Tortured Hope

March 14, 2014

1127724High overcast and calm this early Friday on California’s north coast — the sky placid and easy.
Weather around here the last few days has been incredible with tons of sunshine and warm breezes, spring has forecast its arrival — maybe.

Meanwhile, back east in the DC shithole of government, a crisis is brewing on how transparent our tortured souls. The core concept stems from George Jr.’s famous bullshit line in September 2006: “I’ve said to the people that we don’t torture, and we don’t.”
Yeah, right!

(Illustration found here).

A whopper-of-a-lie then, a whopper-of-a-lie now. And all peeping out into the light this week as a feud between Congress and the CIA went public. On Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor to lash out at the CIA, which had “violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”
The shit-storm erupted on whether a Senate committee investigating the CIA’s use of torture had broke laws acquiring some documents the agency wanted hidden, or whether the CIA hacked the committee computers in efforts to discover shit harmful to them.
This has been going almost five-fuckin’ years!
And portends to open a nasty hole in President Obama’s already widening gap of truth and honesty — he’s about full of shit as George Jr.

Last month, e-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar launched First Look Media, which included the online news-investigative magazine, The Intercept — also involved were Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill as editors, with other bright-journalistic lights, including Marcy Wheeler, most-likely one of the very-best at cutting through technical/official bullshit with a as-close-to-truth-as-can-be-expected explanation for various nefarious government functions.
Wheeler regularly blogs at her own site, emptywheel.
Yesterday, she via The Intercept hit the note of cover-up — Obama’s notion on torture:

Did the White House order the CIA to withdraw 920 documents from a server made available to Committee staffers, as Senator Dianne Feinstein says the agency claimed in 2010? Were those documents – perhaps thousands of them – pulled in deference to a White House claim of executive privilege, as Senator Mark Udall and then CIA General Counsel Stephen Preston suggested last fall?
And is the White House continuing to withhold 9,000 pages of documents without invoking privilege, as McClatchy reported yesterday?
We can be sure about one thing: The Obama White House has covered up the Bush presidency’s role in the torture program for years.
Specifically, from 2009 to 2012, the administration went to extraordinary lengths to keep a single short phrase, describing President Bush’s authorization of the torture program, secret.
Some time before October 29, 2009, then National Security Advisor Jim Jones filed an ex parte classified declaration with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in response to a FOIA request by the ACLU seeking documents related to the torture program.
In it, Jones argued that the CIA should not be forced to disclose the “source of the CIA’s authority,” as referenced in the title of a document providing “Guidelines for Interrogations” and signed by then CIA Director George Tenet.
That document was cited in two Justice Department memos at issue in the FOIA.
Jones claimed that “source of authority” constituted an intelligence method that needed to be protected.

But there is evidence that those Congressional overseers were never told that the finding the president signed on September 17, 2001 authorized torture.
For example, a letter from then ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, to the CIA’s General Counsel following her first briefing on torture asked: “Have enhanced techniques been authorized and approved by the President?”
The CIA’s response at the time was simply that “policy as well as legal matters have been addressed within the Executive Branch.”
Nevertheless, the finding does exist.
The CIA even disclosed its existence in response to the ACLU FOIA, describing it as “a 14-page memorandum dated 17 September 2001 from President Bush to the Director of the CIA pertaining to the CIA’s authorization to detain terrorists.”
In an order in the ACLU suit, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein confirmed that the declaration was “intertwined with” the administration’s effort to keep the language in the Tenet document hidden.
When the administration succeeded in keeping that short phrase secret, all effort to release the declaration also ended.

The White House’s fight to keep the short phrase describing Bush’s authorization of the torture program hidden speaks to its apparent ambivalence over the torture program.
Even after President Obama released the DOJ memos authorizing torture – along with a damning CIA Inspector General Report and a wide range of documents revealing bureaucratic discussions within the CIA about torture – the White House still fought the release of the phrase that would have made it clear that the CIA conducted this torture at the order of the president.
And it did so with a classified declaration from Jones that would have remained secret had Judge Hellerstein not insisted it be made public.
As Aftergood noted, such White House intervention in a FOIA suit is rare.
“The number of times that a national security advisor has filed a declaration in a FOIA lawsuit is vanishingly small,” he said.
“It almost never happens.”
But as ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer noted of the finding, “It was the original authority for the CIA’s secret prisons and for the agency’s rendition and torture program, and apparently it was the authority for the targeted killing program as well.
It was the urtext. It’s remarkable that after all this time it’s still secret.”
President Obama’s willingness to go to such lengths to hide this short phrase may explain the White House’s curious treatment of potentially privileged documents with the Senate now – describing President Bush’s authorization of the torture program and its seemingly contradictory stance supporting publishing the Torture Report while thwarting its completion by withholding privileged documents.
After all, the documents in question, like the reference to the presidential finding, may deprive the President of plausible deniability.

Perhaps the documents reportedly withheld by the White House undermine this conclusion, and instead show that the CIA operated with the full consent and knowledge of at least some people within the White House.

The last few words there — a stunner.

While Obama is not the worse president by a long shot, he is by-far the way-most disappointing. Not only is he cowardly, but is a liar to the millions of people who voted for him in 2008 expecting ‘hope and change’ — and in the last five years he’s proved there’s no hope in any kind of change.

(Illustration out front found here).

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