Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Uproar over Cheney and CIA and "The Lion" is Gone.

Well, Vice-Precedence readers, its all hit the fan.

On Tuesday night everything exploded over Attorney General Eric Holders decision to investigate CIA interrogation tactics and appoint a special prosecutor to do so.

First of all, former VP Cheney said that the CIA agents who are being investigated "deserve our gratitude." That they "saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks."

Cheney then said Attorney General Holder's action "serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security."

Notice that "if any were needed"? Big shot at the current administration.

Republicans came to Cheney's defense. Represenative Pete King (R. Long Island, NY) who said about the revelation that agents used mock executions to intimidate prisoners: "I see nothing wrong with this. If it's to save someone's life, it would have been immoral not to threaten."

Congresman King said President Obama was
"giving the impression of an administration that's out of control. By letting Holder do this, he (the President) has either lost control of his administration or we can't believe anything he says." Which to me seems pretty harsh and inaccurate. President Obama has stated many times that he wants to move on from the past. This is Attorney General Holders decision and he made it.

CIA documents released by the Justice Department show that some interrogators knew they might have broken the law with harsh tactics that included the controversial tactic of waterboarding.

"One officer expressed concern that, one day, agency officers will wind up on some wanted list," the documents showed.

Here's how the mainstream press looked at it and reported it:

From the Tuesday, August 25 World News on ABC:

BRIAN ROSS: ...It was clear today that the partisan battle lines have been drawn over the CIA, led on one side by the former Vice President, who has long been the chief defender of the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques.

DICK CHENEY, FILE FOOTAGE: They were legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do.

ROSS: It was at Cheney's request that the CIA made public yesterday two top secret reports that said the detainee interrogations were pivotal. “Detainees have given us a wealth of useful information on al Qaeda,” the report says, “thwarting a number of al Qaeda operations,” including a proposed 9/11 style attack on Los Angeles, on London's Heathrow airport and the capture of a leading southeast Asia al Qaeda leader who reportedly had 70 operatives ready to carry out terrorist attacks in the West.

Nowhere in the reports, however, does the CIA ever draw a direct connection between the valuable information and the specific use of harsh tactics. So, Charlie, there's just enough for both sides to argue about, while CIA officers in the field are left to figure out just what is expected of them.

From the NBC Nightly News Tuesday August 25th:

ANDREA MITCHELL: ...So who's right? The new documents reveal that 30 of the detainees -- a third of those held in the CIA secret prisons -- were subjected to the questionable practices. Cheney says the tactics “saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks.” His proof -- in part, this memo, describing how 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was water boarded 183 times, admitted to a series of plots: One, in late in 2001, to crash a hijacked airliner into the tallest building on the U.S. west coast, another in early 2002 to send al Qaeda operative and U.S. citizen Jose Padilla to set off bombs in apartment buildings in an unspecified major U.S. city and a never before disclosed plan in 2003 “to employ a network of Pakistanis to target gas stations, railroad tracks and the Brooklyn bridge in New York.

But administration officials say there is no way to know whether the same information could have be obtained from him without waterboarding or whether he would have given it up sooner had he been handled differently. In fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the International Red Cross in 2006 he lied to fool his questioners.

TOM PARKER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: He made stuff up to deliberately mislead his interrogators and make them stop and took pleasure in the fact that the United States had probably wasted money responding to these fabrications.

MITCHELL: An argument experts say that may never be resolved. But tonight, John McCain who opposed the Bush/Cheney interrogation policies, criticized the Attorney General's decision to investigate CIA interrogators, creating more political headaches for the White House.

While this seems like a new revelation, famous investigative reporter Seymour Hersh talked about this way back in March. Here's a link about his appearance talking about it here in MN.

So we'll see where it goes. Its not surprising to see Mr. Cheney responding so virulently to the openings of these investigations. The question of if he will be called to testify by the special prosecutor will be something we will follow closely here on Vice-Precedence.

I would be remiss in not noting the passing of "The Lion of the Senate" Edward "Ted" M. Kennedy. Senator Kennedy had been one of the Senators of Massachusetts since 1962. That's 46 years. Four decades of service to our country. He worked on over 300 bills that became law. He worked with every VP (who presides over the Senate-I hope you readers know that by now) from that time to today, including on a landmark Job Training Bill in 1982 he co-sponsored with then Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana. In fact, many say that the work that Senator Quayle did with Sen. Kennedy is what brought him to the attention of then VP George Bush and led him to the Vice-Presidency.

In doing research for today's blog I tried to find a comment from VP Cheney on the passing of Senator Kennedy, but I couldn't. However, I (too easily) found some truly hateful things being said about Sen. Kennedy that I really don't feel like reposting here. I am not going spread mindless hate from mindless people.

However I found one that stood out because it's the best known and has even been paraphrased by Jay Leno: I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than go driving with Ted Kennedy.

In reading this and other disgusting comments, I thought about what people on the Left may do when VP Cheney passes. After all, people already love to rip on him and many violently hate the former VP just as much as people on the Right hate the late Senator Kennedy. I can only hope that people on the Left can show better restraint then those on the Right. The problem I have with this is that despicable comments just make people hate each other more. It doesn't make one side better than the other to take shots at a man who has just died. If you disagree with someones politics-thats fine-but try to keep it decent. Senator Kennedy made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he was respectful and polite in the Senate-all while strongly fighting for those liberal causes he believed in. In his 46 years in the Senate he learned how to work in a bipartisan way, as his bill with Dan Quayle shows. He was fiercely partisan, but open to compromise. It can never be forgotten that his direct actions did lead to another persons death, but at the same time he accomplished many great things for this country. We're all only human and all of us fail in some way. Lets look at Senator Kennedys willingness to work with those who disagreed with him as an example to follow and try to be civil to each other out there. Thanks for reading. RIP Senator Kennedy.

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