Headlines of the Day


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Richard Bruce Cheney: Only One View of Him We Need to See

How Cheney and Wife and Daughter View Him
(But mostly how he sees himself)

Most Outrageous Statement of All Time

The Only Thing Befitting Cheney

The man is totally out of touch with reality and I am beside myself wondering why the media or any forum sponsor gives this man the time of day let alone a stage for public consumption ... his version of history redux, redux, and redux for a third, fourth and fifth time or more.

This is not just him expressing his free speech right – that is a given. But, the man is a textbook case for being a psychotic that according to the National Institute of Mental Health is a person who is out of touch with reality.

His actions and words cannot be disputed and are carefully chosen and expressed as heard in the segment. They belong to him and it shows. But, given his record later when he is quoted, I am sure he will say, “people are taking me out of context.”

Clearly in this segment even more so shows how out of touch he is, he cannot come to grips with reality and it shows

The man is a total disgrace to the former office he held and now to himself and his family and indeed the country. But, sadly he has not once of remorse or regret. In fact, he displays a raw arrogance not seen in modern times and especially in American history that comes even close to his display of stupidity … and, the fact that he believes the things he does and the way he clings to them with such vigor and no shame should give us all pause to reflect on exactly what common sense and decency in our elected officials means or at least should mean. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Place Your Bets: What Are The Odds They Will Get Their Wish

Detainees Held at Gitmo

Barbed Wire Can't Stop Prayer, Can It

This update (July 7, 2014) comes from Talking Points Memo here. So, does anyone think the detainees at Gitmo are not Internet savvy and know how to play the game of “due process and equal justice under law?” Ha, well, think again.

The story: Attorneys for two Guantanamo Bay detainees are now citing the recent Supreme Court 5-4 decision in the Hobby Lobby case in briefs arguing for their clients and their religious rights to perform extra prayers during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Al-Jazeera America reported on the motions filed in a Washington, DC district court on behalf of Emad Hassan of Yemen and Ahmed Rabbani of Pakistan. 

Their lawyers say in part:  “Hobby Lobby makes it clear that all persons — human and corporate, citizen and foreigner, resident and alien — enjoy the special religious free exercise protections of the Federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA), which is the center of law in Hobby Lobby case.”

In essence, the detainees want to perform additional prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, which began on June 28, 2014.

I wonder, then, should we grant them the extra time to pray or not? Um... hell, I say what harm can it do? It actually might have some positive benefits in our use of propaganda from our PR tool box.

Oh, yeah about the post title question: What are odd of them getting their request? I'd have to say: 5-4 (but maybe against?) .... wait and see.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Can't Hurt: Look Back, Re-Examine, Prosecute, Seek Justice

"Col. Jessup: Did you order a Code Red?"
"You G-damned right I did."
(Resulted in death of a Marine)
“Did you authorize torture, and keep in mind, sir, water boarding is torture?”
“Yes, I did, and I would again to keep us safe.”
The “Col Nathan  Jessup” quote was from a movie (“A Few Good Men”). It was a dramatic scene for sure, but still it was from a movie.  Short clip here, which was very good acting.
President Bush's admission to water boarding, and keep in mind, water boarding is torture. It has been illegal, unlawful, and a war crime for decades. In fact it dates back to the late 1800's. It is a nasty, ugly stain on our country and everyone should be ashamed. However, hard line GOPers, mostly conservatives who are the so-called “war hawks” can't get enough of it ... they advocate more of it as they try to justify torture all the time.
However, Mr. Bush's weak and arrogant quote is weak and this proves it.  A bi-partisan panel (full bios seen here) – released a 577-page report on torture after 2 years of study. The headlines of that report is stark: U.S. Practiced Widespread Torture, Torture Has “No Justification” and Doesn’t Yield Significant Information:” Nation’s Highest Officials Bear Responsibility...
This Blog has been dedicated to detainee handling and treatment and it is extensive with plenty of links and legal citations of past and current law regarding treatment of war detainees under U.S. control.  Across the board, top American military and intelligence interrogation experts from both sides of the aisle have conclusively proven the following 10 facts about torture:
1. Torture is not a partisan issue.
2. Water boarding is torture.
3. Torture decreases our national security.
4. Torture can not break hardened terrorists.
5. Torture is not necessary even in a “ticking time bomb” situation.
6. The specific type of torture used by the U.S. was never aimed at producing actionable intelligence … but was instead aimed at producing false confessions.
7. Torture did not help to get bin-Laden.
8. Torture did not provide valuable details regarding 9/11.
9. Many innocent people have been tortured.
10. America still allows torture.
I just wanted to take this moment to review and keep this issue fresh.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GOPers Seem to Have Lost Sight of What Justice Means

GOP Gitmo Detainee Solution: Stay Forever and Rot Without Justice

GOP Sense of Justice

First the facts on civil trials vs. military tribunals — stark evidence (in RED):

