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?

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?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole: March 10 – Jean Calas

Jean Calas was a French merchant living in Toulouse, France, famous for having been the victim of a biased trial due to his being a Protestant. In France, he is a symbol of Christian religious intolerance. His sole sin was trying to mask the suicide of his son, Marc-Antoine, as a murder. He was charged with the murder and died on March 10, 1762 on the wheel. Voltaire was successful in exonerating Jean Calas (posthumously ) of all charges. His family was paid 36,000 Francs by the king in compensation.

Jean Calas tortured for nothing more than his religious beliefs

Religion was specifically excluded from government in the Constitution. What disturbs me is that the Republican Party is trying to foist religious values into American law. This can not be condoned for any reason.

Could religious dogma endanger the rights of Americans? The “War on Women” offers one step towards this slippery slope! I often wonder if any Republican actually has a mother.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to offer a counter argument. You can also spill your guts.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, October 27th: …and in other news…

After mulling over topics for today’s post, I decided to just present a mixed bag of ‘things that caught my eye on the internets during the past few days.’ The articles range from serious to tongue-in-cheek to outright ridiculous. The following are from Foreign Policy Magazine online and from Newsmax.

From FP: The title of Ryan Caldwell’s article, “An Islamist, a Liberal, and a Former Regime Loyalist Walk into a Cafe”, snagged my attention. The article gave an interesting presentation of the post-Gaddafi views of three Libyans of different stripes working together. Also, for some reason I found it just wondrous that the interview was done via Skype, from Caldwell’s home in California to a cafe in Benghazi. Plus I learned that ‘celebratory gunfire’ is called rasaas al-farah, which means, literally, “bullets of joy.”

From FP: In “Dumb Power: Republicans Introduce the “What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?” Foreign Policy”, David Rothkopf gives his reaction to the Republican debate on foreign policy.

From Newsmax: In the Newsmax “Breaking News” email, this article was billed as “Thomas Sowell: Herman Cain Is Real Black, Obama Not Typical“. The article includes such tidbits as:

“His prescription for fixing the economy: “I would love to have a constitutional amendment that says politicians are not allowed to intervene in the economy under any circumstances. I think there would be a boom following that.””

From Newsmax: The title of “Hensarling: Supercommittee Need Not Cut Entitlements” sounds hopeful, doesn’t it? Sure…read the whole article: Hensarling, the Republican co-chair of this “Supercommittee”, has some strange ideas. Here’s one:

“I would like to pick up the Internal Revenue Code by its roots and throw it into the nearest trash can. Having said that, realistically, that’s probably a bridge too far for this committee,”


From Newsmax
: And finally, Frank Gaffney being Frank Gaffney:

“Frank Gaffney warned in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview: “I’m afraid there’s a war coming, a very serious, perhaps cataclysmic regional war,” he said. “It will be presumably over, at least in part, the future existence of the state of Israel. It may involve all of its neighbors, as they have in the past, attacking Israel to try, as they say, to drive the Jews into the sea.””

Enjoy!

This is our Open Thread. I’m sure you can find something to say about any one of the above, so Speak Up!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 17, 2010: Hump Day

What does it mean when the President of the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world, admits to the world that he authorized waterboarding?

His lawyers said (remember the “Loyal Bushies” that staffed the Department of Justice curing Bush’s tenure) that waterboarding does not violate 18 U.S.C. 2340; that waterboarding is not “torture.”

The statute says,

As used in this chapter—
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death…

I leave it to you, our readers, to decide for yourselves: Did President Bush authorize torture?

What Waterboarding IsWaterboarding induces panic and suffering by forcing a person to inhale water into the sinuses, pharynx, larynx, and trachea.

The head is tilted back and water is poured into the upturned mouth or nose. Eventually the subject cannot exhale more air or cough out more water, the lungs are collapsed, and the sinuses and trachea are filled with water. The subject is drowned from the inside, filling with water from the head down. The chest and lungs are kept higher than the head so that coughing draws water up and into the lungs while avoiding total suffocation. “His sufferings must be that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown.”

