Sparky - Weeeha! Formatting this has been a damn monster. We're Camping the old HuffPoCo tonight — Bill Clinton: Cheney should stick to target practiceMay 13, 2009 Posted: 06:01 PM ET From CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
HERNDON, Virginia (CNN) – Bill Clinton jokingly laughed off a question Wednesday about former Vice President Dick Cheney and his recent claims that the country is less safe under the Obama administration.
"I wish him well," Clinton told CNN while greeting voters after a campaign stop with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. "It's over," he added, apparently a reference to the Bush administration.
"But I do hope he gets some more target practice before he goes out again," Clinton said with a grin before moving along the ropeline.
The former president was alluding, of course, to Cheney's infamous 2006 hunting accident in which he mistakenly fired birdshot into the face of a campaign contributor during a South Texas quail hunt.
If 3,000 Americans had been killed on your watch, in an attack that could have been prevented, perhaps you'd be a little hesitant to accuse anyone else of endangering America. And if you had advocated torture, and the torture produced false information that you used to mislead America into an unwise, unjust and unwarranted war, you might be a tad sheepish about defending the use of torture.
Not Dick Cheney. Mr. Cheney has stepped up his attack on Pres. Obama's security strategy, telling CBS's Bob Schieffer that Obama's refusal to use waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" (i.e., torture) endangers American lives.
The truth is the Bush-Cheney policies did not keep us safe, and Mr. Cheney is not a credible spokesman on issues of national security.
First, this awkward fact. When it came time to risk his hide to serve our country during the Vietnam War, Cheney got five draft deferments. He later told the Senate, "I had other priorities in the sixties than military service." John Kerry did not. Nor did John McCain. Nor Gen. Colin Powell, nor Gen. Jim Jones, nor Gen. Wes Clark, nor Jim Webb. These warriors - and so many others - strongly oppose the use of torture. They were willing to die to protect America. It is insulting for a doughy draft dodger like Mr. Cheney to suggest they would endanger us today.
Indeed, the public record offers evidence that torture has endangered American security. Not only by breeding more terrorists, but by producing false intelligence - which Mr. Cheney and President Bush used to mislead America into invading Iraq.
The case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi is instructive. Al-Libi was a senior al Qaeda operative captured trying to make his way out of Afghanistan into Pakistan. In US custody, he initially said he knew of no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, and, according to Newsweek, "he had difficulty even coming up with a story about the relationship between the two." An FBI agent urged that al-Libi be read his rights and be treated with respect, "as a shining example of what we feel is right." There was a practical, as well as moral, reason not to torture al-Libi: veteran interrogators believe establishing a rapport with a prisoner is the key to obtaining actionable intelligence. There are reports that, after hours of bonding with his FBI interrogator through discussions of religion, al-Libi provided useful information about alleged shoe-bomber Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "20th hijacker" who was arrested just before 9-11.
But even after the bonding experience, al-Libi continued to deny a link between Iraq and al Qaeda. He was rendered to Egypt, where he faced certain torture. "You're going to Cairo, you know," a CIA agent reportedly told al-Libi at the airport. "Before you get there I'm going to find your mother and I'm going to f*** her."
So much for building rapport.
In Egypt, al-Libi was placed in a coffin-sized box for 17 hours, then beaten. Al-Libi cracked. He gave the information Cheney and his crowd most wanted: a direct link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Al-Libi, (who reportedly died this week in Libya), said Iraq had provided al Qaeda with training in the use of chemical and biological weapons.
Bingo! Vice President Cheney and others cited the information to justify the war in Iraq. Trouble is, it turned out to be false. As early as February, 2002 - just two months after al-Libi's "confession" -- the Defense Intelligence Agency reported to the White House and the National Security Council that it had doubts about al-Libi's charge. The DIA's Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary (DITSUM) all but destroyed al-Libi's credibility. The report said, in part:
"However, he (al-Libi) lacks specific details on the Iraqis involved, the CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) materials associated with the assistance, and the location where training occurred. It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.
"Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control." (Emphasis added.)
The timing here matters. In December, 2001 al-Libi, under torture, claims Iraq trained al Qaeda in chemical and biological weapons. Two months later, the Pentagon's intelligence agency says he was probably lying. And yet on September 25, 2002, Condoleezza Rice continued to spread the myth, telling PBS's The News Hour, "We know too that several of the (al Qaeda) detainees, in particular, some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development." Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, President Bush and several other leading Administration officials kept banging the al-Libi drum.
In January 2003, the CIA joined the chorus of skepticism about al-Libi's claim that Iraq trained al Qaeda in chemical and biological weapons, noting al-Libi "was not in a position to know if any training had taken place."
More than a year and a half after al-Libi's claim was discredited by the DIA, and nine months after it was poo-pooed by the CIA, Dick Cheney was still sighting it as Gospel, appearing on Meet the Press on the week of September 11, 2003 and telling Tim Russert, "We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s, that it involved training, for example, on BW [biological weapons] and CW [chemical weapons], that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems that are involved."
It may well be that torture was used to advance the Bush-Cheney march to war in Iraq rather than to obtain intelligence about al Qaeda plots against the American homeland. A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue told McClatchy Newspapers, "Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies." Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.
Next, consider this inconvenient truth: 9-11 happened on Mr. Cheney's watch. Tom Kean, the Republican co-chair of the 9-11 Commission, has said the attacks could have been prevented. He's right. That fact ought to weigh heavy on Mr. Cheney's conscience. As should these:
- Before they took office, senior Bush administration officials were briefed repeatedly about the al Qaeda threat. Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told incoming National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, "I believe that the Bush administration will spend more time on terrorism in general, and on al Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.''
- Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism chief under both Clinton and Bush, presented the new Bush-Cheney administration with a plan to roll back al Qaeda. He briefed Dr. Rice on the plan. Nothing. In February, 2001, he briefed Vice President Cheney on the plan. Nothing. Time magazine has reported, "Some counterterrorism officials think there is another reason for the Bush administration's dilatory response. Clarke's paper, says an official, "'was a Clinton proposal.'" If true, Bush and Cheney were allowing partisan politics to endanger America.
- On May 8, 2001 - three months after being briefed by Clarke - Cheney was instructed to chair a task force on terrorism. It did not meet before the 9-11 attacks.
- The FBI asked the Bush-Cheney Justice Department for58 million to beef up its domestic counterrorism capacity by hiring more translators, more field agents and more analysts. The Bush-Cheney Administration told the FBI no.
- Congressional Democrats sought to shift 800 million in the Pentagon budget from Star Wars (the Bush-Cheney faith-based missile defense system) into counterterrorism. The Bush-Cheney administration threatened to veto the entire defense budget. Congressional Republicans sided with Bush and Cheney, and blocked the Democrats from transferring the funds.
- In July, 2001, an FBI agent in Phoenix reported that Middle Eastern men - possibly al Qaeda - were taking flying lessons. He suggested that al Qaeda operatives might be trying to infiltrate the US civil aviation system. His warning was not acted on.
- On August 6, 2001 Pres. Bush received a classified briefing, the President's Daily Brief. On that day, the headline blared: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind, Bush told the briefer, "All right. You've covered your ass, now." Dick Cheney, who has called the President's Daily Brief "the family jewels," presumably received the same briefing. Neither Bush nor Cheney acted on it. The "family jewels" were pearls before swine.
And the attack came. Over three thousand Americans were killed. In the heartache and rage that followed, Bush and Cheney instituted their "enhanced interrogation techniques." Uncovering a pending plot against the homeland was, doubtless, an important motivator. But the al-Libi case is a cautionary one. Rather than finding a ticking time bomb, the al-Libi torture may have been used to build a spurious case for war - a war that has weakened America.
Perhaps what's most galling about Mr. Cheney is how, without irony, humility or apology, he holds himself out as someone who has protected America when in fact he shirked his responsibility before 9-11 and misled us into war after. The closest Dick Cheney has ever come to fighting for America is when he shot his lawyer in the face.
