Headlines of the Day


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dark Dick's Dumb Daughter Defends Dear Dufus Dad — Damnit

Top of the Trash Heap
(The Loon and Fruit of the Loon)
Added: April 8, 2014

                                     CINC                                       vs.                       The CIA
                                (It kept us safe)                                                       (A pack of lies)  

                          Where is the Truth 
                          (It should always be black and white)

“If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.  — Mark Twain.

Update of this story and about the “pack of lies that the CIA and their supporters claim” just keeps on growing, kind of like that darn Energizer Bunny: It keeps on going.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to release parts of a hotly contested, secret report that harshly criticizes CIA terror interrogations after 9/11, and the White House said it would instruct intelligence officials to cooperate fully. The result sets the stage for what could be the fullest public accounting of the Bush administration's record when it comes to water boarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The panel voted 11-3 Thursday to order the declassification of almost 500 pages of the 6,300-page review, which concludes the harsh methods employed at CIA-run prisons overseas were excessively cruel and ineffective in producing valuable intelligence. Even some Republicans who agree with the spy agency that the findings are inaccurate voted in favor of declassification, saying it was important for the country to move on (like a wink/wink and nod political sound bite - just ignore it and maybe it will go away with time)?

Then this old fart sounds off:  Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden suggested Sunday that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) might have compromised the objectivity of a report on CIA interrogation techniques because she personally wants to change them. Hayden suggested Feinstein feels too strongly about the issue on an “emotional level.” (Whoa: Another GOP slap at women. Really cool, Mr. Hayden, cool.)!!

Now from the “good daughter,” Liz Cheney: Clip as seen on FOX News Sunday - what a hoot:

Then some more icing on this cake .. get your barf bags out ... cite:  Members of the intelligence community have criticized the investigation for failing to include interviews from top spy agency officials who authorized or supervised the brutal interrogations. They questioned how the review could be fair or complete. 

Example: “Neither I or anyone else at the agency who had knowledge was interviewed. They don't want to hear anyone else's narrative. It's an attempt to rewrite history,” says Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA chief clandestine officer in the mid-2000s, who had operational oversight over the detention and interrogation program.  Keep mind, is was this same Jose Rodriguez, who in 2005 ordered CIA officials under him, or himself personally,  to destroy 92 videotapes which showed water boarding of terror suspects along with other harsh techniques. Thus his "concern" now gives him zero credibility on this issue. He is a criminal who destroyed valuable evidence.

His statement (actually his opinion):

Below is a good segment on this topic today - check it out:

It should also be noted that Senate investigators were unable to talk to relevant CIA officials because of legal constraints posed by a separate investigation ordered by Attorney General Eric Holder. At Holder's direction, John Durham, an independent prosecutor, conducted several criminal probes related to interrogation methods and evidence destruction before dropping them altogether in 2012 — shortly before the Senate panel wrapped up its work. 

Another Update (April 3, 2014) — from here with these highlights: 

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 11-3 Thursday to ask the White House to declassify parts of a controversial investigation into Bush-era torture that has led to a historic clash between the committee and the Central Intelligence Agency. From the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):  “The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation; it chronicles a stain on our history that must never be allowed to happen again. This is not what Americans do.” 

Early on most Republicans on the committee withdrew from the investigation, several, including Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), voted to declassify the executive summary, findings, and conclusions of the report.

Sen. Chambliss (long has disagreed with the report’s conclusions said he only voted to declassify parts of the report because he felt the public had a right to know the results, adding:  “I was never in favor of this report being done. I think it was a waste of time. However, the general public has the right to now know what was done and what’s in the report.”

My memo for Sen. Chambliss: You may disagree with the report's conclusions and the actual conduct of the investigation as you say, but know this, did our people torture detainees or not? Before you answer, know that water boarding is torture and has been for decades. So, now you can answer and please try to do so with a straight face. (BTW, Senator: I was a Marine Corps interrogator for 10 years and a DoD one for nearly two years). I refer him to the above graph as he prepare to answer my question.

