Thursday, April 30, 2015

APA and CIA Torture Program: Novices at Work = Failure

Two Key Novices Who Got Very Rich for Being Very Wrong

Many links to this story. The basic article broke from here today (April 30, 2015). It is a story I have followed a long time ... this is confirmation of one huge mess.

Intro and Attention Grabber:

WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association (APA) secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-September 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

As part of that story and one previously reported one about Jessen and Mitchell (photo abovecomes from here - a lot more in depth - key parts:

1.  Neither psychologist (Jessen or Mitchell) had any experience as an interrogator.
2.  Neither one had any specialized knowledge of al-Qaeda.
3.  Neither one had a background in counter-terrorism activities.
4.  Neither one or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise. 

Despite their lack of experience in these key areas, Mitchell and Jessen “...carried out inherently governmental functions, such as acting as liaison between the CIA and foreign intelligence services, assessing the effectiveness of the interrogation program, and participating in the interrogation of detainees in held in foreign government custody.” And, BTW: they were paid millions

The icing on the proverbial cake as it were is this question in my mind: “How effective was the program; did Jessen and Mitchell earn their millions; and was it worth it overall?”

Simply stated: (1) No, the program was not effective; (2) No, Jessen and Mitchell ripped off the taxpayers; and (3) No, overall, it was not worth it. 

From that Senate report here (all 528 pages), remember it?

WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday issued a sweeping indictment of the CIA's program to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, drawing on millions of internal C.I.A. documents to illuminate practices that it said were more brutal — and far less effective — than the agency acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public.  

B/L: A critical program like what was needed and intended run amok, was costly and very damaging to the country and our national honor and fiber. All that had to have been done was to have talked to experienced interrogators. They would have set the record straight. But, alas, that was never done and still today we suffer from that grand Foxtrot Uniform (larger than a simple Faux Pas as it were). Did we learn a valuable lesson? Only time will tell. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Gitmo Detainees Cleared for Release: Ha, GOP Says Sit Tight

Just Checking - yep, still in detention - they ain't goin' nowhere soon

Washington Post story update on the release of detainees at Gitmo - some for 10 years or so - and already cleared for release - glitch: no place to go. And, GOP-run Congress may make it worse.

A few facts grabbed from the article:

1.  [...] 645 detainees have been have been transferred out of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba to 55 different countries.

2.  [...] 431 of those 645 detainees — two-thirds of the total — were sent to just five countries: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Algeria.

3.  [...] 15 countries received between 5 and 15 detainees, including Uruguay, which received six. That total: 142 detainees.

4.  [...] 30 countries received 5 detainees or less each, including the U.S. which holds 2 in custody: That total: 72 detainees.

5.  [...] 122 detainees remain in Guantanamo.

6.  [...]  57 detainees have been approved for transfer, hopefully by the end of 2015, 

However, the GOP has thrown a few monkey wrenches in the mix, like this major possibility: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) is sponsoring a bill that would extend the ban on bringing detainees to the United States and would effectively bar future transfers to third countries.

Meanwhile, the White House is drafting a plan that officials hope will receive the support of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as an alternate to Ayotte’s measure. McCain has previously expressed openness to shutting the prison.  

Continue reading at the WaPo link ... this is an interesting story and change of events for too long overdue. Stay tuned, we shall see.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Gitmo Trial of Top Five Started, Delayed, Pending Restart

The Place

Inside the Courtroom
(artist's view)

The trial of the five men accused in the 9/11 terrorist attacks (currently facing trial) resumed on February 9, 2015 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But, then it was then abruptly halted. Defendants protested that one of the court interpreters at the hearing had been present years before at secret sites where the men had been held and, where they claim they had been tortured. The judge (Judge James Pohl) ordered a recess to look into the matter.

Background: The five are accused of conspiring to organize, train, transfer funds to the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 plot, and each is charged with killing 2,976 people. Among all the charges: Conspiracy, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft, and terrorism.

If convicted, each faces the death penalty.

(1)  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) (born in Kuwait to Pakistani parents), alleged mastermind.
(2)  Ramzi bin al-Shibh (Yemeni), a plotter.
(3)  Walid bin Attash (Yemeni), co-conspirator.  
(4)  Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi (Saudi), paymaster and facilitator.  
(5)  Abi Abd al-Aziz Ali (Iranian) (aka: Ammar al-Baluchi, nephew of KSM), computer technician and funder.