  • 403 individuals have been tried and convicted of terror-related charges in 37 different states and most are serving life sentences.
  • 779: Total number of detainees who have been held at the Guantanamo Bay facility since September 11, 2001 attacks.
  • 600: Of the 779 detainees, roughly 600 were released without charges, many after being detained for years.
  • 155: Total number of detainees remaining at Guantanamo.
  • 76:  Number of the 155 detainees who the US has approved for transfer to home or third countries but remain at Guantanamo with no place to go.
  • 15:  Number under age 18 who have been imprisoned at Guantanamo
  • 9:  Number of Guantanamo detainees who died while in custody, six by suspected suicide.
  • 7:  Number of those convicted in the military commissions after trial or plea bargain.
  • 6:  Of the 155 detainees that remain at Guantanamo only six, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and the September 11, 2001 co-defendants face any formal charges. 
Note:  Also there are a lot of confusion and a disconnect about the exact number of detainees released and “returned to the battlefield.” The numbers all over the place -- take look here.

Now the post for today from here:

Red Iraq for all the past bloodshed. Today, red hands for Dark Dick

A growing number of GOPers pretend to be legal experts, but they have not one ounce of legal training, let alone any common sense, or sense of justice. The story is from here:

The military commissions at Gitmo are not simply an alternate legal system for any Muslim accused of terrorism. Jack Goldsmith, a former Bush-era Justice Department official, wrote that Khattala isn’t covered by the 2009 military commissions act, which some of the lawmakers demanding Khattala be tried by military commission helped write.

“There are other complications here, but my first take is that the critics of the Obama administration’s choice of civilian court to incapacitate Abu Khattala don’t have a legal leg to stand on,” Goldsmith wrote.

John Bellinger, former State Department legal adviser under Bush, agreed with Goldsmith that military commissions “are not necessary or appropriate for prosecutions of terror suspects who — like Ahmed Abu Khattala — have clearly violated federal criminal laws and who are captured after a lengthy criminal investigation and careful collection of evidence by the FBI.”

Nor are Republican lawmakers unaware that the suspects in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi are not covered by the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, crafted to justify the use of lethal force and indefinite detention against suspected members of al-Qaeda and their allies.

The GOP goal seems to be just make up legal rules as they go along bitching and moaning and trying to figure out another way to harm President Obama.

I say: Based on the evidence as shown above, try Abu-Khattala in NYC or DC. Find him guilty and then sentence him to life plus 50. Even consider maximum hard labor served only piss and punk (Marine slang for bread and water while in confinement in a Brig). How's that?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

"Judge not, that ye be not judged" — Matthew 7:1

John S. McCain Held in North Vietnam
(Not Left Behind)
McCain Part of POW Homecoming 
(Meets President Nixon in May 1973)
American POW in North Korea
(Was Left Behind)
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (2010 photo)
( Taliban Captive: 2009-2014)
(Not Left Behind)

A lot of knives are out against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Some of the nastiness has even been directed towards his father, Bob Bergdahl, for his appearance. What is lacking in this saga, however, are the facts of the whole story. We have not heard it from Sgt. Bergdahl, and we need that story. It will come out for sure in the end but along the way here a few things we need to keep in mind right now:

1.  We do not know the precise reason or cause for him to have left his post (unit) in 2009.
2.  We do not know the frame of his mind or mental condition at that time, either (was he drunk, on drugs, or some other reason; who knows).
3.  We know he was help captive by the Taliban for 5 years and early report reveal he was kept in a cage under ground for weeks at a time. We have not yet heard about any other harsh treatment.
4.  The public will find out the facts, once the military has done their thing ... we have to put our trust in that system and for sure, we do not need this to be political in any sense.

Keep this in mind, too re: Sen. John McCain recently said (I paraphrase), in part: "We must not hold anything against Bergdahl for what he said or wrote while being held by the Taliban."

He was shot down on October 26, 1967, and released back to U.S. control on March 14, 1973:

Even after one year held captive, every two hours, one guard would hold John S. McCain while two others beat him. They kept it up for four days. Finally, he lay on the floor at place called “The Plantation.” He was a bloody mess, unable to move, badly injured leg swollen ever since he was shot down and an arm broken more than once.

A guard yanked him to his feet and threw him down. His left arm smashed against a bucket and broke again. McCain said later: “I reached the lowest point of my five years in North Vietnam. I was at the point of suicide.”

What happened next in that August of 1968, nearly a year after he was captured, is chronicled this way: 

McCain looked at the louvered cell window high above his head, then at the small stool in the room. He took off his dark blue prison shirt, rolled it like a rope, draped one end over his shoulder near his neck, began feeding the other end through the louvers. A guard saw what he was doing and burst into the cell and pulled McCain away from the window. For the next few days, he was on suicide watch. McCain's will finally wilted and broke under the torture and beatings. Unable to endure any more, he agreed to sign a confession.

McCain slowly wrote in part his confession:  “I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors.” 

He wrote in later years that he would never forgive himself.

Now here we are today with this from Sgt. Bergdahl in this story: Writing from a Taliban “prison,” Bergdahl urged his family and his government to wait until they had all the facts before judging him for leaving his base. Then Bergdahl explained, at least in part, why he left his fellow troops in 2009. 

