L’enquête sur le 11/9 aura au moins mis à jour comment, un mois après que Bush a reçu un dossier des renseignements intitulé « Ben Laden déterminé à frapper aux États-Unis », 3 000 Américains ont été massacrés pendant son mandat et celui de Cheney. Frank Rich
Cheney et Obama peuvent bien affirmer le contraire, mais ce n’est pas l’Administration Obama qui a arrêté la torture. (…) L’investiture de Barack Obama n’a tout simplement pas marqué un changement radical dans la substance de la politique anti-terroriste américaine. Elle a marqué un changement dans la crédibilité publique de cette politique. (…) Est-ce que je souhaite qu’il ait été plus élégant et plus honnête envers les fonctionnaires de l’Administration Bush dont il bénéficie aujourd’hui des mesures qu’ils avaient alors prises ? Oui. David Brooks
La Cour estime (…)que s’il avait été mis à exécution, le traitement dont le requérant a été menacé aurait été constitutif de torture. Cependant, l’interrogatoire n’a duré qu’une dizaine de minutes et, comme la procédure pénale dirigée contre les policiers a permis de l’établir (…), a eu lieu dans une atmosphère empreinte d’une tension et d’émotions exacerbées car les policiers, totalement épuisés et soumis à une pression extrême, croyaient ne disposer que de quelques heures pour sauver la vie de J. ; ce sont des éléments qui doivent être considérés comme des circonstances atténuantes (…) D’ailleurs, les menaces de mauvais traitements ne furent pas mises à exécution et il n’a pas été démontré qu’elles aient eu de graves répercussions à long terme sur la santé du requérant. Cour européenne des Droits de l’Homme (Strasbourg, le 30 juin 200
Si vous ne pouvez pas charger Bush, chargez Cheney!
New York, Washington, Israël, Islamabad, Daniel Pearl, Bali, Moscou,
John Allen Mohammed, Madrid, Londres, Istanbul, Djerba …
Tel est le problème de tous ces journalistes, NYT en tête, qui ont combattu sept ans durant la politique anti-terroriste de l’Administration Bush ayant permis la sanctuarisation de leur pays dont ils profitent encore aujourd’hui avec la nouvelle administration et qui, après avoir largement contribué à l’élection de ladite administration, sont bien obligés de reconnaître l’évidence que leur héros a non seulement repris la même politique mais n’a en plus ni la bonne foi ni l’élégance de le reconnaître.
D’où, puisqu’il n’est pas question de reconnaître qu’après un bref recours à une probablement inévitable forme de torture dans l’urgence de l’immédiat après-11/9, l’équipe Bush est largement revenue aux pratiques que propose de reprendre aujourd’hui le président Obama, l’évidente solution: charger le baudet Cheney!
Cheney Lost to Bush
The New York Times
May 22, 2009
President Obama and Dick Cheney conspired on Thursday to propagate a myth. The myth is that we lived through an eight-year period of Bush-Cheney anti-terror policy and now we have entered a very different period called the Obama-Biden anti-terror policy. As both Obama and Cheney understand, this is a completely bogus distortion of history.
The reality is that after Sept. 11, we entered a two- or three-year period of what you might call Bush-Cheney policy. The country was blindsided. Intelligence officials knew next to nothing about the threats arrayed against them. The Bush administration tried just about everything to discover and prevent threats. The Bush people believed they were operating within the law but they did things most of us now find morally offensive and counterproductive.
The Bush-Cheney period lasted maybe three years. For Dick Cheney those might be the golden years. For Democrats, it is surely the period they want to forever hang around the necks of the Republican Party. But that period ended long ago.
By 2005, what you might call the Bush-Rice-Hadley era had begun. Gradually, in fits and starts, a series of Bush administration officials — including Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, Jack Goldsmith and John Bellinger — tried to rein in the excesses of the Bush-Cheney period. They didn’t win every fight, and they were prodded by court decisions and public outrage, but the gradual evolution of policy was clear.
