The Watering Hole, Monday, April 7th, 2014: Torture

Over the past month or so, there’s been a lot of talk about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the previous administration’s CIA torture program (oh, excuse me, “enhanced interrogation techniques”.) Chair of the Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein has accused the CIA of accessing Congressional computers and deleting memos and other evidence. Last week brought the news that Senator Feinstein is pushing to have the results of the report made public, in order to “ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted…”

Cue the attacks, specifically on FauxNews: First, former CIA Director Michael Hayden questions Senator Feinstein’s possible “motivation for the report” is “emotional.” An excerpt from the ThinkProgress article:

“Citing specifically Feinstein’s line about not using such techniques again, Hayden told Fox News Sunday host Chis Wallace, “Now that sentence that, motivation for the report, Chris, may show deep emotional feeling on part of the Senator. But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”

A surprised Chris Wallace asked,

“…You’re saying you think she was emotional in these conclusions?” Hayden did not respond specifically to Wallace’s question, but rather said simply that only portions of the report had been leaked but it did not tell the whole story.”

Despite whatever Hayden believes the “whole story” to be, the portions that have been leaked seem to be quite detailed and very damning, as discussed in this March 31st article from WaPo.

“Officials said millions of records make clear that the CIA’s ability to obtain the most valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda — including tips that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 — had little, if anything, to do with “enhanced interrogation techniques.””

It does not seem possible that Hayden’s “whole story” could in any way mitigate the fact that torture was systematically used, both here and abroad at “black sites”, supposedly in the name of our “security.”

From the Washington Post article on Hayden’s “emotional” characterization:

“Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden suggested Sunday that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) might have compromised the objectivity of a report on CIA interrogation techniques because she personally wants to change them…Hayden suggested Feinstein feels too strongly about the issue on an “emotional” level.”

Feinstein struck back at Hayden’s comments later Sunday by calling her committee’s forthcoming report “objective, based on fact, thoroughly footnoted, and I am certain it will stand on its own merits.”

In a statement, Feinstein noted that the committee’s investigation began in 2009 and the report’s conclusions “came from documents provided by the CIA and the result is a comprehensive history of the CIA program. The only direction I gave staff was to let the facts speak for themselves.”

“I believe last week’s 11-3 vote to declassify the report demonstrates that both sides agree that Americans should see the facts and reach their own conclusions about the program,” she added.

Raw Story tells it slightly differently:

“Yeah,” Hayden replied dismissively, noting that a Washington Post columnist had reported that “Sen. Feinstein wanted a report so scathing that it would ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.” [Emphasis mine, in that I have been unable to find to which "Washington Post columnist" Hayden is referring, nor any such reporting that Senator Feinstein had directed how "scathing" the report should be.]

“That motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on the part of the senator,” Hayden opined. “But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”… ““You’re asking me about a report that I have no idea of its contents,” Hayden admitted.

[The notion that Hayden has "no idea of" the report's "contents" seems pretty ludicrous; regardless of his professed ignorance, it didn't stop him from attacking the Senator for one moment.]

Raw Story also provides us with cyborg former Vice-President Cheney’s reaction, which also sparked an invitation from Senator Angus King (I-ME) to have Cheney waterboarded:

“The accusations are not true,” Cheney told college television station ATV last week. “Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture.”

“If I would have to do it all over again, I would,” he insisted. “The results speak for themselves.”

Sorry, the report’s results do speak for themselves:

“A report that has been completed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, has found that the CIA misled the government and misstated the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation program. The report concluded that the CIA lied when it said it had gotten “otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives.”

“I was stunned to hear that quote from Vice President Cheney,” Senator King explained. “If he doesn’t think that was torture, I would invite him anywhere in the United States to sit in a waterboard and go through what those people went through, one of them a hundred and plus-odd times.”

And finally Cheney’s spawn, Liz, reliably shouts “Benghazi!” Again from Raw Story:

“Fox News contributor Liz Cheney on Sunday argued that a United States Senate report on Bush-era torture was “political” and that lawmakers should spend more time investigating President Barack Obama’s role in failing to prevent terrorist attacks in Benghazi.

“If you’re going to say that we should not have conducted the enhanced interrogation program, if you’re going to say that we shouldn’t have waterboarded three terrorists, then you’ve got to say that you’re willing to accept the consequences of that,” the former vice president’s daughter said on a Sunday morning Fox News panel. “You’ve got to be willing to say how many American lives would you have been willing to put at risk because you didn’t want to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”

“Fox News political analyst Juan Williams quipped that Liz Cheney was the “good daughter,” but the American people had a right to know what the CIA was doing in their name, and if the techniques were effective.

“I want to start by agreeing with Juan,” Liz Cheney shot back. “That we need more congressional oversight… of Benghazi, for example.”

She added that the Senate did not produce a “fair report” because it was “written entirely by Democratic staffers.”

“The Republicans wouldn’t participate!” Williams replied. “People not only wouldn’t cooperate, [the CIA] tried to spy on the U.S. Senate.”

Liz Cheney concluded by saying that she had “missed Juan” during her absence from Fox News for a failed Senate run in Wyoming.

[Yeah, how'd that work out for ya, Lizzie? Finally found out that no one in your home state likes you?]

A couple of the commentors on that Daily Kos thread could have helped Juan Williams bitch-slap that she-devil:

JW: I got a better idea Liz, why don’t we focus on the 22 embassy attacks that happened under your daddy’s watch.

bplewis24:

[Quoting Liz Cheney] “If you’re going to say that we should not have conducted the enhanced interrogation program, if you’re going to say that we shouldn’t have waterboarded three terrorists, then you’ve got to say that you’re willing to accept the consequences of that,”…Yes. I am fully willing to accept the consequences of that. Reports tend to tell us there are no real consequences of it, but even if there were, that’s the “sacrifice” I’m willing to make in order to live in a civilized world.

I think that I would just go with what Sheppard Smith once blurted out “emotionally”: “THIS IS AMERICA AND WE DON’T FUCKING TORTURE!”

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

Sunday Roast: June 16, 2013 – Where’s the outrage?

I don’t get it. Seriously.