Some Gitmo detainee numbers as of March 27, 2015:

  • Total number of detainees ever incarcerated at Guantánamo: 780.
  • Detainees released under President Bush: over 500.
  • Detainees at start of Obama Presidency: 242.
  • Detainees transferred, repatriated, or resettled under Obama: 116.
  • Detainees transferred to U.S. for prosecution: 1.
  • Detainees who died in custody since January 2009: 4.
  • Detainees currently held at Gitmo: 122.
  • Number of current detainees imprisoned for more than 10 years: 106.
  • Remaining detainees approved for release: 56.
  • Detainees convicted by military commission and still held at Gitmo: 3.
  • Detainees designated for trial or commission: 29 (Note: Pentagon has plans to prosecute 14 detainees, including those currently in pre-trial hearings).
  • Detainees designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial: 34.
  • Yemenis approved for transfer: 48 (33 held in “conditional” detention, pending improved security in Yemen, or transfer to a third country).
  • Number of countries that have accepted detainees: 55.
 More good data at the link. Thanks for stopping by. More later, I am sure. Come back.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Man Who Broke Abu Zubaydah and Didn't Use Torture

Ali Soufan, Former FBI Special Agent

From an interview with Mr. Ali Soufan is a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent who investigated and supervised highly sensitive and complex international terrorism cases, including the East Africa Embassy Bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the events surrounding 9/11. 

But, his biggest case came in March 2002. He and a colleague were the first to interrogate Abu Zubaydah, who at that point was considered the most important al-Qaeda prisoner held by the Americans. 

Abu Zubaydah
(undated photo)

Mr. Soufan was born in Lebanon and speaks Arabic. Because he could quote the Koran during questioning of detainees, he was able to build up trust with them, and guess what: He never laid a finger on anyone and in the case of Abu Zuibaydah, Soufan got him to reveal critical information, including the identity of KSM - the so-called 9/11 mastermind.

However, later Zubaydah was handed over to the CIA. They chose to use him as their first detainee on whom they would “test or try” the now infamous “enhanced interrogation techniques.” 

At that point, Zubaydah clammed up after the harsh stuff started. 

… Soufan never had a problem getting Zubaydah to talk and talk freely and provide good intelligence – that is an historical fact, which again reinforces the premise that “torture does not work,” plus it is illegal, unlawful and a war crime.  

Continue the Soufan interview at the link cited above. Good reading and worth your time. 

The case background on Abu Zubaydah can be seen here and here, both are good reads and both contain a lot of history of the ugly trail of torture approved under the Bush watch.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Another Ugly Gitmo Story and Another Nasty Stain on the CIA

The Camp for Detainees

Staff Sgt. Joseph Hickman, a Marine veteran who reenlisted in the Maryland National Guard after 9/11, contradicts the military version of events in his new book, 'Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay.'
The Book About the Camp

The story behind the book, written by Joseph Hickman, a former Marine and Maryland Army National soldier who was there.

It's is Hickman's overall conclusion and claim that he has solved one of the military prison’s greatest mysteries that: “Three men the Pentagon said had killed themselves were actually tortured to death by the CIA.”

Hickman asserts that the official government line that Yasser Talal al-Zahrani of Yemen, and Salah Ahmed al-Salami and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi, both of Saudi Arabia, killed themselves in 2006 in a suicide pact was and remains a lie and is not the simple story that appeared years ago for the public to believe.

Continue reading this very detailed and compelling story at the link.

I suspect this story is not over – so, stay tuned.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Equal Justice Under Law: Unfair, Unequal, Biased, or Passé

Two Have Escaped Justice 
(While Blaming Others - Protecting Crimes)

Jay Bybee; John Yoo; Jack Goldsmith; James Comey; Steven Bradbury
(Others could also be named)

The update that follows relates to the original post (follows after the update). This whole issue also ties into my other page re: Detainee handling and treatment library that can be seen here. 
This update is a fine editorial from the NY TIMES, in part which says:

“Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.”

I would add quite simply: Those high ranking officials, and others, at all levels, represented and spoke for us – all us. They need to be held accountable, and right now, well … they are not. We Americans speak of justice in America and peddle it around the globe, and rightly so, but then we see this torture mess and somehow easily accept the premise that “it’s okay” – it is not. To allow anyone involved, up and down the line to “escape” justice on this matter is not only un-American, but hypocritical for us to think otherwise while demanding justice and fairness for all persons in nations all around us.

Original post starts from here: First some background on the so-called "torture memos" that the DOJ and OLC issued that Bush-Cheney say they followed and that torture was not involved:

AUGUST 2002: Jay S. Bybee, who oversaw the office, issues a memo, released Thursday by the Obama administration, that says the C.I.A. has the authority to use harsh interrogation techniques. The memo, drafted by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, argues that physical torture “must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”

JUNE 2004: Jack Goldsmith, Mr. Bybee’s replacement, rescinds the 2002 memo — days after it becomes public — with the support of James B. Comey, then deputy attorney general. Mr. Goldsmith submits his resignation on the same day.

