SCHIEFFER: Did President Bush know everything you knew?
CHENEY: I certainly, yes, have every reason to believe he knew -- he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it.
Bob Schieffer didn't require any enhanced interrogation techniques to get Cheney to testify against his former boss. Maybe George should have pardoned Scooter.
It's too small, Frankel says, because it will make up for less than half of the lost demand drained out of the economy by the recession. It isn't nearly big enough to provide the necessary stimulus. But at the same time, it may also be too big, because its size could be sufficient to frighten bond holders:
My feeling is that if the current stimulus package were to break the $1 trillion mark, it might truly alarm international financial investors, who would in that case stop acquiring dollar assets, thus precipitating the hard landing of the dollar that so many of us have feared for so long.In those circumstances, the Fed would lose the ability to keep interest rates low, and we could be in even worse trouble than today.
Let's just run a highlighter over that point:
Everything would be different if we had spent the last 8 years preserving the budget surpluses that Bill Clinton bequeathed to George Bush.Then we would have paid down a big share of the national debt by now, instead of doubling it.We would be in a strong enough fiscal position to undertake the expansion today that we really need.
In that light it is ironic, to say the least, that the politicians who are warning against the size of the stimulus bill (”generational theft”), particularly the Congressmen who are voting against it, are mostly the same Republicans who supported the original fiscal policies that gave us the doubling of the national debt:the huge long-term tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 and the greatly accelerated rate of government spending.What we need now is a fiscal policy that maximizes short-run demand stimulus relative to long-run damage to the national debt. Lots of bang for the buck. The Republicans supported fiscal policies that did the opposite. Lots of buck for the bang. They are still doing it today when they argue that tax cuts give stimulus and spending does not. One doesn’t even hear them give an economic argument in support of this proposition. They just close their eyes and endlessly repeat their “tax cut” mantra, like a religious cult that can’t even remember why.
There are reasonable people who oppose the stimulus bill, including a minority of economists. But there is nothing reasonable about the opposition of Congressional Republicans. For the good of the country, I hope that Barack Obama has learned a lesson about the limited utility of bipartisanship when the opposition is disconnected from reality.
The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.
The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.
This had the usual suspects in a panic. For example, here's Bill O'Reilly:
Just hours after President Obama announced he was going to shut down Guantanamo Bay, the feds confirmed that a released Gitmo inmate, 35-year-old Sahid al-Shahiri, had resumed terrorist activities in Yemen.
Now if this isn't a warning, ladies and gentlemen, I don't know what is. Obama tells the world no more Gitmo, and a guy the Bush administration let go in 2007 is now a major Al-Qaeda terrorist again. So we can add this guy to a list of 61 former Gitmo detainees who have returned to being terrorists after they've been released, that according to the Defense Department. That's 11 percent of those let go returning to the terror world.
KING: Let’s just say that, that, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, is brought to the United States to be tried in a federal court in the United States, under a federal judge, and we know what some of those judges do, and on a technicality, such as, let’s just say he wasn’t read his Miranda rights. … He is released into the streets of America. Walks over and steps up into a US embassy and applies for asylum for fear that he can’t go back home cause he spilled the beans on al Qaeda. What happens then if another judge grants him asylum in the United States and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is on a path to citizenship. I mean, I give you the extreme example of this.
The best antidote to this craziness is, as always, Jon Stewart:
Still, let's unpack the various inanities. First, Obama's executive order doesn't require any detainees to be released, let alone released into the United States. Instead, it provides that "[i]f any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States." So much for that.
Second, the Bush administration's decision to release Ali al-Shihri isn't evidence of a bad Obama decision to close Guantanamo, it's evidence of bad decision-making by the Bush administration. Under George Bush we've detained the innocent, released the guilty, and made it all but impossible to prosecute anyone. That's happened because the administration has operated Guantanamo with the same incompetence it's applied to everything else:
President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials -- barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees -- discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.
Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is "scattered throughout the executive branch," a senior administration official said.
Justice Department lawyers responding in federal courts to defense challenges over the past six months have said repeatedly that the government was overwhelmed by the sudden need to assemble material after Supreme Court rulings giving detainees habeas corpus and other rights.
In one federal filing, the Justice Department said that "the record . . . is not simply a collection of papers sitting in a box at the Defense Department. It is a massive undertaking just to produce the record in this one case." In another filing, the department said that "defending these cases requires an intense, inter-agency coordination of efforts. None of the relevant agencies, however, was prepared to handle this volume of habeas cases on an expedited basis." Evidence gathered for military commission trials is in disarray, according to some former officials, who said military lawyers lacked the trial experience to prosecute complex international terrorism cases.
In a court filing this month, Darrel Vandeveld, a former military prosecutor at Guantanamo who asked to be relieved of his duties, said evidence was "strewn throughout the prosecution offices in desk drawers, bookcases packed with vaguely-labeled plastic containers, or even simply piled on the tops of desks."
He said he once accidentally found "crucial physical evidence" that "had been tossed in a locker located at Guantanamo and promptly forgotten."
Let's just run a highlighter over that last point. Here's LTC Vandeveld, describing his difficulties sorting out the facts regarding Muhammed Jawad, who was captured when he was only a minor and then subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment for several years, even though the government has no prosecutable case against him:
7. It is important to understand that the "case files" compiled at OMC-P or developed by CITF are nothing like the investigation and case files assembled by civilian police agencies and prosecution offices, which typically follow a standardized format, include initial reports of investigation, subsequent reports compiled by investigators, and the like. Similarly, neither OMC-P nor CITF maintained any central repository for case files, any method for cataloguing and storing physical evidence, or any other system for assembling a potential case into a readily intelligible format that is the sine qua non of a successful prosecution. While no experienced prosecutor, much less one who had performed his or her duties in the fog of war, would expect that potential war crimes would be presented, at least initially, in "tidy little packages," at the time I inherited the Jawad case, Mr. Jawad had been in U.S. custody for approximately five years. It seemed reasonable to expect at the very least that after such a lengthy period of time, all available evidence would have been collected, catalogued, systemized, and evaluated thoroughly -- particularly since the suspect had been imprisoned throughout the entire time the case should have been undergoing preparation.