The news about the extensive data gathering by the NSA through Verizon‘s mobile phone records being outshone only a few days later with news about PRISM should have people out in the streets. Seriously.

I am not and have never been overly shy about internet use. I follow the usual dos and don’ts, but I am aware of the fact, that whatever you put out there is in everybody’s domain. If you shout it out on Times Square you have a smaller audience than when you put it on facebook, twitter, you name it. I know that by using it I have, sort of, agreed whatever I’m writing will be no longer private. Fair enough.

I’m fine that every time I read a New York Times article I will see in a sidebar which of my friends have read which article. It shows I have smart friends, not that I haven’t known that before, but still. I am even fine with the fact that for me all websites, be it news or other, which have commercial pop-ups are advising me how to get a flat stomach or how to ward off ageing. I take  the pop-ups as an punishment for having googled about weight-loss and heat-flashes and I stick out my tongue to them and just don’t buy whatever is advertised through them.

What I do not approve of, and I am royally pissed about that, is that a government, any government, is prying inside my personal communications. So I would, of course, go and vote accordingly. No party or candidate ever gets my vote, who supports this degree of spying into the personal communications of ordinary citizens. Period.

Hah! And now, when we Europeans are mad as hell, and believe me, virtually everybody I talk to is spitting mad over here, we’ll just vote them all out of office!!!!!

Wait!

We can’t. We do not have, nor will we ever have any say in this.

This is our Open Thread. Don’t be shy. All yours.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 4th, 2013: Monday Medley

First, let’s start with: HAPPY NATIONAL GRAMMAR DAY! Look out, the grammar police will be out in force, so mind your adverbs, adjectives, and parenthetical phrases!

Next, from Foreign Policy Magazine: I suppose it’s nice to know that the CIA has nothing on Noam Chomsky:

“This month, a two-year-long investigation into CIA records on Noam Chomsky concluded with a surprising result: Despite a half-century of brazen anti-war activism and countless overseas speaking engagements, the Central Intelligence Agency has no file on the legendary MIT professor.”

However, Mr. Chomsky himself seems somewhat ambivalent about this fact:

“Interestingly, Chomsky, a man forever mistrustful of U.S. government statements, actually believes the CIA’s denial. But it’s not because he’s warming to the agency as he grows older: It’s because he’s convinced of its incompetence.”

A couple of commenters on that FP thread provided a bit more information: According to Propublica.org,

“A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don’t exist – even when they do. Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue what’s known as a Glomar denial that says it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records. The new proposal – part of a lengthy rule revision by the Department of Justice – would direct government agencies to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.””

- and -

Per the CIA website:

“Does the CIA spy on Americans? Does it keep a file on you?
By law, the CIA is specifically prohibited from collecting foreign intelligence concerning the domestic activities of US citizens. Its mission is to collect information related to foreign intelligence and foreign counterintelligence. By direction of the president in Executive Order 12333 of 1981 and in accordance with procedures approved by the Attorney General, the CIA is restricted in the collection of intelligence information directed against US citizens. Collection is allowed only for an authorized intelligence purpose; for example, if there is a reason to believe that an individual is involved in espionage or international terrorist activities. The CIA’s procedures require senior approval for any such collection that is allowed, and, depending on the collection technique employed, the sanction of the Director of National Intelligence and Attorney General may be required. These restrictions on the CIA have been in effect since the 1970s.”

Last, let’s look at pictures. I ran across an environmental website called Take Part, where I found a slideshow of some beautiful, some amazing, and some just plain horrifying photos from around the world. From the same website, here’s another slideshow of some of Mother Nature’s wonderful creations in the animal world. And finally, from The Weather Channel, we have eight cute baby animals.

This is our Open thread, what’s on your minds?

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 26th, 2012: Time to Go, Senator McCain

Wave Bye-Bye Now!


As Rachel Maddow so perfectly pointed out recently, John McCain’s regular – some might say ubiquitous – appearances on so many of the Sunday morning political talkfests only serve to show McCain’s desperation to remain relevant at any cost. Unfortunately, that ‘cost’ seems to be the remnants of McCain’s respectability along with the shards of his integrity.

McCain’s latest insanity is shown in his recent calls for a “Watergate-style” investigation of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice regarding the Benghazi, Libya, attack. McCain’s rabid and, IMHO, unfounded attacks on Ms. Rice (including calling her “not very bright”, and his vow to block her possible nomination as future Secretary of State) were supposedly tempered a trifle yesterday, if by ‘tempered’ one means asking for the same information from Ms. Rice, presumably sans the “Watergate-style” investigation. Regardless, McCain still will not say whether, even if he (undeservedly) receives the requested information from Ms. Rice, he would consider NOT blocking her possible future nomination for Secretary of State.

But in McCain’s interview on Fox Sunday, he shows his characteristic bungling of essential facts:

HOST: You say that you will do everything in your power to block Susan Rice’s nomination if the President decides to name her to be secretary of state . . . . Is there anything that Ambassador Rice can do to change your mind?
MCCAIN: Sure, she can give everyone the benefit of explaining their position and the actions that they took. And I’ll be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her. Why did she say that al Qaeda has been decimated in her statement here on this program? Al Qaeda hasn’t been decimated. They’re on the rise. They’re all over Iraq.

Yes, John, of course Al Qaeda is “all over” Iraq, sure they are…NOT.

In the same Fox News Sunday interview, on women’s issues, McCain had this to say:

McCAIN:… And as far as young women are concerned, absolutely. I don’t think anybody like me, I can state my position on abortion, but, to — other than that, leave the issue alone. When we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation we’re in.

CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): When you say leave the issue alone, you would allow, you say, freedom of choice?

McCAIN: I would allow people to have those opinions and respect those opinions and I’m proud of my pro-life position and record, but if someone disagrees with me, I respect your views.

So, that would be a ‘NO’ to ‘freedom of choice”?

Since the 2008 Presidential election, when Senator McCain foisted Sarah Palin on us, it seems that his tenuous ties to reality, and his sense of decency and honor, have rapidly strained to the snapping point. I think that we all agree (and I wouldn’t be surprised if many in the Republican heirarchy agree, too), that it’s way past time for McCain to, shall we say, spend a lot more of his time at one of his seven -or was it eight? – homes.

