We have all been reading about the CIA destroying the video tapes of their interrogation of two al-Qaida suspects in order to keep them from being seen and to conceal their probable torture methods. This happened after a federal judge had ordered that such information be preserved and following evasive responses from the Bush administration about it’s knowledge and role in the matter. The videotapes were made in 2002 and showed the CIA’s interrogations of the two prisoners. The CIA destroyed the tapes in 2005.

I’ve written before (11/08/06) about waterboarding, but it’s suspected something more cruel was being employed during these interrogations. When the Nixon like Watergate conduct of destroying tapes was discovered, Congress demanded to know the details of just what the Bush administration was doing to Bush_finger_flip investigate the facts. Their concern was that the Justice Department and the CIA’s inspector general were doing the investigation in spite of their own involvement in the matter. A few days ago the newly appointed Attorney General, Michael Mukasey refused to tell Congress anything. It turns out the Bush Justice Department advised the CIA not to cooperate with Congress. During his confirmation Mukasey promised he would review waterboarding practices because if it is torture it’s illegal. However, when Congress demanded to know the results of his review, he said he had not yet finished it and rebuffed calls from Congress to do so now.

In the meantime, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would restrict the CIA’s interrogation methods by banning such torture as waterboarding, mock executions and other torture. Fortunately, however, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy has just ordered the Justice Department lawyers to appear before him to explain the destruction of the tapes. Kennedy was appointed by President Clinton to the federal bench. In June 2005, Kennedy ordered the Bush administration "to safeguard all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay." Five months later the CIA destroyed these tapes.

The Justice Department had urged Judge Kennedy not to have the hearing because they wanted more time to work with the CIA in the investigation of the issue. Defense lawyer David Remes had asked Kennedy to reject this stall saying:

"Plainly the government wants only foxes guarding this hen house."

While the Bush administration insisted that it was not involved in the destruction of the tapes, the New York Times says that at least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the CIA about whether to destroy the tapes or not. Not surprising, Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general was among those participating. But, the others included David Addington, counsel to Dick Cheney and now his chief of staff; John Bellinger a former senior lawyer at the National Security Council and Harriet Miers who was White House Counsel.

Why is this important? Well, aside from the obvious harm of secrecy in government and total evasive efforts to avoid accountability, it is a classic illustration of what has been wrong with the Bush administration: it lacks any moral or ethical code of conduct. The Bush administration has, over the past eight years, repeatedly acted as if it was above the law and has never hesitated to do the unethical and even the illegal if it served it’s purposes. The religious conservatives supported George Bush and the Republicans because they wanted a return to family values and moral conduct and he promised to bring that to the white house. Instead, they got what they deserved: a den of thieves lacking any moral or ethical compass. They got politicians who could talk the talk, but not walk the walk. The result? The United States is devastated by economic chaos because it is mired in a war brought with fraudulent claims, enjoys the worst foreign relations in history and has created environment disaster. All because the Bush gang sold a song and dance about how it would bring high moral and ethical conduct the federal government.

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