American Conservative: Bush’s Torture/Dictatorship Scandal

Here is the full text of my piece on the Military Commissions Act & the torture scandal from the December 18, 2006 issue of the American Conservative.

It is good to see the screws tightening on some of these Bush rascals. This scandal could put an end to Bush II. [Comments Welcome at the End of this Blog Entry].

Bush’s Torture Ticking Time Bomb: Sins of Commission

By James Bovard

Have Republicans become the party of torture, secret prisons, and indefinite detention? In his speech last month on signing the Military Commissions Act, President Bush declared that the bill “sends a clear message… We will never back down from the threats to our freedom.” “Rough interrogation” (a.k.a. torture) in the name of freedom may be Bush’s clearest ideological legacy.

Bush endlessly reminds listeners that “the U.S. does not torture” and that “torture is not an American value.” But “What is torture?” is the Bush version of the Pontius Pilate question. Bush appears to be using the definition of torture crafted by Justice Department official John Yoo: if detainees weren’t maimed or killed, they weren’t tortured. And the Justice Department acts as if, even if detainees are killed during interrogations, it is best to treat the deaths as harmless errors.

The MCA was rushed through Congress in September to overturn a Supreme Court decision that struck down Bush’s military tribunals and scorning of the Geneva Conventions. The new law -far more dangerous than the more controversial Patriot Act- is perhaps the biggest disgrace Congress has enacted since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Stephen Grey, the author of Ghost Plane, notes, “The act grants fewer rights to defendants than the Nazis got at Nuremberg.”

The MCA awarded Bush the power to label anyone on earth an enemy combatant and lock then up in perpetuity, nullifying the habeas corpus provision of the Constitution and “turning back the clock 800 years,” as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said. While only foreigners can be tried before military tribunals, Americans accused of being enemy combatants can be detained indefinitely without charges and without appeal. Even though the Pentagon has effectively admitted that many of the people detained at Guantanamo were wrongfully seized and held, the MCA presumes that the president of the United States is both omniscient and always fair.

Instead of clear standards established by the legislature, the president decrees what methods of brutalizing detainees are allowed, regardless of the Geneva Convention or the U.S. Anti-Torture Act. As Yale law professor Jack Balkin notes, “The President has created a new regime in which he is a law unto himself on issues of prisoner interrogations. He decides whether he has violated the laws, and he decides whether to prosecute the people he in turn urges to break the law.” White House press spokesman Tony Snow agreed that the law made Bush the “final arbiter on torture.”

Though U.S. government interrogation methods have been intensely controversial around the world, most congressmen looked the other way and rubber-stamped Bush’s legislative wish list. The Boston Globe reported in September that “because of the Bush administration’s restrictive policy on sharing classified information with Congress, very few of the people engaged in the debate will know what they’re talking about.” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Al.) epitomized the prevailing righteous ignorance when he declared, “I don’t know what the CIA has been doing, nor should I know.” The less they know, the easier it is for Republican congressmen to deny U.S. government wrongdoing.

Since the end of the Middle Ages, civilized nations have frowned on relying on brute force to determine facts in judicial proceedings. But Monty Python appears to be the patron saint of the MCA. “Evidence” gained via coercion is admissible as long as a military judge deigns that the methods used did not rise to torture. Military commissions can accept “evidence” produced by interrogations that violated “cruel, unusual or inhumane treatment” standardsas long as such abuses occurred before Dec. 30, 2005, when Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act. (Bush effectively vetoed this law with a signing statement.) It was nice that Congress formally picked a date for the rebirth of decency, but it doesn’t have sticking power.

The Bush team is exploiting fears on national security to practically guarantee the use of tortured confessions. The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to prohibit defendant Majid Khan, a former Catonsville, Md. resident who was nabbed in Pakistan, from revealing to anyone -even his defense attorney -the interrogation methods he endured. A Justice Department spokeswoman claimed that letting Khan discuss his interrogation with his lawyer “is inadequate to protect unique and potentially highly classified information that is vital to our country’s ability to fight terrorism.” Thus, the feds can use whatever Khan said against him while hiding the methods that made him squeal. 

The MCA creates procedural biases akin to a 1938 Moscow show trial. Defense attorneys can “challenge the use of hearsay information obtained through coercive interrogations in distant countries only if they can prove it is unreliable,” the Washington Post noted.  But it will be almost impossible to disprove an accusation when a defense lawyer is not allowed to question or perhaps even know who made the charge.

From early 2002, some high-ranking Bush administration officials have apparently feared that they could face prosecution for their interrogation policies. But the MCA retroactively decriminalized tortureat least such actions committed before the end of 2005. The act will make it almost impossible for victims of torture (or their survivors) to bring cases against perpetrators. The closest precedent for this blanket pardon comes not from American justice but from the amnesty laws Latin American regimes enacted to immunize military officials who carried out bloody crackdowns against leftists in the 1970s and 1980s.

Like an old-time southern segregationist campaign, the Republican Party has proceeded to portray any congressmen who failed to vote for the MCA as a “terrorist lover.” House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill) claimed that Democrats had “voted in favor of new rights for terrorists,” and House Majority Leader John Boehner declared that Democrats “voted against bringing the most dangerous terrorists to justice.” The National Republican Senatorial Committee denounced incumbent Democrats who voted against suspending habeas corpus for having “sided with trial lawyers and terrorists.” After Bush signed the bill, a Republican National Committee press release was headlined, “Democrats would let terrorists free.”

