Torture Probe Offends The Hell Out Of Cheney. Bummer.

s-CHENEY-largeThe actions and reactions of Dick Cheney will be spoken about for decades, maybe centuries. And hopefully they will be a continued reminder–a signpost, if you will–to how America can be co-opted by someone so out of touch, so completely in his own world, as to turn America into many of the things we’ve worked so hard to change in other parts of the world.

Rule number one: America doesn’t torture. Period. This is not a negotiable area. But Cheney and his team of cronies felt–nay, knew–what needed to be done. And the rule of law was irrelevant. Now it’s altogether possible that Cheney truly believed this was what was best for the country. Perhaps his actions, all of them, are based in his deep love for this country and its citizens. I have my doubts about this, but even if it were true, you cannot take the law into your own hands or try to bend, stretch or alter the law to suit your needs.

Now that Attorney General Eric Holder has opened an investigation into the illegal torture practices used by the CIA in interrogating terrorist suspects, Cheney is livid, claiming the investigation “offends the hell out of me.”

Does he not get how his actions and the actions of the Bush Administration offended the hell out of many Americans and other citizens of the world? Clearly not. Cheney and company were rogue leaders. They ignored the rule of law and made a mockery of the constitution of the United States. That’s my opinion. Both now and then.

Cheney claims the use of torture was instrumental in preventing further terrorist attacks on the U.S. That may or may not be true. The newly released CIA documents claim, in fact, that it is difficult to make that assessment. Cheney claims this was the only way to defend the nation. American law suggests there are other ways. More humane ways. And regardless of whether or not these torture practices were effective, the bottom line is Cheney and the CIA may have taken the law into their own hands, regardless of intent. This cannot be allowed to happen.

Even Republican Senator John McCain who, himself, underwent torture as a POW, stated unequivocally:

“I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan. I think these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq… I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed. And I believe that information, according go the FBI and others, could have been gained through other members.”

However, Senator McCain, oddly enough, does not feel there should be an investigation:

“I believe the president was right when he said we ought to go forward and not back. I worry about the morale and effectiveness of the CIA. I worry about this thing getting out of control and us harming our ability to carry out the struggle we are in with radical Islamic extremism.”

It is here that I will differ in opinion with the senator. Law is, in part, a deterrent. It is not simply a punishment for specific behavior. It is in place to create responsibility. If you perform an illegal action, you will be subject to this specific consequence. Individuals or groups who break the law, do so with the knowledge that, if caught, they will face a court of law. If the school of thought with presidents and their administrations is that if you break the law and are caught, there is a good chance you may still walk away unscathed and not have to take responsibility for your actions, then we are opening the door to more presidents and administrations breaking the law with the knowledge that the consequences to them will be little if any. This goes against everything this country stands for, in my opinion. It goes against the very rule of law itself.

There are a lot of people out there, both here and abroad, who want many who worked within and under the Bush Administration to face a court of law to defend their actions. We MUST hold our highest officials to that rule, otherwise we have lost those qualities that make America a shining example of a better, freer way of life. A more civilized way. A way that respects all humankind.

I, personally, think we have a long way to go. But I’d like to see us take some further steps in that direction. Perhaps this investigation is one of those steps.

Torture Probe Offends The Hell Out Of Cheney. Bummer.

Do Veterans Actually Believe John McCain Will Take Care Of Them?

Recently I wrote about Sydney Schanberg’s article in THE NATION suggesting that John McCain sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about POWs left behind in Vietnam buried as classified documents. Last night, during the debate, John McCain made this comment:

“I know the veterans, I know them well, and I know that they know that I’ll take care of them, and I have been proud of their support and their recognition of my service to the veterans, and I love them, and I’ll take care of them, and they know that I’ll take care of them.”

Here’s a video put together by a group who call themselves “Vietnam Veteran’s Against McCain“. They discuss, in great detail, the circumstances behind the federal classification of these documents:

Add to this the organization “Veterans For Peace“, a large national organization made up of veterans of every war, from Korea to Vietnam and Iraq, who led a protest in the streets of St. Paul against the Republican National Convention.

Then there’s the organization known as “Iraq Veterans Against the War” who claim that:

A formation of 60 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans marched in uniform to Xcel Energy Center… to deliver a briefing on veterans’ issues to Senator McCain on the opening day of the Republican National Convention.

