Thursday, March 17, 2005

Re: Blogs, Bush and Torture

March 17, 2005

Re: Blogs, Bush and Torture: A Plea For Liberal Bloggers to Fill The Vacuum Left By The Mainstream Media On The Question Of Whether Bush Is Guilty Of a Serious, Impeachable Felony.

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

For approximately ten months -- since May 13, 2004 -- this blogger has written of the possibility, even the probability, that George Bush is guilty of serious felonies. For ten months ago it seemed very likely, and today it seems virtually certain, that Bush knew of, did not care about, did not stop, at least tacitly encouraged, and, for all one knows, more than merely tacitly encouraged torture of prisoners, both in jails run by Americans in foreign countries and by foreign countries to which we delivered prisoners knowing that they would be tortured there. The reasons for the torture were plain, and have only become more obvious as the media occasionally writes about them: Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and the rest of that crowd were utterly desperate to find out whether post 9/11 attacks were planned against the United States and to stop such attacks. As well, they and our forces in Iraq were desperate to learn about and to stop attacks against our forces there. Thinking that torture would help them learn about and stop attacks, they condoned it.

As will be further discussed below, for an American to engage in torture outside the country, or to enter into a conspiracy to do so, are very serious felonies under federal statutes. A perpetrator of torture can be imprisoned for up to 20 years, and, if the torture resulted in death, can be punished by imprisonment for life or execution. A conspirator who did not himself (or, these days, herself) commit the acts of torture can receive the same punishment as the perpetrator, except that a "mere" conspirator cannot be given the death penalty.

When discussing whether Bush was guilty of violating the law against torture, this blogger said that the question "is pure political dynamite" and is one that the mainstream media should investigate. For to be guilty of violating the law against torture is, after all, not only to commit a serious felony, but to commit an impeachable offense. For surely a felony so serious that it is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, or even by life in prison or by execution of the perpetrator, meets the required constitutional standard, for impeachment, of a high crime or misdemeanor. One doubts that anyone would even dispute this. Still less would it be disputed when, as is now known to be the case, several prisoners died because of the torture, which makes the perpetrators "eligible" for execution and conspirators "eligible" for life imprisonment.

The mainstream media, of course, as was to be expected, did not appear to investigate or even discuss the question of whether Bush was guilty of the felony of conspiracy to commit torture. There are several possible reasons for the media's lack of discussion or investigation. The sheer awesomeness of the possibility that the President might be guilty of a most serious felony -- of a crime that is punishable by life imprisonment, that is far worse than anything Nixon ever did, and that is grounds for impeachment -- is one possible reason for the media not looking into or discussing the matter. A second reason is fear: the highly corporatized and centralized mainstream media are, after all, susceptible to retaliation by federal agencies (like the FCC) and by Republican Party Senators, Congressmen and minions. Also the fatcat corporate interests that support Bush and the Republicans could cut off advertising revenues. A third reason is that reporters may not have amassed proof yet, even if they are looking for it (which in candor I doubt), or may not have amassed what they consider sufficient proof, even if they are looking for it. In the latter connection, though, maybe reporters are working their way "up the ladder," so to speak, which is a common investigative technique. Again, however, I doubt this. A fourth possible reason is deep concern over who would become President if Bush, or both Bush and Cheney, were found to have committed an impeachable offense and were either impeached and convicted or forced to resign. A fifth possible reason is the sheer incompetence and lack of intelligence which marks so much of the media. But in the end, I'm afraid, outsiders cannot really know why the mainstream media does not appear to have seriously discussed or inquired into the question of whether Bush is guilty of a serious felony. All one can really know is that it hasn't.

