NYTimes: "Pressure Grows To Investigate" Torture

Scott Shane and Peter Baker:

Pressure mounted on President Obama on Monday for more thorough investigation into harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration . . . Mr. Obama said it was time to admit “mistakes” and “move forward.” But there were signs that he might not be able to avoid a protracted inquiry into the use of interrogation techniques that the president’s top aides and many critics say crossed the line into torture.

More . . .

As the debate escalated, Mr. Cheney weighed in, saying that if the country is to judge the methods used in the interrogations, it should have information about what was obtained from the tough tactics. . . . Manfred Nowak, the United Nations’ chief official on torture, told an Austrian newspaper that as a party to the international Convention against Torture, the United States was required to investigate credible accusations of torture. . . . Others pushing for more investigation included Philip D. Zelikow, the former State Department counselor in the Bush administration. On his blog for Foreign Policy magazine and in an interview, Mr. Zelikow said it was not up to a president to rule out an inquiry into possible criminal activity. “If a Republican president tried to do this, people would be apoplectic,” he said.

Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., who was chief counsel to the Church Committee, the Senate panel that investigated C.I.A. abuses in the 1970s, said Mr. Obama was “courageous” to rule out prosecutions for those who followed legal advice. But he said “it’s absolutely necessary” to investigate further, “not for the purpose of setting blame but to understand how it happened.”

(Emphasis supplied.) Time for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Speaking for me only

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    for what its worth (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:30:11 AM EST
    I think this is mostly right:

    "If a Republican president tried to do this, people would be apoplectic,"

    And the reason would be about the policy (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:32:40 AM EST
    of a GOP President covering for another GOP President.

    Or, if you will, "Shilling for Bush."

    Ironically, I can support the policy IF there is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Why? BEcause I am hoping for a clear national declaration that what happened was, heinous, unforgivable and shameful and will never ever happen again.

    Whether someone goes to jail is less important to me.


    Without punishment (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by NealB on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:28:42 AM EST
    will a declaration mean much? What would a declaration do that good people don't already know? Bad people seem never to care about morals that aren't enforced.

    We saw so many bad leaders return from the Nixon and Reagan eras during Bush/Cheney and, not-so-funny thing, it was the same crooks who got away with criminal activities in the 70s and 80s who returned to commit atrocities in 2002, 2003, and beyond. I think you've got to convict and punish war criminals, if only to prevent them from coming back. Punish the barbarians who were part of this over the past eight years and declarations will have more force to prevent torture in the future.


    Well yes it would (none / 0) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:07:57 AM EST
    Indeed, much more than punishing a few small fish.

    Did the prosecution of Lyndie England mean much you think?


    Now that was a backdoor bailout (none / 0) (#87)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 02:21:58 PM EST
    if there ever was one.  The masters of that universe escaped prosecution of all kinds and got shut down at the same time because the cannon fodder discovered that if they wouldn't hold themselves to high standards of conduct no matter what the stressful war conditions and by doing so end up governing their evil fricken superiors......well they would be used as bigger and better cannon fodder.

    Good point. (none / 0) (#43)
    by oculus on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:08:53 AM EST
    Whom do you envision setting up (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by oculus on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:30:49 AM EST
    a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?  Congress?  

    Yes (none / 0) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:34:13 AM EST
    because I am a realist (none / 0) (#9)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:35:51 AM EST
    I agree.  if anyone goes to jail it will never be the people responsible.  if I did I would be for an full bore investigation.

    I would love to be wrong.


    If you ask my husband (none / 0) (#88)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 02:30:48 PM EST
    everybody is responsible.  The superiors are responsible for setting, clarifying, and enforcing the rules of engagement and when they eff up or lose touch with reality you have to stand there and tell them no and hope to God chit doesn't rain down on you, and if it does you can deal with it.  He did it, I think he ended up questioning orders in a responsible and respectful fashion twice that first year in Iraq in the Sunni triangle.  His Capt loved him though because he was cut out of the real cloth.  He made his Lt. Col gag though and Col. Teeples who was his command and said it was okay when they killed those that were interrogated at Al Asad probably thought he was a royal pain in the arse.  Of course Teeples is gone now......going down in infamy........Lt. Col Douthit ran away too never to become a General.

    Rachael Maddow broke (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:44:22 AM EST
    a headline last night on her show that said that Holder was now going to be considering investigations.

    It occured to me that Obama's visit to the CIA may have actually yielded more nuanced opinions about what he should do about responding to the torture program than we have seen from Hayden and Cheney.  I wondered if this turn of events might have had more to do with feedback at CIA than anything.

