So I was watching Glenn Greenwald on Bill Moyers and he mentioned that in 2002--2002--the CIA informed Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats that it planned to use abusive interrogation techniques, better known as torture. This might be common knowledge to some of you--the story broke in 2007--but I missed it. The news struck me with the force of revelation.
There's no chance that Obama and other Democrats would back a serious investigation into war crimes committed by the Bush-Cheney administration. To do so would be to launch a war on the political class's top-tier. It would lead to at least the shaming, and possibly the prosecution, of top Democrats.
The Washington Post broke the story last year:
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.
Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.
The Post asked Pelosi about the briefing:
Pelosi declined to comment directly on her reaction to the classified briefings. But a congressional source familiar with Pelosi's position on the matter said the California lawmaker did recall discussions about enhanced interrogation. The source said Pelosi recalls that techniques described by the CIA were still in the planning stage -- they had been designed and cleared with agency lawyers but not yet put in practice -- and acknowledged that Pelosi did not raise objections at the time.
She didn't recall discussions about torture? Oy. What Congressional leaders beside Pelosi were likely privy to the information?
The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).
Under any circumstances, it'd be unlikely that Obama would launch a investigation into Bush-Cheney war crimes given its inevitable divisiveness. But the complicity of Democrats virtually ensures that the Bush-Cheney crimes will go unpunished. The blood on the hands of Dems is, as Greenwald says:
...the reason why the political class on a bipartisan basis is coming together to say, "Oh, no, we don't want to investigate these crimes. We think it's best to let it go." It's not because they're being magnanimous. It's not because they think it's important that Barack Obama be able to fix the economy undistracted by the controversies that would be created.
So please can we cease with these silly claims that the United States is a "nation of laws." The United States is a nation of laws only for the non-rich and the non-powerful. Here's Greenwald again. If you've merely skimmed this diary till this point, please focus as you read this:
We know that the president and his top aides have violated these laws. The facts are indisputable that they've done so. And yet as a country, as a political class, we're deciding basically in unison that the president and our highest political officials are free to break the most serious laws that we have, that our citizens have enacted, with complete impunity, without consequences, without being held accountable under the law.
And when you juxtapose that with the fact that we are a country that has probably the most merciless criminal justice system on the planet when it comes to ordinary Americans. We imprison more of our population than any country in the world. We have less than five percent of the world's population. And yet 25 percent almost of prisoners worldwide are inside the United States.
What you have is a two-tiered system of justice where ordinary Americans are subjected to the most merciless criminal justice system in the world. They break the law. The full weight of the criminal justice system comes crashing down upon them. But our political class, the same elites who have imposed that incredibly harsh framework on ordinary Americans, have essentially exempted themselves and the leaders of that political class from the law.