From 2003 onward, people like Bellinger and Goldsmith were fighting against legal judgments that allowed enhanced interrogation techniques. By 2006, Rice and Hadley brought Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in from a secret foreign prison to regularize detainee procedures. In 2007, Rice refused to support an executive order reviving the interrogation program. Throughout the second Bush term, officials were trying to close Guantánamo, pleading with foreign governments to take some prisoners, begging senators to allow the transfer of prisoners onto American soil. (It didn’t occur to them that they could announce the closure of Gitmo first, then figure out what to do with prisoners.)
Cheney and Obama might pretend otherwise, but it wasn’t the Obama administration that halted the practice of waterboarding. It was a succession of C.I.A. directors starting in March 2003, even before a devastating report by the C.I.A. inspector general in 2004.
When Cheney lambastes the change in security policy, he’s not really attacking the Obama administration. He’s attacking the Bush administration. In his speech on Thursday, he repeated in public a lot of the same arguments he had been making within the Bush White House as the policy decisions went more and more the other way.
The inauguration of Barack Obama has simply not marked a dramatic shift in the substance of American anti-terror policy. It has marked a shift in the public credibility of that policy.
In the first place, it is absurd to say this administration doesn’t take terrorism seriously. Obama has embraced the Afghan surge, a strategy that was brewing at the end of the Bush years. He has stepped up drone activity in Pakistan. He has promoted aggressive counterinsurgency fighters and racked up domestic anti-terror accomplishments.
As for the treatment of terror suspects, Jack Goldsmith has a definitive piece called “The Cheney Fallacy” online at The New Republic. He lists a broad range of policies — Guantánamo, habeas corpus, military commissions, rendition, interrogation and so on. He shows how, in most cases, the Obama policy represents a continuation of or a gradual evolution from the final Bush policy.
What Obama gets, and what President Bush never got, is that other people’s opinions matter. Goldsmith puts it well: “The main difference between the Obama and Bush administrations concerns not the substance of terrorism policy, but rather its packaging. The Bush administration shot itself in the foot time and time again, to the detriment of the legitimacy and efficacy of its policies, by indifference to process and presentation. The Obama administration, by contrast, is intensely focused on these issues.”
Obama has taken many of the same policies Bush ended up with, and he has made them credible to the country and the world. In his speech, Obama explained his decisions in a subtle and coherent way. He admitted that some problems are tough and allow no easy solution. He treated Americans as adults, and will have won their respect.
Do I wish he had been more gracious with and honest about the Bush administration officials whose policies he is benefiting from? Yes. But the bottom line is that Obama has taken a series of moderate and time-tested policy compromises. He has preserved and reformed them intelligently. He has fit them into a persuasive framework. By doing that, he has not made us less safe. He has made us more secure.
Obama Can’t Turn the Page on Bush
The New York Times
May 17, 2009
TO paraphrase Al Pacino in “Godfather III,” just when we thought we were out, the Bush mob keeps pulling us back in. And will keep doing so. No matter how hard President Obama tries to turn the page on the previous administration, he can’t. Until there is true transparency and true accountability, revelations of that unresolved eight-year nightmare will keep raining down drip by drip, disrupting the new administration’s high ambitions.
That’s why the president’s flip-flop on the release of detainee abuse photos — whatever his motivation — is a fool’s errand. The pictures will eventually emerge anyway, either because of leaks (if they haven’t started already) or because the federal appeals court decision upholding their release remains in force. And here’s a bet: These images will not prove the most shocking evidence of Bush administration sins still to come.
There are many dots yet to be connected, and not just on torture. This Sunday, GQ magazine is posting on its Web site an article adding new details to the ample dossier on how Donald Rumsfeld’s corrupt and incompetent Defense Department cost American lives and compromised national security. The piece is not the work of a partisan but the Texan journalist Robert Draper, author of “Dead Certain,” the 2007 Bush biography that had the blessing (and cooperation) of the former president and his top brass. It draws on interviews with more than a dozen high-level Bush loyalists.