    It would not surprise me at all to hear that some in the agency would like investigations to go forward, but I doubt they would want Congress to handle them as the CIA knows all too well that that is the most political forum out of the options.  That is why it also would not surprise me at all to find out that Dianne Feinstein's letter to the President saying, "not so fast on shutting down any investigations" might prompt the Administration to relent, but to try keep any activities along these lines under their control.

    I simply do not believe Maddow's report (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:47:37 AM EST
    I am not sure I do either at this (none / 0) (#14)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:53:18 AM EST
    point, but we'll see.  I was just working through what might have led to that decision - if it is true that they are reconsidering.  Given the Obama Administration's obvious deference to the CIA on this issue, I think that any policy would be vetted and approved by them if pursued.

    apparently she was right (none / 0) (#54)
    by lilburro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:37:57 AM EST
    from Ambinder via indy in sc

    At a photo-op just now with King Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdon of Jordan, the President would not rule out a Congressionally-chartered Truth Commission to investigate torture. He also said that his AG -- that would be Eric Holder -- is studying the issue about prosecuting senior officials who deliberately or willfully broke the law when it came to interpreting existing laws about torture.

    sounds like he is saying what (none / 0) (#58)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:42:43 AM EST
    many of us have been saying.  find out what happened.  then, if there is evidence to do it, prosecute the guilty.

    nice to see we, as a country, still do the right thing.  after avoiding it as long as possible.


    yep (none / 0) (#59)
    by lilburro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:44:25 AM EST
    now comes the "keep the pressure on Obama" tactic of praising him.  Because this is definitely a reversal of what we have been hearing of late.

    See a fuller article here.


    actually (none / 0) (#60)
    by lilburro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:45:46 AM EST
    seeing as how the Gibbs write up on this subject was YESTERDAY, I'm sitting here wondering what the heck happened to change Obama's mind?

    Maybe nothing (none / 0) (#65)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:51:29 AM EST
    It is possible Rahmbo made some assumptions about what his boss wanted, or misunderstood what he was told or something along those lines.  My guess is Gibbs was taking his instructions on this from Rahm.  Obama himself has never said anything to rule out prosecuting the memo writers, and I can't believe that was an accident.  More likely that Rahm somehow simply got it wrong.

    I don't think so... (none / 0) (#71)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:24:33 PM EST
    Rahm went rogue and took Gibbs along for the ride?


    It's more plausible to think Obama said, "I have to go to the freakin' CIA in a couple days and I can't be on the record saying I want to send their buddies to jail!  Just keep telling them we're going to look forward, give 'em the riff on reflection - if I keep looking forward, I should be able to see pretty soon just exactly where the head of the line of public opinion is, and then I can get out in front of it and give a speech with my favorite phrase: 'as I've stated from the beginning.'"


    Apparently Axelrod was off the (none / 0) (#72)
    by oculus on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:26:00 PM EST
    reservation also?  See Huff Post.

    HuffPo makes my eyes bleed, (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:31:31 PM EST
    so I rarely go there, but I also recall Axelrod doing the reflection riff on the TV recently; there's no way all of these people just peeled off and went in their own direction.

    Do they really think we're that stupid?  Oh, wait - yes, they do.


    Or, alternatively, (none / 0) (#77)
    by sj on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:53:31 PM EST
    it could simply be that Obama didn't want those words to come directly from his mouth.

    Well, aside from the pressure (none / 0) (#74)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:34:52 PM EST
    coming from many different directions here - Feingold apparently is livid btw - Obama went to the CIA yesterday and as I said above - he's going to take his cues in part from them - and the CIA are actually pretty politically sophisticated in their thinking.  I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that they understand the need for some sort of controlled response which might even include a sacrificial lamb or two.

    Let me be the first to remind Obama (5.00 / 4) (#29)
    by scribe on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:37:12 AM EST
    that in taking the course he took, he shat all over the military service of his maternal great-uncle, as well as many, many others, who fought to free the world from torture and other inhumanities and, for a while, did.

    We were reminded during the campaign last year that his great uncle helped liberate NAzi death camps:

    Ohrdruf was liberated on April 4, 1945, by the 4th Armored Division and the 89th Infantry Division.[4], U.S. Third Army. It was the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by the U.S. Army.[5] The 89th Infantry division included 20-year-old Charlie Payne of Augusta, Kansas. Payne's s great-nephew is U.S. President Barack Obama and Payne's military service has been highlighted by President Obama as well as Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts during his speech at 2008 Democratic Convention.[6]

    This, we were told (explicitly or implicitly) meant that Obama had learned that evil and wrongdoing must be rooted out, exposed to the light and thereby destroyed.

    We need also look back at how Eisenhower reacted to the capture of Ohrdruf, the first death camp to be captured by the US.  

