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April 29, 2005

Comments

I saw the Nightline progam. I was appalled at the press. They contrasted the British press conference Blair just had with W's. It was astounding to see the difference. One lobbed hardballs and the other was akin to watching a 4 year old throw a bowling ball down a lane with both hands (and with the guardrails up).

In regard to your first point, Phillip Carter at Intel Dump has a post about how the latest IG report about Abu Ghraib seems to be at odds with the US Army's doctorine of command responsibility as articulated in FM-22-100, as well as some other once deeply held principles.

http://www.intel-dump.com/archives/archive_2005_04_17-2005_04_23.shtml#1114281125

Less formally reasoned is my feeling that the administration must demonstrate its displeasure for screw-ups with concrete acts, like firing people (at a minimum) if its protestations of displeasure over said screw-ups is to be accepted at face value.

Since the press refuses to ask real questions of the President, maybe they should just refuse to ask any questions of the President. If Helen Thomas were the only reporter at the next press conference, it's possible that W would take the hint. As long as the press participates in this charade, they will continue to get what they claim to dislike, answers that are utterly unrelated to reality.

I didn't see it but I assume Bush was picking out the questioners. Why doesn't the White House press core take turns doing that (for the president and his press secretary)? That way they can ask hard questions without worrying about never being called on again.

Never happen though.

I think you are being a bit too hard on President Bush. After all, when queried about what steps he will take to avoid the economy falling back into a recession, he directly pointed to asbestos reform as the panacea!

Edward, not long ago:

"So, in the spirit of practicing what I preach with regards to unity, I hereby pledge personally to give the President a second-term honeymood period. From now until 100 days after his second inauguaration, I will attempt to keep partisanship out of my comments/critiques of his decisions. I will attempt to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that his actions, especially as regard the war in Iraq, are geared toward what's best for the United States. I'll judge how to continue after that based on how he performs up to that point."

I'm not sure how the events of Abu Ghraib would have any affect on your pledge of unity to the second term. And although Bob Herberts comments have a nice ring to them and are rightly noted, they are barely relevant.

Further I don't see how standing on the sidelines with Ted Koppel and disecting one snapshot of American Politics for it's 'staged' setting promotes unity in any way.

What I saw last night was far, far more substantive than the recent televised 'advise and consent' hearings we've been subject to.

Edward, I suspect you don't like the man, you don't like the party and you are dissatisfied with the direction of the country as it impacts your situation.

I understand that I feel differently from my vantage point so my opinions are obviously different.

So what's changed from the start of your 100 day time out? What did you expect? There might be a certain point where you accept the inevitable, abandon the charade of moderation, and truly become moderate. Realize that tantrums accomplish nothing (well usually) and accepting that some movement to the middle pulls from both ends.

Civil unions - maybe. Means testing - maybe. War - sometimes. Socialism - a little. Minority rights - not always. Big business - keep watch. Church and State - church AND state. Conservative nominations - up or down.

There's always room for movement. Tack on another 100, Edward, let's spar some more.

I somehow missed where expecting accountability and a preference for substance over image from out government is a partisan issue.

Translation: "Sure, Bush has failed to show any interest in correcting some of the most egregious problems of corruption and incompetence in his administration, but give him another hundred days before you start criticizing him for it. And then another hundred, and..."

Totally off topic, but when I respond to Edward_, Anarch, and lj, I have this image in my mind of Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and James Mason. In no particular order, of course.

But, speaking of Karnak, I think you can tell a lot from what people write. I would be more likely to believe it if Edward_ told me he has seen Andrew Sullivan's back hair than if he stated that he was a 15 year old cheerleader. I mean sometimes you just have to take people at their words. Why not do this with President Bush?

By the way, if you visualize me as Christopher Lloyd, you might not be so far off.

nice balanced and fair questions blogbudsman. I'll try to do them justice:

So what's changed from the start of your 100 day time out? What did you expect?

My promise was to let him prove my misgivings unfounded. To be open-minded. I tried. Even when he was (somewhat prematurely, it turns out) chomping at the bit to spend his new political capital, I was willing to wait (anxious, yes, but willing) and see how he spent it. More than that though, I was waiting to see if once he had no elections left to lose, he would grow up, reach out, listen to the dissenters (acknowledge that they too are the people he's supposed to be working for), and stop doing what his extremist base demanded of him. It's not happening. The extremists are only gaining more power and he's not stopping them. He insulates himself, and although he has absolutely nothing to lose by letting the MSM ask him some tough questions, he refuses. Even if you think he has something to lose (policy, legacy, whatever), it's cowardly.

I'm not sure how the events of Abu Ghraib would have any affect on your pledge of unity to the second term.

Bush had an opportunity to ensure those up the food chain were held responsible. The report that just came out, clearing Top Army officers of any negligence, is symptomatic of a wrong-headed attitude. I don't respect it.

Edward, I suspect you don't like the man, you don't like the party and you are dissatisfied with the direction of the country as it impacts your situation.

Not sure I have an opinion on him personally at all, actually. Never met him. I know I don't respect his isolationist approach to the presidency. I don't respect his cowardly performances at "press conferences." I don't respect the fact that he won't assume responsibility for his administration's mistakes. And yes, I feel that these failings do impact the direction the nation is heading in, and it bothers me.


Civil unions - maybe. Means testing - maybe. War - sometimes. Socialism - a little. Minority rights - not always. Big business - keep watch. Church and State - church AND state. Conservative nominations - up or down.

Marriage for all - eventually. Means testing - maybe. War - last resort only. Socialism - enough to fix the health care crisis and keep seniors from living in poverty. Minority rights - equal opportunities. Big Business -don't let the fox watch the hen house. Church and State - (yours is perfect). Conservative nominations - not always up or down vote...Brown is an utter nightmare...the minority deserves some tools to at least try to prevent monsters from being appointed.

