As he warned, on Saturday President Bush sanctioned future torture by vetoing an intelligence bill that would have restricted the CIA’s interrogation practices to those sanctioned by Congress via the Army Field Manual. As the Times article notes, Bush’s veto, which seems highly unlikely to be overridden (e.g. McCain voted against this Bill, so an override will get no Republican support), seals Bush’s legacy as the President responsible for authorizing violations of the Geneval Conventions and damaging America’s honor and reputation throughout the civilized world.

There have been innumerable media stories of the damage Bush’s pro-torture policies have done to the US image, the dubious efficacy of "enhanced interrogation techniques" that amount to torture, and the danger such policies pose to our own troops as confirmed by General Petraeus.

Never mind the overriding moral problem that sanctioning/conducting torture is simply evil. A consistent majority of Americans say we as a nation should just not do it.

The media knows that our President first denied he authorized torture, while his administration systematically lied and withheld evidence that it had used torture which it later had to admit, even after it destroyed some evidence. Even now the White House spokesperson, Dana Perino, makes up ludicrous rationales that the only reason we don’t allow the Army to engage in torture via the Army Field Manual is that, unlike the CIA’s professional interrogators (but see here), our Army volunteers are simply too young and inexperienced to be able to handle torture techniques. Is there any responsible journalist who takes this gibberish seriously and who is not appalled by the White House arguments and what they imply?

So why did Washington’s elite press corps reportedly rise to applaud this President Saturday night? What were they thinking?

WASHINGTON – President Bush said an early farewell to political Washington on Saturday night, making his first appearance on the stage of the Gridiron Club of Washington journalists.

Bush surprised the white-tie audience of more than 600, including Supreme Court justices, Cabinet members and lawmakers, by appearing as the final act of the club’s annual revue. To the tune of "Green Green Grass of Home," he sang about looking forward to his return to Texas.

Bush has spoken at the Gridiron Club dinner before, but this was the first time he sang, donning a cowboy hat and joining the chorus to say farewell. He appeared at the behest of Gridiron president Carl Leubsdorf, Washington bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News.

Founded in 1885, the invitation-only Gridiron Club is the oldest organization for Washington journalists. . . .

The audience was surprised by Bush’s appearance and rose to applaud his attempt at singing. (emphasis mine)

I understand these things are supposed to be non-political, traditional, and all that, and that some respect is owed the office if not the man. I like good traditions. But is it too much to ask the Washington press corp and their dinner guests that, as we wait impatiently for possibly the most lawless and embarrassing President in our history to run out his term and leave town, they at least retain some dignity and respect for common decency and the rule of law? Is it really necessary to invite this man to entertain you, and then stand to applaud him only hours after he once again disgraced the country? Where is Edward R. Murrow?

The Gavel has responses from Democratic Congressional leaders. And here again are the additional photos from Abu Ghraib. Who will applaud this?



John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley