Time Mag's Joe Klein: 'A Profoundly un-American Administration'
Discussing on MSNBC Thursday night his latest screed for Time magazine (“The Bush Administration's Most Despicable Act”), Joe Klein maligned the Bush-Cheney administration, telling 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue host David Shuster: “I think this has been a profoundly un-American administration.” Klein, whose piece for the January 19 edition of the magazine contended Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials “perpetrated what many legal scholars consider to be war crimes,” lamented on MSNBC that “it's going to be very hard to prosecute these people” but, he ruminated about “the fanciful idea” that “it might happen overseas” with “Cheney being snatched mid-stream while, you know, fly fishing in Norway as Augusto Pinochet, the dictator in Chile, was.”
In the magazine harangue posted Thursday, Klein argued that Bush “led directly to the abuses” of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo “when he signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention -- the one regarding the treatment of enemy prisoners taken in wartime -- did not apply to members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban.” He declared: “It was his single most callous and despicable act. It stands at the heart of the national embarrassment that was his presidency.”
As opposed to the national embarrassment to sober journalism that is Joe Klein?
“It would be interesting,” a churlish Klein speculated in Time, “just for the fun and justice of it, to subject Rumsfeld to four hours in a stress position -- standing stock still with his arms extended, naked, in a cold room after maybe two hours' sleep.”
He concluded the magazine rant with his idea for “a Bush Memorial in Washington: a statue of the hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner in cruciform stress position -- the real Bush legacy.”
Shuster made Klein the “Muckraker of the Day” for his 6 PM EST program and pronounced it a “great column.”
An excerpt from the piece posted on Thursday, January 8:
"This is not the America I know," President George W. Bush said after the first, horrifying pictures of U.S. troops torturing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq surfaced in April 2004. The President was not telling the truth. "This" was the America he had authorized on Feb. 7, 2002, when he signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention -- the one regarding the treatment of enemy prisoners taken in wartime -- did not apply to members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. That signature led directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. It was his single most callous and despicable act. It stands at the heart of the national embarrassment that was his presidency....
Since we live in an advanced Western civilization, there needs to be legal justification when we torture people, and the Bush Administration proudly produced it. Memos authorizing the use of "enhanced" techniques were written in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council. Vice President Dick Cheney and his nefarious aide, David Addington, had a hand in the process. The memos were approved by Bush's legal counsel, Alberto Gonzales. A memo listing specific interrogation techniques that could be used to torture prisoners like Mohammed al-Khatani was passed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He signed it on Dec. 2, 2002, although he seemed a bit disappointed by the lack of rigor when it came to stress positions: "I stand for 8-10 hours a day," he noted. "Why is standing limited to four hours?"
It would be interesting, just for the fun and justice of it, to subject Rumsfeld to four hours in a stress position -- standing stock still with his arms extended, naked, in a cold room after maybe two hours' sleep. But that's not going to happen. Indeed, it seems probable that nothing much is going to happen to the Bush Administration officials who perpetrated what many legal scholars consider to be war crimes. "I would say that there's some theoretical exposure here" to a war-crimes indictment in U.S. federal court, says Gene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School. "But I don't think there's much public appetite for that sort of action." There is, I'm told, absolutely no interest on the part of the incoming Obama Administration to pursue indictments against its predecessors....