Circling Like Sparrows

War is a crime:

Old hands in the intelligence community remembered vividly how past covert operations, from the Vietnam War-era “Phoenix Program” of assassinations of Viet Cong to the Iran-Contra arms sales of the 1980s were painted as the work of a “rogue agency” out of control.

But even after the “Golden Shield” was in place, briefings and meetings in the White House to discuss individual interrogations continued, sources said. Tenet, seeking to protect his agents, regularly sought confirmation from the NSC principals that specific interrogation plans were legal.

According to a former CIA official involved in the process, CIA headquarters would receive cables from operatives in the field asking for authorization for specific techniques. Agents, worried about overstepping their boundaries, would await guidance in particularly complicated cases dealing with high-value detainees, two CIA sources said.

Highly placed sources said CIA directors Tenet and later Porter Goss along with agency lawyers briefed senior advisers, including Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Powell, about detainees in CIA custody overseas.

“It kept coming up. CIA wanted us to sign off on each one every time,” said one high-ranking official who asked not to be identified. “They’d say, ‘We’ve got so and so. This is the plan.'”

Sources said that at each discussion, all the Principals present approved.

Of course they approved. Of course they knew. Did anyone sincerely believe otherwise? Did anyone sincerely believe they were kept in the dark? The CIA knows better. The CIA wasn’t going down for this alone. Jesus Christ, of course they approved.

For years, they’ve been governing on the principle that the lies they tell are so gigantic, the crimes they commit so outrageous, that we’re too utterly freaked to call them on it. For years, they’ve been governing like public opinion and the rule of law don’t matter because honestly, who’s there to convince them it does matter? Chris Dodd had to fucking threaten to filibuster his own party’s bill to convince people the Constitution was still worth giving a fuck about, for fucking fuck’s sake. Jesus tits, what on earth would make them scared? What have we ever done to make them think there’d be consequences to their actions?

And now? Now what?


27 thoughts on “Circling Like Sparrows

  1. “consequences to their actions?”
    That’s SOOO pre-2000 election.
    And of course we should be working on consequences for their enablers.

  2. “At one meeting in the summer of 2003 — attended by Vice President Cheney, among others — Tenet made an elaborate presentation for approval to combine several different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time, according to a highly placed administration source.”
    They could have been talking about a plan to strengthen mortgage security rules, instead of torture, for all they cared. It just sounds entirely like when I read Albert Speers book many years ago, that impression you have of these people just completely lost from their own humanity and not even knowing it. Or caring, or, as in some cases, never having it to begin with, Dick.

  3. These are the same (more or less) ‘Principals’ whom Richard Clarke tried so desperately to get a meeting with in 2000, to warn them of al Qeada. But they weren’t interested. Probably back in their offices, pulling the wings off of the flies.

  4. When we cover the Holocaust in my Western Civ II class, I have students every time who say, “Why didn’t they just…?”
    It’s almost getting to the point where I feel like I can say, “Well, why don’t you just do something to stop these guys?” without getting my ass fired.

  5. What was said to the Soviets during the Space Race still holds:
    “Our Nazis are better than your Nazis.”

  6. Dubya liked to torture animals as a child. Is it any wonder that when he got bigger, he wanted to torture people?

  7. Knowing this and seeing it now, does it seem so completely unthinkable to believe certain elements within our very own government orchestrated events on 9-11? That they helped murder a few thousand people for the “greater good” of America’s continued military dominanace and access to energy resources?
    Sorry – I forgot this is the government that kills the elected leaders of sovereign nations and topples their goverments with secret coups, but would never murder one if its own, like Martin Luther King or JFK. That idea is impossible for Americans to accept.

  8. BuggyQ:
    It’s worse–here we still have the freedom to write the paper and criticize the government and to write our congresscritters. We really do still have the power–if we would all just stand up and say something. In Nazi Germany, things were quite a bit more oppressed–as in you’d be executed for pointing out anything wrong with the administration. I would recommend you showing your class the movie “The Last Days of Sophie Scholl” in order to give your students a good idea of why Germans were afraid to speak out. Or, at the very least, teach your students about the White Rose Society and what happened to them.

