Tuesday, April 21, 2009


By James Coomarasamy
BBC News, Washington

US President Barack Obama is wading through the legal, political and moral morass created by the Bush administration's approval of interrogation techniques, which he - and many others - consider to be torture.

President Barack Obama gestures after addressing CIA staff on 20 April, 2009
President Obama praised CIA staff for their dedication in protecting the US

It has turned out to be a tricky path to navigate.

By publishing the legal advice that his predecessor used to justify the techniques, yet making it clear that he does not intend to press charges against those involved in the decision-making or the interrogations, he has left himself open to criticism from the right and the left.

Some of the strongest comments have come from his own supporters, who believe that the president can not simply wipe the slate clean; that his call for "reflection, not retribution", amounts to a whitewash.

There are plenty of voices calling for a full investigation, with charges being pressed against anyone found to have committed acts of torture in the name of the United States.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to the White House on Monday, in which she urged the president to defer judgment on potential prosecutions, until after the Senate has conducted its own investigation.

One of her colleagues, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has been calling for a truth and reconciliation commission.

They have had support from the New York Times.

In an editorial, the newspaper called for the impeachment of Jay Bybee, a federal judge, who - as assistant attorney general under President George W Bush - was the author of some of what it described as "these sickening memos".

In another awkward development for the Obama administration, details emerged over the weekend about the extent to which these harsh interrogation techniques were used on some of the so-called "high value" terrorism suspects.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 11 September attacks, was apparently "waterboarded" on 183 occasions.

A detainee being escorted at Guantanamo Bay prison camp
Mr Obama banned the controversial techniques in his first week in office

Another prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, is said to have been subjected to the simulated drowning procedure 83 times.

These figures contradict previous testimony by ex-CIA officers and would appear to raise legitimate questions about whether interrogators may have overstepped legal guidelines.

On the right, much of the criticism has come from former Bush administration officials, who may be concerned that they will - despite President Obama's assurances - be dragged into some kind of legal process.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former CIA chief Michael Hayden have both alleged that the release of the memos threatens national security, by allowing prospective terrorists an insight into the precise limits of US interrogations.

The Obama administration's response: those techniques are illegal, so it is a moot point.

But others are making their points as well. Even as the president was attempting to patch up his differences with the CIA - getting a warm reception during a visit to the agency's Langley headquarters - former Vice-President Dick Cheney was keeping the political heat under the issue.

He has urged the CIA to release documents showing the success of the controversial interrogation techniques.

The CIA's treatment of terror suspects has been a particularly controversial chapter in recent US history, so it is not surprising, perhaps, that Barack Obama's attempt to turn the page is attracting its own share of controversy as well.




Blogger The Camera Fanatic said...

The louder someone complains, the closer you are to the truth. I anticipate a lot of ad hominem complaints from statists here. Do not let them talk you out of reading this book.

In any given generation, there are but a few authors and thinkers whose creations can survive the ravages of time and the shifting sands of societal evolution. It is rarer still when a key book is written, recognized, and celebrated contemporarily. This is one such book.

Mark R. Levin logically lays out what has made the United States of America different from all other nations in the history of humanity. He re-introduces us to the founders and framers, and those people who inspired them long ago. At its most basic elements, our country was founded on the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...and that we have these rights conferred on us, not by man or government, but by Natural Law, which originates with the Creator. Mr. Levin puts us back in touch with our founding doctrines, which are the at the very heart of what conservatism is and has always been.

For too long, Conservatives have let themselves be defined by the media. Mr. Levin's book recasts what it is to be a proud Conservative, and gives voice to those who are often silent in the face of ideological slander. If you believe in this great country, if you believe in truth and honesty, if you believe in life and principles, if you believe in freedom and patriotism, if you believe that all people are created equal and it is up to the individual to succeed according to their talents and interests, and if you believe in a smaller efficient government, and lower taxes, then this book is for you.

NY Times Best Seller - Hardcover Nonfiction - #1 for 3 weeks running!
Amazon.com - all categories - #1 for 29 days and counting.
Over 900,000 in print, in its 15th printing.

...and all the while, a deafening silence from the major media outlets - until now, April 20th, when the MSM champions an anti-American book.


This book is perfect for the individual who has always "felt" conservative, but couldn't quite explain herself. Mark Levin's "Liberty and Tyranny" begins with an excellent overview of where our country is as a constitutional republic and how we got here. He then states clearly his book's theme and rallying cry -- Conservatives must know the philosophical foundations for the principles they purport to advance in order to defend liberty from the "soft tyranny" of modern liberalism.

Levin goes on meticulously (many more than 300 endnotes), but plainly explaining the principles of classic conservative philosophy of "prudent" progress, a government that is subservient to the people (rather than the other way around), the fundamental truth that rights are not derived from the government but from a higher power, that the free market system more than any other in history provides the best, most efficient and most just opportunity for individual prosperity as well as for the general welfare, and much much more.

Levin's book provides ample evidence of government encroachment on individual liberty and our country's descent into the soft tyranny warned of by Alexis de Tocqueville in our country's earliest years. Economic regulation, environmental extremism, the usurpation of representative government by the judiciary, unprecedented and uncontrolled illegal influx of people into out country, and the like threaten our economic viability. Finally, Levin's book details how the liberal (and some so-called conservative) political elite rejects the notion of American Exceptionalism and seek to surrender voluntarily the sovereignty our forefathers fought and died to give and to preserve for us.

UPDATE: This book is currently on sale at Amazon. Now is a great opportunity to pick up this book, if you haven’t already.


3:54 pm  

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