There's always room for movement. Tack on another 100, Edward, let's spar some more.

Happy to spar some more. But the honeymoon needs to be over. Bush is teetering on lameduckdom anyway...if not now, when will we get the chance to voice our disapproval?

I would be more likely to believe it if Edward_ told me he has seen Andrew Sullivan's back hair

LOL. Used to work out at the same gym. Can't recall if I ever saw him shirtless, but would have tried to suppress the image anyway. ewww.

I mean sometimes you just have to take people at their words. Why not do this with President Bush?

He uses far too much dog whistle rhetoric for anyone do take him at his words.

I caught the tail end of the press conference, so I missed his prepared remarks. But from what I saw of his interaction with the press, I was astounded moments later to hear the commentators on NBC (Varga, Stephanopolous, and some other guy) talk about how Bush was "on his game". THAT was "on his game"? The standards have dropped that far? He looked like the kid who gets called up to make a speech before the class and starts talking about whatever is in his pocket (asbestos, evidently). He was visibly uncomfortable, like he'd rather be anywhere, anywhere but standing at that podium fielding relatively easy questions from a supplicant press.

I was glad to hear the one question about rendition. Not that Bush saw fit to actually answer it, but at least it got asked.

Totally off topic, but when I respond to Edward_, Anarch, and lj, I have this image in my mind of Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and James Mason. In no particular order, of course.

Dibs on James Mason!

Dibs on James Mason!

I reject the choices. How about, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Robert Shaw?

Really great reporters get sick of being treated like schoolchildren, and that is what the White House beat is all about.

There are exceptions--Terry Moran has more spine than most, as does Milbank actually.

But the "essay question" is actually the exact wrong approach. I forget which reporter said: you cannot make a politician answer if he doesn't want to, but you can at least ask a question that makes it obvious that he's refusing to answer--this gives at least some incentive to give a substantive response.

I mean, take this:

"Mr. President, under the law, how would you justify the practice of renditioning, where U.S. agents who brought terror suspects abroad, taking them to a third country for interrogation? And would you stand for it if foreign agents did that to an American here?"

I obviously appreciate the effort, but as far as the first part, we already know how they justify it: they rely on assurances not to torture (not that the possibility of torture is even mentioned in this question). And the second opens itself to the "I don't answer hypotheticals."

How about, "Mr. President, nearly all of the prisoners we've rendered to Egypt and Syria countries have made allegations of torture and several of them have reportedly come back with serious injuries. Can you explain why we continue to rely on Egypt's and Syria's promises not to torture suspects?"

I could do Peter Lorre, but really I'm more of a Spike Milligan type [a'looooo...].

I heartily endorse placing Katherine in the White House press pool!

Katherine--

There are few people whom I'd rather see work over a perp than you. And I mean that as a very high compliment.

I mean sometimes you just have to take people at their words. Why not do this with President Bush?

There's another obvious distinction between your examples and President Bush: the writings of we, the pseudonymous posters here, exist in vacuo. You have no idea who we are; you have no idea what we do; indeed, it's likely that nothing we do directly impacts on your existnce; and, most crucially of all, you have no way of correlating what we say with what we do or the consequences that arise thereof.

And the same is true, naturally, vice versa.

President Bush, however, does not exist in a vacuum.* We know who he is. We know what he does. We know the consequences of his actions. And we can correlate these things with what he says.

He has a history, in other words, and it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. To say that we should simply take him at his word -- by which I take you to mean that we should pay attention only to the words and nothing else -- is to ask that we be credulous beyond all reason, to be gullible beyond gullibility.

Now, there is an ancillary variation on this claim which one could legitimately make and which perhaps was what you were attempting: namely, that Bush is the kind of man who can be taken at his word. That is, however, an argument (not an assertion) that must made separately from the claim, and which must predicated upon an examination of his track record as stated above. [Less floridly, compare his speeches to his actions and see how closely they match up.] It's an empirical matter, plain and simple. Thing is, pretty much everyone here has done this; unless you're able to introduce new evidence (or a new paradigm, I suppose), you're not going to get any mileage with this line. Democrats, liberals and progressives, by and large, think that Bush is not honest in the way that you're describing and -- shocking though this may be -- this is not merely a reflex reaction, a natural antipathy towards The Smirking Chimp or whatever stupid descriptor they're using nowadays, but rather an opinion that's been formed by an examination of the evidence. Assuming you're trying to convince Edward, myself and the other liberals here of the truth of that claim, the bar is set far higher than merely asserting it to be so (or justifying it by comity or what have you).

[The converse is, AFAICT, also true: Republicans and conservatives have weighed the evidence and found the contrary, that he is honest and trustworthy. Erroneously IMO, but that's a topic for another time.]

In short: after giving him a grace period of 100 days, Edward has come to the conclusion that Bush will not change his ways and, for the record, I agree. Why should he then be granted a further "honeymoon" if he has not earned it? His unjust, unfair or simply incompetent policies** should be opposed full-force, where the evaluation should be made in the context of his past policies and arguments; and if that means disregarding the platitudes of his obvious set-pieces and staged press conferences, then so be it.

* I'd like some recognition for not making the obvious jokes here, tempting though they may be.

** Which is pretty much all of them, but hey, I'm being optimistic here.

It's so depressing that our President, in addition to being evil and incompetent and none too clever, is also such a wuss. Anyone who can't handle hecklers and tough questions, can't handle being President.

Tad, 5 minutes with Katherine, and I suspect Bush would be crying as he huddled in the fetal position, begging for Karl or Karen to come take that bad girl away. I'd pay to see that, actually.