DECEMBER  2004: Daniel Levin, the new acting head, issues a new memo denouncing torture and broadening its definition.

MAY 2005:  Over the objections of Mr. Comey, Steven G. Bradbury, newly appointed to run the office, signs several secret opinions. The memos, which were released by the Obama administration, justify combining different interrogation techniques and find that even the CIA harshest tactics are not “cruel, inhuman or degrading,” the restriction soon to be imposed by Congress.

To date: former VP Dark Dick Cheney on NBC with Chuck Todd - here in part (key parts). and in total here:

1.  Cheney and Bush and others all say “we were following legal opinion that told us it was legal: However, DOJ lawyers in 2004, rescinded John Yoo and Jay Bybee OLC 2003 memorandum authorizing the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” for DOD, and a similar one written for the CIA in August 2002.  Jack Goldsmith, who as head of the Office of Legal Counsel (after John Yoo left) made the decision to rescind the memorandums. He criticized the documents, saying they had used careless legal reasoning to provide national security agencies with sweeping interrogation authority. [Reported by The New York Times4/2/08]

2.  Doctors Say Rectal Rehydration is Not a Modern Medical Practice: According to PBS' Newshour, the technique known as “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding” is a practice that dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries but is not a modern medical procedure. Newshour reported that doctors have called the practice “humiliating, and that it has no place in medical treatment.” [On PBS, News Hour12/12/14]

3.  Most startling statement from Cheney: He said after being pressed by Chuck Todd on MTP on the fact that the Senate report revealed that 25 percent of tortured detainees turned out to be innocent and were later released, yet many had been subjected to the torture techniques.

How Cheney downplayed that and said clearly stated: “I have no problem with torturing innocent detainees as long as we achieve our objective.”

My B/L on this whole torture issue: There is absolutely 100% no reason to torture to gain valuable intelligence or military actionable information. 

Further, it seems to me that with Bush-Cheney pronouncements like: "We listened to the lawyers who told us the techniques were not torture and we did, so it's not torture..." that they were and still are somehow subscribing to the former Nazi defense used at Nuremberg which nearly every defendant proclaimed: "Befehl ist befehl" (German: "An order is an order")." So, how did that work for those defendants?

P.S. for the Media: Please take your spotlight and air time away from and off  of Mr. Cheney. That would be in the best interests of our national sanity and mental health care. Thanks in advance. 

Enjoy the review of stuff below and thanks for stopping by. Come again.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Torture of War-time Detainees: Could It Happen Again

Principle Torture Advocates Who Approved It Without Any Doubt
(Yes, at the very highest level)

A very timely and thought-provoking article on the topic of: “How the Torture Could Start Again” from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU (linked here).

Following a short review of the Senate's "Church Committee," the article goes on to offer what I think is the key part and states it this way:

In the case of torture, the Bush-Cheney White House was clearly involved. It pushed for and approved the program; it was complicit in obtaining the deeply flawed legal opinions that redefined the ban on torture to meaningless nothings.

White House officials forgot that both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln barred torture in perilous times when Americans were hard pressed in their fight to create the nation or to save it. They also forgot that after World War II the United States led the way in drafting the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit torture and other forms of inhumane treatment.

They locked out voices of experience from the State Department and the military who would have warned of harm to America’s reputation and risks to American captives. They failed to listen to FBI experts on interrogation who could have explained we were getting important intelligence through interrogation techniques other than torture. And they forgot, or nobody told them, that after World War II we had prosecuted Japanese officials as war criminals for using on American soldiers the same torture techniques the White House authorized and the CIA implemented after 9/11.

The danger of addressing only part of the problem is this. In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln called for a “new birth of freedom” so that “government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from this earth.”

But if government is to be by the people, necessary information cannot be hidden from the people. The Church Committee disclosed many embarrassing or illegal government actions that had previously been secret, believing that “the story is sad, but this country has the strength to hear the story and to learn from it.”  

Continue at the main source – worth the read. Thanks for stopping by.  

I close with this for those who say that this issue, as well as many other key issues, don’t matter. Perhaps not; until they do.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Torture Mid-Crisis Review: American Hypocrisy and Arrogance

“We got cha' ....”  So, now what do we Do???

The subject of this post probably has already, or shortly will, offend and piss off some folks as they speak out about it, e.g., "How dare he post such inflammatory assumptions. Who does he think he is? He is un-American. He should know better. Shame on him, yada yada, yap, yap, etc." I've heard it all before and long before the Senate torture report hit the streets, and most-certainly since all the "experts" have been chattering and speaking out (as emphasized by their 'expert" Dark Dick Cheney and most of FOX network crew - top to bottom as it were).

