Archive for the ‘Dick Cheney’ category

What Is The Nature Of “Confidential” Emails?

July 10, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct State Department official business may represent poor judgement, outright carelessness, or avoidance of government records requirements, but past experience can assure us, actual national security was way down the list.

Reporting has frequently mentioned Hillary’s “carelessness” and a number of GOP leaders are ludicrously calling for a ban on Clinton access to confidential briefings once she is the Democrat nominee. Do these people have any idea of what the emails contained? Hmmm.

As FBI Director Comey said in his Congressional testimony, any confidential information in Clinton’s possession was part of a email string, that is a “confidential information containing email” was forwarded several times, with each person commenting upon some aspect of the subject.

Even the original “confidential” matter was a reproduction of some portion of an official confidential State Department cable, and was not the official cable. Hmmm.

Now few would argue that State secrets like nuclear warhead details, planned troop movements, or the readiness of our armed forces should be classified information. Classified information, however, includes much more, even as simple as the anonymity of the sender, or gossip about other foreign leaders. Hmmm.

And think back to the “W” years when Dick Cheney would declassify information in time for lunch if he thought the information might be beneficial to his political causes. Hmmm.

Confidential information comes in all shapes and sizes.

The Wikileaks disclosures, for example, made possible by Pvt Bradley Manning, reveals two interesting points. (1) Leaked information can be embarrassing (both to the subject and to the author), and (2) once revealed, the information often just confirms what has already been written in news media sources. Hmmm.

It is time to get a grip on our national sense of judgement. Hillary Clinton and her aides were doing the job of a Secretary of State. There is no indication that Clinton was stashing the confidential information for a later “tell all” book. And Clinton’s actions did not lead to any massive leak of confidential information.

Recent political leaders’ statements of grave concern and astonishment that Hillary Clinton used her own email server amount, in reality, to gross hypocrisy at the best or a huge disservice (to Americans) by implying the nations safety hinged upon ultimate safe handling of every piece of confidential information.

John And Lindsay

December 9, 2015

Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham are back on the Wall Street Journal op ed pages. I guess they just feel comfortable there. They must feel they are among friends.   Compared to obscurity, maybe writing anything is better than writing nothing. Hmmm.

The two amigos have reaffirmed their view that President Obama has no plan for Iraq and Syria. They, however, do and they are only too willing to share the plan. Here’s what I understand from their op-ed.

Iraq – Focus US special operations personnel on specific engagements as well as perform training of Sunni tribal fighters. McCain and Graham acknowledge that the Iraqi Government does not want large foreign operations taking place in Iraq. I guess John and Lindsay don’t think the Iraqi Shiite Premiere Abadi will take exception to improving the fighting strength of the Sunni faction…

Syria – Here’s where boots on the ground are recommended. The McCain-Graham plan calls for up to 10,000 combat troops working in combination with Allied airpower going directly after ISIS forces. Sound good? This sounds like another invasion of a sovereign country where Iran and Russia are likely to take great exception. Once more, these two GOP hawks are ready to commit other people’s children to war with a plan that can quickly escalate with unlimited unexpected events.

There is no amount of posturing or berating President Obama that can erase the error associated with McCain’s and Graham’s support for President George W Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. For these two apologists, the surge wasn’t large enough and the occupation did not last long enough.

It’s regrettable enough that Americans must listen daily to nonsensical diatribes from Ted Cruse and Donald Trump. Now we must read and listen to two discredited Senators who might do better if they followed the maxim, “better to be seen than heard”.

Dick and Liz, Truly Exceptional

August 30, 2015

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal carries a half page op-ed column by Liz and Dick Cheney. The father daughter team went way beyond attempting to rewrite history in their piece. One is tempted to believe their column was really an attempt to hawk their new book due out in September. Seeing it in any other light would either bring further discredit to former Vice President Dick Cheney’s long years of public service, or more cynically, underscore the failings of those who cannot bridge world changes and insist upon living in the past.

The Cheney’s column, titled “Restoring American Exceptionalism”, is roughly constructed in three parts. They open with a claim that American Exceptionalism has its roots in the founding days of our Country. Hmmm. The Cheneys do not belabor this claim and immediately move on to slamming President Obama for abandoning Iraq and making a “bad” deal with Iran.