Edward: I reject the choices. How about, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Robert Shaw?

Based on my innate charisma and contributions to the discussion, I will be played by the table.

ral: I could do Peter Lorre, but really I'm more of a Spike Milligan type [a'looooo...].

ObWi's liberals as The Goon Show. Something tells me we're going to get bipartisan support on that one.

There couldn't possible be a different spin on your two points could there?

1. An allergy to accountability

Perhaps the allergy might be to the insipid and vapid charges of your foes, and not being a fool in pandering to those charges. The fact that you would use Abu Ghraib as an illustration of your point is a nearly perfect example of my point.

2. A priority of perception over reality

Though I agree that it would be nice if this were less common in politics, it's hard to take it as serious criticism from the "President is putting arsenic in the water" party.

Perhaps the allergy might be to the insipid and vapid charges of your foes, and not being a fool in pandering to those charges. The fact that you would use Abu Ghraib as an illustration of your point is a nearly perfect example of my point.

Could you expand on that, please?

Based on my innate charisma and contributions to the discussion, I will be played by the table.

Well, in that case, I'll be played by the gin.

Perhaps the allergy might be to the insipid and vapid charges of your foes,

No, it's accountability. From the link etc. kindly provided:

In the Army's leadership schools for officers and sergeants, the doctrinal manual preaches quite a different result from the outcome of this investigation. Bottom line: commanders (and NCOs) are responsible for everything their unit(s) do or fail to do, period. A commander, especially a general officer, is not just responsible for those things he/she ordered, but for those things that he/she knew about — or should have known about. This is the essence of the mantle of command, as reflected in several passages of FM 22-100, the Army's field manual for leadership. Consider this excerpt from Part 1:

LEADERSHIP AND COMMAND


When you are commanding, leading [soldiers] under conditions where physical exhaustion and privations must be ignored, where the lives of [soldiers] may be sacrificed, then, the efficiency of your leadership will depend only to a minor degree on your tactical ability. It will primarily be determined by your character, your reputation, not much for courage—which will be accepted as a matter of course—but by the previous reputation you have established for fairness, for that high-minded patriotic purpose, that quality of unswerving determination to carry through any military task assigned to you.

--General of the Army George C. Marshall
Speaking to officer candidates in September, 1941

1-60. Command is a specific and legal position unique to the military. It's where the buck stops Like all leaders, commanders are responsible for the success of their organizations, but commanders have special accountability to their superiors, the institution, and the nation. Commanders must think deeply and creatively, for their concerns encompass yesterday's heritage, today's mission, and tomorrow's force. To maintain their balance among all demands on them, they must exemplify Army values. The nation, as well as the members of the Army, hold commanders accountable for accomplishing the mission, keeping the institution sound, and caring for its people.

1-61. Command is a sacred trust. The legal and moral responsibilities of commanders exceed those of any other leader of similar position or authority. Nowhere else does a boss have to answer for how subordinates live and what they do after work.

I won't accept that only the grunts should be held accountable for Abu Ghraib, and neither should the president.

I won't accept that only the grunts should be held accountable for Abu Ghraib, and neither should the president.

Nor has he or Rumsfeld or the Army. The investigations and punishments have gone pretty far up the chain, but they can only go as far the facts take them.

The investigations and punishments have gone pretty far up the chain, but they can only go as far the facts take them.

The punishments have gone no further up the chain than was apparent they would before the investigation even started. Karpinski was already implicated and no one above her was. That fact suggests the investigation uncovered nothing more than the press already had, which is very difficult to believe.


Could you expand on that, please?

Sure. The desire to blame Bush and Rumsfeld for Abu Ghraib has less to do with the facts or accountability as it does the need to blame Bush and Rumsfeld. Abu Ghraib is an embarrassment to us all at some level; so in some way we'd all like a scapegoat. However, there is not a shred of evidence so far to that justifies blaming the White House or the Pentagon. Accountability means punishing those actually accountable; not those we think, assume, or hope are at fault.

Keep in mind that the Abu Ghraib story was not a scoop for CBS or Sy Hersh. The Army was on it and already investigating before any of us ever heard of it. As far as I can tell, the investigations have been thorough, professional, and there isn't a hint of a whitewash. The people accountable and the command structure responsible are getting rightly punished. The facts only take it so far and you'd have to jump several layers of command to get anywhere near Rumsfeld, let alone Bush.

This has nothing to do with accountability, it's about symbolism. Then it crashes right into Edward's point about perception and reality, only this time he wants perception to trump reality.

So, the whole bit where the White House counsel wrote a memo authorizing torture, and the Taguba report that involved permission and lack of action from up the chain of command, and the 30 deaths in captivity the Army has ruled homicdes, and the abuse reports from Guantanamo and Afghanistan, the extraordinary rendition to other countries for people to be tortured, the hiding of detainees from the Red Cross, and everything else can be traced back to these what, seven grunts at Abu Ghraib? Guess they were pretty busy.

This has nothing to do with accountability, it's about symbolism. Then it crashes right into Edward's point about perception and reality, only this time he wants perception to trump reality.

Depends on whose brand of accountability you have more respect for: Truman's (which is essentially symbolic) or Bush's (which is essentially cheeky, in the sense of only just what one can get away with).

One of these holds less value for me than a bucket of warm spit. The other is the benchmark anyone seeking the White House should aspire to.

I'm sorry, it wasn't the White House counsel who wrote the torture memo, he just approved it. Note to self, doublecheck post before posting.

I think President Bush deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for standing up for Asbestos Rights, at last.