Let’s face it, there is a lot more to this story, yet today in American society with the instant news and 24/7 cable-to-cable constant repetition,  coupled with the ugliness driven mostly by FOX along side rampant Talk Radio ripe with opinions minus the facts, I see that it appears we have reached back in time to the old West and readopted this slogan regarding early justice: “Bring the guilty bastard in, give him a fair trial, and then hang him.”

If facts matter and they should in all cases like this, then we need to get all of them before we judge Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and hang him. Imagine he were your son, or you were standing in his shoes?

Friday, June 6, 2014

86 Cleared for Release: Could Have Been Swapped for Bergdahl

Trials at Gitmo: Scarce, Ineffective, Wasteful, and Not Due Process 

You are Cleared for Release — No Charges Filed

Lengthy Update on the Following - Lot's of Numbers and Data:

Gitmo Facts and Figures:

  • 403:  Individuals tried/convicted of terrorism in 37 states; most serving life.
  • 779:  Detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay since September 11, 2001.
  • 600:  Roughly 600 released without charges, many after many years.
  • 155:  Number of detainees remaining at Guantanamo.
  • 86:  Number of the 155 detainees approved for transfer but remain at Guantanamo.
  • 15:  Number under age 18 who were imprisoned at Guantanamo
  • 9:  Number at Guantanamo who died while in custody; six by suspected suicide.
  • 7:  Number convicted by military commissions after trial or plea bargain.
  • 6:  Of 155 only six: Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and 5  9/11 co-defendants face charges. 
Note:  There also is a lot of confusion and a disconnect about the exact number of detainees released and “returned to the battlefield.” The numbers all over the map — take look here ...  The numbers range from 6 or so to a few dozen to who knows? A: No one knows for sure … too much confusion about names, spelling, and actual tracking since we don’t get their active duty roster or KIA reports.

Why there are no large number of prosecutions at Gitmo: First and foremost, blame Congress... cite:

Over the past two years, Congress has enacted legislation blocking the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo to the United States for civilian trial. One aim of the legislation is to compel the government to try terrorism suspects before military commissions at Guantanamo rather than in federal courts. While the rules governing military commissions have improved under President Obama, the system at Guantanamo remains deeply flawed, preventing fair trials. Meanwhile, federal courts have been far more effective at prosecuting terrorism cases.

FYI - Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, New York University's Center on Law and Security reports that 578 terrorism-related cases, inspired by Jihadist ideas have been prosecuted in US federal courts (FACTS AND FIGURES: 2001-2011). During that same period the military commissions in Guantanamo have completed only seven cases.

Now just imagine if North Vietnam had played by current GOP rules regarding prisoner swaps with our POW’s? Think seriously hard about that question.  The hard data follows.

The Detainees:

Total number of detainees ever incarcerated at Guantánamo: 779
Detainees released under President Bush: over 500
Detainees at start of Obama Presidency: 242
Number of 242 detainees approved for release: 126
Detainees transferred, repatriated or resettled under Obama: 72
Detainees transferred to US for prosecution: 1
Detainees who died in custody since January 2009: 4
Detainees currently held at Guantánamo: 166
Remaining detainees approved for release: 86
Detainees convicted by military commission before 2009 and still held at Guantánamo: 1
Detainees Obama designated for trial including those tried since January 2009: 36
Detainees Obama designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial: 46
Yemenis not included in above totals under conditional detention: 30
Number of countries that have accepted Guantánamo detainees: 52

Financial Costs:

Yearly cost to U.S. taxpayers of a federal prisoner: $25,000
Yearly cost to hold each captive at Guantánamo instead of federal prison: $800,000
Annual cost to operate Guantánamo: Approximately $150 million

Federal Courts & Challenges to Military Commissions:

Federal court convictions since 9/11 on terrorism-related charges: Nearly 500
Detainees convicted by GTMO military commission: 7
Detainees prosecuted in U.S. federal courts: 1 -- Ahmed Ghailani
Detainees federal courts have determined were being held unlawfully: 38
Detainees who have lost their Habeas Corpus petitions challenging their detention: 21
Times military commissions have been re-vamped: 3
Cases involving detainee rights that have gone before the U.S. Supreme Court: 4
Times Supreme Court Justices have sided with the detainees: 4

Federal Prisons Holding Terrorists:

  Convicted of terrorism-related charges being held in U.S. prisons: 355
 Convicted of terrorism and escaped from any federal prison system: 0

Deaths in Custody: Detainees who have died at Guantánamo: 9

Additional History:

First detainees brought to Guantánamo: January 11, 2002
Last known arrival: March 14, 2008
Last known departure: September 29, 2012
Military commissions first established: November 13, 2001
Bounties paid by Bush to anyone handing over possible terror suspect: $3,000 to $25,000

Original post starts here from the Washington Post one year ago: For 86 prisoners held at Gitmo, their plight is almost Kafkaesque in its cruel absurdity.

The United States believes these 86 should be released since they have been cleared for release years ago and since they have not been found guilty of any crime and are not an immediate threat. The reason: diplomatic and political hurdles are out of their control and used as roadblocks.

