Daily Archive: 12/10/2014

Dec 10 2014

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville-He’s A Little You

Yesterday I spent a good portion of my day sitting in a room on the sixth floor of the Wood Building, at CHOP’s Department of Neurology. Ever since Baboo was born, right up to the present, in so many ways, I’ve been told–he’s a little you. And right up until now I’ve always found that to be a pretty cool thing, but now my kid has migraines, and they’re getting worse.

Dec 10 2014

No Statute of Limitations on Torture

UN Official: Prosecute “Systematic Crimes and Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law”

By Jim White, emptywheel

Published December 10, 2014

Ben Emmerson is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights. His statement released yesterday in response to the SSCI torture report points out the clear responsibilities that the US has under the Convention Against Torture and other international human rights laws to prosecute not only those who carried out torture, but those who designed the torture program and gave orders for its implementation.



So we know that crimes have been committed. Further, the committee also knows who is responsible for those crimes. What to do about it?



Emmerson doesn’t say that those responsible for the crimes should be brought to justice. He says outright that they MUST be brought to justice. Emmerson further points out that being authorized at a high level in the government gives no protection. Further, he notes a “conspiracy” to carry out the crimes.



Obama, Holder and Durham simply cannot grant immunity for these crimes. International law forbids it. More specifically, the Convention Against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, prohibits it. Similarly, the Convention on Enforced Disappearances also comes into play in the crimes committed by the US and also prevents the granting of immunity that Obama has tried to orchestrate.



Emmerson specifically calls out those who planned and authorized the torture as deserving the “heaviest penalties”.

And they need to be careful. Even though they are facing no punishment in the US for their crimes, these criminals can face prosecution should they travel abroad because torture is a crime subject to universal jurisdiction. Under universal jurisdiction, other countries would normally defer to the US for prosecution of crimes carried out by citizens of the US. However, once it is clear that no such prosecutions will take place, other countries are free to act.

Although I’d like to see them inside cells of much smaller dimensions, it appears that for now those who designed the CIA torture program and ordered its implementation are now imprisoned within the borders of the US because they are at risk of real prosecution while traveling outside the borders.

Overseas, Torture Report Prompts Calls for Prosecution

By RICK GLADSTONE and ROBERT MACKEY, The New York Times

DEC. 9, 2014

“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” Mr. Emmerson said in a statement posted on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever,” he said. “Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”

Other international law experts and rights advocates who have long supported an accounting for the C.I.A.’s behavior concurred with that assessment.

Jordan J. Paust, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, said the report “adds another layer of proof of serial international criminality that was manifestly authorized” during President George W. Bush’s two terms in office.

In a commentary on Jurist.org, Professor Paust said both the Convention Against Torture and the 1949 Geneva Conventions require the United States to prosecute or extradite any person “reasonably accused of having criminal responsibility” for the documented instances of torture.



Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on the organization’s website that the Senate report “should forever put to rest C.I.A. denials that it engaged in torture, which is criminal and can never be justified.”

He added, “Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of officials, torture will remain a ‘policy option’ for future presidents.”



“The Gestapo called it ‘Verscharfte Vernehmung,'” wrote one blogger, Ian Geldard. “Exactly the same term ‘enhanced interrogation’ used by the C.I.A.”

Did CIA interrogation methods break the law?

by Amel Ahmed, Al Jazeera

December 9, 2014 11:56AM ET

Despite Obama’s repeated assurances that CIA officials who applied harsh interrogation methods under the Bush administration will not be prosecuted, experts say U.S. law does not necessarily foreclose such claims.  

“We don’t have to go through international courts to obtain justice. Federal courts have U.S. jurisdiction over its own citizens, even if the conduct in question occurred abroad,” said Elizabeth Holtzman, a former congresswoman and a co-author of “Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attacked the Rule of Law, Plotted to Avoid Prosecution – and What We Can Do about It.”

The same criminal laws used to prosecute individuals on U.S. soil for committing offenses such as murder, assault, and battery can be applied to torture cases that occurred overseas, say experts.

Such criminal offenses are outlined in Title 18 of the U.S. Code, the criminal code for federal crimes.

