Daily Archive: 12/14/2014

Dec 14 2014

Rant of the Week: Chris Hayes – Torture Apologists And Moral Idiots

“The moral universe is not zero sum.” Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s All In, gets it.

   “Now the appropriate response to this new what-aboutism is twofold. First, as a basic matter of both moral law and principle, killing enemies in combat is sometimes permissible. Torturing them, however, never is. The prohibition on torture is categorical.

   In the American justice system, for example, you can sentence someone to death — though obviously I oppose that. You cannot sentence them to be tortured because torture occupies a special category of moral taboo.

   The second response to these latter-day what-aboutists is more or less the same one I would suggest we give the Soviets. It’s true. Many aspects of this government’s targeted killing program — maybe the entire thing — are morally odious and constitutionally suspect. They deserve criticism — heck, they even deserve outrage, though I would note the people who devote outrage to them tend to be the people who devote outrage toward torture, like ACLU and Amnesty International, and not Fox News.

   But that has no bearing whatsoever on whether it’s okay to pour water down someone’s nose until they foam at the mouth, to threaten to sexually abuse someone’s mother, or to anally rape someone with a feeding tube.

   And only a moral idiot would fail to see that.

(emhasis mine)

h/t karoli at Crooks and Liars for the partial transcript and this thought about what Chris’s “wisdom”:

Well, maybe he did include Scarborough in that rant through the back door. Because it’s obvious to anyone watching that Joe is indeed a moral idiot.

Dec 14 2014

A Diatribe

Often I see it mentioned by folks that the country is going to hell in a handbasket and bemoaning the state of our society. This is often accompanied by myriad reasons, some of which seem to have more merit than others in my opinion.

While I tend to agree with the statement in general, and several of the reasons in particular, I have come upon what I consider a defining moment among the reasons, and that is defending the torture that our gov’t and its operatives did in our name.

I’m sorry, but it’s beyond the pale. There is NO defense for torture. Not for doing it to an animal or a human being, period, full stop. That there are so many people that are seemingly defending it in the aftermath of the release of the Executive Summary of the torture report disheartens me greatly.

Dec 14 2014

On This Day In History December 14

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 14 is the 348th day of the year (349th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 17 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1995, the Dayton Agreement is signed in Paris.

The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement, Dayton Accords, Paris Protocol or Dayton-Paris Agreement, is the peace agreement reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio in November 1995, and formally signed in Paris on December 14, 1995. These accords put an end to the three and a half year long war in Bosnia, one of the armed conflicts in the former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. Some articles erroneously refer to the agreement as the Treaty of Dayton.

Background

Though the basic concepts of the Dayton Agreement began to appear in international talks since 1992, the negotiations were initiated following the unsuccessful previous peace efforts and arrangements, the August 1995 Croatian military Operation Storm and its aftermath, the government military offensive against the Republika Srpska, in concert with NATO’s Operation Deliberate Force. During September and October 1995, many of the world powers (especially the USA and Russia), gathered in the Contact Group, applied intense pressure to the leaders of the three sides to attend the negotiations in Dayton, Ohio.

The conference took place from November 1 to November 21, 1995. The main participants from the region were Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic (representing the Bosnian Serb interests due to absence of Karadzic), Croatian President Franjo Tudman, and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic with Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey.

The peace conference was led by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and negotiator Richard Holbrooke with two Co-Chairmen in the form of EU Special Representative Carl Bildt and the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Igor Ivanov. A key participant in the US delegation was General Wesley Clark (later to become NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) in 1997). The UK military representative was Col Arundell David Leakey (later to become Commander of EUFOR in 2005). The Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) served as legal counsel to the Bosnian Government delegation during the negotiations.

The secure site was chosen in a bid to curb the participants’ ability to negotiate in the media rather than at the bargaining table.

After having been initiated in Dayton, Ohio on November 21, 1995 the full and formal agreement was signed in Paris, France, on December 14, 1995 also by French President Jacques Chirac, U.S. President Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister John Major, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

The present political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its structure of government were agreed upon as part the constitution that makes up Annex 4 of the General Framework Agreement concluded at Dayton. A key component of this was the delineation of the Inter-Entity Boundary Line, to which many of the tasks listed in the Annexes referred.

The agreement mandated a wide range of international organizations to monitor, oversee, and implement components of the agreement. The NATO-led IFOR (Implementation Force) was responsible for implementing military aspects of the agreement and deployed on the 20th December 1995, taking over the forces of the UNPROFOR.

Ironically, the chief architect of the Dayton Accord, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, died yesterday, December 13, in Washington, DC. May he rest in peace.

Dec 14 2014

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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

Since the release of the summary of the Senate’s Torture Report, the torture apologists have been out in force calling the report inaccurate and misleading, and repeating long debunked lies about the accuracy of the intelligence. Chief among them this week will be former Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney who will be Chuck Todd’s guest on this morning’s “Meet the Press“. The Intercept‘s Dan Froomkin has some suggestions for [questions Chuck might want to ask Dick instead of the usual “MTP” treatment of rolling over and playing dead at the feet of the contentious war criminal.

Of all the questions proposed, my favorites are the one Chuck asked Glenn Greenwald:

Why shouldn’t you be charged with a crime?

and this one that Dan had proposed Cheney be asked in 2011:

Just how much had you had to drink before you shot your friend in the face?