Throughout the fall campaign, the GOP used the MCA to flaunt its “tough on terrorism” message. At a “Texas Victory Rally” on Oct. 30, Bush declared, “When it came time to vote on whether or not to allow the CIA to continue its program to detain and question captured terrorists, more than 80 percent of House Democrats voted against it.” Bush coached the audience to respond to his questions as if the event were a giant DARE rally. The president asked, “When it comes to questioning terrorists, what’s the Democrat’s answer?” The audience roared, “Just say no!” 

Aside from Bush and other Republicans’ dishonest taunts of Democrats, torture was a non-issue in congressional campaigns. The New York Times noted, “In a season of shameless attack ads, torture is still too shameful to be debated.” Few, if any, Democratic candidates had enough confidence in themselves or the voters to highlight the Bush administration’s worst abuse of power. 

That doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t use the investigative powers their new majority affords. For though Bush rhetorically takes the high ground on the torture issue, it now appears that the president may personally have blood on his hands. On Nov. 14, the ACLU released a CIA letter confirming the existence of “a directive signed by President Bush granting the CIA the authority to set up detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees.” This confirms a May 2004 e-mail from the FBI’s “On Scene Commander” in Baghdad stating that U.S. military officials in Iraq assured him that a secret presidential Executive Order permitted using extreme interrogation techniques considered illegal by the FBI including “sensory deprivation through the use of hoods,” stress positions, and military dogs.

The Justice Department has so far blocked release of the actual document, but a federal judge may force the feds to cough it up. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is also demanding to see the document. If this Bush letter does hit the streets, it may be akin to a 1972 memo from Richard Nixon specifying the exact methods of lock-picking the Watergate burglars should use. Bush’s involvement in the torture scandal may be far deeper than Nixon’s involvement in Watergate. 

The Bush secret ruling on interrogation methods may explain the Justice Department’s passivity on torture cases. The CIA Inspector General recommended that the Justice Department prosecute a CIA agent involved in the demise of an Iraqi detainee at Abu Ghraib. As the New Yorker reported, Manadel al-Jamadi died during an interrogation during which his head was covered in a plastic bag and he was “shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe.” This was one of at least eight cases the CIA referred for prosecution, including cases of homicides during CIA interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Justice Department refuses to prosecute any of the alleged torturers. The feds cannot prosecute CIA agents without risking public disclosure of the presidential order authorizing the torture of detainees.

As long as the Justice Department doesn’t prosecute federal torturers, Bush can continue denying U.S. torture. People killed during interrogations thus remain the exceptions that prove the rule that the U.S. never tortures. The military classified the deaths of at least 34 detainees as suspected or confirmed homicides; the CIA has released no tally of its morgue entries.  

The New Yorker noted, “under the Bush Administration’s secret interrogation guidelines, the killing of Jamadi might not have broken any laws.” Unfortunately, there is no reason to assume that Bush has not given interrogators a license to kill. Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, told a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee early this year that Bush could order killings of suspected terrorists within the United States. When Newsweek contacted the Justice Department to verify this novel legal doctrine, spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos stressed that Bradbury’s comments occurred during an “off-the-record briefing.” Any Bush-ordered killings within the United States would also presumably be off-the-record.

President Bush has been able to seize nearly boundless power because his administration has been able to control what Americans know. But this control is crumbling. Democratic congressional investigations, court cases, and the military tribunals themselves could unearth far more damaging documents and photographs than anything seen thus far.

The MCA is “enabling act” legislation that preserves the appearance of law while empowering the commander in chief to do as he pleases. Bush’s torture policies may signal that he accepts the dicta of Richard Nixon: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” But the firewall of high approval ratings that buttressed Bush when the first Abu Ghraib photos leaked is gone. The media is exasperated with the administration’s penchant for secrecy. Much of Bush’s conservative intellectual bodyguard has given up the fight. It remains to be seen how much dunking, thumping, and cold water the Bush team can survive.

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy and eight other books.

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55 Responses to American Conservative: Bush’s Torture/Dictatorship Scandal

  1. John Lowell December 8, 2006 at 4:15 pm #

    I would not count on the new congress to redress this awful situation. I fear it will not be redressed even with a Democratic presidential victory and both houses in Democratic hands in 2008, what with Mc Cain, Clinton, Biden, Bayh and other warmongers in the mix. This country, if it is going anywhere, is going right into the sewer. The last fifteen years have seen the inexorable development of a culture of death and personally irresponsibility at every possible level, president to peon. And yesterday was the 55th anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor, a event after which the people of this country really stood tall. There is an enormous difference in the character of the people that managed to survive the Great Depression and WWII and the narcissistic cell phone schlubs of the present age. One of the blessings of an early post retirement death would be to escape such people.

    John Lowell

  2. GWB December 8, 2006 at 5:33 pm #

    Will no ride me of this troublesome commentator?

  3. GWB December 8, 2006 at 5:34 pm #

    oops, should be “rid” instead of “ride”

  4. Comrade O'Brien December 8, 2006 at 8:23 pm #

    Attention Comrades,
    Please visit http://ministryoflove.wordpress.com to learn about our creative protest of the MCA.

  5. Tom Blanton December 8, 2006 at 8:33 pm #

    Yes, Republicans have become the party of torture, secret prisons, and indefinite detention. Unfortunately, the Democrats seem to have become the party that doesn’t mind torture so much. I predict any Democrat investigations will conclude that “mistakes were made” and leave it at that.