  9. the neo-cons have some ugly heinous stuff on everyone of these republicrats and dempublicans–well maybe not chris dodd–. maybe even a few tony blairs.
    i think about the scene in godfather 2–the senator in bed with a slaughtered prostitute–“i can’t understand why i don’t remember?”
    oh senator when the time is right we’ll make sure you remember.

  10. Sparrows don’t circle.
    Pigeons circle, starlings circle, even turkey vultures circle but sparrows are ground birds, rarely flying more than a handful of feet off the ground. Only in migration (now) do they fly higher.
    That said, it is clear that this had to come from the top-down. Nobody will take such a risk without having their ass covered in advance.

  11. The subject that should be in national debate right now is whether it should be the hangman’s noose, the electric chair, the firing squad, etc. that will be used. Does it stain the whole nation to use “cruel and unusual punishment”? Must we use “humane” methods? Where do we anti-death penalty people stand on this? Which is the appropriate court to do the sentencing? If a jury of peers is needed, who would stoop so low as to claim to be peers? Would it be best to build a special prison compound to house the whole bunch for their remaining years? There is a lot of ground to be covered in the next few years.

  12. For years, they’ve been governing on the principle that the lies they tell are so gigantic, the crimes they commit so outrageous, that we’re too utterly freaked to call them on it.
    Thank you for confirming I’m not crazy. You see the fnords, too.

  13. You’re hitting a key point I’ve tried to make repeatedly, and I wish the MSM would cover. When Colin Powell and Rice, members of the Bush administration whose jobs were directly affected by the policies, only learn about the torture memos two years later from The Washington Post, there are serious problems. I imagine you’ve read the Vanity Fair piece “The Green Light.” But these people fully understood how radical their actions were, and they did not have good intentions. The analogies of the Bushies to the mafia are frighteningly apt.

  14. I do talk about the White Rose Society to my students, mothra, which is as close to “Why don’t you do something about it?” as I dare go as a part-timer. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the White Roses were all so very young. Frankly, that’s one thing that does give me hope. More and more often, I’m getting reminders from students that the kids are all right.

  15. You and I and and81% of Americans see the fnords. Except on television. Until fnords are on tv, they’re not news.
    Athenae wrote:
    For years, they’ve been governing on the principle that the lies they tell are so gigantic, the crimes they commit so outrageous, that we’re too utterly freaked to call them on it.
    hoppy wrote:
    Thank you for confirming I’m not crazy. You see the fnords, too.

  16. I’ve been saying for years that these people don’t behave like humans. They’re lacking a soul.

  17. georgee needs to alone in a room filled with wxpert in certain arts. i’ll even accept centuries in painful purgatory.

  18. My god, Athenae, I been away too long. Sent you a declaration of my love back there somewhere and heard there was already a Mr. Athenae. Must have felt rebuffed having hoped for some kind of cyber affair and looked elsewhere. My sincere apologies.
    I’m back where I belong and you do sing it like it was meant to be sung, sweet, low and true.
    I am revived.
    And hoppy, thanks for saying it. Good questions, timely and proper. Being a confirmed death penalty opponent I want these people prosecuted for war crimes. As was said in The Missouri Breaks “We’re gonna give ’em a fair trial and then we’re gonna hang ’em.”

  19. I think that the status quo in D.C. and elsewhere will let Bushco off the hook for their crimes, possibly after a whitewashing “investigation” or two. If Bushco is let off the hook, I don’t think America as we know it is recoverable. The question remains, What will it take to crack the status quo?

  20. fuckin right those fuck douches are fucking up my mother fucking home/country/job
    theyre all just a bunch of poon holes with warm water flushing (oh so softly)

  21. Interestingly enough, I’m one of those who, in general, am against the death penalty. Though not in this case. Once when I was young, and learning about WW2, I asked my parents why we had to kill people like Hitler. I will now pass on what was passed on to me:Sometimes, there is a person, or group of people who’s crimes are so great, so vile, so systematically evil that they are harmful on such a scale as to actually affect the whole of humanity. To bring sorrow to all of humanity. What do you do with these people? If you let them live, they get another shot at what they failed to do the first time, by other means, because they’re fanatical. If you kill them, you risk them becoming martyrs because they still have followers.
    But there’s a third option, and that’s what we took after the war. You put them on trial. Expose every evil thing they’ve done to the whole world, Then put a bullet in them because they’re rabid.

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