Defenders of the program and the memos that authorized them argue that U.S. criminal laws do not apply outside of U.S. territory – and the CIA interrogations in question occurred at secret black sites overseas. But the 4th Circuit Court in 2006 rejected the extraterritoriality argument in United States v. Pessaro, the first and only case in which a person connected with the CIA was convicted in connection to the “war on terrorism” that began after the Sept. 11 attacks.



In his defense, Pessaro relied on some of the authorizations in the torture memos, which included the argument that U.S. nationals can’t be tried for conduct committed on foreign soil. But the court found that two laws expanded the territorial jurisdiction of U.S. federal courts, thus allowing for criminal prosecution of torture acts committed abroad.

The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 (MEJA) asserts federal district court jurisdiction over civilians accompanying the armed forces overseas, including military contractors. MEJA’S broad territorial definition was made possible through a 2001 amendment to the Patriot Act.

Title 18 of the Patriot Act expanded the court’s territorial jurisdiction to cover certain U.S. government installations located abroad. It also removed the statute of limitations on prosecution for any terrorist offense that led to the death or serious bodily injury of any person.

“Despite what Obama and Bush have said, the fact is that anyone who created a risk of death or serious bodily injury can face potential prosecution for the rest of their lives,” Holtzman said.

This jurisdictional amendment was tested for the first time in Passaro. The 4th Circuit Court held that the premises of Asadabad, Afghanistan, where the offense occurred, constituted a U.S. military mission, rendering it within the criminal jurisdiction of a district court.



The 2009 Federal anti-torture statute offers further pathways for legal action in response to harsh interrogation methods used by the CIA, in part because it permits claims for mental suffering inflicted on detainees.

The law was enacted as part of U.S. efforts to comply with the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). The CAT, ratified by the U.S. in 1994, mandates all parties to the treaty to “take effective legislative, administrative, judicial, or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

The statute can be applied to anyone, U.S. citizen or otherwise, who commits an act of torture outside the U.S, said Holtzman. And its definition of torture includes any act committed by a person acting under the color of law that is intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain upon another person within his custody.

This includes threats of imminent death and the intentional or threatened infliction of severe physical pain, according to Holtzman.



Violation of the anti-torture statute is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, or execution, if the torture resulted in a victim’s death. And as a result of Title 18 of the Patriot Act, there is no statute of limitations for any act that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of any person.



The War Crimes Act (WCA) is a federal statute that makes it a felony for any U.S. national to violate the Geneva Convention by engaging in murder, torture, or inhuman treatment, according to Holtzman.

The statute applies to those who carried out, authorized or who were aware of but failed to stop such acts, Holtzman said.



Under a theory of law known as universal jurisdication, if a country is unwilling or unable to prosecute certain egregious offenses such as torture, war crimes, or genocide, then foreign jurisdictions may step in and prosecute those cases, according to Dixon of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The principle of universal jurisdiction has been used to pursue war crimes allegations against senior Bush administration officials in a number of European countries, Dixon said.

In one of the more prominent cases invoking universal jurisdiction, Italy in 2009 convicted 26 CIA agents in absentia for their role in the 2003 abduction in Milan of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar. The case marked the first court decision ever to challenge the U.S. practice of “extraordinary rendition,” under which suspects were abducted and sent to countries whose security services were less restrained in their use of techniques amounting to torture.

The Italian court’s ruling means those 26 CIA operatives remain subject to arrest should they travel to Europe, Dixon said.

The principle of universal jurisdiction forms the basis of two international legal frameworks that provide for the prosecution of individuals accused of authorizing or committing acts of torture.



The Geneva Conventions, enacted shortly after World War II and ratified by nearly every country in the world, are a set of legal protections that safeguard civilians, soldiers, and prisoners during wartime.

The provision known as Common Article 3 prohibits torture, cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of prisoners of war (POWS). In addition, article 17 bars physical or mental torture that is inflicted to secure information or a confession from prisoners. Countries that violate the Geneva Conventions can be prosecuted for war crimes, according to Pitter.



