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May 07 2018

About Those War Crimes

The United States commits War Crimes. To this day. Our air strikes against and ground force presence in Syria, for example, are an instance of Aggressive War.

“To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”- Norman Birkett, 1945

There is no declaration of War, no U.N resolution, no Authorization to Use Military Force, simply a whimsical War Criminal President who decided to use the Intelligence Assets and Armed Services of the United States to overthrow a sovereign government that represents no threat to our country or citizens.

I am talking of course about Barack Obama.

But, you know, the Nazis and Japanese did other criminal things like torturing and executing Civilians and Prisoners of War.

The United States does that too.

One notable illustration is what is euphemistically termed “enhanced interrogation” but specifically labeled torture by many International Treaties we have signed and had ratified in Congress, making them co-equal with the Constitution itself as the supreme law of the land.

Now our current War Criminal in Chief proposes placing Gina Haspel, a woman whose crimes are different only in volume from Reinhard Heydrich and Henrich Himmler, at the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

I’ll let Charlie Pierce take it from here-

Gina Haspel’s Confirmation Hearings Are an Opportunity to Confront a Moral Disaster
By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine
May 7, 2018

There was an unfortunate panel discussion on Kasie Hunt’s new MSNBC joint on Sunday night. The topic was the nomination of Gina Haspel to head the CIA in the face of her active participation in the program of torture initiated by the Bush Administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. What we know is that Haspel oversaw the operation of a CIA “black site” in Thailand, and, on orders from her superiors, destroyed videotapes of the “enhanced interrogation” that took place there so that the country wouldn’t find out exactly how “enhanced” was the interrogation that took place in our names.

Over the weekend, it appears, Haspel offered to take her name out of nomination, not out of concern for the war crimes with which she might have been complicit, but out of concern for the reputation of the CIA. As of now, her nomination remains viable as the president* blessed it on the electric Twitter machine Monday morning.

My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018

Yeah, right. Whatever, Knocko.

On Sunday night, then, Hunt put together a panel to discuss the Haspel nomination, and the issues arising from it. The panel consisted of MSNBC’s Ken Dilanian, the Daily Beast’s Sam Stein, and two of the network’s stable of experts: Jeremy Bash, a Democratic lawyer who also served as Leon Panetta’s chief of staff at the Department of Defense and at CIA during the Obama years, and John McLaughlin, who served as both deputy director and interim director at CIA during the Bush administration.

To his credit, Stein pushed back, only to have Bash ask him if he’d “read the entire report,” which is the bureaucrat’s equivalent of some half-bright outfielder asking a reporter if he ever “played the game.” Of course, some of the evidence that might have been included in that report isn’t there because it was destroyed by people like Gina Haspel.

Bash led off, having just spoken to Haspel. (The initiates stay in touch.) And he explained, blandly, that Haspel was afraid that her confirmation hearings would damage the image of the CIA by “reopening old wounds from 2002 and 2003.” He sounded like he was talking about the covert warfare of the Assyrian Empire rather than an abandonment of American principles that took place within the last 15 years. As with most people carrying the brief for torture, Bash also made sure to mention that one of the people that was waterboarded in Thailand was “Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, who beheaded the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.” This demagogue’s trick, too, is one of the ceremonies of the priesthood—flogging your arguments with a corpse.

McLaughlin chimed in that the “danger” is that “this will all be reopened and it’s not really well understood. It’s difficult to get at the facts of what happened during this period of time.” (McLaughlin, we must presume, knows damned well what happened, since he was deputy director at CIA at the time.) Then he went long on the siren call that led America onto the dark side from which we have not entirely returned.

“What you have to remember is that this was an extraordinary moment in the history of the country. Three thousand people had died. We had reliable reporting that there was a second wave attack planned. Bin Laden had met with nuclear scientists. We had forensic evidence that al Qaeda had an anthrax program under way in Afghanistan. We found that after we went in. This was an extraordinary time and this program that everybody is focused on is not well-understood. It was not well-examined by the Senate and that report is very controversial among people involved in the program who look back at it and say, ‘All of that context is missing.’”

Oh, shut up, please. This is Torturer’s Bingo. We have the Ticking Bomb. The We Know More Than You tap-dance, and the remarkable assertion that America’s torturers find the Senate’s conclusion that they tortured “controversial.” I’m sure that Whitey Bulger’s crew found federal indictments controversial, too.

Just to supply some context, because McLaughlin asked for it, here are some of the CIA’s wounds that Bash and McLaughlin have pronounced too tender to be reopened, courtesy of The New York Times.

The report describes extensive waterboarding as a “series of near drownings” and suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three prisoners the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The report also describes detainees being subjected to sleep deprivation for up to a week, medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” and death threats. Conditions at one prison, described by a clandestine officer as a “dungeon,” were blamed for the death of a detainee, and the harsh techniques were described as leading to “psychological and behavioral issues, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.”

And:

The report says that the C.I.A. provided false and misleading information to members of Congress, the White House and the director of national intelligence about the program’s effectiveness. It asserts that a review of cases, in which the agency claims to have collected “actionable intelligence” it would have been unable to obtain by other means, calls into question the connection between the information and any “counterterrorism success.”

And:

The report found that the C.I.A. provided classified information to journalists but that the agency did not push to prosecute or investigate many of the leaks. C.I.A. officials asked officers to “compile information on the success” of the program to be shared with the news media in order to shape public opinion. The C.I.A. also mischaracterized events and provided false or incomplete information to the news media in an effort to gain public support.

Things were particularly spirited at the Thai prison over which Haspel eventually would come to preside.

Mr. Zubaydah remembered the box experience in more vivid terms. “I felt I was going to explode from bending my legs and my back and from being unable to spread them not even for short instants,” he wrote to his lawyers in 2008, noting that the box was so short and tight he could not sit up or change positions. “The very strong pain made me scream unconsciously.” Other C.I.A. cables also clinically recount applying torture methods like the suffocation technique known as waterboarding. (Previously disclosed documents and the Senate report executive summary had already discussed Mr. Zubaydah’s waterboarding in extensive detail, including that he was subjected to the treatment 83 times in one month.) The contemporaneous cables describe him crying, but generally use bland descriptions, like: “Water treatment was applied.”

Quite simply, there is no reason to believe anything the Bush-era CIA says about anything concerning the 9/11 attacks and everything that came out of them. The CIA botched the pursuit of the men who became the 9/11 hijackers. It failed to push back hard enough on the concocted case for the invasion of Iraq, and it became a willing partner in the perpetration of atrocities overseas for which we hung Japanese generals after World War II. Even in the long, corrupt history of the CIA’s off-the-charter activities, this was a particularly grotesque time.

All of this should be re-litigated in the hearings this week, no matter how much it discomforts the nominee and or how much it angers the members of the priesthood. This wound is not closed. There is no healing. There is just moral suppuration, barely below the surface.

Gina Haspel is a stone cold murderer and a sadistic torturer. She deserves no special consideration because of her gender (looking right at you Feinstein). What she deserves is to be locked up in Spandau.

“We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.”

“If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”- Robert H. Jackson, 1945

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