This is our Open Thread. Feel free to discuss this topic, or anything else that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, July 19th, 2012: Hayden’s Planet-Scarium

Who knew that Newsmax has its own foreign intelligence branch? Well, they do, and it’s called called ‘Langley Intelligence Group Network’, or NAMBLA LIGNET. A quick glance at their website’s header is, well, illuminating? disturbing?

Wayne was the lucky recipient of a Newsmax/LIGNET email entitled “Iran Crisis Gets ‘Scarier,’ Fmr. CIA Director Warns – Join Exclusive Briefing Here’s an excerpt from the email:

Fmr. CIA Director Hayden: Iran Nuclear Crisis Gets ‘Scarier’

Former CIA Director General Michael Hayden delivered a disturbing message during a LIGNET intelligence panel discussion on the serious threat a nuclear Iran poses to the United States.

“Every time you turn the page, it gets scarier,” the former CIA director said during the exclusive briefing provided by LIGNET, Newsmax’s new global intelligence and forecasting online service.

Amid intelligence reports suggesting that Israel may be striking Iran soon — and that U.S. forces are increasing in the region — the LIGNET Iran Crisis Briefing uncovered what lies ahead for Israel, the U.S. and the implications for the world economy.

This briefing has just been completed and you can access the latest, best available information on this subject.

Joining Gen. Hayden for the online briefing were Arnaud de Borchgrave, famed journalist and a global threat expert with the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), and former CIA senior analyst and LIGNET managing editor Fred Fleitz… [Note: Click on the CSIS link and check out the 'Trustees' section to find few interesting names on their list.]

De Borchgrave offered a dire prediction when asked how oil prices will be affected by an attack on Iran, which has already threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil shipping channel.

And Fleitz says diplomacy is no longer an option. He says negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are “in trouble” with “no prospect for breakthrough” and Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.”

Other topics addressed during the online event included:
-What is the full extent of Iran’s nuclear program
-The reason the U.S. must make it clear “we hold escalation dominance”
-How soon could Iran have a nuclear weapon
-Iran’s policy to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan
-Will President Obama accept a nuclear Iran
-Iran’s close link to Hezbollah
-When will Israel launch an airstrike on Iran
-Iran’s support of the Syrian regime and its brutal crackdown on rebels
-A nuclear Iran leaves the world hostage to terror
-How would Iran retaliate to an Israeli strike
-Would such a response include biological, chemical or even “dirty” nuclear bombs
-What are the chances Iran will make a pre-emptive strike against the U.S.
-What are the implications for the dollar, the euro, and gold
And more
If you missed this URGENT online briefing on a nuclear Iran, you can still see re-broadcasts of this cutting-edge information

Yeah, but you have to pay $1 and get a ‘trial membership’ in LIGNET before you can get this URGENT information! However, “Once you join LIGNET for ONLY $1.00, you immediately become part of an exclusive network of global readers who are seeking the best available, actionable intelligence from some of the best informed people on the planet.” [emphasis mine]

Let’s take a brief look at some of the folks involved in LIGNET: a few of their “Advisory Board Members” are:

General Michael V. Hayden, USAF (ret.): Former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and former CIA Director, under whose watch we became familiar with the terms “warrantless wiretapping” and “Extraordinary Rendition.”

Lord William Rees-Mogg: “Former editor of the Times of London and …former chairman of Newsmax Media’s Board of Directors.”

Ambassador John Bolton: (Well, we ALL know his past.) “Currently Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute and Fox News contributor.”

Jeremy Bradshaw: “Attorney, banker, and Newsmax contributor. Chairman of the London think tank, the Britain Club. He currently is Director of the London-based Argo Capital Management hedge fund.”

Arnaud DeBorchgrave: DeBorchgrave’s career as a journalist ranged from interviews with world leaders as correspondent for Newsweek, to CEO of UPI until he helped sell UPI to AP. According to Wikipedia, he “…played a key role in the sale of the further downsized UPI to News World Communications, the international news media company founded in 1976 by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon, who was also the founder of The Washington Times for which de Borchgrave had worked earlier. After his CEO turn at UPI, de Borchgrave retained associations with both Unification Church media outlets, as “Editor-at-Large” of The Washington Times and UPI, writing regular columns published by either or both.” Wiki also mentions that DeBorchgrave had had questions of plagiarism raised regarding his columns.

Congressman Peter Hoekstra: “Former member of Congress and Chairman, House Intelligence Committee.” Not enough space for a complete summary of Pete Hoekstra’s record.

Some of LIGNET’s “Analysis Team”:

Frederick Fleitz, Managing Editor: Under President George W. Bush, “…Mr. Fleitz served as chief of staff to John Bolton, then Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. In 2006, Mr. Fleitz became a professional staff member with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, acting as a senior advisor to Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the committee chairman.”

Mark A. Groombridge, Deputy Editor: “Dr. Groombridge was a research scholar at both the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.”

David Wurmser, Senior Analyst: “From 2003 to 2007, Dr. Wurmser served as the senior advisor to Vice President Cheney on the Middle East. From 2002 to 2003, Dr. Wurmser was a senior advisor to Under Secretary of State John Bolton. Before entering government, Dr. Wurmser founded the Middle East studies program at the American Enterprise Institute.”

One article on LIGNET’s website titled “Iran Ballistic Missile Program Continues” states:

“An annual report [unclassified excerpt] issued this week on Iranian military power by the U.S. Department of Defense concludes that Iran has been making considerable strides in improving the accuracy of its long-range missiles . . . according to the report, there has been no change to Iran’s strategies over the last year and Tehran is still focused on challenging U.S. influence while developing domestic capabilities to become the dominant player in the Middle East . . . the report concludes that Iran could flight-test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) before 2016 and can now fire multiple missiles within second, creating a challenge for US and Israeli missile defense . . . Iran’s Shahab-3 missile can hit targets throughout the Middle East and the report says this missile’s range is being extended . . . this report shows the growing regional threat by Iran and is certain to further drive tensions . . . it also points to new threats to Israeli security from Iranian missiles.”

