Glenn Greenwald this morning: Our political class in a nutshell
The Bush administration repeatedly sought to block investigations into alleged killings of up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners by a US-backed Afghan warlord in 2001, The New York Times reported Friday.
Top US officials discouraged separate probes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the State Department and the Pentagon into the mass killings because it was conducted by the forces of General Abdul Rashid Dostam, a warlord then on the Central Intelligence Agency’s payroll, the Times said on its website. . . .
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, the special US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, have told Karzai they objected to the recent reinstatement of Dostam as military chief of staff, the Times said, citing a senior State Department official.
“We believe that anyone suspected of war crimes should be thoroughly investigated,” the official added, hinting the Obama administration is open to an inquiry.
Senate Democratic leaders, joining forces with the Obama White House, said they would resist efforts by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats to create a special commission to investigate the harsh interrogation methods that the Bush administration approved for terrorism suspects.
At a meeting of top Democrats at the White House Wednesday night, President Obama told Congressional leaders that he did not want a special inquiry, which he said would potentially steal time and energy from his ambitious policy priorities, and could mushroom into a wider distraction by looking back at other aspects of the Bush years.
In a closely watched case involving rendition and torture, a lawyer for the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals judges on Monday by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration.
In the case, Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian native, and four other detainees filed suit against a subsidiary of Boeing for arranging flights for the Bush administration’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which terrorism suspects were secretly taken to other countries, where they say they were tortured. The Bush administration argued that the case should be dismissed because even discussing it in court could threaten national security and relations with other nations.
During the campaign, Mr. Obama harshly criticized the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees, and he has broken with that administration on questions like whether to keep open the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But a government lawyer, Douglas N. Letter, made the same state-secrets argument on Monday, startling several judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
That about sums everything up: War Crimes are heinous and intolerable acts that all decent people reject; “anyone suspected of war crimes should be thoroughly investigated”; and War Criminals must not be allowed in any positions of authority . . . . except when the War Crimes in question are committed by Americans, in which case all investigations and accountability must be blocked and those who defended and even approved them are perfectly welcomed in our highest positions of authority (including, ironically, overseeing our war in Afghanistan). See also, quite relatedly: this post from earlier today on how we continue to shield from any accountability the clear and serious crimes committed by Bush officials in how they spied on Americans. Let’s just repeat the sermon from the anonymous Obama official in demanding an investigation into crimes by this Afghan warlord: “We believe that anyone suspected of war crimes should be thoroughly investigated.” It doesn’t appear that they know what the word “anyone” means.