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"A Constitutional Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, Coverups in the Iraq War, and Illegal Domestic Surveillance."
Introduction by Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
Scandals such as Watergate and Iran-Contra are widely considered to be constitutional crises. They were in the sense that the executive branch was acting in violation of the law and in tension with the Majority Party in the Congress. But the system of checks and balances put in place by the founding fathers worked, the abuses were investigated, and actions were taken – even if presidential pardons ultimately prevented a full measure of justice.
The situation we find ourselves in today under the administration of George W. Bush is systemically different. The alleged acts of wrongdoing my staff has documented– which include making misleading statements about the decision to go to war; manipulating intelligence; facilitating and countenancing torture; using classified information to out a CIA agent; and violating federal surveillance and privacy laws – are quite serious. However, the current Majority Party has shown little inclination to engage in basic oversight, let alone question the Administration directly. The media, though showing some signs of aggressiveness as of late, is increasingly concentrated and all too often unwilling to risk the enmity or legal challenge from the party in charge. At the same time, unlike previous threats to civil liberties posed by the Civil War (suspension of habeas corpus and eviction of the Jews from portions of the Southern States); World War I (anti-immigrant “Palmer Raids”); World War II (internment of Japanese Americans); and the Vietnam War (COINTELPRO); the risks to our citizens’ rights today are potentially more grave, as the war on terror has no specific end point.
By August 2002, the so-called White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was formed as a coordinating center to convince the public of the need for the Iraq war. The group met weekly in the White House Situation Room. Among its participants were Karl Rove; Karen Hughes; Mary Matalin; James R. Wilkinson; legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio; Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley; and Scooter Libby.  According to The Washington Post, the escalation of nuclear rhetoric a year ago, including the introduction of the term “mushroom cloud” into the debate, coincided with the formation of a White House Iraq Group.  It was reportedly created to persuade the public, the Congress and allies of the need to invade Iraq. 
Early September was a critical period in the WHIG’s existence. It was on September 6 that The New York Times reported that Andrew Card explained the reason for delaying the roll-out of their pro-war campaign: From a marketing point of view ... you don’t introduce new products in August. It is quite telling that he referred to their Iraq war initiative as a product. Another senior Administration official made the following admission when asked why our nation really went to war: As it was, the administration took what looked like the path of least resistance in making its public case for the war: WMD and intelligence links with Al Qaeda. If the public read too much into those links and thought Saddam had a hand in September 11, so much the better.
But . . . the more detailed version of the NIE was hardly stronger. In fact, it revealed for the first time, in the very first paragraph right after the sentence that if left unchecked, [Iraq] probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade the fact that the State Department’s intelligence arm, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), had an alternative view of the matter.
The more detailed, classified NIE also included the State and Energy Departments dissents about the intended use of aluminum tubes. Both agencies had concluded that the tubes were not suited for use in centrifuges. Yet the publicly released white paper mentioned no disagreement on the aluminum tubes issue, removed qualifiers and added language to distort the severity of the threat. 
This characterization of the WHIG and its product, as using a no-holds barred approach to develop strategy and rhetoric designed to pursue war, is consistent with what we have learned from other sources. For example, Bush Administration officials who observed the white paper’s development noted that the WHIG Awanted gripping images and stories not available in the hedged and austere language of intelligence.  Even Bush Administration supporter David Brooks was forced to acknowledge from Day One," the Bush White House "decided our public relations is not going to be honest." 
Bob Woodward reported that when Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin presented his best evidence of weapons of mass destruction, complete with satellite photos and flip charts, the President responded by exclaiming Nice try, but that isn’t gonna sell Joe Public. That isn’t gonna convince Joe Public. . . . This is the best we’ve got? 
Our investigation has found that the Bush Administration has not only countenanced, but also paved the way, for torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and other violations of international treaties. While additional violations of international treaties may well have occurred in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, our focus in this section will be on the violations that occurred in Iraq, to which this report is directed.
I questioned some of the things that I saw . . . such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in female underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell and the answer I got was, This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done.
-----January, 2004, Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick II, soldier of the 372nd Military Police Company in a letter to family describing acts committed against Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. 
In late February 2004, General Taguba issued his report, which documented numerous instances of torture and other unlawful conduct:
between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility (BCCF), numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees. This systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by several members of the military police guard force... of the Abu Ghraib Prison (BCCF). The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements . . . and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence. 
The Taguba Report has confirmed that military and intelligence personnel and DOD contractors were responsible for numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses . . . inflicted on several detainees, and that such abuses were systemic, illegal, and Aintentionally perpetrated.  The Report details that intentional acts of abuse committed by military personnel include Apunching, slapping and kicking detainees,  rape, use of military dogs to intimidate detainees, and numerous other types of mistreatment. 
