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Criminal World 

By Chris Floyd

02/03/05 "Moscow Times"
-- Another day, another accomplice in the construction of the Bush Regime's torture chambers revealed. Nothing new there; the perp walk of top Bushists colluding in torture could stretch a mile. But the remarkable thing about the latest case is that it exposes an even greater depth of official criminality than hitherto suspected -- no mean feat, given the rap sheet of this crew.

The new man on the hot seat is Judge Michael Chertoff, nominated to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Chertoff was hip-deep in creating -- and covering up -- the infamous White House "torture memos": carefully detailed guidelines from the desk of President George W. Bush that instigated a global system of documented torture, rape and murder.

Before Bush elevated him to the federal bench, Chertoff headed the Justice Department's criminal division, where he was frequently consulted by the CIA and the White House on ways to weasel around the very clear U.S. laws against torture, The New York Times reports. Bush and his legal staff, then headed by Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales, were openly concerned with "avoiding prosecution for war crimes" under some future administration that might lack the Bushists' finely nuanced view of ramming phosphorous lightsticks up a kidnapped detainee's rectum, or other enlightened methods employed in the administration's crusade to defend civilization from barbarity. 

Throughout 2002 and 2003, the CIA sent Chertoff urgent questions asking whether various "interrogation protocols" could get their agents sent to the hoosegow. The questions themselves are revelatory of the tainted mindset at CIA headquarters -- officially known as the George H.W. Bush Center for Intelligence. Beyond methods we already know were used -- such as "water-boarding" and "rendering" detainees to foreign torturers -- the Bush Center boys sought legal cover for such additional refinements as "death threats against family members" and "mind-altering drugs or psychological procedures designed to profoundly disrupt a detainee's personality." 

However, the Justice Department could only offer advice; final approval of interrogation techniques -- including the Bush Center's requests -- rested solely with the Bush White House. As one senior intelligence official told The New York Times: "Nothing that was done was not explicitly authorized" by the Oval Office. Thus the chain of responsibility is clearly established for the reams of evidence on torture, rape and murder in the Bush gulag -- cases documented by the FBI and the Pentagon's own investigators, as well as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, the Red Crescent, Human Rights Watch and others.

But Chertoff's involvement in Bush's chamber of horrors goes beyond an advisory capacity. He was also instrumental in the earliest cover-up of Bush's torture system: the trial of John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban" captured in Afghanistan, the Nation reports. In June 2002, Lindh was due to testify about the methods used to extract his confession of terrorist collusion: days of beating, drugging, denial of medical treatment, and other abuses. These were of course standard procedures used -- by presidential order -- from the very beginning of the "war on terror." To stop Lindh from exposing this wide-ranging criminal regimen, Chertoff, overseeing the prosecution, suddenly offered Lindh a deal: The feds would drop all the most serious charges in exchange for a lighter sentence -- and a gag order preventing Lindh from telling anyone about his brutal treatment. Lindh, facing life imprisonment or execution, took the deal. Once again, Bush skirts were kept clean. And the torture system was kept safe for its expansion into Iraq, where thousands of innocent people fell into its maw.

This memo was crafted by Jay Bybee, a long-time Bush Family factotum who originally served as White House aide to George Bush Senior. There, Bybee played a key role in quashing the investigation into BNL, the shady bank used by George I to send millions of secret dollars to Saddam Hussein for weapons purchases, including WMD materials supplied by Bush-backed arms merchants. When the scandal broke, Bush I appointed lawyers from these same arms dealers to top Justice Department posts, where they supervised the "investigation" into their former companies. Meanwhile, Bybee pressured local prosecutors to restrict their probe of the bank's dirty dealings to -- you guessed it -- a few low-ranking "bad apples." Once again, Bush skirts were kept clean -- while Bush blood money kept flowing to Saddam. For his faithful family services, Bybee, like Chertoff, was made a federal judge by Bush II. 