The Cheneys omit any explanation why President Obama was in a position to remove US troops from Iraq in the first place, and say nothing about what a mess Iraq became after President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney invaded and occupied Iraq, thereby opening Pandora’s Box. Probably just a minor detail in Dick and Liz’s opinion (or an inconvenient truth in many other’s minds).

By this point, Dick and Liz are full throated in their denunciation of President Obama over the Iran nuclear deal. Their argument reads like the words were from AIPAC or maybe even Prime Minister Netanyahu. As you might guess, the Cheneys offer no alternative path or explanation why no agreement does not lead to war while an agreement does. Hmmm.

After making a “President Obama – Neville Chamberlain” comparison, the Cheney’s catch their breath on reminisce over the successes of WWII and post war recovery, and of course, the winning of the cold war. I guess these are things “exceptionalsim” is made of.

It is doubtful any one can accuse the Cheneys of being unsure of their visions nor hampered with too many facts. Simply check out PNAC (Project for the New American Century) begun in 1997.  Cheney’s view of the world (especially the Middle East) and the unbridled use of American military power is on display. What’s so wrong with using other people’s children to fight on the ground? It’s called an all volunteer Army and a great thing when there are not so many other civilian jobs.

The kindest light that can be put on this column is it represents a crass attempt to merchandize a book. The Cheneys show complete ignorance of true American Exceptionalism and instead attempt to conceal America’s foremost foreign policy failure (Iraq War) with shameful comparisons to former great Americans. George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, and Harry Truman would spin in their graves if they could read this column.

The Middle East (especially Iran), China, and Russia all represent complex challenges for America foreign policy. One foreign policy approach is unlikely to work for all. Selecting the best approach for each will be both difficult but critical to maintaining a peaceful world. Negotiating by laying down ultimatums is the quickest way to failure. Negotiating in good faith may not always produce desired results also but good faith is the only way win-win outcomes can be forged.

The Cheneys don’t recognize this alternative.

Dick Cheney – Is He For Real?

December 15, 2014

Former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on “Meet The Press” yesterday and repeated with apparent pleasure his defense of “enhanced interrogation methods” including water boarding. “I would do it again in a minute”, he said. Hmmm.

Cheney’s justification seems to be that the CIA EIT targets were “bad people”. Other defenders, including Cheney, claimed important and useful information was obtained. Still others said the “lawyers” said it was ok.

Cheney put the exclamation point on it by saying President Bush was fully briefed and kept informed on a regular basis. Hmmm.

The collective defense seems to be that al Qaeda (and anyone the CIA thought was connected) were such bad people that no civil rules applied. They deserved this type of treatment. And, the Cheney-types add, these techniques prevented any further 9/11 type attacks.

I wonder where the “lawyers” were when the Bush White House was reminded that the US was a signatory to the UN Torture Treaty (signed in 1988). Within the treaty lies a definition for what acts constitute torture.

Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
— Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1

I wonder what part of “severe pain or suffering” was not clear?

The Bush White House, we must remember, sought out lawyers who were amenable to their enhanced interrogation views. They struck gold (maybe I should say muck) when they hired Jonathan Yoo who wrote the infamous torture opinion (pain equivalent to organ failure was Yoo’s standard).

Regardless of what Cheney and others felt (like the risk the US was exposed to), they knowingly chose to rig the system in order to convince CIA agents to torture, Congress to look the other way, and do it in such a way that there would be deniability for senior officials including themselves.

Cheney’s actions at this time could be an attempt to rewrite history. His outburst are far more likely aimed at minimizing any chance of prosecution by the Justice Department.

There is nothing in this issue that is Democrat or Republican, or Progressive or Conservative in nature. This is more about Libertarianism versus Authoritarianism. This is about clever leaders rigging the system so they could flaunt what ever rules they pleased, for what ever reasons they had.

Dick Cheney belongs to the Dr Strangelove era where the world was divided into white hats and black hats.

What is even more disheartening is a quote attributed to Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia. He said he did not read anything in the Constitution which prevented “coercion”.

Hmmm, what a polite way to refer to torture.

