Tag Archive: Torture

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 11 2014

Spare Me the Lecture About the Law

If upholding the law is too hard for Barack Obama and Eric Holder, then they are among the ranks of the accused torturers and should just resign.

UN Expert Calls For Prosecution Over U.S. Torture

All senior U.S. officials and CIA agents who authorized or carried out torture like waterboarding as part of former President George W. Bush’s national security policy must be prosecuted, top U.N. officials said Wednesday.

It’s not clear, however, how human rights officials think these prosecutions will take place, since the Justice Department has declined to prosecute and the U.S. is not a member of the International Criminal Court.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said it’s “crystal clear” under international law that the United States, which ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, now has an obligation to ensure accountability. [..]

However, a Justice Department official said Wednesday the department did not intend to revisit its decision to not prosecute anyone for the interrogation methods. The official said the department had reviewed the committee’s report and did not find any new information that would cause the investigation to be reopened.

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

Jim White, emptywheel

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. [..]

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.

Emmerson then goes on to destroy Barack Obama’s “look forward” bullshit and John Durham’s coverup disguised as an investigation:

   International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.

   As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave 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.

(emphasis mine)

Mark Udall Says The CIA Is Still Lying

By Matt Sledge, Huffington Post

The CIA is still lying about its post-9/11 torture program, even in the face of a devastating Senate report, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said Wednesday.

In a dramatic floor speech during his final month in the Senate, Udall said the CIA’s lies have been aided and abetted by President Barack Obama’s White House and called on the president to “purge” his administration of CIA officials who were involved in the interrogation program detailed in the report.

“It’s bad enough to not prosecute these officials, but to reward and promote them is incomprehensible,” Udall said. “The president needs to purge his administration.”

Udall said the lies are “not a problem of the past,” citing the CIA’s response to the 6,000-page torture report. He said the agency took seven months to write a formal comment after the Senate Intelligence Committee approved the report in December 2012 — and when it did, it was full of lies and half-truths meant to justify the agency’s actions.

MSNBC’s “All In” host Chris Hayes questions Pres. Obama’s premise that we are a “nation of laws”

Nov 21 2014

Call on the Senate to Release the Torture Report

Is anyone surprised that the Obama administration is trying as hard as it can to stop the Senate CIA torture report from being released? It blatantly obvious that they do not want this report made public and are hoping that the incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-SC), who is best buds with the intelligence community, will bury the report. The current stall is over the redaction of pseudonyms. The White House wants the aliases redacted arguing that it would expose the people they wish to protect. It is quite possible that if known, there people would face arrest and prosecution.

The fight between the White House and the Committee came to a head on Tuesday during the weekly briefing with the Senate Democrats and White House Chief of Staff and CIA Director John Brennan’s best bud, Denis McDonough:

“It was a vigorous, vigorous and open debate — one of the best and most thorough discussions I’ve been a part of while here,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who served as intelligence committee chair before Feinstein, was furious after the meeting, and accused the administration of deliberately stalling the report.

“It’s being slow-walked to death. They’re doing everything they can not to release it,” Rockefeller told HuffPost.

“It makes a lot of people who did really bad things look really bad, which is the only way not to repeat those mistakes in the future,” he continued. “The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it.”

As negotiations continue, Rockefeller said Democrats were thinking creatively about how to resolve the dispute. “We have ideas,” he said, adding that reading the report’s executive summary into the record on the Senate floor would probably meet with only limited success. “The question would be how much you could read before they grabbed you and hauled you off.” [..]

Rockefeller said the administration’s unwillingness to use aliases reflects a broader contempt for congressional oversight.

“The White House doesn’t want to release this. They don’t have to. And all we do is oversight, and they’ve never taken our oversight seriously,” he said. (He then added that he did allow for one exception, the Church Committee.) “Under Bush there was no oversight at all. Remember the phrase, ‘Congress has been briefed’? What that meant was that I and our chairman […] and two comparable people in the House had met with [former Vice President Dick] Cheney in his office for 45 minutes and given a little whirley birdie and a couple charts.”

“They had a specialty for being unforthcoming in our efforts at oversight,” he added, “and therefore there is no incentive for them to change their behavior.”

