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Senate Panel’s Report on U.S. Torture Abuse

Posted on Dec 12, 2008
Let's Get Ready to Rumsfeld
AP photo / Rick Browmer

Read the devastating bipartisan report from the Senate Armed Services Committee that indicts high-level Bush administration officials—including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—as bearing major responsibility for the torture at Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, and other detention facilities.

Read the report in pdf form.


Executive Summary 


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“What sets us apart from our enemies in this fight … is how we behave. In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we are warriors, we are also all human beings.”  —General David Petraeus, May 10, 2007 

(U) The collection of timely and accurate intelligence is critical to the safety of U.S. personnel deployed abroad and to the security of the American people here at home. The methods by which we elicit intelligence information from detainees in our custody affect not only the reliability of that information, but our broader efforts to win hearts and minds and attract allies to our side. 

(U) Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are taught to expect Americans to abuse them. They are recruited based on false propaganda that says the United States is out to destroy Islam. Treating detainees harshly only reinforces that distorted view, increases resistance to cooperation, and creates new enemies. In fact, the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” cited “pervasive anti U.S. sentiment among most Muslims” as an underlying factor fueling the spread of the global jihadist movement. Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2008 that “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq—as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat—are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.” 

(U) The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of “a few bad apples” acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority. This report is a product of the Committee’s inquiry into how those unfortunate results came about. 

Presidential Order Opens the Door to Considering Aggressive Techniques (U) 

(U) On February 7, 2002, President Bush signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention did not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda and concluding that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or the legal protections afforded by the Third Geneva Convention. The President’s order closed off application of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. While the President’s order stated that, as “a matter of policy, the United States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Geneva Conventions,” the decision to replace well established military doctrine, i.e., legal compliance with the Geneva Conventions, with a policy subject to interpretation, impacted the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. 

(U) In December 2001, more than a month before the President signed his memorandum, the Department of Defense (DoD) General Counsel’s Office had already solicited information on detainee “exploitation” from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), an agency whose expertise was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions.   

(U) JPRA is the DoD agency that oversees military Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training. During the resistance phase of SERE training, U.S. military personnel are exposed to physical and psychological pressures (SERE techniques) designed to simulate conditions to which they might be subject if taken prisoner by enemies that did not abide by the Geneva Conventions. As one JPRA instructor explained, SERE training is “based on illegal exploitation (under the rules listed in the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) of prisoners over the last 50 years.” The techniques used in SERE school, based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean war to elicit false confessions, include stripping students of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, disrupting their sleep, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. It can also include face and body slaps and until recently, for some who attended the Navy’s SERE school, it included waterboarding. 

(U) Typically, those who play the part of interrogators in SERE school neither are trained interrogators nor are they qualified to be. These role players are not trained to obtain reliable intelligence information from detainees. Their job is to train our personnel to resist providing reliable information to our enemies. As the Deputy Commander for the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), JPRA’s higher headquarters, put it: “the expertise of JPRA lies in training personnel how to respond and resist interrogations—not in how to conduct interrogations.” Given JPRA’s role and expertise, the request from the DoD General Counsel’s office was unusual. In fact, the Committee is not aware of any similar request prior to December 2001. But while it may have been the first, that was not the last time that a senior government official contacted JPRA for advice on using SERE methods offensively. In fact, the call from the DoD General Counsel’s office marked just the beginning of JPRA’s support of U.S. government interrogation efforts. 

Senior Officials Seek SERE Techniques and Discuss Detainee Interrogations (U)  

(U) Beginning in the spring of 2002 and extending for the next two years, JPRA supported U.S. government efforts to interrogate detainees. During that same period, senior government officials solicited JPRA’s knowledge and its direct support for interrogations. While much of the information relating to JPRA’s offensive activities and the influence of SERE techniques on interrogation policies remains classified, unclassified information provides a window into the extent of those activities. 

(U) JPRA’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Baumgartner testified that in late 2001 or early 2002, JPRA conducted briefings of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel on detainee resistance, techniques, and information on detainee exploitation. 

(U) On April 16, 2002, Dr. Bruce Jessen, the senior SERE psychologist at JPRA, circulated a draft exploitation plan to JPRA Commander Colonel Randy Moulton and other senior officials at the agency. The contents of that plan remain classified but Dr. Jessen’s initiative is indicative of the interest of JPRA’s senior leadership in expanding the agency’s role. 

