US Torture at Abu Ghraib
The audio track is a slightly altered version of Negativland's "The Bottom Line", from their interesting 1993 album "Free". You really should goo-gall™ them and buy all of their albums right now.
Tragically, this un-American savagery is still being enthusiastically denied, excused, and even commended by many frightened, sadistic, and toxically ignorant Reich Wing RepugnantCons® (fanatic right wing Republicans). Perhaps even more tragically, this barbaric detainment approach by high ranking U.S. military leaders has inflamed Muslims everywhere, many of whom were already displeased with U.S. foreign policy, especially the specific families of the victims in Iraq.
Many ogreish Americans have enjoyed and openly supported the annihilation of all things (and people) Islamic. These "people" do not seem to get it... that when you wantonly hurt and kill people, their closest friends and relatives inevitably get very upset at you and never forget it. And when you do it so egregiously as the Republicans have in Iraq, the blowback is bound to be huge. The argument is bulletproof. For each day that we continue fighting to slightly improve George W. Bush's permanently disfigured legacy, we spend a day creating more needless animosity, and more terrorism, and paying some terrible prices to do so.
"Ask not what the Democratic Party can do for you. Ask what you can do for the Democratic Party".
Abu Ghraib -- We must remember
Bush and Rumsfeld 'knew about Abu Ghraib'
By David Usborne in New York
Published: 19 June 2007
The two-star Army General who led the first military investigation into human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has bluntly questioned the integrity of former US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, suggesting he misled the US Congress by downplaying his own prior knowledge of what had happened.
Major General Antonio Taguba also claimed in an interview with The New Yorker magazine published yesterday that President George Bush also "had to be aware" of the atrocities despite saying at the time of the scandal that he had been out of the loop until he saw images in the US media.
The White House issued a response denying the claim, however. "The President said over three years ago that he first saw the pictures of the abuse on the television," Scott Stanzel, a spokesman, said.
In the extensive interview, Maj-Gen Taguba insisted that at the very least Mr Rumsfeld "was in denial" at a congressional hearing in May 2004, when he said he had only become aware of the extent of the abuse - and seen some of the shocking photographic evidence - one day before. The Secretary told members of Congress that the images published in the media were "not yet in the Pentagon".
Valley of the Wolves-Torture in the Abu Ghraib prison part-1
Mr Rumsfeld had summoned Maj-Gen Taguba to the Pentagon on the eve of the hearing, which took place one week after first US media reports of the abuse surfaced in The New Yorker and on CBS News. Yet the General had begun his investigation several months earlier, in January 2004, and had circulated his finished report to Pentagon managers - with pictures and a video - several weeks before seeing Mr Rumsfeld. "The photographs were available to him - if he wanted to see them," Maj-Gen Taguba said.
Valley of the Wolves-Torture in the Abu Ghraib prison part-2
As for the Secretary's congressional appearance, he claimed: "Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There's no way he's suffering from CRS - Can't Remember Shit. He's trying to acquit himself."
Mr Bush has since conceded that the abuse at Abu Ghraib is the one thing he regrets about the war in Iraq. The photographs that became public at the time - and sparked worldwide condemnation - showed US jailers humiliating inmates who were naked, hooded, on leashes or piled into a human pyramid.
Maj-Gen Taguba said that other material not yet publicly disclosed or mentioned in subsequent trials included a video showing "a male American soldier in uniform sodomising a female detainee". The first wave of images he received also included images of sexual humiliation between a father and his son.
The General said he was ordered to limit his inquiry into the conduct of military police at the jail even as he became convinced they had a green light from higher up.
"Somebody was giving them guidance but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box." He adds: "Even today ... those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable."
The General also tells the New Yorker that he became a victim of his own dedication to finding the truth when he was subsequently forced to retire early. In early 2006, he said, he received a phone call from a higher-ranking colleague telling him he was expected to retire by January this year, after more than 30 years of service. His conclusion: he was being punished for that first investigation.