The Obama administration doesn't want to keep these prisoners locked up in Gitmo, which is both politically and diplomatically costly, not to mention antithetical to Obama's stated desire to close the prison. However, Congress has forbidden them from being transferred to anyplace on U.S. soil.

Although the Obama administration had searched for foreign countries to which the detainees could be released, it appears to have since given up, having closed the office responsible for finding those countries willing to take them - including their native countries.

This from a man who knows Gitmo, he asks: "Should we close Gitmo? Absolutely. It’s a blight on our history and I say this as a man who helped create it” said retired General Michael Lehnert, who 12 years ago was given orders to build cells at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, which the United States has “leased” from Cuba for more than 100 years. Gen. Lehnert now says that in the wake of the 9/11 attacks the opening of Guantanamo was understandable, but can now be seen to be a tragic mistake.

Just imagine if this were North Vietnam and they still held American detainees there ... would we tolerate such treatment? Very doubtful. Plus, the fact that the military tribunals at Gitmo have been very ineffective vis-á-vis civilian courts.

This is a huge stain on the country that is not apt to disappear anytime soon. Whose fault - check the nearest mirror, Mr. and Mrs. Congressional Member.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Evolving: Bowe Bergdahl Release Exchange — GOP Apoplectic

Older Picture (PFC) - Today Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
(CINC's Sworn Duty)

GOP's Perceived Sworn Duty
(Mike Luckovich nails it)

6th Update (June 4, 2014): About one aspect of this exchange - the requirement for the President to give Congress a 30-day advance notice before any detainee release or swap, this what I call a "bombshell information" moment for the GOP. To wit the below headlines. But, in this fast-moving 24/7 "info world" who and what can the public believe and trust?

One side says X; yet another side says Y; then still another side says both are wrong. 

"Bergdahl-Gitmo Detainee Plan Presented by W/H to Congress in 2011"

A WTF moment for sure.  More: The former Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said in a statement she issued today (June 3, 2014) that she said she was part of the 2011 classified meeting with the NSC, the CIA, State Department, and DoD where the plan to swap Guantanamo Bay detainees for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was the topic. (Note: She also appeared on a FL TV station seen this in this short 2-minute clip).

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

More specifically on her statement, which in some aspects is not clear: Her office noted that because the meeting was classified, she never spoke of it before now. Speaker Boehner (R-OH) acknowledged that the meeting took place. Ros-Lehtinen also had charged that the Obama administration had leaked the idea of a prisoner swap to the press back in 2011. She said she is “outraged” now that the administration quickly agreed to the swap despite congressional opposition, and without proper notification. House members have said they got five hours’ notice about the deal, not the 30 days’ notice required by law.

Okay, let’s be clear here, if that's humanly possible with this "out for Obama's head GOP crowd" shall we and call this, well, sort of like another Rick Perry “Oops” moment shall we – I’d have to say that the 30-day mandatory notification of the possibility of a release in the making was not met (the 5 hours she noted was) due to fast-moving events. If a 30-day notice had been given I guarantee you that this Congress would have left Sgt. Bergdahl rot in captivity rather agree to the release.

5th Update (June 3 2014): This story is moving so fast that it's hard to keep up. But, it's an important story and a page in military history yet to be written - certainly not completed. But, the the GOP outrage is any indication and they somehow get their way, then Sgt. Bergdahl is ready for the hangman's noose. Just skip the investigation, charges (if any), just bring the "guilty bastard in, give him a fair trial and then hang him."

This is very good insight as if no one is keeping track as the GOP has kittens.

4th Update (June 2, 2014) re: GOP outrage about this exchange deal, or should I say misplaced outrage. Allow me to continue.  

First: this on Bergdahl and the GOP nastiness, which I also call craziness: I ask everyone of them: “Imagine this were your only son.”

I also contend that the other GOP argument is weak. It regards them saying that the five Taliban detainees released will return to the fight - that is patently bizarre fiction. The I would ask them: “Would John McCain have returned to flight status and the bombing war against North Vietnam if he'd had the chance after his release as a POW?”

Then these historical facts:

In 1982, Democrats had control of Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which restricted CIA and Department of Defense operations in Nicaragua specifically.

In 1984,
 a strengthened Boland Amendment made support almost impossible. A determined, unyielding Reagan told National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, “I want you to do whatever you have to do to help these people keep body and soul together.”

What followed would alter the public's perception of the president dramatically. How "Iran" and "Contra" came to be said in the same breath was the result of complicated covert activities, all carried out, the players said, in the name of democracy.

That happened before this historical fact:

In 1985, while Iran and Iraq were at war, Iran made a secret request to buy weapons from the United States. McFarlane sought President Reagan's approval, in spite of the embargo against selling arms to Iran. McFarlane explained that the sale of arms would not only improve U.S. relations with Iran, but might in turn lead to improved relations with Lebanon, increasing U.S. influence in the troubled Middle East. Reagan was driven by a different obsession. He had become frustrated at his inability to secure the release of the seven American hostages being held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon.

As president, Reagan stated that he felt that “he had the duty to bring those Americans home.”

The arms-for-hostages proposal divided the administration. Longtime policy adversaries Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz opposed the deal, but Reagan, McFarlane and CIA director William Casey supported it. With the backing of the president, the plan progressed.

