Take the Cannoli

“In the past, presidents set up buffers to distance themselves from covert action,” said A. John Radsan, assistant general counsel at the CIA from 2002 to 2004. “But this president, who is breaking down the boundaries between covert action and conventional war, seems to relish the secret findings and the dirty details of operations.”

It’s sooo much fun pretending to be president. Oh, wait …

The paragraph above is from an article by Dana Priest in today’s Washington Post, “Covert CIA Program Withstands New Furor: Anti-Terror Effort Continues to Grow.” Priest describes a CIA program called “GTS,” which has “grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War.”

GST includes programs allowing the CIA to capture al Qaeda suspects with help from foreign intelligence services, to maintain secret prisons abroad, to use interrogation techniques that some lawyers say violate international treaties, and to maintain a fleet of aircraft to move detainees around the globe. Other compartments within GST give the CIA enhanced ability to mine international financial records and eavesdrop on suspects anywhere in the world.

Over the past two years, as aspects of this umbrella effort have burst into public view, the revelations have prompted protests and official investigations in countries that work with the United States, as well as condemnation by international human rights activists and criticism by members of Congress.

Still, virtually all the programs continue to operate largely as they were set up, according to current and former officials. These sources say Bush’s personal commitment to maintaining the GST program and his belief in its legality have been key to resisting any pressure to change course.

Covert torture programs are even more fun than executions! Our president seems to relish the secret findings and the dirty details of operations! No buffers! But you know what this means? This means …

No plausible deniability.


Priest continues,

The administration contends it is still acting in self-defense after the Sept. 11 attacks, that the battlefield is worldwide, and that everything it has approved is consistent with the demands made by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001, when it passed a resolution authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks.”

“Everything is done in the name of self-defense, so they can do anything because nothing is forbidden in the war powers act,” said one official who was briefed on the CIA’s original cover program and who is skeptical of its legal underpinnings. “It’s an amazing legal justification that allows them to do anything,” said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues.

Extreme times call for extreme lawyering:

“The Bush administration did not seek a broad debate on whether commander-in-chief powers can trump international conventions and domestic statutes in our struggle against terrorism,” said Radsan,[*] the former CIA lawyer, who is a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn. “They could have separated the big question from classified details to operations and had an open debate. Instead, an inner circle of lawyers and advisers worked around the dissenters in the administration and one-upped each other with extreme arguments.”

* A. John Radsan, assistant general counsel at the CIA from 2002 to 2004.

One way the White House limited debate over its program was to virtually shut out Congress during the early years. Congress, for its part, raised only weak and sporadic protests. The administration sometimes refused to give the committees charged with overseeing intelligence agencies the details they requested. It also cut the number of members of Congress routinely briefed on these matters, usually to four members — the chairmen and ranking Democratic members of the House and Senate intelligence panels.

So, the CIA has been free to develop new procedures, such as:

The CIA has stuck with its overall approaches, defending and in some cases refining them. The agency is working to establish procedures in the event a prisoner dies in custody. One proposal circulating among mid-level officers calls for rushing in a CIA pathologist to perform an autopsy and then quickly burning the body, according to two sources.

Nasty stuff. But Bush has forgotten the Michael Corleone buffer rule, as explained in Godfather II:

Senator Pat Geary: Mr. Cici, was there always a buffer involved?
Willi Cici: A what?
Senator Pat Geary: A buffer. Someone in between you and your possible superiors who passed on to you the actual order to kill someone.
Willi Cici: Oh yeah, a buffer. The family had a lot of buffers!

This will make the eventual prosecution at The Hague soooo much easier.

10 thoughts on “Take the Cannoli

  1. I wanted to live long enough to learn who Deep Throat. Now, that I know that, my new goal is to live long enough to see Bush tried at The Hague for crimes against humanity.

  2. Does anyone know the real reasons we invaded Iraq?

    The WMD issue is bullshit on its face, given that Blix had made two reports stating compliance and no WMD to the UN in the weeks before Bush wrote Congress saying the only way to protect us from Iraq was to invade.

    As for protecting Saddam, Amnesty International wrote prior to the invasion: ” Once again, the human rights record of a country is used selectively to legitimize military actions.”

