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01 November 2015


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A great read. But two inaccuracies I noticed. One the CSG did not start in the Clinton administration. The CSG started in the REAGAN admin. Clarke started chairing it in the final months of the first bush admin. Second is your statement that Wolfie was the first to bring up Iraq after 9/11. Clarke revealed that on 9/12, while the smoke still hung over Manhattan before we had even gone through the rubble and recovered our dead that Bush tried to intimidate him into finding an Iraq link to the attack.


750 million seems way too much for a cruise missile. 7.5 million seems much more likely (plus it pegs the total cost at the above mentioned half billion dollars)


Brilliant post, Richard. Totally agree.

Theissen, a former Bush speeechwriter, is now in employ as legacy maker and silver tongue to glory over Bush 43 and Cheney and give the fool and the knave the veneer of decency, at least in hindsight.

He's scum who distinguishes himself by defending Bush's torture program as something necessary and useful, and besides, not really torture - stances IMO pretty much on par with holocaust denial.

His assertion that illegal combatants exist legally falls in the same category. Under Geneva rules, when you fight, you're either a privileged combatant (protected) or a (criminal) civilian (still protected) - more spefically: none of whom are allowed to be tortured. There was until the Bushmen thought it up no third category to whom all of that conveniently doesn't apply. The reasoning betrays the purpose - it was obviously intended to create a new, unprotected category, which could be treated in ways otherwise prohibited i.e. tortured.

Particularly galling, Theissen refers in his defence of torture to catholic teachings.

"It would be illegal for a foreign adversary to waterboard a U.S. soldier, even if the technique did not amount to torture. American troops are lawful combatants. They wear uniforms or distinctive insignia, follow a clear chain of command, do not hide among innocent civilians, and do not target innocent men, women and children. Because they follow the laws of war, when captured they receive full privileges as Prisoners of War under the Geneva Conventions — which means it would be illegal for their captors to coerce them in any way, much less waterboard them.

Terrorists, by contrast, are unlawful combatants. They do not wear uniforms or distinctive insignia, or follow a clear chain of command. Not only do they hide among innocent civilians, their primary means of attacking us is to target innocent men, women and children for death. Because they violate the laws of war, they do not receive the privileges that a lawful combatant receives as a POW under Geneva. As a result of their own choices, the United States may lawfully coerce them to provide information about imminent terrorist attacks.

Indeed, it is precisely because they target the innocent that we must coerce them. When an American soldier is captured and taken off the battlefield, he has been effectively disarmed and rendered unable to cause harm to the enemy. But when a terrorist like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is captured, and he has set in motion a series of terrorist plots, he has not been disarmed. Even in captivity, he still holds the power to kill thousands simply by withholding information. We have a moral obligation to stop him."


He later made his theology based reasoning more explicit in his very un-recommendable book, 'Courting Disaster' (p.186):

"In fact the catechism states that there are times when war making is not only permissible, but morally required ... the defence of the common good requires that an unjust agressor be rendered unable to cause harm ... If this principle applies to taking human life, it must certainly apply to coercive interrogation as well. A captured terrorist is an unjust aggressor who retains the power to kill many thousands by withholding information about planned attacks ..."

He continues, spitting at Thomas Aquinas:

“The intent of the interrogator is not to cause harm to the detainee; rather, it is to render the aggressor unable to cause harm to society. The act of coercive interrogation can have a double effect (to protect society and to cause harm to the terrorist), but one is intended, the other is not”


Well, the catechism takes issue with his sophistry at #2297: "Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity."

What is so hard to understand about this that Theissen doesn't get it? Point is, he does, he is an intelligent man. He simply lacks integrity and has chosen employ where it is not his job to be truthful.

In light of his screeds on torture his eulogy for the virtuous late Bush administration comes as no surprise to me and his screeds, ever reliably, cause an impulse to retch in me.

Matthew Alexander on Theissen:


Jane Mayer on Theissen:




Sale stated that Wolfowitz was the first "Senior Bush Official" to bring up Iraq subsequent to 9/11, not "the first" which would include the President. Sale covers Bush's request to Clarke, that was close to a directive, to implicate Iraq.


You probably have seen this already but for anyone who hasn't, it looks like the neocon group is rebranding itself again, or reconstituting itself with some different elements. I'm not sure which. But they've got a new organization (John Hays Initiative), an ebook and a website. I've seen some people refer to this as the PNAC manifesto rebranded.