By the time the sales were discovered, more than 1,500 missiles had been shipped to Iran. Three hostages had been released, only to be replaced with three more, in what Secretary of State George Shultz called “a hostage bazaar.”

Now here we are today with more current and sustained GOP wackiness.

3rd Update (June 2, 2014): Comments related to this prisoner exchange are getting more frequent and nastier, but I totally agree with this statement by National Security Adviser Susan Rice on TV Sunday: “Had we waited and lost him, I don't think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.”
  • One GOPer called it a troubling precedent — another GOPer called it shocking.
  • Sen. John  McCain (R-AZ), said of the five Guantanamo detainees exchanged: “These are the hardest of the hard core.”
  • Other Republicans are pressing hard, too. “Have we just put a price on other U.S. soldiers?” asked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “What does this tell terrorists, that if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists?”
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said, “I'm going to celebrate him coming home, but the release of five mid- to high-level Taliban is shocking to me, especially without coming to Congress.”
  • The Afghan Foreign Ministry weighed in calling the swap “...against the norms of international law if it came against the five imprisoned Taliban detainees' will," and then adding: “No state can transfer another country's citizen to a third country and put restriction on their freedom.”  The five detainees left Guantanamo are to be banned from leaving Qatar for at least a year.
2nd Update (June 1, 2014):  Events on this story are moving fast and now as indicated, very disturbing. The first update follows this update. I suspect more will develop and follow on this story. But, as I said, this one is particularly disturbing.

The GOP supports the military, combat Vets, and others right? Büllshït ... just ask GOP House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers (R-MI) who came out as the harshest critic of the decision, saying on CNN as correspondent Erin McPike read a statement from Rogers on the air:

“I’m extremely troubled that the United States negotiated with terrorists and agreed to swap five senior Taliban leaders who are responsible for the deaths of many Americans. This fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S. hostages.”

He also said he believes the decision will “threaten the lives of American soldiers for years to come.” 

Rep. Rogers: Sir, you are a first rate ässhølë (FYI: Rogers served in the Army from 1985-89, then with the FBI). I hate to sound harsh or nasty, but he has earned my wrath on this subject with this words.

I wonder: What if Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl were his son and been held by enemy forces since 2009 and now had a choice to come home? Would Mr. Rogers have the same view and comments? I doubt it.

1st Update (June 1, 2014):  As I said, it is quickly developing into bigger story than just Sgt. Bergdahl's release in this exchange ... now the GOP is seeking to stain the President. Cite the following:

Throughout military history we have had prisoner exchanges. Some Americans, like Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) fail to recognize or remember any of them, and now add Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) to the list of worry warts (see story below).

1.  Operation Little Switch was an exchange of sick and wounded prisoners during the Korean War in April and May 1953. The U.N. released 6,670 Chinese and North Korean prisoners, and the Communist forces returned 684 U.N. coalition prisoners (including 149 Americans).

2.  Operation Big Switch began in August 1953 and lasted until December. 75,823 Communist prisoners (70,183 North Koreans and 5,640 Chinese) and 12,773 UN prisoners (7,862 South Koreans, 3,597 Americans, and 946 British) were returned. Over 22,600 Communist soldiers, the majority of whom were former Republic of China soldiers who fought against the Communists in the Chinese Civil War, declined repatriation. Much to the surprise of the UN forces, 23 Americans and one Briton, along with 333 Korean UN soldiers, also declined repatriation.

3.  In our own Civil War, Union and Confederate forces exchanged prisoners sporadically, usually as an act of humanity between opposing field commanders. Throughout the initial months of the Civil War, support for prisoner exchanges grew in the North. Petitions from prisoners in Southern captivity and articles in Northern newspapers increased pressure on the Lincoln administration. On December 11, 1861, Congress passed a joint resolution calling on President Lincoln to “inaugurate systematic measures for the exchange of prisoners in the present rebellion.”

WASHINGTON (AP) – Two Republican lawmakers on Saturday accused President Obama of breaking the law by approving the release of five Afghan detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for a U.S. soldier believed held by Islamist insurgents for five years. The White House agreed that actions were taken in spite of legal requirements and cited “unique and exigent circumstances” as justification.  Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon of California and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said in a statement that Mr. Obama is required by law to notify Congress 30 days before any terrorists are transferred from the U.S. facility. Story continues at the link.

Based on my further research and opinion about the remarks from GOP: Rep. Mike Rogers, Buck McKeon, and Sen. Inhofe, I offer the following:

I logically conclude that they greatly dislike prisoner or detainee exchanges based. I further conclude that they prefer to see both side's POW's/or detainees, et al, serve out their time in a camp behind barbed wire in a small cell until the war and fighting is over. Then they can be released to return to their homes. I surmise they follow the format used at the end of our own Civil War with prisoners like this Union soldier (pictured below) was released from the Andersonville (GA) POW camp in May 1865? What a sick attitude to hold by anyone in trusted office.

Immediate update from today:  More details here on the following story:  Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was exchanged today for five Taliban detainees who had been held at Gitmo. It looks like it was a pretty steep price to pay for his release.

