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Abu Ghraib head finds vindication in newly released memos
By Samira Simone | CNN
She said she was a scapegoat. She said she was just following orders. She said she was demoted unfairly.
Now, retired Army Col. Janis Karpinski can say: I told you so.
Karpinski was one of two officers punished over the aggressive interrogations at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Pictures of detainees caused outrage around the world when they were leaked to the news media in May 2004. The photos showed naked prisoners stacked on top of each other or being threatened by dogs or hooded and wired up as if for electrocution.
A newly released document indicates that the CIA proposed using waterboarding, a controversial interrogation technique that simulates drowning, on terror suspect Abu Zubaydah three months before the Justice Department approved the harsh interrogation technique.
The document, released today by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence provides a detailed narrative of the history of the Bush administration's attempts to authorize so-called harsh interrogation techniques.
"...the most detailed timeline yet for how the CIA's harsh interrogation program was conceived and approved at the highest levels in the Bush White House. The new timeline shows that Rice played a greater role than she admitted last fall in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee....But even the new timeline has yet to resolve the central question of who inside the Bush administration first broached the idea of using waterboarding and other brutal tactics against terror detainees..."
Then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice verbally OK'd the CIA's request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, a decision memorialized a few days later in a secret memo that the Obama administration declassified last week.
...it becomes clear that torture was carried out with the intention of getting a false connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
The Senate Armed Services Committee report does a very good job of describing the process by which Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld drove prisoner interrogation techniques into the realm of torture. The report also provides us with confirmation that one of the underlying reasons for torture was to provide a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein just prior to the invasion of Iraq.
A former psychiatrist in the US Army, Major Charles Burney, provided very clear evidence to the Senate investigators on the reasons for torture and on the intentional disregard for warnings from SERE trainers that torture would not work.
Dissent Within the Bush Administration on Torture
WHAT: Vicenza City Councilwoman testifies before Congress on behalf of Italian citizens opposed to a new U.S. military base in Vicenza, Italy
WHEN: 10 am, April 23, 2009
WHERE: U.S. Capitol Building, H-143
WASHINGTON -- On Thursday, April 23 a delegation of Italian citizens opposed to a new U.S. military base in Vicenza, Italy, will testify before the House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.
Vicenza is a UNESCO World Heritage site and showcase of renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. The new base will be located in a residential area completely surrounded by houses and just one mile from the historic city center. Vicenza is already home to several U.S. military installations, including Camp Ederle, which dates back to 1955, and was just recently designated as Army Command for Africom.
Commentary: Obama has to be more than the 'un-Bush'
By Andrew Bacevich | CNN
At every stop during his recent trips abroad, President Obama went out of his way to assure observers that he is the un-Bush: a pragmatist rather than an ideologue, with both his feet firmly planted in the reality-based world.
To yesterday's untouchables, like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, the cordial Obama offers smiles and handshakes. Although all to the good, this falls well short of being good enough.
Pragmatism devoid of principle provides an inadequate basis for coherent strategy. At the end of the day, there is no avoiding what the elder George Bush once called "the vision thing": a conception of how the world works, where it is headed and the role the United States should play in getting it there.
In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Inquiry Into Their Past Use
By Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti | NYTimes
The program began with Central Intelligence Agency leaders in the grip of an alluring idea: They could get tough in terrorist interrogations without risking legal trouble by adopting a set of methods used on Americans during military training. How could that be torture?
In a series of high-level meetings in 2002, without a single dissent from cabinet members or lawmakers, the United States for the first time officially embraced the brutal methods of interrogation it had always condemned.
Refuting the Self-Fulfilling Torture Prophecy: A Response to Hayden and Mukasey
By Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL-13 | Huffington Post
No timid wimp is former CIA Director Michael Hayden. And he's not reluctant to tell you so. You can find out what a tough guy he really is by reading his opinion piece, written with former Attorney General Michael "Not sure waterboarding is torture" Mukasey in the April 17 Wall Street Journal, defending the use of torture and objecting to the release of the nightmarish memos. We're talking here about "walling", (repeatedly smashing a detainee against a wall), stress positions (hanging a person from the ceiling with feet barely touching the floor -- including a one legged man), sleep deprivation for as long as 11 days, cramped confinement (put in a casket-sized box or smaller -- insects optional), and that medieval favorite, waterboarding.