Time is running out. It’s clear that one or more of the senators will need to take some drastic action. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who was defeated in the midterm elections, has said that he is considering reading the unredacted report into the Congressional Record on the Senate floor, a move that is protected by the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause.

It is time to release the torture report. Please sign the Act Blue petition to urge Sen. Udall to read the report into the congressional record.

Sign the petition: Enter the CIA torture report into the Congressional Record

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s “torture report” is expected to detail shocking abuse of prisoners at the hands of the CIA during the Bush administration, and even possible CIA lying to Congress.

But seven months after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted overwhelmingly to release the report to the American people, the White House is stonewalling Congress and demanding “redactions”-blacked-out sections and information-before making its contents public.

But there’s a way around that-and before the end of the year, we have a rare chance to make it happen.

Members of Congress have an absolute right to free speech, and a member could enter the report into the Congressional Record in its entirety-just as the Pentagon Papers were in 1971-without fear of prosecution.

That’s exactly what transparency advocates are calling on outgoing, staunchly anti-torture and pro-transparency Sen. Mark Udall to do.

Sign the petition to Sen. Mark Udall: If you enter the torture report into the Congressional Record, we’ll have your back.

Our Message to Sen. Mark Udall:

Before leaving office, please submit the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report to the Congressional Record. We know that you are considering undertaking this heroic and courageous act, and we and countless others will support you if you choose to do so.

We will deliver a copy of this petition and a list of signers to Sen. Mark Udall, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein and President Obama to make sure our message is heard.

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Blue America

Code Pink

CREDO

Daily Kos

Demand Progress

Digby’s Hullabaloo

Fight for the Future

Just Foreign Policy

The Nation

RH Reality Check

RootsAction.org

USaction

Win Without War

Note: When you sign our petition, your name and email address may be provided to one or more of the sponsoring organizations. You may opt out at any time.

Nov 10 2014

Mr. Obama’s Bipartisan “Achievements”

There has been a lot of talk, now that the elections are over and the legislature has fallen into the hands of Republicans about what this will mean for President Obama’s agenda and the Democratic agenda generally. This election season my inbox was full of Democratic politicians begging for money to foreclose the possibility of voters choosing the wrong party at the polls, yours probably was, too.

A persistent theme in these begging emails that I was getting was that the (evil) obstructionist Republicans have gummed up our system of government and the Democrats (the good guys) can’t get anything done in order to enact Mr. Obama’s agenda.

Looking at the accomplishments of Mr. Obama and the governing elites, this narrative, of course, is utter rubbish. The government is working. Mr. Obama and the Republicans have been cooperating all along. Great bipartisan advances and accomplishments are indeed being made.

So, what can we expect of this new aggregation of powers? Probably more of what it created before. Hence, let us review the accomplishments that these allegedly competing forces have created together…

Mr. Obama’s bipartisan accomplishments


Two-tiered justice system, rewards for criminal bankers

Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have kept the criminal banksters who crashed and looted our economy free, under-regulated, still dominating the political system, even larger than they were when they were “too big to fail” and paying the largest bonuses since their criminal activities crashed the economy. Mr. Obama’s efforts to prosecute financial frauds were even wimpier and less effective that George W. Bush’s.  Mr. Obama’s much ballyhooed relief program for homeowners injured by the criminal bankster’s behavior failed miserably; some Democrats claim that Obama sabotaged the program behind the scenes. The result of Mr. Obama’s efforts has been to fuel a new era of Wall Street wealth while screwing average citizens:

They didn’t just blow up finance, they oversaw the swiftest transfer of wealth to the very top the world has ever seen. They screwed workers out of their jobs, they screwed homeowners out of their houses, they screwed retirees out of their pensions, and they screwed municipalities out of their revenues and assets.

Financiers are forcing schools, parks, pools, fire departments, senior citizen centers, and libraries to shut down. They are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in firesales at prices rigged by twenty-something traders at the biggest and most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

And since they’ve bought the politicians, the policy-makers, and the courts, no one will stop it.