(U) One opportunity came in July 2002. That month, DoD Deputy General Counsel for intelligence Richard Shiffrin contacted JPRA seeking information on SERE physical pressures and interrogation techniques that had been used against Americans. Mr. Shiffrin called JPRA after discussions with William “Jim” Haynes II, the DoD General Counsel.   

(U) In late July, JPRA provided the General Counsel’s office with several documents, including excerpts from SERE instructor lesson plans, a list of physical and psychological pressures used in SERE resistance training, and a memo from a SERE psychologist assessing the long-term psychological effects of SERE resistance training on students and the effects of waterboarding. The list of SERE techniques included such methods as sensory deprivation, sleep disruption, stress positions, waterboarding, and slapping. It also made reference to a section of the JPRA instructor manual that discusses “coercive pressures,” such as keeping the lights on at all times, and treating a person like an animal. JPRA’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Baumgartner, who spoke with Mr. Shiffrin at the time, thought the General Counsel’s office was asking for the information on exploitation and physical pressures to use them in interrogations and he said that JFCOM gave approval to provide the agency the information. Mr. Shiffrin, the DoD Deputy General Counsel for Intelligence, confirmed that a purpose of the request was to “reverse engineer” the techniques. Mr. Haynes could not recall what he did with the information provided by JPRA. 

(U) Memos from Lieutenant Colonel Baumgartner to the Office of Secretary of Defense General Counsel stated that JPRA would “continue to offer exploitation assistance to those government organizations charged with the mission of gleaning intelligence from enemy detainees.” Lieutenant Colonel Baumgartner testified that he provided another government agency the same information he sent to the DoD General Counsel’s office. 

(U) Mr. Haynes was not the only senior official considering new interrogation techniques for use against detainees. Members of the President’s Cabinet and other senior officials attended meetings in the White House where specific interrogation techniques were discussed. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was then the National Security Advisor, said that, “in the spring of 2002, CIA sought policy approval from the National Security Council (NSC) to begin an interrogation program for high-level al-Qaida terrorists.” Secretary Rice said that she asked Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet to brief NSC Principals on the program and asked the Attorney General John Ashcroft “personally to review and confirm the legal advice prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel.”  She also said that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld participated in the NSC review of CIA’s program. 

(U) Asked whether she attended meetings where SERE training was discussed, Secretary Rice stated that she recalled being told that U.S. military personnel were subjected in training to “certain physical and psychological interrogation techniques.” National Security Council (NSC) Legal Advisor, John Bellinger, said that he was present in meetings “at which SERE training was discussed.” 

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By cyrena, December 19, 2008 at 4:36 am Link to this comment

As usual, you read the words right out of my mind:
“..And it accomplishes one other thing. Standing as documented knowledge, it affirms to the people that the House of Representatives understands the gravity of the abuses committed by Bush 43!

That is extremely important given Pelosi and yes, Obama’s careless statements regarding holding Bush accountable. As I recall those statements were made long before the full extent of the damage started to appear. And during an election cycle when one has to be careful to avoid saying anything that might upset a slightly less than brilliant conservative voter.”


First, the documentation – on the record stuff- is imperative. Even when it is ‘after the fact’ as these types of efforts always are, the first step is to formally ACKNOWLEDGE via documented declarations, that these crimes have been committed against us, and that they are severe.

The ‘accountability’ is most certainly the other part of it, and we’re actually seeing signs that some of THAT may be in the works as well, now that the election season has concluded. Speaking of which, the timing is probably not a surprise, since I agree with you that at the time of both Pelosi’s and Obama’s careless statements, (which may not have been so careless after all) we did NOT know the full extent, (or even all of the names/dates/places/chain of ‘evidence’) of the destruction. In fact, most American’s haven’t paid a lot of attention to the torture thing. So for the odd collection of us (mostly academics) that have been fixated on this on-going destruction of the Constitution and violation of the foundational tenets of the Geneva Conventions, -Common Article 3- it’s taken this long to get the full details that can tie the chain of command to the bar of the World Court, not to mention the indictment and criminal conviction of the whole flippin’ bunch of them right here as well.