    The ghastly nature of their discovery led General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, to visit the camp on April 12, with Generals George S. Patton and Omar Bradley. After his visit, Eisenhower cabled General George C. Marshall, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, describing his trip to Ohrdruf:

    . . .the most interesting--although horrible--sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'

    Seeing the Nazi crimes committed at Ohrdruf made a powerful impact on Eisenhower, and he wanted the world to know what happened in the concentration camps. On April 19, 1945, he again cabled Marshall with a request to bring members of Congress and journalists to the newly liberated camps so that they could bring the horrible truth about Nazi atrocities to the American public. That same day, Marshall received permission from the Secretary of War, Henry Lewis Stimson, and President Harry S. Truman for these delegations to visit the liberated camps.

    And, in future years, as Holocaust denial became a cottage industry, the wisdom of Ike's exposure of all these atrocities to the world and his orders to record everything and make it public have served to be the single most powerful counterweight to the nonsense spread by those who denied it happened, denied it was as bad as it was said to be, or tried some other flavor of moral equivalence or hedging.

    Most of the soldiers who were there would, when they were alive, tell stories supporting and reinforcing the abominations they had personally witnessed.  If, of course, they were not so disturbed by them that they could not bring themselves to talk about them at all.

    So, now, we are to look forward, not backward, to be constructive and not retributive.  As I noted yesterday here, and the other day here, what Obama has done is not only to make sure "...the discussion about torture will continue into the foreseeable future and it will remain both respectable and within the bounds of reason for people to argue that torture is, in fact, effective" (all we have to do is look at Deadeye yesterday demanding release of the "memos which show it was effective"), but also to give legitimacy to the species of Holocaust denial encapsulated in Bush's mantra of "the United States does not torture."

    Indeed, Obama got cheers from the assembled multitudes - in his Inaugural Address and, more directly, in his pseudo-State of the Union speech to the Joint Session - by intoning that same mantra.  Yet he is facilitating the very same kind of Holocaust denial that to this day poisons any attempt to further raise humanity out of the swamp which led, 70 years ago, to death camps, 35 years ago to Pol Pot and The Killing Fields, and within the last decade and a half not only to the genocides of the Balkans, the Congo and Rwanda but to torture as policy in that country which, allegedly, represented the highest of civilization and to which the world looked and still looks.

    The only difference being - six and seven decades ago the world looked to America in hope and admiration.  Now, they still look on in horror.

    It is, after all, not that different.  In the 40s, people could not understand how the countries which had given the world Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Goethe, Schiller, the heights of science, engineering and learning and so much more, had similarly brought forth some of the most brutal, calculated mass murders in history.  Today, the scales that grew nurtured by "change" and "hope" are starting to fall from the eyes of the world, which had actually bought into the language of the campaign, in the hope that the atrocities Bush, Cheney and their henchmen gave us would not only end, but be scraped off, purged from the body politic, and burned in the fire of justice in the hope that they would never return.

    I said it before - it's not forgiveness Obama's dealing out, it's ratification.  And he because he ratifies it, he owns it - all of it - now.

    Uh, (none / 0) (#36)
    by bocajeff on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:53:06 AM EST

    Differences...Everyone knows that at the very least "harsh interrogation" happened. Nobody is denying it. What they are denying is whether it was torture or not by definition.

    Pol Pot, The Holocaust, etc...was different based upon sheer magnitude (millions versus maybe dozens), lack of technology to make the issues known, and much more. The fact were are all on an internet speaking about it is far greater than what has happened in the past.

    But since you brought it up, do you think that the U.S. didn't engage in any inhumane behavior during WWII? On a much larger scale than what we are seeing here? On a much deadlier scale?


    A difference in degree does not make it less wrong (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by scribe on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:24:45 AM EST
    As, IIRC Spinoza said:  "one who saves a single life saves the whole world."

    That operates in the opposite direction, too:  one who tortures even a single person is just as vile and just as wrong as those who enslave and torture a whole nation.

    Moreover, the use of the term "harsh interrogation" is both deceiving and self-deceptive.  There is no escaping the fact that the United States' Government repeatedly and continuously tortured people in its thrall over a period of years, including such niceties as locking boys under the age of 10 in boxes with ants (and/or other insects) to get them to tell where their daddy was hiding.  For months they did that.

    Would you care to find and present some rational explanation for that conduct other than sheer bloody-minded torture?  I am all ears.

    To say "nobody is denying it" is simply false.  A lot of people still deny it.  That it happened, that it happened as often as it did, that it was torture, that it was worse than useless.  And, I'm afraid, you're still in denial, too.