Human Rights Watch found that others were abused for apparently no reason at all. One officer recalled a cook who came into the detention area in a bad mood, seeking to work out his frustration: One day a sergeant shows up and tells a [detainee] to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy’s leg with a mini Louisville Slugger that was a metal bat. He was the f***ing cook. He shouldn’t be in with no [detainee]s.  That officer continued, Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent. In a way it was sport. 
Please help me get to the bottom of the Downing Street Memo and other Administration scandals so that we can restore trust in our government. Your donation will help ensure I get my message across in the face of strong Republican opposition, and get re-elected.
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n complaints made to a House Ethics Committee meeting released on March 2, 2006, three former aides who worked for Conyers were allegedly used as babysitters and valets, instead of working in his offices for governmental purposes.www.sourcewatch.org...
Time magazine recently uncovered that CIA interrogators tried to cover up the death of an Iraqi ghost detainee who died while being interrogated at Abu Ghraib prison. According to documents obtained by Time, the death of secret detainee Manadel al-Jamadi was ruled a homicide in the Defense Department autopsy, which states that after approximately 90 minutes of interrogation in the custody of CIA officials, he died of blunt force injuries and asphyxiation. Further evidence of this cover-up is demonstrated by documents obtained by Time, including many photographs of his battered corpse iced to keep it from decomposing in order to hide the true circumstances of his dying . . . Time reported that, as a result of al-Jamadi’s treatment, Military Police at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison dubbed him the Iceman; others used the nickname Mr. Frosty.
The New York Times has reported on substantial evidence that torture and murder were used by CIA operatives in Iraq. An elite group of CIA operatives hunting insurgents in Iraq were accused of abusing a number of prisoners between October 2003 and April 2004 by kicking them, punching them, twisting their testicles, breaking their fingers and pointing loaded guns at them. This type of abuse even led to deaths. At least three Iraqis have died while in CIA custody.
Newsweek chronicled the abuse witnessed by Army Specialist Anthony Lagouranis. He said abuse was part of the job, expected of soldiers in an effort to loosen up detainees and make them talk:
I think our policies required abuse . . . There were freaking horrible things people were doing. I saw [detainees] who had feet smashed with hammers. One detainee told me he had been forced by Marines to sit on an exhaust pipe, and he had a softball‑sized blister to prove it. The stuff I did was mainly torture lite: sleep deprivation, isolation, stress positions, hypothermia. We used dogs.
We have also identified practices designed to keep detainees hidden from the ICRC, namely detainees being moved around in Iraq in secret (known as ghosting) and individuals being transferred out of Iraq for interrogation. Both of these practices would violate the Geneva Conventions.  We have learned about these practices from several sources. The New York Times confirmed in a report that the CIA has secretly transport[ed] as many as a dozen detainees out of Iraq in the last six months [from April to October 2004]. 
There appear to be numerous instances of torture that are capable of being punished within the jurisdiction of the Justice Department, which includes the authority under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act to pursue criminal charges against military contractors, military personnel, and CIA officers.  It is telling that only one such case has resulted in an official indictment, and no one has been convicted. In fact, according to Amnesty International, despite the numerous detainee deaths that occurred in Abu Ghraib as a result of torture and other legal violations, it appears that no member of the military has received a sentence of more than three years in prison. 
However, 18 U.S.C. ' 2340-2340A, the federal law executing the U.N. Convention Against Torture, does not use the word Aextreme or otherwise suggest the conclusion that Athose acts must be of an extreme nature to rise to the level of torture within the meaning of Section 2340A and the Convention.  Instead, the law provides:
(1) torture means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) severe mental pain or suffering means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from - (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (C) the threat of imminent death; (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.
The Department of Justice also bears significant responsibility for the acts of torture and other legal violations by virtue of the extreme and narrow legal views it has adopted. These are set forth in an August 1, 2002 memo setting forth an inappropriately narrow definition of torture and in Mr. Gonzales's January 2005 confirmation hearing testimony on the jurisdictional reach of bans on CID.
An August 1, 2002 Department of Justice memo addressed to then-White House Counsel Gonzales creates a definition of torture that is contrary to international law, domestic law, and legislative intent. The memo claims that torture consists of extreme acts under U.S. law, inflicting severe pain that must be of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure. According to the memo, severe mental pain requires suffering not just at the moment of infliction but it also requires lasting psychological harm, such as seen in mental disorders like posttraumantic [sic] stress disorder.
....on November 27, 2002, Mr. Rumsfeld signed the Haynes action memo, which requested approval of counter-resistance techniques, and actually asked for harsher techniques.  These tactics were created for the express purpose of enhancing [military] efforts to extract additional information from detainees and included removal of detainee clothing, use of hoods and dogs.  The most egregious of these tactics are collectively referred to as Category III, and include the use of scenarios designed to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequences for him and/or his family are imminent.  The memo notes that such a tactic could easily be construed as a death threat, which constitutes infliction of mental pain and suffering under the Torture Convention.  The memo also notes that another Category III tactic - use of a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation,  could also be construed as a violation of the Torture Convention since it was likely to inflict mental harm. 
