Posts Tagged ‘Dick Cheney’

P.C. Roberts: The Stench of American Hypocrisy

November 19, 2010

By Paul Criag Roberts, Foreign Policy Journal, Nov 18, 2010

Ten years of rule by the Bush and Obama regimes have seen the collapse of the rule of law in the United States. Is the American media covering this ominous and extraordinary story?  No, the American media is preoccupied with the rule of law in Burma (Myanmar).

The military regime that rules Burma just released from house arrest the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The American media used the occasion of her release to get on Burma’s case for the absence of the rule of law. I’m all for the brave lady, but if truth be known, “freedom and democracy” America needs her far worse than does Burma.

I’m not an expert on Burma, but the way I see it, the objection to a military government is that the government is not accountable to law.  Instead, such a regime behaves as it sees fit and issues edicts that advance its agenda.  Burma’s government can be criticized for not having a rule of law, but it cannot be criticized for ignoring its own laws. We might not like what the Burmese government does, but, precisely speaking, it is not behaving illegally.

In contrast, the United States government claims to be a government of laws, not of men, but when the executive branch violates the laws that constrain it, those responsible are not held accountable for their criminal actions.  As accountability is the essence of the rule of law, the absence of accountability means the absence of the rule of law.

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Blair Reveals Cheney’s War Agenda

September 7, 2010

by Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com,  September 8, 2010

Ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s new memoir offers the expected rationalizations for his joining in an illegal, aggressive war against Iraq, even to the point of quibbling about the death toll. But Blair does reveal how much more war was favored by Vice President Dick Cheney and the neocons.

In A Journey: My Political Life, Blair depicts Cheney as believing the United States was at war not only with Islamic terrorists but with “rogue states that supported them” and that “the only way of defeating [this threat] was head-on, with maximum American strength.”

Cheney wanted forcible “regime change” in all Middle Eastern countries that he considered hostile to U.S. interests, according to Blair.

“He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it – Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.,” Blair wrote. “In other words, he [Cheney] thought the world had to be made anew, and that after 11 September, it had to be done by force and with urgency. So he was for hard, hard power. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

Over the years, there have been indications of this larger neoconservative strategy to attack America’s – and Israel’s – “enemies” starting with Iraq and then moving on to Syria and Iran, but rarely has this more expansive plan for regional war been shared explicitly with the American public.

Usually, the scheme could be found only in obscure neocon policy papers or as part of Washington scuttlebutt. After the Iraq invasion, a favorite neocon joke was whether to next head west toward Damascus or east to Tehran with the punch line, “real men go to Tehran.”

Under this neocon plan, once “regime change” was achieved in Syria and Iran, then Israel’s front-line adversaries, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories, would be left impoverished and isolated. Israel could dictate settlement terms to the Palestinians and incorporate the Jewish settlements on prime West Bank land into a Greater Israel.

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Seven Years of War in Iraq: Still Based on Cheney’s Torture and Lies

March 22, 2010

Andy Worthington, The Huffington Post, March 21, 2010

Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, but by now, it seems, the American people have become used to living in a state of perpetual war, even though that war was based on torture and lies. Protestors rallied across the country on Saturday, but the anti-war impetus of the Bush years has not been regained, as I discovered to my sorrow during a brief U.S. tour in November, when I showed the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (directed by Polly Nash and myself) in New York, Washington D.C., and the Bay Area.

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Bush/Cheney Pulled Torture Strings

March 6, 2010

By Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com, March 4, 2010

George W. Bush’s White House stage-managed the Justice Department’s approval of torture techniques by putting pliable lawyers in key jobs, guiding their opinions and punishing officials who wouldn’t go along, according to details contained in an internal report that recommended disciplinary action against two lawyers.

Though the recently released report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility concentrated on whether lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee deserved punishment for drafting and signing 2002 memos that permitted brutal interrogations of suspected terrorists, the report also revealed how the White House pulled the strings of Yoo, Bybee and others.

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U.S.: CIA Briefed Congress on Renditions

February 25, 2010

Willim Fisher, Uruknet.info,

NEW YORK, Feb 23 (IPS) – The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) briefed members of Congress from both political parties numerous times about the agency’s interrogation and detention programmes, several prominent human rights groups said Monday.