The U.N. Convention Against Torture is an international human rights treaty meant to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman degrading treatment. The treaty, which the U.S. helped to draft, requires countries to pass legislation to prevent torture within their borders, said Pitter. It also prohibits countries from transporting people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.

Dec 10 2014

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial Board: The Senate Report on the C.I.A.’s Torture and Lies

The world has long known that the United States government illegally detained and tortured prisoners after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and lied about it to Congress and the world. But the summary of a report released Tuesday of the Senate investigation of these operations, even after being sanitized by the Central Intelligence Agency itself, is a portrait of depravity that is hard to comprehend and even harder to stomach.

The report raises again, with renewed power, the question of why no one has ever been held accountable for these seeming crimes – not the top officials who set them in motion, the lower-level officials who committed the torture, or those who covered it up, including by destroying videotapes of the abuse and by trying to block the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of their acts. [..]

The litany of brutality, lawlessness and lack of accountability serves as a reminder of what a horrible decision President Obama made at the outset of his administration to close the books on this chapter in our history, even as he repudiated the use of torture. The C.I.A. officials who destroyed videotapes of waterboarding were left unpunished, and all attempts at bringing these acts into a courtroom were blocked by claims of national secrets.

It is hard to believe that anything will be done now. Republicans, who will soon control the Senate and have the majority on the intelligence panel, denounced the report, acting as though it is the reporting of the torture and not the torture itself that is bad for the country. Maybe George Tenet, who ran the C.I.A. during this ignoble period, could make a tiny amends by returning the Presidential Medal of Freedom that President Bush gave him upon his retirement.

Trevor Timm: What happens after the torture report? How the CIA’s victims can still get justice

The cowardly Obama administration wants America’s ‘brutal’ history to become just that. But torture is a war crime. Let’s investigate the architects. Let’s make sure this kind of rampant criminality never happens again

Everyone expected the Senate’s CIA torture report to be shocking. But I’m not sure anyone – except maybe the torturers and the tortured – was really prepared for the depravity and sheer lack of humanity laid out in the 580 pages released on Tuesday morning in Washington. It is, in many ways and in the starkness of all those footnotes, the most disturbing scandal in recent American history.

The amount of different crimes committed by the CIA and documented by Senator Dianne Feinstein’s committee is truly extraordinary. Not only does the report detail the systematic torture of dozens of detainees – which included sexual assault, rape and homicide – but the amount of times the CIA allegedly obstructed justice, committed perjury and made false statements is hard to even count. The breaking of laws almost catches up with the breaking of bones, minds and bodies.

But it’s not enough to feel sick to your stomach, to say this is American history now and there’s nothing we can do about it. Now, the question for everyone who read this essential textbook of CIA wrongdoing, even for those who never will, is: Where do we go from here? Transparency can’t possibly be the only punishment for an agency which has broken the law so systematically.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: ‘We Can’t Breathe’: The Movement Against Police Brutality Is Just Beginning

As I write, New York City is witnessing its fifth day of demonstrations after a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the Eric Garner killing. Those demonstrations followed on the protests across the country over the police shootings of Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old father of two who was slain while walking with his girlfriend in Brooklyn, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot by a rookie Cleveland police officer while playing with a toy gun, and, most famously, the Ferguson, Missouri, police killing of Michael Brown. Conservatives joined liberals in denouncing the grand jury’s outrageous decision in the Garner case. Demonstrations have spread across the country as people of all races have taken up Garner’s plea: “I can’t breathe.” [..]

The deaths of Garner, Brown and others at the hands of police are not the only cause sparking mass protests. The day after the Garner demonstrations started, low-wage workers walked off their jobs in more than 190 cities, demanding a living wage and the right to organize. They, too, chanted, “I can’t breathe.” Workers from fast food-restaurants such as McDonald’s were joined by those from low-wage retail and convenience stores and airline service jobs. In Washington, federal contract workers joined the march, calling on the president to issue procurement regulations that would reward good employers that pay a living wage with benefits and allow workers to organize and bargain collectively.

