Archive for Thursday, April 23, 2009

Democrats push for torture hearings, ignoring Obama

April 23, 2009


— Brushing aside the president’s suggestions, congressional Democrats pushed ahead firmly on Wednesday toward investigations into the Bush administration’s harsh interrogation of terror suspects including hundreds of instances of waterboarding and other abusive practices.

President Barack Obama said a day earlier that if there was to be an investigation, the independent commission that looked into the Sept. 11 attacks would be a better model than a congressional probe that might break down along party lines. But Democrats were moving in their own directions, and Republicans were united in their opposition to a commission that they see as an effort to vilify George W. Bush now that he is out of office.

Democrats moved toward separate hearings in the House and Senate and seemed to be jostling each other for leadership roles on the issue, all but ignoring Obama’s effort to head off an uncontrolled, partisan sprint toward a rash of probes that could impair the foreign policy he now steers.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California pointedly noted that her Intelligence Committee already is investigating the Bush administration’s legal underpinnings for the interrogation program and the value of information gained from it. And several Democratic leaders appeared to favor using that panel for any hearings.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the Intelligence Committee inquiry “will answer a lot of the questions the American people have. ... One way or another there needs to be a public accounting of these troublesome policies.”

There was no shortage of other ideas for how that might be achieved.

The chairmen of both the Senate and House Judiciary committees, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, are proposing an independent “Truth Commission,” and Conyers also is planning committee hearings of his own. His panel is populated with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, a prescription for a bitter fight.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she supports a Truth Commission. Her spokesman, Brendan Daly, said she also supports Conyers’ plan to hold separate hearings.

Republicans were decidedly unenthusiastic.

Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also dismissed the idea of a separate commission probe, saying, “All of the facts are readily available to the Department of Justice.”


Mixolydian 9 years ago

Why won't Obama stand up to Pelosi and Reid?

None of this is new. Waterboarding has been known since Bush was in office. Legal Memos on the topic had been released long ago. There's no new information to glean. It was all known to the Democrats on the hill while it was occurring. Will they be prosecuted too?

Will we prosecute anyone left from the FDR administration for war crimes over incarcerating 100,000 plus Japaneese Americans?

Will we prosecute anyone from Truman's administration still around for war crimes concerning the use of nuclear weapons?

Will we prosecute former Kennedy and Johnson administration officials for Vietnam war crimes?

Prosecute for something that has occurred for years as college hazing? (Waterboarding at VMI)

One party rule is always bad for the country. 2010 can't come soon enough.

Flap Doodle 9 years ago

I hope they look into Congress' role in authorizing harsh interrogations. When you start turning over rocks, all sorts of critters come crawling out.

DMH1983 9 years ago

OH COME ON!!!! Use our tax money for something pertinent! Witchhunts ren't going to help the economy or give jobs back to the unemployed.

jonas_opines 9 years ago

I think it's safe to say that tarnishing Bush's legacy is much more important to some than the economy or the unemployed.

gogoplata 9 years ago

If people in the Bush administration broke the law, why shouldn't they be held responsible? Are they above the law?

Flap Doodle 9 years ago

"Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) challenges both his colleagues on Capitol Hill and the Barack Obama administration to honest debate on the interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah in today’s Wall Street Journal. Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, accuses Obama of dishonesty by selectively releasing memos from the program — and he accuses Congress of cowardice by not admitting their own role in sanctioning the interrogations. He wants names and dates made public in this debate, a prospect that will likely chill enthusiasm on the Hill:"

jaywalker 9 years ago

"Trying to determine the extent to which an administration broke myriad laws that lead to torture, war, economic ruin?"

The war was already investigated, Democrat led commission found officials acted on best info available. Since the 'economic ruin' has been building for decades that would be an incredibly fruitless exercise and ludicrous to attempt to pin on any one party or event. As for the torture, knock yourselves out. My guess is that would be just as big a waste of time and money as the Clinton exercise duped mentioned.