(sigh) And the Iran Warmongering beat goes on…

This is our daily open thread — what’s on YOUR mind today?

Cheney ordered CIA program kept secret (Updated)

According to the New York Times, former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to keep a counter-terrorism program secret from Congress — for eight years.  CIA Director Leon Panetta informed the House and Senate Intelligence committees about the program after he learned of it on June 23,

Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney

and shut down the program immediately.  The purpose and activities of the program remain secret.

The law requires the president to make sure the intelligence committees “are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.” But the language of the statute, the amended National Security Act of 1947, leaves some leeway for judgment, saying such briefings should be done “to the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters.”

In addition, for covert action programs, a particularly secret category in which the role of the United States is hidden, the law says that briefings can be limited to the so-called Gang of Eight, consisting of the Republican and Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress and of their intelligence committees.

Cheney’s involvement in the secret counter-terrorism program came to light through the inspector general’s report, which featured the former vice president’s primary role in keeping secret the NSA’s eavesdropping activities from all but a small number of government officials.

Intelligence and Congressional officials have said the unidentified program did not involve the C.I.A. interrogation program and did not involve domestic intelligence activities. They have said the program was started by the counterterrorism center at the C.I.A. shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but never became fully operational, involving planning and some training that took place off and on from 2001 until this year.

The secret program, begun just days after September 11, 2001, was so secret, so closely held to the vest by the Bush administration, that it’s effectiveness was questionable at best.

A report released on Friday by the inspectors general of five agencies about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program makes clear that Mr. Cheney’s legal adviser, David S. Addington, had to approve personally every government official who was told about the program. The report said “the exceptionally compartmented nature of the program” frustrated F.B.I. agents who were assigned to follow up on tips it had turned up.

House Rep Jan Schakowsky has written to the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Rep Silvestre Reyes, demanding an investigation, and Rep Pete Hoekstra doesn’t want to be too “harsh” in his judgment of the agency.

In Newsweek, there’s a statement by the CIA spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, regarding the demand of seven House members that Director Panetta correct his previous testimony to the Intelligence Committee, in the light of this newly-discovered secret program:

Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman, said Panetta has nothing to correct: “Director Panetta took the initiative to raise the issue with the Hill. He did so promptly and clearly, as the oversight committees themselves recognize. He stands by his statement that it is neither the policy nor the practice of the CIA to mislead Congress. He believes, as his actions show, in the importance of a candid dialogue with Congress.”  (Emphasis added)

Well, of course it’s not the official policy of the CIA to lie to Congress.  No one is going to put that kind of thing in writing, right?  Continue reading

CIA Director Leon Panetta Admits Agency Misled Congress

Hmm.  I’m thinking this is going to make some waves.  Huffington Post has the story:

CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers in a recent briefing that the intelligence agency he heads misled Congress on “significant actions” for a “number of years,” a group of Democrats revealed on Wednesday.

In a letter written to Panetta on June 26 by seven Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, the CIA chief is urged to “publicly correct” an earlier statement he made in which he insisted that it was not agency policy to mislead Congress.

As the letter details, Panetta apparently acknowledged in an earlier briefing that this statement was not, in fact, true.

Not that this comes as a surprise or anything.  I love — in the most horrible sense of the word — the final sentence: this statement was not, in fact, true.  But I guess publishing the word horse shit might come across as less than objective.

“Torture Works” vs. “I Make Up Stories”

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Dick Cheney has been trying to tell us that torture works (okay, he still refuses to use the word “torture”, but in the interests of accuracy and clarity, I will substitute the word “torture” for any other euphemism they may utilize), that we gained valuable intelligence from its use, and that “it saved lives.” Did it, Dick? Did it really save lives? Or did it cost lives? American lives? Americans in uniform? Did your insistence on the use, and staunch defense, of a series of illegally-authorized interrogation techniques, which were based on methods known to elicit false confessions, actually end up getting one or more of our soldiers killed?

Thanks to the ACLU, we now know that Dick Cheney was lying through his gritting teeth when he said we received valuable intelligence through the use of torture, particularly in the case of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (also, and more conveniently, known as “KSM”.) He claimed that intel “saved lives.” Given Dick’s well-documented history of spreading falsehoods, I have every reason in the world to believe that not only was this statement a lie, it was actually the opposite of the truth. I have reason to believe that people died because of the information we gained through torture. And the reason is a very simple one. KSM himself said, in his statement at his “Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing” (Pg 15):

I ah cannot remember now…I be under questioning so-many statement which been some them l make up stories just location UBL. Continue reading

Even If It Wasn’t Torture, It Was Still a Crime

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Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution says:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. 

Article VI, Clause 3 says:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. 

There are those on the right who insist that the US should never be bound by International Treaty, but they would be wrong. When we sign a treaty and ratify it in our Senate, it becomes “the supreme Law of the Land.” To fail to follow it would be to fail to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment makes it a crime to torture people or to treat prisoners cruelly or inhumanely. The United States signed this treaty on April 18, 1988. The United States finally got around to ratifying this treaty on October 21, 1994. This means that this treaty was the Law of the Land on January 20, 2001, when the Bush Administration came into office.

On August 6, 2002, Continue reading

OPEN THREAD: Who is Ali Soufan?

Ali Soufan, FBI agent, testified today at the congressional hearing on the Bush Administration’s detention and interrogation program led by Senator Whitehouse. He testified that he had interrogated Abu Zubaydah and garnered significant information from him before enhanced interrogation and water boarding of him by the CIA began.

From Wikipedia:

The FBI Interrogation of Abu Zubaydah: Pre-CIA

Following Abu Zubaydah’s capture he was interrogated by FBI agents Ali Soufan and Steve Gaudin. The interrogation followed standard FBI protocol and involved cleaning and dressing Abu Zubaydah’s wounds. Ali Soufan stated in a Newsweek article in April, 2009 “We kept him alive… It wasn’t easy, he couldn’t drink, he had a fever. I was holding ice to his lips.”[86] The agents attempted to convince Abu Zubaydah that they knew of his activities in languages he understood; English and Arabic. Both agents believed they were making good progress in gathering intelligence from Abu Zubayda: He disclosed Khalid Sheihkh Muhamed’s alias, “Mukhtar,” as well as other details of the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. Abu Aubzaydah also revealed the identity of Jose Padilla to the FBI agents.

