Tag Archives: CIA

Economy? Who cares…

You may have noticed, as I have, that our politicians seem to have stopped talking about the economy.

us-economy-2

Nope, what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it…Dick Cheney’s trash talk…and whether US prisons can house terrorists …seems to have blown economic news right off the front pages.

The question is, did somebody fix things while the rest of us weren’t looking, or is our attention being diverted for a reason?

Cynic that I am, I choose the latter. Take a look around, America. While things may have bottomed out, they certainly haven’t gotten better. And here’s a telling statistic for you. Last year, there were about 1.7 applicants for every available job. Right now that number is 4.8 applicants. That means those who have been thrown out of work are facing daunting obstacles to finding a new job, even if they’re good at what they do.

Chances are, there are four other people just as good who have sent their resumes to that same HR department. And that’s a single stat. Expand that outward and what you see is a wholesale scramble to reinvent or reset job skills to fit a fast changing market.

But how much do we read or know about the struggles of the everyday working person, or person seeking work?

Hey, that’s not important, pal! Ridiculous arguments about who’s calling the CIA liars (which, by the way, GOP Pelosi stalker Pete Hoekstra actually did), now that’s important.

Barack Obama making the mistake of getting into a spitting match with Dick Cheney (Dick Cheney!!!) over national security is what we ought to spend our time contemplating this Memorial Day Weekend.

Oh, and by the way, our lawmakers don’t just take Monday off. They’re off the whole week! And the House calls it the Memorial Day District Work Period, and they do so with a straight face. The economy, health care, climate change, they’ll all keep until Congress returns. And when it does, we’ll hear more about Republicans wanting a full blown probe of Nancy Pelosi.

Houston, we have a problem. It’s called MISPLACED PRIORITIES. America has a long way to go before the major work that needs to be done to fix things is even halfway finished. When Congress returns, how about they grow a spine and tell Republicans we have a list of terrorists being held in US prisons as long as your arm already. They include everyone from shoe bomber Richard Reid to 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui to American Taliban John Walker Lindh.

Keeping GITMO open or jobs for the American unemployed, which is the Republican priority? Providing health care to those who don’t have it, or trying to gut Nancy Pelosi?

There are choices, aren’t there?

Which topic do you think should be headline news?

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Would CIA Lie to Pelosi?

Actually, that’s the latest charge from the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about waterboarding. At issue here is a “what did she know and when did she know it” game of gotcha in Congress.

If Pelosi knew about the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, the logic goes, both parties must share the blame for their use. Yeah, I know it’s a specious argument, but it’s all the Republicans have got.

Pelosi herself has been caught in a trap on this one. She’s denied for some time that she knew or had been briefed about CIA use of torture. Then comes word of a September 2002 briefing that said she had. The GOP was beside itself with glee. After all, if the woman who became House Speaker more than four years later was told, how bad can torture be? (sarcasm off)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Now Pelosi has thrown down the gauntlet, saying she was misled about techniques used on detainees, specifically telling her “waterboarding was not being used.” When asked Thursday by reporters why she didn’t point this out when, in 2003, she learned the CIA was waterboarding, her answer was, “they mislead us all the time.”

That, of course, is an explosive charge. Lying to members of Congress is against the law, even for the CIA. The agency, for its part, issued a statement through a spokesman, saying it is “not the policy of the CIA to mislead the United States Congress.” There may be a couple of Americans who wonder about that one. After all, it may not be the policy, but did they do it?

At least Nancy Pelosi and her chief Republican critic Pete Hoekstra of Michigan agree on one thing.

Hoekstra
Hoekstra

Both want more details of CIA briefings with members of Congress released. Sure they may want them released for different reasons, but what the heck. That this entire furor has sea legs speaks to fears that some Bush Administration and CIA officials may have to account for the torture program that Dick Cheney so roundly defends.

That’s why it’s so important to document that some Democrats knew about it and kept their mouths shut. Who better than the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee in ’02, who now is the Speaker of the House?

Right now the only way to clear the air on this is to actually let those briefings see the light of day. Whether they back Pelosi or not is irrelevant. The American people deserve to know the full details about how torture became part of the US arsenal of intelligence gathering.

Isn’t it worth it so we don’t make that mistake again? What do you think’s the outlook for Nancy Pelosi? Should Nancy Pelosi step down?

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How Should Obama Deal With Torture

As President Obama approaches his first hundred days, the issue of what to do about alleged Bush Administration abuses of various treaties and  conventions on the subject have taken center stage. In a way, it’s sad to see Obama get caught in a quagmire that was not of his own doing. On the other hand, maybe he didn’t handle it as well as he could have.

It certainly made sense to release CIA memos on the torturing of certain “enemy combatants”.

Cia Memos

That’s the sort of fresh air his administration promised to deliver. Yet it was a mistake to seemingly offer blanket immunity to those who oversaw America’s detour into thuggery.

Now that it’s become apparent that “we’re moving on” wasn’t working for the president, there are broad hints from the White House that it might convene a bipartisan commission to investigate possible abuses.

This comes as new reports say  no one had even bothered to look at the history of brutal interrogation techniques like waterboarding before they were approved. Nice work, GW.

waterboarding

The Obama flip-flop could have been avoided had someone in the new administration lobbied for a truth and reconciliation commission like the one convened in South Africa to probe the abuses of the apartheid system.

Now, after the president told CIA workers just the other day they were home free, he appears to be backtracking. And below it all is the specter of the increasingly vocal yet irrelevant former Vice President Dick Cheney.

He now says Obama should release CIA memos showing the success of waterboarding in wringing actionable intelligence from its victims. This tells us a couple of things.

First, Cheney must have been in the loop on the original decision to torture. Okay, how about he might have actually been the architect? Second, and just as important, this person believes the end justifies the means, that torture is okay if it works.

Leaving aside for the moment the howling of some former CIA officials at Cheney’s claim, he must know that one good turn deserves another.

If the US tortures people, why would any enemy hold back on doing the same to Americans?

But the central issue is this. President Obama must take firm action to assure the world that America rejects the use of torture, and will investigate and bring to justice people in power who think otherwise. How about he starts with Dick Cheney?

What do you think?

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