File under: As if we didn’t already know. Sources are now reporting to ABC News that not only were top Bush Administration officials aware of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” being used by the CIA to question suspected terrorists, but they were actually responsible for creating — using very detailed descriptions — those techniques. Top officials present in the “National Security Council’s Principals Committee” meetings included Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
So who are the ABC Sources? Good question. One guess is someone involved with former Attorney General Ashcroft, since part of the story includes the detail that Ashcroft asked during one particular meeting, “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.” It certainly puts Ashcroft in a better light than the rest of them. Perhaps someone is trying to cover Ashcroft’s ass. Because, as we will soon see, this sort of thing could very well fall under the category of war crimes.
Keep in mind this was all cleared by the Office of Legal Counsel, from the infamous memo by John Yoo, a memo which has since been withdrawn by the Justice Department, which authorized the use of torture by military interrogators on unlawful combatants. Which brings to the question, what is an unlawful combatant? Could, potentially, US Citizens be detained as unlawful combatants, and therefore have been subjected to torture? Keep in mind that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified on Capitol Hill that Habeus Corpus is not necessarily guaranteed to US Citizens via the Constitution, thereby opening the door for the CIA to refuse it even to citizens of this country. Now, when you couple that with the earlier John Yoo memo that says the Fourth Amendment does not apply to actions of the US military within the United States (a memo which is still classified and was only referenced in a footnote that the ACLU discovered), you have a very scary picture developing of the unchecked powers of this administration, the extent of which is completely unknown at this point. It’s like a giant shell that’s being picked away at, piece by little piece. At some point it has to crumble, and when it does, either no one in America will really care, and all these agents will have gotten away with perhaps the most blatant power grab in American history, or we’ll see people go to jail for this. But the bottom line is, the shit is very very slowly starting to hit the fan.
Just today, Senator Diane Feinstein asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey whether or not that Fourth Amendment exclusion was still in force. To you and to me, the question appears very simple. Yet Mukasey so carefully chooses his words, Feinstein should know that she’ll never nail him on this without embarking upon her own waterboarding session with the AG. “There are no domestic military operations being carried out today,” Mukasey replies. “I’m unaware of any domestic military operations being carried out today,” he repeats. Feinstein would’ve had to ask him about April 8th, April 7th, April 6th, and what about tomorrow? What about this weekend? But it doesn’t matter anyway, because Mukasey qualifies his statements with “I’m unaware.” Plausible deniability at its best.
And if you scroll down to the bottom of that piece at TPMMuckraker, perhaps even more interesting is the bit where the article mentions the Justice Department “repudiated the idea that there are no constitutional limits to military searches and seizures in a time of war, saying it depends on ‘the particular context and circumstances of the search.'”
So do United States citizens have rights when it comes to unlawful search and seizure? The Justice Department says, “that depends.”
I feel so safe and secure knowing this Justice Department is protecting my rights. I guess what do you expect when the same body claims that US Citizens being held illegally are not specifically guaranteed the right to petition a court on their own behalf.
Scary times we’re living in.