George W. Bush

This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT)

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A photo of a desperate young Palestinian boy, badly wounded and screaming for his father as he clutches at the shirt of a paramedic in a hospital, has captured the tragic and bloody tension of the Gazan conflict.


Shirtless and with cuts to his face, torso, arms and legs, the child clings to the hospital worker who is attempting to lay him flat on a girdle.

The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian publication, reports the photo, taken at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, was captioned with the boy’s desperate cry: ‘I want my father, bring me my father’, according to Fairfax.


The Palestinian paper claims the young boy was one of four siblings brought to the hospital wounded, two of them just three years old.



It comes as grinning Israeli tank commanders were pictured flashing the victory signs as they blast their way through Gaza in the bloodiest day of the offensive so far – as one resident of the troubled region said: ‘The gate of hell has opened.’


At least 65 people have been killed since this yesterday’s dawn strike on Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood – including the son, daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren of a senior Hamas leader.


Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier – a scenario that has proven to be fraught with difficulties for the country in the past – but Israel’s U.N. Ambassador has denied the claims.


The neighbourhood has come under heavy tank fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas, causing hundreds of residents to flee.

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The dead and wounded – including dozens of women and children – have reportedly been left in streets, with ambulances unable to approach.


Source: (July 21, 2014)

Here are excerpts of the remarks by President Barack Obama and former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.


I’ll be very brief. And I’ll be limiting my comments just to the things that I know personally that have been important for me and for George W. Bush.

[At the inauguration in 2001] George and Laura afterwards came up and thanked us for coming.

And so I — he said, now, if there’s anything I can ever do for you, let me know — which was a mistake he made. I said, Mr. President, the Carter Center has programs in 35 countries in the world, and the worst problem now is the war going on between North and South Sudan. And millions of people have been killed. And I’d like for you to help us have a peace agreement there. And in a weak moment, he said, I’ll do it. And I said, when can I meet your secretary of state and your national security adviser? He said, well, I haven’t even chosen them yet, but give us three weeks.

President Jimmy Carter

Associated Press
Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, arrive for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

So three weeks later, I came up and met with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, and President Bush kept his promise. … And in January of 2005, there was a peace treaty between North and South Sudan that ended a war that had been going for 21 years. George W. Bush is responsible for that.

And that was the first of his great contributions to the countries in Africa.

President Bill Clinton

Associated Press
Former President George W. Bush, left, shakes hands with former President William J. Clinton . (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

I — you know, starting with my work with President George H.W. Bush on the tsunami and the aftermath of Katrina, people began to joke that I was getting so close to the Bush family, I had become the black sheep son. My mother told me not to talk too long today and Barbara, I will not let you down.

…There is one other connection I have that I think is largely unknown, which is that a couple of times a year in his second term, George Bush would call me just to talk politics. And a chill went up and down my spine when Laura said that all their records were digitized. Dear God, I hope there’s no record of those conversations in this vast and beautiful building.

I probably shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to anyway. Your mother showed me some of your landscapes and animal paintings, and I thought they were great. Really great. And I seriously considered calling you and asking you to do a portrait of me —  until I saw the results of your sister’s hacked emails. Those bathroom sketches are wonderful, but at my age, I think I should keep my suit.

President Obama

Associated Press
President Barack Obama speaks during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

When all the living former Presidents are together, it’s also a special day for our democracy. We’ve been called “the world’s most exclusive club” — and we do have a pretty nice clubhouse. But the truth is, our club is more like a support group. The last time we all got together was just before I took office. And I needed that. Because as each of these leaders will tell you, no matter how much you may think you’re ready to assume the office of the presidency, it’s impossible to truly understand the nature of the job until it’s yours, until you’re sitting at that desk.

The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George, and one that demonstrated his compassion and generosity. For he knew that I would come to learn what he had learned — that being President, above all, is a humbling job. There are moments where you make mistakes. There are times where you wish you could turn back the clock. And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best.

And what President Clinton said is absolutely true — to know the man is to like the man, because he’s comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is. He doesn’t put on any pretenses. He takes his job seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is a good man.

But we also know something about George Bush the leader. As we walk through this library, obviously we’re reminded of the incredible strength and resolve that came through that bullhorn as he stood amid the rubble and the ruins of Ground Zero, promising to deliver justice to those who had sought to destroy our way of life.

Seven years ago, President Bush restarted an important conversation by speaking with the American people about our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And even though comprehensive immigration reform has taken a little longer than any of us expected, I am hopeful that this year, with the help of Speaker Boehner and some of the senators and members of Congress who are here today, that we bring it home — for our families, and our economy, and our security, and for this incredible country that we love. And if we do that, it will be in large part thanks to the hard work of President George W. Bush.