Why the “Who is Ali Soufan?” Because already the right wing pundits are discrediting him as a disgruntled former FBI agent.

Torture Used to Link Saddam With 9/11

by Marjorie Cohn (Posted with permission)

When I testified last year before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties about Bush interrogation policies, Congressman Trent Franks (R-Arizona) stated that former CIA Director Michael Hayden had confirmed that the Bush administration only waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashirit for one minute each. I told Franks that I didn’t believe that. Sure enough, one of the newly released torture memos reveals that Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. One of Stephen Bradbury’s 2005 memos asserted that “enhanced techniques” on Zubaydah yielded the identification of Mohammed and an alleged radioactive bomb plot by Jose Padilla. But FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Zubaydah from March to June 2002, wrote in The New York Times that Zubaydah produced that information under traditional interrogation methods, before the harsh techniques were ever used.

Why, then, the relentless waterboarding of these two men? It turns out that high Bush officials put heavy pressure on Pentagon interrogators to get Mohammed and Zubaydah to reveal a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 hijackers, in order to justify Bush’s illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003. That link was never established.

Continue reading

Turley: Torture prosecution is not ‘retribution’

George Washington University law school professor Jonathan Turley was a guest last evening on The Rachel Maddow Show, and discussed the White House release of the Bush-era secret torture memos, and President Obama’s ruling out the prosecution of CIA officials for the use of those tactics.


A Call to End All Renditions

by Marjorie Cohn (Posted at TheZoo by permission)

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian residing in Britain, said he was tortured after being sent to Morocco and Afghanistan in 2002 by the U.S. government. Mohamed was transferred to Guantánamo in 2004 and all terrorism charges against him were dismissed last year. Mohamed was a victim of extraordinary rendition, in which a person is abducted without any legal proceedings and transferred to a foreign country for detention and interrogation, often tortured.

Mohamed and four other plaintiffs are accusing Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. of flying them to other countries and secret CIA camps where they were tortured. In Mohamed’s case, two British justices accused the Bush administration of pressuring the British government to block the release of evidence that was “relevant to allegations of torture” of Mohamed.

Twenty-five lines edited out of the court documents included details about how Mohamed’s genitals were sliced with a scalpel as well as other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding “is very far down the list of things they did,” according to a British official quoted by the Telegraph (UK).

The plaintiffs’ complaint quotes a former Jeppesen employee as saying, “We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights – you know, the torture flights.” A senior company official also apparently admitted the company transported people to countries where they would be tortured.

Obama’s Justice Department appeared before a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday in the Jeppesen lawsuit. But instead of making a clean break with the dark policies of the Bush years, the Obama administration claimed the same “state secrets” privilege that Bush used to block inquiry into his policies of torture and illegal surveillance. Claiming that the extraordinary rendition program is a state secret is disingenuous since it is has been extensively documented in the media.

“This was an opportunity for the new administration to act on its condemnation of torture and rendition, but instead it has chosen to stay the course,” said the ACLU’s Ben Wizner, counsel for the five men.

If the judges accept Obama’s state secrets claim, these men will be denied their day in court and precluded from any recovery for the damages they suffered as a result of extraordinary rendition.
Continue reading

I was just following orders…

is now a sufficient excuse to get away with…torture!

According to Leon Pannetta:

CIA officers who acted on legal orders from the Bush administration would not be held responsible for those policies.

So, all one need do is find one lawyer, somewhere in the United States (or world now, for that matter) willing to re-define torture to allow anything short of disembowelment and those folks who commit torture are immune from prosecution.

This decision to not prosecute under domestic law opens up the door for International prosecutions. After all, how can an order to torture ever be considered a legal order?

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No-mo Gitmo!

President Barack Obama began overhauling U.S. treatment of terror suspects Thursday, signing orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, shut down secret overseas CIA prisons, review military war crimes trials and ban the harshest interrogation methods.

Now, I was thinking, perhaps it shouldn’t be closed entirely. It would be the ideal facility to house, try, and hold members of the previous administration for international war crimes, crimes against humanity, state-sponsored terrorist acts….

“I was just following orders!”

Oh. Ok. In that case, no one will prosecute you for torturing people.

As President-elect Barack Obama assures intelligence officials that his complaints are with the Bush administration, not them, there are growing hints from Democratic Senate allies that spy agency veterans will not be prosecuted for past harsh interrogation and detainee policies.

Never mind that we have never accepted that rationale, that “defense”, for crimes committed by foreigners.

Obama has an opportunity to tell the world that we are not a rogue nation, that we do stand for the rule of law, even when fighting terrorists, and that we will hold everyone accountable.

If we do not, if our law enforcement, our military, our clandestine operators, if they all get a free pass to do whatever they please, we create the Ministry of Love. The ends will justify any means.

No one will be safe, least of all from their own government.

Former CIA agent: Panetta ‘a good pick’ for CIA

Raw Story

President-elect Obama is defending his choice of former Clinton official Leon Panetta for CIA Director. Incoming Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein wasn’t consulted prior to the nomination. Rachel Maddow is joined by former CIA agent Bob Baer approves of the choice of Panetta for CIA Director.

Bob Baer was a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC last night. This was a really good interview. Baer’s books See No Evil and Sleeping with the Devil were the basis for the 2005 Academy Award winning Warner Brothers motion picture Syriana.

