Thursday, May 21, 2009

Addington and Cheney Implicated Definitively (Hurrah for ACLU!)

I have to admit it. I'm flabbergasted that this reporting has emerged (even if it's only within the blog world for now) within the first quarter of Obama's presidency. After seeing his administration fold/bow to greater realities/follow the true plan (however you describe the manipulations of public policy by the Dems under Rethug pressure since Inauguration Day), you've got to admit that it's like experiencing your very own localized earthquake to read that the data are appearing that define what Gonzo (no, not HST) the Goonzo did at the behest of Dick Cheney's right hand, David Addington (and obviously under the direction of the one true Dick guiding US policy). And thus his quick exit (stage right) many moons ago. Blue Gal has a nice exposition at her blog which is worth your while to grok it in all its fullness. Short. Sweet. Laser-edged.

"Our own" is the Constitution of the United States, and the rule of law, including international law, for which it stands. It's not something Dick Cheney can pay John Yoo to write IN A FUCKING MEMO to conduct illegal TORTURE to support an illegal war.
And how about that ACLU? I've supported this fine organization for over 30 years and forgot until today that I had been holding my breath in wonderment at the progress of their Freedom of Information request. (Emphasis marks were added - Ed.)

NPR is reporting today that significant new information has emerged per an ACLU FOIA request directly tying Alberto Gonzales, in his role at White House Counsel, to the torture of Abu Zubaydah. This confirms ex-FBI agent Ali Soufan's account in last week's Senate hearing that Zubaydah was subject to torture from at least April to June of 2002 (when Soufan left the interrogation team). NPR reports that contractor James Mitchell was in regular contact with the White House in the spring of 2002. One source with knowledge of Zubaydah's interrogations agreed to describe the legal guidance process, on the condition of anonymity.

The source says nearly every day, Mitchell would sit at his computer and write a top-secret cable to the CIA's counterterrorism center. Each day, Mitchell would request permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques on Zubaydah. The source says the CIA would then forward the request to the White House, where White House counsel Alberto Gonzales would sign off on the technique. That would provide the administration's legal blessing for Mitchell to increase the pressure on Zubaydah in the next interrogation. A new document is consistent with the source's account. The CIA sent the ACLU a spreadsheet late Tuesday as part of a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. The log shows the number of top-secret cables that went from Zubaydah's black site prison to CIA headquarters each day. Through the spring and summer of 2002, the log shows, someone sent headquarters several cables a day. "At the very least, it's clear that CIA headquarters was choreographing what was going on at the black site," says Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU lawyer who sued to get the document. "But there's still this question about the relationship between CIA headquarters and the White House and the Justice Department and the question of which senior officials were driving this process." As Spencer points out, Gonzales wasn't in the DOJ, the CIA, State, or any other agency where he would have had the power to direct the actions of any other agency. He was the president's lawyer, period. And yet, he appears to have been the point of decision-making for torture pre-torture memos. But, obviously, he wasn't acting alone. We have at least a hint of which senior officials (besides Gonzales) were driving this process from a description in Barton Gellman's Angler, in which he describes how legal policy was shaped early on after 9/11, and the individuals involved:

By the afternoon of September 11, Addington had made contact with Timothy Flanigan, the deputy White House counsel. Flanigan's boss, Alberto Gonzales, was stranded in Norfolk . . . . No matter. His deputy was the one Addington wanted . . . . Flanigan was in the Situation Room on September 11. When Addington reached him from the bunker, Flanigan patched in the Justice Department Command Center across town. There he found a young attorney named John C. Yoo.... Responding to a request from Flanigan, Yoo wrote two weeks after the al Qaeda attacks that no law "can place any limits on the President's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make.". . . . . . Addington, working almost invariably through proxies, requested OLC opinions on subjects calculated to elicit broad replies. Addington insisted on strict secrecy, preventing the circulation of drafts to agencies that might challenge Yoo's analysis. With the rulings in hand, the vice president's counsel wrote the regulations, directives, and executive orders that changed events . . . . Gonzales became the interpreter and salesman of new legal theories to Bush, without whose signature nothing big could happen. Thus formed the core legal team that Cheney oversaw, directly and indirectly, in the years after September 11. "Addington, Flanigan, and Gonzales were really a triumverate," recalled Bradford A. Berenson, then an associate White House counsel. "Gonzales had the relationship with the president. Addington had the relationship with the vice president. And Flanigan, as a former OLC head, had the legal expertise. It was a flying wedge of staffers backed up by the president and the vice president, and it doesn't get much better than that." It's easy to see how, using Yoo's "president as king" formulation, the president's lawyer could become the point person for the CIA in authorizing torture, particularly if, as Lawrence Wilkerson and others have alleged, that the vice president was pushing for the use of torture on Zubaydah. This actually isn't the first time Gonzales has been linked to the authorization of torture. Go back to his confirmation hearings for Attorney General when it was reported that Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, intervened directly with Justice Department lawyers in 2002 to obtain a legal ruling on the extent of the president's authority to permit extreme interrogation practices in the name of national security, current and former administration officials said Tuesday . . . . Current and former officials who talked about the memorandum have been provided with firsthand accounts about how it was prepared. Some discussed it in an effort to clear up what they viewed as a murky record in advance of Mr. Gonzales's confirmation hearings. Others spoke of the matter apparently believing that the Justice Department had unfairly taken the blame for the memorandum. A White House spokeswoman, Erin Healy, said Tuesday that while Mr. Gonzales personally requested the August opinion, he was only seeking "objective legal advice and did not ask the Office of Legal Counsel to reach any specific conclusion." Right. That revelation led to some tough questioning for Gonzales in his confirmation hearings. During which we now know he committed perjury:

Read the rest here. And try not to gasp too loudly at the ease of the process (and the mostly perfunctory signing off on it that must have occurred by those in the know in the loyal opposition) that led to the sure demise of our constitutional system of government. Suzan P.S. When will the show trials begin? ___________________

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