A couple of points Edward. Do you have an example of Truman actually doing anything other than putting a sign on his desk? What act perpetrated by someone down in the bowels of the military or bureaucracy did he take responsibility for? I think you're projecting something onto Truman that he would think you were daft to suggest.

Second, if you have any evidence of a whitewash or lack of a professional and complete investigation into Abu Ghraib please bring it forward. Absent that, your point about accountability is 180 degrees wrong.

real world work interceding Mac...will get back to you later...

The desire to blame Bush and Rumsfeld for Abu Ghraib has less to do with the facts or accountability as it does the need to blame Bush and Rumsfeld. Abu Ghraib is an embarrassment to us all at some level; so in some way we'd all like a scapegoat.

And what about torture that didn't happen at Abu Ghraib? What of Guantanamo, Bagram, the Salt Pit? How many bad apples do we have to turn up before admitting the tree is rotten?

As for this representing a need to attack Bush and Rumsfeld: I find it remarkably difficult to believe that conservatives, so steeped in distrust of government and government's ability to police itself, are happily accepting, with complete intellectual honesty, a military investigation of the military which has implicated no one higher up than those already implicated in press accounts.

Would you accept this finding if it had happened under Clinton? I have a feeling you'd be baying for his blood, and with some justification. The partisanship isn't on the anti-torture party this time, but on the Republicans who defend the indefensible to toe the company line.

(Hell, rendition did happen under Clinton, and I'd be more than willing to see him and Berger prosecuted for it if the same courtesy were extended to the current administration. And yet, I see more conservatives willing to use Clinton's crimes as an excuse for Bush's than as further evidence of rendition's evil; in fact, I've only seen Sebastian make this argument.)

At what point does the circumstantial evidence of high-level approval amount to a clear and convincing case? (I'm a layman using legal terms here, so please take the words as English rather than legalese.)

Macallan writes, "[k]eep in mind that the Abu Ghraib story was not a scoop for CBS or Sy Hersh. The Army was on it and already investigating before any of us ever heard of it. As far as I can tell, the investigations have been thorough, professional, and there isn't a hint of a whitewash."

When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, it was "a few bad apples." Donald Rumsfeld testified that he was shocked at the photographs, and that there were worse ones that had not been published. Our right wing friends insisted that it couldn't have been authorized.

(By the way, people in Iraq were aware of this long before the U.S. public. There were sculptures that bore an eerie similarity to the famous photograph of the hooded prisoner.)

Later, the torture memos appeared. The administration insisted that it was just examining options.

Now we also have documentation of extraordinary rendition, the CIA plane flights, abuses at Guantanamo and Baghram, including direct testimony from released prisoners.

We've even reached the point where people are arguing that torture should be used. John Yoo recently repeated the statement that the American people, via the election, have essentially given their approval. President Bush repeats the completely lame excuse that we get assurances from unnamed countries. As Katherine points out, a reporter could well have named Syria, a country we recognize as a sponsor of terrorism.

"Whitewash" is too weak a term to express the foulness of what we've seen.

Oooh ooh. . I take dibs on being Gary Oldman and Bill Murray's love child.

Do you have an example of Truman actually doing anything other than putting a sign on his desk?

Read MacArthur's War for your answer.

I find it remarkably difficult to believe that conservatives, so steeped in distrust of government and government's ability to police itself, are happily accepting, with complete intellectual honesty, a military investigation of the military which has implicated no one higher up than those already implicated in press accounts.

I guess you missed this... "if you have any evidence of a whitewash or lack of a professional and complete investigation into Abu Ghraib please bring it forward".

Do you have an example of Truman actually doing anything other than putting a sign on his desk? What act perpetrated by someone down in the bowels of the military or bureaucracy did he take responsibility for? I think you're projecting something onto Truman that he would think you were daft to suggest.

Au contraire, mon frere:

At the dawn of World War II, questions were being asked about widespread stories of contractor mismanagement. At that time, Senator Harry S Truman called on the Congress to create a select committee to study and investigate procurement and manufacturing, which it did on March 1, 1941. From its creation until it expired in 1948, the Select Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, known as the Truman Committee, held 432 public hearings and 300 executive sessions, conducted hundreds of fact-finding missions, issued 51 reports and saved the taxpayers billions of dollars. Throughout, the Committee earned high marks for its thoroughness and efficiency. It is interesting to note that the Truman Committee was authorized by a Democratic Congress to examine the conduct of a Democratic administration.

By contrast, we learned yesterday that:

U.S. defence contractors 'coming on like gangbusters'

U.S. defence contractors reported strong quarterly earnings yesterday as the Pentagon put billions into high-tech military equipment and services.

Profits soared 76 per cent at Northrop Grumman Corp., 30 per cent at Raytheon Co. and 22 per cent at Goodrich. All three aerospace and defence companies beat analysts profit forecasts, and they raised their earnings outlooks for the rest of the year.

"Everybody's coming in like gangbusters," said Paul Nisbet, an analyst with independent research firm JSA Research. "They were all well above expectations, and there is certainly every indication of increased guidance for the year on all three."

And 43's role in this?

The Bush administration is planning to ask Congress for about $80 billion for military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan emphasizing that the successful election in Iraq will help to regulate the situation.

That means funding for Iraq and Afghanistan military operations will grow to about $105 billion in the 2005fiscal year alone including $25 billion already approved for this year by Congress in August. Such an amount smashes the initial estimates.

As the NYTimes noted:

A taxpayer might ask what the pending "emergency" budget bill dedicated to paying for the Iraq war has to do with oil drilling in Mississippi, flood repairs in Utah and a stadium for Washington's new baseball team. The answer is that the expensive war effort provides fast and reliable, if shameful, cover for these goodies and more. Approval of the spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan seemed so certain in the Senate that unscrupulous members of Congress larded it with favored boondoggle projects that would get booted if put to a vote on their own merits.