The "pro-Cheney/I'd do it again" crowd has been loud and vocal, and honestly, way off the mark about 99.9999 percent of the time. I say that as someone with knowledge and training and experience in art and science of interrogation, and one who has done it professionally and legally and lawfully, which eliminates about 9/10th of this blog's reading audience (my hunch). Why do I say that? 

Because professionals know the rules, the law, and effective techniques about what torture is and isn't. Those who think otherwise or think they know have been watching too much “24” on TV (and in all fairness, 24 is my fav show). Sadly, they have fallen for the GOP-FOX-Rightwing Talk Radio fear mongering and hype and in most cases, flat out lies about what they think torture achieves.

So, that's where I come from: I was a skilled and highly trained interrogator, both on active duty in the Marine Corps and then later as a DOD civilian. I know the value of interrogation and for a fact I know what torture is: it is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime and has been for decades.  

I know what proper handling and treatment of detainees in our custody during time of war is, too and that does not matter their category, whether it's the legal definition or some fancy temporary term that a slick lawyer comes up with in a top secret memo and sold it to the President (Bush) as an “Okay, run with the program. It is not torture. All that brings us here with the latest in this ugly saga. 

Every thing that follows on this page and below is as factual as humanly possible - and in these cases the facts should stand above any opinion or innuendo, political or otherwise.   

This headline caught my eye and triggered this post for today:

Germany Files War Crimes Against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other CIA Officials

Introduction and key points from this headline follow:

Key point that should matter, but will it -- we are about to see the utter arrogance of a helluva lot of Americans on this issue.

Calls for an immediate investigation by the German human rights group was started after outrage ensued on the case of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, who had been captured by CIA agents in 2004 because of a mistaken identity mix-up and was tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan.

Wolfgang Kaleck, the general secretary of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, said: “By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”

In an interview with “Democracy Now,”
 Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, said that he believes Cheney, among others, have no defense for torturous actions and should be indicted:

FYI for Mr. Cheney and others - it would be wise to recall the Nuremberg defense, which did not work:

“Befehl ist befehl”
... (that is German for: “Orders are orders”). Then they might want to check the history of Army 1st Lt. William Calley and his model used at My Lai in VN in 1968. Both are weak defenses and excuses and always will be. Pros have to follow orders, for sure, but lawful and legal ones!!

Here is the bottom line, if there is ever one in this age of massive and 24/7 opinion on TV, radio, and in forums that avoid the facts and deal in raw red meat that we have seen since the Senate report was released, and that campaign is simple and direct, and yes, it may even be working with some people. Why I truly can't understand, but according to a few polls, more Americans now appear to support the Cheney view: it worked and I'd do it again. 

Folks ... torture of any kind does not work, and it never will.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Torture Queen: Supposedly Worked on KSM & Abu Zubaydah

The two links below set the scene for this post: The Outing of a CIA Operative Possibly, or Just Old News???

1.  The CIA operative, agent, analyst, or whomever appears to be in this link (possibly):

 2.  Extensive background leading up what follows below is from here:

Why this post and why now? It has been  triggered by the recently redacted 525 pages of Senate 6,700 page CIA torture report that reveals possible war crimes and violations of the Nuremberg ban on human experimentation by the CIA and their agents and some military contractors.

PREVIOUS BACKGROUND:  On December 19, 2014, journalists Glenn Greenwald and Peter Maass revealed the name of one key CIA senior officer at the center of the torture scandal. Her name is Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, who still lives in a well-appointed ranch house in Mclean, VA that is nestled in a wooded lot at 1437 Brookhaven Drive, a short 19-minute, 12-mile commute to CIA HQ in Reston, VA. She bought the property for $825,000 in April of 2012. [Click here to see image of the home].

My Q: Is this kind of release of information on this woman at this time kosher and proper? My first reaction is to say "no" it is not proper or right. However, regardless of my view, it is out there now for the world to see.

Here is a partial reading list of some of the reporting on torture in Iraq and Afghanistan:

1.  Senate Report on Abuses of Military Detainees (2008):

3.  Taguba Report on Abuses at Abu Ghraib:

4.  “Abu Ghraib Abuses” by Seymour Hersh:

5.  Special Forces in Afghanistan by Matt Aikens:

6.  Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment (especially chapter 3):

7.  “The Killing of Dilawar” by Carlotta Gall:  

Finally, a lot more can also be found below at this very site - my detainee library page – some links therein may overlap others, and if so, I’m sorry for that – but the research is extensive and there is over a dozen years of stuff that had to be screened, but I think the most pertinent and enlightening is therein.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Those Who Said No to Torture Are Heroes: Why Ignore Them

Documents Prepared on Detainee Ready for Interrogation 

Ali Soufan, former FBI Interrogator
(Involved Shortly After 9-11)

Excellent introduction below- it is about 2-minutes. Call it the introduction to this post:

More in depth about former FBI interrogator, Ali Soufan, the man who broke Abu Zubaydah, and the man who also provided KSM's name and connection to 9-11, and BTW: without any torture. 

