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The Outlaw Presidency

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* "The striking declaration by Condoleezza Rice's former counselor, Phillip Zelikow, that the Bush Administration's descent into torture will be seen as abhorrently as Franklin Roosevelt's internment of the Japanese during World War Two. Zelikow declares candidly of the administration he served 'Fear and anxiety were exploited by zealots and fools.'"

And Scott Horton, via blogger Andrew Sullivan, writes with yet more from Mayer's book:

"She describes an internal CIA investigation by [Inspector General John] Helgerson which concluded that the program violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. criminal law. Vice President Cheney intervened directly, calling Helgerson directly into his office and speaking with him, after which the CIA report was stopped in its tracks.

"Steven Bradbury at [the Justice Department] was asked to resolve this by crafting opinions that gave CIA full latitude to torture, with no restraints--setting aside the opinions crafted by Dan Levin which authorized techniques only within narrow constraints. After Bradbury rendered opinions exactly as solicited on his 'probation,' Bush personally expressed his pleasure with Bradbury's performance and nominated him to head [the department's Office of Legal Counsel].

"According to [former deputy attorney general] James Comey, [Alberto] Gonzales repeatedly told him that he fully appreciated that the CIA program was torture and was criminal but he couldn't oppose or block it because 'Cheney wants it.'...

"Mayer portrays Cheney as the man who introduced and pushed torture from the beginning and David Addington as his 'fixer.' According to her, they never lost a battle. When meetings were held and the decision came out against them, they simply persevered and implemented their viewpoint anyway."

Mayer herself will be Live Online at washingtonpost.com tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET.

McClellan Recants

Here is former White House press secretary Scott McLellan, in a podcast with ABC's Jake Tapper: "[W]hen I went out and said, 'we do not torture, that we adhere to our international treaties' and so forth, I was relying on what information was being given to me. Now, looking back on that, I hold a very different view when I know today that were engaged in waterboarding and some other harsh interrogation methods and I would have never made those comments from the podium had I known exactly what was happening in some of those settings.

"Whether or not it was illegal is a matter for other people to address, but I could not say honestly today that this administration does not believe in torture, does not engage in torture."

Tony Snow Dead at 53

Former White House press secretary Tony Snow lost his public fight with cancer on Saturday.

Howard Kurtz writes in The Washington Post that "Snow was a pugilist and performance artist, relishing the daily combat with White House correspondents."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in the New York Times that Snow, who joined the White House in April 2006, "helped reinvigorate a press operation that many Republicans believed had been lacking....


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