Posts Tagged ‘Donald Rumsfeld’

The Baby and the Bath Water: Obama and Bush

May 17, 2009

I said it before and I will say it again: President Obama will not be able to affect change, to act on his national and international agenda, until he confronts, corrects and possibly punishes the ghosts of the Bush/Cheney romp of the last eight years.   It is unfortunate that President Obama has these stumbling blocks in front of him.  Nevertheless, those are the facts and he must do the laundry before he can wear clean clothes.  Not only was he left a mess to pick up after, but also he faces current problems the likes of which we have never seen before.  However, it is just as imperative that he not throw out the baby with the bath water.   Thus, he walks a fine line between political overreaction and common sense, while always cognizant of the needs and safety of our country.

Frank Rich of the New York Times writes of this dilemma, this inability of President Obama to “turn the page” on Bush/Cheney:

Regarding the attention focused on Nancy Pelosi this week as to whether or not she was briefed about waterboarding, some people claim this is just a distraction invented by the GOP to take some of the firestorm of an illegal war and foist it on a Democrat, any Democrat.    Perhaps this tactic is true, but once again, our lawmakers are placing more emphasis on procedure rather than on actual content and substance of policies.  Of course enhanced interrogation procedures took place and double of course, we all all knew it.  Whether this is individual or collective guilt is also irrelevant to the basic fact that it occurred.  On my Daily KOS diary (, the loudest complaints and deepest defense mechanisms have come from the left side of the aisle.  Their hissy fits and tantrums would almost make you think that they, through their inflammatory, unforgiving and unrelenting tirades against anyone in office, are the true savers of the world.  Hah!  Once again and similarly like the Republican politicos, these over-the-top liberals just seek to destroy.  They are their own worst enemies because they too, attack the overall structure of government rather than focus in on the specific issues of content.  To condemn everyone and everything equally has the same effect as doing nothing.

Who could have predicted a year ago, even six months ago, that the Veep who was virtually hidden away during his reign, would be the one person to relentlessly defend his job and all of the turmoil he created?   His attempts to defend HIS (and it was HIS) administration are just about to backfire and kick the entire GOP right in their behind.  Cheney prided himself on his foreign policy; he never gave a whit for domestic policy.  His current, incessant retaliatory behavior makes it very clear that he is only seeking to save himself, despite the fact that he is ripping apart this country even more so out of office than he did while in office. His own political allies are begging him to stop pouring oil on the fire.

So here is my burning question of the day: if the GOP believes that Pelosi was complicit in the waterboarding instances, what does that make Bush , Cheney and Rumsfeld?  Their desire for political validation and retribution is second only to their pure stupidity.  Certainly if Pelosi goes down over this issue, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld should be beheaded.  No?

I do not know what the answer is.  President Obama is in the middle of a political, yet real, quagmire of sweeping up the mess of the last administration.  But it must be cleaned up or there will be no going forward.  On the specifics, I agree with our President that the recent photos of our torture methods should NOT be publicly released; as long as we have troops abroad, we must protect them.  Damn.  Let’s start bringing them home now.

So do we sweep the parlor clean across the board, or pick and choose?  The answer probably falls somewhere in the middle.  As horrendous as the atrocities and lies were during the last eight years, there are some tidbits that must remain confidential.  National security, though used as an excuse during the last administration, is a reality and certain information must be held back.  Perhaps even more important though, information that is released to the public should not be lies.

As for a “truth commission”, Washington wouldn’t know the meaning of “truth” if it smacked them squarely between the eyes.  So for starters, let’s call the investigation something else.  Also, President Obama must respond in a measured, methodical manner.  He can not just sweep all the Republicans under the carpet to clean house.  That would be as bad as what the Lefties are doing.

President Obama is a careful man, both in his personal demeanor and political ways.  He actually thinks before he acts, which is why I fought so hard for his election and support him even more today.  He inherited the wicked ways of Bush/Cheney and will have to put to rest the aftereffects of that administration before he can tackle his own agenda. Some how, some way, President Obama must find a way to turn the page on Bush/Cheney.  His path must be tempered with reason, caution and a concern to keep some specific information closely held, if for no other reason than for the security of our nation and the safety of our people.  Surely we can accept that.  Our empathy and patience can only help him.  We must prevent Obama’s administration from becoming simply a boomerang to the Bush administration.  Rome wasn’t built in a day nor did it fall in a day.  Chill.