So I say maybe not so careless on their parts, (in suggesting that the bush admin had not committed any impeachable crimes.). It would have been *less* careless for them to have said that (at least then) there were no completed investigations/reviews to even provide the required evidence/documentation to support the charges. That much at least is certainly true. I was amazed at how impressively comprehensive this report is. I mean, it’s lengthy, (even the guts of it that TD posted for us here, and the full thing is 513 pages) and the meticulously supplied details provide the irrefutable evidence for the damning conclusions. In fact, this report can be used as the blueprint for writing the indictments.

BUT, like I was saying..this investigation has only just completed. Much of this testimony has been in just the past 3 or so months. So maybe it was best for Pelosi and Obama to dismiss such impeachment suggestions at the time, even though they certainly could have (and should have) worded it differently. (Besides, Pelosi probably STILL doesn’t know what’s up with this report.) She’s been spending the last 2 years writing and promoting her book.

Obama DID say that such investigations into the conduct of this regime would be accomplished in his new Admin, but that he didn’t want his first term spent primarily prosecuting the criminals of the previous regime. Now it looks like the Senate committee has done at least the grunt work portion of it for them.

And now Levin is all over the place backing the report’s conclusions with a call for a Dick Cheney indictment. Of course Cheney doesn’t seem worried, but then…he wouldn’t be. As I mentioned on another thread, neither was Pinochet.

So we’ll see.

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By cyrena, December 19, 2008 at 1:26 am Link to this comment

•  “..Chairman Levin said, “SERE training techniques were designed to give our troops a taste of what they might be subjected to if captured by a ruthless, lawless enemy so that they would be better prepared to resist. The techniques were never intended to be used against detainees in U.S. custody.”..”

Ah the irony…these detainees WERE captured by a ruthless, lawless enemy, which is why the techniques were used in violation of the laws of war and all of the other international treaties and conventions. Levin just never expected the US to be the ruthless, lawless, enemy.

Now I don’t know why it’s taken so many of our leaders and representatives to Congress so long to figure this out. (and they DID pass the MCA, which literally covered Cheney’s ass with bogus legalese that Congress still signed on to) But, FINALLY, we’re seeing some action.

No surprise that Cheney and Rumsfeld don’t seem worried. Neither was Pinochet.

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By robert carkeek, December 17, 2008 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Senate Panel’s Report On Torture Abuse
Read it.
This report reflects an atrocity perpetrated against citizens of the world not just the American public. Bush, Rumsfeld, and their subordinates who used ambiguity to confuse and oblige “Torture”, crimes against humanity, and ignore the terms of the Geneva Convention have degraded our country’s integrity to all time depths of low.  From it, the American people, and the nation, will not recover without them held to account . If the Obama administration is indeed going wilt into a shrinking violet by not taking a stand for justice, human dignity ,and pride as it relates to the torture of prisoners of war, and their human rights,  Then a Global war crimes court needs to intervene because this is not something you can sweep under the carpet. The fact that our country’s leaders stooped to authorize torturing political detainees or suspected terrorists is a rip in the fabric of American Idealism, smash in the single plate glass of global alliance, and deterrent to growth of every kind, to say nothing of completely and utterly immoral, against the basic principles of our Democratic Republic.
It will be a long slog to restore the worlds confidence in the United States if this true act of terrorism perpetrated by our country’s leaders is left to forgetting.

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By KDelphi, December 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

The Democratic Congress, Senate and Persidency would have to do something about it.

I hope that someone sues the shit out of him…

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By Anarcissie, December 17, 2008 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

In reference to presidential pardons, I think it is not certain that a president can pardon anyone in advance of their being prosecuted, or for as-yet unspecified crimes.  I know that sort of thing has been permitted to go by in the past, but it seems to me it might be challenged.

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By Maani, December 17, 2008 at 10:25 am Link to this comment


Did you all hear that Dick Cheney admitted openly to approving torture?!  I am not joking.  In an ABC interview, Cheney admitted that he personally was involved in approving the “enhanced interrogation” techniques used on enemy combatants, including waterboarding.  And he believes it was correct, and that it was “successful.”

