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It was obvious from the moment that Barack Obama appointed Leon Panetta to head the CIA that there was going to be no serious investigation — much less prosecution — of the high crimes of torture committed by the agency at the order of the Bush White House. Panetta, a Clinton retread (who actually began his career in the Nixon administration), has always been a bland, feckless, obedient servant of the Establishment; he has no outside power base, no pull, no heft, no popularity — nothing that would enable him to grab hold of the CIA with both hands and clean that fetid, blood-encrusted house. And of course, it was precisely this kind of powerless figure that Barack Obama wanted in the post.
The appointment was very typical of the Obama operation. Panetta had made a few very mild statements over the years that would allow him to be passed off as some kind of “progressive” in the witless, substanceless “process stories” that the corporate media do for new government appointees. This would be enough to keep the progressive “base” — which was overwhelmingly inclined to give Obama every benefit of every doubt — lulled long enough to get the patsy into the job. Of course, to actually get the job, Panetta had to make it clear to Congress that he wasn’t going to stir up any trouble on the torture front, and was willing to play along with anything the Unitary Executive might order him to do. But the corp-media made little of this, concentrating instead on Panetta’s rote assertions that “America doesn’t torture,” and his embrace of the Army Field Manual as the standard for CIA interrogation. (Of course, the vaunted manual also allows practices that any rational human being would consider torture, but that’s another story.)
Scott Horton at Harper’s points us to the remarkable story by investigator John Sifton, detailing Obama’s retention — and promotion — of Bush’s willing torturers.
Scott Horton at Harper’s points us to the remarkable story by investigator John Sifton, detailing Obama’s retention — and promotion — of Bush’s willing torturers. From Sifton, at The Daily Beast:
“On Monday night the confidential report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program was published on the website of the New York Review of Books. The report confirms previous allegations about CIA abuses against detainees. Unlike earlier reporting, however, the document is based on irrefutable first hand information: interviews with detainees and U.S. officials. The document describes in stark detail the CIA’s use of forced standing, sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation, assaults, and waterboarding. It also discloses the participation of CIA medical personnel in torture….
“The New York Times reported that Leon Panetta, the current CIA director, has taken the position that “no one who took actions based on legal guidance from the Department of Justice at the time should be investigated, let alone punished.” Yet a number of CIA officials implicated in the torture program not only remain at the highest levels of the agency, but are also advising Panetta. Panetta’s attempt to suppress the issue is making Bush’s policy into the Obama administration’s dirty laundry.