“Why are We Talking About This in the White House?”

Many of us knew that this truth would eventually be revealed. The following quote is from Dan Froomkin’s White House Watch blog on the Washington Post (4/10/08):

Top Bush aides, including Vice President Cheney, micromanaged the torture of terrorist suspects from the White House basement, according to an ABC News report aired last night.

Discussions were so detailed, ABC’s sources said, that some interrogation sessions were virtually choreographed by a White House advisory group. In addition to Cheney, the group included then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then-secretary of state Colin Powell, then-CIA director George Tenet and then-attorney general John Ashcroft.

At least one member of the club had some qualms. ABC reports that Ashcroft “was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

“According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: ‘Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.'”

Those at the highest levels in the administration, minus the president who was probably fishing, if only in his mind, were the core enablers of the interrogation decline into torture, the darkest side of humanity. Centuries and cultures throughout time have been called “dark ages” because of the acts of human against human. We talk, we read, but do we understand? Are we talking, reading and understanding now? These people, who should be of the highest calibre of our society have pulled us to the lowest moral point where the human being becomes an object to which we can do whatever we want. This should be a front page, screamingly huge headline on every paper, on every news channel. We should all be ashamed that these people continue in their decision-making and leadership roles. There are people recently who have been asking that Condoleeza Rice be the Vice Presidential candidate. She was there. She called the meetings as National Security Adviser. This is the kind of person you want as Vice President? There are many who call for impeachment. Why aren’t there more? Yes, George, “the buck stops here” sign was in the President’s office ! Oh yes, and as Mr. Rumsfeld so astutely put it, that was “a different time, . . . a different era . . . a different place . . . .”

So Who’s Surprised?

Libby’s disclosure to prosecutors that President Bush authorized the leak of CIA information through Dick Cheney comes as no surprise. Libby is too intelligent to do something like this on his own. The legal expert cited in the Washington Post article says that the President has the right to do this, essentially declassifying the information. In that case, how does the case against Libby stand? If the Pres. “declassifies” by authorizing the release, then the release was not illegal. It seems that the charges of perjury and obstruction could still stand, however. If there was nothing illegal, the president cannot be held accountable either, right? It seems, with my lack of deep understanding, that our hope for any presidential accountability rests with congress, an unlikely censure, or maybe something will happen in the Senate Judiciary Committee — especially if Conyers is put in charge!

Fighting the War that You Make

Richard Cohen talks today in his WAPO column about Bush’s determination to go to war in Iraq. This is nothing new, we’ve been hashing and rehashing, screaming from the left and the right about the “rightness/wrongness” of this war. Cohen, as have others in the last three and a half years, says that perhaps the Bush probably truly believed the feeds his advisors, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and the other neocons gave him. I’m not saying anything new or profound here, just venting. I agree because all the evidence available to the general public (minus actual intelligence scores) indicate that Bush’s intellect isn’t high enough to facilitate deep analytical abilities. He seems to be a very concrete thinker so if you tell him something that fits into his ideas of the world he will believe it. The dangerous part is that all of his feed is coming from one trough in the sty; no balanced diet here. Why are we willing to follow a man who can only see one way? This is a weak post but I’m short on time.

Courts Blow EPA/Bush Admin’s Hot Air

A federal appeals court today supported the petition led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer against the EPA for its new rule in 2003 allowing power-generating plants to upgrade or modernize up to 20% of the plant’s value without having to install pollution-controlling equipment. The Clean Air Act stands as is, allowing exemptions only for routine maintenance, repair and replacement. The court’s rejection of the EPA’s attempt to be exempt from the controls mandated by the Clean Air Act also rebuffed the Bush Administration. The 2003 rule was part of the advisement from Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force which included top energy company executives. Now the energy[electrical] companies are telling us that being required to adhere to the Clean Air Act will result in higher prices for consumers, more pollution and the decline of the electrical power-generating system as a whole with potential disruptions as a result. Of course that is what they will tell us; they are businesses, not public service systems. Please feel free to have a conversation with me on this, but I disagree and I’ll tell you why. First, the cost: yes, upgrading and installing the pollution controls will cost money but these companies will pass those costs to the consumer so they will not lose money. Second, increased pollution: These plants are restricted to measured standards already established by the EPA. If pollution emissions increase and exceed these standards the plant will have to shut down and make repairs. Third, potential disruptions: the second and third points coincide here because plants cannot shut down, nor can disruptions be major or continuous. These are, again, businesses that produce a consumable product — energy. If the product is not being consumed there will be no income or profit and shareholders will not receive their dividends. This doesn’t consider the potential cost of accident or other litigation that could result from an electrical disruption. Again, money is driving the system. If, however, we let the energy companies drive the dialogue they will continue to use their manipulative scare tactics on the public.

We, the public, the consumers of their product, are dependent on them for our power [electricity] but they are dependent on us for their power [money]. We are codependents which makes this a win-win situation. They install clean air equipment, we help pay for it, they get their money, we get our electricity and we all benefit from better technology and cleaner air. We can do this! I am grateful that this court was wise enough to see that we cannot stay in an energy company-induced “dark age.” Now we can all move into the light together!