All five of them are believed to have been the most senior Afghans held at the prison, they are:

—  Abdul Haq Wasiq: Served as the Taliban deputy minister of intelligence.

—  Mullah Norullah Nori: A senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif when the Taliban fought U.S. forces there in late 2001.

—  Khairullah Khairkhwa: Served in various Taliban positions including interior minister and had direct ties to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.

—  Mohammed Nabi: Served as chief of security for the Taliban in QalatAfghanistan, and later worked as a radio operator for the Taliban's communications office in Kabul.

—  Mohammad Fazl: A person Human Rights Watch says could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001, at the time the Taliban was seeking to consolidate their control over the entire country.

Original Story Starts From Here — Background: America's only known captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was released today (May 31, 2014). He hails from HaileyIdaho. He been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009.

Note on this picture: Uncredited/AP — File image provided by Intel Center on December 8, 2010.
 Frame grab from a video released by the Taliban of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

The story from here and here — The only American solider held prisoner in Afghanistan has been freed and is back in U.S. custody after nearly five years of captivity, U.S. officials said Saturday. The officials said the Taliban agreed to turn over Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The transfers happened after a week of intense negotiations mediated by the government of Qatar, which will take custody of the Afghans.

President Obama said Bergdahl's recovery “is a reminder of America's unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield.”

His debrief will be most interesting I am sure. A lot of questions remain to be answered regarding the circumstances of his capture, life and treatment in their custody, and whether or not he has any valuable intelligence (Taliban leadership, camps, other locations, etc.). It will take weeks to conduct that. It will be interesting and should be very revealing. A key question in that regard will involve his treatment in comparison to the treatment of those we have held and still hold. 

The world will be watching as they say with bated breath for answers and comparisons. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Republicans Hate Earmarks — Unless It's Theirs

We Want to Build You a Nice Brand New Comfy Prison

Boy, talk about hypocrites in Congress, at least mostly on the GOP side. This story from the Miami Herald just about takes the proverbial cake as they say and it makes the point:

Republicans claim they hate wasteful spending. They bash DEMS all the time for their “tax and spend” policies and programs. Yet, they want push this. Cite:

Some members of Congress want to build a new secret prison for the alleged 9/11 mastermind (KSM: one man) and other former CIA captives at Gitmo, a prison project once proposed by the U.S. Southern Command but dropped because of a lack of support from the Obama administration and one that the Pentagon is not even asking for.

The Republican-run House Armed Services Committee inserted a $69 million provision for the new “high-value detainee complex” in a recent spending bill that [has already] earmarks a total of $93 million for new construction at the prison camps in Cuba.

I would call that significant. Let’s make sure KSM and the others are nice and comfy down there. What a crappy deal. What do you call it — prudent detainee housing, a slick way to appease the voting base, or just plain craziness. I choose craziness run amok.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wise Step Back, Review Past Mistakes, Never Repeat Them

Stain on America: Not the Image We Need
(So, where is the justice)

I was reviewing my files on this subject and now want to introduce and refine it with these two introductory statements re: linkage between Iraq and al-Qaeda and by extension, ties to 9/11:

Dark Dick Cheney: June 18, 2004: “There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts with Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials.” (Cheney part of his interview on CNBC's Capitol Report).

Dark Dick Cheney: June 2, 2009:  Then, Mr. Cheney said in part that there was never any evidence that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq played any role in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, saying in part: “On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that.” (Cheney during an interview on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren). 

Note about “Dark Dick” — It's the title I substitute for Vice President when discussing this issue and Mr. Cheney's views about it. This quotes comes directly from Mr. Cheney in his own words (cite: PBS Front Line Show): On September 16, 2001, Vice President Cheney appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and talked about what it will take to deal with the terrorism threat: “We have to work the dark side, if you will. Spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion.”

What follows here are 10 Torture Myths Debunked (the article is quite lengthy, but worth your time weed through it). As I am fond to say: "Torture is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime" (and yes, water boarding is torture and has been for decades).

Water Boarding is a Punishable Offense (3 case studies):

1.  In the war crimes tribunals that followed Japan's defeat in World War II, the issue of water boarding was sometimes raised. In 1947, the U.S. charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for water boarding a U.S. civilian. Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

2.  On January 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the water boarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier. The caption said the technique induced “a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk.” The picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier.

3.  Water boarding has occurred on U.S. soil, as well. In 1983, Texas Sheriff James Parker was charged, along with three of his deputies, for handcuffing prisoners to chairs, placing towels over their faces, and pouring water on the cloth until they gave what the officers considered to be confessions. The sheriff and his deputies were all convicted and sentenced to four years in prison. 

Additionally my library on the subject follows below. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Two Very Sick Lunatics on the National Stage: Why???

Yes, these two sick lunatics ... can't be disputed

Hannity just tried to dig himself out of the Cliven Bundy shithole and not with much luck I might add. Now on his radio show he sides with Sarah Palin about her rant about torture (clip from his radio show at this site).

Palin said in a recent speech at the NRA convention: “... that's how we baptize terrorists.”