Draper reports that Rumsfeld’s monomaniacal determination to protect his Pentagon turf led him to hobble and antagonize America’s most willing allies in Iraq, Britain and Australia, and even to undermine his own soldiers. But Draper’s biggest find is a collection of daily cover sheets that Rumsfeld approved for the Secretary of Defense Worldwide Intelligence Update, a highly classified digest prepared for a tiny audience, including the president, and often delivered by hand to the White House by the defense secretary himself. These cover sheets greeted Bush each day with triumphal color photos of the war headlined by biblical quotations. GQ is posting 11 of them, and they are seriously creepy.
Take the one dated April 3, 2003, two weeks into the invasion, just as Shock and Awe hit its first potholes. Two days earlier, on April 1, a panicky Pentagon had begun spreading its hyped, fictional account of the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch to distract from troubling news of setbacks. On April 2, Gen. Joseph Hoar, the commander in chief of the United States Central Command from 1991-94, had declared on the Times Op-Ed page that Rumsfeld had sent too few troops to Iraq. And so the Worldwide Intelligence Update for April 3 bullied Bush with Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Including, as it happened, into a quagmire.)
What’s up with that? As Draper writes, Rumsfeld is not known for ostentatious displays of piety. He was cynically playing the religious angle to seduce and manipulate a president who frequently quoted the Bible. But the secretary’s actions were not just oily; he was also taking a risk with national security. If these official daily collages of Crusade-like messaging and war imagery had been leaked, they would have reinforced the Muslim world’s apocalyptic fear that America was waging a religious war. As one alarmed Pentagon hand told Draper, the fallout “would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”
The GQ article isn’t the only revelation of previously unknown Bush Defense Department misbehavior to emerge this month. Just two weeks ago, the Obama Pentagon revealed that a major cover-up of corruption had taken place at the Bush Pentagon on Jan. 14 of this year — just six days before Bush left office. This strange incident — reported in The Times but largely ignored by Washington correspondents preparing for their annual dinner — deserves far more attention and follow-up.
What happened on Jan. 14 was the release of a report from the Pentagon’s internal watchdog, the inspector general. It had been ordered up in response to a scandal uncovered last year by David Barstow, an investigative reporter for The Times. Barstow had found that the Bush Pentagon fielded a clandestine network of retired military officers and defense officials to spread administration talking points on television, radio and in print while posing as objective “military analysts.” Many of these propagandists worked for military contractors with billions of dollars of business at stake in Pentagon procurement. Many were recipients of junkets and high-level special briefings unavailable to the legitimate press. Yet the public was never told of these conflicts of interest when these “analysts” appeared on the evening news to provide rosy assessments of what they tended to call “the real situation on the ground in Iraq.”
When Barstow’s story broke, more than 45 members of Congress demanded an inquiry. The Pentagon’s inspector general went to work, and its Jan. 14 report was the result. It found no wrongdoing by the Pentagon. Indeed, when Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize last month, Rumsfeld’s current spokesman cited the inspector general’s “exoneration” to attack the Times articles as fiction.
But the Pentagon took another look at this exoneration, and announced on May 5 that the inspector general’s report, not The Times’s reporting, was fiction. The report, it turns out, was riddled with factual errors and included little actual investigation of Barstow’s charges. The inspector general’s office had barely glanced at the 8,000 pages of e-mail that Barstow had used as evidence, and interviewed only seven of the 70 disputed analysts. In other words, the report was a whitewash. The Obama Pentagon officially rescinded it — an almost unprecedented step — and even removed it from its Web site.
Network news operations ignored the unmasking of this last-minute Bush Pentagon cover-up, as they had the original Barstow articles — surely not because they had been patsies for the Bush P.R. machine. But the story is actually far larger than this one particular incident. If the Pentagon inspector general’s office could whitewash this scandal, what else did it whitewash?
In 2005, to take just one example, the same office released a report on how Boeing colluded with low-level Pentagon bad apples on an inflated (and ultimately canceled) $30 billion air-tanker deal. At the time, even John Warner, then the go-to Republican senator on military affairs, didn’t buy the heavily redacted report’s claim that Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, were ignorant of what Warner called “the most significant defense procurement mismanagement in contemporary history.” The Pentagon inspector general who presided over that exoneration soon fled to become an executive at the parent company of another Pentagon contractor, Blackwater.
But the new administration doesn’t want to revisit this history any more than it wants to dwell on torture. Once the inspector general’s report on the military analysts was rescinded, the Obama Pentagon declared the matter closed. The White House seems to be taking its cues from the Reagan-Bush 41 speechwriter Peggy Noonan. “Sometimes I think just keep walking,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” as the torture memos surfaced. “Some of life has to be mysterious.” Imagine if she’d been at Nuremberg!
The administration can’t “just keep walking” because it is losing control of the story. The Beltway punditocracy keeps repeating the cliché that only the A.C.L.U. and the president’s “left-wing base” want accountability, but that’s not the case. Americans know that the Iraq war is not over. A key revelation in last month’s Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainees — that torture was used to try to coerce prisoners into “confirming” a bogus Al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein link to sell that war — is finally attracting attention. The more we learn piecemeal of this history, the more bipartisan and voluble the call for full transparency has become.
And I do mean bipartisan. Both Dick Cheney, hoping to prove that torture “worked,” and Nancy Pelosi, fending off accusations of hypocrisy on torture, have now asked for classified C.I.A. documents to be made public. When a duo this unlikely, however inadvertently, is on the same side of an issue, the wave is rising too fast for any White House to control. Court cases, including appeals by the “bad apples” made scapegoats for Abu Ghraib, will yank more secrets into the daylight and enlist more anxious past and present officials into the Cheney-Pelosi demands for disclosure.
It will soon be every man for himself. “Did President Bush know everything you knew?” Bob Schieffer asked Cheney on “Face the Nation” last Sunday. The former vice president’s uncharacteristically stumbling and qualified answer — “I certainly, yeah, have every reason to believe he knew…” — suggests that the Bush White House’s once-united front is starting to crack under pressure.
I’m not a fan of Washington’s blue-ribbon commissions, where political compromises can trump the truth. But the 9/11 investigation did illuminate how, a month after Bush received an intelligence brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” 3,000 Americans were slaughtered on his and Cheney’s watch. If the Obama administration really wants to move on from the dark Bush era, it will need a new commission, backed up by serious law enforcement, to shed light on where every body is buried.
Victor Davis Hanson
Tribune Media Services
May 20, 2009
For over a year after the murder of 3,000 innocent people in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, shell-shocked Americans were gripped by other horrific images of terrorism across the globe.
Palestinian suicide bombers blew up Israeli civilians during a renewed intifada. Pakistani terrorists attacked India’s parliament over the disputed Kashmir region. Other terrorists in Pakistan beheaded U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.
Islamists killed over 200 at a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia. Chechnyan separatists stormed a Moscow theater and took over 800 hostages; over 100 died before the nightmare was over.
In the U.S., John Allen Mohammed and his young partner were busy murdering citizens in counties adjoining Washington, D.C. — a city still jittery from anonymous anthrax-laced letters sent in late 2001 to various media organizations and two senators.
In other words, Americans in 2002 were scared of the spreading worldwide conflagration of radical Islam, and looked to the president to keep them safe. And he did — to bipartisan applause of most in government.
By the end of Nov. 2002, the Bush administration had created the new Department of Homeland Security. We all began removing belts and shoes, as well as surrendering any liquids in our carry-on luggage, at the airport. Air marshals began flying selected routes. The recently passed Patriot Act allowed American anti-terrorism agents to intercept phone calls and e-mails of suspected jihadists.
At the newly opened Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, jihadists were detained. While specific dates of who was briefed when concerning the waterboarding of certain detainees is now being debated, it seems clear that select members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, became aware of the practice — and that no objections were publicly voiced.
And former Clinton Justice Department official Eric Holder — now the attorney general — even declared in a 2002 interview that none of the terrorists detained at Guantanamo were protected by the Geneva Convention statutes concerning prisoners of war.
In Oct. 2002, Congress, with a majority of both Democratic senators and representatives, authorized the removal of Saddam Hussein.