Austerity, benefitting the 1% at the expense of the rest of us

Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts (his budgets, the sequester) have imposed the austerity that enriches the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.  On Mr. Obama’s watch, taxes on the rich have decreased, shifting their burden onto everybody else. Mr. Obama was so intent on cutting social security benefits for older folks that the Progressive Change Committee characterized his dropping a particularly nasty proposal to cut benefits by miscalculating the effect of inflation on beneficiaries from his 2015 budget, a “huge progressive victory.” It’s a sad day when progressives consider it a “huge victory” when the depredations of an allegedly, progressive, liberal president and his partners in congress are diminished. You’d think that progressives would get excited about, um, progress rather than lack of regress. The economy delivered to us by Mr. Obama and his Republican colleagues took a lot of wrangling, but as one analyst put it:

Obama is the first President in post-war history (and maybe all of history) whose economy gave more money to the top 10% than the entire value of all productivity gains in his Presidency.  Even George W. Bush didn’t manage that.

Now that’s an accomplishment!

Not to be forgotten as well are Mr. Obama’s actions to crack down on those outraged by the bankster criminals and the impunity Mr. Obama created for those that crashed our economy.

Oct 20 2014

TBC: Morning Musing 10.20.14

I have 3 things for you all this morning.

First, this should be a great interview, and it will be live streamed. See the link for more info:

Lawrence Lessig interviews Edward Snowden

Institutional corruption and the NSA: Edward Snowden will be interviewed (via videoconference) by Lawrence Lessig about the NSA in a time of war, and whether and how the agency has lost its way.

Jump!

Aug 07 2014

The CIA Still Trying to Cover Up That It Tortured

When the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) agreed to declassify and release the executive summary of the 6,000 page investigation into the CIA’s use of torture last April, it also agreed to allow the White House to review the 480 page document for review. The White House announced that the CIA would take the lead in that review, virtually leaving the decision on what if any incriminating evidence that they tortured in the hands of the accused.

The writers at Techdirt have been joking about the “buckets of black ink” that would be “dumped” on the report. After weeks of waiting, no one should be surprised that the heavily redacted document that was returned to the SSCI on August 1 was barely coherent.

Late Friday, Senator Dianne Feinstein announced that the White House had returned the executive summary, but she’s a bit overwhelmed by all the black ink and is holding off releasing the document until her staff can look into why there were so many redactions:

   “The committee this afternoon received the redacted executive summary of our study on the CIA detention and interrogation program.

   A preliminary review of the report indicates there have been significant redactions. We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification.

   Therefore the report will be held until further notice and released when that process is completed.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responded that Sen. Feinstein’s complaint was unfounded stating that there were “minimal redactions,”  claiming that 85% of the document was not blacked out. Techdirt‘s Mike Masnick thinks Clapper may have been counting the margins

Of course, as Marcy Wheeler has pointed out, this is just about the executive summary of the report — which was specifically written to be published. In other words, the really “secret” stuff is in the rest of the report, but the 408 page exec summary was written with public disclosure in mind — meaning that the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers certainly wrote it with the expectation that it would need few, if any, redactions. So the fact that large chunks of it were redacted immediately set off some alarms.

SSCI Chairperson Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) released this statement:

After further review of the redacted version of the executive summary, I have concluded that certain redactions eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions. Until these redactions are addressed to the committee’s satisfaction, the report will not be made public.

I am sending a letter today to the president laying out a series of changes to the redactions that we believe are necessary prior to public release. The White House and the intelligence community have committed to working through these changes in good faith. This process will take some time, and the report will not be released until I am satisfied that all redactions are appropriate.

The bottom line is that the United States must never again make the mistakes documented in this report. I believe the best way to accomplish that is to make public our thorough documentary history of the CIA’s program. That is why I believe taking our time and getting it right is so important, and I will not rush this process.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), a member of the SSCI, also released a statement condemning the redactions as nothing more that a cover up of “embarrassing information:”

The redactions that CIA has proposed to the Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogations are totally unacceptable. Classification should be used to protect sources and methods or the disclosure of information which could compromise national security, not to avoid disclosure of improper acts or embarrassing information. But in reviewing the CIA-proposed redactions, I saw multiple instances where CIA proposes to redact information that has already been publicly disclosed in the Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainee abuse that was reviewed by the administration and authorized for release in 2009. The White House needs to take hold of this process and ensure that all information that should be declassified is declassified.

