Scandal May Cripple Bush
By Chris Gelken
The President is playing dumb
and denying everything, and White House lawyer Joseph Hunt assumed an
aggrieved air and asserted that it was “inconceivable” that
the missing Central Intelligence Agency interrogation video tapes could
possibly have contained images of torture.
be more precise, he said they did not contain evidence of torture at
Guantanamo Bay. Whether or not they carried sordid images of waterboarding
and other coercive interrogations carried out at one of America’s
secret foreign gulags was not made immediately clear.
But since the tapes in question apparently did come from elsewhere,
and Judge Henry Kennedy’s 2005 order on preserving evidence related
only to Gitmo-based interrogations, then it would appear there is no
case to answer.
So has the Bush administration managed to dodge the bullet?
“I honestly don’t think so,” Jeff Steinberg, Senior
Editor of Executive Intelligence Review, told PressTV in a televised
interview. “I don’t think that technicality has a great
deal of credibility. Number two, I think the overall situation is that
once again we finding the Bush administration engaged in a patter of
Steinberg said the mere fact that they are again claiming that waterboarding,
which most people have come to accept was depicted on the tapes, is
not torture. “That,” he said, “is simply not a matter
for the opinion of Vice President Dick Cheney or his top lawyer, David
Steinberg explained that it is a principle of international law that
waterboarding in a form of torture, and warned of an impending storm
of denial, obfuscation and downright lies.
“I expect that we’re going to see this as yet another pile
up of cover-up and corruption by the White House,” he said, “a
steady stream of scandals very reminiscent of Watergate.”
The White House lawyer’s assertion that the tapes contained nothing
that the administration should be ashamed of is essentially contradicted
by statements made earlier in the week by a retired CIA agent in an
interview with ABC’s John Ross.
The former agent described how captured al-Qaeda chief Abu Zubaydah
had broken after just 35-seconds worth of the treatment that simulates
drowning. The agent, however, denied taking part in the interrogation
or knowing that the process was being video taped. He also denied any
knowledge of the tapes’ disposal.
Steinberg told PressTV the interrogation described by the former agent
could possibly be the subject of the tapes, but couldn’t know
for certain. One thing Steinberg was clear about, was his belief that
at least some of the information that is causing so much embarrassment
in the Oval Office was leaked by the CIA itself.
“I believe, and my sources in Washington tell me, that some of
the information that has come out and has resulted in the latest scandal
has come from within the CIA. People inside there, who detested the
fact that people ‘went off the reservation’ and violated
the law,” he said.
Steinberg said many agents were angered that intelligence was cooked
in the run up to the Iraq War, “and my understanding is there
is a certain kind of internal house cleaning aspect of what’s
going on here.”
Steinberg said he expects to see a lot more information coming out and
revelations of far more renditions, examples of torture and other illegal
activity than has so far been reported or hinted at.
“And I think we are also going to discover that not very much
useful intelligence came out of all of this,” he said, “because
these techniques inherently do not work. People who are being put through
a near death experience will say anything, make up anything to escape
Physical torture, Steinberg said, is an inherently flawed method used
by an inherently flawed administration, “and a lot of chickens
are coming home to roost right now and I think its all for the good.”
Dogged by scandals at the notorious Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, under
pressure over failures in Iraq, and embarrassed by new intelligence
estimates that undermined the administration’s efforts to bully
Iran into submission, the White House is under siege.
Steinberg says efforts to smother this latest disgrace will be extensive.
“I am virtually certain that we are going to find this whole cover-up
went to the highest levels of the Bush administration,” he said,
“All of the policy decisions related to the denial of information
to Congress and other investigative agencies came directly out of the
office of the Vice President.”
But keeping secrets is difficult, especially when one’s own neck
is at stake.
“I would not be surprised to find out a few months from now that
there is evidence of some kind that President Bush himself lied at his
press conference yesterday [Thursday] and that to one degree or other
was fully aware and informed about those tapes and how and when they
Steinberg said he would not rule out the possibility of the administration
facing legal sanction, the threat of impeachment or continuing criminal
investigation after the incumbents leave office.
“There will clearly be an attempt to find a scapegoat,”
Steinberg said, “but we’ve been around this block so many
times over the past seven years that the credibility of the White House
and top government officials is near zero.”
Steinberg is cautiously optimistic that this time the administration
may have gone too far. “I honestly, at this point, do not think
there is a high probability they are going to get away with it. I might
be being optimistic, but that’s my take on the mood around the
city and around the country.”
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