In fact, it was the torture described in these memos, the existence of secret prisons, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib that endangered the security of the United States. What better tools could there be to inflame and recruit new terrorists and instill hatred for our country throughout the Muslim world and beyond? Still Mukasey and Hayden clearly believe that these techniques should have been used and should be used in the future. They are in favor of torture.
The OLC "torture memos": thoughts from a dissenter
By Philip Zelikow | Foreign Policy
I first gained access to the OLC memos and learned details about CIA's program for high-value detainees shortly after the set of opinions were issued in May 2005. I did so as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's policy representative to the NSC Deputies Committee on these and other intelligence/terrorism issues. In the State Department, Secretary Rice and her Legal Adviser, John Bellinger, were then the only other individuals briefed on these details. In compliance with the security agreements I have signed, I have never discussed or disclosed any substantive details about the program until the classified information has been released.
US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander-in-Chief Obama suffered 23 combat casualties in the week ending April 21 as the official total rose to at least 71,598. The total includes 34,648 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,950 dead and medically evacuated (not updated since Feb. 28) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD - diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
Senior Bush figures could be prosecuted for torture, says Obama
President says use of waterboarding showed US had 'lost moral bearings' as Dick Cheney says CIA memos showed torture delivered 'good' intelligence
By Ewan MacAskill and Robert Booth | Guardian UK
Senior members of the Bush administration who approved the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation measures could face prosecution, President Obama disclosed today.
He said the use of torture reflected America "losing our moral bearings".
He said his attorney general, Eric Holder, was conducting an investigation and the decision rested with him. Obama last week ruled out prosecution of CIA agents who carried out the interrogation of suspected al-Qaida members at Guantánamo and secret prisons around the world.
President Barack Obama and other top officials in his administration have made it clear that there can be no military solution in Afghanistan, and that the non-military efforts to win over the Afghan population will be central to its chances of success.
The reality, however, is that U.S. military and civilian agencies lack the skills and training as well as the institutional framework necessary to carry out culturally and politically sensitive socio-economic programmes at the local level in Afghanistan, or even to avoid further alienation of the population.
The Story of Mitchell Jessen & Associates: How Psychologists in Spokane, WA, Helped Develop the CIA’s Torture Techniques
We broadcast from Spokane, Washington, less than three miles from the headquarters of a secretive CIA contractor that played a key role in developing the Bush administration’s interrogation methods. The firm, Mitchell Jessen & Associates, is named after the two military psychologists who founded the company, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. Beginning in 2002, the CIA hired the psychologists to train interrogators in brutal techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and pain. We speak with three journalists who have closely followed the story. [includes rush transcript]
Mark Benjamin, National correspondent for Salon.com.
Katherine Eban, Investigative reporter and writer for several national publications. Her July 2007 article for Vanity Fair, “Rorschach and Awe.”
Karen Dorn Steele, a local investigative reporter who covered Mitchell and Jessen for The Spokesman-Review. She won a George Polk Award for a 1994 newspaper series on squandered money in the $50 billion Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup, the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in Spokane, Washington, less than three miles from the headquarters of a secretive CIA contractor that played a key role in developing the Bush administration’s interrogation methods. The firm, Mitchell Jessen & Associates, is named after the two military psychologists who founded the company, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.
Beginning in 2002, the CIA hired the psychologists to train interrogators in brutal techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and pain. Both of the men had years of military training in a secretive program known as SERE—Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape—which teaches soldiers to endure captivity in enemy hands. Mitchell and Jessen reverse-engineered the tactics taught in SERE training for use on prisoners held in the CIA’s secret prisons.
