“Through His Own Arrogance”: Dick Cheney Opens Himself To Subpoena Regarding 9/11, Iraq, Torture And Valerie Plame
When a former member of the Executive calls for Congress to subpoena another former member of the Executive, it is a game-changer. No longer can he rely on “Executive Privilege” to block his own testimony.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has suggested that the GOP subpoena former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again on Benghazi.
Fine and dandy. Let us first subpoena Mr. Cheney to testify about 9/11, Iraq, torture and the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Unlike former Secretary Clinton, who has testified to Congress for hours on Benghazi, Cheney has never testified for one minute before Congress on any of these matters.
Indeed, Congress never really investigated 9/11. It appointed a commission more than a year later to determine what changes needed to be made in U.S. security, not to assign accountability. One might ask Cheney who is accountable for 9/11, who lost their jobs over it. That is what Senator John McCain (R-AZ) keeps asking about Benghazi, yet I have never heard the official answers to those questions regarding 9/11/2001.
Regarding 9/11, Cheney had been chosen (in the same way that he was ‘chosen’ to be VP nominee) by Bush to be in charge of security. The most important point to recall is that, despite all the warnings from January 25 from the then-White House counterterrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, Cheney never even called a meeting of the “principals” responsible for national security to discuss those warnings until 9/4/2001, and that meeting was perfunctory. (Against All Enemies, Richard Clarke, p. 237). It is also worth noting that New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who had no classified information, called it in a June 26, 2001 column, “A Memo from Osama bin Laden.”
Regarding Iraq, the Committee could probe how Cheney and his staff used Judith Miller to publish articles in the New York Times on Saddam’s WMD that were sourced from Cheney and that Cheney then quoted without revealing he was essentially quoting himself. They might ask him about the certainty of his public pronouncements when the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) expressed serious doubt about many of its own findings. The Committee might ask him about his references to Mohammed Atta in Prague, and, well, one would scarcely know where to begin, or end.
Regarding torture, there is recent bipartisan report that the Bush Adminstration engaged in torture and that the highest levels of government (read, Cheney and Bush) bear direct responsibility. Even the commission’s co-chair, NRA apologist and former Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson, agreed with that finding.
The report has gone almost unnoticed. Perhaps the Cheney hearings can bring it to the fore where it belongs.
And then, of course, there is Valerie Plame. The Committee might ask him the justification for revealing classified information at all, and, by so doing, providing aid-and-comfort to enemies of the United States.
So, here’s the deal. Hillary Clinton has already testified on Benghazi once. When Dick Cheney appears before Congress to answer questions about his actions that caused the death and maiming of hundreds of thousands of people, some from incompetence, some as a result of outright lying- — then he can come talk to us about Hillary Clinton testifying again.
By: Paul Abrams, The Huffington Post, May 10, 2013
Big doings in Big D — the George W. Bush Presidential Library is open for business!
What a piece of work it is: a $250 million, 226,000-square-foot edifice on 23 acres in Dallas. His brick-and-limestone structure is certainly imposing, but once inside, you quickly see that it’s a $250 million can of whitewash. Of course, all ex-presidents want libraries that show their good side, and Bush himself was organizer-in-chief of this temple to … well, to himself. What’s most striking is not what’s in it, but what’s not.
For example, where’s that “Mission Accomplished” banner that he used as a political prop in May 2003, when he strutted out so fatuously on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln wearing a flight suit to pretend like he had won the Iraq War? And how about a video loop of him finally showing up in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, cluelessly praising his infamously incompetent emergency management honcho with the now notorious shoutout: “Heck of a job, Brownie.”
Also, while there are 35 featured videos, a replica of W’s oval office, narrated presentations by top Bush officials and even statues of the family dogs — where’s Cheney? Shouldn’t there be an animated exhibit of the perpetually snarling veep in his dark chamber, scheming to shred our Constitution and set up an imperial presidency (or, more accurately, an imperial vice presidency)?
Another essential element of George’s tenure that goes unportrayed could be called “The Dead Garden of Compassionate Conservatism.” It could feature such mementos as him cutting health care funding for veterans, closing of the college gates for 1.5 million low-income students and turning a blind eye as eight million more Americans tumbled down the economic ladder into poverty on his watch.