And is everyone also aware that both Japanese and Americans were hanged for engaging in waterboarding, which was considered (including by the U.S.) an unacceptable method of interrogation?

Where is the hue and cry for Cheney’s head?  Where is ANY response by the MSM, the AM or anyone else?  Why is this man - whose admission is on videotape - not immediately being charged with crimes against humanity?

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By KDelphi, December 16, 2008 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

I am no “Fullbright Scholar”, but I think MOST people know what the significance of “shoes or the lack therof” means in Arab culture, by now…dont they?

Now, sometimes people place too much “symbolism ” into things, I believe. Like , when PE Obama spoke to the press about getting his girls a puupy, someone posted, “Oh! How wonderful…or something, and, ‘why doesnt anyone see the symbolism of a gift of a puppy to prove you are not Muslim…”

??? RU kidding me?? I THINK his kids just want a puppy!!!

maybe not…hell, dubya think its about “freedom”—everything is about…“freedom”

Hell, Bush wouldnt know “freedom” if it bit him in the ass..

I would move, if I could, also…probably Canada or EU—maybe even Latin America…

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By Expat, December 16, 2008 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

Maani, December 14 at 7:44 am;

I wish you good luck.  I guarantee it will be a life changing experience; hopefully a positive one.  Interestingly; most westerners do not like Asia and usually burn out after 2 years and leave.  Certainly not all, but the majority for sure.

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By moni, December 15, 2008 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remember that at one moment in time, Obama actually mentioned being a distant cousin of
Dick Cheyney.  Well now Cheyney is saying that Guantanomo should stay open until the “War on Terrorism” is over.  Furthermore, he said that waterboarding is o.k.

Notice how these villainous people want to have their “last hurrahs”  as the Bush administration is winding down.  G Dubya had to visit Iraq again to bid farewell to the country that he unilatteraly invaded.  Having shoes thrown at him is nothing in comparison to all the American soldiers who stormed into Iraqui homes wearing their filthy boots.
In many cultures around the world, wearing shoes/boots into one’s home is the greatest insult and manifestation of uncouth behavior. 
People of Eastern cultures remove their shoes upon entering a home or sacred space. 
The ultimate insult is to wear shoes; carrying the dirt from outside, into the living space of cultured people.
For Americans not to grasp this most basic concept, must be completely baffling to the Iraqui people !

How tragic that the U.S. for all its Fulbright scholars didn’t “get” something so fundamental and Bush was completely unfazed by the gesture of having shoes thrown at him at a conference. 
He did not grasp the symbolic act of having shoes thrown at him . . . he is incapable of such sensibility.

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By dihey, December 14, 2008 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

It has become obvious a long time ago that official reports on torture are actually self-torture.

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By Maani, December 14, 2008 at 8:44 am Link to this comment


Re TD, it does seem like there are more cynics than there used to be - and that some of them (but not all) express their views in less-than-humble ways.  (Though I can’t say I miss Mike Mid-City! LOL).  Still, there are some familiar “faces” still here: Cyrena, Louise, Inherit et al.

Re Dubai, it is more expensive than some, less so than others.  Yes, I can get work.  But in order to live there, I must be given an actual work contract for a minimum of a year.  Note that I also considered Portugal (largest American expat community in the world), and actually had a half-hour meeting with their embassy in NYC.

I’ll keep you apprised.  Nothing is going to happen quickly; if I do this, it will probably not be any earlier than Fall 2009.


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By Expat, December 14, 2008 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

Maani, December 13 at 7:35 pm;

I’ve got to add; surely you’ve noticed most of the old posters here have bailed out.  I bailed because I got censored on a non-controversial point and let TD know how pissed I was about that. It was absolute bollocks!  The site has definitely gone down a notch.  Jackpine savage, Douglas Chalmers, me mostly, you mostly, Joesixpack, anyway more than I can remember.  Pity.

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By Expat, December 14, 2008 at 5:52 am Link to this comment

Maani, December 13 at 7:35 pm;
Dubai, hmmm, curious choice.  Isn’t it expensive to live there?  Will you work there?  Can you work there?  It is good that you’re looking at options though.  Not many will actually do it, only the few who see the greater world and have a sense of what freedom is.