Kristen Breitweiser: 3 Thoughts on Torture Following the Release of the SSCI Report on Torture 2014

First, there is much talk about the impact that the release of this report will have on our allies, interests, and agents here and overseas. Secretary of State John Kerry, Republicans, and various intelligence officials have all registered their concern: this will inflame, incite, and encourage attacks against Americans and our allies.

Does anyone really think ISIS, al Qaeda, etc. are actually paying such close attention?

If so, then we have a question for Secretary of State Kerry and all the others: Why haven’t you considered the potential impact of a completely different kind of message — the kind of message that would be sent by actually holding accountable all those named in this Torture Report? [..]

If we as a nation do not demand accountability for the truth revealed in this report, then how can we ever make sure that such immoral, illegal, evil acts (or worse) will not be repeated in the future? Accountability sets a strong and undeniable deterrence factor. You commit torture, you go to jail. You go rogue, you go to jail. Simple as that. No gray area. No legalese. No exoneration. No pardon. J A I L.

Thirteen long years later, it’s time we find our moral compass and our conscience again. Because the United States of America–is and should always be a nation of laws.

Lauren Carasik: No guarantee the US won’t torture again

Washington’s reckoning begins, not ends, with release of Senate report

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s release on Tuesday of its much-anticipated torture report, which chronicles the Central Intelligence Agency’s “Rendition, Detention and Interrogation” program in the aftermath of 9/11, has unleashed a cascade of recriminations that threatens to eclipse the committee’s stark findings.  The portion of the report that was released – the 480-page executive summary – paints a haunting picture of brutality that shocks the conscience, and demolishes the myth that torture was effective, limited in scope and only perpetrated by a few rogue actors. Instead, the report reveals the brutal, systematic and sanctioned nature of the program.   [..]

The report failed to provide an overarching analysis of how U.S. policy became so unmoored from its moral groundings and to erode impunity that has shielded both the U.S. operatives who tortured people and their superiors. Its narrow focus on the CIA’s misdeeds did, however, insulate many of the nation’s political leaders, including some who did not relinquish their roles in the previous administration, whose consciences should be heavy. While the report’s findings constitute clear violations of domestic and international law, the committee did not analyze the program’s legality. Given these failings, the report should signal the beginning, not the end, of Washington’s reckoning.

Even today’s partial release – the full 6,000-page report, which cost taxpayers $40 million and took nearly six years to complete, is still classified – was hamstrung by months of negotiations between the CIA, President Barack Obama’s administration and the committee, headed by Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Feinstein has been under intense pressure to release the report, especially since the impending Republican control of the Senate and the Intelligence Committee left the report’s future disclosure in doubt.

John Nichols: Why Dick Cheney Is Wrong About the CIA Torture Memos

The Senate Intelligence Committee had to release details on its multi-year investigation into how, under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the Central Intelligence Agency employed tactics that the world understands as torture. A decision to sit on the findings of what the 500-plus-page summary of the report begins by describing as a “brutal” and “flawed” program that was “in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values” would have put senators who are elected to serve and advance the public interest at odds with a basic American premise: the idea that a government acting in the name of the American people must regularly seek and obtain their informed consent. [..]

With Cheney taking the lead, the former administration aggressively and repeatedly rejected the principles of transparency and accountability that are essential to maintaining not just national honor but meaningful democracy. And the assault continues, as Cheney, in particular, maintains the pattern of denial and defense that characterized his tenure as the most powerful-and secretive-vice president in American history

Dec 10 2014

On This Day In History December 10

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

December 10 is the 344th day of the year (345th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 21 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1901, the first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel directed that the bulk of his vast fortune be placed in a fund in which the interest would be “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Although Nobel offered no public reason for his creation of the prizes, it is widely believed that he did so out of moral regret over the increasingly lethal uses of his inventions in war.

