“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
Authorities say that the two brothers who allegedly bombed the Boston Marathon were probably “self-radicalized.”
The media have embraced this catchy term, partly because of the assurance it seems to offer: Don’t worry, folks — Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev weren’t recruited and deployed by al Qaeda or any other terrorist group; they hatched their own plot with no tactical help from abroad.
That might well be true, but little comfort can be taken from it.
Some of the most notorious acts of political violence in our history were carried out by pissed-off loners or impromptu zealots who belonged to no organized cabal.
By modern definition, Lee Harvey Oswald was self-radicalized. So was Sirhan Sirhan. Ditto for hermit Ted Kaczyinski, the Unabomber.
And who was more self-radicalized than Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the creeps who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995?
Everyone who sets out to create blood-soaked headlines finds a way to rationalize it. Murder in the name of God, Allah or patriotism is the oldest excuse in the book.
Once caught, the killers seldom admit they did it just for a sick thrill. OK, I’m a loser and my life is crap, so I decided to do something really outrageous.
Self-radicalized terrorists can be scarier than organized cells, because the cells are easier to track and their agendas are less opaque. They wave their hatred like a flag.
In Boston, the older Tsarnaev brother and apparent mastermind of the bombings was loving life until three years ago. According to interviews with friends and family, Tamerlan’s dream had been to become a professional boxer and earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
He wore flamboyant white fur and snakeskins, and trash-talked his opponents in the ring. He was a good fighter, too, twice the Golden Gloves champ of New England.
Then the rules changed. Tamerlan wasn’t allowed to box in the Tournament of Champions because of his immigration status — he was a legal permanent resident, not a full U.S. citizen.
Disappointed, he quit boxing. He didn’t work a regular job. His wife, a healthcare aide, paid the family’s rent. The Tsarnaevs also received food stamps and welfare payments.
Tamerlan tried community college but soon dropped out. He grew a beard and became increasingly interested in Islam, the religion of his Chechen and Dagestani heritage.
Last year he went back to Dagestan for six months without his wife and daughter, a trip being scrutinized by the FBI and Russian authorities. So far, though, Tamerlan hasn’t been connected to any terror group that has targeted America.
His path to Boylston Street, as presented in law enforcement’s scenario, is at once amateurish and harrowing: Older brother returns to the States and enlists his impressionable younger brother, a pot-smoking college student with good grades, plenty of friends and no known hostility against this country.
Together, the two of them assemble bombs from an Internet recipe using kitchen pressure cookers, fireworks, nails, ball bearings and remote control mechanisms from toy racecars. Then they go to the marathon, place the devices in the crowd and stupidly hang around to watch the detonations.
A professional operation it was not. The brothers had no idea there were video cameras all over the place. No disguises, no getaway plan, no fake passports, no money, no plane tickets, no car (Dzhokhar’s was in a repair shop).
This, we are told, is the new face of terror. Spontaneous and rudimentary.
A disgruntled young athlete, his career stymied, violently attacks the country that he’d once hoped to represent in the Olympics. Maybe Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been “self-radicalized” into an Islamic fanatic.
Or maybe he was just furious because a lack of U.S. citizenship papers had kept him out of the biggest boxing match of his life. Maybe it was that simple.
Tamerlan is dead, and Dzhokhar might or might not reveal the motive for the bombing. Clearly, though, it wasn’t the act of two crazy persons.
Cold and twisted? Obviously. But not crazy.
Even more sobering is the ease with which the brothers put their plan in motion. These days, anybody with a laptop and a grudge can arrange a massacre on a shoestring budget.
You don’t need fake IDs. You don’t need special training. You don’t even need to be very smart.
All you need is the one dark impulse.
By: Carl Hiaasen, The National Memo. May 7, 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
Like all such monuments that former presidents construct to edify the public, the George W. Bush Presidential Center – opened with great ceremony in Texas yesterday — is mounted from its subject’s point of view.
My own invitation to the festivities must have been lost in the mail, so I have yet to view the super-cool interactive exhibitions that reportedly allow visitors to become “the decider” on Iraq and other debacles. But the point seems to be that the 43rd president came under sustained pressure and, if he screwed up to an unprecedented degree, then he doesn’t think you or I would have done any better.
That pointless comparison would no doubt elicit Bush’s trademark smirk. He is said to feel well-satisifed with himself, no matter what the world thinks.
