I am in the process of writing a lengthy post on Executive Orders (EO) and our ever evaporating rights, but in the meantime, as I was reading (and reading and reading) hundreds of pages of EO’s, something struck me which I thought might make interesting reading in the interim. Please check back for the next installment of the EO signing party.
Today’s post delves into recent US history as well as current events.
We’ll start with a timeline of recent American history (don’t worry, there’s no test):
September 11, 2001; The day that changed everything.
As virtually everyone on the planet knows, America was attacked on September 11, 2001. At that time, we had the support of practically every country on the globe. Within days, we were told that nineteen terrorists, most from Saudi Arabia, crashed planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center killing more than three thousand people. We wanted, needed and deserved justice and revenge upon those who perpetrated this horrific event.
So, we bombed Afghanistan where many of these terrorists trained. And the country cheered! We’re going to blow those bastards into oblivion, something they richly deserved.
Then, we went on to attack…Iraq. Huh? But these terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. I am jumping ahead of myself. Let’s return to the timeline.
May 6, 2002; The day that changed America.
On December 21, 2000, President Clinton signed the Rome Statute (with support of US elected officials) to join the International Criminal Court – ICC – you know, those pesky people who hold international tribunals concerning Crimes Against Humanity at The Hague).). What many don’t know is that on May 6, 2002, The United States of America pulled out of the ICC.
Wonder why the United States of America pulled out of the ICC and how all this relates to Order, Acts and Lies?
What might have happened to make the US feel the need to pull out of the ICC on May 6, 2002? Well, this might have something to do with that premature evacuation.
On February 7, 2002, Bush signed a secret Executive Order authorizing the use of torture. Excerpts follow:
(An) FBI e-mail — dated May 22, 2004 — followed disclosures about abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and sought guidance on whether FBI agents in Iraq were obligated to report the U.S. military’s harsh interrogation of inmates when that treatment violated FBI standards but fit within the guidelines of a presidential executive order.
Last Friday, President G. W. Bush confirmed the report, stating matter-of-factly: “I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.”
The May 2004 FBI e-mail stated that the FBI interrogation team in Iraq understood that despite revisions in the executive order that occurred after the furor over the Abu Ghraib abuses, the presidential sanctioning of harsh interrogation tactics had not been rescinded.
“I have been told that all interrogation techniques previously authorized by the executive order are still on the table but that certain techniques can only be used if very high-level authority is granted,” the author of the FBI e-mail said.
Prior to the news conference, the White House selectively declassified and released documents to reporters, including one dated Feb. 7, 2002, and signed by President G. W. Bush, that cited the Geneva Convention’s rules about humane treatment of prisoners during conflicts.
Describing the contents of the Feb. 7, 2002, memo, Gonzales said, “The president determined that Geneva does not apply with respect to our conflict with al-Qaeda.
As the details of who did what when vis-à-vis torture, the administration has acknowledged officials at the highest levels of government, all the way up to President G. W. Bush, discussing and approving the minute details of torture.
The high-level discussions about these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.
The advisers were members of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President G. W. Bush on issues of national security policy.
The Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically attended by most of the principals or their deputies.
Secret Executive Orders? Say what? Open government has officially been declared dead and buried.
What’s the White House’s take on EO’s?
At the hearing, a department official, John P. Elwood, disclosed a previously unpublicized method to cloak government activities. Mr. Elwood acknowledged that the administration believed that the president could ignore or modify existing executive orders that he or other presidents have issued without disclosing the new interpretation.
Isn’t that special?
So, the US pulls out of the ICC and who reports it? Well, not anyone in the US Corporate Media (CM – while many call our media Mainstream, it is not. With five mega corporations owning the vast majority of “news” in America, it’s not the people’s media any longer. Proof? How many people know Obama’s bowling score? How many know the specifics of his or Hillary’s healthcare plans? How many people know the specifics of Paris Hilton driving drunk and going to jail? ‘Nuff said.) But it was reported elsewhere in the world, at the BBC (as linked below) and here, here and here.
This from the BBC:
The United States has withdrawn from a treaty to establish an International Criminal Court (ICC), provoking outrage from human rights organisations.
In a letter to the United Nations delivered on Monday, the US says it will not consider itself bound by the treaty – even though Bill Clinton signed up to it in 2000.
The US has vehemently opposed the setting up of the ICC, fearing its soldiers and diplomats could be brought before the court which will hear cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Washington Working Group on the ICC – an umbrella group of organisations supporting the court – said withdrawing from the treaty was a “rash action signalling to the world that America is turning its back on decades of US leadership in prosecuting war criminals since the Nuremberg trials.”
