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Corporatism and Fascism


Corporatism and Fascism

Urban Journal Features Bob Fertik of Democrats.com Today Speaking On Stopping Corporate Election Funding

Keith Murphy, President of Conceptz Communications wrote today:

The Urban Journal show airs at 8pm EST-5pm PST on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio on Ch 169, but the show can be heard right now around the world at The Urban Journal. Feel Free to post on your websites or to send out via Facebook and email.

Seg. 1 Mario Flores, Habitat for Humanity International

Seg. 2 Martha Love, Census Representative

Seg. 3 Bob Fertik, Democrats.com

Seg. 4 Derek Dingle, Editor in Chief, Black Enterprise Magazine

Medical Billing Advocates Could Help You Save Big

Medical Billing Advocates Could Help You Save Big
Why Using an Advocate Makes Sense Even If Your Insurance Pays a Contracted Rate
By Elisabeth Leamy | ABC News

Excerpts:

...you can save thousands by hiring a medical billing advocate to find and fight hospital billing errors for you. Eighty percent of hospital bills contain errors, according to Medical Billing Advocates of America.

Millions of Americans...have health insurance plans that charge "coinsurance" rather than a flat co-pay. Coinsurance means you are charged a percentage of your medical care. The most common cost-sharing arrangement is an 80/20 plan, where the insurance company pays 80 percent of your bill and you pay the other 20 percent. Twenty percent of a big bill for a major hospitalization is a lot of money.

Insurance policies have maximum lifetime limits that they will pay out. Often, those lifetime limits are not as generous as they should be, and you may have no choice if you are insured through your employer and not given many options. Therefore, you want to keep your costs down as much as possible to stay away from that lifetime limit on coverage. Read more.

End-of-Life Warning at $618,616 Makes Me Wonder Was It Worth It

End-of-Life Warning at $618,616 Makes Me Wonder Was It Worth It
By Amanda Bennett | Bloomberg

Excerpt:

Along with my colleague Charles Babcock, I spent months poring over some 4,750 pages of documents collected from six hospitals, four insurers, Medicare, three oncologists, and a surgeon. Those papers tell the story of a system filled with people doing their best. And they raise complex questions about a health-care system that consumes 17 percent of the economy.

Days to Decipher

As I leafed through the stack of documents, it was easy to see why 31 percent of the money spent on health care goes to paperwork and administration, according to research published in 2003 by the New England Journal of Medicine. That number has either stayed the same or grown, said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of the study cited by the journal. Some bills took days to decipher. What did “opd patins t” or “bal xfr ded” mean? How could I tell if the dose charged was the same as the dose prescribed?

The documents revealed an economic system in which the sellers don’t set and the buyers don’t know the prices. The University of Pennsylvania hospital charged more than 12 times what Medicare at the time reimbursed for a chest scan. One insurer paid a hospital for 80 percent of the $3,232 price of a scan, while another covered 24 percent. Insurance companies negotiated their own rates, and neither my employers nor I paid the difference between the sticker and discounted prices.

‘It’s Completely Insane’

In this economic system, prices of goods and services bear little relation to the demand for them or their cost to make -- or, as it turns out, the good or harm they do. Read more.

Why 10,000 Ugandans Are Eagerly Serving In Iraq

Why 10,000 Ugandans are eagerly serving in Iraq
Thousands of men and women from poverty-stricken Uganda risk their lives for $600 a month in Iraq.
By Max Delany | CSM

...hiring Ugandans is cheap. Since the first Ugandans were sent to Iraq in late 2005, competition from other developing countries in Africa and the Indian subcontinent has seen the government cut the minimum wage from $1,300 to $600 a month. That compares with the $15,000 that one industry insider estimated an American guard could make each month. Nevertheless, competition is fierce, and for those Ugandans who land a job, Iraq can prove a bonanza.

Under a relentless equatorial sun and the gaze of her Zimbabwean instructor, Juliet Kituye quickly reassembles her AK-47. Next to her, a young man in a ripped red T-shirt discharges imaginary rounds at an invisible target.

On a disused soccer pitch in the suburbs of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, 300 hopefuls are being put through rudimentary firearms training. Many of the recruits are raw and their drills occasionally lurch towards slapstick. One trainee lets the magazine slip out of his automatic rifle and onto the red earth, someone else about turns right instead of left. All of them share the same dream, however: going to Iraq.