The Original Post Below:

The issue of torture and U.S. policy and conduct will not go away and rightly so. It is far too important to ignore or just brush aside. It has left an ugly stain on the honor of the country. One thing is not clearly missing: the truth. 

It is ironic and pathetic at the same time that we have 6,000-page secret reports, hundreds of articles and reports on this topic, a dozen years of darkness with few if any, hard, proven facts. Yet we say we want the truth.

However, with all that cover and camouflage surrounding this issue, it is clear to many about that one single purpose: To make the issue so complex, so hard to figure out, so hard to sort through, and so difficult to understand that the public will grow weary and just forget it. That would be a huge mistake. All of that is by careful and calculated design to wear down the public with such complexities to achieve that goal: get tired of the subject and just drop it. That must not happen.

First of all, I encourage everyone to review this guide about the ethics of lying from the BBC. It is a worthwhile read and good reference on the subject of truth and lying. 

Quick segment below based on this chart - the rest of the story follows:

6-minute segment:

Now, today’s posting. This update story comes from two sources: (1) MSNBC here and within that story a report from the (2) Washington Post here.

The heart of the both stories is this rather simple: A Senate intelligence committee investigation found that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employed brutal interrogation methods that turned out to be largely useless and then lied about their effectiveness, according to the Washington Post. And, I would add by various statements from leading Senators (Dianne Feinstein and John McCain two key members).

The Senate intelligence committee is set to vote on submitting its report for declassification on Thursday (April 3, 2014). But, will it prove the facts – the truth or not?

An important point is at the heart of this issue, and that is about torture that was (and remains) a key prong of Republican attacks on the Obama White House early in the administration. Those attacks likely helped erode political support for closing the detention camp at Guantanamo and for trying the alleged conspirators behind the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Republicans have and still contend that Obama’s abandonment of torture – virtually the only element of post-2006 Bush national security policy that Obama rejected – would inevitably lead to catastrophe.

Then add the remarks of former Vice President Dick Cheney which tend to keep the spotlight hot and on the issue and somewhat bent out of shape: “If I would have to do it all over again, I would. The results speak for themselves.” (Mr. Cheney said during a speech at American University recently).

A lot of people want to see and review the Senate's 6,300-page report. It includes what some officials describe as containing damning new disclosures about a sprawling network of secret detention facilities, known as CIA “Black sites.” Those were dismantled by President Obama in 2009. 

Stay tuned. We still have a long way to get justice, since we basically already know the facts.

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 - Velkom ...

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 you 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 

Let me reset the clock on the facts: U.S. Law Regarding Torture ref: 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. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Capstone of Bush Era: Got Away With Torture & Obama Helped

Luckiest People in the World Who Escaped Justice
(Rice, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Gonzales
Addington,  Haynes, Yoo, Bybee, Tenet)
(And anyone else tied to this issue in anyway)

This blog has been dedicated to the issue of torture, or as novices love to call it “enhanced interrogation,” which BTW does not exist.

Let’s be clear: The sole purpose of torture is to inflict pain and not realistically gain actionable and valuable intelligence for ground commanders.

That is a fact that all experienced and professional interrogators know. Those who think otherwise are either (1) stupid and naïve, (2) dumb and blind, or (3) sadistic, or possibly all three.

This article summarizes where we are today regarding this ugly stain on our country. Is has gone away, legally-speaking for those involved, but the nasty stench will linger forever.

The lead sentence in the article says it all: “Among the many things to be said about the CIA’s Bush-era interrogation program, one of the most important is that they got away with it.”

Our government allowed it, sanctioned it, by looking the other way. We should all be ashamed.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lying & Hiding Facts: White House, Congress, CIA in Cahoots

Senate Oversight Committee Task

Senate Oversight Committee Report Results
(Getting Very Ugly Real Fast)

More follow-up to the posts and updates below. This story just keeps on growing. The best summary comes from here, and is stated in this way regarding everything that follows concerning the current battle between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee about who spied on whom, or not, and why or why not: 

“[Now] ... instead of having either of those documents brought before the public, we will have to endure a long – weeks? months? years? – battle between the Senate and the CIA over who broke into whose computers first. The result will be more secrecy, less information, and, of course, no accountability.”

