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Far Beyond Torture: The Long, Dark History of an Imperial Factotum

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The intrepid David Swanson digs up another damning memo written by that eager factotum of evil, Jay Bybee. This particular sinister scribbling did not involve the brutal torture of gulag captives, however. No, in this case, Jay had much bigger fish to fry for his masters: the murder of more than a million people in a Hitlerian act of military agresson. As Swanson notes:

Jay Bybee wrote another memo that nobody has noticed, one purporting to authorize crimes far worse than torture, the same crimes the torture was itself intended to create false justifications for. On October 23, 2002, Assistant Attorney General Bybee signed a 48-page memo to the "counsel to the president" (Alberto Gonzales) titled "Authority of the President Under Domestic and International Law to Use Military Force Against Iraq." This was another secret law, but instead of authorizing particular uses of torture (which in reality were far exceeded, engaged in prior to the memos, etc.), this one authorized any president to single-handedly commit what Nuremberg called "the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

After noting how the Bush Regime brazenly shredded even this tiny legal fig leaf -- which purported to restrict the atack to a "proportionate" action sufficient only to remove the "threat" of Iraq's non-existent WMD program -- Swanson notes the sickening results:

The result was guaranteed to be massive death, no matter how "proportional" to the nonexistent threat. But the permission was also guaranteed to be wildly exceeded by anybody's definition. The result has been 1.2 - 1.3 million deaths according to Just Foreign Policy's updated figure based on the Johns Hopkins / Lancet report, and according to the British polling company Opinion Research Business's estimate as of August 2007.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Iraqis who have fled their homes has reached 4.7 million. If these estimates are accurate, a total of nearly 6 million human beings have been displaced from their homes or killed. Many times that many have certainly been injured, traumatized, impoverished, and deprived of clean water and other basic needs, including the need to have parents.

And what has accumulated in the evil of the whole? The current occupation of Iraq has seen the United States target civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances; use antipersonnel weapons including cluster bombs in densely settled urban areas; use white phosphorous as a weapon; use depleted uranium weapons; employ a new version of napalm found in Mark 77 firebombs; engage in collective punishment of Iraqi civilian populations; including by blocking roads, cutting electricity and water, destroying fuel stations, planting bombs in farm fields, demolishing houses, and plowing down orchards; detain people without charge or legal process without the rights of prisoners of war; imprison children; torture; and murder.

Swanson has much more to say on the pernicious implications and outcomes of the Bybee memo, so by all means scoot on over to Counterpunch and read the whole thing.

II.
But we might also note that the recent controversy surrounding Bybee -- who is evidently
going to escape censure for his complicity in war crimes, thanks to the infinite compassion and understanding that Barack Obama displays towards torturers and mass murderers -- has obscured the fact that the good judge has a long history in the backroom greasing of dirty deals.


Bybee played a key role in the still-murky moves by which the first President Bush deep-sixed any meaningful investigation into the workings of one of the largest, most extensive criminal organizations in history: BCCI, the "Bank of Credit and Commercial International," a supposed financial group that a U.S. Senate investigation called "one of the largest criminal enterprises in history."

I have written on this subject many times over the years; below are some excerpts from a piece that summarized much of that research: "
The Bomb in the Shadows." [See the original for links.]

BCCI was a prime vehicle for clandestine nuclear proliferation, among many other illegal activities, and was also used by the CIA and the White House for various covert operations, including secret military and financial support for Saddam Hussein. It also paid numerous grandees of the Democratic and Republican parties to front its operations – and gave George W. Bush $25 million to rescue one of his many business failures.

Although BCCI as a "bank" eventually failed, spectacularly, costing its unsuspecting customers more than $10 billion, almost no one was punished for its myriad crimes, and the full extent of the organization's activities continue to be shielded by the many national governments that became entangled in its operations, including the United States and Great Britain...

The details of BCCI's origins and activities – and its bipartisan corruption of American politics – can be found in the 1992 Senate report of its investigation [led by John Kerry], which is available in full at the website of the Federation of American Scientists.  It is a long report, but repays reading. The extent of the criminality and moral corruption it documents is truly mind-boggling. Below is a very brief précis of the Senate's findings.

BCCI was founded by Pakistan tycoon Agha Hasan Abedi, who used what Senate investigators called his "extraordinary personal charisma" to charm his way into friendships with the world's global elite, including U.S. President Jimmy Carter and, more crucially for the operation's development, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, the illiterate ruler of Abu Dhabi, who had been installed as leader of the oil-rich state in 1966, after the British engineered a coup against his brother. Abedi became in effect the personal manager of Sheik Zayed's money – and the vast wealth of Abu Dhabi – which he used to fund the creation of BCCI.

As described by the Senate, BCCI's organization set-up sounds remarkably like the one set up later by Bush Family paymaster Ken Lay with his Enron Corporation:

"BCCI was from its earliest days made up of multiplying layers of entities, related to one another through an impenetrable series of holding companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, banks-within-banks, insider dealings and nominee relationships. By fracturing corporate structure, record keeping, regulatory review, and audits, the complex BCCI family of entities created by Abedi was able to evade ordinary legal restrictions on the movement of capital and goods as a matter of daily practice and routine. In creating BCCI as a vehicle fundamentally free of government control, Abedi developed in BCCI an ideal mechanism for facilitating illicit activity by others, including such activity by officials of many of the governments whose laws BCCI was breaking."

And what were the illicit activities that BCCI facilitated for its entangled crime gangs and government agents? The Senate reports:

"BCCI's criminality included fraud by BCCI and BCCI customers involving billions of dollars; money laundering in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas; BCCI's bribery of officials in most of those locations; support of terrorism, arms trafficking, and the sale of nuclear technologies; management of prostitution; the commission and facilitation of income tax evasion, smuggling, and illegal immigration; illicit purchases of banks and real estate; and a panoply of financial crimes limited only by the imagination of its officers and customers."

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Chris Floyd is an American journalist. His work has appeared in print and online in venues all over the world, including The Nation, Counterpunch, Columbia Journalism Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Il Manifesto, the Moscow Times and many (more...)
 
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We've seen the results of this sort of nepotis... by Jennifer Hathaway on Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 1:41:47 PM
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