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CIA Embedded in Every State Government
Our now legacy-conscious president made what should be his final surprise visit to Iraq this weekend, and lo and behold, left us with what I predict will be the defining moment of his presidency. As he was giving a talk side by side with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, an Iraqi journalist named Muntazer al-Zaidi threw first one shoe, and then the other at the “leader of the free world.” As he did so, he shouted,
“It is the farewell kiss, you dog.”
Though both shoes missed the U.S. president—he ducked the first, and Maliki deflected the second—the report of the double insult rocketed around the world. For the reporter had not only called Iraq’s self-proclaimed liberator a “dog,” itself an insult, but threw his shoes in a culture where such an act is considered the ultimate insult. Or rather, the soles of shoes are the ultimate insult; after Saddam Hussein’s statue was torn down in Baghdad, some Iraqis slapped its severed head with the soles of their shoes.
President Bush, of course, was quick to dismiss the incident as bizarre and limited, saying “I don’t think you can take one guy throwing shoes and say, this represents a broad movement in Iraq.” But the damage has been done. Bush has taken the reputation of the United States to such abysmal depths that even a common reporter, one from a country we are told should be grateful for the sacrifice of U.S. lives and U.S. treasure, dares to hurl public insults at its most exalted figure.
AMMAN: A Jordan-based Iraqi rights group said on Monday it has filed 200 lawsuits against US former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and American security firms for their alleged role in torturing Iraqis.
Cheney says he had key role in interrogation methods
By Greg Miller, Baltimore Sun
WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday that he was directly involved in approving severe interrogation methods used by the CIA and that the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should remain open indefinitely.
Cheney's remarks on Guantanamo appear to put him at odds with President George W. Bush, who has expressed a desire to close the prison, though the decision is expected to be left to the administration of President-elect Barack Obama.
Cheney's comments also mark the first time that he has acknowledged playing a central role in clearing the CIA's use of an array of controversial interrogation tactics, including a simulated drowning method known as "waterboarding."
Senate report links Bush to detainee homicides; media yawns
By Glenn Greenwald | Salon.com
The bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report issued on Thursday -- which documents that "former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba" and "that Rumsfeld's actions were 'a direct cause of detainee abuse' at Guantanamo and 'influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques ... in Afghanistan and Iraq'" -- raises an obvious and glaring question: how can it possibly be justified that the low-level Army personnel carrying out these policies at Abu Ghraib have been charged, convicted and imprisoned, while the high-level political officials and lawyers who directed and authorized these same policies remain free of any risk of prosecution? The culpability which the Report assigns for these war crimes is vast in scope and unambiguous:
In an exclusive interview Monday with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney issued an unapologetic defense of the Bush administration's anti-terror policies, including the use of waterboarding, and said the prison at Guantanamo Bay should remain open as long as there's a war on terror.
In his first exit interview and first television interview since the November election, Cheney held fast to his views on coercing information out of alleged terrorists, saying waterboarding was an appropriate means of getting information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Cheney was key in clearing CIA interrogation tactics
By Greg Miller | LATimes.com
The vice president says the use of waterboarding was appropriate and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba should stay open until 'the end of the war on terror.'
Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he was directly involved in approving severe interrogation methods used by the CIA, and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba should remain open indefinitely.
Cheney's remarks on Guantanamo appear to put him at odds with President Bush, who has expressed a desire to close the prison, although the decision is expected to be left to the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama.
High at the top of my wish list - the things I hope Barack Obama does immediately upon assuming the presidency - is mount an investigation into the Bush Administration's implementation and use of torture. We know from Congressional testimony, second hand accounts and exhaustive journalistic chronicles that torture was not, in fact, carried out by some out of control nightshift staffed with bad apples, It was orchestrated in a systematic, sanctioned program approved at the highest levels of our government. The recent news President-elect Obama intends to close Guantanamo is a hopeful sign that Mr. Obama will address, at least tangentially, the issue of war on terror detentions.
In August, Salon wrote about an Obama plan to investigate the Administration, should he be elected. Obama has said "If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated." Salon reported this week that Obama advisors are developing plans for investigating abuse during Bush's tenure.
By Michael Ratner & Jules Lobel
This article appeared in the December 15, 2008 edition of The Nation.