As President Barack Obama announces plans to withdraw US troops from Iraq, thousands of young Ugandans are increasingly desperate to be sent to the war-torn country. Already, the Ugandan government says there are more than 10,000 men and women from this poverty-stricken East African nation working as private security guards in Iraq. Hired out to multibillion-dollar companies for hundreds of dollars a month, they risk their lives seeking fortunes protecting US Army bases, airports, and oil firms. Read more.

Truthout Exclusive: Waterboarding Too Dangerous, Internal DoD Memo Reveals

EXCLUSIVE: Waterboarding Too Dangerous, Internal DoD Memo Reveals
By Jeffrey Kaye | Truthout

In recent weeks, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen has been on a public relations campaign defending the efficacy of waterboarding, going so far as to say that the torture technique sanctioned by the Bush administration is not only safe, but is in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

On Tuesday, in an interview with "Fox News," John Yoo, the former Justice Department attorney who was the principal author of legal memoranda that cleared the way for CIA interrogators to waterboard "war on terror" detainees and subject them to other brutal torture techniques, asserted that waterboarding was harmless.

Please click this link to listen to an interview with Jeffrey Kaye on the Peter B. Collins show.

In his defense of the practice, Yoo cited the thousands of US servicemen who have undergone SERE training and said, "we don't think it amounts to torture because we would not be doing it to our own soldiers otherwise." Read more.

Iraq Opens Up to Foreign Oil Majors

Iraq Opens Up to Foreign Oil Majors
Western producers like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Shell are enjoying their best access to Iraq's southern oil fields since 1972, but a weaker government could be on the way
By Anthony DiPaola and Daniel Williams | Business Week

BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. took the best deal they could get in Iraq last year when they won the largest oil contracts since addam Hussein was toppled in 2003. Oil companies may wait a long time to get a better one.

Parliamentary elections may produce a weak or unstable government incapable of tendering new oil contracts, said Samuel Ciszuk, a London-based analyst at IHS Global Insight. He said he does expect the 10 technical-services contracts won by Exxon, BP and 20 other companies to be honored.

"One thing that's fairly certain is there won't be a strong coalition, so it may take time for the next government to get its act together," Ciszuk said in a telephone interview....

The contracts awarded in two auctions, which pay a per-barrel fee for development work rather than granting a share in the production itself, will cost the companies a total of about $100 billion to develop deposits, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said in December. Iraq, with the world's third-largest oil reserves, will earn about $200 billion a year....

U.S. troop levels will fall to 50,000 from the current 97,000 by August of this year, according to a schedule laid out by President Barack Obama in February 2009. All troops will leave by the end of 2011 under an agreement with the Iraqi government reached by President George W. Bush....Read more.

Torture Suit Naming Rumsfeld Clears Hurdle

Torture Suit Naming Rumsfeld Clears Hurdle | CBS News
Judge Allows Hearing for Lawsuit Accusing Former Defense Secretary of Responsibility in Alleged Torture of Americans in Iraq

While in custody, they were subjected to sleep deprivation, long hours of interrogation, blasting music, threats, hunger and a practice known as "walling" in which subjects are blindfolded and walked into walls, according to the suit.

The suit describes such practices as forms of torture and alleges Rumsfeld personally took part in determining such methods were acceptable for use by the military in Iraq.

A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for the alleged torture by U.S. forces of two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm.

U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen's ruling did not say the two contractors had proven any of their claims. But it did say they had alleged enough specific mistreatment to warrant hearing evidence of exactly what happened.

Andersen said his decision "represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting."

Andersen did throw out two of the lawsuit's three counts but gave former contractors Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel the green light to go forward with a third count alleging they were unconstitutionally tortured under procedures personally approved by Rumsfeld. Read more.

Barry C. Lynn's "Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction"


Barry C. Lynn's "Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction"
By Stephen Lendman | Blogspot

Lynn is director of the Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Initiative, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and author of "Too Big to Fail" about the dangers of monopoly capitalism. He will be Stephen's radio guest on Saturday, March 6th, on the Progressive Radio Network.