    Meanwhile, the Christian Right supporters of Bush have revealed themselves as true hypocrites. Killing certain babies (collateral damage) is now OK. Lying for a noble crusade is now OK.

    I imagine quite a few Bush supporters would be wary of those who torture animals in their midst, but those who torture people can be honored as heros when they return to civilian life.

    Those Christians that imagine Bush is some sort of religious figure have revealed themselves to be guilty of the same sins they accuse Muslims of.

    It’s time to end this crusade of lunacy.

    Kudos to American Conservative for publishing this article.

  6. Gary L. Livacari, D.D.S. December 8, 2006 at 8:47 pm #

    I’ve been predicting that Bush will not survive to the end of his term in office. Impeachment or resignation – which I think is the more likely scenario – is surely coming.

    Whar saved Clinton when he was impeached is that his approval ratings never dipped below 50%. Plus he had the benefit of the mainstram media casting dispersions on the Republicans motives. Bush won’t have these advantages. He’ll start out the new year with ratings in the low 30′s. The Democrats will start hearings on the Conduct of the War and will uncover impeachable offenses everywhere they look: from “cooked” and “cherry-picked” intelligence, to Bush’s complicency in torture, as you mention. Plus a media playing a willing and active role in his downfall.

    Many people suspect something was amiss with the pre-war intelligence and the missing WMD’s, but the hearings will have a crystalizing and devestating effect. Many America’s are ready to explode over Iraq, and these revelations will surely provide the catalyst for the detonation.

    How long will it be before the three-man Republican “Elder” committee – consisting of John McCain, James Baker, and John Warner – make the long walk to the White House with the message: Sir, it’s time to go. You can’t surive an impeachment vote.”

    I don’t think he’ll resist, and I predict he’ll be got by next year at this time.

  7. Jim December 9, 2006 at 12:01 am #

    Tom – You may be right about the Dems losing their nerve on the investigations.

    But I think some of the subpoenas or the court cases may unearth documents which create their own momentum.

    On the other hand, idealism has always been my downfall.

  8. Jim December 9, 2006 at 12:03 am #

    Gary Livacari – your scenario could happen. But if I was a betting man, I would wager the case of good beer on Bush still being in office a year from now.

    But it would be uplifting – and edifying for the country – if the Democrats do great hearings that expose great crimes.

  9. whig December 9, 2006 at 4:13 am #

    I agree with Gary, and if the Democratic members of congress even begin to uncover some of the cobwebs you’re going to Republicans throwing men overboard up to and including Bush to protect their own complicity. The real question is whether the investigations will proceed beyond the point of deposing the administration, and whether or not they do we should not let up until everyone who consented in torture (including every member of congress who voted for the MCA) is exposed.

  10. sarah meyer December 9, 2006 at 4:40 am #

    What is also DISGRACEFUL is that the present US govn. appoints people associated with torture to high positions. I am speaking of Branz Craddock and General McNeil – both NATO. This should NOT be allowed to happen.

  11. salem s December 9, 2006 at 10:12 am #

    most Americans have no problem whatsoever with torture and all actions taken by the Bush adminstration that are aginst the constitution as long as the victims of such actions continue to be Muslims,or any one who is identified as Muslim,Jose Padilla,his being a Muslim convert and former gang member is emphaised so much by the media than he is bieng an American citizen, is a case in point.

  12. sharpclaws December 9, 2006 at 1:34 pm #

    First of all, a hearty “Job well done!” to Mr. Bovard for his tireless work in exposing the anti-constitutional actions of our ruling class.

    Unfortunately, I am not very sanguine about the likelihood of the Democrats holding this administration accountable for its unchecked,unconstitutional power grabs. History shows that the lust for power transcends party lines and with the Democrats poised to recapture the White House in ’08 why should they work to diminish powers that they may shortly assume? I am afraid that our once proud rule-of-law republic is rapidly deteriorating into a faux-democracy in which the only choice the citizens have is which tyrant will exploit them. Boy, I sure hope I’m wrong about this!

  13. Jim December 9, 2006 at 6:39 pm #

    I poached this excellent comment from Scott Horton’s Stress website, which posted this full text -
    Mace Price Says:

    December 9th, 2006 at 5:01 am
    …Ol’ Jim Bovard sure knows how to scare the shit of ya doesn’t he? And if that isn’t bad enough his argument as an Attorney only adds substance to, and reinforces the obvious conviction that everyone seems reluctant to address in its final analysis: Something’s gotta give here in terms of US Iraq-Middle East War Policy sooner or later…one way or the other…The question being: Will the State continue to prosecute an increasingly unpopular war despite the will of the electorate, against the the counsel of the Military, to the continued risk of National Security and in lieu of objective assessments made by even former partisans that it continues a failure? If so, what does the State propose in terms of stifling further and inevitable dissent? The exercise of punitive authority? An actual violent demonstration to popular opinion the actual meaning of the term Power? Given what we are contemporary witness to in the affairs and policies of this Nation I am inclined to believe that it is not a future impossibility. George Orwell’s observation of Power is as definitive, succinct and uncompromisingly applicable in this present debacle. Then as now “Power is the ability to make someone suffer. It exists not as a means to an end, but moreover for its own sake.” I believe and even fear this reality may well be animated by the State before the reality of a disaster in terms of an intractable situation we face in the middle east, not to mention the death mayhem, waste and destruction is finally submitted to the forces of reason..By degrees it is become a state of affairs that cannot be tolerated indefinitely.