The prohibition against torture is so global that no country, great or small, can authorize torture.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

Continue reading

Spreading the Word of Christ through Terror

Nine alleged members of a Christian militia group that was girding for battle with the Antichrist were charged Monday with plotting to kill a police officer and slaughter scores more by bombing the funeral — all in hopes of touching off an uprising against the U.S. government.

It’s time for “Trial by Media.”

They were plotting a terrorist attack, in the Name of Christ. By taking up arms against the United States, they are unlawful enemy combatants. They should be sent to Guantanamo, waterboarded and subjected to other harsh interrogation techniques until they reveal the rest of their terrorist network. It’s time to go all Jack Bauer over their white Christian asses! They don’t deserve a trial. Reading them their rights is just coddling to terrorists!

***

Somehow, I don’t think you’ll hear the Right-Wing talking heads spewing the above venom. More likely, they’ll be saying what they were plotting is a justifiable reaction to Obamacare.

Your thoughts are welcome.

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Hippocrates weeps..

From Hippocrates’ Oath:

Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves.

The non-profit organization Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has issued a report on the extent that medical professionals were involved in the torture programs at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo.

The version of the 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report released on August 24, 2009 provides greater detail on the central role that health professionals played in the CIA’s torture program and reveals a level of ethical misconduct that had not previously come to light.
The report confirms that the CIA inflicted torture on detainees interrogated while in US custody as part of the agency’s counterterrorism activities and exposes additional interrogation techniques that had not yet been reported. It also demonstrates that health professionals were involved at every stage in the development, implementation and legitimization of this torture program.
The doctors and psychologists who laid the foundation upon which attorneys rationalized an illegal program of torture also actively participated in abusive and illegal interrogations, thus betraying the ethical standards of their professions by contributing to physical and mental suffering and anguish. The very premise of health professional involvement in abusive interrogations — that they have a role in safeguarding detainees — is an unconscionable affront to the profession of medicine. (read full report)

So how will this fit into the ethics every doctor swears to uphold? PHR likens the involvement of doctors onto the torture program to illegal medical experimentation on humans as forbidden by the Nuremberg Code.

Torture is vile and inexcusable in any instance. The licence to practice medicine must be taken away from everybody who takes part in it.

HT: The Guardian

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Bruce Fein wants an expanded CIA probe

On yesterday’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews interviewed Bruce Fein, an Associate Deputy Attorney General to President Ronald Reagan, and Fein argued that the Justice Department should expand a probe into the CIA’s interrogation techniques — including the possibility of targeting former Vice President Dick Cheney.

In response to a clip of Dick Cheney saying (in his interview with Chris Wallace of Fox Noise) that even if they violated the rules (laws), don’t investigate, and don’t even think of indicting..:

“What I find most dangerous about Mr. Cheney’s statement is that he really suggests that the rule of law means nothing as long as you’re trying to go after terrorists. We have a way to do these things. Go to Congress and you have them amend the law—a ticking time-bomb exception or something like that. The executive branch doesn’t unilaterally declare the law no longer serves any purpose because we’re going after terrorists. That’s what despotic governments do. We are the United States of America. Rule of Law is our ultimate safety and guarding of our liberties.”

“I think there should be an investigation, and perhaps a pardon would be appropriate under the circumstance, but certainly a full-fledged investigation. If there are no mitigating circumstances a prosecution is appropriate. If there are, then that’s the pardon, and that’s the situation where the president would have to take full accountability like President Ford did with Mr. Nixon.”

I agree. Let the investigation go where it must. This country needs to see accountability so we as a nation can regain our confidence that we really ARE a country based on the Rule of Law, that there really are lines that cannot be crossed, that those laws really work—for ALL of us (including our elected leaders and lawmakers).

Rachel Maddow: “Planet Cheney”

Rachel Maddow discusses Dick Cheney, and his recent attempts at defending the torture of terror suspects during the Bush administration, with Chris Hayes of The Nation.