President George W. Bush

Associated Press
Former President George W. Bush, wipes a tear after his speech during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Dallas. Left is President George H.W. Bush. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Thank you all. Please be seated. Oh, happy days. I want to thank you all for coming. Laura and I are thrilled to have so many friends — I mean, a lot of friends here to celebrate this special day. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t likely to be found at a library, much less found one. …

The political winds blow left and right. Polls rise and fall. Supporters come and go. But in the end, leaders are defined by the convictions they hold.

And my deepest conviction, the guiding principle of the administration, is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom. I believe that freedom is a gift from God and the hope of every human heart. Freedom inspired our founders and preserved our union through civil war and secured the promise of civil rights.

Freedom sustains dissidents bound by chains, believers huddled in underground churches and voters who risk their lives to cast their ballots. Freedom unleashes creativity, rewards innovation and replaces poverty with prosperity. And ultimately, freedom lights the path to peace.

Ultimately, the success of a nation depends on the character of its citizens. As president, I had the privilege to see that character up close. I saw it in the first responders who charged up the stairs into the flames to save people’s lives from burning towers. I saw it in the Virginia Tech professor who barricaded his classroom door with his body until his students escaped to safety. I saw it in the people of New Orleans that made homemade boats to rescue their neighbors from the floods, saw it in the service members who laid down their lives to keep our country safe and to make other nations free.

I dedicate this library with an unshakable faith in the future of our country. It was the honor of a lifetime to lead a country as brave and as noble as the United States. Whatever challenges come before us, I will always believe our nation’s best days lie ahead. God bless….


Source: The White House, Federal News Service (

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher.


Washington increased military benefits in late 2001 as the nation went to war, seeking to quickly bolster its talent pool and expand its ranks. Those decisions and the protracted nation-building efforts launched in both countries will generate expenses for years to come, Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report that was released Thursday.


“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,”the report says. “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.”


Bilmes said the United States has spent almost $2 trillion already for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those costs, she said, are only a fraction of the ultimate price tag. The biggest ongoing expense will be providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of the two conflicts.

“Historically, the bill for these costs has come due many decades later,” the report says, noting that the peak disbursement of disability payments for America’s warriors in the last century came decades after the conflicts ended. “Payments to Vietnam and first Gulf War veterans are still climbing.”

U.S. Marines carry injured colleague to a helicopter near Falluja.

Spending borrowed money to pay for the wars has also made them more expensive, the study noted. The conflicts have added $2 trillion to America’s debt, representing roughly 20 percent of the debt incurred between 2001 and 2012.

Bilmes’s estimate provides a higher range than another authoritative study on the same issue by Brown University’s Eisenhower Research Project. Brown researchers put the price tag at roughly $4 trillion.

Both figures are dramatically higher than what U.S. officials projected they would spend when they were planning to go to war in Iraq. Stephen Friedman, a senior White House official, left government in 2002 after irking his colleagues by publicly estimating that the Iraq war could end up costing up to $200 billion.


It’s unclear how long Washington will keep paying bills for that conflict, which dragged on for nearly a decade and became deeply unpopular at home and in Iraq. Judging from history, it could take quite awhile. The Associated Press recently found that the federal government is still cutting checks each month to relatives of Civil War veterans nearly 150 years after the end of that war.


By Ernesto Londoño, March 28, 2013

Repressive Arab regimes and their ideologies fuelled bin Laden and his supporters, and his death should wake them up.

Osama bin Laden is a product of Wahhabi teachings [GALLO/GETTY]
Osama bin Laden’s death in his Pakistani hiding place is like the removal of a tumour from the Muslim world. But aggressive follow-up therapy will be required to prevent the remaining al-Qaeda cells from metastasising by acquiring more adherents who believe in violence to achieve the ‘purification’ and empowerment of Islam.

Fortunately, bin Laden’s death comes at the very moment when much of the Islamic world is being convulsed by the treatment that bin Laden’s brand of fanaticism requires: the Arab Spring, with its demands for democratic empowerment (and the absence of demands, at least so far, for the type of Islamic rule that al-Qaeda sought to impose).

But can the nascent democracies being built in Egypt and Tunisia, and sought in Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere, see off the threats posed by Islamic extremists? In particular, can it defeat the Salafi/Wahhabi thought that has long nurtured Osama bin Laden and his ilk, and which remains the professed and protected ideology of Saudi Arabia?

The fact is that before the US operation to kill bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s symbolic head, the emerging democratic Arab revolutions had already, in just a few short months, done as much to marginalise and weaken his terrorist movement in the Islamic world as the war on terror had achieved in a decade. Those revolutions, whatever their ultimate outcome, have exposed the philosophy and behaviour of bin Laden and his followers as not only illegitimate and inhumane, but actually inept at achieving better conditions for ordinary Muslims.