Still the overall tone of the remarks by President Obama, former President Clinton, and others who attended the library dedication was appropriately generous, as befits such a civic occasion in a democracy – even in honor of a man who ascended to office by trampling democratic values. Obama drew attention to the good works that Bush did to combat HIV/AIDS while in office, perhaps his single most important achievement, as did Clinton, who also generously praised Bush’s fitful effort to reform immigration and his work with Clinton in post-earthquake Haiti.
But does that mean Bush may now take for granted the verdict of historians, many of whom consider him America’s worst president? Not so fast, please: There are a few salient questions that Bush (or at least his library) ought to address before the rehabilitation begins.
Everything changed abruptly after September 11, 2001, as the Bush library depicts so dramatically – but what should have changed in the White House before that horrific day? Why did Bush and Cheney ignore the warnings about al Qaeda delivered by Bill Clinton, Richard Clarke, and other authoritative figures when he took office? What were they trying to conceal when the Bush White House first opposed and then tried to weaken the 9/11 Commission?
Why did he and Dick Cheney (barely mentioned in the Bush library, according to NBC’s David Gregory) permit Osama bin Laden and the Taliban’s Mullah Omar to escape from Tora Bora after allied forces invaded Afghanistan? Was it wise to neglect the Afghan conflict while launching an invasion of Iraq?
The library portrays Bush as a dauntless advocate for “freedom” around the world. But did the invasion and occupation of Iraq establish liberty in that country and if so, for whom? Why is the authoritarian Shiite government in Baghdad now among the closest allies of the theocratic dictatorship in Iran? (And wasn’t that a predictable outcome of Bush’s Iraq policies?)
Finally, do the library’s exhibits or archives mention anywhere the hundreds of thousands of people killed, crippled, wounded, and driven from their homes as a consequence of the Iraq invasion? Is any attention devoted to the total financial cost of the war, last estimated to be approaching three trillion dollars?
Those traumas will always haunt the Bush presidency, no matter how many coats of red-blue-and-whitewash are applied in Dallas during the years ahead. And that is why Barbara Bush, his acerbic mother, sounded so wise when she said of the potential presidential candidacy of his brother Jeb, “we’ve had enough Bushes.”
By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, April 26,2013
The high-water mark of FDR’s power came when he tried to give himself the power to appoint six new Supreme Court justices, which opponents decried as an underhanded scheme to rig the court with justices who favored his agenda.
Now, 75 years later, Republicans are trying to do the same thing, but in reverse. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and thus the most important member of his party on such issues, introduced legislation yesterday that seems innocuous enough at first. Here’s how he explained it in a hearing yesterday:
This legislation is straightforward. It would add a seat to the Second and the Eleventh Circuits. At the same time, it would reduce the number of authorized judgeships for the D.C. Circuit from 11 to 8. If adopted, this legislation would be a significant step towards rectifying the extreme disparities between the D.C. Circuit and the Second and Eleventh circuits.
Even the name of Grassley’s bill, “The Court Efficiency Act,” sounds anodyne, but the bill’s sponsors — including Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, two of the most extreme Republicans on legal issues — should give one pause.
See, for months, Republicans have been filibustering Obama’s nominations to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, among others. Grassley’s bill would simply eliminate three of those vacancies, reducing the court from 11 to eight judges, and thus cement the existing conservative majority on the country’s second most powerful court, after only the Supreme Court.
Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice, a progressive legal advocacy group, said the move is just a clever reinterpretation of FDR’s “court-packing scheme.” “The conservative majority on the D.C. Circuit has used its power to issue decisions undermining protections for workers, consumers, and the environment that affect all Americans. This activism is possible only because there are four vacancies on the court,” Aron said.
The stated reason for Grassley’s bill is to equalize the caseload between the D.C. Circuit and other courts, but Ian Millhiser, a legal expert at the Center for American Progress, calls Grassley’s pretext “highly misleading.” “Unlike other federal courts of appeal, the D.C. Circuit hears an unusually large number of major regulatory and national security cases, many of which require very specialized legal research, involve intensely long records, and take more time for a judge to process than four or five normal cases of the kinds heard in other circuit,” he wrote at ThinkProgress.
While Democrats deployed the filibuster against judicial nominees under Bush, Republicans have used it far more often by any measure. The slow pace of confirmations has hollowed out the federal judiciary to such a degree that Chief Justice John Roberts warned the courts were facing a crisis and called on Republicans to advance more judges.
By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, April 11, 2013