The declassified torture memos released last week relied heavily on the advice of Mitchell and Jessen. In one memo, Justice Department attorney Jay Bybee wrote, quote, “Based on your research into the use of these methods at the SERE school and consultation with others with expertise in the field of psychology and interrogation, you do not anticipate that any prolonged harm would result from the use of the waterboard.”
OBAMA "LOVE LETTER" TO CIA DISTORTS HISTORICAL TRUTH
By Sherwood Ross
One can only wonder what prompted the incredible absurdities written by President Obama in his April 16th love letter to the employees of the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA). It not only absolves CIA torturers from prosecution on the grounds that they were only following orders, (the same defense employed by Nazi hoodlums at the Nuremburg war crimes trials after World War Two,) but his laudatory statements about The Agency fly in the face of the historical record. Obama’s letter surely will go down in history as one of the most disingenuous documents ever to appear under the presidential seal. Worse, it strongly hints the American public has elected another in that long line of imperial presidents stretching back to William McKinley.
IF NIXON HAD BEEN TRIED FOR WAR CRIMES
By Nick Mottern
The following is an excerpt from a talk by Nick Mottern on April 19, 2009 delivered after receiving a Peace and Justice Award from the WESPAC Foundation in White Plains, NY.
I asked (several friends) what they would like me to speak about today, and the consensus was: Tell people why you do peace and justice work. I will get to that in the course of my remarks.
I want to address a fundamental issue facing us right now: President Obama has said that people who have committed torture
during the Bush/Cheney years will not be prosecuted. He said: “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past...we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.”
I would like to make two points.
Gates Tailors Defense Plan to Win Battles With Congress
By David Lightman and William Douglas | McClatchy Newspapers
Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plan to overhaul military spending practices and strategy signals a new Pentagon willingness to play hardball politics with lawmakers in Congress.
Gates presented his changes April 6 as though they were another piece of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package.
"I am concerned for the possibility that these decisions will have an impact on individual companies and workers around the country," Gates said at a media briefing. He proceeded to describe job losses resulting from the proposed end of the F-22 fighter jet program — and noted that they'd be offset by likely gains from expanded production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
A US Marine was arrested today at Logan International Airport after federal airport screeners discovered a gun, bomb-making materials, and ammunition in his checked baggage, State Police and Transportation Security Administration officials said.
Corporal Justin Reed, 22, of Jacksonville, N.C., was booked on US Airways Flight 877 to Charlotte, N.C., said TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis. She said Reed had arrived on a flight from Las Vegas this morning.
TSA screeners in Terminal B called State Police at 7:10 a.m. after a screen discovered the following items in his checked baggage: a locked handgun box containing a semi-automatic handgun, a fully loaded gun magazine, several boxes of 9 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition, three model rocket engines containing an explosive mixture, military pull-type fuses, switches, electronics kit boxes with various components, and a hand grenade fuse assembly with detonator.
In the video...
- Andrew Bacevich is a professor of International Relations & History at Boston University. He has written several books, including The Limits of Power: The End of Military Exceptionalism and The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War.
Do You Manufacture Any Sort of S--- That Kills People? Our Govt Would Like to Help You Sell It to Iraqis
We, you and I, are paying AIG insurance premiums to insure the pretended reconstruction of Iraq and the health and lives of the "contractors" over there and in Afghanistan. If the wars stop, the premiums stop, but the claims continue. Check out this story. HT Robert Corsini.
In Iraq, time leaves bloody marks upon each day of the ongoing US occupation. The policies of the Obama administration, adopted from the Bush administration, continue to wreak their havoc on the Iraqi people.
The US-created al-Sahwa (Sons of Iraq), a Sunni militia comprised mostly of former resistance fighters and even some members of al-Qaeda, that grew to 100,000 in number, now threatens to fade back into the shadows in order to resume anti-occupation resistance operations against the US military and Iraqi government security forces. The Sahwa, which were to be incorporated into the government security apparatus, have instead been suffering attacks by that same apparatus for several months - attacks that are now occurring daily. And they are reacting in kind.