The groups – Amnesty International USA, the Centre for Constitutional Rights and the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law – filed a lawsuit in 2007 based on their requests for information about the programme under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The FOIA requests, dating back to 2004, sought records about rendition, secret detention, and “enhanced” interrogation.

The rights groups announced receipt of several new documents in response to their FOIA litigation.

Among other new information, the documents show that while Vice President Dick Cheney’s role in authorising waterboarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques has been public, a newly obtained Feb. 4, 2003, CIA memo documents the role of Counsel for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in analysing and approving the CIA techniques.

David Addington was counsel to the vice president until he succeeded Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of perjury in the “outing” of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Libby’s prison sentence was commuted by then President George W. Bush.

The rights groups said that, according to CIA meeting records and the Feb. 4, 2003 memo, it seems that in one of his first acts as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas “discontinued efforts by previous chair,” Democratic Senator Bob Graham of Florida, to implement greater oversight of these programmes, “thus abdicating the role of Congress in overseeing the CIA rendition, secret detention, and torture programmes.”

They said there are “significant questions about how clear the CIA was with Congress” – including in then-CIA Director Michael Hayden’s previously classified briefing on Apr. 12, 2007 to the Senate Intelligence Committee – about the timing, nature and results of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, particularly prior to the Aug. 1, 2002 memo prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

It is known that Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding 83 times in 2002. OLC lawyers at the time, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, were the principal drafters of that memo, which has come to be known as “the torture memo”.

Chip Pitts, president of the Bill of Rights Defence Committee and former chair of Amnesty International USA, told IPS, “In order to finally achieve the transparency and accountability that is so indispensable to learning lessons and avoiding calamitous policy failures like the prior administration’s recourse to torture, the need is clearer than ever for a broad and impartial criminal investigation of all the facts surrounding the torture programme.”

He added, “No lawyer or other official, high or low, should be immune from the investigation and prosecution required by our national interest, domestic law, and the international treaty obligations the country has undertaken under the Convention Against Torture.”

Gitanjali Gutierrez, an attorney at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said, “Members of Congress must come clean about whether they encouraged or objected to torture during these many secret meetings with CIA officials and we need a complete accounting of Cheney’s counsel, David Addington’s, role in the creation of the torture programme.”

“These new documents show that the CIA may have lied to Congress about the role of interrogation techniques in detainee deaths and key members of Congress abdicated their oversight role. This new information points even more strongly to the need for a full criminal investigation of the torture programme, up the entire chain of command,” Gutierrez said.

In a related development, after years of stonewalling, an official Polish government agency has admitted that airspace and landing facilities in that country were used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to detain, house and transport terrorism suspects.

It was the first time Polish authorities have admitted that their country houses one of the CIA’s so-called “black sites” – part of the agency’s network of secret prisons.

The CIA kidnapped suspected al Qaeda members and transported them to the black site prisons, where they were subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques as part of the C.I.A.’s programme of “extraordinary rendition.”

Prosecutors in Poland are now investigating the country’s participation in the programme.

The admission from the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) came in response to charges by two rights groups, the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

PANSA confirmed that it provided the flight logs showing six flights in 2003 by two aircraft. Five of the flights reportedly originated in Kabul and one in Rabat, Morocco. They landed about 100 miles north of Warsaw, at a small airport in a town called Szymany.

It is widely known that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-styled mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was interrogated there in 2003, but neither PANSA nor the CIA would confirm this.

Approximately 100 prisoners were detained in the black site prisons between the program’s inception in 2002 and the transfer of the remaining 14 prisoners to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba in 2006.

Maciej Rodak, vice president of PANSA confirmed to The New York Times that the agency had sent the records to the human-rights groups. He said the agency confirmed information on flight origins, planned destinations and call signs but could not provide passenger lists, which the groups also requested.

“The thing that is quite shocking is that the European investigations requested these specific flight records some four years ago,” said Darian Pavli, an attorney with the Open Society Justice Initiative, a nonprofit human-rights group in New York. “The Poles all these years said they could not locate them, the flights didn’t exist.”