History

Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden, into a family of engineers. He was a chemist, engineer, and inventor. In 1895 Nobel purchased the Bofors iron and steel mill, which he converted into a major armaments manufacturer. Nobel also invented ballistite, a precursor to many smokeless military explosives, especially cordite, the main British smokeless powder. Nobel was even involved in a patent infringement lawsuit over cordite. Nobel amassed a fortune during his lifetime, most of it from his 355 inventions, of which dynamite is the most famous. In 1888, Alfred had the unpleasant surprise of reading his own obituary, titled ‘The merchant of death is dead’, in a French newspaper. As it was Alfred’s brother Ludvig who had died, the obituary was eight years premature. Alfred was disappointed with what he read and concerned with how he would be remembered. This inspired him to change his will. On 10 December 1896 Alfred Nobel died in his villa in San Remo, Italy, at the age of 63 from a cerebral haemorrhage.

To the wide-spread surprise, Nobel’s last will requested that his fortune be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, and literature. Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime. The last was written over a year before he died, signed at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris on 27 November 1895. Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million SEK (c. US$186 million in 2008), to establish the five Nobel Prizes. Because of the level of scepticism surrounding the will, it was not until 26 April 1897 that it was approved by the Storting in Norway. The executors of Nobel’s will, Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel’s fortune and organise the prizes.

Nobel’s instructions named a Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize, the members of whom were appointed shortly after the will was approved in April 1897. Soon thereafter, the other prize-awarding organisations were established: the Karolinska Institutet on 7 June, the Swedish Academy on 9 June, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 11 June. The Nobel Foundation reached an agreement on guidelines for how the prizes should be awarded, and in 1900, the Nobel Foundation’s newly-created statutes were promulgated by King Oscar II. In 1905, the Union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved. Thereafter Norway’s Nobel Committee remained responsible for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize and the Swedish institutions retained responsibility for the other prizes.

Dec 10 2014

Obama Justice Department Plans No Prosecutions

They’re not even going to fire anybody.

Stop believing the lies: America tortured more than ‘some folks’ – and covered it up

Trevor Timm, The Guardian

Tuesday 9 December 2014 13.43 EST

But beyond all the the depravity, perhaps the most shocking part of this exposed history is the action of US officials who knew these horrors were unfolding – and covered them up.

For years, as the 480-page executive summary of the report documents in meticulous detail, these officials lied to the Senate, the Justice Department, the White House, to the American public and to the world. They prevented CIA officers involved from being disciplined. They investigated and marginalized those who were investigating them. They happily leaked classified information to journalists – much of it false – without worry of consequence.

For the past few days, we have seen many of the same resentful politicians and former CIA leaders in charge of the torture-denial regime being handed virtual royalty status by the American media to respond to pre-emptively respond to the report without much of any pushback. Dick Cheney basically got to write his own interview in the New York Times, while Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director in charge of lying to the Senate for years, was handed softball after softball by Bob Schieffer of CBS News to make his case. It is borderline propaganda.

As Schieffer innocently asked Hayden a few days ago: “Do you know of anybody from the CIA, in your view, who lied to Congress about what was going on there?” Hayden’s name appears in the torture report more than 200 times, and most of the references document the various times he knowingly misled one government body or another. As media organizations continue turning to Hayden for comment time and again, they should understand the Senate report indicates that basically every time he’s opened his mouth about “enhanced interrogation” over the past decade, he’s has been lying.

Senate report on CIA torture claims spy agency lied about ‘ineffective’ program

Spencer Ackerman and Dominic Rushe, The Guardian

Tuesday 9 December 2014 15.17 EST

The methods of torture carried out by the CIA were even more extreme than what it portrayed to the George W Bush administration and went beyond techniques already made public through a decade of leaks and lawsuits, which had revealed that agency interrogators subjected detainees to the quasi-drowning known as waterboarding, staged mock executions and revved power drills near their heads.



After examining 20 case studies, the investigators found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information”, said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings. She called the torture program “a stain on our values and on our history”.



At least 17 detainees were tortured without the approval from CIA headquarters that ex-director George Tenet assured the DOJ would occur. And at least 26 of the CIA’s estimated 119 detainees, the committee found, were “wrongfully held.”

Contractor psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen played a critical role in establishing the torture program in 2002. A company they formed to contract their services to the CIA was worth more than $180m, and by the time of the contract’s 2009 cancellation, they had received $81m in payouts.