Another committee member, Sen Mark Udall (D-C)) thought it was very clear that Director Clapper’s intentions were to distort the record

While Director Clapper may be technically correct that the document has been 85 percent declassified, it is also true that strategically placed redactions can make a narrative incomprehensible and can certainly make it more difficult to understand the basis for the findings and conclusions reached in the report. I agree wholeheartedly that redactions are necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods, but the White House must work closely with this committee to reach this goal in a way that makes it possible for the public to understand what happened.

According to a report in McClatchy, the summary carefully used pseudonyms of covert CIA agents and foreign countries that was much of what was blacked out:

Tom Mentzer, a spokesman for the committee’s chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told McClatchy on Monday that the blackouts _ officially known as redactions _ were made to pseudonyms used for both covert CIA officers and foreign countries.

“No covert CIA personnel or foreign countries are named in the report,” he said. “Only pseudonyms were used, precisely to protect this kind of information. Those pseudonyms were redacted (by the administration).”

All of the pseudonyms were excised from the version of the executive summary that the White House returned to the committee on Friday, a person familiar with the issue said.

Lawmakers seem willing to accept some redactions, but others made by the CIA and the White House would make it difficult or impossible to understand the subject being discussed, especially when a pseudonym appears in multiple references, said the knowledgeable person, who requested anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

The Intercept‘s Jeremy Scahill joined MSNBC’s Alex Wagner on “NOW” to discuss the dispute over the redacted report

The CIA tortured and the US government approved it and still continues some forms of torture It is now actively engaged in the continued refusal to prosecute the crimes and still trying to make it sound like it was just a “mistake.” Waterboarding someone 183 times is not a mistake, it is a crime, a war crime. No amount of “awe shucks” statements by President Barack Obama that “we tortured some folks” or calling the perpetrators “patriots” will excuse the fact that they broke the law.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence should just release the executive report. The Justice Department should do its due diligence and prosecute the tortures and those who authorized it. Director Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan should be fired and prosecuted for lying to the Senate and their roles in the torture program. Pres. Obama should uphold his oath of office or be impeached.

Aug 04 2014

Dear President Obama, Eat My Sanctimonious Shorts

I believe that you have crossed a line, Mr. Obama. At your recent press conference you very casually stated that “we tortured some folks” :

With respect to the larger point of the RDI report itself, even before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong.  We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.  We did some things that were contrary to our values.

How long is the “immediate aftermath of 9/11” (of 2001)?  Is it hours, weeks, months, years – how long?

I only ask because it seems that now, almost 13 years later, you are still presiding over the administration of torture on people allegedly connected with 9/11/01.

When will you cease and desist “torturing folks?”

You go on to state:

I understand why it happened.  I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had.

So, some “folks” tortured some other “folks,” but “we” shouldn’t be too “sanctimonious” because the “folks” who ordered and performed the torturing in extreme secrecy for the past 13 years had tough jobs?

Who the hell is this “we” of whom you speak when you say that, “it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect.”

When were “us” consulted about this?  When did “us” demand that “folks” get tortured?  Didn’t “us” have some, um, laws about torture?

It seems to me that “us” weren’t in the loop. I don’t remember at any time a movement of “us” demanding that the US withdraw from the UN Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Sanctimonious? Eat my shorts! Some of us “folks” are just asking you to do your job. Binding U.S. law requires prosecutions for those who authorize torture.

So, let’s continue with your statement.

And my hope is, is that this report reminds us once again that the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard.  And when we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line.

 

President Obama, this is where you have crossed a line.  You have determined that a horrendous crime has been committed. However, in contradiction of the constitutional requirement of your office to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” you have opted not to enforce the law and “look forward.” Your desire for political expedience has trumped justice for far too long.

You say that you understand why “folks” committed torture and that “it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious” about it, however, while I am not a constitutional scholar, it seems pretty obvious that it is explicitly not your job to let these “folks” who ordered and committed these crimes escape prosecution.