I was appalled back when I read about John Yoo's defining torture down. When you determine torture must rise to the level of "organ failure" and the like it is defining torture in much the way it was in Guy Fawkes' day. At the time torture to acquire information was illegal and required a royal waiver which was obtained. That kind of torture was similar to Yoo's and was presumed necessary to get information. The goal was to not do unnecessary harm as a dead man will communicate little. Have to give the English credit though. They didn't pretend it wasn't torture.

OTOH, the English did exact a public torture on Fawkes after a short trial. This type of torture was legal and expected as punishment for attempted regicide. The purpose was "organ failure" as well as example to others.

William R. Cumming

A useful post and thread. Thanks Richard. IMO Jeb's use of language of brother keeping the nation safe has directly led to his decline. History did not start on 9/11/01.

For those of US interested in domestic anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism and consequences management please don't overlook the May 8th, 2001, WH Press Conference wherein the VP charged with reorganization of the effort. Not accomplished by 9/10/01!

When Bush selected Cheney as his VP candidate based on Cheney's representations he showed even at that point not up to the job of President.


Per the Navy's fact sheet, Block IV Tomahawks (probably the ones that were used) cost $569,000 each in 1999 dollars.



The neocons are scrambling in the face of a nationalist like Trump, who has pointed out that the Emperor has no clothes are now freaking out to try and reclaim the Narrative by engaging in nanny shaming language along with blowhard FREEDOM ISN'T FREE rhetoric.

Problem is the former doesn't work on Trump, and as far as the latter... Well you're not going to our rhetoric him, especially when he has the facts on his side.

The one thing I take issue with is your description of the bombing in Serbia as tough foreign policy cred. This was probably one of the earliest neocon actions, with us bombing the Christian Serbs in favor of supporting Bosnian Muslims in order to bring "democracy at bayonet point" as it were.

J Villain

>"Iran was still the number one threat to the U.S"

Does any one here believe that Iran was ever the number one threat to the US? If so based on what? I'm not talking threat to Israel or Saudi Arabia I am talking about the US.

Allen Thomson

Yeah. The math is not relevant to the main thrust of the posting, which is excellent, but the numbers stated need to be revisited. You can find costs per Tomahawk that range between about $600 k and $1.5 M, depending on time and model, but 66 of any of those, while expensive, come in at $100 M at most.

ex-PFC Chuck

Per The Guardian, in t he Turkey elections AKP achieved a majority of the Parliamentary seats but not a super majority. This is based on about 97% of the votes reporting.

Thankyou, Richard, for setting the Bush 43's appalling record straight.

Yeah, Right

The basic requirement in both the Hague Regulations and Geneva Convention III is that a combatant must:
a) be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates
b) carry a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance
c) carry arms openly
d) operate in accordance with the laws and customs of war

Theissen argues that if those conditions aren't met then any belligerent power that takes that sucker captive is at liberty to torture him.

I guess the retort to that would be to ask what would he expect of, say, a Green Beret who is caught inside Afghanistan while sporting a bushy beard and wearing full Afghan dress.

Surely according to Theissen-logic the rules of war say that whoever takes that guy captive is legally entitled to pull his fingernails out with a pair of pliers.

I certainly wouldn't agree, but I'd be very curious to know what Theissen would say.


Neocon Marc Thiessen is one of Megyn Kelly's go to Trump-bashing guests. Neocons hate Trump. And on your other point, re: Serbia, neoconservatism is fundamentally hostile to Christian society and culture. And hostile to the idea of borders (except for one country). As expressed succinctly by Bethany Mandel in "The Forward":

"Worse than Trump’s willful blindness is the rhetoric he uses to stoke racial unrest with a slogan—“Make America Great Again”—reminiscent of the Nazi Party of the 1930s."


See, if you are a proud American and seek the interests of your country first, you're like Hitler. Go that?


It speaks for itself that Yoo deliberately brought up 'organ failure' as an unspecified term, a vague legal concept.

For one it gives the administration a great deal of leeway. It also blows fog on the matter: How does organ failure feel like?

It is entirely subjective and that is the very point in Yoo's reasoning:

Nobody can speficy or quantify the pain of the level of organ failure. One has to assume that it hurts pretty bad, but beyond that? Is the sort of abuse in question suitable to cause such pain? Does waterboarding rise up to that? It makes evaluation of the point basically a he-said-she-said affair, inviting everybody to agree to disagree.

The phraseology Yoo used was deliberately designed to obfuscate and created ambuguity, artificially, to make room for practices that (a) either had already been used and had to retroactively be justified, or (b) that someone planned to use. It was probably both (a) and (b).