Folks: Water boarding is torture and torture has been illegal, unlawful, and a war crime for decades.

Hannity's 2 cents (which actually makes no sense). In his rant, he comes to Palin’s defense in her remarks with his own illogical crap saying in part: “That’s the way America rolls.”

That I gather is his weak-ass attempt to imitate Todd Beamer in his call to a GTE Operator while on board Flight 93 on 9/11 with his famous and heroic words: “Let's roll” as he and other passengers took on the hijackers. In that regard, Hannity is truly pathetic.

Both Hannity and Palin are flat out wrong on this issue as I have said and will continue to say with every ounce of my soul: Water boarding is torture, and torture is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime and has been for decades.

How in the world these two are able to stay in the public limelight on the national stage is mind-boggling and amazing. I surmise, it’s money. That and anyway to help the right wing stay in power on this red meat issue as they are pandered to by their “leaders” – all the while they remain totally ignorant on the issue. 

That is the worst part, GOP base ignorance on this subject, or as former Sen. Pat Moynihan would say, “We surely have dumbed down America.” Or so it seems.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fox News Coverage of Cheney's Views: The Reel Torture

Cannot Honestly Be Disputed
(But Watch Fox Try)

Now a Word from Our Sponsor
(Propaganda Я Us Oil)
(Thanks to RJ Matson for a great cartoon)

I will say as clear and precise as possible regarding this Blog's purpose: To present the facts as much as possible on this subject.

As a former Marine Corps interrogator (10 years on active duty and 2 years as DOD civilian), and one who served all over the world, the single and most-important fact remains clear above all on subject of the Bush administration approved enhanced interrogation here, here, here and here would be this: 

Professionals know the rules, the proper and effective and proven interrogation techniques, the law, and the bounds. We all can say and have said with a clear voice: “Torture does not work and it does not keep us safe.” 

Torture is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime, and it has been for decades, and the so-called “water boarding” that Mr. Cheney and others of his ilk worship with pride as simple-minded novices, are flat out wrong – it does not and has not worked – the evidence is clear. More on water boarding herehere, and here.

Torture has one purpose and that is to inflict pain. It is proven effective in gaining valuable military or strategic intelligence that helps a ground commander or the nation save lives or keep us safe.

Further, what astonishes me and is totally unthinkable, that is the way some media (namely Fox news) keep the focus and spotlight on people like “Dark Dick Cheney” (we will have to work in the dark shadows are his words, not mine) that enable him and those like him to stay on the national stage and keep attention on themselves with their outrageous garbage. 

Seems to me that Fox News and Cheney's views are torture.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Face of Evil for Full Public Edification — I Give You Dark Dick

Dark Dick in Charge of the Torture Chamber

Pop Quiz for Dark Dick Supporters
(I assume there are plenty in the FOX viewing audience)

The caricatures of Mr. Chaney are cute and yes, even funny, but the subject of torture and the documented U.S. policy for its implementation is pretty ugly. The “leader” of that pack is former VP Richard Bruce Cheney, the same man who once said: “We will have to operate in the dark shadows....”

Note for Mr. Cheney: Torture chambers are also dark, sir, and you are flat out wrong on this subject. The evidence supporting that fact far outweighs your weak-ass assumption as reflected in this update and the many posts on this subject posted below.

This update comes from here in this introduction: Former Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to students at American University Thursday night, and one of the issues he addressed was torture and whether such enhanced interrogation techniques were helpful. Cheney dismissed concerns over such tactics and said that in retrospect, he completely stands by taking those actions. In a pre-speech interview with ATV, Cheney said, “Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture.” During his speech, The Eagle reports, Cheney professed that he has no regrets (primarily about "water boarding" and yes, it is torture and has been for decades).

Let me reset the clock on the facts: Regarding Torture ref U.S. Law: 18 U.S. CODE CHAPTER 113C: TORTURE

In the case of Bush-Cheney who happened to not like that definition, decided to have it changed to fit what they wanted it to be called: “enhanced interrogation.” That is a term that any savvy professional, experienced, and honest interrogator will tell “does  not exist” – it’s torture, plain and simple. So, what did the Bush-Cheney team do?

They got John Yoo and Jay Bybee and a few others in the OLC and at Justice to write a new memo – a secret memo at that – which redefined they way they wanted it defined. The Justice Department memo then expanded the definition of “torture” on December 4, 2004, this way: 

This cite comes from the JURIST: The Justice Department posted on its website a revised and expanded interpretation of criminal “torture” under the US Code – see cited above and just a week before White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who oversaw the development of a narrower interpretation articulated in a controversial August 2002 memo was due to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee as President Bush's nominee for Attorney General.

The old interpretation of torture punishable by law had been largely limited to acts causing severe pain leading to “organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death,” and had been blamed for a permissive approach to interrogation procedures leading to prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and other U.S. facilities. This memorandum, insists that “torture is abhorrent both to American laws and values and to international norms” and that President Bush had directed that American personnel not engage in torture, is significantly more expansive in keeping with international standards, especially the UN Convention Against Torture.