What millions of Arabs were saying as they stood united in peaceful protest was that their way of achieving Arab and Islamic dignity is far less costly in human terms. More importantly, their way will ultimately achieve the type of dignity that people really want, as opposed to the unending wars of terror to rebuild the caliphate that Bin Laden promised.

After all, the protesters of the Arab Spring did not need to use – and abuse – Islam to achieve their ends. They did not wait for God to change their condition, but took the initiative by peacefully confronting their oppressors. The Arab revolutions mark the emergence of a pluralist, post-Islamist banner for the faithful. Indeed, the only people to introduce religion into the protests have been rulers, such as those in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, who have tried to use fear of the Shia or Sunni “other” to continue to divide and misrule their societies.

Bin Laden’s era

Now that the US has eradicated bin Laden’s physical presence, it needs to stop delaying the rest of the therapeutic process. For the US has been selectively – and short-sightedly – irradiating only parts of the cancer that al-Qaeda represents, while leaving the malignant growth of Saudi Wahabism and Salafism untouched. Indeed, despite the decade of the West’s war on terror, and Saudi Arabia’s longer-term alliance with the US, the Kingdom’s Wahhabi religious establishment has continued to bankroll Islamic extremist ideologies around the world.

Bin Laden, born, raised, and educated in Saudi Arabia, is a product of this pervasive ideology. He was no religious innovator; he was a product of Wahhabism, and later was exported by the Wahhabi regime as a jihadist.

During the 1980’s, Saudi Arabia spent $75 bn for the propagation of Wahhabism, funding schools, mosques, and charities throughout the Islamic world, from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Yemen, Algeria, and beyond. The Saudis continued such programs after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and even after they discovered that “the Call” is uncontrollable, owing to the technologies of globalisation. Not surprisingly, the creation of a transnational Islamic political movement, boosted by thousands of underground jihadi websites, has blown back into the Kingdom.

Like the hijackers of 9/11, who were also Saudi/Wahhabi ideological exports (15 of the 19 men who carried out those terror attacks were chosen by bin Laden because they shared the same Saudi descent and education as he), Saudi Arabia’s reserve army of potential terrorists remains, because the Wahhabi factory of fanatical ideas remains intact.

So the real battle has not been with bin Laden, but with that Saudi state-supported ideology factory. Bin Laden merely reflected the entrenched violence of the Kingdom’s official ideology.

Bin Laden’s eradication may strip some dictators, from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi to Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, of the main justification they have used for their decades of repression. But the US knows perfectly well that al-Qaeda is an enemy of convenience for Saleh and other American allies in the region, and that in many cases, terrorism has been used as a pretext to repress reform. Indeed, now the US is encouraging repression of the Arab Spring in Yemen and Bahrain, where official security forces routinely kill peaceful protesters calling for democracy and human rights.

Al-Qaeda and democracy cannot coexist. Indeed, bin Laden’s death should open the international community’s eyes to the source of his movement: repressive Arab regimes and their extremist ideologies. Otherwise, his example will continue to haunt the world.

Mai Yamani’s most recent book is Cradle of Islam.

A version of this article first appeared on Project Syndicate.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera /05 May 2011

CIA interrogators threatened an al Qaeda prisoner with a gun and an electric drill to try to scare him into giving up information, according to a long-concealed inspector-general’s report due to be made public on Monday, sources familiar with the report confirmed to CNN.
Attorney General Eric Holder is considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate a CIA interrogation program.

The gun and drill were used in two separate interrogation sessions against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, one of the sources said. Al-Nashiri is accused of plotting the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, which left 17 U.S. sailors dead.

The sources did not want to be identified because the report, completed by the CIA’s inspector general in 2004, has not yet been made public. A federal judge in New York has ordered a redacted version of the report released Monday as part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

The interrogations took place in the CIA’s secret prisons before 2006, when then-President George W. Bush moved all detainees from such facilities to the federal prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, both sources said. Watch why ACLU says tactics are ‘illegal’ »

Details of the report were first published by Newsweek magazine late Friday.

Newsweek also said that, according to its sources citing the inspector-general’s report, interrogators staged mock executions to try to frighten detainees into talking. In one instance, Newsweek reported, a gun was fired in a room next to one terrorism suspect so he would think another prisoner was being killed.

A CIA spokesman would not talk about specifics of the inspector-general’s report but said all the incidents described in it have been reviewed by government prosecutors.

“The CIA in no way endorsed behavior — no matter how infrequent — that went beyond formal guidance. This has all been looked at; professionals in the Department of Justice decided if and when to pursue prosecution. That’s how the system was supposed to work, and that’s how it did work,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said.