IVAW member Wes Davey led the march and attempted to deliver the briefing to Senator McCain’s staff. Despite numerous mailed, faxed, and in-person invitations to meet, McCain’s office refused to send anyone to receive the briefing. When Davey, a retired Army First Sergeant and former St. Paul police officer, attempted to deliver the briefing, he was escorted off the premises.

On the other hand:

Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) marched to the Pepsi Center in Denver on Wednesday, August 27 where they were met by Phil Carter, Senator Obama’s Senior Veterans’ Liaison. Carter is negotiating the terms of a meeting with IVAW representatives. IVAW has requested a meeting with Senator Obama himself and his Senior Foreign Policy Advisor.

“Iraq Veterans Against the War” also stated the following about McCain on its Website:

Senator McCain has consistently voted against veterans interests. In a recent report, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Senator McCain a “D” rating to Senator Obama’s “B+.” Disabled American Veterans reports that Senator McCain only voted for legislation that benefited veterans 20% of the time while Senator Obama supported veterans’ needs 80% of the time.

USMC veteran Adam Kokesh, also a member of IVAW, held up a two-sided sign at the RNC that read: “You Can’t Win An Occupation” and “McCain Votes Against Vets.” He ended up getting tossed out of the convention. Here’s the video:

Here’s yet another video, a joint project of Brave New Films,, and General Wesley Clark’s WesPAC, urging Senator McCain to support modernizing the GI Bill. For the record, Mr. McCain refuses to support a bipartisan effort to modernize the GI Bill and has voted against nearly every effort to increase funding for health care and disability benefits for wounded soldiers. This video was put out earlier this year:

And once again, Senator Barack Obama has openly supported the bipartisan effort to improve the G.I. Bill.

And finally, here is footage of John McCain belittling Delores Alfond, head of the National Alliance of POW/MIA whose brother went missing in action in Vietnam. His denigrating attitude here is eerily similar to his tone toward Senator Obama in moments from last Friday night’s debate:

I can’t say for sure if all the accusations against Mr. McCain are valid or not, but what I can say with some certainty, is that there are a large number of veterans out there who would disagree with Mr. McCain’s comment that “I know the veterans, I know them well, and I know that they know that I’ll take care of them.”

Do Veterans Actually Believe John McCain Will Take Care Of Them?

Schanberg, McCain & The POW Coverup

I’m not sure what to make of this. If true, it’s disturbing news indeed. Sydney Schanberg recently wrote an article for The Nation which very strongly suggests that John McCain is and has been highly involved in a coverup involving hundreds of American POWs who were knowingly left behind in Vietnam. For those not familiar with Schanberg’s writing, here is a brief biography:

Sydney H. Schanberg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, has for nearly 50 years been a reporter and columnist for the New York Times, Newsday and the Village Voice. He has reported extensively on the POW story. 

Schanberg has written extensively on foreign affairs–particularly Asia–and on domestic issues such as ethics, racial problems, government secrecy, corporate excesses and the weaknesses of the national media.

Most of his journalism career has been spent on newspapers but his award-winning work has also appeared widely in other publications and media. The 1984 movie, THE KILLING FIELDS, which won several Academy Awards, was based on his book THE DEATH AND LIFE OF DITH PRAN – a memoir of his experiences covering the war in Cambodia for the New York Times and of his relationship with his Cambodian colleague, Dith Pran.

For his accounts of the fall of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, Schanberg was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting “at great risk.” He is also the recipient of many other awards – including two George Polk awards, two Overseas Press Club awards and the Sigma Delta Chi prize for distinguished journalism.

In the opening paragraph of his article, Schanberg states:

John McCain, who has risen to political prominence on his image as a Vietnam POW war hero, has, inexplicably, worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn’t return home. Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents. Thus the war hero people would logically imagine to be a determined crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.

I would go on to detail the theories and facts, but could never do justice to the large body of information Schanberg has collected, and will therefore simply put up a link to the article itself. There are two versions of the article: A shorter one which appeared on September 17, 2008 which can be read HERE, and a longer, far more detailed version of the article which can be read HERE

The rest I leave up to you.

Schanberg, McCain & The POW Coverup