While indicating that torture is not associated with “mild and transitory” acts, it acknowledges that it need not always involve severe physical pain. The Washington Post has more (here) on that. Key in that piece answer the question: “Why did the Bush administration feel a new memo was needed to set the record straight?” 

What do military experts say about torture not working? Take a look here.

Bottom line: Cheney and those like him are wrong and yes, they are war criminals. If we were looking at other countries this way, and BTW, we have, our leaders would be demanding justice — so why are we so hypocritical now?

This is a very ugly stain on the country, and Dick Cheney just put another coat of bright red paint on it once again.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Post Torture Policy Era: Write a Book Make Millions

John Rizzo: Former CIA Senior Career Lawyer, Book Author
And, Now: Big Ä$$hølë

This story actually set what remaining hair I have on fire. What about yours. I am fond to say: "The truth always comes out."

Case in point is this new insider book by John Rizzo. It reveals a lot about the CIA torture program:
  1. Donald Rumsfeld, who once stormed out of a party when asked about war crimes; he didn’t want to be in these meetings.
  2. John Ashcroft was “mostly silent.” 
  3.  But Dick Cheney stood tall for torture and was a forceful dissenter from President Bush’s late 2006 decision to eliminate it.
  4.  George W. Bush proudly took responsibility for the use of the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but Rizzo doesn’t recall that Bush was ever actually briefed on them.
John Rizzo makes clear that going into this process he had one key worry and it was never whether the techniques were legal or moral. Rather it was how he could protect CIA personnel from the risk of prosecution at some point in the future.

This is the precise point many like me have said for years. So, do we need any more reason to investigate and prosecute the war criminals? If so, then this is a good starting point.

There is a lot more at the story link. This is sick stuff with one goal; one purpose; and one reason: To make tons of money for JOHN RIZZO. That is painfully obvious.

So, I say again: The truth always comes out ... but in this case, what are we to believe, but more importantly, does it really matter. Actually, it should matter. So, who will pursue prosecution of the war criminals, for surely they are.

More later I am sure.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Is the CIA Going Rogue Against Government on Interrogation

CIA: Clear Cut Mission, or Not

Torture is Clear, and So is the Law

Major  update (March 15, 2014): This story is moving quickly shown in this update.  

And, it is also ironic that today is the “Ides of March.” You may recall that date was the day when Julius Caesar got stabbed 23 times by his trusted friends in the Roman Senate in 44 B.C. Now, today, with this GOP, we have them stabbing us all in the back many times over.  This update with the following information shows a bit of what I mean regarding the Feinstein vs. the CIA flap over who spied on whom:

Some Senate Republicans backed Sen. Diane Feinstein in a series of early statements:

1.  Sen. Graham (R-SC): “This is dangerous to a democracy. People should go to jail, if it’s true. The legislative branch should declare war on the CIA, if it’s true.”

2.  Sen. McCain (R-AZ) is “calling for a thorough and complete investigation.” 

However, other high-profile Republicans like Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY), have simply declined to comment, plus there are early indications that despite the seriousness of Feinstein’s allegations many other Republican may actually side with the CIA, including Sen. Chambliss (R-GA). For more on Chambliss, see the story here.

Original post is in this update below on the Senate Intelligence Committee vs. the CIA "who spied on whom" flap or full blown scandal. 

A few critical points (and perhaps facts along the way to the truth - whatever that means is to be proven): 

1.  Most Senate Republicans are treading carefully, however, and are for obvious political advantages to draw this dispute out as long as possible.

2.  More vocal Republicans, like Sen. Chambliss have shown that they have no moral objections to torture of terror suspects and want to burnish the Bush legacy by discrediting the Senate Democratic report critical of the CIA program.

3.  The current public fight between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA gives Republicans the opportunity to paint Democrats facing tough re election races as weak on national security. 

4.  Most GOP Senators are delighted at the possibility of driving a wedge between CIA Director John Brennan, one of Obama’s closest counterterrorism advisers –  and someone who you could almost literally say knows where the bodies are buried – and the White House. 

5.  It is no surprise then that Republicans have characterized every minor presidential declaration and regulatory decision from the White House as a dictatorial power grab, as they remain far more cautious about what may turn out to be a genuine constitutional crisis.

The root of this issue from this thumbnail sketch of the key focus right now:

The CIA “Black Site program” is again at the center of the controversy. However, this time, the CIA Director John Brennan, is the agency’s director and it’s the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is trying to declassify its own report that is expected to show the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation practices during the Bush administration were far more brutal than the CIA had previously acknowledged.

The key sticking point: The documents the CIA said the Senate was not supposed to receive comprised an internal review by the CIA, and according to Sen. Feinstein, its conclusions bolster her committee’s harsh assessment of the agency’s black site program. 

So, here we go again and here we are again. We are looking at how the "illegal was made legal by secret memos" and how "rogue operations that were blessed in secrecy" – which is another American political first: skirting the law with secret deeds. In all honesty, that must not be allowed to stand because that is not the way to change any law. 

So, whats's next? In short, who knows. Maybe the GOPers will want to water board Senator Feinstein 
and all opposing DEMS, or even the President?

This is not over yet. A lot more will follow I am sure.