One of the sources, a former intelligence official who is familiar with the report, said that while the report “reaffirmed” the interrogation program, it “also showed some had strayed off center.”

The official said about a dozen cases of potential misconduct by interrogators were referred to the Justice Department. Of those, only one person was prosecuted, the official said, with the rest being referred to the CIA accountability board, an internal disciplinary board. Two people resigned rather than face the CIA board, the official said.

This official said that when CIA leadership found out about the drill incident, they were “angry as hell.” The official called it “nickel-and-dime foolishness” that was not tolerated. The individual who used the drill was pulled from the program and “sharply reprimanded,” the official said.

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, released a statement Sunday saying, “Leaked portions of the CIA Inspector General’s report offer more proof that government officials committed serious crimes while interrogating prisoners. So-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ like mock executions and threatening prisoners with guns and power drills are not only reprehensible but illegal.”

In anticipation of the release of the report Monday, Romero added, “Releasing the report with minimal redactions is essential to knowing what crimes were committed and who was involved.”

The release of the inspector-general’s report comes as Attorney General Eric Holder is considering whether to appoint a prosecutor to investigate the CIA interrogation program, begun by the Bush administration after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

* WASHINGTON (CNN) –August 2009


As torture chronicler extraordinaire Mark Danner has pointed out, one of the great paradoxes of the torture scandal “is that it is not about things we didn’t know but about things we did know and did nothing about.”

It was, for instance, in December 2002 that Dana Priest and Barton Gellman first reported on the front page of the Washington Post that American interrogators were subjecting detainees to “stress and duress” techniques. James Risen, David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis first told the world about waterboarding in May 2004.
But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us are as guilty as the people who committed the crimes — or that those who ordered those crimes should avoid accountability.

Jacob Weisberg now joins Michael Kinsley, however, in arguing that the nation’s collective guilt for torture is so great that prosecution is a cop-out. Kinsley, as I noted on Friday, wrote: “If you’re going to punish people for condoning torture, you’d better include the American citizenry itself…Prosecuting a few former government officials for their role in putting our country into the torture business would not serve justice or historical memory. It would just let the real culprits off the hook.”
And here is Weisberg, writing in Newsweek: “By 2003, if you didn’t understand that the United States was inflicting torture upon those deemed enemy combatants, you weren’t paying much attention. This is part of what makes applying a criminal-justice model to those most directly responsible such a bad idea. The issue we need to come to terms with is not just who in the Bush administration did what, but our collective complicity in their decision….Prosecuting Bush and his men won’t absolve the rest of us for what we let them do.”


There are two big problems with this argument, however. While it’s true that the public’s outrage over torture has been a long time coming, one reason for that is the media’s sporadic and listless coverage of the issue. Yes, there were some extraordinary examples of investigative reporting we can point to, but other news outlets generally didn’t pick up these exclusives. Nobody set up a torture beat, to hammer away daily at what history I think will show was one of the major stories of the decade. Heck, as Weisberg himself points out, some of his colleagues were actually cheerleaders for torture. By failing to return to the story again and again — with palpable outrage — I think the media actually normalized torture. We had an obligation to shout this story from the rooftops, day and night. But instead we lulled the public into complacency.

Secondly, while it’s certainly worth exploring why any number of people were either actively or passively complicit in our torture regime — and I’m all for some national self-flagellation here — that has nothing to do with whether senior administration officials willfully broke the law, and whether they should be held accountable. It doesn’t change the law.

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald has repeatedly marveled at the Washington elite’s nearly lockstep opposition to criminal prosecutions. Here he is last month: “The very same pundits and establishment journalists who today are demanding that we forget all about it, not look back, not hold anyone accountable, are the very same people who…played key roles in hiding, enabling and defending these crimes. In light of that, what is less surprising than the fact that, almost unanimously, these very same people oppose any efforts to examine what happened and impose accountability?”
And here he is in January: “Now added to the pantheon of ‘liberal’ dogma is the shrill, ideological belief that high government officials must abide by our laws and should be treated like any other citizen when they break them….Apparently, one can attain the glorious status of being a moderate, a centrist, a high-minded independent only if one believes that high political officials (and our most powerful industries, such as the telecoms) should be able to break numerous laws (i.e.: commit felonies), openly admit that they’ve done so, and then be immunized from all consequences. That’s how our ideological spectrum is now defined.”

Meanwhile, Philip Gourevitch writes for the New Yorker about who, exactly, has been held accountable thus far: “It was exactly five years ago that some of the photographs that Charles Graner and his comrades took at Abu Ghraib were aired on CBS’s ‘Sixty Minutes’ and published in this magazine. At that time, the Administration claimed that [Corporal Charles A. Graner, Jr., the military-police officer in charge of the night shift] was the mastermind of the abuse represented in the photographs, and that they showed nothing more than the depravity of a group of rogue soldiers who had fallen under his sway.