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By KDelphi, December 13, 2008 at 11:20 pm Link to this comment

I wish the Dems had backed Kucinich on the Articles of Impeachment, too!

But, it is hardly a mystery as to why not—-Pelosi and Harman and the rest of the House (at least the “Eight”)were all very aware of what was happening…According to a Washington Post article on Sunday, in 2002 four leading congressmen, including the current speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi,  was “given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make the prisoners talk.”

The Post: “Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was water-boarding… But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two US officials said.”

It was not until November 2005, in the period when the CIA decided to destroy the videotapes, that the American people learned about the interrogation program. The source for these revelations (first reported in an article in the Washington Post on November 2) was not the Democratic Party leadership, but unnamed foreign diplomats and US intelligence officials.

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, has called for the creation of committee to recommend grounds for possible impeachment of Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.

But Pelosi said such a decision rests with her and the Democratic caucus.

“John Conyers is an enthusiastic advocate. I am the leader. Our caucus will decide where we go,” she said.”

The International Red Cross warned the president in 2002 that his administration was committing a war crime for which prosecution was possible. A federal judge (before Pelosi and the Democratic Congress barred further judicial review) declared that the domestic surveillance program was clearly illegal. The Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Bush officials in criminal contempt and referred the matter for prosecution. Yet, Speaker Pelosi insists that there is no evidence of crime while refusing to investigate that allegations.

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By Expat, December 13, 2008 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

Maani, December 13 at 7:35 pm;

Hope you enjoy the listen.
It’s been a real eye opener to live long term out of the States.  I wish I’d done it a long time ago.  I left 2 months after “the invasion” and it’s been a long slow train-wreck ever since. This latest non-revelation is confirmation of what we’ve known for a long time.  I’ll reserve judgment, for the time being, on Obama.  I fear the Faustian slide will slow, but not stop.  We’ll see.

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By Maani, December 13, 2008 at 8:35 pm Link to this comment


“Hey Maani, long time no hear.  Yeah, I’m happy but, I’m so pissed at the destruction of the U.S. and the total lack of even the pretense of doing the right thing.”

Same here.  I’ve been thinking about Dubai for a while.  No joke.  I have a (white, British) friend who lived in Qatar for eight months, and has been living in Dubai for the past year.  He loves it.  Even gave up his home and all holdings in GB to relocate there permanently.  Third (or fourth - I forget) largest American expat community in the world.  (Plus huge Canadian and South African expat communities.)  And although every country has been affected by the global economic meltdown, they are still doing basically okay.

Will listen to your reading shortly.  Interesting: I’ve heard of books on tape - but books on YouTube?  Maybe you will start a trend!


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By 3lites, December 13, 2008 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The real story:  Rumsfeld followed orders. 


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By Expat, December 13, 2008 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

Maani, December 13 at 8:49 am;
Hey Maani, long time no hear.  Yeah, I’m happy but, I’m so pissed at the destruction of the U.S. and the total lack of even the pretense of doing the right thing.

I’ve finished a couple of books.  Here’s a link to my reading of a bit of one on youtube.  Check it out if you like;

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By Maani, December 13, 2008 at 11:33 am Link to this comment


Just remember the old adage: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t someone after you.”



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By badlawdog, December 13, 2008 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

anybody out there getting the feeling that their house has been secretly searched? At the risk of sounding delusional, I know my home has been entered and I cant figure out why. I’m an educated, law abiding citizen. I am not involved in drugs, crime, etc. The only thing I can come up with this that I blog/post alot of anti-israeli (not antisemetic) comments here and elsewhere and have had my account revoked several times (especially on alternet)...I was talking with a friend, who also posts anti-isreali (not antisemetic) comments in the local papers, etc and they too feel someone has been in their home…we discussed the homeland security chief (chertoff) and all his jewish buddies he’s placed in upper positions within this new organization, and we smell a rat…Anybody relate??

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By Maani, December 13, 2008 at 9:49 am Link to this comment


LOL.  As ever, the happy expatriate…LOL.


