Up front, I want to plead guilty to third hand blogging a rumor that started in the Daily Mail. There is really no excuse and I’ll post a new picture of Max at the end to make up for it. In defense of the rumor it seems like good advice for Cheney and his administration to stay within the United States and its territorial waters at least until the whole concept of international jurisdiction for crimes against humanity blows over. When even John fucking Yoo, John “child’s testicles” Yoo, tries to get some distance from the torture report then you know these guys should think twice about vacationing in the civilized world*.

But all that said I find it a little crazy that dubya would back out of a charity gala in Switzerland and for that reason. Sure, I get that times have changed. You cannot just bury that laundered fortune in an anonymous Swiss account until the statute of limitations expires, and the Swiss have in general opened up lately to the world community. Some have even taken a serious look at getting out from under the shame of what they facilitated in WWII. But even when the law technically allows it arresting a former American head of state adds up to a reckless, ballsy act that I would not seriously expect even from the more activist scandanavians. I can see George Tenet or even Don Rumsfeld getting escorted from Heathrow or CDG by armed smurfs. Europe might open protracted and ultimately fruitless negotiations to arrest Cheney if he chose to spend a month in the French riviera being pelted with fruit walking about in public. But Bush? In Switzerland? Honestly, I would love that to be true as much as anyone but I suspect the charity took stock of the latest news and quietly rescinded their invitation.


(*) By which I mean countries that don’t torture.


Looks like the Mail just re-reported an item from 2011. No link because it’s the freaking Mail but they updated with a correction. Again, I bet that the charity in question just got some local pushback and canceled the invite.

***Update 2***

Crooks & Liars, to which I did link, got the year wrong and made the correction. I am a lazy blogger.

Before we go patting Mark Udall and Diane Feinstein on the back…

Remember that they knew all of the stuff in the torture report for years, and they did and said NOTHING.  Feinstein was in the “gang of eight,” as the Chair of the Ranking Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence since 2009.  She’s known all or most of this stuff since then.  A couple other notable members of that group are Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

As for Udall, he has been on the Senate floor today as a couple of earlier posts by John and Anne Laurie pointed out. But he’s been on the SSCI for at least the last two years, and was very involved in the research on the torture report.

It’s good that an executive summary of the report has seen the light of day. It’s important for us to know what’s being done in our names, and I seriously doubt we’d have gotten actual information from the Republicans after they take over late next month.  It would be very nice for the Politicians who oversaw torture programs and the lawyers who twisted the law to claim it was legal to be punished, but I’m not holding my breath. The prime difference between Charles Graner and Dick Cheney is rank, after all.

Having said that, why, if this report shocks the consciences of those who’ve read it, are we only seeing the exec summary, and why only now? Udall waits until now when there’s no risk to him doing this. Well, better late than never for your ideals, I suppose, even if it’s to demand a couple of people resign and not, as he said he would, to enter the text of the report into the Record. Feinstein is as safe as a Democratic Senator can get. She could have read the actual contents of the entire report into the Congressional Record at will at any time and nobody could have stopped her and there would’ve been no cost to her at the ballot box in 2018.

Everything I’ve just said above applies to the other Democrats who’ve served on the SSCI in particular and to a lesser extent on the House Committee on Intelligence since 2001.  We still don’t have effective oversight of the CIA or the NSA or the rest of the Intelligence community because our representatives in Congress are complicit in keeping these secret.  If Congressional oversight is the mechanism by which we exercise control over our government, we are being sadly failed by the people that we’ve sent up there to provide that oversight. And the Republicans are every bit as complicit, but being Republicans, it was absolutely predictable that they’d actively work against the interests of the general public on issues like this, and the few who aren’t are notable for that.

