Friday, May 15, 2009

Cheney and Other Republican Liars and Hypocrites

Since 2002, no government official lied about the war in Iraq more than Dick Cheney. In a different era, the vice president would have been impeached and sent packing. Cheney's outing of a CIA officer whose husband's factual report on Niger yellowcake disagreed with Cheney's self-serving fantasies should have been enough to send the vice president to jail. Dick Cheney's authoritarian and anti-social character has been on display repeatedly but in no case was it more obvious than when he shot a friend of his in the face with a shotgun and it was the friend who was obliged to apologize. Strange man, Dick Cheney.

I am proud to be yet another blog linking to Larry Wilkerson's article in The Washington Note:
...when Cheney claims that if President Obama stops "the Cheney method of interrogation and torture", the nation will be in danger, he is perverting the facts once again. But in a very ironic way.

My investigations have revealed to me--vividly and clearly--that once the Abu Ghraib photographs were made public in the Spring of 2004, the CIA, its contractors, and everyone else involved in administering "the Cheney methods of interrogation", simply shut down. Nada. Nothing. No torture or harsh techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator. Period. People were too frightened by what might happen to them if they continued.

What I am saying is that no torture or harsh interrogation techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator for the entire second term of Cheney-Bush, 2005-2009.


Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.


There in fact were no such contacts.

It's a national disgrace that right-wing Republicans continue to coddle such liars as Dick Cheney. But Cheney wasn't the only liar. We have to include such 'stalwart' Republicans as Donald Rumseld, Scooter Libby, Alberto Gonzalez, Douglas Feith, and yes, George W. Bush. There were plenty of others. The fact remains that the Bush Administration felt comfortable lying to Congress for eight years. But they didn't stop there. They lied to the American people.

Now Nancy Pelosi is accused of lying about what she was told by an administration that had little credibility. Our country needs a reliable non-political CIA but Bush and Cheney were doing everything they could to politicize parts of the government that had always been nonpolitical and bipartisan. As an example, the Bush Administration promoted people like Dusty Foggo to the number three spot at the CIA:
Foggo is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria after pleading guilty to a single count of fraud as part of a plea bargain. He is the highest ranking CIA officer ever to be convicted of a federal felony.

The fraud was part of a bribery ring that included Foggo's old friend, contractor Brent Wilkes, and former [Republican] Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, both of whom have been sentenced to years in prison.

Court papers filed this week offer the most detailed glimpse yet of Foggo's misconduct, which included getting his mistress hired to a $100,000 a year job at the CIA and steering millions of dollars in CIA contracts to Wilkes.

Even in the CIA there were people under Bush who were feeding at the public trough.

Again, most people in the intelligence community are competent professionals. But Bush and Cheney were not shy about bending the rules and finding people who would do the same. Here's another example of life under Bush by way of Talking Points Memo:
Adm. Mike McConnell came in as the Director of National Intelligence with a rep for being professional and non-partisan, a calling card the Bush Administration has put to its own uses.


In his first months as DNI, McConnell did plenty to undermine that rep. He told Congress that three German terrorism suspects had been arrested due to intercepts made possible by the then-new Protect America Act when in fact they were obtained under the old FISA law. Soon after, McConnell offered a especially misleading account to Congress of a supposed FISA Court ruling that had delayed the U.S. from spying on the kidnappers of U.S. troops in Iraq. And throughout congressional debate on a surveillance law he claimed that the debate itself endangered American lives.

Then earlier this year, he suggested that a questioner at a public event at Johns Hopkins was "disappointed" that the U.S. hadn't suffered additional terrorist attacks. And now McConnell has really let lose, framing the Senate debate on the surveillance bill as being between those who think "we shouldn't have an Intelligence Community" and those who do. That has prompted a letter from Sen. Russ Feingold demanding an apology for those false characterizations of the debate.

There were other people besides McConnell who served at Bush's pleasure and thought nothing of lying to Congress. We know Cheney and others were liars. We know they lied to people like Pelosi. Until proven otherwise, I think we already know who the liars are. In the current political climate, Dick Cheney will never be prosecuted and sent to jail for his crimes. At the very least, he should go home and the news media should stop paying attention to a man who lied his way into a war our nation did not need.

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Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

I don't remember where or exactly when, but I read or heard that Cheney had hooks deep in the Pentagon and CIA. They were the kind of contacts who would talk to him first, or to him only, when something came up. I'm sure contacts like those wouldn't have a problem with setting someone up and/or lying at Cheney's request.

I wouldn't be surprised if some Republicans in Congress are nervous about the possibility of Cheney and/or Bush being the subjects of a special-prosecutor investigation or even a truth commission because of the likelihood of one or both giving up others to reduce their own legal consequences.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

S.W., Thanks for the comments. You're right about Cheney. And you're right about the nervousness of the Republicans. I certainly wish a few nuts would crack.

But I think some Democrats in Congress and particularly the Senate worry about political landmines if they don't pursue the torture issue correctly. Then there are issues around the Pentagon and CIA that have to be pursued carefully if Obama is to have any kind of effective foreign policy. Under Bush, large portions of the Pentagon and CIA understandably revolted to a certain extent. But there are still all those people hired under Bush and Cheney. There are major issues involved.

Where to go on the torture issue is not something I'm able to read very well at the moment. I wish I had the answers. The problem is that most Americans still don't understand the issues very well. Too many still buy into the 24 argument. Obviously torture to justify the war in Iraq after the fact rather undermines Cheney's already feeble arguments.

To be honest, I wish the focus would fall back on the obvious corruption that was taking place during the Bush years. That's something people can understand. With that, another push on the torture issue might be possible. But I don't see much of a push in that area either. Very puzzling.

I have to admit I'm thoroughly flummoxed. A majority of Americans seem to get how bad Bush was for our foreign policy and how bad he was for our economy. But it's a soft, grumpy majority that can crumble away fairly quickly. People are very frustrated by the economy. What still remains of a wishy washy media manages to paint Democrats with the same brush that Republicans so clearly painted themselves. A few Democrats have not helped matters.

I don't think Obama gets enough credit for understanding some of the issues along these lines. He's more astute than most of his critics on his left. I think you wrote a good post that picks up on that. It's important to push on the torture issue but not at the cost of dealing effectively with the economy and not at the cost of giving back the White House to the Republicans who will simply return to Bushism given the current nature of their party.

Curiously, I'm optimistic that many of these issues will eventually get dealt with but everything in my bones says it will take time. And yet, part of me wonders if it will taken a constitutional amendment to deal effectively with some of these issues. For example, even if there was a legitimate argument for pardoning the Iran/Contra people, those people should never have been allowed back into the government under George W. That may have to be fixed. Otherwise, it's a revolving door.

By the way, you've been doing some excellent writing on your blog.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

Thanks for the kind words.

I'm less interested in seeing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al behind bars or subjected to damning censure than I am in upholding the rule of law and creating a deterrent for future presidents and high officials.

I don't want Obama and his people hobbled by what much of the public might perceive as a witch hunt concerning what many people consider water under the bridge. But I also don't want this just swept under the rug so future presidents and administrations can engage in similar wrongdoing secure in the knowledge they will get away with it.

10:16 PM  

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