He expands on the threat in his newest book titled, "Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction," explaining today's peril given the power of predatory giants.

They control governments, the courts, war and peace, dominant information sources, and essential services, including health care, air and water, what we eat and drink, where we live, what we wear, and school curricula to the highest levels. They own genetic code patents, basic human life elements to be commodified the same as toothpaste, tomatoes or toilet paper.

Omnipotent, they plunder recklessly, ruthlessly at our expense. They're private tyrannies, endangering humanity, basic freedoms, environmental sustainability, and planetary survival. Without exaggeration, they're unaccountable, unchecked "weapons of mass destruction."

In "Cornered," Lynn explains the danger and urgency to address it. Our lives and futures depend on it.

Rove: Memoir Aims To Set Record Straight

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rove "...confirmed to be one of two sources outing Valerie Plame...."

Wikipedia: Agreeing with the Bush administration, the Obama Justice Department argues the Wilsons have no legitimate grounds to sue. On the current justice department position, Sloan [Melanie Sloan, of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington], stated: "We are deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has failed to recognize the grievous harm top Bush White House officials inflicted on Joe and Valerie Wilson. The government’s position cannot be reconciled with President Obama’s oft-stated commitment to once again make government officials accountable for their actions."

How to Fight a Better War (Next Time), Three Fixes for the American Way of War


How to Fight a Better War (Next Time), Three Fixes for the American Way of War
By Tom Englehardt | Tom Dispatch

From TomDispatch today, my own (tongue-in-cheek) attempt to help the U.S. military fight "the next war" better, while focusing on perfectly real conundrums in the present American way of war in Afghanistan -- Tom Engelhardt, "How to Fight a Better War (Next Time), Three Fixes for the American Way of War." (Please note that an accompanying TomCast interview with me about our perpetual state of war can be found here.)

With the last wars distinctly unending and planning already underway in Washington for "the next war" (or wars), I offer three (im)practical fixes for the American way of war the next time around -- with an eye to making sure that any new war "won’t last longer than the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II combined."

Each of my suggestions focuses on a particularly problematic aspect of American war as we've seen it in these last years: the regular killing of civilians (especially from the air), the building of massive base-prison-embassy complexes in each invaded country, and the fact that "our" chosen Afghans (or Iraqis or Vietnamese) never seem to fight as well as "theirs."

My three suggestions -- the fourth, that we not launch such wars in the first place being, in the American context, too absurd to dwell on -- begin with the idea that the U.S. military should pre-apologize for civilian casualties: "The U.S. military should issue a blanket apology before going to war, and the first waves of U.S. planes should not drop bombs but abjectly worded leaflets. These would take responsibility in advance for future civilian deaths and pre-apologize for them... ('The U.S. military expresses our deepest, heartfelt condolences to the future victims and their families. We will all share in their grief and, when they die, will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.') After this, whenever civilians die, the military would simply refer interested parties to the prewar statement. This should guarantee a cleaner, more effective way of war."

Similarly, I suggest that the Pentagon choose the four likeliest future places for U.S. intervention and pre-build hundreds of military bases, accompanying prisons, and a vast embassy complex; and that Human Terrain Teams (scholars embedded with the U.S. military to help interpret local cultural issues) be pre-dropped into such countries to pick the "right natives," the ones whom we will be able to train effectively in the American way of war. Read more.

Ayn Rand's Excellent Proposal


Ayn Rand's Excellent Proposal
By Ernest Partridge | The Crisis Papers | March 4, 2010

The organizer of industry who thinks he has 'made' himself and his business has found a whole social system ready to his hand in skilled workers, machinery, a market, peace and order -- a vast apparatus and a pervasive atmosphere, the joint creation of millions of men and scores of generations. Take away the whole social factor, and we have not Robinson Crusoe with his salvage from the wreck and his acquired knowledge, but the native savage living on roots, berries and vermin. --L. T. Hobhouse

In Ayn Rand’s sprawling novel, Atlas Shrugged, ubermensch industrialist, John Galt, infuriated over the “theft” of his property by the parasitic government, calls upon his fellow “captains of industry” – the “producers of wealth” – to go on strike which, we read, brings down the entire economy.  He then proposes that these elite “producers” leave the wreckage of the old “collectivist” order behind and establish their own utopian society.