The Bush administration is the enabler, locked in the shock-and-awe stage of budgeting as it demands an additional $80 billion from a compliant Congress without including these huge expenses in the normal budget process. The underlying fiction is that the battlefield obligations are still too urgent to be detailed and defended in the annual budget. The real aim is to hurry the debate and keep the war bill out of the deficit tally during the budget process.

On the accountability meter, we see Truman at 95...Bush, Minus 30.

Macallan: What do you think of the formerly classified memo in which Sanchez authorizes torture? The only soldier in the chain of command between Sanchez and Rumsfeld is General John Abizaid. Do you think Sanchez ordered violation of the Army's own standards without authorization from Abizaid? Did Abizaid authorize without talking to Rumsfeld?

The facts only take it so far and you'd have to jump several layers of command to get anywhere near Rumsfeld, let alone Bush.

Sanchez to Abizaid to Rumsfeld. It doesn't look like "several layers of command" to me.

This is old news, but I'm surprised it's so quickly forgotten. Maybe I missed the forged-memo scandal that followed.

Read MacArthur's War for your answer.

Apparently the buck stopped at MacArthur.

Au contraire, mon frere:

That wasn't an example asked for. Hint - Truman wasn't even president.

Apparently the buck stopped at MacArthur

No, the responsibility rested with Truman. When those under his command didn't get satisfactory results, they were gone. Rumsfeld still has his job. Either Abu Ghraib is "satisfactory results" for Bush or the buck stops with someone else. Neither is acceptable to me, period.

That wasn't an example asked for. Hint - Truman wasn't even president.

I knew you'd cling to that technicality (even though technically you asked about "Truman" NOT President Truman, and it's fair to look at an earlier example to make judgments about one's character).

This still demonstrates someone who actually believed in the sort of accountability he preached. Dismissing it because he wasn't president yet is a pretty lame deflection. Address the comparisons, if you will.

On what the accountability of command looks like:

"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."

That's what Eisenhower wrote, the night before D-Day. He could imagine casualties mounting into the tens of thousands, the hundred thousands, the Allied forces so punished and destroyed that he would be forced to call it off, his own career ruined, the best hope of freedom blighted. And he was ready to apologize for it--to bring the entire burden of blame and fault onto his own shoulders.

Those were the thoughts that occupied him before he committed lives to battle. That's how a real leader thinks.

"Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

That's what Bush said before committing lives to battle.

The more we learn about Bush, the more it seems that "moral midget" overestimates his stature.

That wasn't an example asked for. Hint - Truman wasn't even president.

Does anyone else admire how skilled Macallan is at shifting the focus from who is, or should be, responsible for torture and homicide here and now to a nice safe academic dispute over what President Truman may or may not have done 50 years ago?

Does anyone else admire how skilled Macallan is at shifting the focus from who is, or should be, responsible for torture and homicide here and now to a nice safe academic dispute over what President Truman may or may not have done 50 years ago?

I did make the comparison.

Mac is skilled at deflections, but more often than not they are interesting deflections. I called him on the last one though.

"The more we learn about Bush, the more it seems that "moral midget" overestimates his stature."

So well said it needed to be said again.

"if you have any evidence of a whitewash or lack of a professional and complete investigation into Abu Ghraib please bring it forward".

And I guess you missed my request for you to acknowledge that torture has happened beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib. Were those in charge of Abu Ghraib also responsible for torture in Guantanamo, Bagram Air Force base, and for the CIA torture programs in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I called him on the last one though.

Except you didn't. Sorry. Truman as a Senator launched an investigation of a different branch of government. A good thing for sure, but totally unrelated to the case you're trying make. This is not an example of Truman holding himself accountable as Commander in Chief or President for something someone far down the chain of command did.

Where you going with this though Mac?

I interepreted your original question as a call for proof that Truman believed in "The Buck Stops Here." A Democratic Senator making a Democratic adminstration account for how it spends the taxpayer's money is a damn good example of accountability.

Unless you're insinuating that there are considerations at the President's level that Truman didn't have to worry about while Senator, you've lost me here.

I interepreted your original question as a call for proof that Truman believed in "The Buck Stops Here." A Democratic Senator making a Democratic adminstration account for how it spends the taxpayer's money is a damn good example of accountability.

That's a great example of accountability from my point of view. Just as the investigations and prosecutions of Abu Ghraib are good examples. How about the Fitzgerald investigation into Plame? Isn't that also a good example? You're making my point not yours.

This is a change of subject sort of; Iraq and Afganistan no longer seem to be news. Or no longer seem to be news worthy of comment. Why not?
Also (now I am on the subject, sort of) Donkey Rising has lots polling data on how other people (not Edward) are viewing these days, and the gist of it is Edward's views are in the ascendancy. Or ascendency. Whatever. Bush's numbers don't look good on anything, not even values, and certainly not on the Iraq war issue. He is losing the center. Of course he never really had much grip on the center, given his one or two point majority, but now the center seems to be headed away from from the Republicans since the Republican party has moved so far outside the mainstream. I'm feeling optimistic about the next couple of elections.

How about the Fitzgerald investigation into Plame?

Bush didn't make the decision to conduct an investigation, the CIA did. That is what you think of as accountability? Hiring a private lawyer and continuing to employ the man that you know claimed that Plame was "fair game"?

Wow.

Macallan: Just as the investigations and prosecutions of Abu Ghraib are good examples.

How is it a good example of accountability if the only people prosecuted are low-level grunts? Do you feel that "accountability" applies only to people at the bottom of the chain of command?

