Chris's Rants

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stating the obvious

Saturday, April 25, 2009

To All The Jack Bauer Apologists

In 2002, Military Agency Warned Against 'Torture'
Extreme Duress Could Yield Unreliable Information, It Said

"The requirement to obtain information from an uncooperative source as quickly as possible -- in time to prevent, for example, an impending terrorist attack that could result in loss of life -- has been forwarded as a compelling argument for the use of torture," the document said. "In essence, physical and/or psychological duress are viewed as an alternative to the more time-consuming conventional interrogation process. The error inherent in this line of thinking is the assumption that, through torture, the interrogator can extract reliable and accurate information. History and a consideration of human behavior would appear to refute this assumption."

[...]

In conclusion, the document said, "the application of extreme physical and/or psychological duress (torture) has some serious operational deficits, most notably the potential to result in unreliable information." The word "extreme" is underlined.
Go f*** yourselves.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tortured Logic

The CIA's Questioning Worked By Marc A. Thiessen:
Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that "Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable." The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

This is the secret to the program's success.

WTF?!

It's OK to torture, because Allah says it's OK?!

Sadly, there is a subset of the American population that will believe this drivel and use it to rationalize war crimes that, in additional to being immoral and illegal, undermined the USA's standing in the world community making us less safe in the long run. No terrorist plots were foiled... Marquis de Cheney just spent millions upon millions chasing false intelligence and patted himself on the back for the sheer quantity (no mention is given anywhere for the quality) of leads produced.

Please.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Can you spell blackmail?


Jeff Stein, CQ SpyTalk Columnist has a bombshell:
Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

[...]

But that’s when, according to knowledgeable officials, Attorney General Gonzales intervened.

According to two officials privy to the events, Gonzales said he “needed Jane” to help support the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections. And although it was too late to stop the Times from publishing now, she could be counted on again to help defend the program

He was right.

On Dec. 21, 2005, in the midst of a firestorm of criticism about the wiretaps, Harman issued a statement defending the operation and slamming the Times, saying, “I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.”
One thing is clear... no, make that two. 1) Harman needs to resign her congressional seat, now. 2) Can you spell blackmail? We can make this go away if you get our back on this warrentless wiretapping thing...

One thing is less clear, and that is the nature of the wiretap that caught Rep. Harman in the first place. Wouldn't it be ironic if it were of the warrantless variety? If so, WTF is the administration doing wiretapping members of congress? Me thinks that the former Bush administration officials have some 'splainin' to do.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Torturers’ Manifesto

The Torturers’ Manifesto
These memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him. And if the administration will not conduct a thorough investigation of these issues, then Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable. If that means putting Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales on the stand, even Dick Cheney, we are sure Americans can handle it.

After eight years without transparency or accountability, Mr. Obama promised the American people both. His decision to release these memos was another sign of his commitment to transparency. We are waiting to see an equal commitment to accountability.
Nice of the NYT to finally broach the subject of accountability. Of course, such accountability must not be limited to the likes of Judge Bybee. Where was such talk during the Marquis de Sade's administration? Sure, there were plenty of editorials and op-eds that proclaimed torture to be abhorrent, or wire-tapping to be wrong, but never ever any calls for investigation or *gasp* prosecution for acts that were prima facie illegal, and in the case of the torture allegations, immoral.

Investigation and prosecution of these acts needs to be separated from any political discussion. This is not a political issue. The previous administration knowingly committed war crimes and intentionally sought to cover them up. This much is clear to anyone with a conscience. No amount of rationalization can justify what was done. No ticking time-bombs. No imminent threat. No amount of hand-wringing about "terrorist threats" justifies such acts.

The scales are beginning to fall from the nation's eyes. The time has come to investigate and prosecute the previous administration's wrong-doings. Only that can put this nation back on its course.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fish Story

Divisions Arose on Rough Tactics for Qaeda Figure:
But senior agency officials, still persuaded, as they had told President George W. Bush and his staff, that he was an important Qaeda leader, insisted that he must know more.
So, bottom line is that when captured, the game of telephone between the guys in the field and the President Dickhead Cheney went from "we got a fish" to "we caught a WHOPPER!", only to backfire when it became clear that he was indeed just a fish.

"You tell him" ... "I'm not gonna tell him, YOU do it"

They just couldn't bring themselves to fess up to their mistake. As a result, Jack BauerDick Cheney insisted that they move on to more extraordinary measures - after all, he'd seen it work on the tee vee.

Cheney's festering fingerprints are all over these memos.
“You get a ton of information, but headquarters says, ‘There must be more,’ ” recalled one intelligence officer who was involved in the case. As described in the footnote to the memo, the use of repeated waterboarding against Abu Zubaydah was ordered “at the direction of C.I.A. headquarters,” and officials were dispatched from headquarters “to watch the last waterboard session.”
I think I am going to be sick. They watched!

Earlier in the article, we had this:
Abu Zubaydah had provided much valuable information under less severe treatment, and the harsher handling produced no breakthroughs, according to one former intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case. Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said.

Even for those who believed that brutal treatment could produce results, the official said, “seeing these depths of human misery and degradation has a traumatic effect.”
The article concludes with:
Since 2002, the C.I.A. has downgraded its assessment of Abu Zubaydah’s significance, while continuing to call his revelations important.

In an interview, an intelligence officer said that the current view was that Abu Zubaydah was “an important terrorist facilitator” who disclosed “essential raw material for successful counterterrorist action.”

His interrogation “made it possible for the United States to chip away at Al Qaeda, link by link, disrupting its operations and saving lives,” the intelligence officer said.
For the record, (and for Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer) Abu Zubaydah gave up what little useful information before he was tortured, and the guys on the ground reported that up the chain of command.

Then, after proving to be demonstrably futile in terms of yielding any useful information beyond that which traditional and legal interrogation means yielded, they instituted a program of torture. This is beyond sick. This is beyond evil. They need to be looking for someone who pulled the wings off of bugs and killed the neighbor's pet as a child.

This is Hannibal Lecter evil, and it must never be tolerated again. Those who authorized and directed these war crimes must be brought before the court of justice and world opinion and held to account.

Never again.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

History will not judge this kindly

Dick Cheney's get out of jail free card includes as its concluding paragraph, the following (emphasis mine):
"Given the paucity of relevant precedent and the subjective nature of the inquiry, however, we cannot predict with confidence whether a court would agree with this conclusion, though, for the reasons explained, the question is unlikely to be subject to judicial inquiry." - Steven G. Bradbury Deputy Assistant Attorney General
I think that that says it all, in a nutshell.

The OLC knew that their analysis was sketchy, at best, but given that none of this was expected to see the light of day, they squinted real hard and pretended that what the war criminals in the White House want to do is perfectly legal.

I am not interested in punishing those CIA officers who perpetrated these acts, they were pawns - though they should have known what they were doing was not only illegal but immoral.

However, under no circumstances should those who either authorized or enabled these acts go unpunished. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and they should be pilloried. These people have done more to harm and disgrace this nation than any enemy could possibly hope to achieve.

"History will not judge this kindly" - Attorney General John Ashcroft

Never were more prescient words uttered.

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