Archive for Sunday, August 30, 2009

FBI action puts dents in Obama promise

August 30, 2009


Back in April, the U.S. government snatched Raymond Azar out of Afghanistan.

His waist, wrists and ankles were shackled, he was stripped naked and photographed, made to wear headphones, blindfolded, hooded and stuffed into an executive jet and flown to the United States. Azar says his eyeglasses were taken and he was left in an ice cold room, denied food for 30 hours and told he might never see his wife and children again.

The FBI agent who was in charge denies that last accusation. And a representative for the Justice Department says Azar was kept in a comfortable chair in a comfortable room and offered blankets, food and water. As near as I can determine, Azar’s other claims are undisputed.

So maybe you wonder what his offenses were. Did he have a hand in some horrific act of sectarian violence in Afghanistan? Was he part of a terror cell plotting to attack some American landmark?

Actually, Azar’s crime was that he padded invoices and paid kickbacks.

According to published reports, Raymond Azar is a Lebanese man who worked for a Lebanese construction company with a multi-million Pentagon contract to do reconstruction work in Afghanistan. Recently, Azar pleaded guilty to paying a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officer in exchange for the officer’s approval of the inflated bills. He faces as much as five years behind bars.

Serious stuff, to be sure. But serious enough for hoods, blindfolds and shackles? Color me skeptical.

The whole thing carries a thorny echo of the “extraordinary renditions” that flourished under President George W. Bush, when a supposed terrorist would be grabbed up, shackled, hooded and shipped off to some Middle Eastern dungeon where interrogators were happy to torture him into saying whatever needed to be said. Many Americans were appalled by that contravention of the nation’s values, among them a presidential candidate named Barack Obama who promised an end to “the practice of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries.”

If that promise was not broken by Azar’s experience, it sure was dented. Meaning that, while this was not an extraordinary rendition per se — Azar wasn’t shipped to some other nation for torture — it was close enough to give pause, especially considering the nature of Azar’s crime.

His “weapon” was a “ledger,” for criminy sake! For that it was necessary to treat him like the love child of Osama bin Laden and Hannibal Lecter?

The Department of Justice says it was. “This was a law enforcement transfer that’s consistent with international law,” says Tracy Schmaler, a DOJ spokesperson. “These transitions are not unusual when the fugitives are located in countries with which we do not have extradition treaties.”

The FBI, she tells me — repeatedly — “followed standard operating procedure.”

Maybe it did. But I’ll tell you something: Barack Obama was elected president in large part on a promise to restore the nation’s battered moral authority. He appealed to voters because he seemed to understand what his predecessor did not, i.e., that America must embody ideals bigger than the exigencies and expediencies of the moment.

Somebody should remind him of that. Our ideals are not validated when some guy gets hooded and shackled because he overcharged the government. Our moral authority is not restored when we hide behind the fig leaf of standard operating procedure.

No, this does not match the worst abuses of the Bush era, but it is close enough that it must surely disillusion and dismay those who thought a corner was turned on Jan. 20. It must leave them hoping that faith was not misplaced.

Sometimes a dented promise is worse than no promise at all.


jaywalker 8 years, 9 months ago

Anyone hear else hear that sermon go by?

Scott Drummond 8 years, 9 months ago

Man, we really need that air passenger bil of rights. Sounds like this guy wandered on to a particularly bad US Air flight or something.

Seriously, a prisoner was shackled and photographed and didn't get fed for a few hours. The horror!!

Thank goodness for the liberal media pointing out how such despicable acts really are just on a par with drowning someone to the point of unconciousness.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 9 months ago

How would you like it if someone stripped you naked and then took pictures? Why was this necessary? Thirty hours is more than a few. This clearly crosses the line no matter how you look at it.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

"How would you like it if someone stripped you naked and then took pictures?" Sounds like a normal Friday night with Mistress Ilsa.

jaywalker 8 years, 9 months ago

Woo hoo, that musta been some potent wine last night. Lemme try again........

Anyone else hear that sermon go by?

Corey Williams 8 years, 9 months ago

From the story as it was in the LA Times:

"Arrested along with Azar was Dinorah Cobos, 52, a naturalized American from Honduras. Cobos, who did not make the same claims of abuse, this week pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery.",0,2566307.story

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Hey, there, Thready McThreadjack. Pummeling the deceased equine already?

Boosh 8 years, 9 months ago

If only we could apply this "ordinary" rendition to the law breaking business people here in the USA, including those who employ illegal aliens, we might not have the problems we do now!

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

Criminal Activity:

There are several ways in which the Bush family plays into the Savings and Loan scandal, which involves not only many members of the Bush family but also many other politicians that are still in office and still part of the Bush Jr. administration today. Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., and his son Neil Bush have all been implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal, which cost American tax payers over $1.4 TRILLION dollars (note that this is about one quarter of our national debt).

Between 1981 and 1989, when George Bush finally announced that there was a Savings and Loan Crisis to the world, the Reagan/Bush administration worked to cover up Savings and Loan problems by reducing the number and depth of examinations required of S&Ls as well as attacking political opponents who were sounding early alarms about the S&L industry. Industry insiders were aware of significant S&L problems as early 1986 that they felt would require a bailout. This information was kept from the media until after Bush had won the 1988 elections.

Jeb Bush defaulted on a $4.56 million loan from Broward Federal Savings in Sunrise, Florida. After federal regulators closed the S&L, the office building that Jeb used the $4.56 million to finance was reappraised by the regulators at $500,000, which Bush and his partners paid. The taxpayers had to pay back the remaining 4 million plus dollars.

Neil Bush was the most widely targeted member of the Bush family by the press in the S&L scandal. Neil became director of Silverado Savings and Loan at the age of 30 in 1985. Three years later the institution was belly up at a cost of $1.6 billion to tax payers to bail out.

  1. Politicians as shareholders = corruption

  2. Insurers Wrongfully Charging Consumers Billions = BIG TIME CORRUPTION ============================================

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

Food Giants Get Fat on Food Contracts

=========================================== The Rip-off in Iraq: You Will Not Believe How Low the War ...

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Dang, the dead horses are taking a major beating this morning.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

"Cult of Personality

It was Lenin, not Stalin, who first introduced the Cult of Personality to raise his profile to superhuman status after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Even today, some Leftists talk about Lenin as a Jesus figure, who only murdered four million people out of necessity. Wikipedia writes that "The late Australian historian and leftist intellectual Manning Clark described Lenin as "Christ-like, at least in his compassion."

Obama's entire election campaign was based on a Cult of Personality, deliberately whipped up by PR honcho Axelrod and shamefully effective with many Americans. The Obama-as-Jesus theme has been sounded by Obama himself, followed by his millions of acolytes.

Hollywood Lefty Susan Sarandon has said: "He is a community organizer like Jesus was ... And now, we're a community and he can organize us." "

Read the rest at:

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