Yet it became almost immediately apparent—and has been confirmed repeatedly in the years since, most recently with President Obama’s decision to release four Bush Administration memorandums seeking to establish a legal justification for the use of torture—that the Abu Ghraib photographs showed not individuals run amok but American policy in action.”

Graner remains in prison, serving ten years. “His superior officers enjoy their freedom, and C.I.A. interrogators, who spent years committing far worse acts against prisoners than Graner did even in the darkest days at Abu Ghraib, have been assured immunity.
“But, if full justice remains impossible, surely some injustices can be corrected. Whenever crimes of state are adjudicated—at Nuremberg or The Hague, Phnom Penh or Kigali—the principle of command responsibility, whereby the leaders who give the orders are held to a higher standard of accountability than the foot soldiers who follow, pertains. There can be no restoration of the national honor if we continue to scapegoat those who took the fall for an Administration—and for us all.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy writes in a Boston Globe op-ed about the recently released “torture memos”: “This was not an ‘abstract legal theory,’ or ‘hypothetical,’ as Alberto Gonzales dismissively described in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. These were specific techniques, authorized by high-ranking US government officials and used on real people. We have prosecuted people for these kinds of acts against Americans, and condemned other nations for sanctioning these methods….

“The apparent predetermined outcome of these legal memos raises the question of where the demand for this outcome and for approving these policies arose. Press accounts indicate that these were not the results of requests from CIA officers on the ground and in the field, but arose through pressure from senior administration officials in Washington….

“I still believe my proposal for a Commission of Inquiry remains the best way to move forward with a comprehensive, nonpartisan, independent review of what happened. Torture was and is against the law. Condoning it puts the men and women who bravely serve in our own armed forces at risk. It disregards the values that make this country great. Torture is illegal, immoral, and wrong. That is why Obama ended these practices.
“Let us reaffirm our guiding principles as a nation by joining together to come to a shared understanding of what happened and why. The risk of failing to learn from our mistakes is that they will be repeated.”

I wrote on Friday (also see Harper’s blogger Scott Horton) about a video in which former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice seemingly restated President Nixon’s view that if the president does it, it’s not illegal. “[B]y definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture,” she said, after being questioned by Stanford University students.

Alec MacGillis writes in The Washington Post about Rice trying to explain her torture decisions yesterday — to a fourth-grader. And afterward, Rice was pressed to clarify her remarks by an Al Jazeera television crew.
This time, Rice said: “Let me be very clear: The president said he would not authorize anything that was illegal. It was not legal because he authorized it; it was because he said he would do nothing illegal and the justice department and the attorney general said that it was legal.”

Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, writing in the New York Times, take us back to Bush’s issuance in June 2003 of the standard proclamation to mark the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
“The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment,” the proclamation said.
Not surprisingly, the CIA freaked.

* Source’s  Text: Washington Post (May, 2009)


But that’s just the top to a long article — full of anonymous sources — chronicling how the “consensus of top administration officials about the C.I.A. interrogation program, which they had approved without debate or dissent in 2002, began to fall apart.”
They write: “The real trouble began on May 7, 2004, the day the C.I.A. inspector general, John L. Helgerson, completed a devastating report. In thousands of pages, it challenged the legality of some interrogation methods, found that interrogators were exceeding the rules imposed by the Justice Department and questioned the effectiveness of the entire program.”
But even after 2006, “Mr. Cheney and top C.I.A. officials fought to revive the program. Steven G. Bradbury, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and author of the recently declassified 2005 memorandums authorizing harsh C.I.A interrogations, began drafting another memorandum in late 2006 to restore legal approval for harsh interrogation.”

And: “When Mr. Bush finally reauthorized C.I.A. interrogations with an executive order in July 2007…forced nudity was banned, and guidelines for sleep deprivation were tighter….But Mr. Cheney and his allies secured other victories. The executive order preserved the secret jails and authorized a laundry list of coercive methods.”
Peter Finn and Carrie Johnson write in The Washington Post that the recently resolved case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri “suggests that as the government pushes forward with plans to prosecute detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it may again have to accept lesser sentences for those who were subjected to physical and psychological abuse.”

Bush had Marri “swept out of federal court and into a U.S. Navy brig so he could be interrogated without the legal protections afforded by the criminal justice system.”
But: “By removing Marri from the courts in June 2003, the Bush administration effectively sacrificed the ability of prosecutors to throw the book at Marri when he was returned to the system, military and legal experts say.”