Frankly sir, if you are going to let “folks” off the hook for torture, I can’t think of any crime that “folks” should be accountable for. “We” may as well open up the prisons and let all the “folks” out. Even murder is arguably not as bad as torture where sadists kill a person’s spirit and then day after day, year after year brutalize the remains of the person’s body and mind, for no damned good reason.

You continue:

And that needs to be — that needs to be understood and accepted.  And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future.

You want “us” to take responsibility for this?  Seriously sir, no stinking way.

The best way for “us” as a country to “take responsibility” for this disgusting episode is for “us” to refer this to the courts. Under our constitution, they are the finders of facts and the means for “us” to decide whether mitigating circumstances should be taken into consideration in determining accountability. As president you have the power to issue pardons, but those come after a judgement and sentence have been issued.

Frankly sir, you have been getting away with acting as judge, jury and executioner for far too long.

It is time for “us” to have a say in this matter, regardless of whether you think that “we” are a bunch of “sanctimonious purists.”

Thank you for your attention. I hope to see you at The Hague.

Jul 30 2014

“Torture Is Not a Public Relations Problem”

Here is message to the Obama administration, as well as, past and present high ranking members of the CIA from David Cole, constitutional law, national security, and criminal justice professor at George Washington University, in his op-ed at the Washington Post:

Torture us not a public relations problem. It is a grave human rights abuse and a war crime.

Yet, once again the Obama administration has enable the torturers to manipulate the narrative to cover up their crimes.

Back in April, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted to declassify part of its 6300 page report that concluded torture to be an ineffective intelligence-gathering technique and the CIA lied about its value. The committee also agreed to allow the White House to review the document with the CIA’s participating in approving what would be released to the public. Talk about a serious conflict of interest. This is tantamount to allowing an accused murderer to decide what evidence will be presented to the jury at his trial.

Up until Friday, a dozen ex-CIA officials were going to be allowed to review the report in a secure room at an undisclosed Washington suburb after signing a secrecy agreement. That now will not happened.

Then, on Friday, CIA officials called them and told them that due to a miscommunication, only former CIA directors and deputy directors would be given that privilege. Former directors Michael Hayden, Porter Goss and George Tenet have been invited to read it, as have former acting directors John McLaughlin and Michael Morell.

Senate aides familiar with the matter say Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, protested to the White House that it had no business allowing retired officials to read a Senate oversight report.

Apparently, the report is quite damning:

Several people who have read the full report, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss still-classified material, say it shows that the CIA interrogation programme was far more brutal than previously understood, and that CIA officials repeatedly misled Congress and the Justice Department about what was being done to al-Qaida detainees. The report asserts that no unique, life-saving intelligence was gleaned from the harsh techniques.

It’s long been known that the CIA used slapping, stress positions, sleep deprivation and other harsh tactics on several detainees and a near-drowning technique known as waterboarding on three of them. The CIA’s use of waterboarding has drawn particular scrutiny since it is considered the harshest technique on the list of those used, but the report asserts that the other tactics, as applied, were extremely harsh and brutal.

Torture is illegal under US law. CIA officials dispute that waterboarding amounted to torture.

To counter the negative press this report is bound to receive, former CIA Director George J. Tenet has quietly been working on a public relations response:

Over the past several months, Mr. Tenet has quietly engineered a counterattack against the Senate committee’s voluminous report, which could become public next month. The effort to discredit the report has set up a three-way showdown among former C.I.A. officials who believe history has been distorted, a White House carefully managing the process and politics of declassifying the document, and Senate Democrats convinced that the Obama administration is trying to protect the C.I.A. at all costs.

The report is expected to accuse a number of former C.I.A. officials of misleading Congress and the White House about the program and its effectiveness, but it is Mr. Tenet who might have the most at stake.

The detention and interrogation program was conceived on his watch and run by men and women he had put in senior positions.

It was Mr. Tenet who requested the former CIA Directors and officials be allowed to review the report.

There is also some frustration coming from Democratic committee members:

“If the redacted version of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s study that we receive appears to be an effort to obscure its narrative and findings – and if the White House is not amenable to working toward a set of mutually agreed-upon redactions – I believe the committee must seriously consider its other option,” Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat on the intelligence committee, told the Guardian on Monday.

