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Politics and Media Headlines 4/23/09

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Katie Couric and CBS News Get Creative With Facebook Pages (Mashable)
Hi there, Facebookers! Katie Couric has a video challenge for you. The CBS Evening News anchor is putting the upgraded Facebook Pages to good use. In a 48 second video clip posted to her page, Couric explains that she’s going to be taking stock of President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, and she needs your help (and Facebook juice) to do it. The challenge, should you choose to accept, is to create a 20 second video on what Obama’s done wrong or right while in office, and post it to her Facebook Page. The best videos will be included in a live broadcast from on April 29 at 7pm EST.

Matt Davies

Pressure mounts for inquiry into CIA interrogation tactics (ABC, Australia, thanks to J-SOM at Liberal Rapture)
Washington correspondent Michael Rowland reports.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: The release last week of Bush administration memos justifying the use of interrogation techniques like water-boarding has triggered a fierce political debate over whether those who gave the green light to these tactics should be prosecuted. Human rights groups and many Democrats want those who endorsed what they see as torture held accountable. Jonathan Turley is a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University.
JONATHAN TURLEY: There is an undeniable claim of a crime here, a war crime. The evidence is insurmountable. [Emphasis added.]

Document: Cheney, Rice signed off on interrogation techniques (McClatchy)
A newly declassified narrative of the Bush administration's advice to the CIA on harsh interrogations shows that the small group of Justice Department lawyers who wrote memos authorizing harsh interrogation techniques were operating not on their own but with direction from top administration officials, including then-Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

UK High Court demands U.S. torture documents (McClatchy)
The chief justice of the British High Court on Wednesday gave the British government one week to obtain the U.S. release of classified information about the alleged torture of a British resident who'd been detained at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Fatal Thread: Torture, War and the Imperial Project (by Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque)
You cannot disentangle the torture program from the war of aggression in Iraq – nor from the illegal wiretapping program, the corrupt war profiteering, and all the other degradations of liberty and law that have been so accelerated in the past eight years. They are all of a piece, part and parcel of a plan to expand and entrench America's "unipolar domination" of world affairs with a thoroughly militarized state led by an unaccountable, authoritarian "Unitary Executive." This is one reason why Barack Obama is so obviously reluctant to tug on the torture thread too hard. If you tear it out, with full-scale prosecutions and top officials locked up behind bars, the whole rotten skein would fall apart…

Thus the mere act of applying the ordinary, bourgeois laws of the land as they stand right now would constitute a world-shaking revolution, an overthrow of the existing order every bit as radical as any ideologue's dream of mass uprising. It would be, in effect, a re-founding of the Republic – and the end of the empire, which cannot survive without continual war, lawless rule and endless corruption. And that's why we will not see Barack Obama follow such a course…

Ironically, the torture issue that he is so desperately trying to shake off his hands is in fact the one opportunity for the historical greatness that Obama – and his ardent fans – obviously yearn for. It holds forth the best chance – the last chance? – for dismantling the imperial machine of brutality and corruption, and starting anew. But he would not be where he is today if he were the kind of man to see – and seize – such an opportunity. He will let it go – and all hope for change, for renewal, for a re-founded Republic, will go with it.

Misoverestimating Obama (by J -SOM at Liberal Rapture)
Punting is the Obama way… He, in effect, punted on the memos, trying to please everyone and pleasing no one… People need to understand that this comes from a fundamental lack of Executive skill. And this lack of skill comes from having things handed to him through out his life and having others do the heavy lifting. The gravity and the blowback potential of releasing the memos seems not to have occurred to him. I have no doubt that he convinced himself of the righteousness of his muddled stance and assumed everyone else would go along.

Dems push for torture hearings, ignoring Obama (AP)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California pointedly noted that her Intelligence Committee already is investigating the Bush administration's legal underpinnings for the interrogation program and the value of information gained from it. And several Democratic leaders appeared to favor using that panel for any hearings… The chairmen of both the Senate and House Judiciary committees. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, are proposing an independent "Truth Commission," and Conyers also is planning committee hearings of his own. His panel is populated with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, a prescription for a bitter fight.
Why not have one committee, representing both houses, like the Watergate Committee? Popcorn sales would go through the roof. Of course, we’d have to put up with hours of “analyzing” by the Beltway gasbags, who would tell us that we really didn’t see what we just saw.—Caro

Flashback: Bush’s FBI Director Said Torture Didn’t Foil Any Terror Plots (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Now that Bush administration officials have launched a major campaign to persuade us that torture “worked,” perhaps it’s worth recalling that George W. Bush’s own FBI director said in an interview last year that he wasn’t aware of a single planned terror attack on America that had been foiled by information obtained through torture. Robert Mueller, who was appointed by Bush in 2001 and remains FBI director under Obama, delivered that assessment…: “…[H]ave any attacks on America been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls ‘enhanced techniques’? ‘I’m really reluctant to answer that,’ Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate: ‘I don’t believe that has been the case.’”
But there are MEMOS! Dick Cheney said so! And even if the memos don’t exist at all, or if the memos say the direct opposite of what Cheney is alleging, that will not change the right wing mantra at all. They will continue to assert, over and over and over again, that torture made us safe, as though the lie had never been debunked.—Caro

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Carolyn Kay

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