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The Big Answer


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The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals

a book by Jane Mayer

(our site's book review)

U.S. Made Self-Destructive Decisions in the Pursuit of Terrorists around the World

The Dark Side is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made self-destructive decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world—decisions that not only violated the Constitution, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda. In spellbinding detail, Jane Mayer relates the impact of these decisions by which key players, namely Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, exploited September 11 to further a long held agenda to enhance presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history, and obliterate Constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment. And yet these individuals are not facing criminal charges for war crimes. Apparently, those with lots of power, like Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Cheney, Dubya Bush, and Addington are simply above the law so they do whatever they want—without consequence.

Once Dubya was convinced that he needed to deal with buildings attacked in New York instead of reading goat stories, 9/11 was used as an excuse to attack Iraq
Once Dubya was convinced that he needed to deal with buildings attacked in New York instead of reading goat stories, 9/11 was used as an excuse to attack Iraq

The Battle within the Bush Administration Over the New and Horrible Anti-Terrorism Policy

"This hard-hitting expose examines both the controversial excesses of the war on terror and the home-front struggle to circumvent legal obstacles to its prosecution. New Yorker correspondent Mayer (author of Strange Justice) details the battle within the Bush Administration over a new anti-terrorism policy of harsh interrogations, indefinite detentions without due process, extraordinary renditions, secret CIA prisons and warrantless wiretappings. Fighting with memos and legal briefs, Mayer reports, hard-liners led by Dick Cheney, his aide David Addington and then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo rejected any constraints on the treatment of prisoners or limitations on presidential power in fighting terrorism." (Source: The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals)

Letting neocons run the decisions in Washington is like letting a fox guard a henhouse
Letting neocons run the decisions in Washington is like letting a fox guard a henhouse


The unelected elites are the lords of secrecy—they are unaccountable, secret, and beyond our reach, yet they run things
The unelected elites are the lords of secrecy—they are unaccountable, secret, and beyond our reach, yet they run things

In The Dark Side, Jane Mayer, a staff writer for the New Yorker, documents some of the ugliest allegations of criminal wrongdoing charged against the Bush administration. Mayer substantiates the facts surrounding said allegations in persuasive detail, citing the testimony of various United States military officers, intelligence professionals, and hard-line law-and-order stalwarts in the criminal justice system. Mayer's book tells the story of how a small group of determined neocon men and women ignored international and American law; fought off forceful challenges from colleagues within the Justice Department, the State Department, the National Security Council and the C.I.A., and how these neocon warmongers ignored or circumvented Supreme Court rulings and Congressional resolutions, and then—in a state of denial—they dismissed a growing burst of outrage and contempt from much of the world. They accomplished all these nefarious deeds in the service of preserving their ability to use extreme forms of torture in the search for usable intelligence. Laws and human rights and Geneva Conventions be damned. It's as if our government had a lot of borderline psychotics and paranoiacs and 9/11 pushed them all over the edge in a burst of raving neocon madness.

After 9/11, laws and human rights and Geneva Conventions be damned—it's as if our government had a lot of borderline psychotics and paranoiacs and 9/11 pushed them all over the edge in a burst of raving neocon madness
After 9/11, laws and human rights and Geneva Conventions be damned—it's as if our government had a lot of borderline psychotics and paranoiacs and 9/11 pushed them all over the edge in a burst of raving neocon madness


Neocon nutjobs tell us that dumping our Bill of Rights and our Constitution was a prerequisite for our safety, which no intelligent citizen could possibly buy
Neocon nutjobs tell us that dumping our Bill of Rights and our Constitution was a prerequisite for our safety, which no intelligent citizen could possibly buy