  14. Jim Richardson December 9, 2006 at 11:43 pm #

    As a former Republican turned Independent I hope and pray the Democrats do expose the crimes of the Bush Administration. I now want to see the Republican Party stomped out of existence by an enraged American electorate for the crimes this Administration has committed with Republican acquiescence. There should be a cry for impeachment and it should come from a Republican throat. That at least might somewhat redeem the Party that gave us this nightmare.
    Let the investigations begin and let us root out the most corrupt administration in American history.
    Young Americans dying in a needless war in Iraq to make Dick Cheney’s rich friends richer is the sad legacy of the Bush fiasco.

  15. Jim December 10, 2006 at 8:49 am #

    Another comment poached from Scott Horton’s Stress blog on this article:
    Tim Says:
    December 9th, 2006 at 11:49 pm
    This whole “nudge nudge wink wink” pro-torture, or at best, “soft-on-torture”, thing by the GOP seems to me to be the “worst sin” of the current war on terrorism thing. It amounts to a kind of “vicarious toughness”, where people (both voters and politicians) who will never have to either conduct, witness or endure torture of another human being sit back as armchair experts on the whole sordid business.

    Firstly the whole thing is frankly immoral. It reduces the US to the same degenerate status as it’s alleged enemies in the ‘war on terrorism’. If you don’t believe me, check out paragraph 2297 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    “Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.”

    It’s no accident both terrorism and torture are covered by the same section of the Catechism.

    Secondly, and perhaps more pragmatically, is the risk this faces in terms of blowback for US and allied troops and civilians. The Bush administration’s soft-on-torture policy is “against our troops”. Throughout the history of warfare, since the first caveman hit a second caveman over the head with a stick tit-for-tat has been the real rule of war. Bush’s policy almost guarantees that any US servicemen captured in the future will be tortured and abused by their enemies. This risk is of course not new, but the Bush policy has magnified that risk. I cannot imagine Bush, the GOP or even Mr. or Mrs Typical GOP voter taking responsibility for what their policy means for future generations of American servicemen. Do they think the US military is so invulnerable that American personnel will never again be captured? Are they really that stupid?

    Thirdly, the US, right or wrong, has prided itself on it’s protection and championing of human rights. Whether the US deserved that title is another debate, but it is now simply a fact that the US has now lost that crown. Right or wrong more people world wide look to the EU as a champion of human rights than the US. (Heaven help us!) This should hurt Americans national pride, assuming they have pride in something other than having more and bigger aircraft carriers than anyone else. Even in long term, old allies of the US, like here in Australia, the US is now considered, right or wrong, a second rate nation in terms of human rights. Even by middle of the road and centre-right people who are usually pro-American. I think that judgement is unfair and I often find myself in the situation of having to remind people that the US is not quite Franco’s Spain yet. The absurdity of this is that it is the Bush administration that has put America’s friends in this bizarre position. It’s the fact that America historically has been and has been seen to be a champion of human rights that has made Bush’s policy here such a spectacular and damaging “own goal” (…to use a term from soccer.)

    Fourthly, forgetting about the morality factor, forgetting about the payback risk, forgetting about America’s presumed loss of foreign respect, there is the strategy factor. From the days of the Carter administration, and continued by the Reagan and Bush I administrations, the US made “human rights” advocacy a tool of US foreign policy. When this was first proposed under Carter, I for one, was skeptical about the whole thing. As it turned out, if you examine the retrospectives of both US and Russian historians of the Cold War, they will credit the “human rights” campaigns, as having been a major and highly successful weapon in America’s victory in the Cold War. Indeed most commentators see this as having been at least as useful, or more so, than “Star Wars” or many of the vaunted and expensive armament programs. Human Rights was a weapon that the US successfully used to win the Cold War. The so-called “Neo-Reaganites” don’t know their own history. Surely “human rights” would be a useful weapon against “terrorism” or Islamofascism or whatever the hell we are supposed to be fighting. The Bush administration have engaged in a one-sided unilateral disarmament of the US (and the west generally) from this “powerfu weapon”.

    Frankly I wonder whose agenda Bush and his band of nincompoops are serving. Is Bush Osama’s puppet??

  16. Gary L. Livacari, D.D.S. December 10, 2006 at 10:38 am #

    I also write as a former Republican turned Libertarian. Hats off to Mr. Bovard for writing this article, exposing the incredible fact that Americans, with the approval and consent of the President, are actually torturing people. Sure makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it? How in the world did we ever come to this sad state of affairs? How did Bush ever allow himself to be hijacked by the neocons and fall for the neocon view of the world?

    I agree that there should be calls for impeachment…but, more much more importantly, I think there should also be loud and unrelenting calls for resignation, coming especially from Republican voices. A disasterous policiy decision of this magnitude – one that makes Watergate and Monicagate seems trival by comparison- cries out for a resignation. Here we have an ill-conceived, misguided, failed war of aggression waged against a country that did not threatened us, initiated on cooked and falsified intelligence, resulting in the death of 3000 of our finest youth, and with the entire region ready to explode (and I’m only scratching the surface here over the depth of the disaster)…if a president shouldn’t resign over a calamity like this…when should he ever resign?

    I think it’s morally incumbent upon Republicans to call upon Bush to resign…so in other words, I won’t hold my breath.

  17. Brian Wilson December 10, 2006 at 2:32 pm #

    Jim needs more time on the radio. There just aren’t enough people relentlessly accessing this site or reading American Conservative to ignite those vaunted “brush fires in people’s minds”.
    Despite Palgrave’s stultifying promotion of “Attention Deficit Democracy”, I will be inviting Jim to join me for a chat on the ABC Radio Network before the end of the year.