And lastly, look in the mirror. After 9/11, the vast majority of the American public was demanding that the government do whatever had to be done to keep another mass-casualty attack from taking place. A lot of people who otherwise counted themselves as liberals supported the Bush administration in their taking a free hand to do whatever the hell they wanted in those early years.  And while Liberals began to peel off of that support within a couple of years, it wasn’t even as Iraq dragged on, and Abu Ghraib first exposed some of the ugliness did the majority of our country begin to express doubts and question what we were doing there. And in fact, it wasn’t until after Hurricane Katrina landed on our own shores and we witnessed the full extent of their incompetence and mendacity where they couldn’t hide it that the majority of the American public finally began to admit that Bush and Cheney and their minions had lied us into an unwinnable war on the other side of the world.  And our Congress, including the heroes of many people here, supported them for much of their agenda.  The USA PATRIOT Act passed a Democratic-held Senate, and a Democratic-held Senate gave retroactive immunity to the NSA and private corporations that assisted them later on.  These were our elected representatives that did these things or allowed them to happen.  They are our will made whole, and their acts and things, dark and light, are ours.  Before we spend too much time wallowing in the outrage bath, we would do well by our children and our ancestors to remember that.

The CIA Torture Report – Yes, It’s Still Out There

Look back, not forward!… because you know what they say about those who don’t learn from the past. From the Vice link:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) provided the first official confirmation on Thursday that a long-awaited report prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program will be released “early next week.”…

At Bloomberg View, Josh Rogin and Eli Lake have more detail on “the Battle Over the CIA Torture Report“.

At The Intercept, Dan Froomkin (whose skeptical Washington Post column got me through Dubya’s first term), shares “12 Things to Keep in Mind When You Read the Torture Report“:

… The report, a review of brutal CIA interrogation methods during the presidency of George W. Bush, has been the subject of a contentious back-and-forth, with U.S. intelligence agencies and the White House on one side pushing for mass redactions in the name of national security and committee staffers on the other arguing that the proposed redactions render the report unintelligible.

Should something emerge, here are some important caveats to keep in mind:

1) You’re not actually reading the torture report. You’re just reading an executive summary. The full Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention program runs upward of 6,000 pages. The executive summary is 480 pages. So you’re missing more than 80 percent of it.

2) The CIA got to cut out parts. The summary has been redacted – ostensibly by the White House, but in practice by officials of the CIA…

4) The investigation was extremely narrow in its focus. Committee staffers only looked at what the CIA did in its black sites; whether it misled other officials; and whether it complied with orders. That is somewhat like investigating whether a hit man did the job efficiently and cleaned up nicely.

5) The investigation didn’t examine who gave the CIA its orders, or why. The summary doesn’t assess who told the CIA to torture

6) Torture was hardly limited to the CIA. In fact, the worst of it was done by the military….

Just before Thanksgiving, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s former lawyer, Jason D. Wright, told PoliticoAmerica Tortured—And We Need to Shed Some Light on It“:

… This report, set to be accompanied by a CIA response and review by former CIA Director Leon Panetta, is the backdrop for President Obama’s admission at a White House news conference in August: “We tortured some folks.”

Let’s be clear: President Obama is wrong on one point. There’s no collective “we” here. The American people did not torture these folks. The sin of torture is on the hands of those who directed the torture, those who contorted the law to justify the torture, those who applied the torture—and those who have attempted to cover-up the torture…

We, the American people, must not commit the sin of silence. We need a public debate about the American torture policy. We need this debate to obtain some measure of governmental accountability and ensure that we never repeat these mistakes again. We also need this debate to demonstrate to the world that the United States of America can once again be the shining beacon on the hill, that principle is more important than politics, and that the rule of law is greater than the rule of men…

There’s one more slim chance that we non-VIPs might get access to the full report: Read more

Fables of the Restoration

As Election Day nears, the battle for King Shit of Turd Mountain, i.e., the contest between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott for governor of Florida, has produced a shit-storm of negative advertising. Commercial after commercial projects images of the combatants in sinister poses and evil lighting, accompanied by strained voiceover accounts of their misdeeds in office.

Obviously, the Crist Photoshop team has the cushier job: I don’t think there’s a photo in existence of Rick Scott where he doesn’t look like an alien creature from a reptile off-world come to foreclose an orphanage and grind the inhabitants into feed-paste.


But yesterday, there was an ad I hadn’t seen before featuring former Governor Jeb Bush excoriating former ally Charlie Crist as a career politician only interested in personal aggrandizement. The stones. The fucking stones on those Bushes.