Dick Cheney Will Eat Chuck Todd For Breakfast Unless Todd Does Exactly What I Say

When Cheney was vice president, his chief M.O. was to spread false information and savage his critics, while avoiding any sustained inquisition. He often did that through intermediaries.

But when he needed to take things into his own hands, “Meet the Press” was “best” because, while there might be a tough prepared question or two, then-host Tim Russert could be counted on to follow up obsequiously or not at all, without in any way knocking the veep off his talking points. [..]

But I have some ideas about what Todd could do differently. (And so did several of my Twitter followers.)

The key is quite simple: Instead of asking Cheney for his reaction to the report, Todd should use the opportunity to ask Cheney factual questions, to fill in gaps in the record. [..]

Q. Why did people within the CIA start talking about torture, when historically their view was, as Senator Feinstein mentioned in her speech on Tuesday, that “inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers”?

Q. Do you know who first came up with the idea of using torture as part of the interrogation of detainees?

Q. What was the first time you heard anything about making interrogation tactics more brutal?

Q. When was the first time you heard about waterboarding? What was your reaction?

Q. How often were you or your office in touch with the CIA in late 2002 and early 2003 about interrogation matters?

Q. Describe your chief counsel David Addington’s involvement in developing interrogation policy.

Q. What was the first report you heard that made you think torture was “working”?

Q. What do you consider torture? [..]

Q. Do you have any reason to dispute the report’s description of “rectal feeding” and “rectal hydration”? Had you heard anything about this before? Does that sound OK to you?

Q. Did you watch any of the videos of detainees being interrogated at the black sites ? What was that like for you?

Q. Did you ever speak directly to someone involved in administering those interrogation tactics? What was that like? [..]

Q. A 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report concluded that you bore direct responsibility for what happened at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Didn’t you notice that the interrogation tactics you architected for CIA use had migrated into the military?

Q. Did you ever suggest to anyone that any specific interrogation practice be stopped?

Q. Do you think it’s likely that some of these tactics will be returned to use in the future?

Q. How would you feel if an American were subject to this kind of interrogation? How would you want the country to respond?

Q. Do you plan to travel to Europe?

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: This Sunday’s guests are former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden; Army veteran Eric Fair; and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.

The roundtable guests are:  Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MM); former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham: and CNN & SiriusXM host Michael Smerconish.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schhieffer’s guests are: Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA); Sen. Angus King (I-MA);  Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

His panel guests are Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal; Michael Gerson, Washington Post; Charles Ellison, The Root; and Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: This Sunday’s “MTP” guests are: Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Hopefully by now Dick will have read the report. The panel guests are a mystery. I love a mystery.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley:

Nest week will be Ms. Crowley’s final appearance as host. She announced her resignation from CNN last week.

Ms. Crowley’s guests are:  Rep. Peter King (R-NY); and Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA).

Plus, part two of Candy Crowley’s exclusive interview with President George W. Bush.

Dec 14 2014

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

UN members agree climate deal at Lima talks

14 December 2014 Last updated at 07:36

BBC

United Nations members have reached an agreement on how countries should tackle climate change.

Delegates have approved a framework for setting national pledges to be submitted to a summit next year.

Differences over the draft text caused the talks in Lima, Peru, to overrun by two days.

Environmental groups have criticised the deal as a weak and ineffectual compromise, saying it weakens international climate rules.

The talks proved difficult because of divisions between rich and poor countries over the scale and scope of plans to tackle global warming.




Sunday’s Headlines:

Ten years on, a survivor’s fear of torture doesn’t go away

A Greek island – yours for the price of a London flat

Egypt refers hundreds to military tribunals

Farhana Yamin’s simple yet radical idea: zero emissions

‘Stupid’ US sanctions won’t undo my government: Maduro

Dec 14 2014

The Breakfast Club (Rollin’ and Tumblin’)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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Breakfast Tune: Valerie June, Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (live session)

Today in History


George Washington dies at age 67; Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his group reach South Pole; Leaders of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia sign an internationally-brokered peace treaty. (Dec. 14)

News

Operation Socialist

By Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept

12/13/14

Inside a row of gray office buildings in Brussels, a major hacking attack was in progress. And the perpetrators were British government spies.



Last year, documents from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden confirmed that British surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters was behind the attack, codenamed Operation Socialist. And in November, The Intercept revealed that the malware found on Belgacom’s systems was one of the most advanced spy tools ever identified by security researchers, who named it “Regin.”

The full story about GCHQ’s infiltration of Belgacom, however, has never been told. Key details about the attack have remained shrouded in mystery-and the scope of the attack unclear.

Now, in partnership with Dutch and Belgian newspapers NRC Handelsblad and De Standaard, The Intercept has pieced together the first full reconstruction of events that took place before, during, and after the secret GCHQ hacking operation.

Based on new documents from the Snowden archive and interviews with sources familiar with the malware investigation at Belgacom, The Intercept and its partners have established that the attack on Belgacom was more aggressive and far-reaching than previously thought. It occurred in stages between 2010 and 2011, each time penetrating deeper into Belgacom’s systems, eventually compromising the very core of the company’s networks.

Heaping serving of news & blogs below. Coffee, Prozac & Snowden’s Jig