    USA/Iraq : Not in the name of human rights


    Finally, a lot of people before the invasion and since have raised security for Israel as a reason we went to war. Even Fox News has repeatedly stated that Saddam supported terrorism by giving financial aid to the families of suicide bombers.

    On the one hand I have trouble believing that the Israelis weren’t smart enough to realize that invading Iraq was going to be a disaster, probably resulting in a civil war, a break up into 2 or 3 smaller states, Shiites with close ties to Iraq, instability and possibly war between Turkey and the Kurds, and Sunni Arab anger at the dispossession of Sunni Arabs.

    Is that what Ariel Sharon and the Israeli right wing believes is in Israel’s best interests? It’s not like they weren’t aware of these likelihoods, as Juan Cole and others were writing about this from the beginning.

    And I really doubt that we invaded without some serious conversations with Mr. Sharon. He had to sign off on this, or the pro-Israeli lobby in the U.S. would have been howling.

    So I’m left with the final impression that either Sharon stupidly agreed to a disastrous policy, or he believes that instability in the Middle East favors Israel (whose ex-commandos are training Kurds, btw).

  3. How I wish I believed… but there’s no way Bush will face war crimes prosecution. Is there? Somebody give me a scenario. (Ah, Louise Arbour, do we ever need you now!)

    I always felt there was more than a little twitchy-eyed Michael Corleone “You tried to kill my pop, now you have to die” in Bush’s true reasons for invading Iraq. That much I can visualize. Ick.

  4. I doubt it was to “revenge” his pop since he doesn’t seem to respect him.

    I doubt if he will ever see the inside of the Hague, but censure and impeachment should definitely be in his future. Please.

  5. Bush’s real reason for invading Iraq was, IMHO, nothing more than a campaign tool to win the next election (since he knew he never won the first one). The man has no soul or humanity; thus, the loss of life is unimportant to him. People thought Pinochet would never be held accountable. Maybe we will luck out and he will be turned over to The Hague by some humanitarian government..

  6. Bonnie gets most of it, but there are a couple of missing pieces.

    Iraq was never about Iraq. It was an allegory and a dress rehearsal. The Iraqi people are neither beneficiaries nor victims. They are not even spectators: they are scenery. That is the real moral horror of Iraq. That is also why the loss of Iraqi lives does not trouble Mr. Bush: they weren’t really “lives” to begin with.

    …AND NEITHER ARE WE. Never lose sight of the fact that the end game is civil war here in America.

    Totalitarianism is always and everywhere the same. Historians make two mistakes: they focus on the local differences between totalitarian regimes, and they focus on the charismatic leaders. But the differences are never significant, and the leaders are nonce figureheads who originate nothing.

    Here is how totalitarianism goes. The order in which things happen is extremely important and usually misconceived.

    First you decide to kill people.

    Then you decide WHICH people to kill, AFTER deciding to kill SOMEBODY: Jews, kulaks, niggers, faggots, liberals, whatever.

    Then you decide WHY to kill them, AFTER deciding whom to kill. This is where the pseudo-philosophies come in.

    Then you decide which Church or Party to join to move you closer to the opportunity to do the killing. The Church or the Party probably has a charismatic leader figure, but he is merely the penguin droppings on the tip of the iceberg.

  7. Very interesting, Frank. Where do you place the Coulters, Limbaughs, Faux News, etc., in this scenario. Are they part of the Church/Party to assist in the killing? And, for those of us who do not want to kill any one, how do we stop the killing without starting a civil war?

  8. They are part of the Party propaganda machine. There is always a propaganda machine and sometimes two, because there may be either a mass propaganda or an elite propaganda or both, according as the Party seeks to motivate mass action or elite action or both. In our case I think it is both.

    The civil war cannot be prevented. Once you have promised people that you will place them above the law, they cannot be stood down. The end game will play out precisely as it did in Rwanda, through mass action, neighbor against neighbor.

  9. All hail George Bush.. the first born of creation who has broken the bonds of accountibility. Every knee shall bow and tongue confess that George is the supreme Commander -in-Chief.

    WOW…In theory, Bush and his minions have destroyed the concept of America. And Lincoln so foolishly prophesied that a government of the people,by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Comments are closed.