Blind Amputee Has to Fight AIG for New Plastic Leg, Wheelchair
While Executives Get Bonuses, John Woodson Gets "Cheapest They Could Get Away With"
By Avni Patel and Brian Ross | ABCNEWs
An Oklahoma man who lost an eye and a leg in Iraq says the giant insurance company AIG refused to provide him a new plastic leg and fought to keep from paying for a wheelchair or glasses for the eye in which he has 30 percent vision.
They bought the cheapest thing that they could get away with," said 51-year old John Woodson, a truck driver for the KBR contracting firm who lost his leg when his truck hit a roadside bomb in Iraq.
"Everything's been a struggle, a constant fight," said Woodson, injured in Oct. 2004. "It's been hell since."
Rep Sanchez Tells Italians They Must Accept New US Military Base, and That Convenience for Attacking Africa Is Key
Here's an update on Vicenza, Italy, from Stephanie Westbrook:
More here: http://afterdowningstreet.org/vicenza
See below an informal trip report on a recent lobbying trip from Vicenza to DC as well as a rough translation of an interview with Rep. Loretta Sanchez appearing yesterday on the Vicenza newspaper. She was apparently in Venice on holiday and met with Dal Molin Special Commissioner Paolo Costa. She talks about the importance of Vicenza for Africom.
The original is at:
Vicenza and the base at Dal Molin "Here's why Obama wants it"
Vice-President of the "National Security" Committee visits Commissioner Costa in Venice. Loretta Sanchez: "These are options that have been voted by U.S. Congress, and it's not a coincidence that Defense Secretary Gates was reconfirmed. There will be no second thoughts"
Venice. "The military policy of the United States is passed by Congress.
It didn't take long. Only 11 days after Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, a Newsweek cover story proclaimed the Afghan War "Obama's Vietnam." And there wasn't even a question mark. As John Barry and Evan Thomas wrote grimly in that January piece, "[T]here is this stark similarity: in Afghanistan, as in Vietnam, we may now be facing a situation where we can win every battle and still not win the war -- at least not within a time frame and at a cost that is acceptable to the American people." In the two and a half months since that piece appeared, the President and his advisors have, in fact, doubled-down on what is increasingly the Af-Pak War -- with the expanding fighting in Pakistan's tribal borderlands helping to destabilize that regional nuclear power. As a result, it would hardly be surprising if "Obama's Vietnam" became an ever more common refrain in the year ahead.
In a number of ways, however, the Af-Pak War couldn't bear less of a relationship to the Vietnam one. After all, this time around there is no superpower enemy like the Soviet Union or regional power like China supporting and arming the Taliban (or, for that matter, like the United States, which supported and armed the mujahideen to give the Soviets their own "Vietnam" in Afghanistan in the 1980s). In Vietnam, the U.S. faced a North Vietnamese professional army, well-trained, superbly disciplined, and supplied with the best the Soviets and Chinese could produce, including heavy weapons; while the guerrilla organization we fought in South Vietnam, which Americans knew as "the Vietcong," had widespread popular support, was unified, dedicated, well structured, and highly regimented.
I keep braying that Gaza is a watershed moment in American political life and American Jewish life.
The billboard is one of ten being put up in New Mexico by an Albuquerque-based grassroots org (the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel).
The group looks to be multicultural, and led by two Jews, Lori Rudolph and Rich Forer. Forer says that he is a former member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who has been shaken from ideological slumbers in the last couple of years by the Israeli New Historians.
He has learned that Jewish schoolchildren are "grossly misinformed" about the conflict and are taught to demonize Palestinians. Gaza was a "monstrous act of inhumanity," he continues, and Israel must act sincerely to restore the dignity to both peoples.
Monstrous act of inhumanity, that is the takeaway phrase. I believe anyone can be a member of AIPAC; but Forer's epiphany is evidently sincere, and symptomatic of a change in the American Jewish relationship to Israel that AIPAC will have to reckon with.