Last week, ABC News revealed that in the aftermath of 9/11, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Colin Powell, and George Tenet held dozens of top-secret meetings in the White House. On the agenda for these meetings? Planning, in vivid and gruesome detail, exactly how to torture people—and how many times. These top-level Bush Regime officials approved techniques including waterboarding, physical abuse, and sleep deprivation. According to the report, former CIA director Tenet proposed combining these torture methods in a single interrogation, and Cheney personally gave him the thumbs up.
Later, in 2004, after the Justice Department had ostensibly rescinded one of its infamous torture memos, Tenet again asked for permission to torture. According to ABC News, Condoleeza Rice responded, “This is your baby. Go do it.”
Finally, are you ready for this? George W. Bush knew about and approved these torture meetings. How do we know? Because Bush told us himself, last Friday, when he spoke to ABC News: “And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved," Bush said.
This unbelievably damning piece of evidence has thus far been almost completely ignored by the rest of the mainstream media, just like another unbelievably damning piece of evidence: A Feb 7, 2002 memo written by Bush in which he personally rules the Geneva Conventions do not apply to al-Qaeda and the Taliban (see Ray McGovern’s recent article).
Regarding the secret White House meetings, the Associated Press reported Thursday that Bush Regime officials were careful to give the president plausible deniability: “The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.”
Apparently, Bush’s arrogance has mushroomed to the point where he no longer even feels the need for such deniability. He is now announcing his war criminality to the world.
So there you have it, in broad daylight—the Bush Regime directly, and meticulously planned torture. Even some sections of the mainstream media are now acknowledging that the implementation of torture—a clear war crime under international and domestic law— goes all the way up to the President of the United States.
Hey, America: Can we all please agree to make a big deal out of this?
Can we make a pact to let our anger override our despair? Is it too much to ask for us to make sure that everyone we know is aware that Dick Cheney is confirmed to have ordered the drowning, beating, and psychological torment of human beings, and that George Bush has admitted to approving the meetings where this was planned? And while we’re at it, can we finally come together to raise the demand for Bush, Cheney, and the whole crew to be driven from office and prosecuted for war crimes?
Endless List of Crimes Against Humanity
The list of crimes against humanity and impeachable offenses committed by the Bush Regime is so long, and expands so rapidly, that it is often hard to keep track of. But let’s say that the only thing you knew about this government was that it ordered torture to be carried out.
That’s not outrageous enough to inspire you to resist? Seriously?
Some progressives, including those already actively resisting the Bush Regime, may greet this news with a sarcastic “Big surprise. We already knew that.” Well, whether we already knew it is not the point. The point is that massive sections of American society are ignorant—whether willfully or not—of the crimes their government is committing. And far too many of those who are not ignorant are pretending to be—perhaps because their personal responsibility in the face of these crimes is an uncomfortable reality to face, and perhaps because they feel the absence of a mass independent movement of resistance reinforcing them if they do speak out.
The louder and more persistently we call out Bush, Cheney, and the gang for being the war criminals they so clearly are, the fewer Americans will remain ignorant or complicit, and the more who will feel inspired and compelled to act.
Reacting to last week’s reports that Cheney, Rice, and other top Bush officials planned torture, Senator Ted Kennedy observed, in chilling fashion: “Who would have thought that in the United States of America in the 21st century, the top officials of the executive branch would routinely gather in the White House to approve torture?" What is equally astonishing is that with the exception of ABC News and the AP, the mainstream media has basically ignored this story. As of April 14, the New York Times apparently didn’t consider news that the Vice-President of the United States authorized torture—or that the President himself approved the torture meetings— as “fit to print.” And CNN’s Web site didn’t carry the story either, although apparently there was space, time, and resources available for the site to report on Britney Spears getting in a minor car accident.
Shout It From the Rooftops
However, while the silence of CNN, The Times, and other major news outlets is an appalling reminder of the complicity of our nation’s media in war crimes, this is no excuse for we, the American people, to join in this complicity. We must, as the saying goes, “shout from the rooftops” that our nation is being ruled by war criminals, and not cease until these criminals are brought to justice. The good news is that, while its crimes are certainly premeditated and planned with precision, the Bush Regime also ranks as one of the sloppier criminal enterprises in world history. In its mammoth crime of systematic torture ordered from top levels of government, the regime has left behind mountains of evidence.
It has gotten to the point where this government may as well convene a press conference with top officials holding a giant sign reading: “YES, WE ARE WAR CRIMINALS!”