Abu Zubaydah

A lot more is here, too - Called "The Interrogator" posted at PBS' FRONTLINE.

Thanks for stopping by ... We should salute those who said no to torture - not ignore them. I won't.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

GOP Massive and Effective PR Machine: The Big Lie and Fear

This post is based on this Headlines from the NY Times following the recent release of the SSCI CIA Torture report and fallout since:

I begin with these two reminders: LIES work, and FEAR sells.

This is especially true when lies and exaggerations are coupled to and linked to peddling FEAR. That is constantly selling the myth that: “Torture works. We have to continue it because it keeps us safe.”

Recall Hitler’s definition of the Big Lie (which appeared in his infamous Mein Kampf (in 1925) book. He referred to a lie which is “…so colossal that no-one would believe anyone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously and which would therefore, paradoxically, be accepted as true.” Ergo: a big lie sticks as truth.

Then Joseph Goebbels put forth a slightly different theory which has come to be more commonly associated with the expression “Big Lie.” He wrote the following paragraph in an article dated January 12, 1941, some 16 years after Hitler first used that phrase. The article, titled Aus Churchills Lügenfabrik (English: “From Churchill's Lie Factory”) was published in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel.

“The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

Back to the headlines story:  Americans, on balance, think the CIA was justified in its aggressive interrogation of terrorism suspects after the September 11 attacks, according to three national polls conducted in the wake of the release last week of a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The polls, conducted by CBS News; the Pew Research Center; and ABC News/Washington Post. They all found agreement among most Americans that the interrogation and detention techniques were successful in gaining information from terrorism suspects. The Senate report reached the opposite conclusion.

Deep partisan divides were seen in all three polls on the issue of whether torture was justified, with strong majorities of Republicans and fewer than half of Democrats saying it was.  The wording of the questions varied slightly between the polls, producing somewhat different results. The CBS News question, which referred to water boarding, found fewer Americans saying the methods were justified.  CBS News also asked about several of the specific interrogation methods that were detailed in the Senate report, including water boarding, sleep deprivation and threats against family members.

Majorities of Americans across party lines agree that each is a form of torture. A logical reason for this, in my view: the massive and yes, effective GOP/FOX/Rightwing Talk Radio daily 24/7 verbal attacks with limp wrist weak justification for torture … it sold and once proves to me that type of PR blitz is effective as intended. That takes us back to the top: LIES WORK and FEAR sells.

Dark Dick (Cheney): The SSCI Torture Report is Crock of Crap

157473 600 Following Disorders cartoons
Cartoons robbed from from Cagle

A look back can't hurt, can't it ... oops. I will note that the truth does have a tendency to hurt at times vis-á-vis in our system of government and democracy, so, sorry about that, Mr. Cheney. Continue please:

On September 16, 2001, then Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney, appeared on NBC's Meet the Press (apparently his favorite network next to FOX that is) where he talked about what it will take to deal with the terrorism threat, saying in part:

“…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.”

At this site (PBS’s FRONTLINE) intelligence officials and others offer their thoughts on Mr. Cheney's use of that phrase “Dark Side” as well as the impact of 9/11 on the vice president and everything since.

Enjoy it. Stop back by later. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Senate Torture Report is Out: FOX Leads Advocate Field

These two CIA consultants, neither had ever conducted an interrogation,  
said "Water boarding" was safe
(Then the CIA ran with it)

Update from here – this introduction: FOX News hosts rushed to minimize the severity of interrogation methods used by the CIA during the Bush administration in the wake of a Senate report outlining the agency's brutal techniques. Here are some of the network's worst attempts to trivialize torture. 

                The Five Worst Examples of Fox News Hosts Trivializing Torture

ORIGINAL POST STARTS FROM HERE: However, take it from a man who knows torture first hand and suffered from it for many years as a POW in North Vietnam. Ask him about torture. No, wait – why not listen to him in this short (8 minute) speech he made on the United States Senate floor right after the Senate released the report on torture.  