A number of liberal journalists also endorsed the Iraq war. By Nov. 2002, after almost two years in office, George Bush enjoyed an approval rating of over 60 percent.
Now, seven years later, we live in a different world. Since then, some unforeseen events have transpired — and other predicted events have not.
The U.S. has not been attacked again in the manner of 9/11 — although almost all terrorist experts had assured us we would be.
After a three-week victory in Iraq that removed Saddam Hussein and won the support of nearly 80 percent of the American people, an insurgency grew that would eventually claim over 4,000 American lives. Terrorists almost toppled Iraq’s nascent democracy until Gen. David P. Petraeus’ troop « surge » quelled the violence.
By then, politics had begun to change. Most who called for invading Iraq long ago abandoned their own zeal and advocacy — and loudly blamed the Bush administration for the violence of the postwar occupation. (Now, they are largely silent about the quiet in Iraq that the Obama administration inherited.)
Of course, had we suffered another major terrorist attack between 2001-09, critics would have damned the Bush administration for its perceived laxity as vehemently as they now do in quieter times for its supposed extremism.
Opportunism, not principles, guides most in Washington. Almost no proponents of the Iraq war withdrew their support right after the successful three-week effort to remove Saddam. Had there been little Iraqi violence during the transition to democracy, former supporters would probably still be vying to take credit for the war’s success.
Consider also the dexterous Obama administration’s own about-face. It still finds it useful to damn the old Bush government’s embrace of wiretaps, military tribunals and renditions — even as it dares not drop or completely discount these apparently useful Bush policies, albeit under new names and with new qualifiers.
What does this political opportunism teach us?
If we get hit again by a major terrorist attack, you can bet that today’s cooing doves will flip a third time and revert to the screeching hawks of 2002 — and once again scream that their president must do something to keep us safe.
Victor Davis Hanson
May 17, 2009
What is strange about the furor over the Cheney interviews is that so many of the arguments against them simply have no precedent or logic.
If one were to say the vice president emeritus, as a matter of understood decorum, should refrain from criticism of the subsequent administration, then why did former vice president Al Gore — to the delight of much of the media — go on a virtual barnstorming crusade against the Bush administration in language far more partisan and hysterical (e.g., « He [Bush] lied to us! He betrayed this country! He played on our fears! »)?
If one were to say that the vice president was representing some fringe position on the status of detainees at Guantánamo, then one need only review the transcript of Attorney General Eric Holder’s 2002 CNN interview when Holder explicitly said those at Guantánamo could be held indefinitely for the duration of the war and were without the benefit of the protections offered by the Geneva Convention Accords.
If one were to argue Cheney is simply covering his tracks on the subject of waterboarding, then one need only be reminded that Cheney admits he was briefed and approved the techniques and now candidly tells us why he did so — while the Speaker of the House was likewise briefed, and by her silence as a congressional overseer approved de facto the techniques, but now quite disingenuously denied such complicity at the very time she seeks to ruin the careers of lawyers who merely offered opinions rather than set or oversaw policy.
If one were to believe that Cheney was selectively trying to refashion the past, then consider that (a) his points are clearly in reply to the Obama’s administration’s own prior selective release of Bush-administration legal counsel briefs, done for partisan political purposes and over the objections of career CIA officers, and (b) Cheney is asking for full, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may disclosure in his requests to make the entire record public of both the interrogations and their relevance to preventing further attacks.
In short, while pundits still believe Cheney is a marginalized figure and an easy target of scorn, in fact, his methodical defense of the past is both logical and principled, and is beginning to illustrate, in quite painful fashion, the utter hypocrisy of the entire Democratic position on enhanced interrogations techniques and Guantánamo Bay. The American people more likely agree with Cheney than not; and even if they did not, they still prefer a candid and honest opponent to a disingenuous and self-serving ally.
As a footnote: In these Machiavellian times, it almost seems that the White House and some in the Democratic Congress who are still calling for hearings are at ease embarrassing Nancy Pelosi, whose prior value to the party as anti-Bush bomb thrower has now been eclipsed, since she appears as a looney, undisciplined partisan that can do far more damage to the cause than she ever did to Bush.