No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
Abbreviated “catching up from vacation” edition.
Coleen Rowley supports a new 9/11 investigation:
After 9-11, with the knowledge I had of the bitter internal dispute inside the FBI that was being hushed up but had kept some of our better agents from possibly uncovering more of the 9-11 plot before it happened, I couldn’t forget two of the slides in that Law Enforcement ethics curriculum: “DO NOT: Puff, Shade, Tailor, Firm up, Stretch, Massage, or Tidy up statements of fact.” And “Misplaced Loyalties: As employees of the FBI, we must be aware that our highest loyalty is to the United States Constitution. We should never sacrifice the truth in order to obtain a desired result (e.g. conviction of a defendant) or to avoid personal or institutional embarrassment.”Rowley is one of the most important - and increasingly forgotten - voices in the discussion about civil liberties and government power in the age of the War On Terror. It was she who insisted that our existing law enforcement and intelligence gathering framework was up to the task of confronting terrorism, and indeed had operated effectively in the runup to the attacks. The failure was at the White House, not below it. We must never forget that the intelligence community sent warnings up the chain of command, but when they reached George Bush they fell on deaf ears.
The official dissembling and excuse-making about the true causes and prior mistakes that gave rise to and allowed the terrorist attacks to happen, almost immediately ushered in the Bush-Cheney Administration’s egregious and lawless, post 9-11 “war on terror” agenda which bore no connection to the original causes and no connection to the goal of reducing terrorism and making the world safer. When I got a chance, about 8 ½ months after 9-11 to tell what I knew, I did so and my disclosures led to further investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General and figured in the 9-11 Commission Report.
Also from Raw Story, another piece of evidence that the Bush administration wanted to torture first and ask questions later:
A former U.S. intelligence agent said in a report published Monday that terror suspect Abu Zubaydah was subjected to simulated drowning months before the Bush administration’s Department of Justice had written memos approving the use of waterboarding.How much brutality needs to be disclosed before the Beltway’s decorous “special prosecutors have become political footballs” outlook starts to change?
The claim strikes a serious blow to repeated Bush administration arguments that no laws were broken in the torture of prisoners because legal guidelines had been closely followed.
Janet Tavakoli had a great commentary on CNN this week:
Wall Street’s “financial meth labs,” including Goldman’s, massively pumped out bad bonds and credit derivatives that have melted down savings accounts, pension funds, the municipal bond market and the American economy. Risky assets, leverage and fraud led to acute distress in the global financial markets.“Financial meth labs” is a brilliant description of what Wall Street has been cooking up.
UNPACKING JANE: Dan Levin succeeded Jack Goldsmith as the head of the White House Office of Legal Counsel in 2004. On page 296 Mayer writes of the tasks that greeted him:
Levin had inherited from Goldsmith the dauntingly distasteful task of defining the outer limits of suffering that the United States government could legally inflict on prisoners in the war on terror. It actually was a tough legal question, even for an exceptionally bright and hardworking lawyer like himself. Levin was known for his long hours. He was often the first person in the office, greeting cleaning crews as they finished their night shift. When a trusted Bush Administration aide had been needed to prepare the overnight FBI threat report for the President’s Daily Briefing, Levin was chosen to come into the Justice Department at four-thirty in the morning to cull the raw intelligence data coming in over the transom. Before dawn, he stapled the most important hair-raising items together into the reports that were among the very first things that Cheney and Bush read every morning.A couple things. First, conservatives have been almost uniformly disdainful of using legal proceedings abroad as precedent for domestic law. Think they will make an exception on this principle when it comes to torture? If they can find their Holy Grail - a ticking time bomb scenario - in the case files of the Mossad, for instance - think they’ll trumpet it as appropriate to argue in an American court? (Yes, of course they will. They have no principles, only exigencies.) Second, Mayer writes of Levin actually going through a dictionary for the definitions of “severe” and “pain” in order to complete his task. It is a measure of how much the Bush administration twisted the law that this is what people attempting to justify their actions were reduced to. And finally, when you reach the point of going to the dictionary to analyze the concept of “severe pain” you can probably safely assume that those you are working for are, in fact, walking you over to the dark side.
Long hours and disturbing subject matter weren’t new to Levin. What made his new assignment so difficult, beyond the unpleasantness of the task at hand, was the uncertainty surrounding the laws. He was a precise and scholarly lawyer and his sense of responsibility was keen. The memo he had been tasked to personally prepare, which would replace John Yoo and Jay Bybee’s infamous torture memo, would guide the covert war against terrorism, shaping America’s impact all around the globe. As he explored the case law, however, Levin was uneasy. It only took a few seconds to see that there was next to nothing to go on. Elsewhere in the world, there were plenty of torture cases that served as precedents, but America had virtually no history in this area of the law. There had never been a Supreme Court ruling on it. The United States officially recognized the Geneva Conventions, so there had been no occasion to even indirectly address torture. Without these rules, Levin was left with the untested words in the Convention Against Torture, which the United States signed in 1988 and ratified in 1994. It prohibited “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” but the Bush legal team had concluded these lesser categories didn’t apply to the CIA. For intelligence officers holding prisoners abroad, the line that couldn’t be crossed was “the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental.” But what did that mean? There was no thermometer for pain.