The second source is from here. The key statement here is one I have had a very hard time agreeing with in any sense. It reads: “A recent post by the Editorial Page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, criticized the Central Intelligence Agency’s effort to keep secret two reports on its post-9/11 detention and interrogation practices. He argued that the CIA’s ongoing fight with Congress is an outgrowth of the decision President Obama made at the beginning of his administration to “look forward” instead of holding his predecessor’s administration accountable.” (Note: This is the part I disagree with the President about – totally – and for a hundred valid reasons that are based on my 12 years as a trained and experienced interrogator who worked all over the world).

That point is the most-critical aspect of the whole “enhanced interrogation is okay – and it works and keeps us safe crowd – who believe that BS, which includes water boarding. And, yes, that too is torture. It all leaves a horrible stain on the country and that that ugly stain will remain forever. It will not go away or leave when those involved and who condoned it leave office, either. Things this ugly never go away.

Update (March 11, 2014), from three different sources:

The other two sources are from the two links listed in the story: (1) The NY TIMES and (2) McClatchy.  This story as they say in the media business has legs.

Now the excellent 8-minute video background segment from MSNBC which includes an appearance by the NY TIMES reporter, Mark Mazzetti who wrote the story.

Any professional well-trained and experienced interrogator worth his or her weight in salt will tell you and would agree that water boarding is not and never has been effective. It has been and remains a serious war crime – being both illegal and unlawful.

Those who profess differently are entitled to their opinions, of course, but opinions ever trump facts or the truth and that is what we are dealing with here – the truth. Most of that talk comes from hardcore war hawks, who in most cases are better referred to as “Chicken Hawks” since most of them never served a single day in uniform, let alone ever saw combat. They believe torture works. It does not. And, it certainly does not “keep us safe.” For anyone interested in the truth and facts, this should matter. That is what this Blog aims for: the Truth. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Historical Footnote to Gitmo: Stain and Bad Idea All Along

Gitmo (Cir. 2002)
Gitmo (Today): Forever a Stain on America

Updated (February 23, 2014): Very interesting article and assessment by the Marine General who opened Gitmo in 2002 — from two sources: The original article from the Detroit Free Press (is here), and the longer version from Think Progress (is here), in part:

General Lehnert explains how he and his task force were told shortly after the September 11 attacks that the prisoners at Guantánamo were “... the worst of the worst.” 

However, he quickly realized that this was not the case.

He now says: “Even in the earliest days of Guantánamo, I became more and more convinced that many of the detainees should never have been sent in the first place. They had little intelligence value, and there was insufficient evidence linking them to war crimes.”

I would add: Hey, Mr. and Mrs. GOPer, how about this little budget tidbit:  Closing Guantánamo would save billions of taxpayer dollars over the years, as each prisoner costs $2.7 million per year to hold (there are currently 162 there now). 

Thus far, the U.S. has spent nearly $5 billion on maintaining the facility.

Continue at the link above, and in my posts below. Enjoy the research, and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Terrorists: Civil vs. Military Trials — Which is More Effective