The media's failure to discuss or investigate whether Bush has committed the felonious impeachable offense of conspiracy to commit torture is a powerful reason why liberal bloggers should begin to discuss it and, within their capabilities, to investigate the facts. After the Dan Rather and Eason Jordan affairs, nobody can say with any confidence that bloggers would be unable to uncover facts and produce arguments that the mainstream media has ignored or missed. I imagine that it was, of course, conservative bloggers who brought down Rather and Jordan, and there are many more conservative bloggers, it is widely felt, than there are liberal bloggers. Nonetheless, there are plenty of liberal bloggers, and who can say what information might start coming out if they made a concerted effort to discuss and investigate the question of the possible culpability of Bush, Cheney, et. al? And, if information showing culpability does start to come out, one can bet that, at that point, the mainstream media will jump into the story with both feet (as occurred with Watergate), notwithstanding the many possible reasons for its silence to date.

To further encourage liberal bloggers to take up the question, let me set forth some pertinent information which already is publicly known but is not widely known. Let us start with a recent, March 11th op-ed piece in The New York Times by Michael Scheuer.

Scheuer is the CIA official who wrote two books under the name "Anonymous." The first was Through Our Enemies' Eyes; Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America. The second, which is very critical of American policies, is the famous Imperial Hubris: Why The West Is Losing The War On Terror. Scheuer strikes me as being no liberal, but he has extensive relevant knowledge. His recent op-ed piece was about "rendition," the practice of turning over prisoners to foreign countries where, it is known, they will be tortured. Scheuer is no "bleeding heart" who opposes this practice. On the contrary, he favors it because, he says, it enables us to get needed information. Rendition, he says, "has been a tremendous success." Because of it, "dozens of senior Al Qaeda fighters are today behind bars, no longer able to plot or participate in attacks," and it has also "netted an untold number of computers and documents that increased our knowledge of Al Qaeda's makeup and plans." But be this as it may, he makes no bones about the fact that both Bill Clinton (another possible felon) and George Bush knew all about rendition and its purposes. In fact he is particularly incensed because he feels the CIA is unfairly taking a hit for a policy approved "by the N.S.C. [National Security Council] . . . the Justice Department, [and] also by the presidents -- both Mr. Clinton and George W. Bush." (Emphasis added.) (If one wants to invent a reason to dismiss what Scheuer says, it would not be that he is a bleeding heart liberal, but that he is grinding an axe to protect his agency. Frankly, I don't think what he says can be readily dismissed for any invented reason.)

Scheuer says that Sandy Berger (then Director of the NSC) and Richard Clarke ("his counterterrorism chief") commented in 1998 that "August and September had brought the 'greatest number of terrorist arrests in a short period of time that we have ever arranged or facilitated,'" and made clear that "Part and parcel of this success . . . were the renditions of captured Qaeda terrorists." Berger and Clarke, says Scheuer, "were senior White House officials who -- in consultation with President Bill Clinton -- set America's Al Qaeda policy from 1993 to 2001." (Emphasis added.) Berger and Clarke "knew -- and approved -- of the rendition [of terrorists] to Egypt and elsewhere":

Having failed to find a legal means to keep all the detainees in American custody, they preferred to let other countries do our dirty work.

Why does this matter? Because it makes clear that in dealing with detainees in 1998, and today as well, the C.I.A. is following orders from the president and his National Security Council advisers. [Emphasis added] Likewise, in 1998 and today, the agency is executing operations under those orders only after they are approved by a vast cohort of lawyers at the security council, the Justice Department and the C.I.A. itself.

I know this because, as head of the C.I.A.'s bin Laden desk, I started the Qaeda detainee/rendition program and ran it for 40 months. [Emphasis added.] And in my 22 years at the agency I never saw a set of operations that was more closely scrutinized by the director of central intelligence, the National Security Council and the Congressional intelligence committees. Nor did I ever see one that was more blessed (plagued?) by the expert guidance of lawyers.

For now, the beginning of wisdom is to acknowledge that the non-C.I.A. staff members mentioned above knew that taking detainees to Egypt or elsewhere might yield treatment not consonant with United States legal practice. How did they know? Well, several senior C.I.A. officers, myself included, were confident that common sense would elude that bunch, and so we told them - again and again and again. Each time a decision to do a rendition was made, we reminded the lawyers and policy makers that Egypt was Egypt, and that Jimmy Stewart never starred in a movie called "Mr. Smith Goes to Cairo." They usually listened, nodded, and then inserted a legal nicety by insisting that each country to which the agency delivered a detainee would have to pledge it would treat him according to the rules of its own legal system.

