The Obama Administration is beginning to remind me of a woman I dated some years ago who developed a drinking problem. Not only did she refuse to admit having trouble, discussing her addiction was taboo, off-the-table, “it’s not up for discussion” and, once, even pleading with me, “Let’s just think about the future.”
But her alcohol problem grew worse and led directly to the end of our otherwise spectacular relationship.
Like my former girlfriend, The White House has a serious issue it won’t confront – not about drinking too much but about doing too little about the grievous and growing trouble brewing over not investigating likely war crimes committed by senior Bush Administration officials. And like my former Great Love, President Obama will discover that avoiding the subject won’t make things go quietly into that bad night.
The evidence grows almost daily that far too many senior Bush people are likely war criminals. They indicted themselves with their own written words.
One of the most chilling – and nauseating – facts revealed in the latest round of torture memos released by the Justice Department, is that senior officials in the Bush White House and administration approved waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in March 2003 and 83 times for Abu Zubaydah in August 2002. It is right there in black-and-white on page 37 of the May 30, 2005 memo from the Department of Justice's Steven Bradbury to John Rizzo at the CIA, complete with parenthetical id and op cit references like some scholarly law review article.
"Two two-hour sessions a day, with six applications of the waterboard each (equals) 12 applications in a day. Though to get up to the permitted 12 minutes of waterboarding in a day (with each use of the waterboard limited to 40 seconds), you'd need 18 applications in a day. Assuming you use the larger 18 applications in one 24-hour period, and do 18 applications on five days within a month, you've waterboarded 90 times – still just half of what they did to KSM."
No wonder former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and ex-CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden went all apeshit in the Wall Street Journal on Friday when Obama released the memos. The two men are complicit in committing at least 266 separate counts of war crimes. Nuremberg hung men for less.
(By the way, has anyone else noticed that opinion pages of the WSJ are sounding increasingly unhinged, reading more and more like Michelle Malkin and Anne Coulter but with better writing? Any day now, I expect to open the paper and find an Op-Ed piece from Glenn Beck.)
Like Dick Cheney before them, Hayden and Mukasey raise the bizarre “ticking time bomb” scenario that’s straight from a 24 script to claim Pres. Obama is “tying his own hands” in ruling out torture – excuse me, harsh interrogation techniques. But if their assertion is true, why did it take 183 trips to the waterboard in a single month to get what they claim is cooperation out of KSM – which, it turns out, was actually just a bunch of what spies call “chicken feed” non-information that was either false or out-of-date?
And why is there an increasingly long line of former CIA and military interrogators coming forward to state unequivocally that torture in any form is the worst way to get reliable information from a captive?
Oh. And besides being ineffective, it is illegal in the United States and in every country that signed the Geneva Conventions.
All of this is easily understood by ordinary folks without law degrees. Why is it so hard for President Obama to grasp?
Can’t Look Forward
President Obama keeps talking about wanting to look forward. Fair enough. But as a semi-professional student of history – as every journalist must be – I know we cannot look forward without confronting, addressing and repairing the past, and taking concrete steps to ensure what the loyal Bushies did never happens again in America.
I appreciate the political minefield Obama is trying to avoid. It’s very real and the fact that not a single Senate Republican will join Sen. Patrick Leahy’s repeated calls for a Congressional investigation shows what the administration is up against. But the president’s remarkable ability to explain bad things to good Americans ought to be brought to bear in bringing the country on-side. To hell with a GOP that puts party loyalty above the national good.
Sorry. I forgot I’m talking about Man Tan Boehner, Mumbles McConnell and the entire Fox News line-up of anchor models and prime time buttheads. They put party first every day, on every issue.
I truly believe that Americans are smarter and wiser than The White House is giving us credit for at the moment. The President has an obligation to us and to the oath he swore in January. Doing so is his legal and moral obligation. State the facts. Lay out the justification. Appoint an independent prosecutor whose integrity is unquestioned, whose independence is well-established and whose fairness is well-known.
Please, Mr. President: Investigate war crimes now. Please.