Huge Fav with the GOP Righties — Why is That

An update on this subject — it's always good to reflect on these well-known high-profile cases (all tried in Civilian Court): 
  1. Richard Reid, the “Shoe bomber,” life in super max prison
  2. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “Underwear bomber,” life in super max prison.
  3. Ramzi Yousef, “One of the 1993 WTC bombers,” life in super max prison.
  4. Zacarias Moussaoui, “The so-called 20th  hijacker on 9/.11,” life in super max prison.
  5. Omar Abdel-Rahman, “The Blind Shiekh who planned the 1993 WTC bombing,” life in super max prison.
In 12 years since the military commissions were set up at Gitmo only seven individuals have been tried and/or convicted:  
  1. One, found guilty, Osama bin-Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, but it was recently reversed on appeal.
  2. One, found guilty, sentenced to seven years in prison, but served only nine months of penalty, mostly in Australia, under terms of a plea agreement.
  3. One, acquitted on conspiracy charge, but found guilty for providing material support and sentenced to five and a half years, but was credited for 61 months in detention.
  4. One, sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in 2008, but conviction was vacated by Court of Appeals in 2013.
  5. One, Benyam Mohammed, all charges dropped before trial.
  6. One, Mohammed Jawad, all charges withdrawn and dismissed.
  7. One, N.U. Mohammed, plead guilty to all counts – sentence pending on appeal.
It is also likely that the conviction of Abu Ghaith will be reversed if it were brought in a military commission. He is charged with conspiracy to kill Americans in 2001 and 2002.  However, conspiracy has never before been considered a war crime. So any conviction on that charge by the commissions would likely face the same fate in an eventual appeal.

A few other resources on this subject:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Back in Our Face: What Does Due Process Mean for Americans

U. S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator "Drone" In Flight

Update (February 13, 2014): Historical and legal foundation for "assassination" by the United States with these key reminders:

1.  President Bush issued an Executive Order to advance and institutionalize the reforms enacted into law by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and to provide a durable framework for the conduct of the Nation's intelligence activities.  The Executive Order – which updates Executive Order 12333 originally issued by President Reagan in 1981 – responds to the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA). 

This Executive Order also retains the existing ban on assassination and the limitations on human experimentation.  Intelligence officials will continue to be obligated to report possible violations of federal law to the Attorney General, as well as to the DNI and the President's Intelligence Oversight Board.

2.  Background leading up to that Bush EO:

Part 2.11 of this executive order reiterates a proscription on US intelligence agencies sponsoring or carrying out an assassination. It reads:  "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." 

Previously, in EO 11905 (President Ford) had banned political assassinations and in EO 12036 (President Carter) had further banned indirect U.S. involvement in assassinations. 

As early as 1998, this proscription against assassination was reinterpreted, and relaxed, for targets who are classified by the United States as connected to terrorism.

Here we are today:

The Associated Press reported (see below) that the White House is considering using a drone strike to assassinate an American citizen accused of ties to Al-Qaeda.

If the administration ends up approving the strike, the target would become the fifth American citizen killed by the government’s so-called “remote assassination program.”

News that the White House is considering killing yet another American comes less than a year after the President announced reforms to the drone program during a speech at the National Defense University.

As early as 1998, this proscription against assassination was reinterpreted, and relaxed, for targets who are classified by the United States as connected to terrorism.

Here we are today (this story), in part:

The Associated Press reported (see below) that the White House is considering using a drone strike to assassinate an American citizen accused of ties to Al-Qaeda.

If the administration ends up approving the strike, the target would become the fifth American citizen killed by the government’s so-called “remote assassination program.”

News that the White House is considering killing yet another American comes less than a year after the President announced reforms to the drone program during a speech at the National Defense University.

As I said, here we are again: We are about to witness the turmoil and mechanics that go into a presidential decision about whether or not to employ one of our drones to “take out an American” that supposedly has been identified as an al-Qaeda operative in an unidentified country that does not allow our drones in their airspace. Precise details are of course, lacking, but the essence of the story follows: 

WASHINGTON (AP) — An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaeda is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say, and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year.

The CIA drones watching him cannot strike because he's a U.S. citizen and the Justice Department must build a case against him, a task it hasn't completed.

Four U.S. officials said the American suspected terrorist is in a country that refuses U.S. military action on its soil and that has proved unable to go after him. And President Obama's new policy says American suspected terrorists overseas can only be killed by the military, not the CIA, creating a policy conundrum for the White House.

Two of the officials described the man as an al-Qaeda facilitator who has been directly responsible for deadly attacks against U.S. citizens overseas and who continues to plan attacks against them that would use improvised explosive devices.