* * * * * *
. . . [the CIA] is peculiarly an instrument of the executive branch. Renditions were called for, authorized and legally vetted not just by the N.S.C. and the Justice Department, but also by the presidents - both Mr. Clinton and George W. Bush. [Emphasis added.] In my mind, these men and women made the right decision - America is better protected because of renditions - but it would have been better if they had not lacked the bureaucratic and moral courage to work with Congress to find ways to bring all detainees to America.

If one reads him very closely, it is arguable that, with one or two probable exceptions, Scheuer does not actually say explicitly that Clinton and Bush approved of renditions for purposes of torture. But it is pretty difficult to escape the sense that this likely is his meaning. And, in this regard, one would add the following to what Scheuer has said. It has now been known for quite a while that, just as Scheuer says, there was an exceptional amount of "legal vet[ting]" with regard to torture. Much or most of this vetting was an effort to make the illegal and horrible appear lawful. The Torture Papers, a recently published compilation of legal memos, investigative reports, and other relevant materials, contains hundreds upon hundreds of pages of government memoranda on the matter. Much of this was drafted by Jay Bybee and/or John Yoo, who deserve censure and disbarment for their immoral efforts to rationalize the indefensible. There is also material by Jack Goldsmith which relates to rendition; in my view he too is culpable. And several of the memos either were asked for or went to Alberto Gonzalez, who was Counsel to and in constant contact with Bush, and who basically refused to talk when he was asked about torture at the hearing on his nomination to be Attorney General. These various facts lend support to Scheuer's apparent claim that Bush knew and approved of what was going on.

I note parenthetically that people whose views I respect do not agree that the lawyers who immorally facilitated torture - - Bybee, Yoo, Gonzalez, etc. - - should be punished, since the lawyers were merely doing their jobs. Views opposing my own have been posted on this blog. But in my judgment the opposing views are dead wrong because for decades government officials, corporate executives, tax cheats, securities law cheats and others have been hiding behind lawyers who are willing to play ball with illegal and immoral schemes. For careerist and financial reasons, lawyers have deliberately facilitated evil (as cigarette companies' lawyers did), and have been supported by other lawyers who argue that they should be allowed to hide behind the claim that they are merely doing their job as someone's representative or counsel. Enough of this already. The facilitation of evil and immorality has to stop. As Anthony Lewis wrote in the first paragraph of his Introduction to The Torture Papers:

The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib includes the full texts of the legal memoranda that sought to argue away the rules against torture. They are an extraordinary paper trail to mortal and political disaster: to an episode that will soil the image of the United State[s] in the eyes of the world for years to come. They also provide a painful insight into how the skills of the lawyer -- skills that have done so much to protect Americans in this most legalized of countries -- can be misused in the cause of evil. [Emphasis added.]

Or as was written by one of the editors of The Torture Papers, Joshua Dratel:

The memos also reflect what might be termed the "corporatization" of government lawyering: a wholly result-oriented system in which policy makers start with an objective and work backward, in the process enlisting the aid of intelligent and well credentialed lawyers who, for whatever reason -- the attractions of power, careerism, ideology, or just plain bad judgment -- all too willingly failed to act as a constitutional or moral compass that could brake their client's descent into unconscionable behavior constituting torture by any definition, legal or colloquial. [Emphasis added.]

One would also add another point in support of what Scheuer has said. It has recently come out, and The Times has written about the fact that, American officials knew very well that foreign countries would torture prisoners rendered to them even though they agreed not to do so. The agreement, as the Americans well knew, was no better than Sam Goldwyn's view of an oral promise, which he said was not worth the paper it was printed on.