8. Instead, to the shock of my professional sensibilities, I discovered that the evidence, such as it was, remained scattered throughout an incomprehensible labyrinth of databases primarily under the control of CITF, or strewn throughout the prosecution offices in desk drawers, bookcases packed with vaguely-labeled plastic containers, or even simply piled on the tops of desks vacated by prosecutors who had departed the Commissions for other assignments. I further discovered that most physical evidence that had been collected had either disappeared or had been stored in locations that no one with any tenure at, or institutional knowledge of, the Commissions could identify with any degree of specificity or certainty. The state of disarray was so extensive that I later learned, as described below, that crucial physical evidence and other documents relevant to both the prosecution and the defense had been tossed into a locker located at Guantanamo and promptly forgotten. Although it took me a number of months -- so extensive was the lack of any discernable organization, and so difficult was it for me to accept that the US military could have failed so miserably in six years of effort -- I began to entertain my first, developing doubts about the propriety of attempting to prosecute Mr. Jawad without any assurance that through the exercise of due diligence I could collect and organize the evidence in a manner that would meet our common professional obligations.
It's no surprise that systems like this produce bad outcomes.
Finally, let's take a closer look at the Pentagon's claim that 61 released detainees have "returned to the battlefield". Again, this would be evidence of a bad Bush process, not a bad Obama decision, but the Pentagon refused to say who the detainees are, why they were originally detained, when or where they were released, or what they did afterward. Some of them are only suspected of "returning to the battlefield" -- whatever that means. Particularly from the Bush administration, none of this passes the laugh test. A study by the Seton Hall Center for Policy and Research verifies that this skepticism is well-founded:
Professor Denbeaux of the Center for Policy & Research has said that the Center has determined that “DOD has issued 'recidivism' numbers 43 times, and each time they have been wrong—this last time the most egregiously so.”
Denbeaux stated: “Once again, they’ve failed to identify names, numbers, dates, times, places, or acts upon which their report relies. Every time they have been required to identify the parties, the DOD has been forced to retract their false IDs and their numbers. They have included people who have never even set foot in Guantánamo—much less were they released from there. They have counted people as 'returning to the fight' for their having written an Op-ed piece in the New York and for their having appeared in a documentary exhibited at the Cannes Film Festival. The DOD has revised and retracted their internally conflicting definitions, criteria, and their numbers so often that they have ceased to have any meaning—except as an effort to sway public opinion by painting a false portrait of the supposed dangers of these men.
"Forty-three times they have given numbers—which conflict with each other—all of which are seriously undercut by the DOD statement that 'they do not track' former detainees. Rather than making up numbers “willy-nilly” about post release conduct, America might be better served if our government actually kept track of them.”
Still, leaving aside the lies and the inanity, it's entirely possible that even a competent process would release some detainees who might later join up with al Qaeda. That's a risk worth considering, but let's consider it in context. According to every counter-terrorism expert I can find, our lawless detention and interrogation practices have radicalized far more than the relatively small number of detainees who have "returned to the battlefield". Indeed, abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are said to be the number one and two motivations for the foreign fighters who've flocked to Iraq. Why isn't Bill O'Reilly fulminating about that?
Unless AFP is just making this up, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert needs to be reminded which is the dog and which is the tail:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was left shame-faced after President George W. Bush ordered her to abstain in a key UN vote on the war, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday.
"She was left shamed. A resolution that she prepared and arranged, and in the end she did not vote in favour," Olmert said in a speech in the southern town of Ashkelon.
The UN Security Council passed a resolution last Thursday calling for an immediate ceasefire in the three-week-old conflict in the Gaza Strip and an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza where hundreds have been killed.
Fourteen of the council's 15 members voted in favour of the resolution, which was later rejected by both Israel and Hamas.
The United States, Israel's main ally, had initially been expected to voted in line with the other 14 but Rice later became the sole abstention.
"In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favour," Olmert said.
"I said 'get me President Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care. 'I need to talk to him now'. He got off the podium and spoke to me."I told him the United States could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour."
This is remarkable. Not only did Olmert publicly humiliate the American Secretary of State, he announced that he controls the American President like a puppet -- he peremptorily jerked Bush right off the stage, and Bush obediently changed Rice's vote. It's bad enough that this may be true, but it's intolerable that Olmert would publicly say so. When did we become Israel's poodle?
And this doesn't even address the devastation to our geopolitical situation resulting from the administration's disastrous foreign policies. It's impossible to find anything this administration has touched that it hasn't screwed up. George Bush is the worst President in modern history.
With apologies to Tommy Franks, that description fits Alberto Gonzales even better than it fits Doug Feith:
Mr. Gonzales has been portrayed by critics both as unqualified for his position and instrumental in laying the groundwork for the administration's "war on terror." He was pilloried by Congress in a manner not usually directed toward cabinet officials.
"What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?" he said during an interview Tuesday, offering his most extensive comments since leaving government.During a lunch meeting two blocks from the White House, where he served under his longtime friend, President George W. Bush, Mr. Gonzales said that "for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."
Gonzales is a victim only in the limited sense that such a pathetically unqualified troll (Bush calls him "Fredo") should never have been appointed to positions of such prominence that his stupidity and incompetence would inevitably become notorious. In this sense he is not a casualty of the War on Terror™. He is a casualty of George W. Bush, whose own incompetence blinds him to the incompetence of others.