We also know that Mr. Rumsfeld had to have appreciated that these tactics would migrate to Iraq because, when he sent Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller to Iraq in the summer of 2003, the Iraqi prisons were known to be crowded and a hotbed for violence; further, Iraqi detainees were not providing enough actionable intelligence.  General Miller’s task was specifically to turn up the heat and, as one officer explained, incorporate the Guantanamo practices into the facilities there.  Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski, head of the prison system in Iraq, stated, [Miller] came up there and told me he was going to 'Gitmoize' the detention operation. 
The CIA transferred Mr. Rashul to an undisclosed location outside Iraq to be interrogated.  Three months after Mr. Rashul’s detention, the CIA’s General Counsel determined that transferring him out of Iraq violated the Geneva Conventions.  Upon transferring Mr. Rashul from CIA custody to the US military, Director Tenet asked that the detention be kept secret, meaning that military should Anot immediately register@ Mr. Rashul in any military database.  Secretary Rumsfeld complied, issuing a classified order that the media have reported as stating: Notification of the presence and or status of the detainee to the International Committee of the Red Cross, or any international or national aid organization, is prohibited pending further guidance.  Secretary Rumsfeld’s order was then transmitted down the chain of command to Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of US forces in Iraq.
Former General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, was punished and undermined for contradicting Donald Rumsfeld's pre-war assessment of troop needs in Iraq. In February 2003, Shinseki presciently testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Defense Department's troop estimate for occupying Iraq was too low and that Asomething on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers would be needed. He further stated, We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems....
This, however, was very different from what the Defense Department had been telling Congress and the American public, as it had put the figure for occupation troop needs closer to 100,000 troops. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called Shinseki=s estimate Awildly off the mark and said I am reasonably certain that U.S. troops will greet us as liberators, and that will help us to keep requirements down. Later, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld echoed these remarks, stating that [t]he idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark It was also reported that in a semi-private meeting, the Pentagon's civilian leadership told the Village Voice newspaper that General Shinseki's remark was bull# from a Clintonite enamored of using the army for peacekeeping and not winning wars.
In the end, General Shinseki's comments, and his willingness to say them publicly, cost him his job worth and status. In revenge for his comments, Defense Department officials leaked the name of Shinseki's replacement 14 months before his retirement, rendering him a lame duck commander and embarrassing and neutralizing the Army's top officer.
A retired Army Lieutenant General, Jay M. Garner, a one-time Pentagon adviser who ran reconstruction efforts in Iraq in 2003, commented that when Riggs made his comment about being overstretched in Iraq, the Administration went bats . . . . The military part of [the defense secretary's office] has been politicized. If [officers] disagree, they are ostracized and their reputations are ruined.
Another victim of the Administration's attacks was Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, a 31-year-old member of a Tennessee National Guard unit. After asking Donald Rumsfeld why vehicle armor was still scarce nearly two years after the start of the war, Mr. Wilson was trashed as an insubordinate plant of the liberal media.
Originally posted by Elsenorpompom
Semper i apologize in adavance but im going to nail you... your points of conjecture against John Conyers are to say the least offensive... the things you listed off... having it translated and insinuating that he has to make sure everyone gets it in a negative light..... HA! the babysitter thing.... from former aides.... aides interns they are a dime a dozen and all aids regardless of who thier boss is do things outside the usual perview of thier job... this is par to the course... the way it was brought out was a typical right wing slander job when they know they cant win the argument.... i love you buddy but dont fall into the right wing line.... you and I can disagree but keep to the debate.... i didnt see anything in ur post about what was said in the document... not one comment.... just about the character of the man who helped to get it put together... didnt actually put it together himself... so.... youve got lots of peoples character left to attack if you want to defeat this....
read the document man... its not as partisan as you would think.... its factual and eye opening.
The Bush Administration has put forth four separate legal justifications for the proposition that the so-called Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) authorizes warrantless wiretapping within the United States. First, the Administration highlights a provision in the AUMF preamble that reads, [the attacks of September 11th] “render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its right to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad.” Second, the Administration relies on a 2004 Supreme Court decision, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, in which in upholding the Non-Detention Act the Court noted that the AUMF “clearly and unmistakably authorize[s]” the “fundamental incident[s] of waging war.” Third, the Administration points to a provision of FISA which “makes it unlawful to conduct electronic surveillance, ‘except as authorized by statute’” and argues that the AUMF provides such explicit statutory authority. Fourth, the Administration argues that the canon of constitutional avoidance requires resolving conflicts between FISA’s proscriptions and executive branch authority in favor of the President.