For Republicans The Blame Shifting and Cover-up Continue

Memo to media
One blogger described this report at WaPO as something that reads more like a press release from Snidely Boehner’s office then actual news, Boehner Says Pelosi Should Back Up Her CIA Allegations

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “ought to either present the evidence or apologize'” in the wake of her comments that CIA officials misled her about the use of controversial interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects.

“Lying to the Congress of the United States is a crime,” Boehner said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And if the speaker is accusing the CIA and other intelligence officials of lying or misleading the Congress, then she should come forward with evidence and turn that over to the Justice Department so they can be prosecuted.”

That sounds like a great idea,

Rep. John Boehner: “Either I don’t have confidence in what they told me several months ago or I don’t have confidence in what they’re telling me today.” [CNN, Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, 12/9/2007

That was Snidely speaking of the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate, not a briefing in 2002 to Nancy Pelosi – months after the Bush administration had already ordered detainees to be tortured. And standards that apply to Speaker Pelosi should apply to Boehner as well. Turn over the evidence that he has that proves the CIA’s most important report after what is called the President’s Daily Briefing, was false. One of things that Right objected to in the NIE of 2007 was the CIA referring to the violence there which resembled a civil war.

The Intelligence Community judges that the term “civil war” does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent attacks on coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term “civil war” accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements.

At one point Boehner, intellectually and emotionally incapable of handling the truth of the facts on the ground in Iraq – “complex” facts – broke down in tears declaring that we needed to defeat the terrorists in Iraq – the ones that killed 3000 Americans. A clear reference and patently dishonest attempt to once again link 9-11 to Iraq. Boehner, a dishonest propagandist in 2007 and a dishonest propagandist in 2009. For John, honor and integrity are mere words he vaguely remembers from a 4th grade vocabulary test. Media Matters notes in the torture is good propaganda tour no one seems to be asking why Democrats were not briefed on any legal opinions that differed from those put forth by Yoo, Bybee, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, William ‘Jim’ Hayne, John Rizzo, CIA deputy general counsel (2002-2004) and Steven Bradbury, principal deputy assistant attorney general, OLC (2004). Media ignore question of whether Congress was briefed on torture dissent

According to a May 2008 report from the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general, following a meeting with FBI counterterrorism assistant director Pasquale D’Amuro “in approximately August 2002,” FBI Director Robert Mueller determined “that the FBI would not participate in joint interrogations of detainees with other agencies in which harsh or extreme techniques not allowed by the FBI would be employed.” D’Amuro recommended that the FBI not participate in part because “the use of the aggressive techniques failed to take into account an ‘end game.’ ” D’Amuro added, “[E]ven a military tribunal would require some standard for admissibility of evidence. Obtaining information by way of ‘aggressive’ techniques would not only jeopardize the government’s ability to use the information against the detainees, but also might have a negative impact on the agents’ ability to testify in future proceedings.” Additionally, in a November 27, 2002, legal analysis, FBI deputy director Marion Bowman wrote that several of the enhanced techniques — including “[u]se of wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of drowning” — “are not permitted by the US Constitution” and may violate the federal torture statute.

Remember in 2002 Congresswoman Pelosi was the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee. In that capacity, perhaps the rightwing echo chamber could explain exactly what her protest options were. Having been told in a secret briefing that some EITs might be used. Clearly those CIA staffers that did brief her committed a lie of ommission. So the Right can make all the inane wisecracks they like about Pelosi’s assertion that she was “misled” over CIA interogation tactics, but the truth is that she was. The only reason that Pelosi has become the Right’s target is to distract attention from the more important underlying issues of what the administration did, the flimsy legal reasoning they used to justify torture and illegal renditions to countries that would do the torturing for them and as blackmail to prevent Congress from holding a full scale investigation – Republicans, the party of the shameless, admit as much

Pelosi has been among the most vocal critics of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism measures. On Thursday, she reiterated her call for the creation of a “truth commission” to investigate Bush-era practices.

Republicans have opposed that idea and warned that any such undertaking also would bring scrutiny to Democratic lawmakers. They have focused in particular on Pelosi, accusing her of hypocrisy for failing to attempt to stop the interrogation practices until well after she had learned about them in detail.

If Boehner is sincere one sure way to embarrass Pelosi is to have her testify under oath, but that would mean that at least 13 other people – all Republicans would have to answer questions about the substance of the issue rather then this freak show via  Boehner and the far Right. The Bush administration’s Torture 13. They authorized it, they decided how to implement it, and they crafted the legal fig leaf to justify it.

The Torture 13 also abused the legal review process in the Department of Justice in order to provide permission for torture. The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) played a crucial role. OLC provides interpretations on how laws apply to the executive branch. On issues where the law is unclear, like national security, OLC opinions can set the boundary for “legal” activity for executive branch employees. As Jack Goldsmith, OLC head from 2003 to 2004, explains it, “One consequence of [OLC’s] power to interpret the law is the power to bestow on government officials what is effectively an advance pardon for actions taken at the edges of vague criminal statutes.” OLC has the power, Goldsmith continues, to dispense “get-out-of-jail-free cards.” The Torture 13 exploited this power by collaborating on a series of OLC opinions that repeatedly gave U.S. officials such a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for torturing.

Boehner is not just trying to cover up the illegal abusive regime used by the administration. As immoral and illegal as torture, murder and illegal renditions are, they were used as tools to inflate the Bushies case for invading Iraq by way of tortured false confessions, Right-Wing Distractions

Torture was also used to fit the administration’s political objectives. In April 2003, “very senior” Bush administration officials suggested that an Iraqi prisoner be waterboarded to see if he would “provide information of a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime,” former Iraqi Survey Group chief Charles Duelfer said yesterday. Two senior U.S. intelligence officials said that the suggestion came from the office of Vice President Cheney. Finding this “smoking gun” linking Iraq and al Qaeda was the primary purpose of the interrogation program authorized in 2002, said former Colin Powell chief of staff Larry Wilkerson. Whitehouse responded, saying, “I have heard that to be true,” adding that the accusations bolster the case for criminal prosecutions.

No ticking TV scenario bombs, just tell us what we want to hear torture,

Regardless, the debate over whether Congress was an “accomplice to torture” ignores the fact that an August 2002 DOJ memo flatly stated that “Congress may no more regulate the President’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.” In other words, the same conservatives railing that Pelosi should have loudly objected to the program also defended the president’s absolute right to order abusive interrogations, with or without congressional approval.

Today’s post is one of multiples on the same subject, but if we are all going to be treated to the same perverse logic, the Republican propaganda everyday, then it requires those talking points be addressed. The very same Republicans pols, the same right-wing cheerleaders who claimed for most of Bush’s presidency that he was in effect our emperor-in-chief, that the legislative branch and certainly the minority party were irrelevant, are now claiming that the minority members of Congress are just as guilty as they are, so back off the investigations. For eight years the big bad gov’ment was infoulable and to rise the slighest objection to Bush and Republican authority was treason.

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