The drift of the argument betrays the fact that Yoo must have precisely known that the practices in question were illegal and constituted criminal acts.

He was doing creative lawyerying in the manner of a corporate attorney who makes the case for his client. It wasn't, as legal ethics would demand in public service, a sober and objective assessment of what the law allows and doesn't.

Well, attorneys who advise their clients to how to best cheat on taxes or how to get away with other crimes routinely end up in jail for facilitation and conspiracy. On the political end of the criminal food chain the perps enjoy political protection.

At the moment, the US is the one and only western country that affords itself a peculiar, idle debate whether torture is a-ok and where it is not punished by shaming when one does promote torture in public, and where lunatics like Dershowitz use the opportunity to defend Israel by promoting (the Israeli practice of) torture warrants. And amongst Republican politicians it is still being considered a winning issue and good politicking, if the ever inane 'debates' amongst the contenders are any indication.

None of these foks cares about the fact that the US is a signatory to the CAT and that torture constitutes a crime in the US under threat of severe punishment. Legal trifles, I know.

None of the perps has been taken to account. None has been disbarred. 'Organ failure' Yoo and 'I cannot recall' Gonzales enjoy a comfy life as tenured professors and must be busy corrupting the youth. Bybee is a federal judge. Cheney enjoys his retirement. Because the R's have made torture (and Guantanamo) a partisan issue and threatened to open the gates of hell if he tried to prosecute (or close Guantanamo), Obama chose, advised by Rahm Emanuel, to 'not look back' on the matter, advising the justice department to follow suit.

For shame.

But then, the sharks who looted investors at Wall Street before and during the last financial crisis got away with impunity also, so there is consistency.

The Beaver

Mr Sale,

"In the end, Wolfie would be employed by the World Bank and would resign in scandal over a woman he had employed."

FWIW: Shaha Riza was (may still be) his girlfriend and was the instigator, well before 9/11, to go after Saddam Hussein. She joined the WB in 1997 but before that, she worked at NED and at the Iraq Foundation, whose aim was to overthrow of Saddam Hussein and was backed by Ahmed Chalabi.

Surprisingly, when the US invaded Iraq in 2003 , the WB had already put all the projects on hold (sanctions and for travel security reasons). What would be the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous group, they were dealing for funds with the WB MENA group in Amman. Against bank directives', she took a month's leave in Spring 2003 to go and work with Iraqi women in Baghdad on forming a new government. All this arranged by Wolfie through the State Dept .


Yeah, right

USSF (Green Berets) have never expected to be treated if captured in accordance with the niceties of international law with regard to prisoners of war. That was inherent in the business, so your question with regard to SF soldiers is simply irrelevant. Actually, the danger implicit in operating outside the Geneva Convention model is one of the reasons that higher command eventually forbade Green Berets dressing and living as Afghans. pl


Theissen's Right Web profile:


ex-PFC Chuck

As if things these days weren't interesting enough a post at Russia Insider, quoting a Financial Times piece, asserts that Merkel may be on her way out the door in Germany. Perhaps CP and others have something to add on this.

Richard Sale

I appreciate the corrections.


Richard Sale

President Bush was already drawing down assets from afghaninstn for the Iraq war at the time bin Laden escaped.




Its always the Nuremberg Rallies with these people, no matter the issue foreign or domestic.

When Orban "named the Jew" as it were in regards to George Soros being behind sending masses of refugees to Europe, the media had a collective seizure but ignored that Soros admitted that was exactly what he was doing.

I worry for the ones who have not swallowed the Tikka Olam horse crap as an excuse to do whatever -they- think is best for everyone.


A nice reminder of the lunacy of the Bush years. Fortunately, we have the Boy Wonder keeping us just as safe now.

Regarding Wolfie's comments about the necessity for state sponsorship, I think it should be said that OBL had significant help Saudi Arabia and from some traitors within our borders. So Wolfie was right.


" guess the retort to that would be to ask what would he expect of, say, a Green Beret who is caught inside Afghanistan while sporting a bushy beard and wearing full Afghan dress."

Special Forces were in fatigues with insignia marking rank and service, just covered with head scarves, etc. so that from a distance they looked like Afghanis.

Theissen would have anyone he says is the enemy tortured because that is the kind of human he is.

Yeah, Right

"Special Forces were in fatigues with insignia marking rank and service, just covered with head scarves, etc. so that from a distance they looked like Afghanis. "

Not according to a comment that Pat Lang made in the article that preceded this one, no, they weren't and, yes, they had to be ordered to put their uniform back on.

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