International condemnation was swift. Ben Emmerson, the United Nations rapporteur for counterterrorism, commended the White House for resisting pressure not to publish the report but said action must now be taken.

“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes. The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability,” he said.

Senate Torture Report Shows C.I.A. Infighting Over Interrogation Program

By SCOTT SHANE, The New York Times

DEC. 9, 2014

In January 2003, 10 months into the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prison program, the agency’s chief of interrogations sent an email to colleagues saying that the relentlessly brutal treatment of prisoners was a train wreck “waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.” He said he had told his bosses he had “serious reservations” about the program and no longer wanted to be associated with it “in any way.”

The bitter infighting in the C.I.A. interrogation program was only one symptom of the dysfunction, disorganization, incompetence, greed and deception described in a summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report. In more than 500 pages, the summary, released on Tuesday, paints a devastating picture of an agency that was ill equipped to take on the task of questioning Al Qaeda suspects, bungled the job and then misrepresented the results.



The outburst from the chief of interrogations came amid weeks of torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a leading suspect in the bombing of two American embassies and a Navy ship. C.I.A. personnel working on the secret program had split into two camps. On one side were the chief of interrogations and nearly all of the on-the-ground personnel who had been questioning Mr. Nashiri. After two months of harsh questioning, the chief wrote, they believed that the prisoner had “been mainly truthful and is not withholding significant information.”

On the other side were James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two former military psychologists who had advised the agency to use waterboarding and other coercive methods. With the support of C.I.A. headquarters, they repeatedly insisted that Mr. Nashiri and other prisoners were still withholding crucial information, and that the application of sufficient pain and disorientation would eventually force them to disclose it. They thought the other faction was “running a ‘sissified’ interrogation program,” the report says.



The report spends little time condemning torture on moral or legal grounds. Instead, it addresses mainly a practical question: Did torture accomplish anything of value? Looking at case after case, the report answers with an unqualified no.

In fact, it says, “C.I.A. officers regularly called into question whether the C.I.A.’s enhanced interrogation techniques were effective, assessing that the use of the techniques failed to elicit detainee cooperation or produce accurate intelligence.” Nonetheless, higher-ups ordered that the methods be continued and told Congress, the White House and journalists that they were having great success.

Just as striking as that central finding is the detailed account of C.I.A. mismanagement. Both factions in the fight over interrogations, for instance, were led by people with histories that might have been expected to disqualify them.

The chief of interrogations, who is not named in the report, was given the job in the fall of 2002 even though the agency’s inspector general had recommended that he be “orally admonished for inappropriate use of interrogation techniques” in a training program in Latin America in the 1980s.

And Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen, identified by pseudonyms in the report, had not conducted a single real interrogation. They had helped run a Cold War-era training program for the Air Force in which personnel were given a taste of the harsh treatment they might face if captured by Communist enemies. The program – called SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape – had never been intended for use in American interrogations, and involved methods that had produced false confessions when used on American airmen held by the Chinese in the Korean War.

Yet the program allowed the psychologists to assess their own work – they gave it excellent grades – and to charge a daily rate of $1,800 each, four times the pay of other interrogators, to waterboard detainees. Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen later started a company that took over and ran the C.I.A. program from 2005 until it was closed in 2009. The C.I.A. paid it $81 million, plus $1 million to protect the company and its employees from legal liability.

Early in the program, the report says, “a junior officer on his first overseas assignment,” who had no experience with prisons or interrogations, was placed in charge of a C.I.A. detention site in Afghanistan known as the Salt Pit. Other C.I.A. officers had previously proposed that he be stripped of access to classified information because of a “lack of honesty, judgment and maturity.”

At the Salt Pit, the junior officer ordered a prisoner named Gul Rahman shackled to the wall of his cell and stripped of most of his clothing. Mr. Rahman was found dead of hypothermia the next morning, lying on the bare concrete floor. Four months later, however, the junior officer was recommended for a cash award of $2,500 for his “consistently superior work.”



