Monday, April 07, 2008

Ho Hum Generation

Mikaela says:
I'm guilty of the apathy the media accuses our generation of having.

I heard about the most recent memo to come out that Bush's Justice Department wrote to outline what kind of torture would legally be allowed in Iraq, thereby shielding those who authorized it. I didn't follow the story. It was just one more outrage, one more example of what our White House, our government, our military was willing to unleash on another country because it is not "First World," not "Free" like we supposedly are, not Democratic enough to escape the torture of its citizens by our hands.

If we look back at the Holocaust and blame the German people for not standing up for the wholesale slaughter of its fellow Jewish citizens -- and we blame Americans at the time for not doing more to save a people we knew were dying by the thousands every day -- should we not blame ourselves right now for not doing more to insist that our government, and our military, 1) stop torturing Iraqi citizens and imprisoning innocent people and 2) investigate and prosecute the military and government officials who okayed what can only be illegal activity by our soldiers?

It is not enough to blame our relative comfort for our blindness and complacency. This human travesty is being conducted in our names by those we allow to represent us. It must end. Waiting for a new President will not be soon enough.

From Dan Froomkin's White House Watch:

The Abu Ghraib Memo

More fallout from what I'm calling the Abu Ghraib Memo.

The New York Times editorial board writes: "It is must reading for anyone who still doubts whether the abuse of prisoners were rogue acts rather than calculated policy. . . .

"When the abuses at Abu Ghraib became public, we were told these were the depraved actions of a few soldiers. The Yoo memo makes it chillingly apparent that senior officials authorized unspeakable acts and went to great lengths to shield themselves from prosecution."

Tom Dickinson blogs for Rolling Stone: "The administration wanted to give itself the permission to commit felonies and war crimes. And it listed them. . . .

"This is premeditation of high crimes . . . forget misdemeanors."

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann had law professor Jonathan Turley talk about the memo on his show last night.

Olbermann: "It was written for the Pentagon the month the U.S. invaded Iraq. A year after, the kind of torture that the memo authorizes comes to light in Iraq. Does that chain of sequence blow the administration's 'it was a few bad apples at Abu Ghraib' argument out of the water?"

Turley: "It does. . . . It destroys the idea that these were just hicks with sticks . . . What they were doing is strangely similar to what is laid out carefully in these memos."

Olbermann mentions the new Vanity Fair story suggesting that White House lawyers, including David S. Addington, gave interrogators at Guantanamo a "green light" for torture.

Turley: "Right. It is really amazing, because Congress, including the Democrats, have avoided any type of investigation into torture, because they do not want to deal with the fact that the president ordered war crimes. But evidence keeps on coming out. The only thing we don't have is a group picture with a detainee attached to electrical wires. Every time we see more evidence; we have more and more high ranking people at the scene of this crime.

"What you get from this is that this was a premeditated and carefully orchestrated torture program. Not torture, but a torture program."

Tom Teepen writes in his Austin American-Statesman opinion column: "In another era -- Nixon's, not so distant to those of us in Generation Ex -- a memo declassified just the other day would have been accounted a 'smoking gun' and the nation would have been abuzz with speculation about whose heads would roll and how far.

"Nowadays, ho hum."

Why Was It Classified?

Steven Aftergood of the Project on Government Secrecy wrote on Wednesday that the government's ability to keep the memo secret for five years "exemplifies the political abuse of classification authority."

Now, Aftergood writes that J. William Leonard, the nation's top classification oversight official from 2002-2007, agrees with him.

"'The disappointment I feel with respect to the abuse of the classification system in this instance is profound,' said Mr. Leonard, who recently retired as director of the Information Security Oversight Office, which reports to the President on classification and declassification policy.

"'The document in question is purely a legal analysis,' he said, and it contains 'nothing which would justify classification.' . . .

"'There is no information contained in this document which gives an advantage to the enemy,' he said. 'The only possible rationale for making it secret was to keep it from the American people.'"

The Other Memo

Dan Eggen and Josh White write in The Washington Post with more about a still-secret memo mentioned in a footnote of the Abu Ghraib memo: "The Justice Department concluded in October 2001 that military operations combating terrorism inside the United States are not limited by Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. . . .

"Administration officials declined to detail what domestic military operations were being contemplated at the time, and the legal status of the secret memo is now unclear. Although the memo has not been formally withdrawn, the Justice Department yesterday repudiated the idea that there are no constitutional limits to military searches and seizures in a time of war, saying it depends on 'the particular context and circumstances of the search,' according to a statement."