Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Sunday, 13 June 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Keeping up...

Sunday - and the new issue of the weekly online magazine Just Above Sunset has been posted. That hit the wire late this morning, and your editor spent the rest of the day plowing through the Sunday paper, cleaning up the place, attending to Harriet-the-Cat and the balcony full of thirsty plants and such.

But things just keep happening.

Switching between the restored version of Frank Capra's 1937 "Lost Horizon" (all two and a half hours of it) on the classic movie channel and the news I see the Washington Post has just posted the memo they reported on a few days ago. This one is the one from Alberto Gonzales, the lawyer who advises Bush - the White House Counsel - to the CIA. It is the White House saying to the CIA - "Torture folks? No problem. Go for it!"

Say, do you remember when the New York Times printed the Pentagon Papers - all that internal policy stuff we weren't supposed to ever see about the Vietnam War? The New York Times used its newspaper to provide the full transcripts of those Pentagon Papers. The Post is using the web. Whatever.

Here we go again. We can read what we are really not supposed to read. The free press doing its job? Treason? Depends on your political leanings.

Well, the memo is not from Bush himself, only his lawyer, his legal spokesman, his Justice Department, so Bush himself can claim he, himself, would never advise such a thing. He can claim Alberto was acting on his own initiative and really should have discussed the memo with him before Al sent it over to the CIA. Bush would have known this would be trouble. Bush could say that.

Delegation has its risks. Sometimes your subordinates do things that just aren't good.

We shall see how this plays out. In one of my previous careers I was a boss - a Senior Systems Manager, no less. One, of necessity, delegates. You trust your guys. And when things go in the weeds, as they sometimes do when you delegate, well, you suck it up, repair the damage, and go on.

How will Bush handle this? I have no idea. Should be interesting.

Here's the item:

Justice Dept. Memo Says Torture 'May Be Justified'
Dana Priest, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, June 13, 2004; 6:30 PM
Today washingtonpost.com is posting a copy of the Aug. 1, 2002, memorandum "Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A," from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for Alberto R. Gonzales, counsel to President Bush.

The memo was the focus of a recent article in The Washington Post.

The memo was written at the request of the CIA. The CIA wanted authority to conduct more aggressive interrogations than were permitted prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The interrogations were of suspected al Qaeda members whom the CIA had apprehended outside the United States. The CIA asked the White House for legal guidance. The White House asked Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for its legal opinion on the standards of conduct under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Office of Legal Counsel is the federal government's ultimate legal adviser. The most significant and sensitive topics that the federal government considers are often given to the OLC for review. In this case, the memorandum was signed by Jay S. Bybee, the head of the office at the time. Bybee's signature gives the document additional authority, making it akin to a binding legal opinion on government policy on interrogations. Bybee has since become a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Another memorandum, dated March 6, 2003, from a Defense Department working group convened by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to come up with new interrogation guidelines for detainees at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba, incorporated much, but not all, of the legal thinking from the OLC memo. The Wall Street Journal first published the March memo.

At a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, senators asked Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to release both memos. Ashcroft said he would not discuss the contents of the Justice and Pentagon memos or turn them over to the committees. A transcript of that hearing is also available.

President Bush spoke on the issue of torture Thursday, saying he expected U.S. authorities to abide by the law. He declined to say whether he believes U.S. law prohibits torture. Here is a link to the White House transcript of the president's press conference, which included questions and answers on torture. ...
Well, the cat is out of the bag.

This on the heels of US News and World Report, in their June 21 issue revealing that our top officer in Iraq, General Richard Sanchez was directly involved in hiding prisoners from the Red Cross.

Well, that explains why John Abizaid, the CENTCOM commander, is planning to appoint a four star general to head up the Army's investigation of this mess, as the New York Times reports.
General Abizaid's request, which defense officials said Mr. Rumsfeld would most likely approve, was set in motion in the last week when the current investigating officer, Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, told his superiors that he could not complete his inquiry without interviewing more senior-ranking officers, including Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the ground commander in Iraq.

But Army regulations prevent General Fay, a two-star general, from interviewing higher-ranking officers. So General Sanchez took the unusual step of asking to be removed as the reviewing authority for General Fay's report, and requesting that higher-ranking officers be appointed to conduct and review the investigation.
Fay has to go. He only has two stars. Sanchez has three. A two star cannot investigate a three star.

A few bad apples indeed.

And there are lots of indications that four confidential Red Cross documents implicating senior Pentagon civilians in the Abu Ghraib scandal have been passed to an American television network, which is preparing to make them public shortly. First notice here.

And add this - another "Oops, sorry." The New York Times tells us here that at the start of the Iraq war we "launched many more failed airstrikes on a far broader array of senior Iraqi leaders during the early days of the war last year than has previously been acknowledged, and some caused significant civilian casualties, according to senior military and intelligence officials."

Now they tell is.

It just keeps getting better all the time.

And the Los Angeles Times is reporting that a group of twenty-six former senior diplomats and military officials, a number of them appointed to key positions by Republican Reagan and Bush's father, plans to issue a joint statement on Wednesday arguing that this President Bush has damaged America's national security and should be defeated in November. This would be twenty former ambassadors - appointed by presidents of both parties - to places like Israel, the former Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia. And some retired State Department guys. The organizer is retired Marine general Joseph Hoar, and he was the commander of US forces in the Middle East under Bush's daddy.

Yipes.

Posted by Alan at 19:30 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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