Bottom line: I trust Obama.  No, it is not blind faith.  Rather, it is a trust in my own instincts that his intentions are good and true.

Get Smart

April 24, 2009

It is Friday again, and you know what that means: assigned reading and listening for the weekend ahead.  If I don’t take responsibility for your enlightenment, who will?

This issue of torture is riveting because how we treat our enemies is, in a nutshell, the measure of who we are:

This torture dilemma is wrapped up in the dual questions of transparency/accountability and the possibility of prosecution, is in the forefront of the news and we all need to educate ourselves on the merits of taking steps to expose and possibly punish those responsible.   One thing is for certain:  Americans do not like any circumstance that is long, drawn-out and emotionally taxing and draining.  We are an impatient people, whether the specific issue at hand is a war, a recession or a scandal.  Furthermore, Americans, when faced with an obstacle, want to take immediate steps to remedy the situation.  Whether or not immediate action is wise, practical and useful is of less importance than just making the problem go away right now.

This is exactly what we are faced with on the torture issue and the question of whether or not the Justice Department should take the inquiry and possible prosecution up to the highest levels of government.  On one hand, we have those that say it is in the best interest of national security to avoid such public transparency.   Even President Obama himself would prefer to put this issue to bed now and focus more on the future rather than the past.  On the other hand, we have those who, knowing that these policies were immoral and illegal, insist that the very groundwork  on which this country was founded is on the line.  The Iraq war and its accompanying POW practices were illegal and for the United States NOT to prosecute the top people who condoned these practices is an illegal act in and of itself.  Our national security and international reputation actually suffered substantially from all this blatant nose-thumbing at national and international law.  Therefore, to go after these criminals would not hurt us further; quite the contrary.  We MUST prosecute the guilty to in fact redeem ourselves and return to those founding principles of our Constitution.

Here then, is an Op-Ed piece supporting the side that wants to put this torture issue behind us, without further investigation and possible prosecution of officials, i.e. Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush:

I do understand Roger Cohen’s viewpoint.  Yes, our government, media and Justice Department all failed in their oversight of the tactics used during the last seven years with regard to the war in Iraq.  Cohen believes that these checks and balances are now back in working order.  He feels that Obama’s decision to “out” the offending memos is enough for us to assume the correct path.  Sorry: unless this process is taken to its natural conclusion, that being accountability and prosecution, enough is NOT enough.  I am a big believer in consequences.  Atrocious acts WILL happen over and over again unless the resultant consequences are appropriate, steep and effective in dissuading future copy-cat behavior.  To refuse to fully investigate and if necessary, suffer consequences, would be a repudiation of everything that is the United States of America.

On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of individuals who want this investigation to go as high up as necessary.  Paul Krugman today had an article in the New York Times focusing on the “soul” of America:

Read his words carefully.  You would have to be a horse’s ass to deny Krugman’s last thought that to prevent further invesitigation is to deny our future:

“We need to do this for the sake of our future. For this isn’t about looking backward, it’s about looking forward — because it’s about reclaiming America’s soul.”

A few other events of relevance  must be cited.  On the MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show earlier this week, she had a true coup of an interview with Philip Zelikow.  He was on board at the Office of Legal Counsel at the same time as Jay Bybee and John Yoo.  However, Zelikow took the opposite position on torture: he deemed such practices as water-boarding to be illegal.  Gutsy.  Of course, his memos have since disappeared.  Please watch the following video from Maddow’s interview with Zelikow:

Then today, Zelikow had his own say in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times:

Finally, President Obama, on April 15th, had a sit-down debate on the torture issue, listening to both sides.  Keep in mind that we are dealing with not only transparency of this issue, but also the content, and if this content demands prosecution.  Unlike John Boehner, who accused Obama of being unpatriotic because he released these memos to the American public, this panel assembled by Obama dealt with the whys and wherefores of future prosecution.  What kind of idiot is this Boehner?  No matter how illegal these acts were, Boehner believes that the public should have remained in the dark.  Does he not care at all about the content and substance of what went on, or is it all about covering up?  Has Boehner ever commented on the sheer illegality of these torture tactics?  No.  The content of the memos is not a worthy issue for Boehner;  it is the publication of the memos, informing the public, that is the total issue for him.  All looks, no substance.  But hey, he has a real nice tan.