My notes: 

1.  I can just hear the GOP hawks claiming over the next few days: “See, we told you so. Obama is weak on fighting terrorism. He cannot be trusted. If we were to ask Monica Lewinsky, she would tell us not to trust him just like she ended up not trusting Bill Clinton.”

2.  GOP campaign posters, TV ads, and Talking Points for appearance on Fox are being developed as I type this post and will go into full swing once Roger Ailes and Karl Rove approve them.

And, other nonsense things like that. Am I cynical, apathetic, or what? Nope not in the least bit. I believe I am being very realistic and this is based on current events and GOP reaction to everything around them as they search for an issue that will stick for 2014 and beyond.

Thus far, they not having much luck on getting much traction on things like: “Obama's birth place; his “real” religion; where he keeps his copy of Qu'ran; how much more will he bow to Muslims; does h actually pray towards Mecca (I just added that one); what are his real ties to Rev. Wright; and more recently, little evidence that shows that the IRS right wing scandal, Benghazi attack, and seizure of AP records have done any lasting damage to Obama. But, hey, that still doesn't keep them from digging and slinging more. They do have Witch Hunter-in-Chief Darrel Issa still on the job.

A lot of tongue in cheek here today, but the issue remains: Use of drones to track down and kill Americans under any and all circumstances is the great challenge of the day - it may decide our national future.

Stay tuned, and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Close Gitmo: In High Gear With High-Powered Signatures

Camp X-Ray Closed After Operating in 2002

Major Update (February 8, 2014) on a very important issue - one gathering more steam and now with some pretty notable names on a letter sent to President Obama, as reported on here, in part:

"One-time mentors and fundraisers for President Obama admonished him in an open letter just released for his failure to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

and they wrote:

“As you know, half of the prisoners still at Guantanamo — 77 of the 155 there — were cleared for transfer over four years ago by your Joint Task Force (JTF), yet they remain at Guantanamo Bay! They should be returned to their homes and families immediately.”

I agree, although this is a complex issue the mechanics are simple: not going to trial, not even considered for trial, not guilty of any crime, then release them, Mr. President. Imagine this were Vietnam and the Hanoi "Hilton" POW camp all over again... that was a huge stain on North Vietnam at the time, and this today is a huge stain on us. 

Original Post: Camp X-Ray was the temporary detention facility at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp of Joint Task Force Guantanamo on the U.S. Naval Base side of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The first twenty detainees arrived there January 11, 2002.

It was named Camp X-Ray because various temporary camps in the station were named sequentially from the beginning and then from the end of the NATO phonetic alphabet. The legal status of detainees at the camp, as well as government processes for trying their cases, has been a significant source of controversy; with several landmark cases having reached the United States Supreme Court.

As of April 29, 2002, it was closed and all detainees were transferred to ultra-fancy and very expensive Camp Delta, which is actually comprised of 7 separate camps.

This update (January 22, 2014) is from MSNBC. It asks the question: How to get out of Gitmo – now

Five years ago today, President Obama issued an Executive Order outlining his plan to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Its population has been whittled down to 155 detainees but Guantánamo is still open — a continuing symbol not just of one of the United States’ more controversial post-September 11 counter-terrorism initiatives, but of one of the Obama administration’s more disheartening policy failures. 

Part of the problem has been a series of onerous restrictions Congress has placed on the transfer of detainees to their home countries, detention within the United States, or release. In the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress expanded the president’s power to send detainees home, but the bar on transfer into the United States remains. (I note: Congress apparently does not trust our civil courts even though hundreds of terrorists have been tried, convicted, and now sit in maximum security prisons in the U.S.)   

But the central obstacle to closing Guantánamo has been the fate of a core group of detainees —46, as of this writing — whom the government has designated as too dangerous to be released. And yet, in each of these cases an array of evidentiary or substantive roadblocks preclude a civilian or even military criminal trial. So long as this group exists, closing Guantánamo was never going to be synonymous with ending detention; even if the other remaining detainees can be sent overseas or tried here, there would still be the “un-releasable” 46.