    As to your argument about behavior in WWII, beyond being a red herring, it's pretty hard to have earthly justice operate on (alleged) criminals who are already dead.  As to those still alive, why dontcha go ask Mr. Demjanjuk, late of Cleveland, about it.  Last week, your United States government was in the process of shipping him back to Germany (strapped to a wheelchair, I read) to stand trial on 29,000 (that's Twenty-nine thousand) counts of "Accessory to murder" before a duly constituted criminal court in Munich.  The allegation was that this man, now about 90 years old, was a guard at a death camp.

    That's your Obama Administration and Justice Department.  The one that's not interested in looking back.


    The problem I have is that Obama wants (5.00 / 3) (#41)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:06:30 AM EST
    the reconciliation without the truth, I guess as a matter of faith and trust? - but I don't see how, absent a recommendation from a full-blown Truth Commission, it will ever be possible for true healing and reconciliation to occur.

    I don't see how Obama can, in one breath state that he has put an end to a policy of torture because we are a nation that believes in the rule of law, and in the next breath state that he is setting aside that law for those who generated the policy, advised on the policy and carried out the policy, all on the basis of some kind of mishmash of good intentions, reliance on the legal advice and "because I said so."

    He was pretty vocal about the need for accountability when he was running for president; he thought investigations were the way to go.  He wanted consequences after years of no consequences.  He wanted transparency where there had been none.


    All gone.

    What's changed?  For me, what's changed is now that I have been given a glimpse at the evil men do, I don't understand why we are just supposed to walk away from it and pretend it never happened.  I don't get why he believes that waving the presidential wand of reflection means there is less chance of something like this - or worse - happening again.

    I mean, do any of you want to forgive and forget Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury, want to hold hands with Dick Cheney and harmonize on Kumbayah?  Have any trust or any faith that there are not now people dreaming up ways to do the awful things they seem to so enjoy doing - and who are doing the happy dance because they now have more reason to think they will get away with it?

    I sure don't.  And I don't think I'm alone in believing that.  Could they just stop treating us like we don't need to know, or have a right to know?  Or wouldn't understand?

    It's too much to ask, isn't it?

    Obama just said (5.00 / 3) (#44)
    by indy in sc on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:21:54 AM EST
    that it's up to Holder to determine whether an investigation and/or legal action be taken against the crafters of the torture policy.  He reiterated that anyone acting on the legal advice given should  not be prosecuted for relying on that advice.

    Looks like we might get something here after all.  Don't know how I feel about it yet.

    I know how I feel about it (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:27:39 AM EST
    but I dont know if I believe it.  it true I wonder how Holder feels about it.

    Link? n/t (none / 0) (#47)
    by CST on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:27:35 AM EST
    From (none / 0) (#52)
    by lilburro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:34:50 AM EST
    Thanks. (none / 0) (#56)
    by indy in sc on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:41:49 AM EST
    Walking it back or...? (none / 0) (#49)
    by oldpro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:29:15 AM EST
    If (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:26:42 AM EST
    pressure build and Obama goes back on his word, what then? How will that be viewed?

    I think Obama made a huge mistake by not taking the lead on this issue and perhaps allowing himself to be made to investigate.

    I don't care (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:27:37 AM EST
    how Obama will look personally. Maybe others will.

    Obvioulsy (none / 0) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:29:39 AM EST
    but you're about issues not personality. I agree largely that is really bigger than Obama. He only factors in IMO to the point where he might be hindering things.

    It wouldn't be the first time Obama (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by CST on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:32:20 AM EST
    went back on his word (see FISA)

    I think people would be a lot happier to see him do it this time.

    He is pretty good at changing direction and getting a pass.  For what it's worth.


    he sure is (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:55:27 AM EST
    this whole thing could just be a dance in which he wants to end up looking non partisan and have his hand "forced" by others.

    I don't think (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by CST on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:58:09 AM EST
    he planned it that way, but he may read the political winds and play it that way.

    That's why it's imperative to keep the pressure on.


    Not exactly planned (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by Molly Bloom on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:46:00 AM EST
    Obama has to juggle at least 3 interests here. Republicans in congress obstructing, some members of the CIA backstabbing him later in retribution and those of us demanding an investigation.

    Obama cannot plan how it plays out. He can see the competing interests and see how it might play out. Its not 3 dimensional chess, it is politics.

    The Administration is not interested in looking backwards - fine, what about Congress? Newsweek reports Holder is considering a special prosecutor.  Obama  can claim that is out of his hands as it would be improper to interfere with the justice department.  