"They always shoot the messenger," Maj-Gen Taguba told Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker. "To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal - that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracised for doing what I was asked to do."
Congressman Chris Shays: No Torture at Abu Ghraib
Abu Ghraib: The rest of the story
BY JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY
We were reminded again last week that in this administration, no good deed goes unpunished, and that no scandal is so great that it can't be hidden until it's forgotten.
The sad spectacle that transpired inside the crumbling walls of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq came roaring back to life with Seymour Hersh's on-target article in The New Yorker magazine telling the story of an honest general who investigated and reported on events that shocked the world.
Maj. Gen. Anthony Taguba, U.S. Army retired, was an accidental choice to conduct one of 17 Pentagon investigations of the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib. He was grabbed because he wore two stars, and they needed someone of that rank to probe a case that involved a one-star general.
The trouble was that Tony Taguba was honest and thorough and reported in detail, early and often, to his superiors on evidence he was uncovering -- film and photos of abuses far worse than those the public saw. There was sexual abuse of female prisoners by their American guards and forced sex acts between a father and his young son.
The Shame of Our Nations
He wasn't authorized to investigate any higher up the chain of command than the haples Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, and so he didn't.
But when his report was completed, Taguba had a hard time getting anyone in the Pentagon -- where the powers that be were determined to push responsibility down to a staff sergeant and even lower ranking guards -- to read it.
Both President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld went on record declaring that the first they knew of the Abu Ghraib scandal was when they saw the less-offensive photographs in the media. If you believe that, I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona that I'd like to sell you.
Within 48 hours of the photographs first coming to the notice of the high command in Baghdad, the back channel was rippling with e-mails detailing the terrible scandal that had befallen the American military and its civilian bosses.
Protect Rumsfeld, Bush
As the investigations unfolded, it was clear that the primary motivation of most of them was to protect Rumsfeld and the president from any blame or responsibility for what had transpired at Abu Ghraib. Blame, unlike cream, settles as close to the bottom of any bureaucracy as can be arranged.
For his honesty in revealing what he uncovered in Iraq in his report and in testimony before Republican-controlled congressional committees, Tony Taguba found himself sidelined for a decent interval, then forced to retire.
The president and the secretary of defense expressed their shock and surprise that a few rogue reserve military police soldiers -- a few ''bad apples'' -- had treated prisoners in their charge so badly.
They said that even though it was obvious that Bush and his White House counsel Alberto Gonzales had done everything they could to unleash military and CIA interrogators from the constraints of the Geneva Convention and common human decency.
There are those who know that Rumsfeld himself ordered Maj. Gen. Geoff Miller, who ran things at the detention center at Guantánamo, Cuba, to take a ''tiger team'' of specialists in rough interrogation techniques to Abu Ghraib in the summer of 2003 and share their knowledge.
The price of speaking up
A dozen people in the chain of command were reprimanded or, in the case of Gen. Karpinski, reduced in rank. Half a dozen enlisted reserve MPs were court-martialed and given prison sentences for their actions.
The president and his men, and Rumsfeld and his, happily put Abu Ghraib behind them and went merrily along knowing that the network of secret CIA prisons where high-value prisoners were subjected to extreme interrogation techniques was still secret.
The examples made of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki and Gen. Taguba weren't lost on military commanders in the field or at home: If you dare speak truth to power in this administration, your career is toast, and any hopes you have of landing a cushy job in one of the defense industry behemoths are finished.
It's long past time for Congress to reopen the matter of who's really responsible for Abu Ghraib and let the chips fall where they may -- even if that means they pile up around the retirement home of a former secretary of defense or the gates of the White House itself.
Rats on a sinking ship
How many more high crimes and misdemeanors will be revealed in the months to come? How long is it going to take to clean, polish and restore the White House and the Pentagon and all the other agencies of our government when this bunch moves out?
Let's begin right here by serving subpoenas on all the rats that are lining up to skitter down the hawsers of a sinking ship, and getting to the top of all the sorry scandals of this administration -- one by one.