Abu CIA

December 11, 2014

The Twin Towers attack on September 11, 2001 shocked America. Not only were three thousand citizens killed but four passenger jets were hijacked right before our eyes. How could something so catastrophic happen in a Country that spends so much on intelligence gathering?

9/11 happened early in the George W Bush – Dick Cheney Administration. It was somewhat understandable, although completely unacceptable, that a new Administration might have trouble connecting the dots. After all Osama ben Laden and al Qaeda were not unknown to the intelligence community, but it does take time for an administration to gel.

The Neoconservative element saw an opening to asset a much more proactive foreign policy. They saw a chance for the US to flex it muscles and teach these “bad people” a lesson. Little did most Americans know that neocons had populated many key jobs in the Bush/Cheney teams. Richard Pearl, Paul Wolfowicz, Scooter Libby, and David Firth, all charter members of the PNAC (Project for the New American Century) began writing position papers on what the US needed to do to fight these radicals. Two products of their recommendations became the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq and enhanced interrogation techniques.

Both of these events went beyond the accepted bounds of governance and stepped into the unchartered area of war crimes.

The neocon driven frenzy connected Iraq and Saddam Hussein with 9/11 and the Iraq efforts to produce nuclear weapons. Using phony intelligence, this neocon faction got Colin Powell to say before the US Security Counsel that proof existed that Iraq was active in developing weapons of mass destruction. Time has shown this claim to be totally false.

When the Iraq invasion turned sour and instead of handing flowers to incoming US soldiers, the presumed grateful Iraqis offer IEDs to unsuspecting and unprotected US troops. Thanks to the neocons.

The neocons, however, were just getting started. They pressured the CIA and the Army to get tough with prisoners and gather intelligence. The Senate Intelligence Committee report issued yesterday fairly well documents the excesses of the CIA effort.

Abu Ghraib showcased the attempted corruption of the military.  When Army prison officials would not voluntarily adopt enhanced interrogation, CIA and private security contractors were brought into work in Abu Ghraib.  The rest is sad history.

The third piece of the get tough policy was to pressure the Justice Department to write opinions which held these methods as legal (thanks to Jonathan Yoo).

In both these cases, the neocon method of deflecting criticism (and frankly indictments) was to blame excess upon the low level soldiers and CIA officers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The prison guards and the CIA officers were doing what they were told to do.

The politically clever but ethically and morally lacking behavior of top Government officials such as George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Donald Rumsfeld stand out for all to see… unless one is not distracted into the debate whether useful information was obtained from the use of torture or whether Saddam Hussein was a evil person or not.

Bush by apparent laziness and Cheney by misplaced intent started a ball rolling and cared not to know the details, only confirmation of results.

The fiery rhetoric we are hearing today is the frenzied GOP efforts to get this genie back in the bottle.

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee report was written only by Democrats (Republicans refused to participate).
  • The Committee did not interview any of the CIA leaders involved (They had already testified before Congress and they were currently part of an on-going criminal investigation and would be limited in what they could/would say).
  • The intelligence results may or may not have been valuable. The Committee report says no, CIA officials say yes. What is not being debated is whether enhanced methods were necessary and have clearly not lead to a safer world today. (More to the point, torture is outlawed in a treaty to which the US is a signatory.

Additionally, unless the US wishes to adopt the standard line from Russia and China that “this matter is about the internal affairs of another country and we do not meddle in those matters”, using enhanced interrogation makes the US clearly a hypocrite country.)

Abu CIA sprung from the same bad seeds.

When Does Something Not New, Make News?

December 10, 2014

Yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of CIA interrogation abuses has provided the 7/24 news cycle with an early Christmas present. This story combines the best of everything. There is a platform for partisanship, another for pseudo patriotism, one for rewriting history, and the most important, an opportunity to reflect upon how the Government can secretly go wrong for what appear to be the right reasons. Hmmm.

Democrats want Americans to know clearly what happened under Republican President George W Bush and his Republican friends. Republicans want Americans to know that valuable information was obtained in a war time setting and that criticizing the CIA is almost treasonous.

