Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Standard Operating Procedures"

Can't wait for the canary to sing, on the morning of June 20th, when Scott McClellan testifies before the House Judiciary Committee under oath, about what are "standard operating procedures' by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and others, in a host of challenges to the First Amendment, due process, the Eighth Amendment proscription against torture, and international law. So, when the canary sings, remember, he's singing our song.

This administration's flagrant violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996, as well as the American Anti-Torture Act of 2007 won't be the only things on the program. McClellan will be asked to sing, baby, sing about the direct intervention of the executive branch in outing Valerie Plame, as well as attempt to sabotage free elections, and the firing of nine U.S. attorneys who refused to go along with the ride, and the cult of corruption currently occupying our nation's capital.

Indeed, the electronic surveillance program, and the offer of retroactive immunity to telecoms who broke privacy laws, the willful and deliberate mendacity behind the claims in the lead-up to the war, the deliberate neutralizing of the press through a war policy that involved constant micromanaging of newspaper editors by the Defense Department, refusal of the attorney general to admit that waterboarding is torture, only begin to describe the arrogance of this hyperactive executive branch's abuse of power. The do-nothing, take-it-lying-down Congress of five years ago, happily, is changing---yes, the empire is striking back.

Yes, and while some may say this emperor has no clothes, he's managed to hide his derriere better, and operate with impunity more effectively, than any in recent memory. After all, under this commander-in-chief, the Pentagon has managed to orchestrate the destruction of interrogators' handwritten notes at Guantanamo Bay to preclude those notes from being used as evidence that a detainee's confession might, in fact, have been coerced by what have been euphemistically called "harsh" interrogation methods.

That the military has a "standard operations procedure" which contains instructions for the disposal of what might be exculpatory evidence for those we detain, and plan to bring to a kangaroo war crimes tribunal, is nothing less than obstruction of justice.

So, if you happen to be someone like Omar Khadr, a Canadian Gitmo detainee, who has been forced into confessing that you threw a grenade because one of your interrogators forced you to crawl and bark like a dog, or waterboarded you, and any notes taken, while you were being questioned, were destroyed, how can your attorney prove to a tribunal that your confession was forced? He can't, that's the point.

Over the weekend, more than 50 House Democrats acknowledged that Justice can't deliver justice by calling upon Attorney General Mukasey to appoint an independent counsel to investigate just what criminal liability must visit the upper echelon of the Bush administration for their egregrious architecture of pain and suffering, their initiation, and/or sanctioning, of methods for obtaining information from those we hold as prisoners of war which amount to torture by universal standards.

A technique such as waterboarding, as is widely known, has been banned for generations, and there is no person of conscience who would find sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, and being set on by dogs to be "civilized practices." The recognition by Rep. Conyers for what he calls "an impartial criminal investigation" into these dastardly actions that were paid for by our tax dollars was prompted by recent reports that the highest levels of government were involved in discussing, and recommending, the interrogation techniques in question.

It was Rep. Conyers who, a few years ago, called for issuing articles of impeachment against George W. Bush, a call that went largely unanswered until late Monday when Rep. Dennis Kucinich appeared before the House to recommend 35 articles of impeachment, against the president, a move that was co-sponsored by Florida Congressman Robert Wexler who has been a vocal proponent of accountability from this administration, instrumental in obtaining the prospective testimony of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and who calls the articles "a stunning narrative of offenses that go well beyond previous crimes committed by any U.S. chief executive."

But where is CNN, and the news media, when elected members of Congress plainly, and eloquently, articulate articles of impeachment? Can they be napping in their news vans, or busy with nonstop coverage of "veepstakes?" Yes, the mainstream media is so busy vetting Obama, and anyone he might consider for second in command, that it has lost sight of the fact that no one has yet vetted Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice or, for that matter, the attorney general himself? How much vetting did Donald Rumsfeld or Robert Gatesget ? We all know how vetted John McCain is---after all, he's vetting himself over, and over -- to hear him tell it, you'd think he put the "vet" in "veteran."

Yes, it was Congressman Conyers who said, about two years ago, impeachment proceedings against a president don't need to be completed while he's in office. While, obviously, there isn't enough time to impeach this president within the next five months, Congress would be derelict in its duties of checks and balances were it not to at least begin the process.

Human Rights Watch, and others concerned about our ongoing breach of international law by repudiation of habeas corpus, and insolent efforts to challenge traditional definitions of torture, by secret holding cells, and rumors of detainee ships, say the next president, whether it be Obama or McCain, will have to deal with, and repair, the ravages of abuse of power that this administration leaves behind. Still, no one can escape the irony that the first war tribunals since World War II may, inevitably, come to include, as defendants, a former president, Mr. Cheney, Ms. Rice, and others who are up to their armpits in deliberate, premeditated, violations of the Constitution, Geneva, and the public trust under the pretext of a "war on terror. "

If you want to find out what Mr. Bush really thinks about terrorists, stay tuned for his pardon of Luis Posada Carriles, the man who blew up the Cuban civilian jetliner, back in 1976, killing all 76 passengers onboard.

So, next Friday, we may yet see Scott McClellan fess up about what has been standard operating procedure, for years, in this administration, and watch yet another pathetic attempt by the mainstream media to sweep his revelations under the rug.

We agree with Dennis Kucinich who told Congress, on Monday, that impeachment proceedings must begin if for no other reason than to stop this commander-in-chief from taking his hubris to the next level, and ordering an attack on Tehran, just in time to fix another election.