US Secretary of State Colin Powell, announcing the decision on Sunday, said the court would undermine US judicial authority.
He said it would be accountable to no higher authority – including the UN Security Council – and would be able “to second-guess the United States after we have tried somebody”.
This is the letter sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan from Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John R. Bolton (who went on to become our Ambassador to the United Nations – more on this later):
Dear Mr. Secretary-General:
This is to inform you, in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000. The United States requests that its intention not to become a party, as expressed in this letter, be reflected in the depositary’s status lists relating to this treaty.
S/John R. Bolton
August 3, 2002; Threats, threats and more threats.
Not only did we pull out of the ICC, but we threatened to use force against anyone who might hold any American or friend of America if they are held for trials at The Hague.
U.S. President George Bush today signed into law the American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, which is intended to intimidate countries that ratify the treaty for the International Criminal Court (ICC). The new law authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the court, which is located in The Hague. This provision, dubbed the “Hague invasion clause,” has caused a strong reaction from U.S. allies around the world, particularly in the Netherlands.
On August 3, 2002, Bush authorized the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the ICC court. Not only did we pull out of this treaty, threaten military force if anyone dare hold any American (or US ally) accountable for crimes against humanity, we threatened to pull US Dollars from more than 40 countries who support the ICC.
More than 40 countries around the world face losing hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance on Tuesday, when a new U.S. law makes it illegal for the United States to give military aid to nations that support the International Criminal Court.
He then signed into law the American Servicemember’s Protection Act, which enshrined his opposition to the court and set Tuesday’s deadline, when countries must either sign an immunity agreement, promising not to turn Americans over to the court, or face the prospect of losing millions in military assistance.
An estimated 45 nations already have signed such immunity agreements. But critics say the contracts contravene international law and those who sign them do so because the United States has threatened to withdraw essential aid.
“The U.S. is preying on small, vulnerable, impoverished states that are hugely dependent on assistance — military, economic, political — from the United States,” says Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice program at Human Rights Watch.
Take note that the US pulled out of the ICC before Congress giving the Authority to Use Military Force (AUMF), before Powell spoke to the United Nations Security Council, before we Shock and Awed Iraq. To say that they knew what they were going to do and that it would be against international law is probably a pretty safe statement. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s return to the timeline.
October 16, 2002: The day the detente died.
On October 16, 2002, the US Congress voted to give the president Authority to Use Military Force against Iraq (an amusing read, please click the link and read the AUMF for yourself) – a country which had nothing to do with 9/11 because they were supposed to have Weapons of Mass Destruction which they could use at any time and we couldn’t wait for the weapons inspectors to do their jobs because of the impending mushroom cloud which was imminent. To quote President G. W. Bush:
Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
February 5, 2003: Lying liars and the lies they tell.
To quote former Secretary of State Colin Powell as he spoke to the UN Security Council:
The material I will present to you comes from a variety of sources. Some are U.S. sources. And some are those of other countries. Some of the sources are technical, such as intercepted telephone conversations and photos taken by satellites. Other sources are people who have risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam Hussein is really up to.
I cannot tell you everything that we know. But what I can share with you, when combined with what all of us have learned over the years, is deeply troubling.
Did Iraq have WMD? If you’ve never had the pleasure to read or watch Scott Ritter, the chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq throughout the 1990’s, and lifelong Republican, please do. He repeatedly protested that there were no WMD in Iraq. He’s an amazing guy
Here is a great link to several interviews with Scott Ritter. Oh, he also says that the US is actively planning its bombing campaign against Iran. Swell.
March 20, 2003: Bombings from heaven.
On March 20, 2003, we began combat operations on Iraq with a coldly named Shock and Awe campaign – dropping hundreds of bombs from the air, because Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (which they didn’t have). We aggressively and preemptively started a war of choice with a sovereign nation.
Why did we decide to attack Iraq? While this could be a post all unto itself, we went to war because a group of Neo-conservatives calling themselves The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) wanted to. This letter is from the PNAC to former President Clinton stating their desire to invade Iraq.
This is from the PNAC site:
The Project for the New American Century is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; and that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle.
For more on PNAC, please click this link. It’s appalling.
—————— UPDATE 5/16/08———————-
Apparently, PNAC has neglected to pay its bills and its site has been suspended.
I am surprised that they didn’t do this long ago. Since their own site was proof-positive of their plans for global domination, I always wondered why they kept it active. Updated by MsJoanne: 5/16/08 4:22 PM ET
The only thing PNAC needed was, in their own words, “a new Pearl Harbor” (page 63) to accomplish their dreams of American global domination.