It is believed that the White House will provide its completed redactions to sections of the Senate intelligence committee’s landmark torture report in the coming days. The committee will subsequently review the redactions as preparation for the report’s public release, something chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California, a Democrat, had wanted to happen in early May. [..]

Fuelling congressional suspicions, the White House placed lead authority for reviewing the declassification in the hands of the CIA, which struck critics as a conflict of interest.

Udall joins Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat and civil libertarian on the committee with whom Udall often votes, in pointing to the parliamentary rule, Senate Resolution 400, as an additional tactic to force disclosure. Yet the never-before-used rule portends an uphill struggle: a majority of senators would need to vote for additional disclosure.

Author and investigative reporter for The Intercept, Jeremy Scahill and New York Times reporter, Mike Marzetti, joined MSNBC’s “NOW” host, Alex Wagner to discuss the release of the report and recent events,

One more word from Prof. Cole:

The CIA’s response is about 10 years too late. The time to respond to allegations of torture, cruelty and disappearances is when they occur, not a decade later, when an official report finds fault. And when you learn such conduct is occurring, there is only one proper response – order it to stop and hold the perpetrators accountable. Both the Geneva and the torture conventions absolutely prohibit torture and cruel treatment of wartime detainees; the world has proclaimed through these laws that there are no circumstances that justify such acts. [..]

So what will the public relations strategy look like now? We can probably make some educated guesses, based on past assertions by Bush administration officials. “We didn’t think it was torture because the lawyers told us it wasn’t.” That defense doesn’t work for Mafia dons and ought not to work for the CIA. The practices involved – waterboarding, excruciating stress positions, slamming suspects into walls and prolonged sleep deprivation – plainly qualify as torture and have long been treated as such by the United States when other nations employ them. Just last week, the European Court of Human Rights held Poland responsible for complicity in the CIA’s crimes, finding that the conduct was so clearly illegal that Poland had an obligation to stop permitting it on its territory.

Poland, in other words, was an accessory to the crime. But the United States was the ringleader.

Let’s be clear here, the Obama administration, while it may have stopped torture, is now complicit in covering up the Bush administrations war crimes and allowing the criminals, who should be sitting in prison cells, to continue the cover-up in the hopes that someday it will all go away. No amount of spin will negate these facts.

Apr 30 2014

The Torturer of Beverly Hills

The legacy of torture that the United States has left in Iraq and Afghanistan is appalling. Not only has the US failed to investigate or prosecute any of its own torturers, it is now giving safe haven to Afghanistan’s torturer in chief.

In Afghanistan, his presence was enough to cause prisoners to tremble. Hundreds in his organization’s custody were beaten, shocked with electrical currents or subjected to other abuses documented in human rights reports. Some allegedly disappeared.

And then Haji Gulalai disappeared as well.

Today, Gulalai lives in a pink two-story house in Southern California, on a street of stucco homes on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

How he managed to land in the United States remains murky. Afghan officials and former Gulalai colleagues said that his U.S. connections – and mounting concern about his safety – account for his extraordinary accommodation.

But CIA officials said the agency played no role in bringing Gulalai into the country. Officials at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security would not comment on his relocation or immigration status, citing privacy restrictions. Gulalai and members of his family declined repeated inquiries from The Washington Post. [..]

Applicants are screened against databases for criminal convictions or terrorist ties. But experts said those records are unlikely to reveal allegations of human rights abuses, particularly when the alleged abuser was operating under government authority and was not arrested or publicly accused. Prospects of detection may have been further complicated by the fact that Gulalai used only his (Kamal) Achakzai name once in the United States.

There is at least one indication, however, that U.S. authorities were able to connect the asylum seeker to his NDS résumé.

At a hearing before an immigration judge in Los Angeles several years ago, Gulalai defended his asylum claim by presenting photos of the Kabul bombing and other evidence of the danger he faced in Afghanistan, said (Bashir) Wasifi, who accompanied his friend to help interpret.

A U.S. attorney challenging the claim asked repeatedly whether the man now calling himself Achakzai was ever known by another name. After getting only looks of bewilderment, Wasifi said, the attorney changed his question: “Then who is Gulalai?”