Scheuer's was far from the first indication that George Bush knew about and condoned torture. There was such an indication at least as far back as May 13, 2004, almost a year ago now, in a New York Times article entitled "Harsh CIA Methods Cited In Top Qaeda Interrogations." The article was "reported and written by James Risen, David Johnston and Neil A Lewis." It said that in one case "C.I.A. interrogators used graduated levels of force, including a technique known as 'water boarding,' in which a prisoner is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water and made to believe he might drown". As has been discussed on this blog, waterboarding is practically the ultimate torture. The article further said that this technique was approved under a new "set of secret rules for the interrogation of high-level Qaeda prisoners," that these rules were "among the first adopted by the Bush administration" for handling detainees after Sept. 11th "and may have helped establish a new understanding throughout the government that officials would have greater freedom to deal harshly with detainees." (Emphasis added.) "The C.I.A. detention program for Qaeda leaders," says the article, 'is the most secretive component of an intensive regime of detention and interrogation," and "The secret detention system houses a group of 12 to 20 prisoners, government officials said, some under direct American control, others ostensibly under the supervision of foreign governments." (Emphasis added.) Moreover, the "high-level detainees . . . have been held in strict secrecy. Their whereabouts are such closely guarded secrets that one official said he had been told that Mr. Bush had informed the CIA that he did not want to know where they were." (Emphasis added.)

Now, I ask you, does all of this sound like George Bush had no idea that prisoners were being held abroad for torture and were being handed over to foreign governments for torture? Why do I think the answer to this is negative? If the article is correct, what we have here is a super secret program to get information out of the Qaeda leaders by any means necessary at foreign locations, with the whole business being so secret that Bush doesn't even want to know where the prisoners are being held. Does this sound like a guy who has no idea what is going on, or like a guy who knows perfectly well what is going on, desires it so that we will obtain information, and is trying to set up a false claim of lack of knowledge by being able to say, if the you know what ever hits the fan, that he didn't even know where the pertinent events were occurring? Why do I think the answer to this question is obvious? Why do I think that guys who don't know what is going on don't generally say they don't want to know where whatever it is may be occurring, while guys who know that bad stuff is occurring like to be able to make statements that will tend to erroneously make it look as if they had no knowledge of what was going on?

As a side note, but maybe not really a side note, after writing their May 13, 2004 article, Risen, Johnston and Lewis have written many more articles on torture and renditions. They are, one believes, among The Times' "men in Havana" on these subjects, and have done some wonderful work. Yet, insofar as this writer knows, after May 13, 2004 they never again mentioned the subject of George Bush's knowledge. Why not? Perhaps someone should specifically ask them why not.

The Times' editorial page, it seems, has itself come around to thinking that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. In a March 8, 2005 lead editorial entitled "Torture by Proxy," it blasted rendition and said that assurances from other governments that rendered prisoners will receive humane treatment "are worthless, and the Bush administration surely knows it." Before 9/11, The Times said, the CIA had "occasionally engaged in the practice" of "extraordinary rendition." (Emphasis added.) "But after the attacks in New York and Washington, President Bush gave the agency broad authority to export prisoners without getting permission from the White House or the Justice Department. Rendition has become central to antiterrorism operations at the C.I.A., which also operates clandestine camps around the world for prisoners it doesn't want the International Red Cross or the American public to know about." (Emphasis added.)

"The Bush administration," the editorial later continued when explaining why the supposed assurances of humane treatment given by other governments are worthless, has long since made it clear that it will tolerate torture, even by men and women in American uniforms. And why send prisoners to places like Syria and Saudi Arabia, if not for the brutal treatment Americans are supposed to abhor? (Emphasis added.)

Analogously to parts of Scheuer's piece, The Times, if you closely parse its language, does not actually, explicitly say that Bush approved rendition in order to facilitate torture, but one gets the pretty clear impression from the editorial that this is exactly what is meant.

