Today’s New York Times piece on the latest batch of torture documents unearthed by the ACLU makes no mention at all of FBI e-mails linking illegal interrogation techniques to Bush and Rumsfeld.
The Post does a better job, although one would think that this link merited a screaming headline instead of a passing mention four paragraphs into the story.
The documents also make it clear that some personnel at Guantanamo Bay believed they were relying on authority from senior officials in Washington to conduct aggressive interrogations. One FBI agent wrote a memo referring to a presidential order that approved interrogation methods “beyond the bounds of standard FBI practice,” although White House and FBI officials said yesterday that such an order does not exist.
Instead, FBI and Pentagon officials said, the order in question was signed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in December 2002 and then revised four months later after complaints from military lawyers that he had authorized methods that violated international and domestic law.
In a Jan. 21, 2004, e-mail, an FBI agent wrote that “this technique [of impersonating an FBI agent], and all of those used in these scenarios, was approved by the DepSecDef,” referring to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz.
The Post also brings us the results of their latest poll, which contains more bad news for the Bushies.
While a slight majority believe the Iraq war contributed to the long-term security of the United States, 70 percent of Americans think these gains have come at an “unacceptable” cost in military casualties. This led 56 percent to conclude that, given the cost, the conflict there was “not worth fighting” — an eight-point increase from when the same question was asked this summer, and the first time a decisive majority of people have reached this conclusion.
Bush lavished praise on Rumsfeld at a morning news conference yesterday, but the Pentagon chief who soared to international celebrity and widespread admiration after the terrorist attacks three years ago can be glad he answers to an audience of one. Among the public, 35 percent of respondents approved of his job performance and 53 percent disapproved; 52 percent said Bush should give Rumsfeld his walking papers.
A full 57 percent disapprove of his handling of Iraq, a number that is seven percentage points higher than a poll taken in September. But the president’s core political asset, public confidence in his leadership on terrorism, remains intact, albeit down significantly from even a year ago. Fifty-three percent approve of his record on terrorism, while 43 percent do not. Those numbers were 70 percent and 28 percent a year ago this week.
The public splits down the middle on Bush’s overall job performance, with 48 percent approving while 49 percent disapprove, percentages that closely approximate results taken just before the election. By contrast, President Bill Clinton had an approval of 60 percent in a poll taken just before he began his second term.
I discussed the following with family this weekend, but failed to post it until now. I think Rumsfeld is being primed to take the fall for Iraq. Bill Kristol’s anti-Rummy skreed was the first step. It was obvious in yesterday’s news conference that someone finally got it through Dear Leader’s thick and sloped skull that we have lost Iraq. Watch for the torture documents to be wrapped around Rummy’s neck so that he can take the fall both for the loss of the war and America’s reputation as a humanitarian country.