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By Expat, December 13, 2008 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Dream on; the world’s greatest war criminals since Hitler will escape prosecution and finish out their lives as respectable citizens among their twisted peers.  That’s one of many reasons I will never return to the U.S.  There is no greater ideal than the advertised America; but the reality is devastating and far from the thing as advertised.  Further; when the call to arms came to take back the Constitution; it was a no show.  I live in a country struggling with a democratic form of government and they mostly get it wrong: But it’s far preferable to the rampant hypocrisy in America (I can’t stand lies and especially, my intelligence insulted).  I can deal with reality but not the propaganda, lies, spinning, media’s compliance, and most importantly; the immense apathy of the American citizens.  Sign me, over and out; enjoy Faust’s journey into the depths of Hell.

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By Purple Girl, December 13, 2008 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

It really would have been foolish to begin any real legal action before this - Pardons and commutations being readily available to get his superiors or Minions out of hot water.
But with only a little over a Month left In power, these Cases won’t be decided Until AFTER 1-20-09. ‘pre Pardoning is admission of guilt, and we know how much W & Dick hate to admit ANY wrong they’ hang their cohorts out to dry by not admitting the Buck stopped at them and WE will be able to roast every last one of them….Better start grabing Passports and informing ‘non Extradtiction’ countries, that harboring these Criminals will amount to haboring terrorists. If you will not Act, WE will to capture and punish these International Criminals. They didn’t just screw US, they screwed the Global community.The Oil royals may find their palaces destroyed if they try to protect their ‘pets’. We will catch the Saudi’s native son and we will capture their lapdogs, one way or another, With them or THROUGH them.

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By Ron Ranft, December 13, 2008 at 1:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My old History Professor at the University I attended must be laughing uncontrollably by now. In 1989 he said that the level of acceptable misconduct by our elected national representatives had reached a point where unless the person was found standing over a dead body with a smoking gun in his hand they would not be charge with any crime. So this lengthy investigation goes on and they publish this very lengthy list of criminals and their crimes but they never propose any penalties. Ever since the Demowon’ts have come into control they have conducted investigations and hearing on a number of subjects. They point and pontificate, say tisk, tisk and then move on to the next subject as if just mere detailing of the lies, frauds, and criminal corruption was penalty enough. Obama on more than one occasion said that he has no interest in pursuing any criminal investigation of the Bush Administration. He has decided to follow the Pelosi policy. With years of books and articles detailing al the crimes and the proof the Demowon’ts still refuse to do their job. Why, because it is quid pro quo. The Dems have supported these lies that the Repugs told. The Dems have gotten as rich off this war and the ajoining crimes as the GOP. Why do poor and middleclass people continually elect rich people who only mouth the promise of change and new ideas and then feel betrayed. It is they who betray. They betray their own interests and their own ideals when they vote these scoundrels into office. They remain willfully ignorant. They shouldn’t blame Bush, they should blame themselves for electing him and all the people who were complicit in the crimes he committed.

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By Maani, December 12, 2008 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment


Don’t get me wrong; I’m proud of Jerry and hope the resolution passes.  (Though I wish he would have supported Kucinch’s articles of impeachment, which he did not.)

That said, I noted on another thread what I believe to be the best way to make Bush et al pay for their crimes, since it is unlikely (though certainly not impossible) that they will be indicted even after they leave office.  (Though, given that Obama is a constitutional scholar, and did say something about possibly looking into the Bush administration’s crimes, he might still do something to surprise us all.)

The best way to “get” Bush & Co. is for Obama to make the U.S. a formal member of the ICC, and then have the ICC do an investigation, with the Obama administration’s help, and, perhaps, indictments would come out re war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.

That seems to be the most likely way that Bush & Co. will ever be held accountable.


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By Louise, December 12, 2008 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment


“Because of the tens of thousands of our action page submissions in the last couple weeks, the mainstream media is actually talking about the prospect of blanket pardons, including the despicable act of Bush planning to pardon himself. The White House has even been forced to issue a non-denial denial, saying that Bush is “disinclined” to issue such pardons.”


Titled: H. RES. 1531:

A RESOLUTION Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the President of the United States should not issue pardons to senior members of his administration during the final 90 days of his term of office.


If in fact the resolution is voted on and passed by the house of Representatives, it will have no more power in force than any of the other, “Expressing the Sense of the House” resolutions passed by the House since 2006. Other than to become a part of the Congressional Record, which could ultimately lead [in this case] to an amendment to the Constitution.