On Baer (from Wikipedia):

During his twenty-year CIA career, Baer has publicly acknowledged field assignments in Madras and New Delhi, India; in Beirut, Lebanon; in Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and in Salah al-Din in Kurdish northern Iraq. During the mid-1980s Baer was sent to Iraq with the mission of organizing opposition to Saddam Hussein but was recalled, and investigated by the FBI, for allegedly conspiring to assassinate the Iraqi leader.[1][2] While in Salah al-Din, Baer unsuccessfully urged the Clinton Administration to back an internal Iraqi attempt to overthrow Hussein (organized by a group of Sunni military officers, the Iraqi National CongressAhmad Chalabi, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan‘s Jalal Talabani) in March 1995 with covert CIA assistance. Baer quit the Agency in 1997 and received the CIA’s Career Intelligence Medal on March 11, 1998. Baer wrote the book See No Evil documenting his experiences while working for the Agency.

According to Seymour Hersh, Baer “was considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East.”

In this interview, he basically said “the information was cooked” referring to the WH in order to get us into this war (not that we didn’t already know that..) He speaks to Leon Panetta’s qualifications for the job he is being asked to do.

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Plame, Wilson to take CIA leak lawsuit to Supreme Court

Raw Story

Former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, plan to take their civil lawsuit against Bush administration officials to the Supreme Court after a federal circuit court refused to rehear the case on Monday.

Wilson v. Cheney, filed in 2006, charges that Bush administration officials such as Vice President Cheney, and aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, violated Plame’s constitutional rights in allegedly engineering the outing Plame, who was undercover at the time, as retaliation against her husband, an Iraq war critic, who had been sent to Niger in 2002 to investigate the possible sale of yellowcake uranium to Iraq. While Wilson reported back that such sales were unlikely to have taken place, President Bush asserted to the contrary in his 2003 State of the Union address, prompting Wilson to speak out publicly in a July 6, 2003 New York Times piece entitled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”

Read on..

Their chances might be getting better now that Scott McClellan has started speaking out..

In this clip, Scott McClellan is speaking at the (November) 2008 Miami Book Fair on C-SPAN Book TV, and he SAYS that George Bush admitted authorizing the leaking of parts of the classified NIE which resulted in the  ‘outing’ of Valerie Plame. Outing a covert CIA operative in a time of war is treason. George Bush, while President of the United States, committed treason by authorizing leaking of classified intelligence in order to destroy his ‘political enemies’.

Will he and Dick Cheney ever be held to account?

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White House fearful of prosecution…

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Harpers Magazine interviewed Jane Mayer, the author of The Dark SideAn inside story of how the war on terror turned into a war on American ideals. This book is a series of articles which chronicle the Bush’s administrations involvement with torture and the individuals that helped make it happen.

In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public.

The interview involved six questions which can be found here… I highly recommend reading this interview in it’s entirety.

What I found striking was Jane Mayer’s response to the first question which included this statement:

Activists will be angry at me for saying this, but as someone who has covered politics in Washington, D.C., for two decades, I would be surprised if there is the political appetite for going after public servants who convinced themselves that they were acting in the best interests of the country, and had legal authority to do so. An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.

Much will depend on who the next president and attorney general are, and how much pressure they feel. At the very least, as a journalist, I hope that the records are opened, and all the legal memos released (several crucial ones remain secret) so that the country can learn its own history here. My guess is that the real accountability for President Bush will be in the history books, not the court room.

Remember, there are both Democrats and Republicans that sit on the Intelligence Committees and these legislators were informed of the torture programs as developed by the Bush administration. This would make them both accessory before and after the fact.

The reaction of top Bush Administration officials to the ICRC report, from what I can gather, has been defensive and dismissive. They reject the ICRC’s legal analysis as incorrect. Yet my reporting shows that inside the White House there has been growing fear of criminal prosecution, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan case that the Geneva Conventions applied to the treatment of the detainees. This nervousness resulted in the successful effort to add retroactive immunity to the Military Commission Act. Cheney personally spearheaded this effort. Fear of the consequences of exposure also weighed heavily in discussions about whether to shut the CIA program down. In White House meetings, Cheney warned that if they transferred the CIA’s prisoners to Guantanamo, “people will want to know where they have been—and what we’ve been doing with them.” Alberto Gonzales, a source said, “scared” everyone about the possibility of war crimes prosecutions. It was on their minds.

(I added the emphasis)

Well, now I understand why there was this big push to pass the Military Commission Act back in the Fall of 2006. And to think that most Congress men and women didn’t even read this bill. My Congressman told me that he voted in favor of this bill because Nancy Pelosi told him to vote “yea” and he did. She wields a strong arm in the Democratic Congress.

Wait, there’s even more… Cheney and his buddies have been carrying around a grudge ever since Watergate and they saw 9/11 as an opportunity to strike back.

After interviewing hundreds of sources in and around the Bush White House, I think it is clear that many of the legal steps taken by the so-called “War Council” were less a “New Paradigm,” as Alberto Gonzales dubbed it, than an old political wish list, consisting of grievances that Cheney and his legal adviser, David Addington, had been compiling for decades. Cheney in particular had been chafing at the post-Watergate reforms, and had longed to restore the executive branch powers Nixon had assumed, constituting what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “the Imperial Presidency.

Then there is the matter of the recent FISA bill and Congressional members’ knowledge of the illegal spying when it first took place.

From Salon:

Continue reading

Torture and the Rule of Law

by Glenn GreenwaldSalon and CommonDreams

The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, one of the country’s handful of truly excellent investigative journalists over the last seven years, has written a new book — “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals” — which reveals several extraordinary (though unsurprising) facts regarding America’s torture regime. According to the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which received an advanced copy, Mayer’s book reports the following:

  • “Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes.”
  • “A CIA analyst warned the Bush administration in 2002 that up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake, but White House officials ignored the finding and insisted that all were ‘enemy combatants’ subject to indefinite incarceration.”
  • “[A] top aide to Vice President Cheney shrugged off the report and squashed proposals for a quick review of the detainees’ cases . . .’There will be no review,’ the book quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying. ‘The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.’”
  • “[T]he [CIA] analyst estimated that a full third of the camp’s detainees were there by mistake. When told of those findings, the top military commander at Guantanamo at the time, Major Gen. Michael Dunlavey, not only agreed with the assessment but suggested that an even higher percentage of detentions — up to half — were in error. Later, an academic study by Seton Hall University Law School concluded that 55 percent of detainees had never engaged in hostile acts against the United States, and only 8 percent had any association with al-Qaeda.”
  • [T]he International Committee of the Red Cross declared in the report, given to the C.I.A. last year, that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qaeda figure the United States captured, were ‘categorically’ torture, which is illegal under both American and international law“.
  • “[T]he Red Cross document ‘warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.’”