They also write: “The fear that some Guantanamo cases are not prosecutable in federal court has sharpened debate within the Obama administration about the need to maintain military commissions, in which the rules of evidence are less stringent, according to sources involved in the discussions.”
Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball write for Newsweek that “a Justice Department special counsel is quietly ratcheting up his probe into… the CIA’s destruction of hundreds of hours of videotape showing the waterboarding of two high-value Qaeda suspects.”

And Deepak Chopra writes in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed: “This is one of those moments when painful truth is the only way to heal.
“People don’t want to hear about bad things from the past when the present is loaded down with more than enough bad things. But inconvenience and fatigue aren’t good excuses. There is anger from the left — and not just the left — about an inexcusable Bush policy. There are demons in the closet, and shutting the door on them won’t make them go away. Better to deal with it now, when a new president’s idealism is still fresh. It will take idealism to face the torture issue. Otherwise, any truth commission will either turn into a vengeance squad or go the other way and sweep too much under the rug.



Though the president’s decision to expose but not prosecute those responsible for torture is surely unsatisfying, it is the best solution for right now.

Editors’ Selections NYTimes aim to highlight the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views:


I have to say that I’m rather disappointed in this latest column by Friedman. While the point that moving forward on a prosecution would ultimately lead to targeting the highest members of the Bush administration and provide irreparable damage to our country’s internal stability is quite valid, he loses me is in his attempts to extend an olive branch to the judgment of the previous administration in their handling of so-called “enhanced interrogation.”

Pointing out that Al Qaeda is a legitimate threat that poses unique challenges to our national security is a disingenuous attempt at moderation that seems to deliberately hide from what’s really outrageous about the situation at hand. That the Bush administration approved torture is minutia when one examines the laws that were broken and the responsibility that was shirked in doing so. Whether or not torture should be allowed is a legitimate debate, however there is no debating that the Bush administration came down on the riskiest side of the debate but boorishly declined to understand implicit complexity of their own decision. Furthermore when this incompetence was exposed, the administration attempted to save itself from leadership initiative by underhanded tactics such as passing the buck to our soldiers.

I usually applaud Friedman’s moderate and practical stance on most issues, however much of his attempt at moderation in this piece is mostly accomplished by addressing minutia rather than the larger issue. That Obama made the correct decision in withholding prosecution is a legitimate position, however extending an olive branch to the Bush administration’s conduct in light of the unique military challenges with which we’re faced is not. Let’s be honest, the real issue behind this hypothetical prosecution isn’t a debate about interrogation tactics; it’s a commitment to punish criminal negligence in an overinflated executive branch that repeatedly backed risky decisions by falling terribly short on providing the leadership needed to execute them properly.

— SH, Troy NY


You ought to review article 2.2 of the U.N. Convention Against Torture, to which the U.S. became a State Party in 1998 under Ronald Reagan. It’s quite clear on this point:

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The circumstances most certainly include the political fallout that would be engendered by the prosecution of senior members of the Bush administration for torture. And while you claim that bringing Rumsfeld and Bush to trial “would rip our country apart,” I’d argue that they already *have* ripped our country apart. Not just our country, either, but the Constitution, the rule of law, and our moral standing in the world.

Essentially, your argument is that Bushy, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Bybee, Yoo, etc. are “too big to fail”. If some average Joe imprisoned somebody in his basement, chained them from the ceiling, kept them awake for 11 days straight, and waterboarded them 183 times you would doubtless be shocked and outraged and wouldn’t question for a moment the need for prosecution. Mr. Friedman, with all due respect, do you really think that the laws in this country ought only to apply to ordinary citizens, and not politicians?

History will not treat us kindly if we choose to look the other way for the sake of political expediency.
— Jacob Park, San Francisco

Isn’t about time we retired the hoary argument that Al Qaeda is an exceptionally ruthless movement that cannot be controlled except by using the most brutal of methods? Haven’t there been religious fanatics and martyrs throughout human history? And Israel, of course, has been dealing with suicide bombers for decades. Have their agressive methods of addressing that threat really worked?

Governments and their apologists always claim in time of war that the opponent is uniquely evil and is capable of wreaking havoc unlike any the world has ever known. Why do we keep falling for this tired propaganda? The laws against torture and abuse of prisoners were not put in place to stop crimes against people we like, but to stop interrogators from misusing their power to harm people we despise. Physical and mental abuse is both counterproductive and damaging to victim and torturer alike. The question is not how much we hate and fear someone, the question is what the right and effective thing to do is when we have someone in custody we believe to be dangerous. Do we give ourselves permission to commit crimes we claim to abhor when they are perpetrated by others?

At best, officials of the last administration can claim temporary insanity in defense of their decision to torture prisoners. But there is nothing temporary about that insanity–they are still openly proclaiming their defiance of the law. Or has Dick Cheney apologized recently and I just didn’t hear about it?

