Panel Whitewashes Chertoff’s Torture Resume

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Why does Michael Chertoff want to give up a lifetime sinecure as a judge on the 3rd Circuit Federal Court of Appeals to be the new Czar of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)? His answer, under oath, was: “Since 9/11, the challenge of our generation has been to defend our country against the evil of terrorism while honoring our fundamental commitment to our liberties and privacy…” (1) Does anybody honestly believe a word of this nonsense coming from a zealot, who was A.G. John Ashcroft’s hatchet man?

When I read Chertoff’s testimony of Feb. 2, 2005, before the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I wanted to throw up! Sadly, it was all kisses and hugs at the “cordial” hearing for the prime pusher of the draconian USA Patriot Act. (2) He also has close connections to Harvard U., and to the “Professor of Torture,” Alan Dershowitz, an avid supporter of Israel. Why didn’t the Committee ask him about his ties to Dershowitz? (3) Chertoff, age 51 and a son of a Rabbi, has demonstrated, too, a cavalier attitude to the rights of defendants in a number of important criminal cases. (4) And, he is known around the D.C. Beltway as a man with an “unyielding” attitude on the issue of “Executive Privilege.” (5) Also, Chertoff is believed to have played a hand in covering up the U.S. torture of detainees in Afghanistan, particularly in the John Walker Lindh case. (6)

The ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee is a fellow crypto-Likudnik, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT). (Gee, I wonder why President George W. Bush stopped on his way to give his State of the Union address to give a kiss on the cheek to Sen. Lieberman?). In any event, Sen. Lieberman gave the game away at the hearing in his opening statement when he said, “Questions have been raised about Chertoff’s role regarding laws prohibiting torture,” while he was head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. But, Lieberman added, that Chertoff had “discussed that issue with committee staff extensively on Monday.” (1) In other words, all the soft ball questions that Lieberman and others would be asking the witness, and his possible answers, had all been carefully rehearsed and scripted beforehand with him. There would be no real surprises for Chertoff before this Committee, and even more importantly – no rebuttal witnesses to challenge his veracity on key issues touching on his credibility.

At the hearing, Chertoff denied giving specific advice to CIA officials on the use of torture techniques and their legality. He said in reply to one question, “I was not prepared…to approve in advance or to give people speculative opinions that they might later take as some kind of a license to do something improper.” (7) Chertoff insisted that he had declined to discuss “hypothetical” cases of interrogation methods with Intelligence officers. (7) Asked about a notorious Justice Department memo that allowed some harsh interrogation tactics and narrowed the definition of torture, he criticized the memo as not being a “sufficiently comprehensive definition of torture,” and denied hearing that torture was used on detainees at Guantanamo Bay. (7) When Chertoff was asked to explain a highly critical Inspector General’s report in 2003, with respect to his controversial role, after 9/11, in arresting and warehousing, in a dragnet fashion, over 700 Muslim foreign nationals, without formal charges and preventing them from contacting lawyers, he put the blame on FBI agents’ “emotional stress.” He said many of the agents also were “inexperienced in counter terrorism.” (7)

At this point, there is nothing to indicate that the Committee intends to call as rebuttal witnesses, any officials, with relevant information, from the FBI, the Justice Department or the CIA that might want to contradict Chertoff’s self-serving view of events as evidenced by his testimony. An obvious witness would be outgoing A.G. John Ashcroft himself. Why wasn’t he called to tell the Committee exactly what Chertoff’s duties were at the Justice Department, and what if anything, did Chertoff know about these disputed events? It is inconceivable to me that Chertoff, one of the highest ranking Justice Department officials, didn’t know anything about the torture going on at Guantanamo Bay and also the serial abuses endured by the hundreds of Muslim detainees in this country from 2001 to 2003. Can anyone imagine a Justice Department honcho getting away with Chertoff’s lame excuses, if the detainees, who were beaten and abused, were Israelis?

No wonder Chertoff’s appearance was such a lovefest. Of the sixteen members of the Homeland Security Committee, four are known as knee jerk apologists for Israel’s Ariel Sharon, whose regime regularly practices torture of detainees and engages in targeted assassinations of unarmed political enemies. (8) The four senators are Lieberman; Carl Levin (D-MI); Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Norman Coleman (R-MI). All four, like Chertoff, are believed to be card carrying members of the Zionist Cartel.

The ACLU said in a written statement that Chertoff has an “alarming record” of endorsing improper methods in the name of national security. (9) No member of the panel bothered to ask Chertoff’s views on the federal government conducting “secret trials based on secret evidence.” No doubt the Committee avoided that sensitive subject, since many of them had voted for that law back in the late 90s. The un-American measure was cosponsored by two other rabid advocates of political Zionism, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). Schumer was then a member of the House of Representatives. The full U.S. Senate is expected to rubber stamp Chertoff in his DHS post by early next week.

Finally, DHS currently has 180,000 employees. They will soon all be at the disposal of a man, who has little on no respect for our democratic traditions, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. He fits the definition of an extremist. And, if Marital Law ever comes to America don’t be surprised if the name stamped on your arrest warrant, as the charging party, is one Michael Chertoff, Czar of the DHS! This is your last warning, America!

Notes:

(1) http://hsgac.senate.gov/index.cfm? Fuseaction=Home.Home

(2) http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/04.02A.JVB.Patriot.htm

(3) http://www.counterpunch.org/whitney06092004.html

(4) http://www.counterpunch.com/whitney01222005.html

(5) http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/
rn20050117.shtml

(6) http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20050214&s=lindorff

(7) “Chertoff Denials,” by John Mintz, Washington Post, 02/03/05.

(8) http://www.betterworldlinks.org/book102a.htm

(9) http://www.aclu.org/news/NewsPrint.cfm?ID=17379&c=206

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