Just as the investigations and prosecutions of Abu Ghraib are good examples. How about the Fitzgerald investigation into Plame? Isn't that also a good example? You're making my point not yours.

The difference is in the results.

Now I know where you'll go with this...what proof do I have the Abu Ghraib investigation results are not valid. Not being privvy to the details of the investigation, though, all I can use to come to a conclusion is logic concerning the information made available.

The only Army general officer recommended for punishment for the failures that led to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan is Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski, who was in charge of U.S. prison facilities in Iraq as commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade in late 2003 and early 2004. Several sources said Karpinski is expected to receive an administrative reprimand for dereliction of duty.

The only conclusion we can draw from this is that Karpinski was where the buck should stop. Karpinski rejects that though.

But Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski insisted in an interview with The Chronicle that her name should not be the only one linked to that scandal -- nor the highest. Many people -- from Spc. Charles Graner, a featured player in the notorious Abu Ghraib photos, up to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld -- hold some degree of responsibility for the events at Abu Ghraib, she said.

"Did I do everything perfectly? Absolutely not," she said. "We were in the middle of a damn war. Hold me responsible for the things I could control. I would even settle for being held equally responsible. But only responsible? To the exception and exclusion of everybody else? No way."

Gotta say, her argument rings true to me. She could be responsible, but the ONLY one responsible? No one higher than the first person relieved form duty was found accountable? Would you accept this finding if it were offered by another government? Or would you suspect a whitewash?

...but more often than not they are interesting deflections.

That is what makes Macallan skilled. Take up a tangential but interesting point, often, as here, raised by someone else, and try to make it the focus of the discussion.

Perhaps, Macallan, you could make a profitable side-business out of teaching this skill to politicians. It would make for more interesting interviews or press conferences. (The current norm of simply regurgitating the same response regardless of the question or discussion at hand is more than a little tiresome).

Take up a tangential but interesting point, often, as here, raised by someone else, and try to make it the focus of the discussion.

Addressing Edward's two central points and then carrying on a discussion with him is tangential? Err... OK.

actually, Mac, you've yet to show how Bush has been accountable. When asked point blank if he'd made any mistakes he deflected the qu...hey! you don't have a ranch in Texas, by any chance?

actually, Mac, you've yet to show how Bush has been accountable.

Difficult to show the thing which is not. ;-) Much safer to talk about Truman. Hey, look over there! A spaceship!

gotta go open an new exhibition...happy weekend all.

actually, Mac, you've yet to show how Bush has been accountable.

Edward, investigating and punishing everyone responsible for Abu Ghraib is accountability.

Good luck with your exhibition.

Well, I guess now that Timmy's gone, /someone/ has to take over the mantle of deflecting criticism through the creative use of pedantry. Mac's just a lot more comprehensible.

"investigating and punishing everyone responsible for Abu Ghraib is accountability"

Now who could disagree with that? I believe the disagreement revolves around exactly what set of people are included in 'everyone responsible'. I personally don't think Bush or even Rummy should fall on a sword over it, but the idea that there is no higher level accountability over the actions of their subordinates sort of runs counter to the traditional definition of 'responsibility' and to the historical role of commanders.

Fall off the wagon so soon Catsy?

Promises, promises...

investigating and punishing everyone responsible for Abu Ghraib is accountability.

I think you mean "would be," not "is." Somehow appointing people to the cabinet or federal judgeships doesn't strike me as punishment.

but the idea that there is no higher level accountability over the actions of their subordinates sort of runs counter to the traditional definition of 'responsibility' and to the historical role of commanders.

Well it doesn't really. For instance Sgt. Akbar was just convicted for the infamous grenade incident. That happened on Bush's watch, is he responsible and accountable for the fragging? Military justice has always recognized that culpability has boundaries, and that command roles have varying degrees oversight. The fact that the Army early on went all the up to Karpinski is a point in their favor and showed how seriously they took the charges. The fact that they didn't stop there and continued higher is also relevant. It certainly doesn't strike me as of a lack of accountability.

The fact that they didn't stop there and continued higher is also relevant.

Got cites for those above Karpinski being reprimanded/dismissed?

We can ignore Rumsfeld tendering his resignation, since apparently Bush approves of torture enough to let Rumsfeld stay.

Jes,

People above Karpinski were investigated and cleared by the Inspector General. Your creative reading talents make any discussion with you nearly pointless.

People above Karpinski were investigated and cleared by the Inspector General

Yes, that's what I rather thought had happened: which makes it rather odd that you should point to this as an example of accountability.

Coming late to the thread (which is early here) DaveC, I was hoping to have a more Toshiro Mifune like vibe.

As for the Truman/MacArthur twists and turns, there is a point about how the President relates to the military. For Truman to have booted MacArthur in the climate of the military knows best tells us a lot, but we no longer defer to the military as we did. Though I did think that Clinton was, for any number of reasons, unable to exercise his role as CinC, especially in regard to the policy on gays. I wonder if Powell has ever had any regrets about cutting Clinton's legs out from under him on that.

As for the notion of needing more fire breathing conservatives, perhaps, but it seems to me that there should be enough middle ground that people can agree, and enough space on the margins where people can accept that others have different views. The fact that there isn't speaks more to the Potemkin village like quality of reasoning invoked by defenders of this administration, in that any crack in the facade could lead to the whole edifice crumbling. Bernie Kerik is the only example I can think of where the admin did not aggressively argue that they were right right right and everyone else was wrong wrong wrong, and, of course, it wasn't the admin that was wrong, it was Guiliani in that case, as the admin made a point of telling people. Abu Ghraib is just a continuation of pattern, made more poignant by the fact that that US Army is unable to take care of its own business. Phil Carter's take seems unassailable to me and he certainly doesn't seem like a guy who is out to get the administration, though I'm sure when the admin defenders retask themselves from "defending" Bolton (by firing any and every accusation against those who have offered testimony against him), they'll turn their guns on him.