Story continues at the link above. More on this later I am sure.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Good Place to Park this Story — It Has Legs

Photo Grabbed From Story 


Dozens of people from the U.S. who fought in Syria have returned home and are under FBI surveillance, but American officials fear that they haven't identified all of them, several senior officials told ABC News in interviews beginning last October.

The senior officials said that more than 50 “U.S. persons” — a designation that covers both natural-born and naturalized citizens as well as those who have lived in the U.S. — have returned here after battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in the Middle Eastern nation's bloody civil war (a lot of news clips here). 

One of the senior counter-terrorism officials went further, saying the actual number of returning U.S. fighters from Syria is classified but is “much higher” than 50.

Not all of those who have returned are considered “Jihadis” who adhere to the anti-U.S. violent ideology espoused by the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden, but many are suspected of such sympathies, officials say. 

Continue at the story link. As they say in the media business: This story has legs. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Commit a Crime, Brag, Write Book, Get Rich: New America

John A. Rizzo, lawyer at the CIA for 34 years

"Yes, we water boarded, it kept us safe..."

First some background from here back in 2009: “We tortured Mohammed al-Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case for prosecution,” said Susan J. Crawford in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates back in February 2007.  

That torture Judge Crawford mentioned: water boarding. And, yes, my friends, water boarding is a crime. It is unlawful, illegal, and a war crime. Proof - recall this story from a torture expert, Sen. John McCain. 

This update from the John Rizzo story with this introduction (my emphasis is added):

WASHINGTON — The decision to water board Al Qaeda prisoners in 2002 was made by CIA managers and government lawyers, and was not initially approved by President George W. Bush, according to a new account by a former CIA lawyer that revises the history of America's response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

A memoir by John Rizzo, longtime acting general counsel for the CIA, says Bush was not initially informed about the use of water boarding and other harsh interrogation techniques that critics later called torture, despite Bush's claim to the contrary in his 2010 book.

Bush later signed on, and Rizzo repeats previous CIA claims that key members of Congress, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), were fully briefed on what the CIA called “enhanced interrogation techniques” and did not object, something that Pelosi has denied.

Even with this “truth” coming out, what does it mean? Obviously no prosecution will be pursued for the approving parties (i.e., Bush-Cheney, et al), or for those who actually committed the crimes since Mr. Obama already said as much (they were following orders and policies it seems – sounds like the My Lai excuse to me).

However, all that aside, we must ask ourselves, “is this the kind of country we are or have become all the while calling ourselves a nation of laws, not men; a country that stands for democracy, liberty, justice and the values we profess so often that we peddle around the globe?” The answer to me is clear: I guess we have become that kind of nation. 

This whole chapter is ugly and a permanent stain on our country. What happened is beyond comprehension for me and I am sure for millions of others, too. But, you know what? It doesn't matter. Voices like mine and perhaps yours, too, are only voices barking in the wilderness – appear empty with no substance and no one in authority listens. What we say, know, or believe to be true, even in light of the admissions of criminal actions (and yes, torture is a crime) does not matter. We have no power, and no one else will pursue the issue. People talk about it, and write about it, and opine about it, but it doesn't matter. 

Welcome to the new American way of business. Hypocrisy is our middle name. It makes me sick. What about you?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Iraq: Turmoil, Sitrep Dire, GOP Line: "Bring 'em on" Redux

al-Qaeda Goal: Western State of their own 

GOP Goal: Prove Obama Wrong and Weak

Very good rundown here from MSNBC with Luke Russert (9-minute segment):

Senators like Graham (R-SC) and not necessarily McCain, per se (who knows war very up close and personal), want more war, whether in Iraq, nearby Syria or next door in Iran. They will not be content until they show and tell "see, only we can keep America safe," but I wonder? Are Syria and Iran a threat to us, really!!