Another series of documents indicating that Bush may be guilty of an impeachable felony are complaints recently filed on behalf of tortured former detainees in the federal district court in Chicago. The complaints were filed for the former detainees by two organizations, one being the American Civil Liberties Union, which, via Freedom of Information Act litigation, has had access for a period to government documents that were long kept secret. (The ACLU has, I gather, made some of them public.) The suits do not name Bush as a defendant. Rather Rumsfeld and others are named. But lengthy complaints of more than 70 pages set forth facts making it almost certain that Bush knew what was going on. For example, complaints say that there were "many credible and reliable reports of torture from governmental and non-governmental sources beginning in January 2002 and continuing throughout 2003 and 2004." (Emphasis added.) They say that several of the plaintiffs were held, and tortured, in the last half of 2003, and in the first half of 2004, periods long after the reports began surfacing. (They also describe the tortures in horrifying detail.) They say that in January 2002 Amnesty International sent Rumsfeld letters objecting to methods of torture that were being used, the FBI apparently complained to DOD about such methods in late 2002, The Washington Post reported about such methods in late 2002, and several prominent newspapers reported on torture, including deaths of detainees, in March 2003 (the papers included The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and The Atlanta Journal - Constitution). The complaints also say that "on March 10, 2003, Amnesty International sent a letter to President Bush, with a copy to . . . Rumsfeld, calling upon the U.S. government to investigate allegations of torture and other abuse at the Bagram detention facility. The letter described specific cases of abuse." (Emphases added.) The complaints say that, starting in May and June of 2003, the Red Cross sent "reports detailing abuses" to the American command, and that "[t]he May 2003 report described 200 allegations of torture and other abuse of detainees by U.S. soldiers." They say that "Colin Powell confirmed that . . . Rumsfeld knew of the various reports by the . . . Red Cross, stating that he and . . . Rumsfeld kept President Bush regularly apprised of their contents throughout 2003. (Emphasis added.) The complaints say that in May, 2003 Amnesty International "publicized allegations of torture and other abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. and British forces, including beatings and electric shocks" and in June 2003 Amnesty International complained of a death in custody of a detainee. They say that, in early July of 2003, the Red Cross sent our military forces in Iraq a paper detailing about "50 allegations of abuse, and violence against detainees."

These kinds of allegations in the complaints go on and on through the last half of 2003, and then there are similar or analogous allegations regarding 2004. But enough has been said here already, including the complaints' claims of extensive publicizing of abuses in major newspapers in late 2002 and early 2003, a letter from Amnesty International to Bush himself on March 10, 2003, and Powell's statement that he and Rumsfeld kept Bush apprised of what the Red Cross was saying, to show that from relatively early in the game Bush must have known what was going on. As well, the allegations of the complaints, as said previously, are that the particular plaintiffs were tortured in the last half of 2003 and in 2004, long after Bush must have known what was going on but obviously had not stopped it (since the administration wanted the information that it thought torture would elicit).

So there already is much indication, in the public arena via newspapers and complaints, showing that Bush likely is guilty of the impeachable felony of conspiracy to commit torture. Let me turn, then, to a more exact legal description -- but hopefully a description intelligible to laymen -- of precisely what constitutes the crime, so that liberal bloggers can better know what ought to be discussed and/or investigated.

The anti-torture statute is designated as Title 18 of the United States Code, Sections 2340, 2340A and 2340B. Section 2340A, subsection (a), makes it a crime for an American to "commi[t] or attemp[t] to commit torture" "outside the United States." (The drafters relied on state laws against assault, battery and murder to combat torture within the United States, but this is no never mind here because we have been engaging in torture outside the country.) One who "commits or attempts to commit torture" outside the United States "shall be fined . . . or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from [the prohibited] conduct . . . shall be punished by death or imprisonment for any term of years or for life." Under subsection (c) of Section 2340A, "A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section [i.e., who conspires to commit or attempt to commit torture outside the United States] shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense . . . ."

