Over the course of past few years, it has become glaringly obvious that there are certain groups in America that are allowed, by the federal government, to operate well above, and violate, the law and the U.S. Constitution with impunity. Whether it is churches campaigning from the pulpit, Republicans using taxpayer money to fund private religious schools, armed seditionists challenging federal officials, or white police officers murdering unarmed African Americans; there is institutionalized criminality this nation enables by failing to enforce established laws. In fact, there are apparently three government-sanctioned reasons for breaking the law in America; religion, racism, and patriotism that inform this country’s increasingly government-sanctioned lawlessness.
It is little wonder why religious, racist, and patriot groups disregard the law at will and it is due, in great part, to witnessing 8 years of the Bush administration breaking the law with impunity and enjoying protection from the federal government; including the United States Congress, the Department of Justice, and the White House.
Although it was long past due, the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s extensive use of torture revealed an ongoing and intentional federal government effort to protect Bush administration officials from any culpability in violating federal and international laws. Specifically, the report claims the “CIA regularly misled the White House” about torturing detainees, and torture techniques the agency used were “far more brutal than it or former Bush administration officials” previously acknowledged. Both statements are patently false, but that is to be expected when a house of Congress is more intent on creating a scapegoat than revealing the source of power that authorized the illegal torture.
The idea in the Senate’s 600-page summary that Bush first learned of torture techniques in a briefing in 2006 is absurd, particularly since the same report says the torture program was built on an order that Bush signed “six days after September 11, 2001.” In fact, besides vehemently defending the program and taking responsibility for authorizing it, Bush wrote in his memoirs that he knew about the “enhanced interrogation program since 2002 and fully supported it and approved it.” Two former CIA directors, George Tenet and Porter Goss told CIA investigators Bush was not briefed until 2006. It is beyond comprehension that after five years and millions of taxpayer dollars investigating the torture program, the Senate could say Bush was unaware of, or misled by the Agency about, the program until 2006. If the Senate is deliberately attempting to shield the Bush administration’s culpability in violating federal and international laws against torture, and that is the only reasonable conclusion, the least it could do is avoid including contradictory facts.
For example, if Bush was not aware of the CIA’s torture program until a CIA briefing in 2006, then why does the report say on page seven that, “At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defense – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on program specifics until September 2003. An internal CIA email from July 2003 noted that “… the WH [White House] is extremely concerned [Secretary] Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.”
The same report admits that according to an email from CIA acting-general counsel John Rizzo, “Key Cabinet officials such as Powell and Rumsfeld were kept out of the loop about the program until September 2003 to avoid leaks.” According to the official managing the intelligence community’s collection programs from 1998 to 2005, Charles Allen, “There was no abuse of any of the interrogation authorities.” However, he also said the CIA had “very hard” choices to make and that the “enhanced interrogation methods were necessary.” He even recalled a meeting in early 2002 where then CIA director Tenet asked a group of inter-agency officials to raise their hands if they disagreed with the torture methods used ,and noted that only a representative from the Federal Bureau of Investigation objected and walked out of the room. CIA head Tenet was unfazed because he knew the FBI “operated under different rules” that were in compliance with federal and international laws against torture.
As one would expect from criminals, many Republicans, George W. Bush, and former Bush administration officials in charge of the torture program condemned the Senate’s report as a biased attempt to rewrite history. Contrary to the entire report, they still defend their illegal torture program they say produced significant intelligence that helped capture terrorists and protect the country. Bush, the man who admittedly authorized and defended illegal torture said “We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf. These are patriots. And whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.” No, being a patriot is not an excuse for violating federal and international law; unless it involves a Republican administration or armed seditionists confronting federal law enforcement officers executing a federal court order.
Besides the report’s blatant contradictions that the Bush administration was unaware of the extent of torture at the hands of the CIA, the simple fact remains that torture is torture, Bush authorized and defended the practice, it is illegal, and he and his cohorts are criminals. A jury would not acquit a mob boss for ordering a gang execution because a defense attorney claimed a kill order using poison was not as brutal as a machete, but there is not such a level of double standards for murder unless the victim is an unarmed African American.
There will certainly be calls for already convicted war criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al to be tried and prosecuted in federal court for their oft-confessed war crimes, but as this column reported over a year ago; the statute of limitations ran out in January 2014. It is likely why, besides attempting to shield Bush and company from complicity in the CIA torture program, the Senate withheld its report until now. However, it is not just the Senate that has protected Bush’s war crimes; the U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Justice, and the Obama Administration are complicit in protecting the war criminals. As the President said in early 2009, “I have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. That doesn’t mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law.”
And yet, now that a five-year comprehensive Senate report proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that many “somebody’s blatantly broke the law,” the President says, “I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.” In the same past with the idea that no American is above the law; unless they are racists, religious fanatics, or patriots.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.