    (Watch This Space: As of this writing, he is unaware of the pending invitation).

    At bottom, however, what worth is there in debating the merits or possibilities of Republican and/or Democratic calls for the Bush’s head other than principled satisfaction? Assuming we are students of Freedom, we should be able to readily agree we are in sufficiently deep fertilizer to realize restoring the Republic to a sembelance of the Founding Dads’ vision will require more than a Nixon II Media Fest.
    Other than the satisfaction mentioned above, what pragmatic long-term benefit(s) accrue? Certainly, after replacing the Nixon/Watergate paint with the New and Improved Bush/Torure Scandal hue, Democrats could and would demagague their way to endless victories at the ballot box. Not that Bush shouldn’t taste political waterboarding or to suggest Republicans are as Righteous as they wanna be, what restoration of Liberty would actually result? Are Democrats likely to tame the Leviathan or just change its diet?
    Is there a preference into which ditch would we prefer the Republic crash and burn: Left? Right? Or Who Cares?

    Nothing short of a DC re-run of Hercules’ 5th Task (the stable cleaning)of thousands of horses in one day)will make a resignation be more than popping a pimple on the ass of Liberty.
    Boot Bush? You bet. Then….?
    Personally, I look forward to
    “Pitchforks and Torches” Time!

  18. kenj December 10, 2006 at 7:44 pm #

    link

    The U.S. Constitution [Art 1 Sect 7] requires the President to sign or veto any legislation placed on his desk within ten days (not including Sundays). If he does not, then it becomes law by default. The one exception to this rule is if Congress adjourns before the ten days are up. In such a case, the bill does not become law; it is effectively, if not actually, vetoed. Ignoring legislation, or “putting a bill in one’s pocket” until Congress adjourns is thus called a pocket veto.

    Congress passed 6166 on September 29th, presented it to the President on October 10th, and adjourned on October 13th. Bush signed it on October 17th, the week after Congress had adjourned, thereby rendering it “vetoed” by constitutional standards.

  19. Jim December 10, 2006 at 10:00 pm #

    I hope federal judges are swayed of this point, but my impression is that this constitutional provision has been ignored for many years.

  20. Jim December 10, 2006 at 10:17 pm #

    Brian, living in Toledo has been hell on your moderate tendencies.

    I wonder how many contemporary Americans even understand the notion of stable cleaning. No wonder politicians get away with so much crap!

    Thanks for the sly hint about the radio show – I will schedule a tuneup for my wit so I can keep up with you.

  21. JNagarya December 11, 2006 at 4:32 am #

    I cannot take seriously a writer who characterizes torturers as “rascals” when the law — we are to be a system of laws, not of ideological bloviators — defines them as being criminals.

  22. shannon December 11, 2006 at 5:16 am #

    Geev-em….

  23. joh dente December 11, 2006 at 6:55 am #

    What Mr. Bovard reveals is already known by those in our government. The problem is that they do not care. And why don’t they care? It is because the people don’t care. There were more people waiting outside stores that opened at midnight of Black Friday, and more people waiting overnight for the newest game platform than the number of people who care about this issue.Most people leave it up the Rush Limbaugh, Sean hannity, of Bill O’reilly to tell that what to think.

  24. Jim December 11, 2006 at 8:45 am #

    JNagarya – I have to call them rascals because of the Federal Communications Commission guidelines on blog content.

    If the FCC revokes the ‘family friendly’ label for this blog, I will have no chance of getting advertising from Disney.

  25. Brian Fejer December 11, 2006 at 9:00 am #

    It isn’t so much George WMD Bush or Democrats that are to blame for FUBAR situation in Iraq OR here in the USA! THE AMERICAN PEOPLE are too blame. I look forward though to seeing the entire US Government to justice, preferable with some tar and feathers.

    styrofoam packing peanuts will work 2!

  26. Jim December 11, 2006 at 9:12 am #

    Americans who supported Bush, supported the war, or turned away and said nothing when the first details of the torture scandal erupted in Spring 2004 share the blame.

    But there is no collective liability for all Americans.

    Plenty of Americans have spoken up, marched, written, and done what they could to thwart Bush’s wars and atrocities.

  27. Alpowolf December 11, 2006 at 9:40 am #

    Sharpclaw: good comment. In particular I agree with the comment History shows that the lust for power transcends party lines and with the Democrats poised to recapture the White House in ‘08 why should they work to diminish powers that they may shortly assume?

    Historically the Democratic Party has plenty of crimes of its own on the books. I very much doubt that they will become virtuous now. They will simply torture different people.

  28. More Truth December 11, 2006 at 10:57 am #

    Please watch “Loose Change” free on the web for overwhelming evidence that 9/11 was an inside job.

  29. Jim December 11, 2006 at 12:50 pm #

    AlpoWolf – I don’t think it is that simple.

    The Democrats might also prefer different methods.