And it accomplishes one other thing. Standing as documented knowledge, it affirms to the people that the House of Representatives understands the gravity of the abuses committed by Bush 43!

That is extremely important given Pelosi and yes, Obama’s careless statements regarding holding Bush accountable. As I recall those statements were made long before the full extent of the damage started to appear. And during an election cycle when one has to be careful to avoid saying anything that might upset a slightly less than brilliant conservative voter.

But the House also understands the improbability of the Senate, still mightily populated by repubs, to join in and do something ... anything ... to stop the abuse. We have seen the most perfect example in the last twenty four hours, of how ineffective the Congress can be when a handful of right-wing, wing-nuts dig in their heels and refuse to do anything to deal with a horrible situation!

I believe as time unfolds, we will learn much more about the Bush 43 administration than we know now. I believe it will be far worse, far more wide-spread and far reaching than we can even imagine. As bad and inexcusable as torture is, that will prove to be just one of many horrors that stain the memory of Bush 43!

I believe as we struggle to recover from what is yet to come, the realization that legislation and yes, a Constitutional Amendment to prevent it’s happening again will come about. That is as good a reason as any to encourage the present members of the House of Representatives to vote yes on this resolution.



“What an ugly state of affairs, when both Congress and the new administration refuse to do their Constitutionally mandated duties.”


I am a bit puzzled. What marvelous Crystal Ball gives you the certainty to say with such authority, “... both Congress and the new administration refuse to do their Constitutionally mandated duties.” ???

How can you know when the new Congress and the new administration have not yet been seated? In case you didn’t know, they, he, them can not take over until January 6, 2009, and January 20, 2009, respectively.

And now, we the people have the power of proof, thanks to this report.

So rather than give up, excercise your right as a citizen and quickly dispatch a request to your curent sitting representative, and/or your soon to be seated representative to read this report, then vote for H. RES. 1531, if by then it hasn’t yet happened!

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By Dale Headley, December 12, 2008 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is depressing that a large number of Americans looked at the Abu Ghraib photos and, like Rush Limbaugh, said “So?”  To paraphrase Richard Nixon: if Americans do it, it’s not wrong.

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By nrobi, December 12, 2008 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment

Duhhhhhhbya, the unimpeachable!  What a stain on the American soul. This coming from the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, D, Cal. That there was no evidence of any illegal acts and that there is not a shred of evidence that any crimes against humanity were committed by the current administration.
This along with the statement of Barack Obama, that there would be no investigation of any illegalities that may have been committed or were committed by the shrub’s administration, puts the nail in the coffin on the world finding out about any crimes that the Congress should have investigated while the administration was doing them.
What an ugly state of affairs, when both Congress and the new administration refuse to do their Constitutionally mandated duties.
How is this government to survive this kind of stain?  Are the American people to be kept in the dark about serious war crimes that have been committed by the shrub’s administration? This question I can answer with absolute certainty, YES!
Congress and the next administration, have failed the American people in their fight to control the “imperial presidency,” and the acts that have been committed by the illegal and immoral administration of George W. Bush.
It saddens me that no one will stand up for the people in the coming months and fight for the rights of those who have been wronged and harmed by the illegal and immoral acts of G.W. Bush.
Should these crimes ever be brought into a true court
of law, then we the people would have a voice in the administration of justice in the matter of the People v. G.W. Bush et. al.

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By Maani, December 12, 2008 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment


While Jerry Nadler (in whose district I live) is to be commended for his actions, unfortunately it is highly unlikely that any court - including the Supreme Court - would find that ANYTHING overrides a president’s sole, unilateral and exclusive right to grant pardons (except for impeachment).  The following is some text from a scholarly site on this issue:

“The President has the power to completely overturn a criminal conviction.  This is a full pardon.  The conviction is wiped away as if it never happened.  The President can commute a criminal sentence, turning a life sentence into a 10 year sentence or a death penalty into a life sentence.  The President can make a pardon conditional, vacating a conviction but leaving paid fines in place, or even making the payment of a fine a prerequisite before a pardon takes effect…”

“There are, however, things that a pardon cannot cover.  The first and most obvious is impeachment, since it is specifically excepted in the Constitution.  Civil liability cannot be excused — a harm against another can still be considered a harm even if there is no longer any criminal liability.  Contempts of court cannot be pardoned, as they are offenses against the dignity of the court, and not necessarily offenses against the law.  In the Constitutional Convention, a proposal to except treason was popular, but was defeated when the talk turned to granting the Senate only the power to pardon treason.”

