Cheney Accuses Guantanamo Lawyers of Crimes


It’s outrageous enough that Obama’s Justice Department has declined to pursue criminal, or even professional misconduct charges, on Bush White House lawyers who cooked up “legal” justification for torture, indefinite detention, secret rendition, and the whole nasty suite of “legal” means by which the United States became a pariah.

Eric Holder hasn’t gone to court yet against the Bush crimes; in fact, he defends the Bush administration in cases involving detainee abuse on the basis of executive privilege, “national security” and the need for CIA agents not to have to fear prosecution.

But now we have “Dick” Cheney’s daughter, Liz, and her Keep America Safe neo-cons on a tear against attorneys who came into the Justice Department after defending Guantanamo detainees.  Calling them the “al Queda 7″, Cheney joined with Fox News and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in asserting that the attorneys “support terrorists” and are dangerous.  Keep America Safe ran an ad with creepy background music and an Investors Business Daily headline, “Department of Jihad.”

These are attorneys who won major cases in the U.S. Supreme Court during the Bush years.  One is Neal Katyal who argued Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, challenging the legality of President Bush’s military commissions.  Ironically, this is the same Neal Katyal who just argued for the government against habeas corpus rights for detainees held at Bagram, on the grounds of national security.

A lot of Bush-ite conservatives, even, are alarmed at the tone of the Cheney attack, which must be why the story has finally made the New York Times today.

But the Cheney group loves a different sort of attorney; the ones who made torture acceptable in the eyes of the CIA under VP Cheney.

Global “warriors on terror” John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury came out looking very bad in the Office of Professional Responsibility Report released on February 19.  Looking through the 600+ page report, one can only imagine what’s on the large number of redacted pages, presumably blacked out to cover for the the White House “principals” who commissioned the torture memos.

I attended a briefing by the Alliance for Justice, “After the OPR Report” where attorneys Scott Horton, David Cole, Bill Yeomans and Michael Frisch took apart the report, and spoke to how justice could be served on the torturers.  (It won’t happen through U.S. courts, said Horton, but because a Spanish citizen was tortured in Guantanamo, Spain is proceeding with war crimes prosecutions of Bush officials).

Demonstrators from the group "World Can't Wait" hold a mock waterboarding torture of a prisioner in Times Square 11 January 2008 to mark the sixth year anniversary of when the United States opened the camps at Guantanamo. Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing a person on his or her back, with the head inclined downward, and pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Internal CIA documents recently released give even more detail about the how the waterboarding was done to at least 3 detainees in Guantanamo, based on an authorizing memo drafted by one Stephen Bradbury (see above.) “Dick” Cheney famously smirked that water-boarding was a “no-brainer” and is still on the hustings arguing for it.

Mark Benjamin writes in Salon, Waterboarding for dummies, on the new documents, and relates it detail the practices the CIA used.

The CIA’s waterboarding regimen was so excruciating, the memos show, that agency officials found themselves grappling with an unexpected development: detainees simply gave up and tried to let themselves drown. “In our limited experience, extensive sustained use of the waterboard can introduce new risks,” the CIA’s Office of Medical Services wrote in its 2003 memo. “Most seriously, for reasons of physical fatigue or psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excessive filling of the airways and loss of consciousness.”

One must ask, where are the investigations of health professionals in relation to these releases?  The principal role of CIA Medical Services seems to have been keeping detainees alive to be tortured longer.

Speaking to the levels of irony in this story, Liliana Segura says today on Alternet:

The broader, unfortunate reality is that many Bush-era conservatives have found little to complain about with Obama’s DOJ and so may be more inclined to defend it. Reports that the administration may do a major league flip-flop on its decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts in civilian courts are only the latest potential example of Bush-era policies that the Obama’s Justice Department has kept in place, from warrantless wiretapping to denying habeas corpus rights to prisoners at Bagram, to its embrace of preventive detention for prisoners at Guantanamo. Were Obama’s record a real departure from that of the Bush administration, these conservatives may well have little to say against an ad like Liz Cheney’s.

But it’s the ideological defenders of torture in the name of “keeping America safe” — really keeping America on top through global empire — who refuse to rename or back down on the “war on terror” begun 9 years ago.  Remember Cheney himself saying this would be a war to last “generations?”

They will not accept civilian trials for anyone held in Guantanamo, won’t let it be closed,won’t allow people who provided legal defense to anyone there — never mind the Bush administration itself released most of the detainees because they had nothing to do with al Queda or attacking the U.S.

Who says they aren’t fascist?

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  1. #1 by paul siemering on March 11, 2010 - 11:19 pm

    good report.
    i just want to mention a couple things. little cheney, parroting many bush flunkeys, speaks of the prisoners as if they had been charged, tried and found guilty. they are all so very terrible etc.
    thing is i read Stafford Sith’s book eight o’clock ferry, and here’s a guy who represented thirty some gitmo prisoners, and in this book he talks about his clients, but also about others who are involved with them. None of these people ever did anything wrong, not even by bush’s standards. they were turned in for the bounty the war department was paying in the early days, or just stopped at an airport and so on.
    i won’t try to claim everyone in the gulag is innocent- i believe most if them probably are- but these fear mongers are totally off base making statements about how they are very dangerous terrorists when they know nothing about the people they are talking about.

    keep up your good work- the world can’t wait

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