  30. Gregg D December 11, 2006 at 2:39 pm #

    Now that the Democrats won, it is time to straighten up some things, such as the gov’t rountinely violating our Constitutional rights.
    They violate the 1st Amendment by caging demonstrators and banning books like “America Deceived” from Amazon.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns during Katrina.
    They violate the 4th Amendment by conducting warrant-less wiretaps.
    They violate the 5th and 6th Amendment by suspending habeas corpus.
    They violate the 8th Amendment by torturing.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting 2 illegal wars based on lies and on behalf of a foriegn gov’t.
    Fix up that and while you are at it, investigate 9/11 a bit more thoroughly.
    Support indy media.
    Last link (unless Google Books caves to the gov’t and drops the title):
    http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?&isbn=0-595-38523-0

  31. F. Impudicus December 11, 2006 at 7:44 pm #

    No, the dry-drunk, denial-based psycho will not resign, nor be impeached. I’m afraid things will get far worse before any improvement. Buy gold, upgrade your passport while you still can, and pray.

  32. anti_republocrat December 11, 2006 at 9:10 pm #

    Whig, I agree that anyone who voted for MCA has no business being in Congress. That goes for McCain and the other two Senators who first objected for the grandstand, then voted for the “compromise”. It also goes for Specter, who said it was unconstitutional but still voted for it. And it goes triple for the spineless Democrats who voted for it as well.

  33. anti_republocrat December 11, 2006 at 9:27 pm #

    Jim, a comment on an excerpt from what you “poached”. Excerpt:

    “Secondly, and perhaps more pragmatically, is the risk this faces in terms of blowback for US and allied troops and civilians. The Bush administration’s soft-on-torture policy is “against our troops”. Throughout the history of warfare, since the first caveman hit a second caveman over the head with a stick tit-for-tat has been the real rule of war. Bush’s policy almost guarantees that any US servicemen captured in the future will be tortured and abused by their enemies.”

    Comment: It’s no coincidence that the beheadings started immediately after the Abu Ghraib disclosures.

  34. John December 11, 2006 at 9:56 pm #

    Gentlemen,

    By the tone of your letters it apears that for some unknown reason you all seem to feel that the American form of government will somehow come out of the shadows and return us to our once admired status. You all sound like educated individuals but has it not occured to you that what has happened in this country is following exactly in the footsteps of Nazi Germany? The only difference in the Democrates and Republicans in Congress is the spelling. Check the voting records
    of those still there. With the exception of Ron Paul of Texas nearly everyone of them has assisted in getting us to where we are today. They may have voiced their opposition to a bill or two, made the news, acquired the tapes for use in their next run for office, and then voted for the bill they supposedly were against. We are now just one more “inside job” and one sentence from our President away from martial law. It is being practiced in cities all over America, students are being terrified by swat teams going into schools practicing their gestapo tactics, a law has been passed whereas the National Guard of any state can be nationalized by the President, taken from the state governor and sent to another state to put down those that disagree with Washington. Do not allow yourself to be so engrossed in the forrest that you can no longer see the trees. Our country is being taken away from us as citizens debate solitary issues. Bush, mexaco and Canada have entered into an agreement that is to result in a toll road from Waco, Texas, north to Canada. This toll road is to be run by a Spanish company in which Carlos is a major stockholder. The mexican trucks that will bring in Chinese goods will be equiped with sensors to track their location which are manufactured in China. We have a supposed terrorist threat but our entire southern boarder with Mexico is wide open which has let over three times the government estimate of illegals in. Only one elected official has consistantly stated his opposition and reasons against these activities but the controlled media totally ignores him. That person again is Ron Paul. For those of you who wonder, I am writing from Wisconsin not Texas. Theses same politicians have sat and said nothing as the Federal Reserve has discontinued publishing the M-3 money supply. As a matter of fact they have doubled the money supply in the past two years and plan on doubling it again in the next two, therefore making our dollar worth 1/6th of what it was two years ago. When the Euro came out you could buy one for $.80, today it’s over $1.32. That’s an increase of 65%. meaning you can buy anything European now for only 65% more than a few years ago. Has your pay increased by that much?

    It’s time to wake up and realize that this government we have in Washington is not working for you and me. They are slowly passing laws removing any and all rights we ever thought we had and may possibly pass bill, already proposed, that will make it a crime to say ANYTHING detrimental about anybody, and religion, any country, any nationality, in jest or otherwise, which will allow you to find out where at least one of the concentration camps Kellogg, Brown and Root are being paid $383,000,000 to renovate. This is not a joke folks and it’s about time we quit this blogging and commenting on things the present government will never read or hear about and take to the streets. As a vet I’m raising as much hell as I can but frankly I can’t say I really feel that the American male as a group has the balls to do what it will take and that’s be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to get back what we once had.

  35. Leslie Pool December 11, 2006 at 11:20 pm #

    Do our congressional representatives, responsible for making law receive automatic immunity for writing and endorsing illegal legislation? Shouldn’t they be held accountable for attempting to legalize crimes against humanity?

  36. imp December 11, 2006 at 11:34 pm #

    Lest we think that America is going to hell in a handbasket with no hope of redemption, a little context might be in order. Americans have had to confront government torture before, and of a far worse nature.

    Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on LSD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lsd):

    Cold War era intelligence services were keenly interested in the possibilities of using LSD for interrogation and mind control, and also for large-scale social engineering. The CIA conducted extensive research on LSD, which was mostly destroyed.[4] LSD was a central research area for Project MKULTRA, the code name for a CIA mind-control research program begun in the 1950s and continued until the late 1960s. Tests were also conducted by the U.S. Army Biomedical Laboratory (now known as the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense) located in the Edgewood Arsenal at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Volunteers would take LSD and then perform a battery of tests to investigate the effects of the drug on soldiers. Based on remaining publicly available records, the projects seem to have concluded that LSD was of little practical use as a mind control drug and moved on to other drugs. Both the CIA and the Army experiments became highly controversial when they became public knowledge in the 1970s, as the test subjects were not normally informed of the nature of the experiments, or even that they were subjects in experiments at all. Several subjects developed severe mental illnesses and even committed suicide after the experiments. The controversy led to President Ford’s creation of the Rockefeller Commission and new regulations on informed consent.

