The Limited Reach of Government Reports

Our 45th president is erratic, impulsive, wanton, vain, untruthful.  Still, 40% of the country, polls tell us, think he’s the greatest thing since the flush toilet.  Nothing the former eight year-old millionaire can do will deter his base from believing that he speaks for the little people and is actively making America great again (whatever the hell that glittering slogan might mean).

Presumably more than 50% of the nation is anxiously awaiting the report by former FBI director Robert Mueller that will be written at the end of a now almost two year investigation into Trump’s alleged ties with Russian election meddlers and his octopus-like business relations with many shady characters.  Mueller has indicted several of Trump’s close associates as well as a raft of Russians, got guilty pleas, a conviction or two, several are cooperating with Mueller, a few of these close Trump associates were actually sentenced to prison time for serious crimes.  

The majority of Americans who are waiting for Mueller’s report are hoping that Mueller will drop the hammer on the president and force Congress to end his reign.   This is probably a hope that will be disappointed.  There is an even chance that Americans will never get to even read the report or learn more than a summary of its contents.   There are undoubtedly many reasons for millions of us to want this president out of office;  keep in mind that it is probably a mistake to put too much faith in the silver hammer of the Mueller report, no matter how often liberal pundits and people like Nancy Pelosi tell us “wait for it… wait for it… here it comes…. wait for it!!!”

Millions of us are distressed by the way Trump constantly attacks others,  peddles a stream of wildly shifting untruths, openly admires dictators, defends vicious policies like family separation, applauds racists as fine people, appoints right wing extremists to lifetime judicial posts, wealthy incompetents like Betsey DeVos to cabinet positions,  ignores real national and world crises while creating false emergencies, takes heroic steps to increase income and wealth inequality, recently took almost a million US government workers and their families hostage (in addition to millions more who depend on government services and are being fucked big time while the most powerful man in the world throws his tantrum) and too many other bad things to jam into one long sentence.

These words of warning should come as no surprise: faith in government reports is often a recipe for cruel disappointment.   A few years ago a long belated, vast report on America’s torture policy under Cheney-Bush was compiled and read by members of Congress.   The 6,700 page report detailed a widespread American government-sanctioned practice of medieval horrors committed by Americans and American proxies, sometimes against “rendered” (kidnapped) persons innocent of any connection to any crime [1].    Cheney’s lawyers crafted a secret memo that laid out the legal defense for the torture program.    The report notes that the CIA lied about the extent of the program [2].  The brutalities described in the report should have landed the architects of the program in front of Congressional committees, if not prosecuted for war crimes.   Nothing of the sort ever happened.  In fact, one of the most enthusiastic participants in the program, a CIA agent known by her colleagues as “Bloody Gina”, an agent known to have destroyed video evidence of the “enhanced interrogations” she oversaw, was appointed by this president, and confirmed by his party’s Senate, as CIA director.   She’s hard at work right now.

Where is this gigantic torture report now, you ask?   There is one copy we know of that has not been destroyed, it is preserved in Barack Obama’s presidential library, but it is under seal for the next twelve years.  It is unclear how many of its heavily redacted pages will be made public in 2028.

One of the most famous government reports ever was the investigation into John F. Kennedy’s assassination.   The commission that investigated it was headed by Supreme Court justice Earl Warren.  As Chief Justice, Earl Warren, an Eisenhower appointee, was a force for social justice during his term (October 5, 1953 – June 23, 1969).   He was hated by the extreme right, the John Birch Society (including Fred Koch, father of the two far right billionaire zombies who have done so much to make America great again for liberty) screamed for his impeachment.   He was widely seen as a man of integrity, but his Warren Commission Report concludes that one former marine, acting completely on his own, with a faulty rifle, fired three shots into the moving target of  JFK’s head, bullets that magically made all kinds of twists and turns, including into the body of Texas Governor John Connally.   Woody Allen referred to the Warren Commission Report as a work of fiction, playing it for laughs.  It is unlikely we will ever get closer to the truth of who else was working with the ‘lone gunman’ who was killed a couple of days later while in police custody by another lone gunman, though a later Congressional investigation nobody today recalls found evidence of conspiracy. [3]

Donald J. Trump, with his gut instinct for survival, is doing everything  he can to put people in place to make sure any damage from Mueller’s findings is blunted, kept in the shadows, kept from public view.   Who knows what will be included in the report, or how hard Mueller will bring the magical hammer down on this amoral president?  My only point here is that there is an even chance that we will never know.  

My larger point is that it is upon every one of us whose consciences are most enflamed to organize to become part of the change we’d like to see in the world.   “Hope and Change” ain’t going to do it, any more than “MAGA”, even though Obama may or may not have preserved the last copy of the torture report.


[1] The case of Maher Arar, a Canadian architect grabbed in an American airport and rendered to Syria where he was tortured for over a year, on completely mistaken intel, is one every school child should learn (but one I fear none will learn).  Talk about the unlearned lessons of fucking history.

[2]  The Guardian article linked above includes this nice paragraph:

 Through an investigation that lasted more than six years, the Senate intelligence committee found that the CIA’s torture was far more brutal than the agency had told the Bush administration or Congress, and that the agency had lied about the program’s contours and effectiveness. It found unequivocally that torture produced no valuable counter-terrorism intelligence. President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed a desire to make the CIA engage in torture once again.   (link)

[3]  Wikipedia:  

A later investigation, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) agreed with the Warren Commission that the injuries that Kennedy and Connally sustained were caused by Oswald’s three rifle shots, but they also concluded that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy”[4] as analysis of a dictabelt audio recording pointed to the existence of an additional gunshot and therefore “… a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President.”[5][6] The Committee was not able to identify any individuals or groups involved with the possible conspiracy. In addition, the HSCA found that the original federal investigations were “seriously flawed” with respect to information-sharing and the possibility of conspiracy.[7] As recommended by the HSCA, the acoustic evidence indicating conspiracy was subsequently re-examined and rejected.[8]

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