Cheney Exposes Torture Conspiracy

February 18, 2010

By Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com, February 14, 2010

If the United States had a functioning criminal justice system for the powerful – not just for run-of-the-mill offenders – former Vice President Dick Cheney would have convicted himself and some of his Bush administration colleagues with his comments on ABC’s “This Week.”

On Sunday, Cheney pronounced himself “a big supporter of waterboarding,” a near-drowning technique that has been regarded as torture back to the Spanish Inquisition and that has long been treated by U.S. authorities as a serious war crime, such as when Japanese commanders were prosecuted for using it on American prisoners during World War II.

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Ramsey Clark: ‘A Free People Will Not Permit Torture’

September 9, 2009

By Ramsey Clark, Information Clearing House, September 9, 2009

Throughout history, torture has always been an instrument of tyranny. The very purpose of the Grand Inquisitor was to compel absolute obedience to authority. Torture was the weapon he used in the struggle to force freedom to submit to authority.

Fear is the principal element in both public acceptance of torture and individual submission to it. The frightened public is persuaded that only torture can force confessions essential to prevent catastrophic acts—terrorism in the present context. The frightened victim is persuaded torture will be unbearable, or be his death.

Franklin Roosevelt spoke truth when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Justice Black warned wisely, “We must not be afraid to be free,” dissenting in In re Anastaplo. Anastaplo was a law school classmate of mine who refused to take a non-Communist oath, a requirement for admission to the Illinois bar at the time. We have failed to follow this wisdom, a failure of faith urged by Lincoln at the then Cooper Institute: “Let us have faith that right makes might and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

At stake is our cultural insistence that America has faith in freedom, that America is, or aspires to be, the land of the free and the home of the brave. At risk is the image of America, which might become Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and rendition to torture chambers in client States.

Now we are confronted by the brutish and brazen mentality of Dick Cheney, only one of George W. Bush’s many vices. Having concealed truth by refusing to release records and after the destruction of evidence, Cheney proclaims, “I am very proud of what we did”—a war of aggression that has devastated and fragmented Iraq and Afghanistan, and created a danger to peace in Pakistan and beyond. The same wars that have left 5,000 U.S. soldiers dead and maybe 30,000 with impaired lives, spread corruption within the Bush administration, politics in prosecutors offices, the worst recession in 70 years caused by the failure to police his greedy friends and supporters, boasting of torture by any other name.

Cheney wants us to believe “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the phrase he prefers to torture, “were absolutely essential” in successfully stopping another terrorist attack on the U.S. after 9/11. This is utterly false, a matter of indifference to Cheney who may be getting desperate. These “enhanced interrogation techniques” were, however, torture as defined in Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture of 1984, an international treaty ratified by 184 nations, including the United States a decade late in 1994. The Convention, which is part of the supreme law of the land under the U.S. Constitution, recognizes “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,” and “that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person.”

Thus, the U.S. is treaty bound to prosecute all persons, high and low, who have authorized, condoned or committed torture if our word in the international community is to mean anything.

The Convention requires each signatory to ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law. It requires prosecution, or under specific conditions, extradition to another nation for prosecution of alleged torturers.

Former FBI agent Ali H. Soufan is only one of the key U.S. intelligence and investigative officials directly involved in the key interrogations who have publicly condemned the “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He has explained how the practice not only failed to obtain reliable or new information, but was also harmful. He concluded an op-ed article in the New York Times on Sept. 6, which stated that “the professionals in the field are relieved that an ineffective, unreliable, unnecessary and destructive program, one that may have given Al Qaeda a second wind and damaged our country’s reputation is finished.”

The struggle to prosecute torture by U.S. agents is related to the struggle over health care legislation and troop increases in Afghanistan. Real health care reform would end the theft of major national resources by the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and the wealth seeking medical profession at the expense of the lives and health of the poor and middle class.