I give you Sen. John S. McCain (R-AZ) former POW in VN who was tortured ... watch and listen carefully:

Now you can or may read (e.g., NY Times synopsis) the 6,000-page Senate report  (released December 9, 2014), or heck, even watch and listen to FOX try to justify torture, or follow all the rabid Rightwing Talk Radio you can handle, or read the many OpEds and forum posts to follow, but the raw facts remain, and just as Sen. McCain says and I totally support on this Blog: We tortured and “it was ineffective and stained our national honor.”  I would add: possibly stained forever.  

Thanks for stopping by. Sen. McCain, the floor is all yours.

Close Gitmo but Make Room for Justice Antonin Scalia

USSC Justice Antonin Scalia

Quick Update on the following post (I just found this source after I made the post).... from here – highlights from 60 Minutes interview:

LESLEY STAHL: “If someone’s in custody, as in Abu Ghraib, and they are brutalized, by a law enforcement person — if you listen to the expression “cruel and unusual punishment,” doesn’t that apply?”

JUSTICE SCALIA: “No. To the contrary. You think — Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don’t think so.”  

Justice Scalia’s parsing of the 8th Amendment blindly ignores reports showing that the abuse at Abu Ghraib was about humiliation and punishment, not information-gathering. In 2004, the Washington Post reported MPs involved in the abuse “said detainees were beaten and sexually humiliated as punishment or for fun.” 

ORIGINAL POST STARTS HERE:  I have heard some pretty stupid and bizarre and quite frankly outrageous statements by a lot a people weakly trying to justify torture following the release of the Senate's "CIA Torture" report. However, Justice Scalia's remarks in this article just about top them all ... posted here in it's entirety. I have highlighted the parts that I consider totally insane, and I cannot believe Justice Scalia believes that or would even say it:

In an interview with Radio Television Suisse this week following the release of Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said he doesn’t “think it’s so clear at all” that the U.S. Constitution prohibits torture, especially in the “ticking time bomb” scenarios so often cited by defenders of the “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Justice Scalia said, in part: “Listen, I think it’s very facile for people to say: Oh, torture is terrible. You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people. You think it’s an easy question? You think it’s clear that you cannot use extreme measures to get that information out of that person? I don’t know what article of the Constitution that would contravene.”

As the Associated Press Mark Sherman recently reported, Justice Scalia has previously invoked the fictional Jack Bauer character from the television series 24 to make a similar point about torture, saying in part:

Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial? Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so. So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes.” (Reference: Scalia at an Ottawa legal conference in 2007). 

Ticking Time-Bomb Fallacy – click here for good article – well-documented.

My point: If any ever wanted to impeach anyone then may I suggest starting with this raving lunatic. I am totally convinced that Justice Scalia has lost his marbles as they say – he has to go – his views are not only silly, but in the verge of being insane, and from a Supreme Court Justice no less.

F/N: 24 happens to be my all-time fav TV show ... but Justice Scalia is 100% wrong and his words are strikingly sick and disgusting and certainly not for a Supreme Court Justice to advocate.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What is Torture: Blocking Senate Torture Report for Starters

Keep Things Polished — Not a Speck of Dirt
(That which the public might read about)

Most-Basic Factual Message

He Bragged About Water Boarding and Said: "It's not torture"
(I'd Do It Again - It Kept Us Safe)

FLASH UPDATE (late today) from here:

The White House has backed the release of a long-anticipated report on the CIA's interrogation techniques, despite warnings from within the administration and from lawmakers that it could lead to a backlash against Americans around the world. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration has been preparing for months for the release, which is expected late Tuesday (December 9, 2014) morning. 

In the release, the White House says: “There are some indications ... that the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to U.S. facilities and individuals all around the world, so the administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place at U.S. facilities around the globe.” Earnest went on to say that the administration still “… strongly supports the release of this declassified summary of the [Senate] report.”

Meanwhile from the GOP worrywart fear-mongering side of Town this snippet: “I think this is a terrible idea. Foreign leaders have approached us and have said, “[If] you do this, this will cause violence and deaths.” And, our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause “violence and deaths,” said GOP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) this past Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”  

Thus, based on this breaking news, I suspect Rep. Issa (R-CA) or someone like him will be cranking up the old GOP "got cha' machine" or look alike “Benghazi Panel” thingy and get it all prepped for the fall out and another way to blast Mr. Obama (that they so much want) and anyway possible. So, stay tuned. I am sure it will get very nasty and very bumpy, and for goodness sake, hang on tight.

Major update on the following recent post (with two major links) (following this update):

First, this reminder about what former President George Walker Bush said about torture: In his recently released memoir Decision Points, Mr. Bush admitted that he enthusiastically authorized that certain detainees be water boarded – or tortured, which is a crime under domestic and international law. When asked if he would authorize the torture of detainees, the former president declared “Damn right!”