Aside - As Guru Readers know - the reason Dick shot Whittingham is he was afraid he'd spill the beans about Funeralgate. Anyone claiming otherwise is a GOP dupe:
“... Improper handling of corpses in Virginia and Maryland
On April 5, 2009, the Washington Post reported that the National Funeral Home, a facility owned by Service Corporation International in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County, Virginia (which also acts as a regional central care for embalming and body preparation for other nearby SCI-owned operations (Arlington Funeral Home, Danzansky-Goldberg Memorial Chapel and Demaine Funeral Home)), was storing naked bodies in stages of decomposition in conditions described as "disgusting, degrading and humiliating." The story went on to report that as many as 200 bodies were stored on "makeshift gurneys in the garage," and "at least half a dozen veterans destined for the hallowed ground at Arlington National Cemetery were left in their coffins on a garage rack." The Post reports that documentation describing these conditions has been reported to the Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.
A few days later, the Post reported that family members of a deceased Army veteran whose remains were stored in an unrefrigerated garage at National Funeral Home have asked the Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney to investigate the actions of National and its parent company, SCI, as crimes.
The Post further reported that family of retired U.S. Army Col. Andrew DeGraff filed a lawsuit in Fairfax County, alleging that SCI mishandled and failed to treat the late Col. DeGraff's remains with dignity and respect. According to the article, an SCI spokesman said that the company is conducting an internal investigation.
On April 26, 2007 the Post reported that an SCI owned and operated cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia had improperly buried the remains of the stillborn daughter of Nsombi Hale in a grave too shallow (in a grave about 8 inches deep). Nsombi Hale is now filing suit aginst SCI. ... ”
The FBI is investigating allegations that former Senator Norm Coleman had clothing and other items purchased on his behalf by a longtime friend and businessman Nasser Kazeminy, according to a source in Minnesota who was interviewed recently by federal agents.
E.K. Watkins, a spokesman for the Minnesota FBI, would neither confirm nor deny the report. The source provided details of the interview to the Huffington Post, in addition to copies of business cards left by the agents.
The FBI has also been conducting interviews in Texas, according to media reports, in regards to different allegations that Kazeminy tried to steer $75,000 to Coleman through his wife's employer. Up to this point, there have not been reports of any FBI work taking place in Coleman's home state.
The Minnesota source said the FBI questioning focused on whether Kazeminy had purchased clothing on Coleman's behalf, reports of which surfaced in October. At the time, Coleman vehemently denied the allegations. "Nobody but me and my wife buy my suits," he said.
The source, who requested to speak anonymously to discuss the matter more frankly, said that payments made to the company that employed the former senator's wife, Laurie Coleman, were also addressed.
In April, Norm Coleman requested permission from the Federal Election Commission to use his remaining Senate campaign funds to pay legal fees resulting from the lawsuit filed against Kazeminy.
A request for comment from Coleman's office went unreturned. The receptionist, upon hearing the topic of inquiry, called the matter "old news." In the past, both Coleman, who is engaged in the final stages of a lengthy election recount battle, and Kazeminy, a longtime benefactor of the Minnesota Republican, have denied any wrongdoing.
The possibility exists that the sole target of the FBI's work is Kazeminy and not Coleman. The prominent businessman stands accused of fraud for his handling of the company Deep Marine Technology. As part of that suit, former Deep Marine CEO Paul McKim alleged that he was forced to overlook $75,000 in payments to Hays Company, the employer of Coleman's wife.
Separately, it has been reported that Kazeminy made purchases on behalf of Coleman himself. Ken Silverstein of Harper's magazine was the first to report that suits had been bought on the then-Senator's behalf. A the time, Coleman's chief of staff would only rebut the charge by saying that he "has reported every gift he has ever received."
