I’m amazed, but somehow the former Bush Administration still has the power to piss me off. Back when Bush was in office, the official word was that American didn’t use torture. Except that Bush officials gave a bit of a wink and a nod when the topic came up and Bush himself added a signing statement to the anti-torture bill saying, in effect, “It’s only torture if we say it is.”
Now that Barack Obama has released official memoranda that show that we were, in fact, engaged in torture, two former Bush Administration officials have come out in opposition to the release. From Bloomberg:
But in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, former CIA director Michael Hayden and former attorney general Michael Mukasey charged that disclosure of the memos “was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy.”
We can always count on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page to be the mouthpiece of whatever BS the Neo-Conservatives want to heap onto us next. But let’s take a good look at this gem before we dismiss it. The former director of the CIA is telling us a few things. First, torture works. He dances around the topic a bit, because being “pro-torture” just doesn’t sound very good, but he’s very clear that, “It worked.” Of course, he can’t really point to any evidence of it working, because that’s all classified, you see. In fact, he can’t point to a single successful operation of US v. terrorists whereby US wins with its patented torture hold late in the first round. But he’d have us take his word for it. Of course, these are the same people who told us that they weren’t torturing to begin with, so I feel his credibility is a little strained.
Not to mention, he’s an asshole. He’s the very jackass who, as head of the National Security Agency, came up with the brilliant idea for warrant-less wiretapping. Forget that Congress already outlawed it under the Nixon Administration, Congress has no power to limit the President. These are the days of the “Unitary Executive.” According to those who surrounded George Bush, he wasn’t President, he was King. Therefore, they had the right to do whatever they damn well pleased. Screw the powers vested in Congress by the Constitution, we’re under attack from terrorists. Let’s torture people and grab as much power as humanly possible. Hell, while we’re at it, let’s authorize a wing of the military (Joint Special Operations Command) to assassinate “high value targets” with no oversight by Congress or by the CIA. If they report to the President, that’ll do just fine. Or, if he’s too busy, the Vice-President Cheney should be able to give the go ahead.
And what’s the ultimate goal of the having the President amass all of this power? To keep people safe from terrorists. All of this torture that Michael Hayden says was so necessary was aimed primarily at Al-Queda operatives in Iraq. Ironically, Iraq had virtually no Al-Queda operatives in it before we invaded. So I’m afraid the Bush Administration failed miserably in the keeping people safe department.
I applaud the Obama Administration for releasing these memos. The Bush Administration’s MO was always to classify their dirty little secrets and attack anyone who suspected their existance as being unpatriotic. Now that their dirty little secrets are being aired, they can only just make the predictably unimaginative charge of being soft on terror- which is just the new soft on Communism.
Unfortunately, the one thing that both the Bush and the Obama Administrations will be known for is their collasal failure to make any meaningful accomplishments in the arena they focused the most on. Bush’s fight against terror was an unqualified failure in terms of keeping people safe: more Americans died to hostile activity after 9/11 than before. The Obama Administration has chosen to make war on econoic depressions, and he will fail just as spectacularly. But that is a topic for another blog.