The release of his memoir coincides with reports that no one will face criminal charges for the destruction of CIA videotapes which contained interrogations using water boarding (since President Obama said, “We need to look forward, not backward.” (sic) here on Youtube - his words.

The Bush clip is here on Youtube and also is in his own words about why he said okay to water boarding ... it is perhaps the weakest excuse in American history ranking up there with former Army Lt. William Calley who said about his ordering of the My Lai massacre, “I was just following orders.” (Mr. Bush apparently was just following his lawyers). 

Now the First Major Link on the following story about blocking the Senate Torture Report which as I said, follows this update. It comes from the NY Times here: Noteworthy is that former intelligence officials (all under Bush) are seeking allies against the potentially damaging Senate report. They have privately reassured the Bush team recently that they did not deceive them and have lobbied the former president’s advisers to speak out publicly on their behalf. The defense of the program has been organized by former: CIA leaders like George J. Tenet and Gen. Michael V. Hayden (two former directors), and John E. McLaughlin, a former deputy CIA director who also served as acting director.

The Second Major Link relating the same subject is this 2009 reminder from Think Progress re: “Why Bush's Enhanced Interrogation Program Failed.” There are numerous and excellent links therein with easy-to-understand and valid, legal points. Check it out.

Keep in mind as you read more on this topic that it is very complex and an extremely legally-entangled subject dating back to Abu Ghraib right up until today.

The overreaching tactic and trick remains: to prolong the subject by talking it to death, bash it whenever possible, oppose it as at all costs, try to justify it anyway possible, and then hope it just goes away and that the public will simply be sick and tired of the word “torture.”

Perhaps it will go away as an issue on the front pages, but the stain on America will last forever.

The truth of the matter must come out however painful it surely is while keeping in mind what Mr. Bush said, “Yes, water boarding was legal 'cause the lawyers told me it was and I trusted them.”  

Further, and naturally as both Mr. Bush and Dark Dick Cheney have said numerous times: “Enhanced interrogation is not torture.”

As a former Marine interrogator and highly skilled and professional I can say with absolute certainty that water boarding is torture and that there is nothing legal about the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” either.

Torture has but one single purpose (dating back thousands of years): “to inflict pain and agony and gain a false confession about a crime…”

The purpose of legal, lawful, and skillful interrogation is to glean valuable military or intelligence information that actually saves lives. 

Enjoy the rest of your reading on this subject. I have many links at this blog below. Thanks for stopping by; come again.

The original post starts from here.

New wrinkle in this saga from this headlines: 
            "John Kerry is Trying to Stall the Release of the CIA Torture Report"
Secretary of State John Kerry is pleading with the Senate to delay its imminent release of a landmark investigation into the George W. Bush administration's controversial torture and rendition practices.

Kerry called the Senate Intelligence Committee's chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Friday morning (December 5, 2014) with his concerns that the report could jeopardize fragile U.S. security interests in the Middle East (Bloomberg View) first reported.

Kerry is not seeking to block the report's release indefinitely, according to the Bloomberg report, but wants to wait because he says the timing could pose threaten U.S. personnel and facilities abroad.

My view: that “reason (which is important, but no under this long period of time)” is shallow now. That line of “reasoning (if one could call it that)” could be used forever to stall release of that report.

Then this angle comes from the New York Times:

Ms. Feinstein had planned to make the report public next week, but it is uncertain whether the call from Mr. Kerry would affect that timetable.

The exchange between Mr. Kerry and Ms. Feinstein is just the latest turn in the protracted dispute over the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the detention and interrogation of C.I.A. prisoners during the Bush administration, an investigation that set out to examine the efficacy of the brutal interrogation methods.

The committee voted this year to release the 6,000-page report’s executive summary, but the release has been held up for months because of tense negotiations between the committee and the Obama administration over how much of the report would be declassified.

It is unclear why Mr. Kerry waited until just before the report was scheduled to be released to sound alarms, since there has long been concern within the American intelligence agencies about the potential global impact of the report’s findings.

Finally, a real concern that should not be, but probably will be:

With control of the Senate about to change hands, there has been rising concern among Democrats that the report’s Republican opponents could move to shelve it once they gain control of the Intelligence Committee in January. This has given new urgency to the push by Ms. Feinstein and other Democrats to finish negotiations with the Obama administration and make the report public. 

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fact: Torture (or whatever we choose to call it) Does Not Work

Sorry Boss: We Worked on Him forever. He Never Broke. 
He Never Gave Up One Drop of Info

Here we go again and here we are again. Right back at the starting point on this nasty story of torture by Americans and the awful stain on the country. This lingering and lopsided story we have all heard so much about since 9/11 seems to have no positive resolution. 