Joseph L. Galloway is a military columnist for McClatchy Newspapers and a former senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers.
We Want Our Humanity Represented! Impeachment for Torture, Now!
by Hank Edson
There is no shortage of reasons why we should impeach President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. Their crimes are so extensive and so egregious that it is hard to find time to grasp just how deliberate their pursuit has been over the past several years. Today's topic, torture and how impeachment for torture is necessary to the representation of humanity in our democracy, does not even cover the subset of impeachable offenses: war crimes. By my count, this subset contains six separate impeachable war crimes committed by Bush and Cheney: (1) the supreme war crime of commencing a war of aggression, (2) torture, (3) extraordinary rendition, (4) termination of habeas corpus, (5) inhumane weaponry (such as daisy cutters, depleted uranium shells, and phosphorus bombs), and (6) the usurpation of Iraqi self-determination in economic and political affairs protected under the Geneva Conventions. If every America could take just fifteen minutes to read nine or ten pages telling the story of Bush and Cheney's willful commitment to torture, it would go far to reorient the mindset in our country that has so passively accepted conduct by our leadership that is absolutely offensive to our values, aspirations, and responsibilities as a democratic people. With hope for such a transformation in our public discourse, I offer this summary of one of the most disgraceful episodes of a disgraceful presidency.
White House Cowboys and Dungeon Masters
In 1996, Congress passed the War Crimes Act, which made it a criminal act to violate the ban against torture and cruel of degrading treatment found in the Geneva Conventions. The United States ratified the Geneva Conventions in 1955. As a result of congressional ratification, the conventions already carried the force of law in the United States without the need for the 1996 War Crimes Act to make the government's use of torture illegal. Notwithstanding this doubly clear statement of law, five days after 9/11 Vice President Dick Cheney was already mentally adding dungeons to the defense assessment the Neo-Conservative think tank, Project for a New American Century, had prepared for him for use in installing the U.S. industrial-arms complex throughout the Middle East.
On September 16, 2001, Cheney told Tim Russert on Meet the Press,
We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side...a lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies...it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective." 
Juvenile George Bush took up his Vice President's demented, but dead serious advice with gusto, telling his then-counter-terrorism czar, Richard Clarke and his then-Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld,
"I don't care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass."
What penance will America have to pay for placing such a man in its highest office?
Building the Legal Shield
As former CIA analyst Ray McGovern writes, "'Dark-side' operations, using 'any means at our disposal' - like, say, 'enhanced interrogation techniques' - by law require a 'finding' signed by the president."  To protect himself in the event this "finding" was improper, Bush called upon his counsel, Alberto Gonzales, who provided a January 25, 2002 memo to the president authored by Cheney's counsel, David Addington. The memo described as "quaint" and "obsolete" a number of provisions of the Geneva Conventions relating to prisoners of war. The memo also concluded that there was a "reasonable basis in law" that Bush could avoid any future criminal prosecution for violating the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996. 
Secretary of State Powell, however, disagreed with the advice and inserted the following warning in Gonzales' January 25, 2002 memo:
"A determination that the GPW [Geneva Convention of Prisoners of War] does not apply to al-Qaeda and the Taliban could undermine US military culture which emphasizes maintaining the highest standards of conduct in combat, and could introduce an element of uncertainty in the status of adversaries."
The next day, Powell wrote his own memo, adding that abandoning the Geneva Conventions would "undermine public support among critical allies [and] reverse over a century of US policy and practice in supporting the Geneva conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops." 
Powell's objections, however, were fruitless. On February 7, 2002, Bush signed the memorandum ordering our armed forces in the subtlest of language "to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva." The qualification, "to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity," meant: "when you get an order to torture, do it." As with so many of the outrages in the Bush administration, the author of the torture memo, Addington, was later promoted for his good work to take over as Cheney's Chief of Staff when Lewis Libby was indicted. Addington's legal work was later condemned by 130 of the nation's most respected jurists, including twelve federal judges and eight former American Bar Association presidents for failing in his "high obligation to defend the Constitution."
