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Under New Management
November 2, 2005
Under New Management
Remember the incredible hissy-fit Bush administration officials threw a few months ago when Amnesty International accused them of setting up a Soviet-style Gulag for captured terror suspects? Well, today we learn just why they were so sensitive about that accusation.
Washington Post: The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement....The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents. (Full (sorry) Tale)
Not only was the Amnesty International comparison accurate in spirit, but in fact as well. The administration had actually subcontracted with the very former Soviet Bloc nations that ran the Soviet Gulags to now handle Islamic terror suspects. The Evil Empire's Gulag, it seems, has a new landlord -- and it's us.
Among the many instructive lessons this story teaches is this one; the louder this administration squeals when accused of something awful, the more likely it is that the accusation is not only true, but understated.
Confess and Be Saved
Yesterday, in a rare display of backbone, Senate Democrats forced Republicans to confront an issue they have been avoiding for two years whether or not the Bush administration purposely misled Congress and the American people in order to take the nation to war.
"Democrats forced the Senate into a rare closed-door session yesterday, infuriating Republicans but extracting from them a promise to speed up an inquiry into the Bush administration's handling of intelligence about Iraq's weapons in the run-up to the war." (Full Story)
Great, and about time.
Now it's the Democrats' turn. Just forcing Republicans into the national confessional is not enough. Democrats want the reins of governance back. Fine. I'm certainly ready for a change. But what I don't want is to exchange a bunch of liars for a pack of valueless opportunists that can't -- or just won't -- admit their own mistakes.
Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are prime examples. Both want to run for President in 08. Both voted "yes" in giving George W. Bush a free hand in Iraq. How would they vote now, now that we know about Scooter Libby; now that we know there was no WMD; now that we know there was no Niger/Iraq uranium deal? Inquiring minds want to know.
"Potential Democratic presidential candidates who voted to give President Bush the authority to use force in Iraq could face a political problem they supported a war that their party's rank-and-file now strongly view as a mistake. Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Joseph Biden of Delaware, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, John Kerry of Massachusetts and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina are mulling over running for the Democratic nomination. All voted in October 2002 for a resolution authorizing the president to use force in Iraq...They no doubt will be forced to explain their positions both then and now and in doing so could open themselves to attack from candidates who didn't support the resolution or didn't have to cast the politically tricky vote. (Full Story)
Every single Democrat who voted to give the President a free hand in Iraq who runs for office in 2006 and 2008 must be forced to answer that question. And not with the mealy mouth, passive aggressive, beat-around-the-bush nonsense they've been hiding behind, either.
I know that it's hard to admit error in something as awful as this unjust and unjustifiable war. I know because I had to do it myself. After Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the administration's "evidence" before the UN, they had me too. I never trusted Bush, but Powell I figured was a straight shooter. Turns out they suckered him too. In the weeks leading up to the war I found myself embroiled in many a heated argument with longtime liberal friends. Some still aren't talking to me.
It wasn't long after the shooting and dying started that I came to my senses. I immediately sent out an email to all whom I had offended entitled, "So, how wrong can a guy be?"
Okay, now it's your turn Hillary, Kerry, the rest of you... fess up. What's it gonna take to get you to just say it? Here since so many Dems seem unable to find the words, let me help:
* "No. Of course not. If I knew what I know today I would not have voted to give Bush the authority to attack Iraq."
* "Yes, it's a good thing that Saddam is no longer in power but the way we did it was wrong. The means America uses to achieve a positive end, matter."
* "Imposing democracy at the point of a gun is not enlightened foreign policy. It's imperialism, and we should not be in the imperialism business."
Relief and redemption -- just that easy. If individual Dems won't publicly say such things there can only be two reasons:
1)They lack the guts to admit they made a mistake.
2)They would still vote the same way despite knowing the administration wrapped already bad intel into a blanket of lies.
If they fall under Reason No.1, they are gutless. If they fall under Reason No. 2, they're crazy.
In either case, I don't want them any where near the levers of power. And, as bad as the current crop of Republicans are, they could not have started this war without Democrats... too many Democrats... and not just back bencher Democrats either.
So Democrats need to lance this boil, and soon. Because, even if the Senate Intelligence Committee conducts a thorough and fair investigation into the administration's actions leading up to the war vote, that will not solve the problem for Dems who refuse to say they would not change their "yes" vote. First, such an answer makes them appear insane. After all, who else but a loon, would vote the same way today knowing now that the information upon which they based their original vote was exactly opposite of the truth. The exact opposite.
Every time I hear one of these Dems say they'd vote the same way despite what we've learned, I want to order a couple of dozen straight jackets, head for DC and throw the whole lot of them into an asylum dedicated to "Democrats scared crazy by GOP thugs."
That's why in the next two national elections I will vote only for "Born-Again Democrats." That would be any Dem who, though he/she voted for the war, is now willing to bear public witness to that mistake -- to confirm the error of their ways and affirm they've rediscovered the righteous path and promise to sin no more.
Come on guys. I did it. It's not that hard. Praise the truth! Because only the truth can set those wayward Democrats free.
On the other hand, Democrats who continue to duck this obvious and long-overdue confession don't deserve my vote or yours.
Raconteur at Large
Re: Under New Management
CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons
Debate Is Growing Within Agency About Legality and Morality of Overseas System Set Up After 9/11
By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 2, 2005; Page A01
The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.
The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.
The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.
The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.
The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.
While the Defense Department has produced volumes of public reports and testimony about its detention practices and rules after the abuse scandals at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at Guantanamo Bay, the CIA has not even acknowledged the existence of its black sites. To do so, say officials familiar with the program, could open the U.S. government to legal challenges, particularly in foreign courts, and increase the risk of political condemnation at home and abroad.
But the revelations of widespread prisoner abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq by the U.S. military -- which operates under published rules and transparent oversight of Congress -- have increased concern among lawmakers, foreign governments and human rights groups about the opaque CIA system. Those concerns escalated last month, when Vice President Cheney and CIA Director Porter J. Goss asked Congress to exempt CIA employees from legislation already endorsed by 90 senators that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoner in U.S. custody.
Although the CIA will not acknowledge details of its system, intelligence officials defend the agency's approach, arguing that the successful defense of the country requires that the agency be empowered to hold and interrogate suspected terrorists for as long as necessary and without restrictions imposed by the U.S. legal system or even by the military tribunals established for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.
The Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior U.S. officials. They argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and could make them targets of possible terrorist retaliation.
The secret detention system was conceived in the chaotic and anxious first months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the working assumption was that a second strike was imminent.
Since then, the arrangement has been increasingly debated within the CIA, where considerable concern lingers about the legality, morality and practicality of holding even unrepentant terrorists in such isolation and secrecy, perhaps for the duration of their lives. Mid-level and senior CIA officers began arguing two years ago that the system was unsustainable and diverted the agency from its unique espionage mission.
"We never sat down, as far as I know, and came up with a grand strategy," said one former senior intelligence officer who is familiar with the program but not the location of the prisons. "Everything was very reactive. That's how you get to a situation where you pick people up, send them into a netherworld and don't say, 'What are we going to do with them afterwards?' "
Re: Under New Management