Greg Dworkin on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 02:19:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Bleak House (none)
                I turned 50 last June (born '54), Dem.  It hasn't been that bleak during my lifetime, IMHO.  Can't speak about the Red Scare tho.

                Not being a time traveler, I can't really KNOW what went on, but to me today feels like the 1900-1914 period must have been like, rather than the 1920s.  I feel some big collapse coming.

                With all the sincerity I can muster, I hope I'm wrong.  But I don't want to bet on it.

                •  being incredibly older than you (none)
                  (like by a month or two) makes all the difference, I guess! ;-)

                  It was worse in '72 even though I was from MA at the time.

                  "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

                  by Greg Dworkin on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 04:41:49 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Fritz vs Bruce (none)
                    June '54, that's me.

                    Sad, isn't it? We've come full circle, two old farts arguing about degrees of evil.  :-)

                    My recollection of '72 (SOCAL) is that the opposition was palpable, active and, I don't know, more effective perhaps?  

                    Correct me if I err on dates, but we had demonstrations, Nixon was (arguably) starting to feel beleaguered, Agnew too... There was a Peace Movement...

                    And speaking of Tricky Dicky, the guy was Mother Teresa compared to the current crew... Vietnam notwithstanding, there was the EPA, the opening of China...

                    This is not a right/wrong issue; you've got your perceptions; I've got mine. But me, I look upon '72 through rose-tinted glasses, for sure, I was 18.  Hey, wasn't that when Fritz the Cat was going trekking through America ? :-)  Today, we got Dark Knight beating the crap out of his enemies.

                    •  LOL ya think? (none)
                      McGovern was annihilated in the election. Nixon was the. worst. ever... at the time. Agnew had not yet gotten himself indicted. The draft was in place. And yet, in restrospect it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time, you say.

                      My point, exactly.

                      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

                      by Greg Dworkin on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 05:20:02 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

        •  Lupin You're Correct (4.00)
          Isn't this all very depressing?

          The USA is conducting an illegal colonial war that it can't win paid for by increasing the federal debt. Acting like a pale depraved ghost of the SS conducting half-assed torture captured by artsy Robert Mapplethorpe S&M photos that are published throughout the world. Conducted a mini Warsaw ghetto in Fallujah, and wonders why the Iraqi insurrection continues to swell.

          At home, the President doesn't hear bad news. The Democrats in a fierce battle of Bipartisanship do not contest the appointment of the author of the memo "Politically Correct Methods to Torture Muslims".

          Worse, 51% of Americans endorsed the President and the war. Reality bites back. The bubble bursts. When and who feels the fall out are the only questions.

  •  Leahy gets it (none)
    Sen. Leahy asking some (not all) of the right questions of Gonzalez. Let's hope this give courage to the other panel members to keep this line of questioning going forward. Although i'd assume that Rethugs have already planned to counter this line with enough softball stuff to keep Gonzalez from going completely off the rails.

    Good stuff, so far.......

    To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it

    by meade on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 07:28:47 AM PST

  •  Your new Inquisitor-General (none)

    Alberto de Torquemada  

    "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." --Thomas Paine

    by BOHICA on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 07:45:25 AM PST

  •  What else is bad (none)
    Jay Hood, the Army general just tapped to investigate, has already said (shorter version),
    "I don't think things were really that bad at Gitmo."

    "There is no god, and I am his prophet."

    by steverino on Thu Jan 06, 2005 at 07:45:51 AM PST

  •  Roosevelt execution of German spies (none)
    In a lame effort to bolster Gonzales' role in carrying out Bush administration treatment of prisoners, a Republican senator said that German spies were caught on American soil and were ordered executed by President Roosevelt out of the public eye.  Hurray for our side.  But no one has since put forth the following question:  Did Roosevelt torture them before their execution?

    I think not.

    •  Execution though is pretty harsh (none)
      Even if we didn't torture the Germans, I wouldn't call executing them some great humanitarian improvement. Your argument has a little of the ring of those who argue whether it's better to die by flood or fire. Myself, I'd pick old age.
  •  Number of Prison Abuse Cases (none)
    For those who think that the prisoner abuse allegations only cover a few isolated cases, you may find this report a bit of an eye-opener.  This is from the report of the "Independent Panel to Review DOD Detention OPerations chaired by James Schlesinger (among its three other panel members was former Carter Administration Secretary of Defense Harold Brown) (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2004/d20040824finalreport.pdf):

    "Since the beginning of hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. military and security operations have apprehended about 50,000 individuals. From this number, about 300 allegations of abuse in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo have arisen. As of mid-August 2004, 155 investigations into the allegations have been completed, resulting in 66 substantiated cases. Approximately one-third of these cases occurred at the point of capture or tactical collection point, frequently under uncertain, dangerous and violent circumstances."

