Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 21st, 2007

Their defense: “Not everything we did was illegal.”

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Good one. Read more:

In private, Bush administration sub-Cabinet officials who have been instrumental in formulating and sustaining the legal “war paradigm” acknowledge that their efforts to create a system for detainees separate from due process, criminal justice and law enforcement have failed. One of the key framers of the war paradigm (in which the president in his wartime capacity as commander in chief makes and enforces laws as he sees fit, overriding the constitutional system of checks and balances), who a year ago was arguing vehemently for pushing its boundaries, confesses that he has abandoned his belief in the whole doctrine, though he refuses to say so publicly. If he were to speak up, given his seminal role in formulating the policy and his stature among the Federalist Society cadres that run it, his rejection would have a shattering impact, far more than political philosopher Francis Fukuyama’s denunciation of the neoconservatism he formerly embraced. But this figure remains careful to disclose his disillusionment with his own handiwork only in off-the-record conversations. Yet another Bush legal official, even now at the commanding heights of power, admits that the administration’s policies are largely discredited. In its defense, he says without a hint of irony or sarcasm, “Not everything we’ve done has been illegal.” He adds, “Not everything has been ultra vires” — a legal term referring to actions beyond the law.

The resistance within the administration to Bush’s torture policy, the ultimate expression of the war paradigm, has come to an end through attrition and exhaustion. More than two years ago, Vice President Dick Cheney’s then chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and then general counsel David Addington physically cornered one of the few internal opponents, subjecting him to threats, intimidation and isolation. About that time, the tiny band of opponents within approached Karen Hughes, newly named undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, hoping that the longtime confidante of President Bush, now assigned responsibility for the U.S. image in the world, might be willing to hear them out on the damage done by continuation of the torture policy. But she rebuffed them.

Two weeks ago, Hughes unveiled her major report, extolling “our commitment to freedom, human rights and the dignity and equality of every human being,” but making no mention of detainee policy. The action part consists of another of her campaign-oriented rapid-response schemes, this one a Counterterrorism Communications Center, staffed by military and intelligence officers, to rebut the false claims of terrorists. Asked whether the administration’s policies might be a factor contributing to the problem, Sean McCormick, the State Department spokesman, replied, “You’re always going to get people criticizing policy.”

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Written by LeisureGuy

21 June 2007 at 10:49 am


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Thanks to Alert Reader for pointing this out over at Firedoglake.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 June 2007 at 10:44 am

Why does the military LIE so much?

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“Duty, Honor, Country, and Lies Galore” — that’s the motto, I guess. Latest are their lies about their torture techniques:

There is growing evidence of high-level coordination between the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. military in developing abusive interrogation techniques used on terrorist suspects. After the Sept. 11 attacks, both turned to a small cadre of psychologists linked to the military’s secretive Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape program to “reverse-engineer” techniques originally designed to train U.S. soldiers to resist torture if captured, by exposing them to brutal treatment. The military’s use of SERE training for interrogations in the war on terror was revealed in detail in a recently declassified report. But the CIA’s use of such tactics — working in close coordination with the military — until now has remained largely unknown.

According to congressional sources and mental healthcare professionals knowledgeable about the secret program who spoke with Salon, two CIA-employed psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, were at the center of the program, which likely violated the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners. The two are currently under investigation: Salon has learned that Daniel Dell’Orto, the principal deputy general counsel at the Department of Defense, sent a “document preservation” order on May 15 to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top Pentagon officials forbidding the destruction of any document mentioning Mitchell and Jessen or their psychological consulting firm, Mitchell, Jessen and Associates, based in Spokane, Wash. Dell’Orto’s order was in response to a May 1 request from Sen. Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who is investigating the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody.

Mitchell and Jessen have worked as contractors for the CIA since 9/11. Both were previously affiliated with the military’s SERE program, which at its main school at Fort Bragg puts elite special operations forces through brutal mock interrogations, from sensory deprivation to simulated drowning.

A previously classified report by the Defense Department’s inspector general, made public last month, revealed in vivid detail how the military — in flat contradiction to previous denials — used SERE as a basis for interrogating suspected al-Qaida prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, and later in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, the involvement of the CIA, which was secretly granted broad authority by President Bush days after 9/11 to target terrorists worldwide, suggests that both the military and the spy agency were following a policy approved by senior Bush administration officials.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 June 2007 at 10:38 am

Woohoo! Printed my first USPS postal label

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People frequently denigrate the US Postal Service, but I’ve found it to be a heads-up organization that truly—literally—delivers, and metaphorically delivers as well. Lots of innovation over the past few years, and today I availed myself of one of the services that’s been around for a while: printing shipping labels with postage already in place. A few advantages:

  1. The package can just be dropped off—it’s ready to go. No waiting in line.
  2. Priority mail is $.05 cheaper, and delivery confirmation is free. Total savings: $0.70.
  3. It makes me feel very cool and knowledgeable.

The site is, and you can order (free) shipping supplies, such as priority mail boxes and envelopes, priority mail stickers, etc., and also (not-free) equipment (digital scale, rubber stamps) and postage stamps.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 June 2007 at 9:45 am

Posted in Daily life

Sunning Megs

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Sunning Megs

With the long summer and the higher orbit of the Sun about the earth, Megs can enjoy a splash of afternoon sunshine is the bedroom. Here she is making full use of it.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 June 2007 at 8:26 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Megs

View from the balcony

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View from the Balcony

Now that the screen door onto the balcony is in place, I find myself using the balcony more. Here’s the view yesterday. On Wednesday and Sunday afternoons the sailboats are especially numerous on the bay.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 June 2007 at 8:18 am

Posted in Daily life

Bush acts decisively

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Bush vetoed a bill yesterday to that would have allowed embryonic stem cells, smaller (as the NY Times editorial put it) than the period at the end of this sentence, to be used for research. Instead, the embryos will be discarded and destroyed.

In other news, 14 US troops were killed in Iraq in the past 48 hours. Sixteen civilian deaths were also reported.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 June 2007 at 8:04 am

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