Then there’s a shady exhibit that deserves more exposure. It’s the list of 160 donors of over a million dollars to the center, with each name chiseled into bricks that form what should be called “The Brick Wall of Special Interest Government.” Among those chiseled in are AT&T, casino baron Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News empire, several billionaire funders of right-wing politics, the founder of GoDaddy.com, and even the royal rulers of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
The 160 names are by no means all of the corporate and fat-cat donors — many more gave, but shyly requested that their involvement be kept from the public. Present law allows such unlimited, secret donations, even while a president is in office, still wielding the power to do favors for donors. Bill Clinton used this undercover loophole, and George W. happily chose the same dark path.
Today (May 1), the doors to Bush’s pharaonic “Presidential Center” opens to the public, allowing us commoners to dig deep into the shallowness of his achievements. The enormous building itself sets the tone: sharp edges, high brick walls and the welcoming feel of a fortress. Yet the ex-prez insists that it’s a place for public contemplation of his legacy, “a place to lay out facts,” he says.
How ironic is that? After all, the Bush-Cheney regime was infamous for its disregard of facts, as well as its hiding, twisting and manufacturing of facts to fool people. From going to war over Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction to its plan to gut and privatize Social Security — facts were whatever Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rove and Condi imperiously declared them to be.
More ironic is the centerpiece of the library’s attempt to whitewash George’s eight awful years: an interactive exhibit called “Decision Points Theater.” And theater it is, portraying George heroically as “The Decider.” Visitors to this rigged exhibit can use touchscreens to see Bush in virtual action, pondering as he receives contradictory advice on whether to save the poor people of New Orleans, bail out Wall Street bankers, rush into Iraq, etc.
The whole show is meant to make you feel sympathy for him, then you’re asked to “vote” on whether he did the right thing. Again, irony: We the People got no vote on these issues back when it would’ve mattered.
There are many, many Bush quotes in this pantheon, but the one that best characterizes him and should be engraved above the entrance to his sparkling new center is this, from August 2002: “I’m the commander. See, I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.”
By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, May 2, 2013
How little there is to celebrate about George W. Bush. How much there is to rue. Next to his son, his father’s short presidency seems worth at least a short thank you note.
The younger Bush’s presidential library fanfare calls for a reckoning before his rangers paint pretty lies the size of Texas all over the place. The squat man in the cowboy hat, Dick Cheney, was a useful reminder of the greatest one: you know, something about Iraq and WMD. Then came the war started under false premises and promises to the world community. After nine years, we left the country in shambles, like a trashed fraternity house, Bush’s scene at Yale. The untold civilian death toll is kept hidden in the shadows.
Before Bush took the oath of office, we knew his true colors from the darkness down in Florida. Folly, farce and tragedy were not far behind for American democracy, and perhaps you can say we deserved it. But he also hurt the whole world and our standing in it.
The pretty paint job on his presidency has already started. Another Bush war is now being waged on the truth. For starters, the gallery of living presidents gave Bush a platform to laud himself for staying “true to our convictions.”
What’s so great about that? Not only was he wrongheaded, but always aggressively so. He never looked back, he never thought twice. In this way, Bush reminds one of Andrew Jackson, his doppelganger. At least Jackson fought his own battles – like the one in New Orleans, the beguiling city Bush flew over on Air Force One when it was drowning. He later looked upon the Wall Street meltdown with the same kind of bemused detachment.
There are three things you are going to hear about Bush. He kept us safe. He expanded freedom. Finally, history will decide. That’s the tough crowd’s storyline and, in a way, its marching order. Pundit Charles Krauthammer picked up on it fast, asserting in The Washington Post that Bush “created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe.”
You have to admire such excellent embellishment.
As for keeping us safe, the terrorist attacks of September 11th happened on Bush’s watch, despite intelligence warnings all summer that the system was “blinking red.” His national security people, notably Condoleezza Rice, persistently ignored the threat of al-Qaida, and Bush himself rudely dismissed a CIA briefer at his Crawford vacation ranch in August for bearing more bad tidings of a terrorist plot within the United States. Really rude, because presumably he had better things to do that day.
If Bill Clinton had been president on 9/11, you can bet on him being blamed by the Republicans ’till he was out of town by sundown. Yet somehow, some way, it became the best thing that happened to Bush, the jump start to his presidency. Who can forget his inspiring leadership, telling us to fight terrorists by going shopping?