RNC Chairman Michael Steele's fill-in stint as the host of Bill Bennett's radio talk show has produced a handful of quasi-embarrassing moments -- most notably his claim that Mitt Romney's Mormonism helped doom him in the Republican Primary.
At the very end of the nearly two-hour segment, it turns out, was another whack Steele took at his fellow Republicans. Responding to a caller disparaging the National Council for a New America -- the new Republican re-branding effort -- the RNC Chairman joined the fray, saying he had "a problem" with the notion, as put forth by former Gov. Jeb Bush, that the party needed to move beyond the legacy of Ronald Reagan.
"This tour is not about bringing minorities to the Republican Party," Steele said, correcting his caller. "This listening tour that these individuals have put in place is their way, as they said, to look forward, bring about a grassroots caucus and to bring moderates and like-minded Democrats to a series of public forums around the country where we can have a debate of ideas. Now, on its face I see nothing wrong with that. But if you are going to go and start this and start slamming Ronald Reagan, I have a problem. And it is going to be an issue. Because you can't blame the past particularly when that past contributed to the success of the party."
In offering his objections to the messaging coming from the NCNA, Steele joins a host of other Republican officials. Still, it remains rare to see the head of a national political committee disparage major players in his own party. In addition to Bush, the NCNA includes former Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Eric Cantor, and Sen. John McCain.
Later in the program, Steele was told that he should have run against Barack Obama in 2008, to which he responded, "It would have been an interesting race." When another caller lamented the media's treatment of Gov. Sarah Palin, he said the issue was endemic to all true conservatives, before saying he preached a type of political philosophy that has people "looking over their shoulders and wondering whether or not Michael Steele is standing there."
"Look, the fact that Sarah is a conservative," he said. "Michael Steele is a conservative, Bill Bennett is a conservative, a Jack Kemp was a conservative. We were a target, we were a ready target for these guys... but the strength of conservatism is that it is real and in its realism it has a way to go out to talk to people and connect to people. That's the biggest threat that we offer. And that's the threat I want to take to the streets everyday. I want them looking over their shoulders and wondering whether or not Michael Steele is standing there. Because I will be, with you [caller] standing right next to me and a whole lot of other conservatives."
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is seeking to block the immediate release of hundreds of photos showing U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An Obama administration official said Wednesday that the president told his legal advisers last week that releasing the photos would endanger U.S. troops. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.
Obama wants the issue to go back to the courts, although federal appeals judges have ruled the photos could be released.
The top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan have told Obama that their troops could be in greater danger if new detainee abuse photos are released this spring.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan are telling President Barack Obama that their troops could be in greater danger if new detainee abuse photos are released this spring.
The Pentagon has said it will release the pictures this month. But the Pentagon now says that the three top commanders have weighed in with concerns.
Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell says that Defense Secretary Robert Gates shares those concerns. He says lawyers are looking at their options.
Be open, tell the world that you've not objections to Bush or Cheney being brought to the Hague. Tell the world fear mongering opportunists tricked us and that we''ll do better next time.
I think the pure “tool-hood” of Dick Cheney (whom the “aware” know made nice to the Taliban a month before 9/11) invokes the previous “Dick” of the GOP - Nixon; ‘Draft Deferment Dick’ Cheney was too cowardly to serve the nation as a soldier whereas Nixon the Quaker was a Conscientious Observer and did his service anyway.
If one can't see what a puppethead Bush II was; Nor, the evil of someone nicknamed “Poppy” (for God's sake!) who likely sabotaged Operation Eagles Claw for his own political gain (rumors suggest Ollie North was the actual Op); They'd be blind to how freaking EVIL the Bush Crime Clan is still; Then, one can't see how Reagan the Rapist was a bad president. Worse than Bush (who had all the bad aspects of Reagan and Nixon blended with arrogant stupidity) because Bush II would have been impossible without Ronnie.
It's akin to the simple statement - you don't get Nazis without Xtianity. People now will refuse to see the lies. And History will be less kind to him than I. Nixon got the approach to China right and we'll honor that side of him.
And Done! - Sparky