“Finally, there is no review of pardons.  This issue, too, was brought up in the Constitutional Convention, that pardons be granted with the consent of the Senate, but the measure was defeated on the vote of eight states to one….”

“The President need not provide a reason for a pardon, and the courts and the Congress have no legal authority to approve, disapprove, reject, or accept a pardon.  Currently, the only way to change the pardon power is by constitutional amendment…”

So unless Bush is impeached (for which there is no time even if articles of impeachment were drafted and accepted next week), there seems nothing that can be done to prevent him from doing whatever it is he plans to do.


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By Spiritgirl, December 12, 2008 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

For anyone that understands strict order and discipline, the military was “under orders”!  There is no way that those personnel convicted of torture were “rogue soldiers/bad apples”!  Those personnel were following orders from the highest levels!  It is unfortunate that the criminals that prosecuted this war skipped out, or had other things to do when it was their time (Viet Nam)!  It is also unfortunate for the over 4,000 dead and thousands of wounded Americans and Iraqi’s that have been harmed because of the lies of spoiled grown children that still have not been brought to account for these crimes!

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By Thomas P. Higgins, December 12, 2008 at 11:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By his own testimony, we know that Donald Rumsfeld ordered an Iraqi prisoner to be held in secret for several months, a violation of the Geneva Conventions and Title 18 United States Code § 2441.
At a June 2004 press conference, Rumsfeld stated that George J. Tenet, then Director of Central Intelligence, requested that an Iraqi detainee be hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross.  At that news conference, Rumsfeld admitted that he complied with Tenet’s request by ordering the U.S. military to hold the detainee in secret.  Reportedly, the military secretly held that “ghost detainee” for more than seven months. “We were asked not to immediately register the individual, and we did that,” Rumsfeld said.

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By Louise, December 12, 2008 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

We all know that George Bush as someone without even the guts to face his own music, he who sent more than four thousand brave Americans to their senseless graves, for a premeditated and knowing lie in Iraq, tens of thousands of American crippled and mutilated for life.

TRILLIONS looted from our economy, and he doesn’t even have the simple courage to risk the
accountability of having to defend his numberless crimes in a fair trial.

It is now known that Nixon seriously considered pardoning himself, but even he was not THAT despicable. George Bush most certainly is!

And remember that his administration has been infested with Nixon era cronies like CHENEY and RUMSFELD, so it is no surprise that the malfeasance of the Nixon era has been magnified in the last eight years.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, introduced a Resolution in the House of Representatives demanding that President Bush refrain from issuing pre-emptive pardons of *SENIOR OFFICIALS* in his Administration during the final 90 days of office.  (*That would INCLUDE Rumsfeld!)

H.RES.1531 is in response to President Bush’s widespread abuses of power and potentially criminal transgressions against our Constitution.  The Resolution aims to prevent undeserved pardons of officials who may have been co-conspirators in the President’s unconstitutional policies, such as torture, illegal surveillance and curtailing of due process for defendants.

Because of the tens of thousands of our action page submissions in the last couple weeks, the mainstream media is actually talking about the prospect of blanket pardons, including the despicable act of Bush planning to pardon himself.

The White House has even been forced to issue a non-denial denial, saying that Bush is “disinclined” to issue such pardons.

Representative Nadler has put forward H. Res. 1531, which has some really terrific text in it about the intent of the founders and how this all relates to impeachment, so there is a definite suggestion there that a self pardon in particular would be compelling grounds for impeachment. Please submit this action page as well to ask your House member to co-sponsor this.

In an article in the New York Times the other day, current attorney general Mukasey is quoted as asserting it would not be “necessary” to grant blanket pardons. But please take careful note he did not say it wouldn’t happen, because unless we speak out now it WILL.

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By Jared, December 12, 2008 at 10:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The NYTimes article uses the word torture twice: once in a quote, and once describing McCain’s torture as a POW. Bad reporting.

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