The Administrative Base for Torture
Once the legal shield had been put in place to permit the White House to order torture, the next step was to give the order, but to do it in such a way that the order would be impossible to trace. After the Iraq invasion, it was the man who General Tommy Franks called "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth," Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, who was called upon to do the dirty work. His office was given the responsibility of planning the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq.
True to the familiar pattern of White House methodology, Journalist Jim Lobe describes this decision as "effectively exclude[ing] input from Iraqi experts from the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and even from the Iraqi-American community, who had participated in a mammoth project that anticipated most of the problems occupation authorities have since encountered."
Working in Feith's office at this time was Stephen Cambone, who was instrumental in transferring Major General Geoffrey Miller from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to Abu Ghraib prison. Lobe reports that Miller "brought high-pressure interrogation tactics barred by the Geneva Conventions with him from Guantanamo" and that Newsweek, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times all reported that "top officials in the Pentagon, acting on the advice of civilian lawyers, authorized a reinterpretation of the Geneva Conventions to permit tougher methods of interrogation of prisoners of war." It was no doubt this new administration of a "torture policy" that led Secretary of State Colin Powell to call Feith's operation the "Gestapo Office."
Despite Powell's continued opposition, the new interrogation techniques were approved in April 2003. According to Lobe, senior Pentagon officials simultaneously approved excluding JAG officers, who normally are present to ensure the Geneva Conventions are followed. During this time, Scott Horton, a former senior JAG officer then serving as chairman of the committee on International Human Rights of the New York City Bar Association was contacted by JAG officers disturbed about the new policy. Lobe writes that "[a]ccording to Horton, the JAG officers identified the main forces behind loosening the rules as Feith and the Pentagon's general counsel, William Haynes, another political appointee."
The "Enhanced" Techniques of a "few Bad Apples"
On the ground in Iraq, as many as fifty thousand men and women were being jammed into Abu Ghraib at a time. The cells were twelve-by-twelve and, according to veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, were "little more than human holding pits." After the Iraq invasion, Rumsfeld ordered that a secret Pentagon interrogation unit dedicated to collecting intelligence about al-Qaeda be assigned responsibility for interrogating prisoners in Iraq. Hersh wrote, "According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, [the program] 'encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq.'" Hersh further reported in that anonymous military and intelligence sources indicated that Rumsfeld approved the use of interrogation tactics implicated in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.
Specifically, special "biscuit teams," as the soldier call them, staffed with psychologists, psychiatrists, and physicians knowledgeable about Arab cultures would create conditions specifically designed to inflict maximum psychological pain within the cultural parameters of their prisoner's psychology. Thus, American soldiers were instructed to make use of deeply seated religious taboos, their prisoner's cultural anxiety caused by aggressive dogs, and culturally specific forms of humiliation to torture prisoners of war under their charge. Soldiers threatened naked prisoners with attack dogs. They used injections, suppositories, and other "techniques" to make the prisoners chained to the floor of their cells lose control of their bowels. Some prisoners they wiped with fake menstrual blood. Female interrogators questioned men forced to stand naked before them.
A former specialist in a military intelligence battalion, Tony Lagouranis has spoken openly about interrogations techniques he used in Abu Ghraib, Al Asad Airfield, and other locations in Iraq through out 2004, which he admitted were torture. The techniques he used included the use of dogs, waterboarding and prolonged stress positions. At Al Asad Airfield, he witnessed prisoners being shackled and hung from an upright bed frame welded to the wall. Lagouranis says these techniques "take a healthy guy and you turn him into a cripple, at least for a period of time." Lagouranis, who reported the detainee abuses, only participated in techniques that "were technically legal." Lagouranis told one reporter, "I started realizing that most of the prisoners were innocent. We were torturing people for not reason. I started getting really angry and really remorseful and by the time I got back I completely broke down."