Further, the process of transformation,even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.
Let’s make that timeline a bit more easy to digest:
- September 11, 2001: World Trade Center 1 and 2 attacked.
- February 7, 2002: Bush signs secret EO authorizing torture.
- May 6, 2002: US pulls out of the ICC.
- August 3, 2002: US threatens nations who comply with ICC.
- October 16, 2002: Congress approves AUMF against Iraq.
- February 5, 2003: Powell lies to UN Security Council about WMD
- March 20, 2003: US begins bombing Iraq.
Funny how we pull out of the ICC before weapons inspections are done, before we dropped the first bomb, and before we ever tortured anyone.
From the Harvard International Review:
No nation should ignore its duty to bring war criminals to justice or otherwise shield its own leaders or soldiers from charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.
Here is an interesting read on the ICC and the current political climate in the US.
I bet you are asking why I am bringing all of this up now? And what does this have to do with (known) Executive Orders? Yeah, I figured you’d be asking that. We’ll now talk about the Acts, Orders and email.
Starting with Acts. specifically The Presidential Records Act. This act:
- Defines and states public ownership of the records.
- Places the responsibility for the custody and management of incumbent Presidential records with the President.
- Allows the incumbent President to dispose of records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational, or evidentiary value, once he has obtained the views of the Archivist of the United States on the proposed disposal.
- Requires that the President and his staff take all practical steps to file personal records separately from Presidential records.
- Establishes a process for restriction and public access to these records. Specifically, the PRA allows for public access to Presidential records through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) beginning five years after the end of the Administration, but allows the President to invoke as many as six specific restrictions to public access for up to twelve years. The PRA also establishes procedures for Congress, courts, and subsequent Administrations to obtain special access to records that remain closed to the public, following a thirty-day notice period to the former and current Presidents..
- Requires that Vice-Presidential records are to be treated in the same way as Presidential records.
Hmmm, let me see if I have this straight. Presidential records are owned by the public. The incumbent president is responsible for managing these records according to this act. Congress, the courts and subsequent administrations can obtain access to these records. The Vice President of the US has to be treated the same as the president.
Ok, that sounds good. Government is supposed to be transparent. Congress is supposed to oversee the executive branch to ensure it is doing the right thing. There is a limit to the secrecy any administration can operate under. Cool.
Then, what happened to all the emails that were sent and received throughout all the time we were building our case for the war in Iraq? Uh, well, apparently the dog ate them.
The Bush administration has not found disaster recovery files for White House e-mails from a three-month time period in 2003, according to court documents filed this week, raising the possibility that messages sent before and after the invasion of Iraq may never be recovered.
The White House chief information officer, Theresa Payton, said in a sworn declaration that the White House has identified more than 400 computer backup tapes from March through September of 2003 but that the earliest recorded file was dated May 23 of that year.
That period was one of the most crucial of the Bush presidency. The United States launched the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, and President G. W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations on May 1.
Payton and other officials said that older e-mails could still be contained on the tapes because of the way the files are dated.
Or, in short:
“The Bush administration has not found disaster recovery files for White House e-mails from a three-month time period in 2003…raising the possibility that messages sent before and after the invasion of Iraq may never be recovered.” The White House claims a court proposal to search and preserve White House e-mail records would “yield marginal benefits at best, while imposing substantial burdens and disruptions.”
And then, there’s this:
The head of the federal agency investigating Karl Rove’s White House political operation is facing allegations that he improperly deleted computer files during another probe, using a private computer-help company, Geeks on Call.
Scott Bloch runs the Office of Special Counsel, an agency charged with protecting government whistleblowers and enforcing a ban on federal employees engaging in partisan political activity. Mr. Bloch’s agency is looking into whether Mr. Rove and other White House officials used government agencies to help re-elect Republicans in 2006.
At this point, I could get into the Hatch Act and politicizing our government, but I’ll let you read about it yourself (and perhaps I will do another post on it once more comes to light. It’s not enough that the US Attorney’s office, EPA, FDA, EPA, and other agencies have become politicized – something deadly dangerous for every American [think poisonous dog food and lead in our children’s toys].)
For quite a long time, the National Archives and Records Administration had been trying to get the Reagan administrations records released, pursuant to The Presidential Records Act. Well, the Bush administration, seeing no need for the American people (you know, we the people who pay his salary) to know what happened during Reagan’s administration, pretty much gave the National Archives the finger. First, rounds of letters asking for extensions for the release of the records went out, before Bush opted to end the whole thing by issuing another Executive Order: 13233 – Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act.
