The Eighteen-and-a-Half Minute Gap

Bush Doesn’t Recall CIA Tape Destruction: Congressional Democrats Call for Justice Department Investigation
By PAMELA HESS,AP, Posted: 2007-12-07 21:34:55

WASHINGTON (Dec. 7) – Congressional Democrats Friday demanded a full Justice Department investigation into whether the CIA obstructed justice by destroying videotapes that documented the harsh 2002 interrogations of two alleged terrorists.

A day after CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden told agency employees the tapes were destroyed in 2005, members of Congress, human rights groups and lawyers for accused terrorists said the tapes may have been key evidence that the U.S. government had illegally authorized torture.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Friday that President Bush did not have any recollection about the tapes or about their destruction. But she could not rule out White House involvement in the tapes’ destruction, saying that she asked only the president about it, not others.

Perino refused to comment on whether the destruction could represent obstruction of justice or a threat to cases against terrorism suspects. She said that if the attorney general decides to investigate, “of course the White House would support that.”

In a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, asked for a probe of “whether CIA officials who destroyed these videotapes and withheld information about their existence from official proceedings violated the law.”

In a Senate floor speech Durbin dismissed the CIA’s explanation that it was trying to protect the identities of the interrogators. “We know that it is possible and in fact easy to cover the faces” of those who appear on camera, Durbin said. “This is not an issue that can be ignored.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., accused the CIA of a coverup. “The agency was desperate to cover up damning evidence of their practices,” he said in floor remarks. “We haven’t seen anything like this since the eighteen-and-a-half-minute gap in the tapes of President Richard Nixon.”

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters the CIA’s explanation that the tapes were destroyed to protect the identify of agents is “a pathetic excuse,” adding: “You’d have to burn every document at the CIA that has the identity of an agent on it under that theory.”

Read all of it here.

And while we’re on about Junior’s memory (hole?), there’s this:

SPECIAL COMMENT: NEOCON JOB
Keith Olbermann

There are few choices more terrifying than the one Mr.. Bush has left us with tonight.

We have either a president who is too dishonest to restrain himself from invoking World War Three about Iran at least six weeks after he had to have known that the analogy would be fantastic, irresponsible hyperbole — or we have a president too transcendently stupid not to have asked — at what now appears to have been a series of opportunities to do so — whether the fairy tales he either created or was fed, were still even remotely plausible.

A pathological presidential liar, or an idiot-in-chief. It is the nightmare scenario of political science fiction: A critical juncture in our history and, contained in either answer, a president manifestly unfit to serve, and behind him in the vice presidency: an unapologetic war-monger who has long been seeing a world visible only to himself.

After Ms Perino’s announcement from the White House late last night, the timeline is inescapable and clear.

In August the President was told by his hand-picked Major Domo of intelligence Mike McConnell, a flinty, high-strung-looking, worrying-warrior who will always see more clouds than silver linings, that what “everybody thought” about Iran might be, in essence, crap.

Yet on October 17th the President said of Iran and its president Ahmadinejad:

“I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War Three, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon.”

And as he said that, Mr.. Bush knew that at bare minimum there was a strong chance that his rhetoric was nothing more than words with which to scare the Iranians.

Or was it, Sir, to scare the Americans?

Does Iran not really fit into the equation here? Have you just scribbled it into the fill-in-the-blank on the same template you used, to scare us about Iraq?

In August, any commander-in-chief still able-minded or uncorrupted or both, Sir, would have invoked the quality the job most requires: mental flexibility.

A bright man, or an honest man, would have realized no later than the McConnell briefing that the only true danger about Iran was the damage that could be done by an unhinged, irrational Chicken Little of a president, shooting his mouth off, backed up by only his own hysteria and his own delusions of omniscience.

Not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Bush.

The Chicken Little of presidents is the one, Sir, that you see in the mirror.

And the mind reels at the thought of a Vice President fully briefed on the revised Intel as long as two weeks ago — briefed on the fact that Iran abandoned its pursuit of this imminent threat four years ago — who never bothered to mention it to his boss.

It is nearly forgotten today, but throughout much of Ronald Reagan’s presidency it was widely believed that he was little more than a front-man for some never-viewed, behind-the-scenes, string-puller.

Today, as evidenced by this latest remarkable, historic malfeasance, it is inescapable, that Dick Cheney is either this president’s evil ventriloquist, or he thinks he is.

What servant of any of the 42 previous presidents could possibly withhold information of this urgency and gravity, and wind up back at his desk the next morning, instead of winding up before a Congressional investigation — or a criminal one?

Mr. Bush — if you can still hear us — if you did not previously agree to this scenario in which Dick Cheney is the actual detective and you’re Remington Steele — you must disenthrall yourself: Mr. Cheney has usurped your constitutional powers, cut you out of the information loop, and led you down the path to an unprecedented presidency in which the facts are optional, the Intel is valued less than the hunch, and the assistant runs the store.

The problem is, Sir, your assistant is robbing you — and your country — blind.

Read the rest of Keith’s rant here.

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