Ready to move on to expanding freedom? An absurd claim from the man who opened the sinister specter on Guantanamo, where scores of men have been held for years as terrorist suspects. There is no trial in sight after torture was visited upon many of them in the name of expanding freedom. Closer to home, the Patriot Act swiftly became law after 9/11, which clamped down on civil rights and freedoms, right down to our library books.
So much for keeping us safe and expanding freedom. The best defense Bush uses as an apologia for the wasteland of his eight years, at home and abroad, is that history will decide. Curiously, he even asks visitors to his library to make mock decisions in his shoes. He seems to be pleading: “It was hard!”
That won’t wash, for we know Bush has a reckless disregard for history. In a telling moment with Bob Woodward, Bush scoffed at the notion of history’s judgment, saying that we’ll all be dead anyway.
The library’s soft focus on hard facts cannot be the final say about George W. Bush. Shakespeare would have a field day with the father-son rivalry, the doting, sharp-tongued mother, and the colorful Cabinet war council – producing our own “war president.”
In the Bard’s absence, Bill Clinton slyly spoke to the truth of the Texas scene, stating that former presidents use their libraries to rewrite history. Clinton was also a reminder of “high cotton” peace and prosperity, a land where we lived in the best of times. Then came the worst of times. And that’s no lie.
By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, April 29, 2013
ROSS DOUTHAT isn’t a big fan of George W. Bush, but he does think a lot of the liberal critique leveled at the time seems “misguided or absurd” in retrospect. Mostly on domestic policy issues, but on foreign and security issues as well:
The continuities between Bush and Obama on civil liberties, presidential power and the war on terror make the same point: In order to critique Bushism appropriately, you need to recognize that on many, many issues, his presidency was much more centrist and establishmentarian than it was radical or right-wing.
There may be some issues on which George W. Bush was “centrist and establishmentarian”, but his stances on civil liberties and the war on terror were not among them. The only reason they may appear so now is that the Bush administration and the Republican Party succeeded in shifting the political debate so far towards militarism and unchecked security-statism in the previous decade that it now feels normal. We’ve been right so long it looks like centre to us. It is hard to tell how much personal responsibility Mr Bush bears for many of the most egregious precedent-setting violations of human rights that took place during his tenure, since he was a relatively ill-informed and often disengaged chief executive who delegated an unusual level of power in these areas to his vice-president. But we were talking about the administration, not just the man. On civil liberties, it was the Bush administration that decided that America ought to torture people and imprison them without trial indefinitely (ie, possibly forever) in extra-territorial jails. On the war on terror, it was the Bush administration that decided that America ought to launch preemptive wars against other countries in defiance of international public opinion, based on a delusional belief in the irresistible glory and rightness of American power. I would call that radical and right-wing. I can think of some meaner words, too.
On the question of “presidential power”, Mr Douthat is right that most administrations tend to want more of it rather than less. Certainly Barack Obama has not been eager to ramp back his prerogatives. In other continuities, the Obama administration has presided over the expansion of drone-based targeted killing programmes that have killed thousands of civilians across the Middle East, has expanded domestic surveillance powers, and has used the same reprehensible personality-destruction techniques on Bradley Manning that the Bush administration used on José Padilla. All of which is lousy. But how sharp a shift was really possible? The Obama administration inherited a security apparatus swollen to a multiple of its previous size, full of people who had spent the previous eight years carrying out the Bush administration’s policies. Those people had a very strong interest in defending those policies, not least because a number of them were guilty of ordering or carrying out torture. Torture is a crime against humanity. America has signed treaties that oblige it to try its own officials when they commit crimes against humanity. And yet you can feel how far the Bush administration moved politics permanently to the right when you speak the words “officials who ordered people tortured should be tried for crimes against humanity”, and realize that you sound like a ranting far-left extremist.