I liked how the Prez approached this initially, but who can be surprised Pelosi, Reid, et al. would ignore him and his attempts to try and change the tenor of general politics on the Hill? If the roles were reversed, the Republicans would be pushing the same thing. Nauseating, no matter who has the lead.

jaywalker 9 years ago

Not for nothing, but if such interrogation methods hadn't been used and the plot to fly a plane into the Library Tower had subsequently succeeded, ya think they'd be calling for an investigation into how another thousand lives were lost on U.S. soil, too? Damn straight.

Damned if you do, damned if ya don't. And that's why our elected reps blow.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

"Republicans were united in their opposition to a commission that they see as an effort to vilify George W. Bush now that he is out of office."

BushCo already vilified themselves. It's just a matter of whether hearings happen so that the American people get the whole story. Let the hearings and trials begin.

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years ago

tor⋅ture   /ˈtɔrtʃər/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [tawr-cher] Show IPA noun, verb, -tured, -tur⋅ing. –noun 1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty. 2. a method of inflicting such pain.

I'm sorry, water boarding does not qualify. Semantics?...maybe. But definitions are definitions, otherwise I could probably prosecute my neighbor under the Geneva convention for playing his horrible music so loud all the time....It causes me much mental anguish.

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years ago

tor⋅ture   /ˈtɔrtʃər/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [tawr-cher] Show IPA noun, verb, -tured, -tur⋅ing. –noun 1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty. 2. a method of inflicting such pain.

I'm sorry, water boarding does not qualify. Semantics?…maybe. But definitions are definitions, otherwise I could probably prosecute my neighbor under the Geneva convention for playing his horrible music so loud all the time….It causes me much mental anguish.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

If you're going to post a definition, yeti, why post one that disproves your contention?

DMH1983 9 years ago

"Also, this keeps the public's mind off the economy and the endless blunders by Obama and some of his people"

I agree, let's take care of the present first and then worry about the past

jaywalker 9 years ago

"It's just a matter of whether hearings happen so that the American people get the whole story"

How much more do you think there is? Seems like most everything is already out of the bag.

Flap Doodle 9 years ago

Barry needs to concentrate on a community he's capable of organizing. Something the size of Land 'o Lakes, WI would be just his speed.

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years ago

Bozo- If it were anyone else but you I might go back and forth trying to convince you why I dont think waterboarding fits the definition of torture. However, since it is you I know that I wont convince you and you wont convince me. I'm not a huge fan of the former administration so my post wasn't meant to condone or condemn. I just thought I would throw that definition out there because that is what our country would be spending money on to prosecute: Whether waterboarding fits into that definition. It's a gray area. I'm sure thats why the Bush administration chose to do waterboarding. I just don't think it would be worth the time and money that would be spent trying to prosecute it. It all reeks of political spitefulness on the part of the Democrats. P.S.- I thought the prosecution of Clinton was a giant waste of time and resources as well in case you thought I was just a Republican apologist.

managialamiseria 9 years ago

The prosecution of Clinton wasn't a waste of time. Terrorists used the distraction to plan 9/11.

Everyone who is against these "torture" tactics needs to remember who the recepients have been. Terrorists who want to kill Americans. I say they're fair game.

And the truth is that ALL nations employ the use of torture to gain information. Whether it works or not is open to debate, but ALL nations do it.

Obama and the dems are using this as a distraction from the real issues and the fact that his administration has a dismal success rate.

With luck the idiots that voted this incompetent into office will be sleeping in late for the next election.

jmadison 9 years ago

I say let er rip. In addition to Bushco, be sure to include the Congressmen and Senators that were informed of these techniques, and did not say a peep. Rep. Jane Harman of Calif apparently was the only congressional person to raise questions about the interrogation methods.

managialamiseria 9 years ago

Let's include jr senator obama in with those that knew of this torture stuff yet never stood up to oppose it.

preebo 9 years ago

Politically speaking, Obama is spot on. This will bring a whirlwind to Washington that will shake it at its very core. We're talking about going as high as George W. Bush with this probe. This would be a sight unseen in Washington since the days following Watergate. Similarly, I think Obama is taking a page from Ford's playbook on this one.

Conversely, from a legal perspective and one based on Constitutional principles, this is an issue that should be rooted out for future generations to see so that our children and their's will not repeat this. Or if they do, hopefully someone can look to this as a blueprint for future prosecutions.

jaywalker 9 years ago

"There have been huge revelations today and yesterday, so how do you figure?"