Anyway, on one side of this debate were Leon Panetta, current CIA chief, and the immediate four previous  CIA heads.  These men were in favor of not prosecuting.  On the other side of the debate were Defense head Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and White House counsel Gregory Craig.  I must tell you, I have been most impressed with the thoughts and actions of Robert Gates during these first few months of our new administration.  His comments at this particular meeting were wise because they were so simple and true.  Gates said that the publication of these memos that rationalized the legality of these torturous acts were “inevitable.”  How true; how prescient.  Remember: it is usually the cover-up, not the initial deed, that slams shuts the door on the acceptance of consideration and sympathy in any scandal.

At any rate, the forces on the side for public awareness and follow-up investigation won the day.  The phenomenal aspect that I am in awe of though, had to do with the way President Obama handled this meeting.  First, he gathered members of opposing camps so that he could have a fair and honest overview.  Then, once he made up his mind, he dictated a memo right in front of all the participants.  I guess we know where exactly the buck stops.  We actually have an actively engaged, interested and responsible leader.  Glory be!  The link below is a much more detailed account of this meeting.  It was the lead article of the Washington Post today:

Finally, we must remember that the final decision to go forth in this investigation and possibly bring those guilty parties to justice is solely within the power of the Department of Justice, not President Obama.  So far, all our President has done in this matter is to fact find and release that information to the American public.  Imagine!  The outrage and accusations of “traitor” that have befallen our President are, above all, the ultimate violation of our Constitution.

So please forgive me for all this assigned reading.  If you value your freedoms and your right to speak and act on them, you owe it to yourself and your country to “get smart”.


April 19, 2009

Is the New York Times reading Yo Mama?  Today’s editorial regarding torture eerily echoes my thought of yesterday’s post “C’mon Baby, Let’s Do the Twist.”  This is a succinct must-read:

I would like to believe that the Times is just responding to such heinous, government sanctioned, and then twistedly rationalized, crimes as the rest of us sane, moral people have —- with outrage and a call for the heads of those Justice Department thugs, Pentagon pimps and the evil triumvirate of Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush.  This time though, we need to start cutting at the TOP first, instead of wasting time and resources on the lowly, trashy, thrill-seeking plebes like Lynndie England.

My assessment from yesterday’s post, i.e. “a new world order can not come into being unless we deal with the atrocities of the OLD world order”, is identical to today’s Times editorial main thrust, i.e. “until Americans and their leaders fully understand the rules the Bush administration concocted to justify such abuses — and who set the rules and who approved them — there is no hope of fixing a profoundly broken system of justice and ensuring that that these acts are never repeated.”  Despite President Obama’s full plate, our nation MUST now undertake the process to right these horrible wrongs.

As if the acts of torture  weren’t bad enough, the rancid Bush Administration then sought out language that would justify these acts.  The only thing is though, there is no justification in the entire world for this type of horror.  So of course, the reflection, as evil as it is, comes right back to us — you, me, Bybee, Yoo, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush— and even to President Obama —  if he chooses to bury this chapter in our recent history rather than prosecute.

To do otherwise, to ignore what came before, is to doom our future and what can come after.

C’mon Baby, Let’s Do The Twist

April 18, 2009

It never ceases to amaze me the way politicians, and especially world “leaders”, twist the truth so that it fits in perfectly with their own special interests.  Words are powerful and people are stupid.  The higher the office, the greater the charade.

Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is becoming masterful in the ways of deception.  In support of the recent tea bag parties, he has called for Texas to possibly secede from our Union.  These tea bag protests are plain and simple, a response to the GOP’s paralysis in coming up with any meaningful alternatives to President Obama’s policies and popularity.  As the time grows closer that the top 5% of wage-earning Americans will see their tax bills rise (never mind that 95% of Americans will see their taxes decline), the tea baggers are all incendiary bluff with no underlying substance to their protest.  Gail Collins of the New York Times, in one of her better columns, hit the nail right on the head this time:

For the Republican party, Rick Perry and the tea baggers, I have but two words: SOUR GRAPES. Furthermore, their deception in using our Constitutional values, such as freedom and justice for all, to fulfill their own greedy, selfish purposes, is despicable.  Twist baby, twist.

