I’ve often wondered, is George W. Bush really as dumb as he seems, or could he, behind the scenes, have figured out — eventually — that his vice president had hijacked his presidency. Assuming for the moment that he did figure out, maybe around mid-to-late 2003, by which time the case for the Iraq war had completely fallen apart, and during the summer of which, Robert Novak had completed the leak of a CIA officer’s name, something that originated inside the vice president’s office, too. There is some evidence to suggest that not only did Dubya figure out what was up, but he also took steps to correct it:
- Bush fought fiercely for a second term, deploying Karl Rove (who by the way has now admitted that the Bush administration conducted torture…) to do anything to win.
- After he won (or stole Ohio, whichever historic read you prefer) he ejected the entire neocon fraternity from his administration — including, eventually, Don Rumsfeld.
The one person he couldn’t get rid of, or didn’t try to, was Dick Cheney, who had gone to war with the CIA over Iraq (an agency Bush’s father once held,) and authorized the Plame leak, something that went against Bush Sr.’s strongest admonitions when it came to undercover personnel. So could Bush, in his second term, have been seeking to repair the presidency he had allowed his vice president to destroy? Maybe. And then there’s this: Bush and Cheney are no longer on speaking terms, according to news reports, and Bush does indeed blame Cheney for what went wrong with his reign (he should blame himself more — Katrina wasn’t Cheney’s fault, and the economi catastrophe was a shared responsibility…) Bush also refused to pardon Scooter “the CIA agent outer” Libby, despite Cheney’s strenuous insistance. And now, Cheney is out there on his own, defending the Bush administration’s torture program as if it was … well, the Cheney administration torture program. Which brings me to a post in today’s Daily Beast:
Robert Windrem, who covered terrorism for NBC, reports exclusively in The Daily Beast that:
*Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.
*The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, tells The Daily Beast that he considered the request reprehensible.
*Much of the information in the report of the 9/11 Commission was provided through more than 30 sessions of torture of detainees.
At the end of April 2003, not long after the fall of Baghdad, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi who Bush White House officials suspected might provide information of a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi was the head of the M-14 section of Mukhabarat, one of Saddam’s secret police organizations. His responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups.
Two senior U.S. intelligence officials at the time tell The Daily Beast that the suggestion to waterboard an Iraqi prisoner came from the Office of Vice President Cheney.
“To those who wanted or suspected a relationship, he would have been a guy who would know, so [White House officials] had particular interest,” Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraqi Survey Group and the man in charge of interrogations of Iraqi officials, told me. So much so that the officials, according to Duelfer, inquired how the interrogation was proceeding.
Could GWB be keeping so very quiet, because he knows that if prosecutions for torture do occur, Cheney will be on the hook more than he? Perhaps that’s why this past weekend, Cheney tried to tie Bush to the torture program, claiming Bush “signed off on it…”
Meanwhile, the CIA today turned down Cheney’s request to selectively declassify documents he insists will clear him … or, he never asked. Either way he’s not getting any memos. (BTW, which guy do you think would get more CIA cover if bad things went down in the A.G.’s office, former son of a CIA director Bush, or Dick “Deferrments” Cheney?” Just asking. BTW, the American Conservative’s Philip Geraldi makes a very good point about those still classified memos, about which he was briefed by someone who has seen them; he writes this:
… The memos were drafted for the White House to demonstrate the success of the enhanced interrogation program and were not intended to look at the downside of the procedure, which means they provide only a very selective and uncritical overview. They were written by the CIA staff tasked with carrying out the interrogations which inevitably had a vested interest in making the program appear to be both effective and legal. Other Agency components, including its Inspector General’s office, opposed the program for various reasons, including its failure to produce any genuine intelligence, so there was hardly any consensus even inside the CIA on the procedure and effectiveness.
The memos cite several leads developed from the interrogations which may or may not have led to the thwarting of terrorist plots, but they make no attempt to critique the interrogation process itself to determine if the information might have been obtained more conventionally. None of the interrogations of “high value suspects” related to a “smoking gun scenario” where a detainee knew details of an imminent terrorist attack, meaning that the waterboarding was carried out even when there was no pressing need to use that technique. The memos also did not address the issue of the numerous false leads and bogus information derived from confessions under torture that made the entire process questionable. [emphasis added]
TIME Magazine also wondered why the once-reclusive Dick is so chatty these days, and concluded as follows:
Cheney is “trying to rewrite history,” says a Republican consultant who has experience in intelligence matters. “He knows that as time goes by, he will look worse. And so he’s trying to put his stroke on it.”
And you know what? I’ll bet George W. Bush knows that, too.