  37. Jim December 12, 2006 at 12:08 am #

    imp – Good point on the LSD experiments.

    I wrote about some US govt atrocities, including the CIA’s torture schools, in Freedom in Chains. But back in the 1970s, there was revulsion – and now there are TV programs championing torture.

  38. Jim December 13, 2006 at 10:11 pm #

    This piece is stirring some controversy around the web.

    I was especially amused by one critic who scorned me to one blogger as your “rascally, bearded friend Bavard.”

    The dude spells my name like some of my family members mispronounce it. After 350 years out of France, to hell with the ‘ba.’ Being raised in the mountains of Virginia, Bo is the only way to go.

    And as for the “bearded” bit – sounds like I am a Muslim cleric with a long white robe, maybe even Taliban-linked.

  39. Ron Graham December 14, 2006 at 12:50 pm #

    G.W. Bush is a fascist! He is a member of “Skull & Bones”. an occult group ast Yale that seeks to establisdh a dictatorship over the American people! He must be stopped!

    Ron Graham
    Constitution Party
    Jasckson, Mich.

  40. Jim F December 14, 2006 at 3:04 pm #

    John from Wisconsin,

    You are so right on although, judging response, reaching deaf ears.

  41. Cardascian December 14, 2006 at 8:52 pm #

    OBSESSED is the only word that comes to mind when I see the REPEATED articles re: Iraq prisoners.
    May those who were not even present and unknowing defend what they never have seen…find out in HELL that they have defended perhaps, one whom BEHEADED an American SOLIDERS and may that same obsessed two-legged become the joystick of the BEHEADER!

  42. Jim December 15, 2006 at 12:10 am #

    Always good to get a thoughtful contribution from an opposing view.

    I’m mystified why the entire comment wasn’t in CAPS.

  43. Ken Rhoden December 18, 2006 at 7:07 pm #

    What do you define as torture ???
    That is the question. One type of torture is another man’s pressure…having to go to the bathroom and not being allowed is torture for some…others just pee in their pants…Denying ice cream to a child or a sweet addicted adult can be torture….denying alcohol or drugs to the addicted can be torture.
    Being driven by a crazy driver on a busy road can be torture…
    I don’t believe in ulimited power either but I don’t think the press or the public should determine these matters. If individuals oversteps lgitamate boundaries they can indeed be dealt with by “we the people”
    I think we have enough responsible folks in the military and civilian government who can determine what real torture is and know the difference between that and persuasion.

  44. liberty mike December 22, 2006 at 7:14 pm #

    Ken Rhoden’s comments reflect an igorance of human nature that is fatal to the survival of a free society. In my opinion, most, but certainly not all, of the founding generation understood that, human nature being what it is, a free society, if it were to have any chance at flourishing, required a healthy dose of disdain for, and distrust of, government, its goons and other toadies of Caesar. The framers understood human nature. They understood that those who seek “to serve” usually do-just well, thank you. They also understood that even the finest of men, including some men in their midst, would be no match for the perquisites of power, the ornaments of office and even the temptations of tyranny. Keep in mind that the framers suffered colonial rule, judges bought and kept by the crown(just what we have; the framers sure f….. ‘d up by failing to provide a better mechanism for judicial compensation), judges who disregarded jury nullification, tax collectors who often seized the property of the colonists without court orders and without the consent of the owners(cone to think of it-just what we have), confiscation of weapons without court orders and without the consent of the gunowners(I know-just what we have now), the conscription of young men into military service by the Crown, for the Crown in order to kill frenchies and injuns(if anyone is offended by these terms, sue me or better yet, send me to a PC re-education camp or even better yet, call Congress and beg them to fast track the holocaust denial hate crime bill), the confiscation of printing presses, the incarceration of printing press operators and pamphleteers, the quartering of the Crown’s filthy, sordid soldiers in their homes and all sorts of other good junk. Do you think that they held judges, for example, in high esteem? how about tax collectors? Although this is just my take, I can’t help but believe(yes I am a believer-not in the big bang, nor Darwin-but not in any vertical man-god worship fairy tales) that the framers knew just what J.C. meant when he is alleged to have said, “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”-Caesar and his minions are vile vermin. They also knew that in order for a free society to thrive, there had to be eternal vigilance as a republic is not a spectator sport. They were wise enough to realize that, even with the constitution and its checks and balances, its express limitations of power and its showpiece, the bill of rights, human nature being what it is, the Ken Rhodens of the world would forget all about their paradigm, the paradigm that asserts government should fear the people and that each citizen should have their hands around the throat of government poised to throttle its trachea at even the slighest interference with his rights.