And that is where the real problem comes in: the Bush administration violated both domestic and international laws before the eyes of the world, not once in a moment of carelessness, but as part of a systematic and deliberate strategy that could easily be reactivated the next time the U.S. feels “threatened.”

What is Barack Obama, who has sworn to uphold the laws of the United States, going to do to make sure that doesn’t happen?
— Miriam Hils, Berlin, Germany


A “unique enemy?” The US never officially embraced torture when it fought the Nazis. Give me a break. There is no excuse for what we did during the Bush administration. It makes me ashamed.
— rkreier, Port Jefferson, NY

Unconvincing. We wonder how Germany managed to rise to a major global economic power and a vibrant democracy after being “torn apart” by the Nuremburg trials.
Take note: Those who argued against the pursuit Nazi war criminals such as Eichmann and Barbie used arguments not unlike Mr. Friedman’s; i.e., it would be better to move on, and of course the classic, You have to understand how things WERE back then!
— MarkWoldin, Navarra, Spain

Mr. Friedman,
You might also wish to check out The Detainee Project, which has portraits of some of the thousands of innocent Iraqis who were detained, tortured, and then released without charge (

Would you dare tell them to their faces that the crimes they suffered should not be investigated because to do so would be politically inconvenient?

The torture went *far* beyond the small number of prisoners at Guantanamo whom we’re told were confirmed terrorists. (Claims that any thinking person would take with a whole mountain of salt.)
— Jacob Park, San Francisco

It’s very disturbing to read an article like Friedman’s in a widely respected newspaper like the New York Times promoting torture and describing America’s right to torture and kill as its leaders see fit lifted out of Orwell’s Animal Farm .And this is what is supposed to be the leader of the free world?! As a Saudi woman with many hurdles ahead before we as Saudi women are treated fairly, found our part of the world far more humane than Thomas Friedman’s world.
— fadia basrawi, beirut, lebanon


As a veteran I feel this is an embarrassing time for the United States. By condoning torture we have become worse than them. By playing semantics with definitions of “prisoners of conflicts” we undermined any civility we have as a nation of laws and threatened the citizen soldiers/servants we ask to defend and protect us. Investigate,Prosecute, you bet.
Throw them in jail, no.
Confiscate all their blood money,retirements and make them greeters at Wal-marts for a little humility. Oh, that might be a little too demeaning.
— Dale R., Macomb, Mich.

Mr Friedman, I agree that prosecutions would tear the country apart and I wouldn’t look forward to them. I also agree that al-Qaeda is a unique enemy, though certainly not invincible. And suicide strikes are nothing new. The Viet Cong used them. They didn’t use car bombs, but the attacks they staged during the Tet Offensive were suicidal, for all intents and purposes. And what about the kamikaze pilots in WW II? Today’s suicide pilots and bombers haven’t broken as much new ground as people tell themselves.

But that was the mindset in the first days and weeks after 9/11. “This is a whole new ball-game!” a friend of mine insisted. But that was a bad analogy, as ball-games have many rules, and the “new” ball-game being proposed on the country’s behalf had none. President Bush was in a hurry to wrap up the war on terrorism on HIS “watch”, and his hurry-up offense, paying no mind to the rules, stalled at mid-field.

I don’t want to see prosecutions, but the people calling for them are not to be faulted for supporting high ideals. They apparently believe that the rules apply under all circumstances, and perhaps especially in the extremes. I’m reminded of some relevant lines from the film “Citizen Cohn”, from a scene in which father and son wrangle over the ideal of abiding by principles and doing “what is right.”

The son responds: “What’s ‘right’ changes every five minutes in this town.”

And the father answers: “What is right NEVER changes.”
— Basil Marasco, Jr., Rochester, NY


Humbug and chazerei. All this dancing around one simple notion: The President (or ex-President) is above the law, because treating him as a responsible citizen would “tear the country apart.” And therefore the VP, Atty-Gen, Bybee, Yoo, are also above the law. Glad we got that clear: Now we can burn the Declaration of Independence and apologize to george II.

What’s more, we can rip out of Good Friday “looking backward” to remember the torture of Jesus by the Roman Empire, and rip out of Yom Kippur the memory of ten great rabbis tortured to death by the Roman Empire. After all, that’s what Empires do, and charging the Emperor with crimes would tear the Empire apart.

Translation of Friedman: Empires need to use torture; charging the Emperor with crimes will tear apart not America the democratic republic but the American Empire.

That is true.