President-elect Obama should be applauded for reiterating his promise to close the prison camp at Guantánamo. It has been a national embarrassment and a symbol of everything the Bush administration has done wrong in the "war on terror": detention without charges or trial, torture, and the establishment of military commissions in which handpicked military judges, not civil courts, try people on the basis of coerced evidence and hearsay. Shutting it down is important. However, we do not know what will be done with the 255 prisoners still detained there. Most of them will probably be sent back to their home countries, or else given asylum if it seems likely that repatriation will result in torture.
By Andrew McLemore, Raw Story
The Justice Department has evaded a request from President-elect Barack Obama's transition team for documents about the secret programs of U.S. intelligence agencies.
The team asked to "review classified legal opinions related to secret CIA and National Security Agency programs," but the inquiry has been denied.
Among the information requested are official documents about the "legal rationale" for the secret wiretapping and torture programs conducted by the two agencies.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey addressed the issue with reporters, saying that his department was reluctant to give up the documents without permission from the two agencies involved.
By David Swanson
I've never had any use for the Senate Armed Services Committee before, or even for the idea that someone who was armed could provide a service, but the report on U.S. torture policy that the committee released on Thursday is noteworthy.
Here's a new report: SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO THE TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN U.S. CUSTODY (PDF). Yes, it's obvious to anyone who's been paying attention. It's also useful at a time when pundits are urging Bush to pardon himself and the rest of those who created the policy of torture. Highlight:
The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of “a few bad apples” acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.
By Ray McGovern, www.consortiumnews.com
You’ve got to hand it to them. Torture aficionados at the White House and CIA have conned key congressional leaders into insisting not only that torture-lite would be a swell idea, but advocating that the overseers of torture be kept on.
From change-you-can-believe-in, we seem to be slipping back to fear-you-can-trade-on.
Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has publicly warned those in charge of the administration transition that “continuity is going to be pivotal in keeping us safe and secure.”
Thus, he argues, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden should stay in their posts.
If that were not enough, Reyes told Congress Daily’s Chris Strohm that he [Reyes] had advised the Obama team that some parts of what Strohm referred to as “CIA’s controversial alternative interrogation program” should be allowed to continue.
By Sherwood Ross
Two Federal judges have deliberately invoked secrecy statutes to conceal the Federal government’s illegal use of torture, a prominent legal authority says.
Named are judges Terence Boyle of the U.S. District Court of Eastern North Carolina, and T.S. Ellis III of the U.S. District Court of Eastern District of Virginia, both nominees of President Ronald Reagan.
According to Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, Judge Boyle refused to allow CIA contractor David Passaro access to government memos that could be construed to show he was acting under orders when he tortured a prisoner to death. And Judge Ellis threw out a case brought by Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen illegally arrested and tortured by the CIA.
Judge Ellis “used the states secret doctrine to shield a once secret, now revealed criminal governmental enterprise---torture is a criminal violation of both international and domestic law,” Velvel said.
By David Swanson
The Pardon Scorecard is expanding rapidly, tracking punditry and advocacy against and in support of Bush pardoning crimes he authorized. Happily, the Against column is much longer than the Support column. Sadly, Bush is highly unlikely to give a rat's ass. Even more sadly, most of the statements against such pardons begin by announcing that Bush has every right to make them if he chooses, before proceeding to criticize, condemn, or mock the idea. That opening concession that such pardons would be Constitutional is morally reprehensible and outrageously absurd, but almost universally accepted by the punditocracy.
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Amy Goodman: Writing under the pseudonym Matthew Alexander, a former special intelligence operations officer, who led an interrogations team in Iraq two years ago, has written a stunning op-ed in the Washington Post called "I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq." In it, he details his direct experience with torture practices put into effect in Iraq in 2006. He conducted more than 300 interrogations and supervised more than a thousand and was awarded a Bronze Star for his achievements in Iraq.
In the article, he says torture techniques used in Iraq consistently failed to produce actionable intelligence and that methods outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual, which rest on confidence building, consistently worked and gave the interrogators access to critical information.
The short answer is the D after the name of the president elect. Glenn Greenwald has the long answer.
By David Swanson
This couple in California is facing torture charges for allegedly torturing one boy. And well they should. If we didn't prosecute torturers we'd be giving others a license to torture.
Turning our attention now to Washington ... ACKGHHH choke cough - must - not - look - AAAIIIIHRRRGGH - that - direction - TOOOOOO painful.
As I was saying, the details of the California case are quite fascinating. Please spend the rest of the day examining them.