    The one thing Obama hasn't promised is pardons for all.  My guess is in the end, Obama will do what's best for Obama. No surprise there.  If there is big demand for investigation and or prosecution, that will be best for him.  If there isn't then what's best for him is to let it go. Lincoln's sympathies were abolition, but what did he promise? Not to interefere with slavery in the states were it already existed.

    I don't see Bill Clinton or FDR handling it much differently, but we will never know.


    or Hillary Clinton (none / 0) (#34)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:47:52 AM EST
    maybe (none / 0) (#19)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:00:51 AM EST
    one thing is certain.  he has no trouble changing his mind when necessary to reach his goals.

    He still has not said (none / 0) (#28)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:35:48 AM EST
    himself out of his own mouth in his own words that Bybee et al will not be prosecuted.  I cannot believe he "accidentally" left that out of his statement.  He left it instead to Rahm Emmanuel to say it on a Sunday talk show.

    I still think he's highly ambivalent on this and therefore susceptible to pressure and outcry.


    personally (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:41:48 AM EST
    I think it is just simply not a high priority for him.  he is focused on trying to get the rest of his agenda thru congress.  it is not an unambitious agenda.
    I think he sees anything else at this point as a distraction.  if it can be delayed until later or if a commission can be set up to quietly investigate while other stuff is being done I think he would much more receptive.  

    but maybe thats wishful thinking and projecting.


    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:47:29 AM EST
    I think he sees it as a distraction from his agenda, and he wants to be known (and re-elected) for his agenda, not for being the guy that investigated torture.

    I think he has to do both - maybe he will see that it is indeed possible.


    There's that magic word again (5.00 / 1) (#93)
    by Upstart Crow on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 03:58:22 PM EST
    I'm so tired about our concerns being labeled as "distractions.'

    And frankly, I'd rather have a president who tackles the job at hand rather than looking in the mirror and thinking about how posterity will view him.


    "not an unambitious agenda" (none / 0) (#76)
    by sj on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:53:28 PM EST
    And yet, oddly, it doesn't strike me as particularly ambitious either.  Where do you see him wading in and shaking things up?

    But then, I'm still a little stunned that this week was the first full meeting of the Cabinet.  


    health care (none / 0) (#79)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 01:04:00 PM EST
    capping CO2 emissions.  revamping college lending practices.  

    none will be easy. all will shake things up.
    how much they will shake things up will only become obvious around the time of the budget battle of the century Im thinking.


    one more (none / 0) (#81)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 01:32:29 PM EST
    President Obama will meet directly with credit card executives this week and plans to tell them to support strict measures that curb lending abuses or face the wrath of angry consumers and a determined Congress, according to banking industry officials.

    I have to say.  Im likin it.


    Oh, joy! The sternly-worded (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by Anne on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 01:44:57 PM EST

    Since when have credit card companies EVER been daunted by angry consumers?  And a determined Congress?  Stop! You're killing me; those credit card companies must be shaking in their boots.

    Give me a break.

    [But thanks for the laugh.]


    btw (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 01:49:38 PM EST
    you want to talk about pirates.  lets talk about credit card companies.  they steal more in a day than the floating variety does in a year.  and mostly from low income people not multinational corporations.

    yeah, well (none / 0) (#83)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 01:46:54 PM EST
    we'll see

    Those strike me as line items (none / 0) (#85)
    by sj on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 02:05:55 PM EST
    not as shaker uppers.  Welcome indeed, but not part of an ambitious agenda.

    Now, if he had a huge Green Initiative which capping CO2 emissions were part of, and an Affordable Higher Education Initiative which included funding that would bring down tuition costs then I'm thinking ambitious agenda.  

    But that's just me.


    would I like to see a bigger agenda? (none / 0) (#90)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 02:47:40 PM EST
    yes.  but when it comes time to pass in I think it will become more apparent how big it is.  relatively speaking.

    relative to what? (none / 0) (#91)
    by sj on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 02:58:25 PM EST
    relative to what (none / 0) (#92)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 03:07:11 PM EST
    DC and the country are used to.
    one issue.  health care.  how huge would it be if he can pull off health care for even ALMOST every US citizen.

    that would make fundamental life changing alterations to how our society works for pretty much everyone.


    If it would not have been available (none / 0) (#94)
    by sj on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 04:04:16 PM EST
    to my artist brother who had a raging case of diabetes then it's not huge to me.  I strongly suspect that any plan that only covers ALMOST every citizen would not have covered him.  Especially if he would have still had to come up with a monthly premium.  Some months yes, other months, no.

    I'm thinking "pretty much everyone" probably won't cover anyone who is unable to pay a monthly premium. I also haven't been able to figure out how the indigent would be covered.  I hope you're right and I'm wrong but any optimism I felt a couple years ago about true UHC has been ground down.