We should remember that a decade before he gave us “What is good for General Motors is good for the nation,” Charles E. Wilson, once President of General Motors, and later Secretary of Defense under President Eisenhower, wrote in the Army Ordinance Journal in 1944: “War has been inevitable in our human affairs as an evolutionary force … Let us make the three-way partnership (industry, government, army) permanent.” Notice what comes first for Wilson, whose credo was “Let us have faith that might makes right.”

President Obama faces all three of these challenges, torture in our name, health care and Afghanistan at once. If he fails to insist on full investigation of torture and prosecution of all persons found to have authorized, directed or committed it, including George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, he will lose all three, because his adversaries in each are the same.

We want to thank every member of the IndictBushNow movement for their work. The announcement that a Special Prosecutor has been appointed to investigate the crimes committed during the Bush administration is a critical step. It was the action taken by you and people all around the country that made this possible. Now we will build on this momentum. The voice of the people must and will be heard.

http://www.impeachbush.org

Cheney Says He May Not Cooperate With Torture Probe if Asked

August 31, 2009

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record, Aug 30th, 2009

vice president dick cheney named in court suit by cia valarie plame 2007 News White House com

Dick Cheney, in a defiant half-hour interview Sunday on Fox New, launched into a blistering attack on the Obama administration, saying the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a federal prosecutor to conduct a “preliminary review” of about a dozen cases of torture “offends the hell out of me.”

Cheney added he may not cooperate with the investigation if asked to do so by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham, a statement that underscored the former vice president’s deep disdain for the Obama administration and its overhaul of certain Bush era policies related to national security.

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A Case For Interrogating Dick Cheney

July 29, 2009

Sherwood Ross | MWC News, July 29, 2009

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Some in Congress are stung by charges that former Vice President Dick Cheney ran an international assassination op from the White House without telling them about it. They say he told the CIA to withhold the facts from Congress. This raises the question of how much power Cheney actually wielded—and the answer apparently is plenty.

In (Bush lawyer) John Yoo’s version of events, writes Jane Mayer in her book “The Dark Side”(Anchor) “the impetus to break out of Geneva’s strictures…came from the CIA. Many at the Agency, however, saw this differently, suggesting it was Cheney and his lawyer, (David) Addington, who pushed the Agency to take the path toward torture.” A few days after 9/11 Cheney observed the CIA had gone over “to the dark side,” but whether he starred in the role of Darth Vader needs to be established or denied.

The record appears to weight the case against him. Cheney has a long history of yeoman service to the Dark Side. To begin with, he is an unapologetic advocate of force, stating that force “makes your diplomacy more effective going forward, dealing with other problems.” When the first President Bush failed to swing Panama’s voters against General Manuel Noriega with $10 million in cash bribes, he called on Cheney, then his defense secretary, to crush Panama. Cheney did. During Christmas week of 1989, writes Tim Weiner in “Legacy of Ashes”(Anchor), “smart bombs blasted Panama City slums into rubble while Special Forces soldiers fought their way through the capital. Twenty-three Americans and hundreds of innocent Panamanian civilians died in the two weeks it took to arrest Noriega and to bring him in chains to Miami.” That was an example of Cheney’s work.

Later, as Vice President, Cheney led the charge for war on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein by asserting there was “no doubt” he had WMD. “Many of us are convinced he will acquire nuclear weapons very soon,” Cheney told the VFW in Nashville in August, 2002.

Cheney also lowered an Iron Curtain of secrecy around the Bush regime.  As John Dean writes in “Worse Than Watergate”(Warner Books),  Bush-Cheney secrecy “is extreme—not merely unjustified and excessive but obsessive.” Dean notes, “It has given us a presidency that operates on hidden agendas. To protect their secrets, Bush and Cheney dissemble as a matter of policy.”As U.S. News reported in December, 2003, the Bush-Cheney actions are “a reversal of a decades-long trend of openness in government.”

According to Weiner, six days after 9/11 President Bush issued a secret directive to the CIA ordering it to hunt down and interrogate suspects the world over. “It set no limits on what the agency could do,” Weiner wrote. “It was the foundation for a system of secret prisons where CIA officers and contractors used techniques that include torture.” And just in case the CIA questioned who skippered the ship, Cheney would call its Inspector General into his office, an unprecedented violation of that supposedly independent post.