Read Chris Hayes’ article “The Secret Government“.
Also read Jeremy Scahill’s “Rebuking Cheney’s Torture Propaganda in 7 Easy Steps“.

The Ethics of Indefinite Detention 101

Think Progress has a thread about a Washington Post article stating that President Obama’s considering using an Executive Order to allow indefinite detention.

Before we obsess too much about a Washington Post article, we should read the damn thing. Here’s the problem Obama inherited:

Three months into the Justice Department’s reviews, several officials involved said they have found themselves agreeing with conclusions reached years earlier by the Bush administration: As many as 90 detainees cannot be charged or released.

Continue reading

“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

John Yoo ordered to testify on torture

John Yoo, the former Bush administration lawyer connected to the torture program put in place by the Bush Administration, has been ordered to testify in court about accusations that his work led to the torture of a detainee. More at ThinkProgress and Raw Story.

From Raw Story:

Former Bush administration attorney John Yoo was ordered on Friday by a federal judge in San Francisco to testify in an appeal brought by Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was held for more than three years and allegedly tortured while in U.S. military custody.

Yoo was one of several administration lawyers who authored legal memos which outlined a legal range for torture, a war crime under the Geneva Convention relative to the prisoners of war.

“Judge [Jeffrey S.] White denied most elements of Mr. Yoo’s motion and quoted a passage from the Federalist Papers that in times of war, nations, to be more safe, ‘at length become willing to run the risk of being less free,’” noted The New York Times.

Yoo, while at the Office of Legal Council in 2002, authored a majority of the department’s opinions on torture along with Jay Bybee, who now serves as a judge on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Steven Bradbury, the former OLC chief who now practices law in Washington, D.C…

Read more on this story…

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

Sifton: “Up to 100 detainees have died in US custody”

Raw Story:

Any torture investigation should focus on the deaths of approximately 100 prisoners who were in U.S. custody, says attorney and human rights investigator John Sifton. Senate torture hearings have examined the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques but Sifton says this is the wrong focus. “Those are the wrong debates to be having right now,” Sifton told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman.

“We knew that up to a hundred detainees had died in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we had published this information previously. But I brought it up again, because I feel like the debate right now about torture is missing the point,” he said.

“These aggressive techniques were not just limited to the high-value detainee program in the CIA. They spread to the military with disastrous results. They led to the deaths of human beings. And when there’s a corpse involved, when there’s a dead body involved, you can’t just have a debate about policy differences and looking forward or looking backward.”


Read the article in The Daily Beast by John Sifton entitled “The Bush Administration Homicides“.

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.

Jesse Ventura: Give Me A Water Board, Dick Cheney, And One Hour – I’ll Have Him Confess

Jesse Ventura was on the Larry King – he was talking about his experience being water boarded before going to Vietnam and that it is torture.

Jesse said, “I don’t have alot of respect for Dick Cheney.” “Here is a guy that got 5 deferments for the Vietnam War, clearly he is a coward.” “He wouldn’t go when it was his time to go and now he is a chickenhawk.”

Torture Apologist David Rivkin Gets Owned By Lawrence O’Donnell

Larry was fearless in this video.  He went after David Rivkin with a vengeance over his claim that the procedures that were used were not considered torture. My hero! He made Rivkin look like a sadist when he read from the memo the experiences one of the detainees suffered and he challenged Rivkin, “Have you ever lived like that and how many days have you spent like that?  Tell me.” Basically saying, how many days had Rivkin lived like an animal, been stripped, hosed down in the December air and couldn’t speak because he was suffering hypothermia. But, that isn’t torture under Rivkin’s definition.

Every time Rivkin tried to defend the methods used or say “that is not the point,” Larry thundered back at him stating, “Did you not hear that description of pain and suffering that was being described?”

Rivkin in this segment brought up the SERE program and that 40,000 Americans have gone through it. What he failed to mention is the fact that IT IS VOLUNTARY, no one is forced to go through the program. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you can quit at any time. A detainee can not say “well guys I’ve had enough today, time to go home.” BIG DIFFERENCE….You cannot compare the two situations and use that analogy as an argument. In the SERE program we never waterboarded one of our own men 183 times!!