This is why defending the administration involves deflections and invocations of 50 year old history. The only thing that keeps me going is the notion that karma exists in some form. My worry is that for it to really exist, we should be expecting an asteroid the size of Manhattan.

People above Karpinski were investigated and cleared by the Inspector General

So, I ask again, what do you think of the memo where Lt. General Sanchez authorized torture? He reports to a guy who reports to Rumsfeld. The methods he endorsed go against our Army's own guidelines. How is it he's still in command when, according to you, those responsible for Abu Ghraib have been held accountable?

Toshiro Mifune like vibe?

Well maybe, if you put the sword down, and cop an attitude like this, you can hang with Edward_ and his gang.

Macallan: The desire to blame Bush and Rumsfeld for Abu Ghraib has less to do with the facts or accountability as it does the need to blame Bush and Rumsfeld.

Karnak. Actually, it's beyond Karnak-dome on that one: declaring by fiat what one has mind-read about others.

Abu Ghraib is an embarrassment to us all at some level; so in some way we'd all like a scapegoat.

Karnak again. I don't want a scapegoat, I want those responsible punished; the same is true for most authors I've read.

However, there is not a shred of evidence so far to that justifies blaming the White House or the Pentagon.

False. [See above.] Whether you find it convincing or not, legitimate evidence most certainly exists.

As far as I can tell, the investigations have been thorough, professional, and there isn't a hint of a whitewash.

You're clearly not telling very far, then. You've also not supported this contention; care to offer evidence?

The people accountable and the command structure responsible are getting rightly punished. The facts only take it so far and you'd have to jump several layers of command to get anywhere near Rumsfeld, let alone Bush.

As noted above, it's two layers away from Rumsfeld: Sanchez -> Abizaid -> Rumsfeld.

This has nothing to do with accountability, it's about symbolism.

Karnak.

Then it crashes right into Edward's point about perception and reality, only this time he wants perception to trump reality.

And one final Karnak, of a particularly insulting variety.

The tally? Four Karnaks, one outright false statement and a number of misdirections. One more-or-less true statement -- that the Army was already investigating the offenses before they were released by Sy Hersh, although I believe it is false that they began to do so prior to the Human Rights Watch (?) report in June 2003 so that's not as impressive as it might sound -- that doesn't really have relevance. Nice work if you can get it.

That is what makes Macallan skilled. Take up a tangential but interesting point, often, as here, raised by someone else, and try to make it the focus of the discussion.

Nah. The skill is in setting himself up as the arbiter of legitimacy (see above re "if you have any evidence of a whitewash or lack of a professional and complete investigation into Abu Ghraib please bring it forward" and then ignoring or dismissing the evidence brought forward) and in somehow convincing people to play along.

Well maybe, if you put the sword down, and cop an attitude like this

Sorry, I was aiming for this. Unfortunately for me, it ends more up like this.

This parallels the fact that I imagine myself like Pepe Le Pew, but often end up more like Foghorn Leghorn...

This parallels the fact that I imagine myself like Pepe Le Pew...

Aiming for the stars, eh?

Aiming for the stars, eh?

Bien sur!

When I think about accountability, I don't only consider Abu Ghraib. How about Tenet? If I understand what I read from supporters of President Bush, the CIA was largely responsible for inaccurate intelligence that led the administration to go to war when it did, and to tell the American people something that wasn't true. What did he get? The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Bremer? Presided over numerous decisions that have been shown to be less than prudent, staffing of the Provisional Authority with people who qualified via partisan, rather than experience credentials, and ... isn't it *billions* of reconstruction dollars that have either not been found and/or misused? Ok, post-war Iraq was bound to be chaos. No one could be perfect. But the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

OK, this is just bizarre. Is this the first time such allegations have been made or did I miss something earlier?

I'd like to propose a distinction between 'responsibility' and 'accountability'.

Responsibility is an issue of facts and may be determined by an investigation into the matter in question. Accountability is more subtle: does the person have to present an account of his part in the matter? One may be accountable to one set of people but not to another, who have no rights to request an account. For example, I may not have to account for the lipstick on my collar to the policeman who stops me for running a red light, but I would have to account for it to my wife.

A request for accountability can be answered by accepting the request and presenting an account, or by denying that the person making the request has the authority to demand an account.

Accountability is more a matter of conscience than matter of fact.

Anarch, the allegation about staged interrogations was made in 2004, possibly in the summer. Quite possibly by the same guy. I recall a couple of members of Congress complaining about how what they'd been shown wasn't reality. Although advertised as such.

Did anyone ever find out what happened to that $8Bn of Iraqi money that went missing?

Today's paper says Lynndie England will plead guilty to a number of charges and faces a sentence of as much as eleven years.

Mac says,

The investigations and punishments have gone pretty far up the chain, but they can only go as far the facts take them.

I would like to know what punishments have been meted out to those "far up the chain" that are remotely comparable to her prison sentence, even if it ends up being considerably less than eleven years.

JFTR, Bernard, it doesn't like like Pvt. Lynndie England will be spending all that much time in slam after all

Justice is served. Well-cooked.

Ouch. From the above link:

Private England, who family members said joined the Army because she wanted money for college and to see the world, was transferred from Iraq to Fort Bragg, N.C., last spring because she was pregnant by Mr. Graner, and to Fort Hood when the military transferred the prosecution of the other six soldiers there late last year.

She gave birth to a boy in October.