The agency even had trouble keeping track of the people it was holding. In a December 2003 cable to C.I.A. headquarters from one of the countries with a secret prison, the C.I.A. station chief wrote, “We have made the unsettling discovery that we are holding a number of detainees about whom we know very little.” Most of the prisoners had not been questioned for months and seemed to have little intelligence value, the cable said.

But little of this kind of disarray came to the attention of the C.I.A.’s congressional oversight agencies, the White House or the public, which were repeatedly assured by a succession of C.I.A. directors that the program was highly professional and very successful.

During the program’s later years, after a damning report in 2004 by the C.I.A.’s inspector general, much of the agency’s effort appears to have gone into public relations to counter a rising tide of dismal news coverage. In 2007, for instance, Michael V. Hayden, then the C.I.A. director, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that “all of those involved in the questioning of detainees are carefully chosen and screened for demonstrated professional judgment and maturity.”

In fact, the Senate report concludes, no such vetting took place. The interrogation teams included people with “notable derogatory information” in their records, including one with “workplace anger management issues” and another who “had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.”

Senate Report Disputes C.I.A. Claims on Hunt for Osama bin Laden

By CHARLIE SAVAGE and JAMES RISEN, The New York Times

DEC. 9, 2014

Months before the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, the Central Intelligence Agency secretly prepared a public relations plan that would stress that information gathered from its disputed interrogation program had played a critical role in the hunt. Starting the day after the raid, agency officials in classified briefings made the same point to Congress.

But in page after page of previously classified evidence, the Senate Intelligence Committee report on C.I.A. torture, released on Tuesday, rejects the notion that the agency would not have found Bin Laden if it had not tortured detainees.

“The vast majority of the intelligence” about the Qaeda courier who led the agency to Bin Laden “was originally acquired from sources unrelated to the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program, and the most accurate information acquired from a C.I.A. detainee was provided prior to the C.I.A. subjecting the detainee to the C.I.A.’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” the Senate report said.

It added that most of “the documents, statements and testimony” from the C.I.A. regarding a connection between the torture of detainees and the Bin Laden hunt were “inaccurate and incongruent with C.I.A. records.”



It was in 2004 that the C.I.A. came to realize that it should focus on finding Mr. Kuwaiti as part of the hunt for Bin Laden, after it interrogated a Qaeda operative, Hassan Ghul, who had been captured in Iraqi Kurdistan. The report concludes that Mr. Ghul provided “the most accurate” intelligence that the agency produced about Mr. Kuwaiti’s role and ties to Bin Laden.

But the report emphasizes that Mr. Ghul provided all the important information about the courier before he was subjected to any torture techniques and spoke freely to his interrogators. During that two-day period in January 2004, it said, the C.I.A. produced 21 intelligence reports from Mr. Ghul, who one officer said “sang like a Tweety Bird.”

“He opened up right away and was cooperative from the outset,” the officer added.

In those initial interrogations, Mr. Ghul portrayed Mr. Kuwaiti as Bin Laden’s “closest assistant” and said he was always with him, identifying him as a likely courier who ran messages between Bin Laden and other leaders of Al Qaeda. He listed him as one of three people most likely to be with Bin Laden, who he speculated was living in a house in Pakistan, with Mr. Kuwaiti handling his needs.

Nevertheless, the C.I.A. then decided to torture Mr. Ghul to see if he would say more. He was transferred to a “black site” prison, where he was shaved, placed in a “hanging” stress position, and subjected to 59 hours of sleep deprivation, after which he began hallucinating; his back and abdomen began spasming; his arms, legs and feet began experiencing “mild paralysis”; and he began having “premature” heart beats. During and after that treatment, he provided “no actionable threat information” that resulted in the capture of any leaders of Al Qaeda, the report said.

When they talk about the “statute of limitations” they are flat out lying to you.

There is no “statute of limitations” on torture, murder, and war crimes.

There is only “accessory after the fact.”

Dec 10 2014

TDS/TCR (Tortured Logic)

TDS TCR

Springtime for Hitler

It’s a Groupon Thing

The real news, the 2 part web exclusive extended interview with Norman Lear, and this week’s guests below.