The Bush-Bybee torture authorization was in force until January 2005, when it was ostentatiously replaced by a somewhat broader definition of torture just before Gonzales' confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate. But another Bybee-penned memo, detailing specific, Bush-approved "coercive methods," remains classified. Is it still in force? Nobody knows.

In any event, the Bushists' PR shuffle on torture is meaningless. Gonzales has already declared to the Senate that interrogators in the CIA's secret gulag aren't bound by the new "restrictions" anyway. What's more, he's also asserted -- again openly, to the Senate -- that Bush has the right to break any law or restriction he pleases "while acting in his capacity as commander-in-chief." Thus whatever the Leader orders -- even torture and murder -- cannot be a crime.

This is no hypothetical case, as Gonzales pretended to the Senate. In a series of executive orders beginning in October 2001, Bush has declared his peremptory right to capture, imprison, indefinitely detain or even assassinate anyone in the world whom he arbitrarily and secretly designates an "enemy" -- without any legal process at all, the Washington Post reports. Thousands of such "enemies" have been plunged into the CIA's unrestricted prisons, The Guardian reports; and as Bush himself bragged in his 2003 State of the Union speech, "many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem." They were simply killed, in secret, at Bush's order.

This is thug law, a death-cult of blood and domination -- the true religion of the Bushists and their mirror-image crimelords in al-Qaida.

Annotations

Chertoff and Torture
The Nation, Feb. 3, 2005

Bush Security Nominee Gave Advice to CIA on Torture
New York Times, Jan. 29, 2004

Gonzales Excludes CIA from Rules on Prisoners
New York Times, Jan. 20, 2005

Alberto Gonzales' Tortured Arguments for Reigning Above the Law
LA Weekly, Jan. 14-20, 2005

Torture Treaty Doesn't Bar `Cruel, Inhuman' Tactics, Gonzales Says
Knight-Ridder, Jan. 26, 2005

The Secret World of US Jails
The Observer, June 13, 2004

The Torture Memos: A Legal Narrative
CounterPunch, Feb. 2, 2005

President Delivers State of the Union
The White House, Jan. 28, 2003

White House Fought New Curbs on Interrogations, Officials Say
New York Times, Jan. 13, 2005

A U.S. License to Kill
Village Voice, Feb. 21, 2003

Lawyers Decided Torture Bans Didn't Bind Bush
New York Times, June 8, 2004

CIA Takes on Major Military Role: 'We're Killing People!'
Boston Globe, Jan. 20, 2002

Special Ops Get OK to Initiate Its Own Missions
Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2003

CIA Weighs 'Targeted Killing' Missions
Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2001

The Emergence of the Homeland Security State
TomDispatch, Jan. 29, 2005

The Emergence of the Homeland Security State, Part II
TomDispatch, Jan. 31, 2005

Fresh Horrors at Guantanamo
Inter Press Service, Jan. 11, 2005

My Nightmare of Torture and Assault
The Independent, Jan. 30, 2005

The War Party's Atrocity Porn
The New American, 24 January 2005

Rumsfeld Knew: Iraq Prison Abuse Part of Pentagon Black Ops Program
Democracy Now, May 17, 2004

Bush Team Knew of Abuse at Guantanamo
The Guardian, Sept. 13, 2004

Memo Regarding Presidential Executive Order on Interrogations
Federal Bureau of Investigation, May 22, 2004

Records Released in Response to Torture FOIA Request
American Civil Liberties Union, Dec. 20, 2004

New Papers Suggest Detainee Abuse was Widespread
Washington Post, Dec. 21, 2004

President Authorized Interrogation
Washington Times, Dec. 20, 2004

Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002

US Can Target American Al-Qaida Agents
Associated Press, Dec. 3, 2002

2001 Memo Reveals Push for Broader Presidential Powers
Newsweek, Dec. 18, 2004
Copyright: Moscow Times

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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