This is what a country becomes when it decides that it will not live under the rule of law, when it communicates to its political leaders that they are free to do whatever they want — including breaking our laws — and there will be no consequences. There are two choices and only two choices for every country — live under the rule of law or live under the rule of men. We’ve collectively decided that our most powerful political leaders are not bound by our laws — that when they break the law, there will be no consequences. We’ve thus become a country which lives under the proverbial “rule of men” — that is literally true, with no hyperbole needed — and Mayer’s revelations are nothing more than the inevitable by-product of that choice.

Read the rest of this important post…

McClellan’s Biggest Revelation? Bush Personally Authorized Leak Of CIA Agent’s Identity

Huffington Post

Perhaps the biggest revelation from Scott McClellan’s bombshell book about his time at the White House is that President Bush directly authorized the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity (Emptywheel):

During the interview, Scottie revealed the two things that really pissed him off with the Bush Administration. First, being set up to lie by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. And second, learning that Bush had–himself–authorized the selective leaking of the NIE.
Scottie McC: But the other defining moment was in early April 2006, when I learned that the President had secretly declassified the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq for the Vice President and Scooter Libby to anonymously disclose to reporters. And we had been out there talking about how seriously the President took the selective leaking of classified information. And here we were, learning that the President had authorized the very same thing we had criticized.

Viera: Did you talk to the President and say why are you doing this?

Scottie McC: Actually, I did. I talked about the conversation we had. I walked onto Air Force One, it was right after an event we had, it was down in the south, I believe it was North Carolina. And I walk onto Air Force One and a reporter had yelled a question to the President trying to ask him a question about this revelation that had come out during the legal proceedings. The revelation was that it was the President who had authorized, or, enable Scooter Libby to go out there and talk about this information. And I told the President that that’s what the reporter was asking. He was saying that you, yourself, was the one that authorized the leaking of this information. And he said “yeah, I did.” And I was kinda taken aback.

Interesting.. Wow.. I do somehow recall President Bush getting in front of cameras and saying:

“I don’t know of anyone in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action”.

Bush was clearly lying (once again).
This is included in this clip from MSNBC’s Hardball (October 25, 2007):

DAVID SHUSTER RECAPS OUTING OF C.I.A. AGENT VALERIE PLAME

From this same clip, George H.W. Bush, speaking at a press conference eight years earlier (April 26, 1999), expressed his anger at the damage done to the CIA when agents are outed by saying:

“I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are the most insidious of traitors”.

If this is true (McClellan’s claims, and George W. Bush actually authorized the outing of a CIA operative, in a time of war, an operative who’s job was to track WMD’s in the Middle East, resulting in the exposure of the entire operation (effectively shutting it down and endangering the lives fo all involved – plus making our nation more vulnerable and less safe), isn’t that right up there with the president committing treason? I am not just talking about his war crimes that some day he will have to account for, but actually commiting TREASON?

Isn’t anyone going to do anything about this?

Emptywheel ends his post with this:

At this point, Scottie McC is still accepting Scooter Libby’s lies, though I suspect he sees the dangerous frailty of them. With Bush’s clear admission to Scottie that he was in the loop, and the evidence that, subsequent to receiving an order from Cheney (authorized by Bush) to leak classified information to Judy Miller, Libby leaked Valerie Wilson’s identity, the circumstantial evidence shows the President was directly involved in the deliberate outing of a CIA spy. The only question now is whether Bush realized he authorized the leak of Valerie’s identity, in addition to a bunch of other classified documents.

Think of how much sense this makes. We have evidence that George Bush ordered Libby to respond to Joe Wilson on June 9, 2003. We now have Bush’s own confirmation that he authorized the leak Libby made to Judy Miller on July 8, 2003–which included the leak of Valerie Wilson’s identity. We know on July 10, Condi told Stephen Hadley that Bush “was comfortable” with the response the White House was making towards Wilson. And we know that–when Cheney forced Scottie McC to exonerate Libby publicly that fall, he did so by reminding people that “The Pres[ident] [asked Libby] to stick his head in the meat-grinder.” We know that Libby’s lawyers tried desperately to prevent a full discussion of the NIE lies to be presented at trial. And we know that–after those NIE lies did not come out, for the most part (though one juror told me that NIE story was obviously false, even with the limited information they received)–the President commuted Libby’s sentence on July 2, 2007.

Top Bush Administration officials pressured underlings to use torture tactics at Guantanamo

via: Raw Story

Of Guantanamo interrogators: “You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas.”

“Torture at Guantánamo was sanctioned by the most senior advisers to the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense, according to the international lawyer and professor of law at University College London Philippe Sands, who has conducted a forensic examination of the chain of command leading from the top of the administration to the camp at Guantánamo,” Vanity Fair will report on newstands today.

The article directly contradicts the administration’s account to Congress, which placed responsibility on military commanders and interrogators on the ground for the practices banned by the Geneva Conventions.Excerpts from the magazine’s release follow. The full story is available here.

Sands reports that these senior advisers face a real risk of criminal investigation if they set foot outside the United States, despite the Military Commissions Act, signed into law by President Bush in 2006. The hitch is that their immunity is good only within U.S. borders, and rather than protecting them, the act may lead to an eventual investigation by foreign governments. For some, the future may hold “a tap on the shoulder.” Sands consulted a judge and prosecutor in a major European city, both of whom are familiar with these sorts of cases. The prosecutor called the act “very stupid,” explaining that it would make it much easier for investigators outside the U.S. to argue that possible war crimes would never be addressed in their home country. “It’s a matter of time,” the judge told Sands. “And then something unexpected happens, when one of these lawyers travels to the wrong place.”Sands talks with everyone from high level members of the administration to soldiers on the ground at Guantánamo, among them: Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense, General Richard Myers, former joint chiefs chairman, and Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver, who was charged with writing a document providing legal authority for harsh interrogation.

