If CIA torture was morally defensible, why was it kept a secret from President Bush?

George W. Bush is not entirely faultless in the CIA torture scandal, but neither is he as culpable as other officials in his administration. More to the point, Bush and the American public in general have a right to ask in retrospect why the CIA torture regimen was kept a secret from him. If there was nothing immoral or illegal about the program, why wasn’t the commander-in-chief told about it? THIS was the situation: President George W. Bush was never briefed by the Central Intelligence Agency on the details of harsh interrogation techniques and secret detention of terror suspects for the first four years of its controversial program, and when he did find out the details, he was “uncomfortable” with some of the practices, according to a long-awaited report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The 500-page declassified executive summary of the majority staff’s 6,700-page investigation into CIA rendition, detention and interrogation practices after Sept. 11 states that despite agency efforts to keep the Bush administration informed about the program, top White House officials repeatedly resisted having the CIA brief cabinet-level figures about the details, and CIA officials were not permitted to brief Bush directly until mid-2006, more than four years after the president signed a broad executive order authorizing the program, according to Senate Democratic aides who briefed reporters ahead of today’s release. When Bush finally heard the details of the harsh interrogation techniques that were used against CIA detainees, he was “uncomfortable” with some of them and expressed dismay that some detainees were required to remain in stress positions for long amounts of time, to the point that they had no choice but to soil themselves, the aides...

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Suddenly, it’s time to revisit our collection of priceless Bushisms

The release of the Senate committee report on torture has brought the presidency of George W. Bush back into the national spotlight. To mark the occasion, I’ve dredged up a few of the man’s more memorable comments: “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” “Our most abundant energy source is coal. We have enough coal to last for 250 years, yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge.” “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on _ shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” “There’s no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail.” “They misunderestimated the compassion of our country. I think they misunderestimated the will and determination of the commander in chief, too.” “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” “Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” “We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job.” “I can’t wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbors back into neighborhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs.” “It was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship. After all, 60 years we were at war 60 years ago we were at war.” “This thaw — took a while to thaw, it’s going to take a while to unthaw.”    ...

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ACLU chief: Obama should pardon Bush and others involved in illegal torture

Whether conservatives like it or not, certain brutal methods of interrogation by U.S. intelligence operatives are violations of American law and could result in criminal prosecutions. With that in mind, Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, SAYS President Obama should issue pardons to George W. Bush and others who might be liable for involvement in illegal acts of torture: Before President George W. Bush left office, a group of conservatives lobbied the White House to grant pardons to the officials who had planned and authorized the United States torture program. My organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, found the proposal repugnant. Along with eight other human rights groups, we sent a letter to Mr. Bush arguing that granting pardons would undermine the rule of law and prevent Americans from learning what had been done in their names. But with the impending release of the report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I have come to think that President Obama should issue pardons, after all — because it may be the only way to establish, once and for all, that torture is illegal.  ...

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Remember the right-wing mantra against criticizing the president in a time of war?

During the years when America conducted shooting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under George W. Bush, the leading voices of the political right generally deemed any criticisms of the commander-in-chief as unpatriotic if not treasonous. The talking heads on Fox News Channel and other elements of the right-wing noise machine said knocks on Bush undermined the morale of our troops and emboldened our enemies. But, of course, that was then, and THIS is...

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Obama’s rate of vacation days is now barely one-third that of Bush’s

In a thinly-veiled effort to portray Barack Obama as a lazy black man, the right-wing noise machine is obsessed with the president’s vacations. The truth of the matter, however, doesn’t fit the caricature, as we see HERE: Just how many vacations has Obama taken since January 2009? How does he compare to his two-term predecessor, George W. Bush? The authoritative figures come from CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller. Knoller has meticulously chronicled presidential data since 1996 with an attention to detail that has made successive White Houses regard his figures as more reliable than their own…  As of August 12, 2014, Obama has taken 20 “vacations” lasting 2 to 15 days. He has spent all or part of 129 days on “vacation.” And the president has made 33 visits to the official Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, totaling all or part of 84 days… Obama’s morning round of golf on Tuesday brought his total since January 2009 to 186, with 22 of them on Martha’s Vineyard. At this point in George W. Bush’s presidency, he had taken 58 trips to his Prairie Chapel ranch near Crawford, Texas, for all or part of 381 days. (Bush also frequently used the property to host world leaders). Bush had also spent all or part of 26 days at his family’s oceanside compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, over the course of seven trips there. And the former Texas governor had been to Camp David 108 times for a total of all or part of 341 days....

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