Bush 2016: The Restoration is apparently a thing. Here’s a puke-inducing paragraph from a NYT article published yesterday about the alleged upswing in Jeb Bush’s political prospects:

Just six years ago, at the end of the last tumultuous Bush presidency, this would have been all but unthinkable. But President Obama’s troubles, the internal divisions of the Republican Party, a newfound nostalgia for the first Bush presidency and a modest softening of views about the second have changed the dynamics enough to make plausible another Bush candidacy. And while Jeb Bush wants to run as his own man, invariably this is a family with something to prove.

Unpacking that paragraph is like opening a rancid diaper pail, but let’s brace ourselves and give it a go: “President Obama’s troubles?” Yes, he has them, mostly traceable to Stately Bush Manor and exacerbated by the Bush-aligned vandals in Congress.

“Internal divisions of the Republican Party?” Oh, you mean that GOP rebranding campaign gone awry in which the Republican Party nominated scads of pekoe-huffing troglodytes who lost winnable races and turned the GOP presidential primary into a crackpot bake-off?

“Newfound nostalgia for the first Bush presidency and a modest softening of views about the second?” Bush I is a doddering old fart who occasionally weeps with shame in public over his fuck-up namesake. He will be forever overshadowed by the half-wit he served as VP, and his son empowered a cabal of sociopaths to complete the cycle of destruction Poppy’s boss set into motion.

And now we’re seriously being asked to countenance another Bush run at 1600 Pennsylvania? Just shoot me now. (You can get away with it here in Florida — thanks to Jeb’s partnership with the NRA.) I can’t be objective because I utterly despise them all. But is there really a Bush restoration movement afoot outside of the Bushies, their minions and political columnists? Y’all help me out here: I haven’t seen any evidence of it.

God, that article. “This is a family with something to prove?” Fuck them. “The Bushes, Led by W., Rally to Make Jeb ’45’?” From the current generation until the sun goes supernova and vaporizes this planet, fuck the Bushes, and fuck the putrid media hacks who enable them by framing the ambitions of that clan of psychotic leeches as if writing a human interest piece on a sports dynasty.

When the Obama administration decided not to pursue its vile predecessors for their ghastly war crimes and corruption, I understood the rationale, even if I didn’t agree with it entirely. It would have paralyzed the government in the midst of a cascading global crisis.

But the question of justice denied aside, this spectacle of the Bush family rehab alone is evidence that the dirty fucking hippies were right: We should have driven a stake through the fat black heart of that bunch when we had the chance.

Johnny Come Lately

Isn’t this swell:

Given those changes, reporters urged that The Times recalibrate its language. I agreed. So from now on, The Times will use the word “torture” to describe incidents in which we know for sure that interrogators inflicted pain on a prisoner in an effort to get information.

What a bold stance. Now that we are allegedly no longer torturing (who the hell knows what the CIA is doing really, as they are quite clearly a rogue agency), and you can no longer suffer repercussions from the Bush/Cheney goon squad, NOW you are going make the editorial call. Thanks, guys!

it’s a good thing, but it took you a fucking decade?

“We tortured some folks”

President Obama used the T-word at a press conference earlier today that addressed the Senate intelligence report on Bush-era handling of terrorism suspects:

Even before I came into office, I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the twin towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And, you know, it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots, but having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects.

When asked if CIA Director John Brennan should resign after admitting that CIA operatives hacked Senate Intelligence Committee computers, “[t]he President said he had ‘full confidence in John Brennan.'”

That makes one of us.


This is so on-point it hurts:

iggy pop amnesty


Iggy’s confessing that  “Justin Bieber is the future of rock ‘n’ roll”  — and the caption reads “Torture a man and he’ll tell you anything.  Torture isn’t just inhumane, it’s ineffective.  Stop it.”

This comes from the brilliant folks at or working with the Belgian operation of Amnesty International

Here’s another one:

Dalai Amnesty

Same caption to the Dalai Lama admitting that “A man who doesn’t have a Rolex at fifty is a failure.”

It’s worth remembering that the claque who clamored us into war more than a decade ago and are trying to do so again include many of the same people who told us torture would keep us safe.

There is no limit to the wrongness of these people — and as our Belgian friends reminds us, their dishonesty is both a moral and a practical failure.

And by the way — thanks to Iggy Pop and the Dalai Lama for their willingness to take part in this campaign.