  45. makalvy December 23, 2006 at 10:46 pm #

    I think the pilfered “Tim” excerpt is telling. Human rights were a mainstay of the U.S. diplomatic arsenal, now they’re not, it’s that simple. Bush thinks he’s making a good decision for the security of freedom and the nation — but in reality, we’ll be losing the benefits we gained from all that good press over the next few years. Also, the points about beheadings coming after the torture reports and the caveman hit you with a stick because you hit him first are both right on. We need to fight terrorism to be sure, but we have to stay within the law to do it. Plus, your chance of dying in a car is greater than from a terrorist attack – both are non-specific when it comes to who is affected particularly. How much of an effort do we really make to stop drinking and driving compared to what we could? We could force bars to run shuttle services…

    I like the comments from John from Wisconsin as well, although not the part about dying for the cause. There are several ways to effect change, one is to rebel: we know this would result in violent retaliation, we’ve seen it happen. Another is to work from within the system to change it. This would be by writing and talking and spreading information to each other. We have to watch out for people who get scared when you talk about politics, or think they have it all sewn up, because it is this group that gives our current politicians their power. Why argue over our opinions, they think, we’re all entitled to them, right? Yes, we all have an, er, opinion.

  46. Infowarrior January 29, 2007 at 3:39 am #

    Bush should not only be impeached, he should be charged with crimes against humanity for the Iraq War as well as charged for treason with his involvement in 9/11 by blocking the FBI’s investigations of Al-Qaeda in June of 2001, charged with 3,000 counts of first degree murder for making 9/11 take place, charged with treason for leaving the borders wide open and allowing Illegal Aliens to overrun the country, charged with treason for domestic spying and charged with treason for authorizing torture.

    Of course removing Bush from power won’t solve the main problem of the U.S. Goverment being riddled with members of the Council on Foreign Relations and Trilateral Commission in both the Democrat and Republican parties who are on the payroll of the Rockefeller and Rothschild families.

    All of these people have to be arrested for their crimes and imprisoned before America is restored to the great country is once was.

    Just removing Bush is simply changing the bird cage liner for the next New World Order puppet(Cheney, Hillary, Pelosi, McCain, etc.) who will continue the Globalists agenda of destroying America and it’s soverignty.

    Get the truth at;

    http://www.infowars.com
    http://www.prisonplanet.com
    http://www.rense.com
    http://www.jackblood.com

    9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB!

    DEFEAT THE NEW WORLD ORDER!

    VOTE RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT!

  47. Holliday Smith March 27, 2007 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m all for impeaching Bush, except for the end result. Cheney! It is very unfortunate that an independent can’t win here in America. So for now, I’m sticking with the lesser of two evils – the Democratic Party!

    I will continue to put positive thoughts out into the universe in hope that it will hear our pleas.

  48. Adam September 11, 2008 at 12:26 pm #

    who voted for the MCA exactly?

  49. Basil June 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    Зона высоких технологий – новости со всего мира из мира высоких технологий.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Stress » Bush’s Ticking Torture Time Bomb: Sins of Commission - December 9, 2006

    [...] By James Bovard The American Conservative [...]

  2. Eunomia · Wrong Again, Sullivan - December 12, 2006

    [...] Reading James Bovard’s latest on torture in TAC, Sullivan makes the following silly declaration: For the first time [bold mine-DL], a conservative publication tackles the scandal of the American torture regime. [...]

  3. O Insurgente » Blog Archive » Leitura recomendada - December 15, 2006

    [...] “Bush’s Torture Ticking Time Bomb: Sins of Commission” de James Bovard The MCA [Military Commissions Act] awarded Bush the power to label anyone on earth an enemy combatant and lock then up in perpetuity, nullifying the habeas corpus provision of the Constitution and “turning back the clock 800 years,” as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said. While only foreigners can be tried before military tribunals, Americans accused of being enemy combatants can be detained indefinitely without charges and without appeal. Even though the Pentagon has effectively admitted that many of the people detained at Guantanamo were wrongfully seized and held, the MCA presumes that the president of the United States is both omniscient and always fair. [...]

  4. Have Americans Lost Thier Collective Minds? Torture Is OK? | Justanothercoverup.com - June 25, 2008

    [...] Also, to those that have daughters and sons that are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and future wars that are likely to come, why should our enemies honor the Geneva Convention when the so-called “Premier Democracy” of the world doesn’t adhere to its own beliefs and the rule of law? To support torture is to guarantee that when we do get in a conflict that requires re-implementation of the draft, we are guaranteeing that our own sons and daughters will also be tortured, and murdered as well, as have several recipients of torture under the Bush administration: The Bush secret ruling on interrogation methods may explain the Justice Department’s passivity on torture cases. The CIA Inspector General recommended that the Justice Department prosecute a CIA agent involved in the demise of an Iraqi detainee at Abu Ghraib. As the New Yorker reported, Manadel al-Jamadi died during an interrogation during which his head was covered in a plastic bag and he was “shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe.” This was one of at least eight cases the CIA referred for prosecution, including cases of homicides during CIA interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Justice Department refuses to prosecute any of the alleged torturers. The feds cannot prosecute CIA agents without risking public disclosure of the presidential order authorizing the torture of detainees. LINK [...]

  5. Have Americans Lost Thier Collective Minds? Torture Is OK??? « Politics or Poppycock - June 25, 2008

    [...] The Bush secret ruling on interrogation methods may explain the Justice Department’s passivity on torture cases. The CIA Inspector General recommended that the Justice Department prosecute a CIA agent involved in the demise of an Iraqi detainee at Abu Ghraib. As the New Yorker reported, Manadel al-Jamadi died during an interrogation during which his head was covered in a plastic bag and he was “shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe.” This was one of at least eight cases the CIA referred for prosecution, including cases of homicides during CIA interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Justice Department refuses to prosecute any of the alleged torturers. The feds cannot prosecute CIA agents without risking public disclosure of the presidential order authorizing the torture of detainees. LINK [...]

  6. Bush | Stress - September 21, 2013

    […] James Bovard The American […]

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