Two updates follow regarding the release of the so-called Senate Report on CIA Torture and the sustained stalemate between the CIA, GOP, DEMS, White House, and the public's right to know and decide for itself. A sure case of open government, right — ha. Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the updates.

The first update is from the NY Times.

BACKGROUND ON HOW WE GOT HERE: The Senate Intelligence Committee spent five years working on the 6,000-page report. It is said to to contain grim details about the torture of detainees in CIA prisons and “Black Sites” all during the Bush administration. They further describe the persistent effort by CIA officials to mislead the White House and Congress about the efficacy of its interrogation techniques back then. The committee voted this year to declassify the report’s executive summary, numbering several hundred pages, but the fight over redactions has delayed the release has reached this fervor.

The protracted battle over the detention and interrogation report led to a separate dispute between the Intelligence Committee and the CIA after senators accused the agency of spying on committee staff members working on the investigation. An inquiry by the CIA IG found that several agency employees penetrated a computer network used by the Intelligence Committee and read the emails of the Senate investigators.

The findings of the CIA IG led CIA Director John Brennan to apologize to Senator Feinstein, who is chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee. Brennan also set up an internal accountability board to review the matter and possibly recommend disciplinary action against the CIA employees.


THE WHITE HOUSE: An Obama spokesman says: “The president has been clear that he wants the executive summary of the committee’s report to be declassified as expeditiously as possible. We share the Intelligence Committee’s desire for the declassified report to be released, and all of the administration’s efforts since we received the initial version have been focused on making that happen while also protecting our national security.”

THE DEM STANCE: A group of Senate Democrats accused the White House of trying to censor significant details in a voluminous report on the use of torture by the CIA in a tense White House meeting recently. The senators say that the White House is siding with the CIA and trying to thwart negotiations over the report’s release. The negotiations have dragged on for months because of a dispute over the CIA’s demand that pseudonyms of agency officers be deleted from the report.  Senate Democrats are worried that whatever leverage they have in having the report declassified on their terms is dwindling. Republicans will take control of the Senate in January, and the Intelligence Committee’s new leadership could choose to drag out the report’s release even longer.

THE GOP STANCE: Most Republican members of the committee have long been opposed to the investigation — which they have said is a partisan attempt to discredit the Bush administration — although several committee Republicans voted in favor of declassifying the report’s executive summary. They are supported by the White House and both say that even without using the real names of the officers (even only use their pseudonyms) that their identities could still be revealed. 

At the recent meeting, although civil in tone, neither side gave ground, and it ended without resolution. The report is said to provide grim details about American approved torture of detainees during the Bush administration. Further it describes the persistent effort by CIA officials to mislead the White House and Congress about the efficacy of the techniques. 

The second update is also from the NY Times: Republicans take over the Senate in just a few legislative days. And when they do, they will probably snuff out the last possibility of releasing a huge report on the use of torture by the CIA during the Bush-Cheney Administration. Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee prepared the report over the course of five years. Many of them are increasingly desperate to release it to the public. They know that, like most Republicans, the incoming chairman of the committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), thinks the report amounts to a political hit job on the Bush years.  

My View: This is a horrible stain on the country – one who prides itself, supposedly on the rule of law – but this aspect of the two long wars (one still on going and apt to get worse and Iraq about to crank back up it seems and drag us back in) will linger forever.

It is patently clear that the GOP subscribes to torture by any name and their stance on this report, which the public has a right to know, is disgusting. If they support torture so strongly, then let the public see, scratch out the CIA officers names, but release the data and then see how the public reacts. Perhaps we can heard from a few of our former POWs from the Vietnam War or from others who have ever been held captive — i.e., like like Sen. John McCain.

Keep in mind one golden rule and aspect of this whole mess for surely it is a huge mess, and that is to remember what the difference and purpose is between interrogation and torture.

Interrogation has one purpose and that is to gain valuable intelligence information for field commanders. The purpose of torture is to inflict pain and hope of the best. Torture seldom, if never produces positive results or good information.

P.S. Torture DID NOT lead to finding, raiding the location, and killing of bin-Laden, either. Period.

Playing politics on this issue that see once again is disgusting just like the ton of lies about WMD and Nukes in Iraq led to that invasion all that has transpired since.

In short: the public pays the bills, sends their sons and daughters and other loved ones to make the most sacrifices in time of war, and now witness the nasty, ugly politics in play on about torture and the release of the report that they have a right to read and know for themselves is, well in a word: totally un-American.

The hard nose approaches we see again on full display about the issue of torture must not be allowed to stand, As we like to say (but maybe do not practice) WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT.

Torture goes against everything we say we strand for. Let's prove it — release the report and do right for the country – not for narrow selfish political point making.