Huge revelations, really? I haven't been digging for more info on this, read the Times article a couple days ago and all they detailed as to CIA defs of techniques, memo's released, different takes from different pols, etc. But I honestly haven't heard anything new since. I'll do some research later, but we already knew the methods, knew who performed them, knew the JD 'found' ways to justify their use, and knew some of the plots uncovered from their use. What are the new revelations?

managialamiseria 9 years ago

Prosecuting for torture opens up every congressman/woman for complicity. What a crock. Here we go again, Americans holding ourselves up for ridicule so the world can laugh at us.

jaywalker 9 years ago

Now THIS is a revelation!

Was looking for the revelations duped was referencing, but found this one instead. Gotta say, all the indignation coming from the Dems on this isn't gonna amount to a hill of beans if all their own top members were fully and repeatedly apprised. And signed off on the interrogation. Couldn't be more hypocritical if all this pans out.

gogoplata 9 years ago

Many of the democrats doing this are probably doing this for political reasons. But I don't care what their motive is. It is the right thing to do. If people broke the law they should be held responsible.

Much of this debate is a consequence of partisanship. It seems to me that many Christian republicans can't admit that torture is wrong because a Republican was in office when this happened. How can you not see that torture is wrong?

It is time for Christian Republicans to rethink their unholy alliance with the Republican party.

Christians need to stop putting politics before trying to think and act like Jesus Christ. Ask yourself would Jesus condone torture?

Jim Phillips 9 years ago

The Dems are doing nothing more than making alot of noise about something that isn't going to happen.

Flap Doodle 9 years ago

"Democrats ... ignoring Obama" I'm not sure if that should make me :) or :(.

beatrice 9 years ago

I find reading in the paper today the fact that Condoleezza Rice gave the verbal okay to waterboarding in 2002, yet omitted such in her written report on the subject, to be a fairly significant revelation. That is reaching pretty high up the ladder. It is good to continue to ask questions about this. And yes, it absolutely is a form of torture with a very long history.

However, I still don't think we as a nation will benefit from prosecuting people on this.

Kyle Reed 9 years ago

We will all be sitting around pointing fingers and playing the blame game about torture when the first dirty bombs go off. What a sad lot of fools we've become.

Flap Doodle 9 years ago

"Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair got it right last week when he noted how easy it is to condemn the enhanced interrogation program "on a bright sunny day in April 2009." Reactions to this former CIA program, which was used against senior al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003, are demonstrating how little President Barack Obama and some Democratic members of Congress understand the dire threats to our nation. George Tenet, who served as CIA director under Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, believes the enhanced interrogations program saved lives. He told CBS's "60 Minutes" in April 2007: "I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us." Last week, Mr. Blair made a similar statement in an internal memo to his staff when he wrote that "[h]igh value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa'ida organization that was attacking this country." Yet last week Mr. Obama overruled the advice of his CIA director, Leon Panetta, and four prior CIA directors by releasing the details of the enhanced interrogation program. Former CIA director Michael Hayden has stated clearly that declassifying the memos will make it more difficult for the CIA to defend the nation."

benmuggn 9 years ago

I dont feel we should do anything since the did what there commander in chief told them to do. Just like us trying people on nazi war crimes. Them guys did what there country told them to do and you cant hold that against anyone. We are a pathtic country when we cant even deal with our own problems with unemployment, welfare,and homelessness. We have no right to judge what they did and how they did it, thats why its called war not cry bout spilt milk. everyone tortured people for info since wars began lets put christ on the stand!

jaywalker 9 years ago


I've not gone partisan on this, buddy. All I've heard is Dems calling for big time investigations when their own have been involved from the start. That, to me, was the biggest revelation yet. And I won't be surprised one bit if that information pours a great big bucket of cold water on all the calls for hearings. I just don't see the Dems pulling down Speaker Pelosi and others at the top of their own party.

