Thursday, June 18, 2015

Will Sun Ever Set on Gitmo "Not Under Obama" — /s/ The GOP

Photo provided by the AP / the Toronto Star by Michelle Shephard

A Republican-led Senate panel on February 12, 2015, narrowly approved legislation that would bar most transfers of terror suspects from our detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, That was a major roadblock in President Obama’s push to close Gitmo.

Now we are in June 2015, and face these two major developments relating to those remaining detainees there and closure of the facility – also, I might add, from a GOP-run Senate:

(1)  Some in the Senate push to limit CIA torture techniques (June 13, 2015):  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has joined a bipartisan team pushing to limit “enhanced or brutal interrogation techniques” rightly labeled torture techniques, such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and electric shock that the CIA can use on detainees. McCain along with and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the Senate that would prohibit the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” tactics and allow the CIA to only use techniques listed in the Army Field Manual (FM), such as deception, the silent treatment, isolation (and I add: the many others proven effective minus any torture). The amendment would make permanent the executive order signed by President Obama back in 2009 that limited interrogation techniques to those found in the Army FM.

(2)  Over White House objections, the Senate (June 18, 2015) passed a $612 billion defense policy bill that calls for (1) arming Ukraine forces against Russia, (2) prevents another round of base closures, and (3) makes it harder for President Obama to close the prison Gitmo for terror suspects still detained there, some 116 or so. The Senate vote was 71-25 that approved the bill, which Mr. Obama has threatened to veto, and yet must be reconciled with the House version passed earlier.
In addition to that, the White House opposes the provisions that would make it harder for Obama to transfer the remaining 116 detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so he can make good on his pledge to close the military prison.  So, it stays open and there get no justice – which used to the American way … Imagine Americans still held in Hanoi – ouch.
Now, this latest on detainee release from The AP via Yahoo news in part: At least two Guantanamo Bay detainees are using President Obama's own words to argue that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is over — and therefore they should be set free.  
The court cases from detainees captured in Afghanistan ask federal judges to consider at what point a conflict is over and whether Obama, in a written statement last December, crossed that line by saying the American “combat mission in Afghanistan is ending.”  The questions are important since the Supreme Court has said the government may hold prisoners captured during a war for only as long as the conflict in that country continues.
“The lawyers for the detainees are asking the right questions,” says Stephen Vladeck, a national security law professor at American University, “And what's really interesting is that the government can't quite seem to figure out its answer.” 
The DOJ opposes the detainee challenges, arguing that “… the conflict in Afghanistan has clearly not concluded and the president didn't say that all fighting had ended.” (Or words to that affect). 
Stay tuned – "... it aint’ over till it’s over" as Yogi Berra would say. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Two Torture Novices Back in the Spotlight Under a Heat Lamp

Bruce Jessen (top) and Jim Mitchell

Background for the following three key stories vis-à-vis torture from here as well as other stories of interest to the readers – check them out after this brief set up:

Snapshot of Jessen and Mitchell: John Bruce Jessen is both a retired Air Force psychologist and former Mormon bishop along with James Elmer Mitchell, also a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and psychologist created the controversial interrogation program used by the CIA and others referred to as “enhanced interrogation (and note in professional interrogation lingo that means “torture”) of detainees.

The two earned some $81 million from the CIA for their program. At one point, those two yahoos were quoted as saying, “It's not harmful or long lasting.”

The major problem with both Jessen and Mitchell as noted in the ABC article is this – pretty simple really: Neither one of them had ever conducted an interrogation, or had ever been involved in an intelligence operation in the real world, let alone in a combat situation.

When they became involved in interrogations for the CIA, it was their first step into the real world of intelligence, said Air Force Colonel Steve Kleinman, a career military interrogator and former colleague of both Mitchell and Jessen. “That was their very first experience with it. Everything else was role-play,” Kleinman said.

On top of that, Mitchell and Jessen had no experience with al-Qaeda, Islamic extremists, or battlefield interrogations. Yet, more than anyone else, they shaped the CIA's interrogation program for all the evil shit it contained and we have witnessed a dozen years or so.

Now this update as it relates the damage those two inflicted. Also, note that the strikeouts in the articles below are from the original source document editors:

1.  CIA torture program broke agency rules on human experimentationTimeline suggested CIA manipulated basic definitions of human experimentation to ensure the torture program proceeded – watchdog from June 15 2015:  The Central Intelligence Agency had explicit guidelines for "human experimentation" - before, during and after its post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees prisoners - that raise new questions about the limits on the CIA’s in-house and contracted medical research. Sections of a previously classified CIA document, made public by the Guardian, empower the agency's director to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research.” CIA director George Tenet approved abusive interrogation torture techniques, including water boarding, designed by CIA contractor psychologists (Note: Our two “friends outlined above”).  Tenet further instructed the agency's health personnel to oversee the brutal interrogations -- the beginning of years of controversy, still ongoing, about torture as a violation of medical ethics.

2.  Human experimentation and the CIA: Read the previously classified document also from June 15, 2015: This document, updated over the years and still in effect at the CIA, was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the ACLU and shared with the Guardian, which is publishing it for the first time. The guidelines for 'human experimentation' were still in effect during the lifespan of the agency's controversial interrogation torture program.

3.  Senators push to limit CIA torture techniques from June 13, 2015:  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has joined a bipartisan team pushing to limit brutal interrogation torture techniques -- such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and electric shock – that the CIA can use on detainees. McCain and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the Senate that would prohibit the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” tactics and allow the CIA to only use techniques listed in the Army Field Manual (FM), such as deception, the silent treatment, isolation (and I add: the many others proven effective minus any torture). The amendment would make permanent the executive order signed by President Obama back in 2009 that limited interrogation techniques to those found in the Army FM.