Shalom, Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The Shalom Center
— Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Philadelphia

Evil is evil, Mr. Friedman — and a country is generally defined by how it engages and disables it. There is nothing “new” about this enemy. What’s new is the United States of America is now practicing evil in retaliation.
— Sue Robbins, Panama, Republic of Panama


People like Tom Friedman disgust me they have been preaching that Osama uses dirty tricks yet when dirty tricks are done by The israelis and the American he justifies it with Poker face. IS the law only for the muslim countries and that they should abide by that. If the rapes murder and war crimes are committed by the West and their cronies State Of Israel it is looked the other way who is responsible for the 27 Homicides commited agains the helpless prisoners. Sudan should be held responsible for less Human deaths then deaths that have been infliceted on IRAQ a million plus. Solobodan Milosovic is ent to trial for less couple of thousand dead to HAgue Trial. Where is the International Court now or it just designed to convict Non Powerful members of the world since Elites like Friedman are claiming look the other way. Oligarch is in full bloom. Tom Firedman is lower then the terrorists.
— khalid, nj, usa



I don’t know where most of these commenters spend their time, but I eat lunch every day in a manufacturing plant in Ohio. The majority of the people here support torture of suspected terrorists. Don’t kid yourself. I’ve had this debate and found myself in the minority. Prosecuting the torturers will rip this country apart far worse than Watergate, because most people agreed that what Nixon did was wrong, but a majority of Americans will have grave misgivings about prosecuting American soldiers and spies who tortured suspected terrorists while trying to defend their country. This will be more akin to calling the cops on your brother because you think he might be abusing his kids. Thanksgiving dinner will be awkward.

Now I don’t agree with Friedman, and I think we should prosecute. But to do so would require the full support of the Obama administration and congress, which will lose substantial support, especially in those swing states that secured him the presidency, like Ohio and Virginia. It will embolden the critics of his domestic policies. It could mean the end of substantial health care reform and carbon emission reduction. Indirectly it could extend the recession by tying the administration’s hands. It is the single best way for the Democrats to hand the presidency back to the Republicans, and maybe congress too.

Now I’m OK with defeating those domestic initiatives, as I’m not a big supporter anyway. I also think that condoning torture will hurt this country far more than Al Quaeda ever will, or global warming. But there will be a big price to pay, especially when we suffer our next terrorist attack. Is prosecuting the torturers important enough to risk losing Obama in 2012 and most of his domestic initatives? I think that’s the question Obama is asking himself (Friedman too). And that’s why he won’t prosecute. But he should.
— Tom, Ohio


* Source: “A Torturous Compromise” Text by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
(NYT, April 29, 2009)













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The headline numbers in the employment report for November were worse than dreadful — and they did not reflect the true extent of the weak and worsening outlook for American jobs.

Employers axed 533,000 jobs last month, the worst monthly loss since December 1974, bringing the number of lost jobs in the last year to 1.9 million. Worse, two-thirds of the losses were in the past three months, a sign of an intensifying downturn and of more job cuts ahead.
The unemployment rate for November — which rose to 6.7 percent, or 10.3 million people — also understates the weakness in the job market.
Job loss in a recession is related to the number of jobs created while the economy was expanding. Job creation during the Bush-era business cycle was the weakest since the end of World War II, so there are simply not as many workers to lay off as in past downturns. Instead, workers’ hours have been cut, sharply increasing the number of people working part time who want full-time jobs. Involuntary part-timers and out-of-work people who are discouraged from job hunting because their prospects are dim are measured in the underemployment rate, which at 12.5 percent is now the highest since the government started keeping track in 1994.
Joblessness and the threat of joblessness will depress already dismal consumer spending, which in turn will depress business investment, leading to higher unemployment. Rising unemployment will also fuel more foreclosures, which will further destabilize the financial system and reinforce economic weakness.
One in 10 borrowers in America were either delinquent or in foreclosure in the third quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, a stunning tally that does not even reflect the drag of rising unemployment in October and November. Unemployment among 25- to 34-year-olds, which includes most first-time homebuyers, is rising fast. Yet, rather than attack foreclosures directly, the Bush administration’s latest economic rescue proposal is to try to spur home buying by reducing mortgage rates. Good luck.

The political reality is that any serious response to unemployment and foreclosures will probably not occur until the Obama administration takes over. Members of Congress should be working now on another round of economic stimulus, consisting of bolstered unemployment compensation and food stamps and aid to states and localities, including money for creating jobs by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. An anti-foreclosure plan to rework troubled mortgages en masse is long overdue and should also be passed, either as part of the stimulus or as a stand-alone measure.

Beyond stimulus, President-elect Barack Obama will need a larger recovery plan that puts employment, rising wages and savings at the center of the agenda. The selection of a strong labor secretary, whose input will be as valued as that of Mr. Obama’s Wall-Street-oriented economic advisers, is crucial. The work force needs a champion who has the president’s full attention.

* EDITORIAL NYT, December 7, 2008

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