The statute also describes what constitutes torture, in Section 2340. "[T]orture means an act committed by" governmental personnel "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering . . . upon another person within his custody or physical control." What constitutes severe physical pain is left to common sense. Severe mental pain is further defined, however. "'[S]evere mental pain or suffering' means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from -- (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; . . . (C) the threat of imminent death; or (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering . . . ."

Under these provisions, it is clear, U.S. personnel have been engaging in prohibited torture abroad. Just to cite some, not even anywhere near all, of the obviously torturous kinds of conduct discussed in the complaints filed by the ACLU, we have beaten detainees with rifles, beaten detainees to death, threatened them with death, waterboarded them, forced them to kneel or squat for hours (these are so-called stress positions), used electric shocks, made them fear electric shocks from wires attached to a man's fingers, toes and penis, threatened to harm their families, hooded them to make it difficult for them to breathe, punched and kicked them, torn out their toenails, threatened them with vicious dogs, made them sit or lie on blisteringly hot surfaces, hung them by their arms, stabbed them, denied them needed medical treatment, denied them food and water for long periods, and used numerous other techniques. Many, maybe even most, of the allegations of abuses in the complaints have been corroborated in the media and by reports (and, what is more, the Executive has refused to make public a memorandum, which I believe was written in late August 2002, detailing what techniques of torture it had authorized). As written by Joshua Dratel, what we have done "constitut[es] torture by any definition, legal or colloquial."

This is a record that a person like George Bush can be proud of.

Let me turn now to reasons, some obvious and some not so obvious, why liberal bloggers should make a point of discussing and investigating whether Bush is guilty of a serious, impeachable felony. There is one argument which is so obvious (although it is terribly politically partisan) that I'm a bit surprised it does not seem to have surfaced. If George Bush were to be impeached, let alone impeached and convicted, because of a serious felony punishable by life imprisonment, or even if there were considerable public discussion, backed by facts, claiming he is guilty of such a felony, the jig would largely be up for him, and the Republican Party could very well lose in 2008, just as the Republicans lost the White House in 1976 after Nixon got whacked and had to resign, and just as the Democrats got smashed in 2000 after Clinton was impeached. Many of the gains the Republicans made in 2000 and 2004 might be reversed.

Now, I am not a Democrat, and my regard for that party is only a trice higher than my virtually non-existent regard for the Republicans. But one supposes that most liberal bloggers are Democrats or heavily favor them, just as conservative bloggers are, or at least heavily favor, Republicans (and therefore are unlikely to attack Bush regardless of how criminal or unwise his conduct may be). With liberal bloggers almost surely favoring the Democrats over the Republicans, and likely to greatly dislike, even despise, Bush to boot, one would have thought they would have focused on whether Bush has committed a serious crime, since an affirmative answer to this question would probably finish him.

There are other reasons, however, which assuredly are not politically partisan, but which go to the fundamental actions and nature of this country. (One might say they are intellectually partisan.) In the view of some of us -- and the number of people holding this view is, one thinks, vastly increasing -- for about 52 years this country, for its own purposes, has been fomenting wars, coups, right wing revolutions and assassinations all over the globe, and for decades has been pursuing a form of globalization that has wreaked harm on hundreds of millions of people. These things have been done, in major part, for the benefit of the large corporate interests and the wealthy people of this country (like the Bush family). George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other Bushies are the very embodiment of the American views and conduct which have led the country to fight war after war since 1965 and to build an economic global empire that largely benefits them and their kind while economically crucifying so many others, both here and abroad. The Bushies have even been willing to destroy the constitutional system in pursuit of their goals by secretly pretending, for as long as they could get away with it, that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, can override the laws passed by Congress, specifically the law against torture, secretly pretending for as long as possible, in order to try to negate a law passed by Congress, that the most abominable torture isn't torture, and claiming that, as Commander-in-Chief, the President can enter warfare just about whenever, and against just about whomever, he chooses. If people like George Bush and his cohort continue in power, and continue doing what has been done since about 1953, the country will one day face disaster. Every empire in world history has ultimately been destroyed. Sooner or later, in one way or another, much of the world will gang up on us, as Muslims are already doing within the still confined limits of their own power. As rich as we are, and as powerful as we are, continuing down Bush's imperial path will one day bring us down. So it is essential for the long run health of the nation to put an end to the hubristic and often hypocritical policies we have followed for over 50 years and, in order to accomplish this, to bring low the architects and proponents of the hubristic policies. If Bush and his crowd were found guilty of a felony because of horrid abuses in the course of their imperial project, and were accordingly impeached and convicted, this would almost certainly go far towards discrediting hubristic imperial actions and those who desire and order such policies.