    Cause what I see on the horizon isn't life changing for anyone who is already unable to afford insurance premiums.

    But I admire your optimism, even though I don't share it.


    was just reading (none / 0) (#95)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 04:12:22 PM EST

    Health-Care Dialogue Alarms Obama's Allies

    As Congress returns to begin an intense debate over reshaping the nation's $2.2 trillion health-care system, prominent left-leaning organizations and liberal House members are issuing a warning to their Democratic allies: Don't cave on us.
    The early skirmishing -- essentially amounting to friendly fire -- is perhaps the clearest indication yet of the uphill battle President Obama faces in delivering on his promise to make affordable, high-quality care available to every American.


    at this point I do remain optimistic


    Not me so much (none / 0) (#96)
    by sj on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 05:14:29 PM EST
    From the link (emphasis mine):

    Kennedy spokesman Anthony Coley said the senator "believes that Americans should have the option of buying a public insurance plan if they believe that's the best choice for their families."

    Still not an option for starving artists, families hovering about or below the poverty line and the indigent.  But I would gladly substitute what I am paying for my HC premiums (alot!) to put into Medicare for all.  But I still hope (I need another word) that you're right and I'm wrong.

    And I apologize to BTD for taking this side trip off-topic.


    I care more about how Holder is viewed (none / 0) (#17)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:59:29 AM EST
    Does he really want to be viewed as another Alberto Gonzales, with no independence at all?

    That is not good for either him, or Obama, or the country.


    My reaction to the article was that (none / 0) (#7)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:32:58 AM EST
    the headline didn't match the article. I don't see much "pressure" in the article.

    The US isn't going to listen to the UN. In any event, the US and the Obama administration already know a huge amount about this situation, whether it has been formally investigated or not. Jeez, this isn't a newly discovered topic/situation. A huge of amount of information is laid out in various memos.

    The one guy merely said that it was important to know what occurred, not to assess any blame. Many people support finding out more about what occurred, but that is very different than criminal investigations.

    Hasn't a Senate committee been looking at this for two years now, or something like that?

    Headline did not include the word (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:35:15 AM EST

    So your objection is overruled.


    Has Obama or his aides (none / 0) (#13)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:49:53 AM EST
    said he doesn't want any further investigation of the subject?

    No prosecutions (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:03:06 AM EST
    implies no criminal investigations.

    I agree. (none / 0) (#22)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:11:40 AM EST
    Then why did you make your reponse to me about criminal not being in the headline?

    Do you see much pressure in the article for criminal investigations?


    You wrote (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:28:12 AM EST
    "Many people support finding out more about what occurred, but that is very different than criminal investigations."

    That's why.


    But that statement had nothing to do (none / 0) (#66)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:58:48 AM EST
    with my comment about a misleading headline.

    I was merely commenting on one of the people quoted in the article.


    But there was nothing inaccurate (none / 0) (#75)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:41:56 PM EST
    in the headline. In fact, today's events confirm the headline.

    I didn't say there was anything (none / 0) (#78)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:55:46 PM EST
    inaccurate in the headline.

    I said the headline didn't "match" the story. I didn't see much support for the headline in the story.

    I don't think you and I have much disagreement on this one.


    We know Cheney (none / 0) (#12)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:49:39 AM EST
    subtly and not-so-subtly pressured intelligence officers to have their findings presented a certain way. (We would know more if the Senate's 'Phase 2' intelligence investigation had ever taken place. In public anyway - supposedly they did something and swept it under the rug.)

    What kind of pressure did he put on WH legal opinions? There has to be a criminal investigation, or at least the truth commission. Doing notheing is just unacceptable.

    This is the only area (none / 0) (#20)
    by Green26 on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:02:45 AM EST
    where some investigation might be helpful. While there is nothing wrong with a client asking for a preferred legal conclusion (and this is done all the time), a lawyer has to provide a reasoned and supported opinion, and can't just roll over and conclude what the client wants.

    If the lawyers rolled over on this, and didn't believe what they were saying was supportable, then there would certainly be ethical problems. I don't know about criminal issues.


    How it happened (none / 0) (#64)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:50:38 AM EST
    that is what I want to know. I want the Yoo, Bybee, etc to defend their opinions before congress or a court. Maybe they can convince me that they were not under pressure to support a foregone conclusion.

    Holder (none / 0) (#18)
    by dk on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 09:59:55 AM EST
    Has there been any reporting on what Holder's opinion on all this was, independent of Obama's decison?  Or has Holder himself made a statement on his own analysis of why there should be prosecutions?  