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld also used their own self interests to thwart not only our national but also the civilized world’s international legal code of ethics.  This issue of torture will not go away, nor should it.  Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the many rendition sites and the use of illegal tactics here on our own soil are the ultimate treason to the ideals on which our country was founded.  This judge Jay S. Bybee, whom during the early years of the Iraq war was a member of the Office of Legal Counsel (a body of constitutional experts that offers advice to the President), is now a federal appeals court judge.  Yeah, right: reward the bastard for nipping and tucking the verbiage of illegal executive branch decisions so that it all appears legal.  Only in America can torturers, judges and lawmakers, not to mention the President, twist the legal lingo to supposedly offer a basis for their decisions.  Only the great United States of America would be interested in supplying a legal basis for their atrocious and immediate acts.   Surely this upholds our honor to the Constitution.  What happened to abiding by the actual content of the Constitution?  Twist baby, twist.

Anyway, here is an article from the Washington Post that will explain the evil goings-on in the Bush administration’s efforts of “balancing” security and monstrous torture:

Andrew Sullivan goes even further in his disgust with the “banality of evil”:

No one speaks to an issue better than Sullivan.  The sick irony of this situation is that Bybee, with the advice and consent of Bush, ruled on the acceptance and legality of various torture methods AS IF there was any moral basis for any of them!  Bottom line: there is no law or rationale in the universe that would sustain inhuman torture.  Twist baby, twist.

Finally, that ideal example of international enlightened leadership, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, is being faced with protests from women who — oh my!— will not abide by the law Karzai signed off on last week to make marital sex mandatory, i.e. marital rape.  As I stated in my previous post, “The Pecker Wars”, Karzai okayed this aspect of Sharia law because he is trying to amass votes for the upcoming August election.  I stated that he would be appealing to half of his population, i.e. the men, with this measure.  I stand corrected; the Shia population of Afghanistan is only 20%.  That makes Karzai’s intentions even more degrading and desperate.  Was this an action to titillate the sex lives of tired marriages, or is it an effort to spice up Karzai’s electoral base?  Did I miss something here?  Since when has violence and rape been “sexy” and legislatively permissible?  He has since said, on Thursday in a CNN interview, that he will have the Shia Muslim clergy revise that law so that it will be in agreement with Afghan constitutional law.  Mr. Karzai: make believe I am from Missouri.   SHOW ME.  The true test of Karzai’s intentions will come in the courts and then the world will see if the Afghan constitution overrides the sectarian, inhumane Shariah law.  Twist baby, twist.

I am proud of the immense progress President Obama has made during his first almost 100 days in office.  If I have but one critical complaint, it is on the topic of human rights.  When Secretary of State Clinton visited China right after the inauguration, no mention of human rights was made.  Similarly, the administration has been publicly (could they be working on this in private?) silent on the recent events in Afghanistan and Pakistan regarding women’s civil and human rights.  Also, no mention of human rights was made this week by Obama when he cracked the door ajar to relations with Cuba.  It is still early days.  I am patient though, and have confidence that President Obama will deal with the very basic issues of human existence that he truly believes in.

Do I think that his ruling this week, not to hold those military personnel responsible for delivering the torture legally accountable, to be correct?  Surprisingly, at this juncture, I do.  If  Eric Holder and the Justice Department were to bring charges against these servicemen and women, there would be absolutely NO EXCUSE not to go after the depraved individuals who gave those orders, namely, at the top of the pyramid, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.  I think Obama is still on the fence about this mainly because he wants to spend his time on a new world order to fix what ails us.  Eventually, he is going to have to come to the conclusion that a new world order can not come into being unless we deal with the atrocities of the OLD world order.

Until that time, the arena of public opinion will be key in how this scenario plays out.  However, I do not believe there will be a huge outcry against the evil Bush triumvirate because the average American does not care enough about global principles of right and wrong.  Their apathy is realistically based on their time-constrained efforts to make a living and meet the often hard tasks of daily living.  Not an excuse, just an observation.

The black stain of deliberately miscommunicating, of altering the facts to fit whatever current situation in which we find ourselves, is an abomination.  It is especially harmful when our leaders participate in this sham.  In fact, it is outright lying.  Twist baby, twist.