Joseph Polermo writes:
"They bombarded them with loud music for days at a time and kept them under fluorescent lights. Other practices included: 'Harsh heat or cold, withholding food; hooding for days at a time; naked isolation in cold, dark cells for more than thirty days; and "stress positions" designed to subject detainees to rising levels of pain."
General Antonio M. Taguba's report on the Abu Ghraib scandal found repeated instances of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" including:
"Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall of his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee."
We all saw the pictures: the pyramids of naked bodies, the forced masturbation in front of female guards, the hooded figure with fake electrodes hooked to his finger tips, the smiling young girl with the snarling dog at leash's end.
The lawyer of one of the enlisted men court marshaled because of the scandal complained of the absence of accountability up the command chain:
"Do you really think a group of kids from rural Virginia decided to do this on their own? Decided that the best way to embarrass Arabs and make them talk was to have them walk around nude?" 
All told, seven soldiers were convicted for participating in the torture; one was sentenced to ten years in prison. Whatever the culpability of these grunt soldiers was, these soldiers were committed legally and culturally to a chain of command that did not take lightly unscripted departures from routine duties, explicit orders, and the military's code of honor. The claim that the torture was but the act of "a few bad apples," not only defies the overwhelming evidence that such conduct was endorsed, encouraged, and engineered with White House knowledge, but is also a completely unrealistic portrayal of the psychology of enlisted servicemen and women.
It turns out that the photos we all saw were staged by "contract interrogators" working for Titan Corporation, hired under the Rumsfeld Doctrine of privatized war. The photos were to be used as psychological intimidation tools in future interrogations. The use of civilian contractors served to put another layer of insulation between the high command and the troops being blamed, as the civilian contractors are not accountable under the same chain of command as the M.P.'s who were court marshaled were.
The Dungeon Master and the Scapegoat
The highest-ranking military officer reprimanded because of the torture scandal was Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the first female to ever command soldiers in a war zone-a fact that ought to be suspicious in and of itself.
Karpinski, who had never run a prison system, was given command of three large jails, eight battalions, and thirty-four hundred Army reservists, most of whom, as Seymour Hersh points out, "like her, had not training in handling prisoners." She would eventually be demoted to Colonel because of the torture revelations.
When Doug Feith and Stephen Cambone got Two Star Major General Geoffrey Miller transferred from Guananamo Bay to Abu Ghraib, Miller told Karpinski that he was going to "Gitmo-ize" the operation and use the M.P.s to assist the interrogators to enhance interrogations. The M.P.'s, however, were under Karpinski's command, whereas interrogators were answerable to the commander of the Military Intelligence Brigade.
Karpinski says, "I explained to him that the M.P.s were not trained in any kind of interrogation operations, and he told me that he wanted me to give him Abu Ghraib, because that's the location he selected." Essentially, Miller was going to misuse untrained M.P.s under someone else's command to insulate himself from the legal consequences of torturing prisoners.
Miller focused his interrogation operation in Cell Blocks 1A of Abu Ghraib, which he put under the charge of Colonel Pappas. Meanwhile, General Sanchez, who was responsible for the entire Iraqi command ordered General Karpinski to Camp Victory near the Iranian border. Karpinski said, "He wanted me away from the situation. He wanted me away from the possibility of finding out about what was going on in interrogations. So he incrementally moved me farther away, took Abu Ghraib away from me, then moved me out of Baghdad completely." When the scandal broke, however, it would be Karpinski who was targeted by the higher command to take the blame.
Karpinski told journalist Amy Goodman about the first news she got of torture being conducted at her own prison:
About the situation at Abu Ghraib, I was first informed by an email that I received on classified-what they call "classified traffic." I opened it up late one night on the 12th of January 2004. And it was from the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division. He sent me an email and said, "Ma'am, I just want to make you aware, I'm going into brief the C.G.," meaning General Sanchez, "on the progress of the investigation at Abu Ghraib. This involves the allegations of abuse and the photographs." That was the first I heard of it.
