Does anyone believe that the Karl Roves, J. Edgar Hoovers, Dick Cheneys, Chris Christies of the world won’t use surveillance against political enemies? and potential enemies? and opposing political donors? and “anti war” groups? and “protesters” of all sorts? anti pollution groups? and racial groups? and his cronies’ enemies? and on and on, right on down to YOU? that NSA employees won’t spy on celebrities, girl friends, boy friends, etc, right on down to YOU?
Tag Archives: Dick Cheney
Scott Horton at Atlantic:
According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.
That’s right, Jack Bauer is more frequently cited than the U.S. Constitution. How pathetic.
The most influential legal thinker in the development of modern American interrogation policy is not a behavioral psychologist, international lawyer or counterinsurgency expert. Reading both Jane Mayer’s stunning “The Dark Side,” and Philippe Sands’s “Torture Team,” it quickly becomes plain that the prime mover of American interrogation doctrine is none other than the star of Fox television’s “24,” Jack Bauer.
This fictional counterterrorism agent—a man never at a loss for something to do with an electrode—has his fingerprints all over U.S. interrogation policy. As Sands and Mayer tell it, the lawyers designing interrogation techniques cited Bauer more frequently than the Constitution.
According to British lawyer and writer Sands, Jack Bauer—played by Kiefer Sutherland—was an inspiration at early “brainstorming meetings” of military officials at Guantánamo in September 2002. Diane Beaver, the staff judge advocate general who gave legal approval to 18 controversial interrogation techniques including waterboarding, sexual humiliation and terrorizing prisoners with dogs, told Sands that Bauer “gave people lots of ideas.” Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security chief, gushed in a panel discussion on “24” organized by the Heritage Foundation that the show”reflects real life.”
John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who produced the so-called torture memos—simultaneously redefining both the laws of torture and of logic—cites Bauer in his book “War by Other Means.” [more on this excreble sycophant here.] “What if, as the Fox television program ’24’ recently portrayed, a high-level terrorist leader is caught who knows the location of a nuclear weapon?” Even Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking in Canada last summer, shows a gift for this casual toggling between television and the Constitution. “Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Scalia said. “Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?”
U.S. interrogators rarely if ever encounter a “ticking time bomb,” someone with detailed information about an imminent terror plot. But according to the advocacy group the Parents Television Council (which has declared war on “24”), Bauer encounters a ticking time bomb an average of 12 times every season. Given that each season represents a 24-hour period, Bauer encounters someone who needs torturing 12 times per day. Experienced interrogators know that information extracted through torture is rarely reliable. But Jack Bauer’s torture not only elicits the truth, it does so before the commercial. He is a human polygraph who has a way with flesh-eating chemicals.
It’s no wonder high-ranking lawyers in the Bush administration erected an entire torture policy around the fictional edifice of Jack Bauer. He’s a hero. Men want to be him, and women want to be there to hand him the electrical cord. Yoo wanted to change American torture law to accommodate him, and Justice Scalia wants to immunize him from prosecution. The problem is not just that they all saw themselves in Jack Bauer. The problem was their failure to see what Bauer really represents within the legal universe of “24.”
For one thing, Jack Bauer operates outside the law, and he knows it. Nobody in the fictional world of “24” changes the rules to permit him to torture. For the most part, he does so fully aware that he is breaking the law. Bush administration officials turned that formula on its head. In an almost Nixonian twist, the new interrogation doctrine became: “If Jack Bauer does it, it can’t be illegal.”
Bauer is also willing to accept the consequences of his decisions to break the law. In fact, that is the real source of his heroism—to the extent one finds torture heroic. He makes a moral choice at odds with the prevailing system, and accepts the consequences of the system’s judgment. The “heroism” of the Bush administration’s torture apologists is slightly less inspiring. None of them is willing to stand up and admit, as Bauer does, that yes, they did “whatever it takes.” They instead point fingers and cry “witch hunt.”
If you're a fan of "24," you'll enjoy "The Dark Side." There you will meet Mamdouh Habib, an Australian, captured in Pakistan, abused by American interrogators with an electric cattle prod and threatened with rape by dogs. He confessed to all sorts of things that weren't true. He was released after three years without charges. Jack Bauer would have known inside of 10 minutes he was not a ticking time bomb. Our real-life heroes tortured him for years before realizing he was innocent.
That is, of course, the punch line. These lawyers who were dead set on unleashing an army of Jack Bauers against our enemies built a whole torture policy around a fictional character. Bauer himself could have told them that one Jack Bauer—a man who deliberately lives outside the boundaries of law—would have been more than enough.
Who exactly is really in charge at the Department of Justice? Didn’t we just have some sort of “regime change” in Washington?
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge said Thursday that he wants to look at notes from the FBI’s interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney during the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA operative.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s decision to review the documents followed arguments by Obama administration lawyers that sounded much like the reasons the Bush administration provided for keeping Cheney’s interview from the public.
Justice Department lawyers told the judge that future presidents and vice presidents may not cooperate with criminal investigations if they know what they say could become available to their political opponents and late-night comics who would ridicule them.
“If we become a fact-finder for political enemies, they aren’t going to cooperate,” Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Smith said during a 90-minute hearing. “I don’t want a future vice president to say, `I’m not going to cooperate with you because I don’t want to be fodder for ‘The Daily Show.'”
I, for one, think that the most meaningful political commentary we have comes from Jon Stewart.
Welcome to the desert of the real in which a Jewish man can cite Nazis in defense of torture tactics. I was raised on the Holocaust. I went to a highly religious school where many of my teachers and guest lecturers were Holocaust survivors.
My family talked about the Holocaust at every opportunity, remembering those who were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered, including members of my family. I lived under the Soviet regime, which also tortured and murdered. I have never met or spoken with any Jew who has ever defended torture, no matter who the “scapegoat” is.
Apparently, there are some Jews who are more than willing to become the very monsters they abhor. This mentality I do not understand and never will.
Take for example the latest Alan Dershowitz column in the Wall Street Journal. Aside from getting the new meme on Mukasey about how the Democrats are beholden to MoveOn.org – echoed by meister Rove, President Bush, Dick Cheney, and the right wing propaganda machine as if one ring ruled them all – Dershowitz actually writes this:
“There are some who claim that torture is a nonissue because it never works–it only produces false information. This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives.”
This statement defies logic. Even if in some instances Nazi tactics worked, why would anyone endorse them for any reason, especially a Jewish man? Dershowitz, and others like him – Joe Lieberman, et al – do not speak for Jews, nor do they speak for Israel. In fact, the far right regime that has co-opted Israel and the US both is not representative of Judaism or Christianity for that matter. Whatever or whomever it is they represent, it is not the Israeli people or the American people. It is as though a multi-national organized crime syndicate has taken over both countries and is using the cover of religion as a shield against criticism.
No Jew, at least no Jew in touch with Jewish values, would ever support torture. When torture becomes policy for politically influential American and Israeli Jews, then the whole of our history becomes polluted with monsters whose crimes we lose the right to condemn.