After 9/11, says Mayer, "instead of trying to learn from what had essentially been a collosal bureaucratic failure, combined with inattention and a lack of political will at the top, the Bush White House deferred the focus elsewhere. The lesson for Bush and Cheney was that terrorists had struck at the United States because they saw the country as soft. Bush worried that the nation was too 'materialistic, hedonistic,' and that bin Laden 'didn’t feel threatened by it.' Confronted with a new enemy and their own intelligence failure, he and Cheney turned to some familiar conservative nostrums that had preoccupied the far right wing of the Republican Party since the Watergate era. There was too much international law, too many civil liberties, too many constraints on the President’s war powers, too many rights for defendants, and too many rules against lethal covert actions. There was also too much openness and too much meddling by Congress and the press. . . . Cheney had already begun to strengthen the power of the presidency by aggressively asserting executive privilege . . ."

Dick Cheney, merciless warrior
Dick Cheney, merciless warrior

Super-Paranoid Dick Cheney Abolished All Rights of Enemies and Many Rights of U.S. Citizens

So the America that had decided under George Washington that human rights were important and torture was illegal now, in 2001, at the guidance of Dick Cheney, decided to call enemies enemy combatants and torture them and remove all their legal rights. Interestingly, Washington was fighting for the very existence of the weak republic named the United States, while the U.S. in 2001 was merely fighting a few disgruntled terrorists, and yet Washington respected human rights while super-paranoid Cheney abolished them and got his neocon flunkies to back him. Even the Geneva Conventions toppled and were violated routinely.

George Washington said human rights were important and torture was illegal; later Bush/Cheney disagreed, so our Founder is turning over in his grave
George Washington said human rights were important and torture was illegal; later Bush/Cheney disagreed, so our Founder is turning over in his grave

Obama, the Worst Liar of All Presidents, Expanded Bush's Terrible Programs (Drones, Whitleblower Oppression)

The U.S. is unable to effectively deal with any of its problems in education, crumbling infrastructure, health, etc.
The U.S. is unable to effectively deal with any of its problems in education, crumbling infrastructure, health, etc. OBomb'em lied about helping our crumbling infrastructure—but he did a lot of wrecking of Middle Eastern countries' infrastructures!

And the Obama that was supposed to stop the madness and get our government to go from a murderous, secrecy obsessed bully to a peaceful nation that ended its illegal, genocidal wars, and begin focusing on the needs of the people and the crumbling infrastructure? There never was such a person. OBomb'em merely put on an act during his campaign and everything he said was a lie. He came into office, gave the rich tax breaks, gave the rich corporations huge bailouts, oppressed and persecuted whistleblowers way more than Bush ever did, kept up Bush's military adventures, and became so enamored with the drone assassination program that he created Terror Tuesday where he and his flunkies would figure out who they ought to be killing that week. It surely makes people with the ability to think wonder why we bother with campaigns and elections since in what world does anything they say have anything to do with what they actually do? It's all irrelevant, a fraud, a fake, a sham, and a hoax. But we are still a democracy, right? Not even close! See Democracy—an American Delusion.

Dubya Bush the Liar lied us into the illegal Iraq invasion
Dubya Bush the Liar lied us into the illegal Iraq invasion


OBomb'em merely put on an act during his campaign and everything he said was a lie—he's an even bigger liar than Bush
OBomb'em merely put on an act during his campaign and everything he said was a lie—he's an even bigger liar than Bush


Bush and Obama love playing God, swatting to death anyone they don't like the looks of and making the U.S. look like the Great Satan the Islamics see us as
Bush and Obama love playing God, swatting to death anyone they don't like the looks of and making the U.S. look like the Great Satan the Islamics see us as

The Abu Ghraib Torture Scandal Merely Got Bush to Hide Such Things Better

As Mayer says, it was only the pictures that made Abu Ghraib an aberration. The tactics the president denounced were precisely those he had authorized and encouraged in the growing network of secret prisons around the world. The detainees in these scattered sites—many of them innocent—have been held for months and years without charges, without lawyers, without notification to their families and often without respite from torture for weeks and months at a time. The Bush administration’s response to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal was not to stop the behavior, but to try to hide it more effectively. (Source: Black Sites, Alan Brinkley, Sunday Book Reveiw of the N.Y. Times)