Dick Cheney proudly put forward the words that the CIA was doing dirty work in a dirty world in their efforts to protect Americans from another 9/11. For some who have been exposed with their fingers in the cookie jar, it is a chance to “correct” the record by claiming they were acting under orders from the top.

And, those who had already known of these abuses but could not speak or write with certainty (since everything was classified), there is now a chance to explain step by step how an Administration which believed the ends justify the means could hijack the Country’s moral and ethical core.

President Bush’s naive “do what it takes” message was paid back with his subordinates not detailing what the CIA was actually doing to the President until 2006.  This was clearly an attempt at protecting the President with plausible deniability.

It was the Bush Administration who hired and then fired Justice Department counsel until they found ones who believed that extreme measures (maybe short of drawing and quartering) was legal. It was the Office of the Vice President who relentlessly pushed the CIA, NSA, and others to get results.  These “legal opinions” and subsequent classification that served as the cover to keep these programs secret and fully operational.

The Senate Intelligence Committee release of abusive CIA programs is really about much more.

In the business world, executives sometimes find also themselves in precarious situations.   Business failure endangers both shareholders and employees. Sometimes these leaders decide that instead of running harder in their assigned lane around the track, they could cut across the infield and rejoin the track way ahead of competition. In other words, these executives believe they can suspend rules of fair (and legal) play because they “need” to protect employees or shareholders.

Beginning with the likes of Dick Cheney this attitude of justifying any means if they believed the ends were important was the start of the fast track lane to failure.

Anyone is capable of this type of leadership. Only a few are capable of leading successfully while playing by the rules.

Given the political partisan nature of the US today, it is very unlikely that prosecutions will follow. And if the prosecutions were limited to the “few bad apples” as in the Abu Greive debacle, then I would not want to see the lower operatives punished and their chain of command retire in luxury.

I wonder how long this report will last in the 7/24 news cycle?

Feinstein’s Last Hurrah

December 9, 2014

Senator Diane Feinstein, Chair Person of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is set to release a committee report on alleged CIA abuses committed in the years following 9/11. The report is said to contain incidents involving water boarding as well as other “enhanced interrogation” methods. Hmmm.

Evidence obtained by these methods is considered suspect by most interrogators and is inadmissible in both the Military Commissions and US civilian courts. Hmmm.

Why release the report and why now?

Who knows what Feinstein’s real reasons are. Pragmatically, her term as committee chair ends with this Congress in December. Since the GOP is dead against the report’s release, it is now or never.

There will be certainly nothing in the report that has not been practiced by hundreds of nations before. For some it might be comforting to know that these enhanced interrogation methods will put the US in the same company as the Catholic Church’s inquisitions, Hitler’s Gestapo, and North Korea’s brain washing techniques. Of course no one will acknowledge that association. Instead we will hear about being a patriot and protecting our country.

If the world was fair, there would have been human rights and/or war crime trials following the revelation of these enhanced interrogation methods. The buck stopped with former President George W Bush but the coterie that promulgated the ideas of ends justify means was Vice President Dick Cheney and his circle of neoconservatives. While this group always spoke of protecting America, there were in fact undermining the Constitution and the many treaties adopted over the years aimed at curbing inhumane actions by governments.

In all probability, had the Bush Administration followed the Army Code of Conduct, the Iraq invasion and occupation probably would not have taken place. Once, however, an Administration sees itself as above the Constitution, existing treaties, or simple human decency, the Government ceases to operate within the traditional checks and balances. Bad things can and usually do happen.

It is very questionable whether anything new will be revealed today. Leaks have already outlined the scope of past CIA transgressions. The inability to bring to trial the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed speaks volumes about the short sightedness of the policy. Bringing it back to the public’s attention in a partisan manner may not serve the higher purpose the information could have brought.

The Bush era “neoconservative crowd” remains hidden in the shadows even today. These righteous Americans see the needs of the country from a personal best interest perspective. They are bright and intelligent, and very driven people.

The cleverly imperfect American system of government, however, allows for the change of leadership every four years and limits the President to a maximum of 8 years. Bush and Cheney were done in 2008. America is still cleaning up their mess and unfortunately will for years to come.

I am not sure whether this report will help but it is difficult to see how it will hurt.