Maybe Barack Obama could have reversed course more sharply on civil liberties and held Bush-era officials accountable for torture, if he had been willing to stage a partisan ideological battle on those grounds that would have left him unable to accomplish much else. I’m not convinced it would have achieved anything; Mr Obama has been trying to close Guantánamo since the day he took office, but has failed in the face of congressional opposition. Either way, it’s absurd to believe that America would have started torturing people or invading countries unprovoked if Barack Obama, Al Gore, Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush had been in the White House on September 11th, 2001. That is George W. Bush’s historical responsibility, and it’s what he should be remembered for—along with the financial crisis, the rich-skewed tax cuts that left us with a half-trillion-dollar structural deficit, the listless cronyism that hollowed out the SEC and FEMA, a couple of positive public-health initiatives marred by corporate giveaways (PEPFAR, Medicare Part D), and the decision to doom the world to global warming by opposing the Kyoto Protocol. On balance, a legacy worthy of contempt.
By: M. S., Democracy in America, Published in The Economist, April 26, 2013
In retrospect, George W. Bush’s legacy doesn’t look as bad as it did when he left office. It looks worse.
I join the nation in congratulating Bush on the opening of his presidential library in Dallas. Like many people, I find it much easier to honor, respect and even like the man — now that he’s no longer in the White House.
But anyone tempted to get sentimental should remember the actual record of the man who called himself The Decider. Begin with the indelible stain that one of his worst decisions left on our country’s honor: torture.
Hiding behind the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Bush made torture official U.S. policy. Just about every objective observer has agreed with this stark conclusion. The most recent assessment came this month in a 576-page report from a task force of the bipartisan Constitution Project, which stated that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture.”
We knew about the torture before Bush left office — at least, we knew about the waterboarding of three “high-value” detainees involved in planning the 9/11 attacks. But the Constitution Project task force — which included such figures as Asa Hutchinson, who served in high-ranking posts in the Bush administration, and William Sessions, who was FBI director under three presidents — concluded that other forms of torture were used “in many instances” in a manner that was “directly counter to values of the Constitution and our nation.”
Bush administration apologists argue that even waterboarding does not necessarily constitute torture and that other coercive — and excruciatingly painful — interrogation methods, such as putting subjects in “stress positions” or exposing them to extreme temperatures, certainly do not. The task force strongly disagreed, citing U.S. laws and court rulings, international treaties and common decency.
The Senate intelligence committee has produced, but refuses to make public, a 6,000-page report on the CIA’s use of torture and the network of clandestine “black site” prisons the agency established under Bush. One of President Obama’s worst decisions upon taking office in 2009, in my view, was to decline to convene some kind of blue-ribbon “truth commission” to bring all the abuses to light.
It may be years before all the facts are known. But the decision to commit torture looks ever more shameful with the passage of time.
Bush’s decision to invade and conquer Iraq also looks, in hindsight, like an even bigger strategic error. Saddam Hussein’s purported weapons of mass destruction still have yet to be found; nearly 5,000 Americans and untold Iraqis sacrificed their lives to eliminate a threat that did not exist.
We knew this, of course, when Obama became president. It’s one of the main reasons he was elected. We knew, too, that Bush’s decision to turn to Iraq diverted focus and resources from Afghanistan. But I don’t think anyone fully grasped that giving the Taliban a long, healing respite would eventually make Afghanistan this country’s longest or second-longest war, depending on what date you choose as the beginning of hostilities in Vietnam.
And it’s clear that the Bush administration did not foresee how the Iraq experience would constrain future presidents in their use of military force. Syria is a good example. Like Saddam, Bashar al-Assad is a ruthless dictator who does not hesitate to massacre his own people. But unlike Saddam, Assad does have weapons of mass destruction. And unlike Saddam, Assad has alliances with the terrorist group Hezbollah and the nuclear-mad mullahs in Iran.
I do not advocate U.S. intervention in Syria, because I fear we might make things worse rather than better. But I wonder how I might feel — and what options Obama might have — if we had not squandered so much blood and treasure in Iraq.
Bush didn’t pay for his wars. The bills he racked up for military adventures, prescription-drug benefits, the bank bailout and other impulse purchases helped create the fiscal and financial crises he bequeathed to Obama. His profligacy also robbed the Republican Party establishment of small-government credibility, thus helping give birth to the tea party movement. Thanks a lot for that.
As I’ve written before, Bush did an enormous amount of good by making it possible for AIDS sufferers in Africa to receive antiretroviral drug therapy. This literally saved millions of lives and should weigh heavily on one side of the scale when we assess The Decider’s presidency. But the pile on the other side just keeps getting bigger.
By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 25, 2013