Satar Jabar attached to electrical shocking devices, at Abu Ghraib Prison
Satar Jabar attached to electrical shocking devices, at Abu Ghraib Prison

Our response to such pictures as the above is as follows: It does NOT make us proud to be Americans and patriots, which we are. If we as a nation act like mad dogs biting everyone we see, the terrorists will regard it as their duty to do what one does with mad dogs: put them down. The U.S. government has subjected untold numbers of innocent Muslims to treatment "reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition," sacrificed America's "cherished values," and destroyed our moral standing in the world—what little we still had. The terrorists aren't the only ones seeing the U.S. as a mad dog. But we'd like to get rid of raving, drooling neocon warmongers, not the U.S. itself. We'd like to see decent leaders who will get us out of the Middle East before we do even more harm or start WWIII.


Zero Dark Thirty Falsely Depicted Torture as Effective, But Senators Complained

Senators Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, and John McCain addressed a letter to Sony Pictures, the distributor of Zero Dark Thirty (it's about killing Osama bin Laden), calling the film “grossly inaccurate and misleading.” They wrote that “the movie clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Osama Bin Laden. We have reviewed CIA records and know that this is incorrect.” (Source: Torture as a Growth Experience: Zero Dark Thirty) And yet Sony's movie is saying to tens of millions of viewers that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective. The fact is that the CIA has censors at all the major media companies and one must follow their guidelines, so one or more of the following either proactively or reactively made sure the movie followed the administration party line: writer, director, editor or screenplay writer. Our media isn't about spreading truth—it's about pleasing various powerful interest groups, including pressure groups, the administration, the CIA, the censors, and the head of each media megacorporation. So the movie dispersed the same lie Cheney kept spreading: torture works great. Can you say "propaganda"? Does this mean we don't really have freedom of the press? Unfortunately, we haven't had that for over a century! See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.

Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden

All Top FBI Officials and Many Bush Administration Officials Refused to Be Involved in Torture

According to Mayer, the FBI as well as many United States military leaders and particularly the military lawyers who are experts in the laws of war told Bush his torturing is dishonorable and illegal. This is not how we fight wars. And if you do this to these people, it's going to enflame them and it's going to endanger our own men and women when they get taken captive. So top FBI people refused to be involved in this criminal behavior. One unnamed higher up conservative in the administration was heard to say "I could not believe these lunatics had taken over the country." The FBI is a law and order agency, not a law and waterboarding agency.

"Since embarking upon its global war on terror, the United States has blatantly disregarded the Geneva Conventions. It has imprisoned suspects, including U.S. citizens, without charge, holding them indefinitely and denying them due process. It has created an American gulag in which thousands of detainees, including many innocent of any wrongdoing, have been subjected to ritual abuse and humiliation. It has delivered suspected terrorists into the hands of foreign torturers." (Source: Book World: 'The Dark Side', The Washington Post, online questions)

The U.S. has shown that it is a bull in a china shop, having no idea what it is doing in the Middle East, so it needs to leave before its bungling starts WWIII
The U.S. has shown that it is a bull in a china shop, having no idea what it is doing in the Middle East, so it needs to leave before its bungling starts WWIII

Does Dick Cheney's Elevator Go All the Way to the Top?

In 2005 there was a comment regarding the extreme behavior of Cheney by Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel: "I would like to believe he's sick rather than just mean and evil."

And Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland recently asked, "Is the vice president losing his influence, or perhaps his mind?" Cheney has been growing evermore rigid, belligerent, and just plain odd, according to Washington insiders. The pessimistic, brutish, ex-Halliburton CEO is famous for spreading scare tactics. Those who use the politics of fear should remember Yoda's warning: "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to the Dark Side."