Upon becoming Vice President, his power led many observers to see Cheney as a “co-president.” Author Dean wrote, “Dick Cheney, effectively a co-president incognito, works behind closed doors and does not answer to Congress or the public.” Noam Chomsky wrote in 2006 in his book “Failed States”(Metropolitan/Owl), “The Cheney-Rumsfeld team for which Bush is the front man has shown repeatedly that it is obsessed with authority and discipline.” That Cheney did run the show is suggested by the fact that, “with the apparent exception of Rice, it was Cheney who did the appointing (of top personnel), not Bush,” James Carroll noted in his “House of War”(Houghton Mifflin).

After 9/11, the Bush regime scrapped due process rights for captured suspects.  Cheney said his new legal approach “guarantees that we’ll have the kind of treatment of these individuals that we believe they deserve”—an incredible prejudgment as only a tiny handful of suspects ever saw the inside of a courtroom. Author Carroll asserts Cheney had no less ambitious scheme in mind than “world domination through overwhelming military superiority, with special emphasis on unfettered access to oil…” Carroll says, “Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest have on their hands the blood…of each young American killed, and the blood of many thousands of Iraqis—-all those who have died and will die in that misbegotten war.” Prisoners were just pawns to Cheney, not human beings.

Given this pattern of criminality, a probe into Cheney’s alleged directive to the CIA to withhold information from Congress might appear comparatively trivial. But just as Al Capone was convicted and imprisoned for tax evasion rather than his killings, examining Cheney for deceiving Congress could open the dungeon door to other dark secrets. For example, it was Cheney after 9/11 who backed an alliance with Uzbekistan, even if it tied the U.S. to President Islam Karimov’s infamous torture regime. What took place there?

And if he did give the CIA crooked advice, “he broke the law and violated his oath of office,” The Nation magazine says of Cheney in its August 3rd issue. “News reports outlined how Cheney had ordered the agency to keep the House and Senate intelligence committees in the dark,” the weekly said, adding that Attorney General Eric Holder has “signaled a new openness to investigating the Bush regime’s interrogation practices.”

“Such an inquiry would focus on abuses other than the covert CIA program, but the constant appears to be Cheney, whose office has repeatedly been linked to the previous administration’s torture fetish,” The Nation said, adding, “It is clear that inquiries should proceed on all fronts, not from a desire to ‘get Cheney’ but from recognition that accountability is necessary if we are to restore the system of checks and balances.” And the only way to prevent any repetition “is to hold him fully to account. Anything less would lend dangerous legitimacy to Cheney’s imperial project,” The Nation said. Americans need to know the truth about Cheney—and act on it.

Sherwood Ross a contributing editor to MWC News, is a Miami-based public relations consultant and columnist who formerly worked for major dailies and as a columnist for wire services. Reach him at sherwoodr1[at]yahoo.com.
Articles by Sherwood Ross at MWC News
http://mwcnews.net/SherwoodRoss

Senior Obama Official Backs Cheney and CIA, Says Concealment of Assassin Program Legal

July 19, 2009
by Jeremy Scahill, CommonDreams.org, July 18, 2009

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are preparing to hold hearings to investigate the role of vice president Dick Cheney in allegedly ordering the CIA to conceal a secret assassination program from Congress. As I reported yesterday, there are two crucial issues at play: the nature of the U.S. assassination program and the role of former vice president Dick Cheney in concealing aspects of it from Congressional oversight. On the broader issue of U.S. government assassination, it is very unlikely that will become a central focus given that there has long been a bipartisan assassination program that continues under President Obama. Indeed, most legislators frame their opposition to this program through the lens of the concealment issue, not the assassinations.

Early moves, however, by the Obama administration indicate that it is backing Cheney and the CIA In May, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was under fire over allegations she had been briefed on U.S. torture tactics, she publicly accused the CIA of misleading her. In what many viewed as a response to Pelosi, CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote CIA staff a memo, saying, “Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values… My advice — indeed, my direction — to you is straightforward: ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission. We have too much work to do to be distracted from our job of protecting this country. We are an Agency of high integrity, professionalism, and dedication.”

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