I did not receive that email or phone call or a message from General Sanchez himself, who would ultimately attempt to hold me fully responsible for this, but from the C.I.D. Commander. And I was alarmed at just that short email. I was not in Baghdad at the time. I was at another location very close to the Iranian border, so we made arrangements to leave at the crack of dawn to drive down to Abu Ghraib to see what we could find out about this ongoing investigation and went through the battalion over to Cell Block 1A. The people who would normally be working on any shift were not working. The sergeant that I spoke to said that their records had been seized by the investigators, and they started a new log to account for prisoners, make sure that their meals were on time, those kin of things, and he pointed out a memo that was posted on a column just outside of their small administrative office. And the memorandum was signed by the Secretary of Defense...by Donald Rumsfeld. And said-it discussed interrogation techniques that were authorized. It was one page. It talked about stress positions, noise and light discipline, the use of music, disrupting sleep patterns, those kind of techniques. But there was a handwritten note out to the side. And this was a copy. It was a photocopy of the original, I would imagine. But it was unusual that an interrogation memorandum would be posted inside of a detention cell block, because interrogations were not conducted in the cell block.
The handwritten note, in the same script as Rumsfeld's signature, said: "Make sure this happens." Essentially, Rumsfeld gave an order to Karpinski's untrained M.P.s to apply "enhanced techniques" that were, at best, only to be applied by the trained "Intelligence Brigade" under a separate command. The order, however, was never passed through General Karpinski.
Rumsfeld, Feith, Cambone, and Miller had "Gitmo-ized" Abu-Ghraib and when they got caught, they blamed the first and only female war zone commander, who they had kept completely out of the loop. Karpinski confirmed that the M.P.s understood the memorandum to come from Rumsfeld, himself. Karpinski further explained that Rumsfeld had also ordered some prisoners to be held without a prisoner number or notation in the prisoner database-omissions which violate the Geneva Conventions. Karpinski says that on several occasions prisoners fell into this category of "ghost detainees." According to the ACLU, there is documentary evidence that at least 21 detainees were murdered while in detention as a result of "enhanced" interrogation techniques, but of course, we cannot know how many undocumented prisoners may have been murdered as well.
Although Karpinski took responsibility for violating the Geneva Conventions in allowing ghost prisoners to be kept undocumented in the prison database, she says she also protested to the prison legal advisor, Colonel Warren, when one such prisoner, prisoner "Triple X," was ordered by Rumsfeld to be held in secrecy: "It's a violation. You have to put people on the database. And how much longer are we going to be held responsible for him? You take control of him. If you want to violate a Geneva Convention, that's up to you, but I don't want to keep him in one of our camps this way."
Karpinski asserts that responsibility for the torturing that occurred at Abu Ghraib ought "to start at the very top, and the original memorandum directing interrogation..." which Bush signed and that the M.P.s who were court marshaled were "unfairly and unjustly held accountable for all of this, as if they designed these techniques, as if Linddie England deployed with a dog collar and a dog leash."
The Department of Defense Investigates Itself; Bush Does Nothing
When the torture scandal broke in the Press, Rumsfeld appointed a four-person commission to investigate. All four members of the commission were members of the Defense Policy Board, the private advisory board that played an unprecedented role in influencing the decision to go to war and that assisted in the manipulation of evidence presented to the public and the United Nations about the dangers presented by Saddam Hussein. Two of the members of the investigative commission were also past Secretaries of Defense-part of the military-arms complex old-boy network unlikely to place blame on a fellow Secretary of Defense.
Predictably, the commission exonerated the three senior most senior officers responsible for prisoner interrogation, Rumsfeld, Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, and Major General George Fay. Instead, the commission concluded that 'freelancing' guards on the night watch were responsible for the torture, not any effort orchestrated from higher up to collect more information from prisoners. Human Rights Watch criticized the commission's report for failing to look into the connection between the torture and Rumsfeld's approval of interrogation techniques that intentionally used pain, humiliation and abuse of prisoners." Former congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman argues, "President Bush failed to ensure a full investigation and to see that the responsible parties, including higher-ups were held accountable. These failures are impeachable offenses."