    Michael Isikoff said this (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by oldpro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:29:07 AM EST
    morning on C-SPAN's Washington Journal that Rahm and the press guy had 'crossed the line,' that there were DOJ lawyers very, very upset about it, and that the White House had no business trying to influence the DOJ about whom they will or won't investigate and/or prosecute.  Didn't mention Holder, specifically.

    I agree with him.  This is way over the line.


    I disagree (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:30:06 AM EST
    But more importantly, I doubt it means they will be proceeding with prosecutions.

    I dout it, too. On the substance, (none / 0) (#27)
    by oldpro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:34:57 AM EST
    agree to disagree.

    Do you not see this 'decision' by Obama as politicizing the DOJ?  Shouldn't they make these decisions?


    That's why I would feel better (none / 0) (#30)
    by dk on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:39:19 AM EST
    knowing what conclusions Holder came to.  That's not to say that Obama doesn't get to make the final decision on what to do (I agree with BTD that Obama has every right to do so, absent a conflict of interest), but it would still be useful information to have.

    Im not quite sure how (none / 0) (#32)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:44:06 AM EST
    preventing investigations of the other party would be politicizing the justice department.

    Not about 'the other party.' (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by oldpro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:00:33 AM EST
    Politicizing the DOJ is the issue...anyone (and especially not the White House) telling them not to investigate/prosecute this, that or the other.

    To me, the concept of justice requires that the DOJ make those decisions, follow the evidence where it leads...prosecute if evidence allows.

    Nixon famously told the CIA to 'shut down' the FBI investigation of Watergate.

    From historycommons.org:

    Gray: Improper Use of FBI - Soon after Nixon's order, acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray tells Nixon that his administration is improperly using the CIA to interfere in the FBI's investigation of Watergate. Gray warns Nixon "that people on your staff are trying to mortally wound you." Gray is himself sharing Watergate investigation files with the White House, but will claim that he is doing so with the approval of the FBI's general counsel. [New York Times, 7/7/2005] It is unclear whether Gray knows that Nixon personally issued the order to the CIA. Soon after the order is issued, a number of the FBI agents on the case--15 to 20 in all--threaten to resign en masse if the order is carried out. One of the agents, Bob Lill, will later recall: "There was certainly a unanimity among us that we can't back off. This is ridiculous. This smacks of a cover-up in itself, and we've got to pursue this. Let them know in no uncertain terms we're all together on this. [T]his request from CIA is hollow." [Woodward, 2005, pp. 189-191] No such mass resignation will take place. Because of evidence being classified and redacted (see July 5, 1974), it will remain unclear as to exactly if and how much the CIA may have interfered in the FBI's investigation.

    Coverup is coverup.


    for most people "politicizing" (none / 0) (#40)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:06:30 AM EST
    suggests he is taking some action that would be politically beneficial to him or his party.
    not doing something you dont like.
    I dont see that happening.  the only possible political "benefit" he could get from this is keeping the lid on until he gets some of his agenda passed.
    if you take a look around the left today its hard to see how any of this is politically beneficial to him or democrats in general.

    That's the thing about coverups. (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by oldpro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:24:54 AM EST
    You have no idea who would benefit and neither do I.  Pelosi and Rockefeller would undoubtedly benefit from not exposing what they knew and when they knew it.  Others, too.

    Obama would benefit by not putting a stick in the Republican beehive and stirring up trouble he doesn't want.  He's afraid of Republican venom and well he should be.  They're the guys who don't think the torture memos describe torture.

    The rest of the civilized world?  Huh.  Obama loses ground on this one...


    you make my point (none / 0) (#53)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:36:26 AM EST
    you can say its a bad decision but its hard to make the case it is any more political than any decision any president makes.

    Uncle. n/t (none / 0) (#62)
    by oldpro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:47:51 AM EST
    Well, one way is if the (none / 0) (#35)
    by dk on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:50:17 AM EST
    investigations of the other party would lead to investigations of his own party.

    call me cynical (none / 0) (#37)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:53:18 AM EST
    but I seriously doubt he is concerned about protecting any politician of either party.

    You would be wrong, IMO. (none / 0) (#39)
    by oldpro on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:01:37 AM EST
    So when AG Holder announces an investigation (none / 0) (#55)
    by Farmboy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:40:41 AM EST
    and Obama says, "Good on ya; I've been saying for days that an investigation into a previous administration has to come from outside the Oval Office," what then?

    Ask me when it happens (none / 0) (#57)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:41:49 AM EST
    And... there it is. (none / 0) (#69)
    by Farmboy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:17:46 PM EST
    Really? (none / 0) (#70)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:18:18 PM EST

    Speaking of investigations (none / 0) (#63)
    by CST on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 11:48:10 AM EST
    this is off-topic but there is no open thread.  It looks like there may be criminal investigations (up to 20) on how the TARP money was used and whether or not people were commiting fraud or complying with the exec. compensation rules.