Duped, beatrice:

What? Condi was involved? Shocker! How is that a surprise to anyone here? Did you guys honestly think it was a couple pencil pushers in the JD that initiated these policies? Of course it 'reaches high', that's not a surprise. 'Relevant', duped? Sure. But not a startling revelation. And that's what I mean by it all being out there already. The only thing I've been surprised with so far was that Times article 'cuz in hearing the Dems clamoring to push on with the investigation we've been led to believe this was a clandestine Bush admin. operation. Not so much.

"In a way, it's kind of nice to see Democrats pushing for action even though some of their own might become victims."

Couldn't agree more, ......IF the call for action continues. I just don't believe it will now that people like Pelosi have been outed. I'd love for the Hill to operate that way all the time. I also think it's swell to play monday morning quarterback this late in the game after these 'harsh' interrogations kept 100's if not thousands more American civilians alive. Like I said earlier, how much more upset would we all be if L.A. and Heathrow had been reduced to rubble? Damned if we did, damned if we didn't.

verity 9 years ago

I have looked at this one way and another and thought long and hard about it and have come to the conclusion that this needs to be taken care of before our country can move on.

This isn't just about Bush, or trying to get back at the Republicans---it seems to be true that many in congress from both parties were complicit in this. This is about following the law and about ethics and about what kind of country we have and what we are as a people.

verity 9 years ago

Jaywalker---"after these 'harsh' interrogations kept 100's if not thousands more American civilians alive"


jaywalker 9 years ago


Truly appreciate your sentiment in the first post. As to your confusion, research the plots thwarted by use of the interrogation techniques; Library Tower, Heathrow, embassy in Karachi, barracks in Djibouti, etc.

Godot 9 years ago

How convenient for Obama to serve up only a selected few "torture" memos, those that show only one side of the story, to a rabid Democrat controlled congress that is looking for anything that will distract the public from their criminal collusion in the fraud of the TARP.

Frauds. Cheats. Hypocrits. Despicable cowards.

Hoots 9 years ago

Payback...then more payback...this time we pay you back. I'm in D.C. right now and all these self invloved wankers need to go home and do a me check. These people are solving nothing. Now when Obama gets done the republicans will find a way to send him to jail. This country's in the toilet. I would rather have some random peron off Mass Street representing me right now.

jaywalker 9 years ago

“I've not gone partisan….blah blah Dems blah blah”

Gee, logic, I'm so sorry. How would you prefer I delineate between the two parties?

"even though some of the revalations include top-ranking government officials, not only knowing about, but condoning the tactics."

??? It's a 'revelation' to you that top officials knew about and condoned the tactics? 'Cuz originally you believed it was a junior White House aide that pulled all this off? I'll say again that Rice, Cheney, Bush, et al. being involved in this is no revelation unless you're exceptionally naive. It IS a revelation, to me at least, that Pelosi and other top dems were briefed on all this repeatedly AND signed off on it. That's all I've been saying.

"do you really believe that knowing about something and failing to blow the whistle is as bad as being the one who ordered or condoned it?"

Sorry, but that's a bs question. The people you're referring to didn't just know about it and not blow the whistle. They were completely immersed in the whole operation. They were briefed throughout on what was being done, to whom, and gave it their full okey-dokey.
Your take is the one that's blindly partisan:

"You seem madder about the fact that the Democrats failed to speak up than the fact that top Republicans were ordering the tactics."

And you 'seem' obliged to obfuscate the Democrats' role in all this. I'm not "mad" at the Dems involved in all this, but I am annoyed that this has initially been portrayed as a Bush/Republican operation as if noone on the other side of the aisle knew anything about it. It's not that they didn't speak up, it's that they were hip deep immersed in it.

Always conversed with you respectfully because you're one of the few that's seemed able to do so. Don't understand why that had to end here.

jaywalker 9 years ago

Always poignant, log. What? No obscure blog sites to link that support your weak arguments? Your mom's callin', leave the adults alone.

managialamiseria 9 years ago

Eveyone knows that every country tortures. Just like everyone in congress knew, and approved, of the AIG bonuses.

But, suddenly comes the moral outrage with political underpinings.

We insist on making world class fools of ourselves by claiming responsibility as the world's moral compass.

WHEN we get attacked again because congress is dead set on weakening our iltelligence-gathering efforts and has taken its eye off the ball, I'll be curious to hear the spin.

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