And here we are still today: With the public in the dark, the world in turmoil, and detainees at Gitmo still waiting on justice – whatever that means, who knows?

Thanks for stopping by. More updates later.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Detainees Released Since 2002: FOX Blasts Obama Skips Bush

DOD statement on the release

 Six latest detainees released 

The facts on the ground
(BTW: the simple math says under Bush-Cheney 532 were released)
(Fox is kinda mum on that part - why is that???)

Check out this video clip from Fox - it runs about 7 minutes. Especially watch and listen to the 
FOX slant - their apparent and utter disdain for Mr. Obama flows as usual just about anything or everything he even tries to do, has done. They constantly attack him in full armor.

This video clearly shows the FOX-run/GOP-managed PR machine with all its ugly, nasty, well-funded, and albeit very effective partnership in full throttle, clever unison, and sad cahoots, which is open and not a secret at all.

Yet, the GOP and FOX have the unmitigated gall to say it is "Mr. Obama who is undermining America..." ha ...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Subtle Form of Torture: Controlled Polls and Slanted Questions

Simple Graph With Simple Choices for Responses 
(easy to measure results)

Two ways to look at polling, which is something I have always been interested in for a very long time:

First Example: Polling is prevalent in modern day politics, with most every politician utilizing and implementing polls to serve their needs. Politicians may even have a team of pollsters at their right hand in order to keep a steady grip and knowledge on polls.
  • Former President Bill Clinton was most famous for his excessive use of polling, going as far as polling to determine optimal vacations spots and pets for his family that could yield the highest popularity among voters.
  • Former President George W. Bush was certainly less flagrant in his usage of polls, but used them nonetheless to determine how to create a favorable outlook on his unfavorable policies.
Both of these presidents were aware of the advantages that effectively employing polls could have. Both were well aware of the multitude of uses and impacts that their polling could offer.

Thus, polling is no longer simply an objective questionnaire used to determine a popular opinion about something simple or easy to see the results quickly and get a feel for what the public really thinks (like the first chart above re: Opinion on the Iraq war in 2007).

It asks and answers this question: “What does this graph show?”

This graph is an example of a public opinion poll that asks a question about a specific issue with four possible answers. The respondent's opinions show their feelings on the matter below percentage. From the graph, it can be determined quickly that the public believes the situation in Iraq has gotten worse.

So, polling and its purpose and affect both have a broader spectrum of usage than ever; some good, some not so hot.

Second Example * current hot topic now in Congress: Refers to the two charts below that are supposed to be self-explanatory about public basically on the same subject, but are they really, objective?

One Set of Views

Second Set of View - same subject

It boils down to the question, how it is formulated but more importantly who is asked and how it is asked and sometimes even, when it is asked.

More so, it is evident that the use of polling is very beneficial but not always accurate. Polling analyzes the voters behaviors, however, if the poll itself is biased or unclear, the results are not as accurate as they were hoped to be. Polling is a necessary process, but is not always completely reliable.

Additionally, polls impact voters because people stick with the norm. If many people feel one way, others will be influenced and ultimately do the same. This constant cycle of people voting because others did that first, causes for further falsity in the results.

However, the results that are released are taken into consideration by the politicians and they govern based on what the public says. So, polls are at their greatest when they are accurate.

What we do not need are more highly-paid and ugly Ads like the next graph (cartoon actually) shows. You may agree or might not, but it does make the point I want to make with this post. I wonder what the poll results for this blog post would be (smile).

Thanks for stopping by and by all means answer the next pollster who calls for your opinion. It might just count - for what I am not sure (second smile - depends on who is paying for the survey, I guess)???

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

CIA Torture Report: Not to be Released — Here We Go Again

"Damn right, we did. I ordered it. So what? Nobody will ever prove it ..." 
(ho ho hee hee ha ha)

This post relates to the following headlines and then a few details on the subject that got us here with the Judge’s decision. Here is the headline that got my attention and that warrants this review:

Judge Who Blocked Release of Osama bin-Laden Death Photos Now Blocks Release of Senate Torture Report
The background then goes back to the Senate in 2014 with this re: The CIA Torture Report 
Senate Votes to Declassify Parts of CIA Torture Report 
Also, I wanted to remind everyone what former President George Walker Bush said about torture: In his recent memoir “Decision Points,” Mr. Bush admitted that he enthusiastically authorized that certain detainees be water boarded – or tortured, which has been a Federal and war crime for decades under both domestic and international law. When asked if he would authorize the torture of detainees again, 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 in 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’ orders - oops).  

Now here we are today: The basic premised why the Senate report is being blocked is simple and by careful design, in a nutshell as the Judge states this way:  

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s full report on the CIA program. The executive summary of the report was previously made public, albeit with numerous redactions.  

Now, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg (appointed by Mr. Obama) has rejected the ACLU’s request, ruling that the report remains a congressional record and thus isn’t subject to the FOIA. When Congress created FOIA in 1966, it made sure to exempt the legislative branch from its provisions.  

That may be true (can’t be released under FOIA rules), but Congress can waive that and allow the release of the report for the public read – why? This government acted on our behalf and by all accounts broke a lot of laws regarding treatment of detainees and that report will shed light on the program. The public does indeed in my view have a compelling right to know – then we can make up our mind to judge whether our government acted on our best behalf or not. That is fundamental to our system, isn’t it?  

Closely related:
If this ruling stands, it keeps the spotlight on an ugly chapter in our history and the country that will forever remain a terrible stain ... that should matter - so why doesn't it?

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.