And if we've seen anything since 9/11 it's the dark side of Dick Cheney. "I am more fearful for the state of this nation than I have ever been because this country is in the hands of an evil man: Dick Cheney. It is eminently clear that it is he who is running the country, not George W. Bush." - Elmer L. Andersen, former Minnesota governor and lifelong Republican—until now.

9/11 terrorist attack
9/11 terrorist attack

"The vice president is the single greatest threat to American and international security in the world today."—Scott Ritter.

"I think this is a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America."—Bill Moyers

The program implemented after 9/11 represented a wish list that had long been compiled by Cheney and other neocons. And 9/11 was merely the excuse they needed to implement an extreme view of the Wolfowitz Doctrine which legitimized the imperialism, unilateralism, and pre-emptive military action in the doctrine, giving them cover and legitimacy when they invaded Iraq.

Dick Cheney singing I Want The Whole World—I Want It NOW!
Dick Cheney singing I Want The Whole World—I Want It NOW!


It is so much cuter when the little girl in the Willy Wonka movie sings I Want The Whole World—I Want It NOW!
It is so much cuter when the little girl in the Willy Wonka movie sings I Want The Whole World—I Want It NOW!

"The real hub of this book is the coup d’état attempted by George Bush’s minions, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, that nearly succeeded in transforming our constitutional system into a full-fledged tyranny. . . . the evidence suggests that Cheney’s agenda has done the country more harm than good." (Source: The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals

The U.S. military bullies dropping a little 'democracy' on Middle Eastern citizens
The U.S. military bullies dropping a little 'democracy' on Middle Eastern citizens

Did Neocons Ask Citizens If It's OK to Replace Democracy with Empire? WE DO NOT RECALL THIS, DO YOU?

"It behooves Americans to understand that there is a great difference between being the citizen of a constitutional democracy and being a citizen of an empire. The establishment of an empire requires some significant sacrifices. [And here comes Mayer's "War on American Ideals":]

Essential social, medical, educational and retirement services will have to be gutted so that those funds can be directed towards a necessary military buildup. Actions taken abroad to establish the preeminence of American power, most specifically in the Middle East, will bring a torrent of terrorist attacks to the home front. Such attacks will bring about the final suspension of constitutional rights and the rule of habeas corpus, as we will find ourselves under martial law. In the end, however, this may be inevitable. An empire cannot function with the slow, cumbersome machine of a constitutional democracy on its back. Empires must be ruled with speed and ruthlessness, in a manner utterly antithetical to the way in which America has been governed for 227 years. And yes, of course, a great many people will die. It would be one thing if all of this was based purely on the ideology of our leaders. It is another thing altogether to consider the incredible profit motive behind it all. The President [Bush], his father, the Vice President [Cheney], a whole host of powerful government officials, along with stockholders and executives from Halliburton and Carlyle, stand to make a mint off this war. Long-time corporate sponsors from the defense, construction and petroleum industries will likewise profit enormously." (Source: Cheney Lies)

Arthur Schlesinger tells us that "the Bush administration's extralegal counterterrorism program presented the most dramatic, sustained and radical challenge to the rule of law in American history." The Red Cross created a report that concluded that the interrogation methods used on al Qaeda prisoners across the board by the CIA constituted war crimes that are prosecutable under a variety of international treaties and conventions. But Bush and Cheney's all-too-obvious attitude to all this was: "just try it."

Bush's interrogation methods constituted war crimes that are prosecutable; but Bush and Cheney's all-too-obvious attitude to all this was: 'just try it.'
Bush's interrogation methods constituted war crimes that are prosecutable; but Bush and Cheney's all-too-obvious attitude to all this was: 'just try it.'

The reward for torturing one particular al Qaida suspect was a pile of disinformation that helped draw us into Iraq. The cost of torturing hundreds of other detainees is that we have radicalized many times that number and now have thousands of terrorists to deal with. Case in point: an army of radical Islamics who got fed up with U.S.'s illegal, immoral, murderous actions in the Middle East: ISIS.