Read entire article…

I get tired of asking these obvious questions..

Why are these people still running our country?

Why isn’t the press doing their jobs? You know, like investigative journalism?

Why is Congress allowing this administration to trample all over our laws, International laws, and the United States Constitution, and why aren’t they moving to impeach these people before they completely destroy our country?

I think its too late to prevent them from destroying our credibility and reputation around the globe.Its not too late to impeach, try them (and convict), and put them in prison for their crimes. That is the only thing that will restore credibility to the United States worldwide. It is the only thing that will restore trust with Americans in their system of government – proving to them that it actually works.

Bush Weakens Espionage Oversight

By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe (via Common Dreams)

WASHINGTON – Almost 32 years to the day after President Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority.

The White House did not say why it was necessary to change the rules governing the board when it issued Bush’s order late last month. But critics say Bush’s order is consistent with a pattern of steps by the administration that have systematically scaled back Watergate-era intelligence reforms.

“It’s quite clear that the Bush administration officials who were around in the 1970s are settling old scores now,” said Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union. “Here they are even preventing oversight within the executive branch. They have closed the books on the post-Watergate era.”

Ford created the board following a 1975-76 investigation by Congress into domestic spying, assassination operations, and other abuses by intelligence agencies. The probe prompted fierce battles between Congress and the Ford administration, whose top officials included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the current president’s father, George H. W. Bush.

To blunt proposals for new laws imposing greater congressional oversight of intelligence matters, Ford enacted his own reforms with an executive order that went into effect on March 1, 1976. Among them, he created the Intelligence Oversight Board to serve as a watchdog over spying agencies.

“I believe [the changes] will eliminate abuses and questionable activities on the part of the foreign intelligence agencies while at the same time permitting them to get on with their vital work of gathering and assessing information,” Ford told Congress.

The board’s investigations and reports have been mostly kept secret. But the Clinton administration provided a rare window into the panel’s capabilities in 1996 by publishing a board report faulting the CIA for not adequately informing Congress about putting known torturers and killers in Guatemala on its payroll.

But Bush downsized the board’s mandate to be an aggressive watchdog against such problems in an executive order issued on Feb. 29, the eve of the anniversary of the day Ford’s order took effect. The White House said the timing of the new order was “purely coincidental.”

Under the old rules, whenever the oversight board learned of intelligence activity that it believed might be “unlawful or contrary to executive order,” it had a duty to notify both the president and the attorney general. But Bush’s order deleted the board’s authority to refer matters to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation, and the new order said the board should notify the president only if other officials are not already “adequately” addressing the problem.

Bush’s order also terminated the board’s authority to oversee each intelligence agency’s general counsel and inspector general, and it erased a requirement that each inspector general file a report with the board every three months. Now only the agency directors will decide whether to report any potential lawbreaking to the panel, and they have no schedule for checking in.

Gutted the Intelligence Oversight Board like a fish. Now, if the various intelligence heads decide they need to report something on themselves (heh), they report directly to the director of national intelligence — one of their own.

This president just does what he damn well pleases, and covers his hiney with a brand-spankin’ new executive order. Assassinate al Qaeda suspects? Yeah, if we wanna. Wiretap American citizens? Any time we want. Authorize spies to ignore executive orders? You bet.

Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr.: “What the Bush administration has systematically done is to try to limit both internal oversight – things like the Intelligence Oversight Board – and effective external oversight by the Congress,” Schwarz said, adding, “It’s profoundly disappointing if you understand American history, and it’s profoundly harmful to the United States.”

I’ve got news for you, Mr Schwartz, they aren’t trying to limit oversight — they have limited said oversight.

Disappointed? How about infuriated? Outraged? Disgusted?

Read the whole article here.

Reaction to Bush veto of CIA torture ban

The Raw Story

“I believe that we must reject torture without equivocation because it does not make us safe, it results in unreliable intelligence, it puts our troops at risk, and it contradicts core American values.” — Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

“Today President Bush vetoed an important intelligence authorization bill because it contains language that would ban the CIA’s use of waterboarding. Waterboarding is torture, and torture is a moral wrong, a diplomatic affront, and a strategic error that produces false information and endangers our own troops overseas. Nothing is more damaging to our moral authority and global standing than a failure to live up to the standards that we have embraced and promoted around the world. This veto is yet another stain mark on a failed presidency.” – Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY

Click here to read other reactions.

Valerie Plame-Wilson stunned by Edmonds disclosures.

BradBlog:

In a recent radio interview, Valerie Wilson says she’s been following Sibel Edmonds’ disclosures in the Sunday Times, and finds them stunning.

The previously covert agent, who had worked in the agency’s counter-proliferation division for years monitoring traffic in the nuclear black market under the guise of a cover company named Brewster Jennings until being outed by Bush Administration officials, was asked about the recent series of explosive stories in the British paper during an interview this morning with Florida radio host Henry Raines of American AM.

Those disclosures include allegations that Brewster Jennings’ real identity as a CIA front company was outed to Turkish officials by then-Asst. Sec. of State for European Affairs Marc Grossman as early as 2001…

No wonder this administration was playing fast and loose with Plame-Wilson’s covert status — her operation was exposed years earlier.  It sends a chill up the spine…

While Plame Wilson offered today that she has “no insight” into the story, other than what has been published by the Times, she joined Edmonds and other whistleblowers such as Daniel Ellsberg in her criticism of the U.S. mainstream media for failing to investigate and report on the story.

“I think it’s very interesting that it’s showing up across the pond and not here at all, in any of our newspapers,” Plame Wilson said.

“It’s fair to say that in general the American media has been extremely intimidated, it’s been supine, and I think it’s let the American people down,” she explained, pointing to the run-up to the Iraq War when the U.S. media, “took simply what the Administration was dishing up and didn’t question it, didn’t analyze it, didn’t go seek secondary sources. And look where we are today as a result of that.”

I guess it’s easy for the American media to fail to do it’s job when the goal is profit or access, rather than reporting actual news.

The rest of this article and a transcript of the radio interview with Valerie Plame-Wilson can be found on BradBlog.