Tag: Bush

IMPORTANT: Bush’s Ex-Deputy CIA Director Admits Iraq War Based on Lies

This is explosive.

On MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews tonight, George Bush’s ex-Deputy CIA Director (and onetime Acting Director) MIchael Morrell admitted that when he briefed President George W. Bush on Iraqi activity around nuclear weapons in the run-up to the Iraq War, what he said on the subject “was not true.”

We’ve known this for some time, of course. But Morrell is the highest-ranking Bush Administration official to admit the truth in public. Morrell is the guy who was responsible for presenting the CIA’s intelligence analysis to Bush every day. And he now says his briefings, “in some aspects” at least, were outright lies and he knew it.

When President Obama took office, he almost immediately dismissed the idea of investigating or charging Bush or any of his cronies for their lies to the public about the war or for their role in carrying out illegal and immoral acts of torture. That was a huge mistake, as we are now continuing to see confirmed. In refusing to prosecute, Obama demonstrated that there is no fundamentally different moral compass for the two parties. It will always be policy based on their narrow views of what it means for America to do whatever it wants to get its way in the world.

 

Conspiracy Theories, False Beliefs and the Echo Chamber

Today’s news brings a report about a study of political beliefs and conspiracy theories conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University. The poll finds surprisingly high levels of belief in conspiracy theories and other false beliefs about politics. According to the poll, Republicans and Fox News viewers are more likely to hold false beliefs about topics like the President and the Iraq war.

For example, a majority (51%) of Republicans and a surprising minority (42%) of all those polled believe the U.S. found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We didn’t. You can read a story about the poll here and the entire poll report here.

Dan Cassino, a professor of political science and the director of experimental research for the poll, said, “This sort of motivated reasoning is pretty common: when people want to believe something, they’ll twist the facts to fit it.”

And that’s the problem. People who “want to believe something” not only twist facts, they deliberately isolate themselves from contrary facts, as I’ve written about here before. The echo chamber of the Internet and 24-hour partisan cable news means it is not only possible, but easy, for anyone who wants to hold a particular opinion regardless of its accuracy to find plenty of “facts” to support them and a complete absence of contradictory evidence.

This is precisely the same problem as that caused by government propaganda, only its origin is not the government so much as it is private corporations driven by greed and unenlightened self-interest.

I don’t think this problem has a solution. But I think it has far-reaching and almost entirely negative repercussions. We are all forced to live in a world where most of our fellow citizens are intentionally uninformed or misinformed about the important issues of the day, whether by Fox News or MSNBC. Having discovered that blurring the line of distinction between facts and opinions draws loyal viewers and readers, the media are certainly not going to go on a diet of objectivity. The death of objective news reporting and factual information being readily accessible to and understandable by the average voter marks, I suspect, the beginning of the end for the type of democracy that ha been our governing principle for more than 200 years,

What comes next, I can’t even imagine.

 

Driven by Fear, American Leaders Did Unspeakable Things. But Should They Be Punished?

Clicking on the above image will download a PDF of the 525-page unclassified executive summary of the report.

Clicking on the above image will download a PDF of the 525-page unclassified executive summary of the report.

Now that the nation and the world have had some time to read and digest the Senate Intelligence Committee’s massive report on the U.S. use of torture in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it seems clear that grievous and heinous international war crimes were committed. These crimes were known and sanctioned by President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and other high-ranking Administration officials.

As the New York Times opined on today’s editorial page:

These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which definestorture as the intentional infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture. (Emphasis added)

We have participated many times in recent decades in the hunting down and prosecution of other nation’s leaders for committing acts of torture. Our — and specifically President Barack Obama’s — refusal to even consider conducting a criminal investigation into these outrages is unconscionable and indefensible.

But…

On the other hand, the situation with our former President and his Administration may well qualify for somewhat different treatment. Where others who have been prosecuted for such crimes sought personal power and gain, there is little doubt in most peoples’ minds — including this fairly strongly Leftist writer — that what was done by Bush et al was done primarily out of fear and from a complete lack of understanding of how to react to terrorism on our own turf. We, uniquely among nations, had seldom been the victims, historically, of such attacks. There were no clear precedents for our dilemma.

In the days and weeks following 9/11, the intelligence community in disarray as it played a collective game of CYA to avoid the blame for the attacks that it collectively richly deserved, there was undoubtedly a sense in the White House that these attacks could well be the precursor of many more and harsher onslaughts. As we should have but didn’t learn in Vietnam, fighting an invisible enemy who shines your shoes by day and bombs your barracks by night is an almost impossible thing to be called upon to do.

Charged with protecting what has now become — frighteningly, for historical reasons — known as the “Homeland” against further terrorist attacks was first and foremost in the minds of Mssrs. Bush and Cheney. They reacted rather than pausing, thinking and planning. They almost certainly felt they didn’t have the luxury of time. In the process, they missed a huge opportunity to gain global support and admiration, but that was not their focus: they were intent on one thing and that was stopping another attack.

While it is clear that these men knew precisely that what they were doing were war crimes and illegal even under U.S. law, they undoubtedly felt pushed to the wall where the call of duty overrode their sense of legality.

None of that excuses what they did. But it does make it more understandable.

President Obama should order a full-scale investigation of these war crimes. Anyone found criminally liable should be convicted and sentenced. And then he should grant full pardons to those at the top out of an understanding for the horrible dilemma they faced, the lack of information and experience on which to base horrifically difficult and complex decisions, and their presumed good, unselfish motivations.

But it is important that we as a nation uphold the treaty on torture or we lose all credibility in criticizing and prosecuting other nations’ leaders for such conduct. It’s important that we establish ourselves as a nation governed by laws even when those laws produce difficult or rancorous results in our ranks.

President Obama has said repeatedly that, “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” which is an empty statement with no meaning or purpose. It is possible to do both, as the Times points out. I would argue that it is necessary to do both.

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are to give Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. a letter calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor. I would strongly urge President Obama to approve the idea and make that appointment. The new Republican Congress will, of course, oppose him and ultimately no prosecution or investigation may take place. But let the blame for that inaction, that tacit sanctioning of anti-human crimes fall where it belongs and not on this President whose only fault so far is to conclude wrongly that we as a nation couldn’t weather such a probe.

It is time, Mr. President, to act as the leader and Constitutional lawyer you are.