Meanwhile, Congress decided that since President Bush did not seem to understand the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996, it was necessary in 2005 to pass a new law, once more clearly outlawing torture. When the senate passed the McCain amendment banning torture by a definitive majority of 91 to 9, Cheney proved himself a national embarrassment by lobbying Senator McCain, hard to exempt the C.I.A. Of course, McCain is a man who had personally endured torture as a prisoner of war in the same Vietnam War, which as a young man Cheney promoted, but avoided serving in by obtaining numerous deferments.
Torture's Anti-Democratic Authoritarian Puppet
When both houses passed the McCain amendment without Cheney's exemption, President Bush added one of his over 1,000 signing statements to it, declaring that the act of signing the bill into law did not mean that he was legally bound to follow the new law. In this case, Bush used his signing statement to reserve the right to use torture if he thought it was necessary for national security. Thus, after three iterations of an absolute prohibition against torture passed by the legislative branch and signed by the President-once in the ratification of the Geneva Conventions in 1955, again in the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996, and a third time in the 2005 McCain anti-torture amendment-George W. Bush still persisted in his determination to use torture in defiance of the law.
Accountability in the White House
In the final assessment, we have Donald Rumsfeld signing memos authorizing violations of the Geneva Conventions and running out of the Pentagon a deliberate effort to expand interrogation techniques to include illegally cruel and degrading treatment specifically developed by the so-called "biscuit teams." Under Rumsfeld, we have Doug Feith's "Gestapo office," in which Stephen Cambone orchestrates the transfer of Major General Miller to Abu Ghraib to get M.P.s outside Miller's chain of command to assist in the use torture techniques in Iraq previously developed at the infamous Guantanemo Bay detention facility.
We have the pathologically authoritarian Vice President Dick Cheney declaring on national television just five days after the national trauma of the September 11th attacks, "We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side... without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies... any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective." Then after revelations of torture, murder, and perversion cause worldwide revulsion toward the United States and after congress passes a completely unnecessary third law to again outlaw torture, still Cheney continues to lobby obsessively the law's author for an exception that would allow torture by the CIA to continue.
And finally, we have an incredibly juvenile and himself, psychologically manipulated puppet, president George W. Bush who takes up his Vice President's demented, but dead serious advice with gusto, telling his then-counter-terrorism czar, Richard Clarke and his then-Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, "I don't care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass." Then after the congress has passed the third and completely unnecessary prohibition against torture, Bush goes on to add to the law a signing statement declaring his intention to disregard the law whenever he sees fit.
We Want Our Humanity Represented!
After all these facts are reported in the press, still we have Nancy Pelosi saying, "Impeachment is off the table," and "the American people want congress to get to work," not to engage in "partisan struggles." I beg to differ. The American people want a process for accountability when the President of the United States abuses the power and reputation the American people gave him to torture human beings in violation of three separate legal acts, not to mention the principle set forth in the 8th Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment. The American people want their humanity represented and their humanity lies in the application of the democratic process that prevents elected leaders from abusing their power. Passing a law in congress has done nothing to stop Bush's abuse of power. Getting "to work" is not what we, the people, elected a Democratic congress to do in 2006. We can get by without anti-flag burning amendments and new labels for DVDs. What we cannot do without is an impeachment of a president who willfully defies congress for the purpose of torturing human beings.
As the Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh says:
"If the president has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."
The balance of power in our democracy, however, is not defined by the law in and of itself, but by exercise of the law by those with a legal claim. Thus, under the Constitutional framework that supports our democracy, the limits of the commander-in-chief's power are ultimately defined by the exercise of the right of impeachment. By failing to exercise the people's legal claim against the vice president and president, Congress is letting the vice-president and president seize a despot's hold over our humanity. This is not a moment in history for simply getting to work; it is the moment for dropping everything and making a stand for who we really are