Mr. Graner has since married another of the accused, Megan Ambuhl, who pleaded guilty in exchange for dismissal from the military. Mr. Graner has given statements to investigators in the hope of reducing his sentence and is scheduled to testify on behalf of Private England at her sentencing hearing, Captain Crisp said.

It's strange to feel sorry for her and still want her put away for a very long time.

On accountability, Senator Leahy gave a floor speech Friday that's worth excerpting, especially the last paragraph:

I am particularly disturbed by recent press reports about the Army Inspector General's investigation into the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. Although the report has not yet been publicly released, the press accounts state that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez has been cleared by the Army of all allegations of wrongdoing and likely will not face punishment.

In order to understand why the reported findings of the Army Inspector General are troubling, and why an independent investigation is necessary, we need only consult the reports of prior investigations. The Jones investigation, referring to the Combined Joint Task Force led by Lt. Gen. Sanchez, stated, ``Inaction at the CJTF-7 staff level may . . . have contributed to the failure to discover and prevent abuses before January 2004.'' The Jones report concluded that Lt. Gen. Sanchez ``failed to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation operations.''

The Schlesinger investigation is even more critical of Lt. Gen. Sanchez's role in the detainee abuse scandal. The Schlesinger panel described how Lt. Gen. Sanchez relied upon the interrogation policy from Guantanamo Bay to develop interrogation procedures for Iraq. The result of this, as the Schlesinger panel correctly states, was that ``policies approved for use on al Qaeda and Taliban detainees who were not afforded the protection of [Enemy Prisoner of War] status under the Geneva Conventions now applied to detainees who did fall under the Geneva Convention protections.'' The Schlesinger report continued, ``Despite lacking specific authorization to operate beyond the confines of the Geneva Conventions, [Lt. Gen. Sanchez] nonetheless determined it was within [his] command discretion to classify, as unlawful combatants, individuals captured during [Operation Iraqi Freedom].'' The panel also found that Lt. Gen. Sanchez ``was responsible for establishing the confused command relationship at the Abu Ghraib prison'' and ``the unclear chain of command established by CJTF-7, combined with the poor leadership and lack of supervision, contributed to the atmosphere at Abu Ghraib that allowed the abuses to take place.''

The findings of the Jones and the Schlesinger investigations regarding the decisions of Lt. Gen. Sanchez are troubling on their own. Equally troubling is the indication that Lt. Gen. Sanchez gave inaccurate testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In an Armed Services Committee hearing on May 19, 2004, Senator JACK REED asked Lt. Gen. Sanchez if he had approved sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise, and inducing fear as interrogation methods for use in Abu Ghraib prison. Lt. Gen. Sanchez replied that, ``I never approved any of those measures to be used within CJTF-7 at any time in the last year.'' His statement is seemingly contradicted by a document recently released by the Pentagon in response to litigation under the Freedom of Information Act. A September 14, 2003, memo from Lt. Gen. Sanchez authorized specific interrogation methods for use in Iraq, including the use of military working dogs to exploit Arab fear of dogs, the use of sleep management and stress positions, and inducing fear through ``yelling, loud music, and light control.''

There has been some speculation in the media about whether Gen. Sanchez's actions in Iraq will stand in the way of his promotion and fourth star. But involvement in the prisoner abuse scandal is hardly a career-ending event in this administration. Alberto Gonzales, the central figure in formulating the administration's interrogation and detention policies, was promoted to Attorney General. Former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, author of the deeply flawed and now-repudiated ``torture memo,'' received a lifetime appointment to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Defense Department General Counsel William J. Haynes insisted that the Pentagon Working Group use the Bybee torture memo, rather than the Geneva Conventions, as the legal foundation for interrogation techniques; he has been nominated to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Former CIA Director George Tenet authorized the ``extraordinary rendition'' of detainees to countries where they were reported to have been tortured; he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Secretary Rumsfeld personally approved objectionable interrogation techniques and admitted to hiding >detainees from the International Committee of the Red Cross; he is one of the few cabinet members asked to remain in the second Bush term.

JayC,

Thanks for the link. So it's not going to be eleven years, but maybe 30 months or less. Still, compare that with Sanchez who, horror of horrors, might not get his fourth star. Or might anyway, despite his actions and his lies to Congress.

The handling of the torture scandal has been as disgraceful as the scandal itself.

Anarch,

It's strange to feel sorry for her and still want her put away for a very long time.>

Not strange. I feel the same way, though I might leave out the word "very."

Bye bye, italics.


(Italics begone!)

I've felt all along that the appropriate response is to penalize those who carried out the illegal orders to commit torture: but to penalize more severely those who gave the orders, and those who - without ever giving a direct order to commit torture - were responsible for the unit in which such orders could be given and carried out.

To argue that it shows "accountability" that officers at senior levels have been cleared is utter mirror-universe nonsense.

Macallan, please respond to the specific evidence raised by Kyle and Katherine that the Inspector General's report is a whitewash of at least Gen. Sanchez' responsibility.

Macallen, I would also like to ask, do you really believe that an assurance of "no torture" from a government like that of Syria is worthy of anything but contempt?

[ack, my typing is wrose and wores. Sorry, Macallan.]

Katherine, thanks very much for the excerpt of Sen. Leahy's speech. What was the context?

Macallan, you have about five more hours to respond before the crickets and tumbleweeds come into play...

Which hundred days did you give him? Surely it wasn't the last 100 days?

Sebastian: Surely it wasn't the last 100 days?

Why not? The last 100 days were the first 100 days of Bush's second term, Jan 20th to Apr 30th. Why shouldn't Edward judge Bush by them?

(I mean, I think Edward could have judged Bush by his behavior throughout his first term, but you would doubtless disagree, even at this stage.)

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