Gulalai chuckled and replied that it was just a nickname bestowed by his family, and apologized for the slip, Wasifi said. He emerged from the hearing with his immigration status intact. [..]

Wasifi said Gulalai secured permanent resident status in the United States last year and is moving toward citizenship. The allegations against him, Wasifi said, should not stand in his way.

“I blame the U.S. for this,” Wasifi said. “If he was doing wrong to society, it is a shame for you. You appointed him to this position. NDS (National Directorate of Security) did not exist before. You created it. If you occupy a country, you are responsible.”

He was just doing what the US paid him to do, being a good soldier.

As Marcy Wheeler says, torture for the US and retire with impunity just don’t try to expose the war crimes:

Torturing on behalf of the United States appears to be a career move that results in a comfortable lifestyle after moving on from government service. Jose Rodriguez, who both ordered up torture and then personally destroyed video evidence of it, now profits from those events through book sales. James Mitchell, who was integral to the design of the torture program, now lives quietly in Land O’Lakes, Florida and until very recently didn’t even have to bother talking with reporters, let alone crime investigators. Of course, if you choose to expose US torture, it’s prison for you, as John Kiriakou has demonstrated.

But the disgusting free status of Rogdriguez and Mitchell pales in comparison to the level of depravity in the known history of personal involvement in torture for Haji Gulalai and how it was revealed yesterday that Gulalai is now living a quiet, comfortable life just outside Los Angeles. [Just as a bit of life advice, never piss off Julie Tate, as her work in finding Gulalai is perhaps the best bit of investigative journalism in the US in decades.] [..]

Standing out especially among the disgusting aspects of Gulalai’s case is the mystery surrounding how he was able to enter the US and then be granted asylum. Rank and file interpreters who worked for the US military in Afghanistan (and Iraq) face incredible difficulty getting into the US, even when they can present evidence that they face extreme danger staying behind: [..]

But here is an even bigger outrage in the process surrounding Gulalai, again from the excellent report from Greg Miller, Julie Tate and Joshua Partlow:

   Gulalai has made several return trips to Afghanistan in recent months to sell property there, family members and associates said. If true, the visits could undermine the argument that Afghanistan had become too dangerous for him, potentially complicating his asylum claim.

And what Charles Pierce said:

(O)f course, if there is any attempt to haul this sociopath off to The Hague, there will be several earnest columns written about how unfair it is because of what “we” asked him to do, and about abandoning allies, and so on. We are all complicit accessories before and after the fact. C-Plus Augustus made us that way.

And thank you, Barack Obama.

Apr 22 2014

Another War Criminal Defends Torture

After seven years of silence, the psychologist, who is considered the chief architect of the CIA’s torture program, has spoken out in defense of the program. The reason for his sudden appearance is the possibility of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture.

In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, his first public remarks since he was linked to the program in 2007, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agency.

The committee’s report found that the interrogation techniques devised by Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, were far more brutal than disclosed at the time, and did not yield useful intelligence. These included waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation for days at a time, confinement in a box and being slammed into walls.

But Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. “The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time,” he said. “You can’t ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.”

He was just following orders. Where have we heard that before?

James Mitchell: ‘I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country’

by Jason Leopold, The Guardian

Psychologist who designed CIA’s post-9/11 torture program insists he has nothing to apologise for – and attacks ‘people with a Jack Bauer mentality who don’t understand how intel works’

Dr James Elmer Mitchell has been called a war criminal and a torturer. He has been the subject of an ethics complaint, and his methods have been criticized in reports by two congressional committees and by the CIA’s internal watchdog.

But the retired air force psychologist insists he is not the monster many have portrayed him to be. [..]

Mitchell is featured prominently in a new report prepared by the Senate select committee on intelligence, which spent five years and more than $40m studying the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

The findings, according to a summary leaked to McClatchy, are damning: that the agency misled the White House, Congress and the American people; that unauthorised interrogation methods were used; that the legal opinions stating the techniques did not break US torture laws were flawed; and perhaps most significant, that the torture yielded no useful intelligence.

This country executed people for torture and war crimes after World War 2. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.

Older posts «

» Newer posts

Fetch more items