    Core values (none / 0) (#67)
    by Upstart Crow on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:07:30 PM EST
    This whole thing reinforces my sense that BHO has no core values -- that he will succumb to public pressure and make decisions that will sway popularity polls.

    Which should be reassuring to those who say to keep the pressure on. But not reassuring for those who hoped for more integrity.

    My worry is that (none / 0) (#68)
    by KeysDan on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:08:31 PM EST
     the goal for a national declaration that what happened was heinous, unforgivable, shameful, and will never happen again is unlikely to be achieved by a truth and reconciliation commission. Starting out of the gate, the commission would need to be a post-partisan Noah's Ark, with two of everything-- a structural enemy of clarity that Philip Zelikow could speak to having been executive director of the 9/ll commission.  Frederick Schwartz encourages further investigation "not for purposes of setting blame, but to understand how it happened".  It seems, to me, that his order of importance is off--setting the blame is critical to both truth and reconciliation. To learn the truth involves both how and why it happened, and to reconcile the heinous truths so discovered requires setting the blame.  Forgiveness of those to blame may be possible upon ascertaining the truth, but acceptance or reconciliation of the policy and deeds, never.

    IMO (none / 0) (#80)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 01:08:42 PM EST
    it all depends on WHO is blamed.  again, IMO, it would be a huge mistake and miscarriage of justice to have a hundred Lindy England trials of people who were following orders.

    and dont tell me about Nazis.  we are not Nazis. the people on the line knew very well what would happen to them if they did anything but exactly what they were told.  the people doing the 183 waterboardings supposedly called more than once saying they wanted to stop. that he had nothing else that was helpful.  they were told no.
    it is the people who told them no who should be blamed.


    Captain, it looks to me (none / 0) (#86)
    by KeysDan on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 02:19:41 PM EST
    like there is a lot of blame to go around.  Certainly, the ringleaders and their lawyers who so carefully advised them are of primary concern.  I do agree that it may be a huge mistake on several levels to focus, and, clearly, to end up  circumscribing  blame to the Lindy Englands and to CIA interrogators and/or their contractors. But as for a miscarriage of justice, I am not so sure.  Pleading with headquarters from the vantage point of the field seems as if the boundaries of decency, if not law, were apparent and to  proceed over and over again on orders against their professional judgment, is of questionable exculpation. I'll leave the national socialism reference alone, other than to cite for interesting reading, the novel "The Kindly Ones", which I found instructive to this discussion.

    Why so quick (none / 0) (#89)
    by Iamme on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 02:37:37 PM EST
    Why so quick to judge.  If one American life was saved I am for it.  Please do me a favor the next time somones son, mother, daughter, father, or any other relative dies do to a terror event.  Go to them and say.  Well we could have saved them but we play by the rules and stand high on the moral ground while we bury your loved ones.  Doesnt sound so high and mighty now.  

    So quick to judge.  Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.

    CIA memos on Interrogation Methods (none / 0) (#97)
    by RajanV on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 10:30:37 PM EST
    Even when a person is sentenced to capital punishment for committing the most heinous crime, a civilized society demands that the method of execution must be as painless  and swift as possible to the condemned person.  Even the lethal injection which is widely used in this "civilized"(!) country has been challenged countless number of times in the Supreme Court for the cruelty it is supposed to inflict during  the last few moments of the executed person's life.

    One wonders what sort of mental makeup the interrogator should have to  sit quietly and comfortably   in his chair  (possibly with  a Cuban cigar dangling from  his mouth - most of  these interrogations were conducted in GITMO  where Cuban cigars would be easy to come by, weren't they?),  supervise the prisoner being water-boarded 183 times and  enjoy watching him undergo death throes 183 times.  What is the difference between the acts of these interrogators and  those of the notorious Nazi concentration camp guards who are being hounded  from their deathbeds to be  brought to justice  even after six decades, day in day out?

    Do the ends always justify the means?

    BTW, what was the real  motive behind Obama's move to make these memos public now? One day he goes to the CIA Langley Headquarters to assure the concerned CIA operatives that they will not be charged with any crime and the next day he tells the media that he had ordered the Attorney General to look into the possibility of prosecuting those responsible.  He could have  simply stopped with banning these abhorrent  interrogation procedures through an executive order but  left the incriminating memos to rest in archives for classified documents   until they will be inevitably exhumed by historians decades later, if they do not become public under the 30-year rule in the meanwhile.  Was it just to paint and portray  his predecessor in the worst possible  light even while he is still alive?