Yet another very important, politically non-partisan (but intellectually partisan) reason why liberal bloggers should act relates to what has been occurring in the halls of governmental and corporate power for 40 years. I speak of horrible abuses of power that often amount to serious crime. From Johnson, McNamara, Rostow and Rusk to Nixon and Kissinger, to Clinton, to George Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, from Billy Sol Estes to Michael Milken and Charles Keating, to Bernie Ebbers, the Enron crowd, the Tyco crowd, the Worldcom crowd and the Arthur Andersen crowd, this country and its economy have been filled with criminals, some convicted, some not even put on trial. These people and their dishonesty have caused economic and international disasters. We will never put a stop to this until we start putting them all in the slammer, no ifs, ands or buts. But the way things have worked for years, many of them do not go to the slammer, and none of the government officials ever do. Most of them, and all the government officials, retire to a life of wealth and prestige, McNamara, Nixon and Kissinger, for example. The criminal conduct and the gross abuses will be with us until all miscreants of this type get put in the slammer, so that jail, not wealth and prestige, awaits them.

George Bush and his cohorts are only the latest example of people who are willing to commit criminal evil because they are confident that no punishment possibly awaits them. For this reason, and others, liberal bloggers should begin to discuss, investigate and make a concerted effort to bring to public attention what Bush and his buddies have done, so that there will be impeachment, conviction and subsequent criminal liability if, as one suspects, serious crimes have been committed.

Nor should anyone hesitate in this regard because, at this instant of time, there is extensive trumpeting and at least some possibility of some democracy coming to the Middle East. This is a matter of foreign relations, and, in foreign relations, anything and everything is here today, gone tomorrow. Who knows what the situation will be a month from now, let alone six months from now or a year or five years or ten years from now. Saddam Hussein was once someone on whom we showered favorable attention -- Donald Rumsfeld did so, no less. Then Saddam became an enemy. Osama bin Laden was in effect an ally against the Russians in Afghanistan. Then he became an enemy. And do you remember Ahmad Chalabi? Iran was a friend. Then it became an enemy. We fought what might have been history's most bitter war against Germany and Japan. Ten years or less after the war ended they were linchpin allies. Short-term thinking, engaged in because of a current situation in foreign affairs, is most unwise; failing to discuss and investigate Bush's possibly felonious conduct because of highly changeable events of the last month is unwise. What is wise and necessary is to consider and act on principles designed for the long term.

In the long term, we will face disaster if, as Kipling put it, we continue to put our "trust [i]n reeking tube and iron shard," if we continue -- to use John Quincy Adams' phrase about what America doesn't do -- to go "abroad in search of monsters to destroy." In the long run, we must put our trust in our ideals. It is our ideals, not our weapons, and certainly not our bombings, cannonading and shootings of civilians and our invasions of countries, which caused people around the world to admire America instead of reviling it as so many do today because of our military and economic policies. It is our ideals that made America, as Lincoln knew, the last best hope of earth. People like Bush, many of his predecessors, and his henchmen colleagues, threaten those ideals and threaten our well-being as a people. They are evil human beings. No one who cares about these matters should hesitate to discuss and investigate whether Bush and his crowd have committed serious crimes, especially since, if it is found that they have committed such crimes, there could be major changes in the situation. The mainstream media has utterly failed its responsibility in this regard. I urge bloggers to step into the vacuum.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

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