    •  To Sen. Kennedy at the Hearings -- Thank You! (4.00)
      Dear Senator Kennedy,

      Thank you for your representing the will of the people in going after answers from Alberto Gonzales.  I was so proud and moved by your stand today, it brought tears to my eyes.

      Maybe you remember a mental health facility in Masssachusetts called "Bridgewater."  A film of Bridgewater was made, I think it was called "Titticut Follies."  It exposed the abuses going on in one type of detention facility, and as a result, that place was closed down.

      If the abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib are an indication of what treatment of detainees is like when covered by the Geneva Conventions, it is staggering to imagine what might be allowed when those treaties are not applied.

      You are right.  Torture is going on today.  Ghosting detainees to countries where torture is practiced is happening today.  This is a violation of the Conspiracy to Commit Torture, a part of the Patriot Act, and also against the Anti-Torture Act.

      Alberto Gonzales has not answered questions about his part in the torture policy that was developed beginning in October of 2001 and continuing even until May of 2004, if the FBI email recently released by the ACLU is to be believed.  It refers to Executive Order ten times.   It says that interrogation techniques in place were too extreme to be considered lawful for the FBI but were authorized by the President.

      Last week in the news an interrogator said that new interrogators on arrival to Guantanamo were told, "Welcome to Guantanamo, Geneva Conventions do not apply here."

      The "torture" memos were requested by Gonzales.

      Torture policies were developed by the DoD and the CIA on the advice of Gonzales.  He sat in on a meeting in July of 2002 discussing torture techniques with Addington, Yoo, Haynes, and two other lawyers.  This, too, was a Conspiracy to Commit Torture.

      Likewise treating detainees "humanely within military necessity", outside of Geneva Convention, was advice given to the President by Gonzales.  Many people think this is the legal loophole that allowed torture to happen.

      Colin Powell was right in his warning about the lashback of those policies.  Taft was right in his objections.  The soldiers that resisted taking part in abuse were right.  The people who have reported it are right.  And you are right, to press for answers.  No matter what the result of this confirmation hearing, there must be a congressional inquiry into the ongoing detainee abuse issue.  The Muslim world, and the international community are not going to be satisfied that the United States has any moral authority.  A corrupt house cannot examine itself.

      Last week 19 former attorneys with the Office of Legal Council sent a letter to that office on how the OLC should operate.  In effect it was an explicit point-by-point indictment of how Gonzales failed in that job.  If, at any point during these hearings you should get brain weary, maybe you could take out that letter and interrogate Mr. Gonzales point by point.

      God Bless You,

      A.W.

      emailed to Sen. Kennedy today at recess

  •  Gross blunder (none)
    Doesn't it seem incredibly inept that Bush nominated a candidate who was instrumental in fashioning an administrative policy that condones torture? Doesn't it seem amazingly stupid that they would nominate someone whose name is associated with the word "torture" and that he would be most certainly grilled on this very issue?

    What were they thinking?

  •  Torture & Casualties in Iraq (none)
    .
    We aint seen nothing yet!
    I was looking for amazing quote from Rummy on comparison with the Civil War rate of casualties. I rediscovered it.

    Bagdad - May 13, 2004 - Rumsfeld, Myers Meet with U.S. Military at Abu Ghraib Prison

    "In recent months we've seen abuses here under our responsibility, and it's been a body blow for all of us.  But they represent neither America nor its values", he said.

    With Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers standing at his side, the secretary pledged that those who engaged in abuses will be brought to justice. "The world will see how a free ... democratic system functions and operates transparently, with no cover-ups, with the world seeing the fact that we're not perfect."

    The secretary, speaking to those calling for his resignation at home, said: "I'm a survivor."

    In each of his appearances in Iraq, the secretary noted that he has stopped reading newspapers and has sought solace in reading about the challenges Ulysses S. Grant faced during the Civil War, when as many as 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers were lost in battles over a period of days. He described the public debate in those days as vicious.

    "It's not going to be an easy path from a repressive dictatorship to a stable, prosperous, successful country that respects all of the various religious and ethnic groups, that's at peace with its neighbors, that understands what human rights are," Rumsfeld said of the difficulties encountered by Iraq, but it would be worth the effort in the end because "this is an important mission."

    [Highlights added- Ed.]


    CONCLUSION: Rummy getting confidence vote from Commander-In-Chief, we ain't seen nothing yet in second term of office!

    In 2005 - Be Liberal, Be Free Especially Amongst Family And Friends

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