Stay tuned - this is just heating up.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Iraq War: March 2003 — U.S. Combat Ends August 2010 — Oops

Fallujah Back in al-Qaeda Hands

Update (January 5, 2014): Main posting follows this update from here (NBC world news):

Secretary of State John Kerry told journalists as he left Jerusalem for Jordan and Saudi Arabia: “We will stand with the government of Iraq and with others who will push back against their efforts to destabilize. We are going to do everything that is possible,” then he quickly added, “This is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis ... We are not contemplating returning.”

al-Qaeda fighters back in Fallujah

I totally agree with Kerry's statement - and we must hold true to it. 

If the Iraqis are not ready to face this and restore order, then our troops reentering that area again won't help ... aid to them, yes; troops on the ground? Nope - not any more unless Iraq were faced with a full-fledged invasion from Iran or Syria (only exception I would support).

Original Post Starts Here: The headlines like here from the Washington Post is the same from other media. None of it is pretty:

“A rejuvenated al-Qaeda-affiliated force asserted control over the western Iraqi city of Fallujah raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U. S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago. The capture of Fallujah came amid an explosion of violence across the western desert province of Anbar in which local tribes, Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants have been fighting one another for days in a confusingly chaotic three-way war.” 

Continue the story at the link.  Some background is in order at this point, and not more “Mission Accomplished” rhetoric. 

That expression comes from former President George W. Bush in his now infamous “2003 Mission Accomplished Speech” from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln during his televised address on May 1, 2003, wherein he told the world that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, and that we had prevailed. Were that statement true. U.S. Forces actually fought two battles to free Fallujah, which was the bloodiest since the Vietnam War as noted below and well after that speech:

•  First Battle of Fallujah, in April 2004
  Second Battle of Fallujah, in November 2004

Naturally this news is not pretty as I said on so many levels not even counting the fact that al-Qaeda is on the move again in Iraq. This area is on the main road right into the heart of Syria, too. And, that is by chance I think. Syria would love to protect their national right flank, and having friends like al-Qaeda in control of Western Iraq can't be bad for them.

Stay tuned. Next up I suspect will be to see and hear the U.S. reaction to this. Obviously Iraqi forces were not prepared to take control of their nation's security. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Boston Marathon Bomber Talking: Some GOPers Not Listening

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 
(pictured before he was wounded)

The Evil Deed Captured on Film Forever

The basic story comes from here (NBC News). The angle I want to emphasize in this post is about some GOPers who won't listen, are unwilling to listen, just being coy, or trying to spread more doggie doo for their own benefit and not for justice come from here (the Rachel Maddow Show). Some of the remarks in the story are highlighted below:  

“... everyone involved certainly hopes these discussions produce answers, they coincide with a growing political debate, spurred on by conservative Republicans, about Tsarnaev’s legal fate.”

e.g., a Republican Senate candidate in Massachusetts wants the government to revoke the suspect’s citizenship status, though there is no law that makes this a legitimate option. 

e.g., Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee who struggled badly with the details of the case last week, argued without proof that it’s “very probable” Tsarnaev received training from al-Qaeda.

e.g., Then there’s Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one GOPer who is/has been leading the charge to designate Tsarnaev as an “enemy combatant.” He conceded that federal law does not allow American citizens to be tried in military commissions, but he nevertheless believes the mere possibility of an al-Qaeda connection is enough to push the legal envelope.

But some legal rational minds might prevail. At least one Senator sounds a more reasonable note: 

e.g., Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the laws of war did not apply to Mr. Tsarnaev and that there was so far no evidence that he was “part of any organized group, let alone al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or one of their affiliates – the only organizations whose members are subject” to detention as a part of war

Levin added: “In the absence of such evidence, I know of no legal basis for his detention as an enemy combatant. To hold the suspect as an enemy combatant under these circumstances would be contrary to our laws and may even jeopardize our efforts to prosecute him for his crimes.”

My view: Tsarnaev should feel the full weight the law but we have to do it correctly and without political emotion and irrational political behavior... the handling of detainees at Gitmo emphasize my point.

There will be more to follow on this subject later I am sure. Thanks for stopping by.