The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
MOBILE, Ala. — Where oh where is Jeb Bush and what is his position on the torture ordered by his brother?
As the media across the world continues to cover the story about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report just out on the Bush administration’s CIA torture program, there’s no word from the likely Republican front runner on what he thinks of the report or calls for his brother’s prosecution for war crimes.
The Senate report concluded that the CIA misled Congress and the public about its torture of detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks and acted more brutally and pervasively than it acknowledged, according to Reuters and other news organizations, bringing calls from critics for prosecution American officials, including former President George W. Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney, who were heavily involved at the top of the United States government in advocating for water-boarding and other questionable techniques.
The Senate staff reviewed 6.3 million pages of CIA documents for its report and concluded that the intelligence agency failed to disrupt a single plot against America, despite torturing al Qaeda and other captives in secret facilities around the world between 2002 and 2006, when George W. Bush was president.
Civil rights advocates are calling for accountability, but chances are slim that a former president of the United States will ever be prosecuted for his role in illegal torture.
The U.N.’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said the report revealed a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration” and called for prosecution of U.S. officials.
“Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of the officials responsible, torture will remain a ‘policy option’ for future presidents,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch in New York.
The report tells us what we have already known for years, that some captives were deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, at times with their hands shackled above their heads, and documents many cases of simulated drowning or “water-boarding,” along with sexual abuse of prisoners.
After releasing the report, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein said on the Senate floor that the techniques in some cases amounted to “torture” and that “the CIA’s actions, a decade ago, are a stain on our values, and on our history.”
She is right about that. We should acknowledge the mistakes and vow “never again.”
But instead of coming clean and showing remorse, the CIA’s public relations arm immediately went into disaster response mode, dismissing the findings and claiming again that its interrogations secured valuable information.
Many Republicans criticized the decision by Democratic lawmakers to release the report, saying it would put Americans at risk, and of course they were supported by Fox News and talk radio, which downplayed the entire affair.
Despite the calls for accountability, there seemed little prospect of criminal prosecutions of those who implemented the program, or measures to hold politicians who authorized it accountable, according to Reuters, quoting an unnamed law enforcement official who said the U.S. Justice Department had no plans to conduct any investigation of the CIA’s actions. It is being reported that the department conducted a criminal investigation into about 20 cases in which CIA operatives abused detainees, but that investigation was apparently closed down without any charges being filed.
President Barack Obama said he was more interested in focusing on the future than reopening “a dark and contentious period from the country’s recent past,” and took the position that the best thing for the country and the future was to admit the mistake publicly and move on.
Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney, and other Bush administration officials, have often defended the so-called “harsh interrogation” program as justified. But very few specific examples of halting plots and catching terrorists have ever been cited.
Bush ended many aspects of the program before leaving office, and President Obama swiftly banned “enhanced interrogation techniques” after his 2009 inauguration. In his memoirs, Bush admits being briefed on the program.
Republican Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam in the 1960s, said Americans were entitled to the truth about the program and its disclosure that such methods were ineffective.
But no one has asked Jeb Bush yet what he thinks.
According to the New York Daily News, Jeb Bush is actively running for president while publicly saying he has not yet made up his mind whether to run. I guess it’s about time to start watching old Jeb’s itinerary. If the mainstream media won’t ask, I guess it will be up to the alternative, independent Web Press.
© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.