This EO allows any former president – or anyone he may designate to respond for him, for all perpetuity – to say whether any of their records will be released, even if the current president says it’s alright to release these records.
(ii) If under the standard set forth in section 4 below, the incumbent President does not concur in the former President’s decision to request withholding of the records as privileged, the incumbent President shall so inform the former President and the Archivist. Because the former President independently retains the right to assert constitutionally based privileges, the Archivist shall not permit access to the records by a requester unless and until the incumbent President advises the Archivist that the former President and the incumbent President agree to authorize access to the records or until so ordered by a final and nonappealable court order.
Absent compelling circumstances, the incumbent President will concur in the privilege decision of the former President in response to a request for access under section 2204(c)(1).
This order does not expand or limit the incumbent President’s right to obtain access to the records of a former President pursuant to section 2205(2)(B).
This order does not expand or limit the rights of a court, House of Congress, or authorized committee or subcommittee of Congress to obtain access to the records of a former President pursuant to section 2205(2)(A) or section 2205(2)(C).
Oh and by the way, this applies to the Vice President, too.
Open government, my ass! George W. Bush has just appointed himself president for life. WTF? And why is Congress not objecting to these egregious EO’s? Well, that would be a good question. See It’s not just Republicans that suck!
Who’s Who in the War Against America
Who was in the now defunct Project for a New American Century? I won’t get into all of them, just some key figures. Why is PNAC now defunct? Because they have become our government!
- Dick Cheney – Current Vice President.
- Donald Rumsfeld – former Secretary of Defense for President G. W. Bush.
- Paul Wolfowitz – former Assistant Secretary of Defense for President G. W. Bush, former President of the World Bank, resigned due to ethical controversy.
- Richard L. Armitage – former Deputy Secretary of State for President George W. Bush.
- I. Lewis Libby – Chief of Staff for VP Dick Cheney. Convicted of lying in the cover-up of releasing the name of a covert CIA agent.
- Dan Quayle – former VP to President G.H.W. Bush.
- Robert B. Zoellick– Current President of the World Bank.
- John Bolton – former Ambassador to the UN (noted above). Made Ambassador by President G. W. Bush during a recess appointment as Congress would not approve him.
- Jeb Bush – Governor of Florida, brother of President G. W. Bush. Florida was the state that gave us this Neo-Conservative government (along with the Supreme Court) in 2000.
- Eliot A. Cohen – Current Counselor to the US State Department.
- Elliott Abrams – Foreign Policy Advisor convicted of withholding information during the Iran-Contra Affair.
- William J. Bennett – Controversial conservative pundit and member of the National Security Advisory Council.
- Jeffrey Bergner – Current Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.
- Paula Dobriansky – Current Under-Secretary of State for Democracy & Global Affairs
- Francis Fukuyama – former member of the the President’s Council on Bioethics for President G.W. Bush.
- Zalmay Khalilzad – Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations.
- William Schneider, Jr. – Appointed to the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industy and char to the Defense Science Board. Served on the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missle Threat to the US.
- Vin Weber – former Republican Congressman, current lobbyist for various Republican candidates including Mitt Romney’s Presidential Exploratory Committee.
- R. James Woolsey – Former director of the CIA under President Clinton.
- Gary Bauer– evangelical Christian and Republican talking head.
- Aaron Friedberg – served from 2003 to 2005 in the office of the Vice President of the United States as deputy assistant for national-security affairs and director of policy planning.
- Fred C. Ikle– Current member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
- Henry S. Rowen – member of the Commission on Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (the “WMD Commission”. Also served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs at the U.S. Department of Defense, under Dick Cheney (89-91)
And the many names you may recognize from their prolific writings in newspapers or appearances on various political talk shows. All are vocal supporters of both the war in Iraq and their current campaign to bomb Iran:
- William Kristol (Chairman, PNAC, conservative author and pundit
- Norman Podhoretz – Foreign policy advisor to Rudi Giuliani
- Midge Decter (also married to Norman Podhoretz, mother of Rachel Decter who married Elliott Abrams)
- Steve Forbes (Editor in Chief of Forbes, Inc. magazine, former Republican candidate for president, and supporter of Supply-Side economics)
- Stephen P. Rosen – foreign policy advisor to Rudi Giuliani.
- Richard Perle
- Peter W. Rodman
- Frank Gaffney
- Donald Kagan
Welcome to Amerika. Them soviets had nothing on this government!