I personally like Ed, but I think Larry O’Donnell is so much better.

Condoleezza Rice Defends The Use Of Waterboarding To A 4th Grader

Days after telling students at Stanford University that waterboarding was legal “by definition if it was authorized by the president,” former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was pressed again on the subject by a fourth-grader at a Washington school.

Rice states, “But he was also very clear that we would no nothing, nothing, that was against the law.” “The President was only willing to authorize policies that were legal, in order to protect the country.” “I hope people understand that is was a struggle, it was a difficult time.”

Video by Newspoliticsnews

Cafferty: Why is it that the more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support torture?

Here are some of the answers that were e-mailed to Cafferty’s Blog:

Alex from Florida writes:

Pastors need to teach their congregations that supporting a conservative ticket based on some values like marriage and/or abortion does not mean you have to support the parts of the platform that don’t jive with those values.

Jim from Chicago writes:

Jack, the Evangelicals support torture because by and large they have bought into the Bush-era malarkey that “enhanced interrogation” is not really torture. Through their lack of critical thinking and questioning of the validity of this premise, they somehow feel that these techniques are necessary and effective for our safety. How ironic that Jesus was only subjected to “enhanced interrogation” by Roman soldiers just before he was crucified.

Kathy writes:

All I can figure out is that church goers do not apparently read the Bible and know little about the actual teachings of Christ. They seem to be real big believers in the Old Testament and “an eye for an eye”. How they claim to be “Born Again” when they don’t follow Jesus message of peace and forgiveness I cannot understand. No way would Christ have ever been a Republican, too selfish and unforgiving.

Keith Cameron writes:

If evangelicals want to continue their act of being better-than-thou, it’s about time they showed some views that actually qualified them as being “good” people. Harsh, I know, but seriously, if you’re going to claim to take a stand on morals, the most basic morals on the planet are “love others, even your enemies” and “be the bigger person.” Both apply to this situation.

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Turley: ‘Disturbing’ for Obama to call torture a ‘technique’

Raw Story

Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that President Obama’s suggestion that waterboarding yielded valuable information was “disturbing.” The President told reporters that he thought “waterboarding was torture” during a Wednesday news conference but also implied that reliable intelligence was gained from the interrogation technique.

“It is obviously disturbing to hear torture referred to by the president as a technique. It is like saying bank robbery is a technique for withdrawing money from the bank. It is not a technique. It is a crime,” said Turley. “The idea or the notion that torture works is expressly rejected in treaties we have signed, in cases we have prosecuted. It does not matter what is yielded in torture.”

I found myself yelling at my TV during the speech by President Obama. This issue enrages me. As long as our leaders and the press continue to use ambiguous, warm and fuzzy terms, such as “enhanced interrogations”, and “techniques”, or worse yet, calling what they did a “mistake”, instead of calling it what it is—”torture” and a CRIME—nothing is going to happen to hold these people who set this entire thing in motion accountable for their crimes. They have done SO much damage to this country.

None of this is secret any more (though there could still be a lot we don’t even know yet..). The world is watching. The US will have NO credibility going forward in the future, and we will not not be able to continue to lead holding the high moral ground if the laws are not enforced and our system allowed to work. We will NOT be able to condemn, or hold other countries to account for doing the same thing. This country has been made LESS safe, and our soldiers are now at even greater risk. 


GOP Hoekstra: Not Concerned That Interrogation Program Was Based On Chinese Communist Torture Methods

Hoekstra goes even further, stating that Democrats should have reported their concerns about the Interrogation Program to their designated Majority Leader. Also, they would not have been leaking classified information.

It’s interesting that the Republicans like to call Obama a communist, but they are the ones who approved using Communist Torture Techniques.   It’s also disturbing that Hoekstra’s committee reviewed the program, did what they believed in, and he feels that the Interrogation Program met U.S. law.  WOW and double wow.  It makes me wonder how they can sleep at night.

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.

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