What a splendid idea! I’m all for it!

So let’s suppose that each and every CEO of the fortune 500 companies suddenly disappeared, along with Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Robert Benmosche of AIG, and all those other bankster executives who claimed $150 billion in bonuses last year.  (Supplied, by the way, by us taxpayers). Would the US economy collapse?

Towards America’s Electronic, Troop-less Wars: Future U.S Wars Will Involve Massive Use of Drones

Towards America’s Electronic, Troop-less Wars
Future U.S Wars will involve Massive Use of Drones
By Prof. Marc W. Herold | Global Research

Abstract.

Future U.S wars in the Third World will involve massive use of drones to police the territory, employ local satrap[1] forces (like those of Karzai’s Afghan Army) and once the territory has been pacified sufficiently, the deployment of “Government Ready-to-Rule (GRR)” kits. The drones provide the critical and the weak link: critical insofar as they represent the ultimate American-style war where only the “Others” (opponents and civilians) die but weak insofar as this type of warfare only works against an opponent without any anti-drone/aircraft capability. In other words, this type of technological warfare can only be carried out upon weak opponents lacking independent industrial capacities (not against China, Russia, and India). This approach represents the culmination of disconnecting the delivery of deadly force – the rain of Hellfire missiles - upon the Others and incurring no human (physical or psychological – PTSD) costs. Or put in other terms, it represents the quintessential American way of “solving” problems with technological short-cuts, a military effort begun in 1942 with the Allied fire-bombing of German cities.[2] The current American war in Afghanistan is a harbinger of what is to come, America’s electronic, troop-less war.

Prophetically the first victims in 2010 of Obama in his Afghan war were a teacher in a government school, Sadiq Noor, and his nine-year old son, Wajid as well as three other persons. Both were killed on Sunday night, January 3, 2010 in a U.S. drone strike involving two missiles fired into the home of Sadiq Noor in the village of Musaki, North Waziristan in Pakistan.[3] During January 2010, a record number of twelve deadly missile strikes were carried out on Pakistan’s tribal areas. Three Al-Qaeda leaders were killed and 123 innocent civilians.[4] During 2009, 44 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan killed 708 people but only five Al Qaeda or Taliban; that is for each enemy fighter 140 civilian Pakistanis had to die.[5]

Those who pull the gray trigger to fire are located in Nevada, Kandahar, or Pakistan.[6] As Philip Alston points out, “Young military personnel raised on a diet of video games now kill real people remotely using joysticks. Far removed from the human consequences of their actions, how will this generation of fighters value the right to life?”[7] In early 2010, the U.S. Air Force had more drone operators in training than fighter and bomber pilots.[8] Read more.

Hawaiians Protest War Criminal Karl Rove in Hawaii; Conservatives Threaten To "Line You Up Against A Wall & Shoot You!"

Protesting Karl Rove

Friday afternoon, February 26, 2010 more than 25 protesters lined both sides of the entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village where Karl Rove was scheduled to speak at the Hawaii Republican Party’s Lincoln Memorial Dinner. Signs read: “Karl Rove – Wanted for War Crimes,” “Arrest Karl Rove,” and “Stop torture.” Protesters kept up their chanting for almost two hours, echoing off the walls of the 30-story hotel while tourists sipping their drinks looked on from lanais overhead. Several protesters in orange suits and black hoods knelt along the curb. At one point Ann Wright took a bullhorn and did some great agitation exposing Rove’s crimes. A particularly humorous moment was when one elderly tourist told Ann to “grow up” and she quickly retorted by citing her military and state department career –causing him to beat a quick escape.

Republican attendees entering the parking area had to pass within a few feet of the protesters. Some stared straight ahead, refusing to acknowledge the protesters. Many raised their middle fingers and a few even pointed their finger and pretended to pull the trigger. One well-dressed woman draped in leis rolled down her window and yelled “grow up!”. It definitely wasn’t a friendly crowd. However, many tourists and residents stopped to show their support and thanked us or enthusiastically waved from their car windows. A few made exceptionally ugly comments about wanting to “pull thumbnails,” or waterboard us. One shouted: “When we conservatives get the power we’ll just line you up against a wall and shoot you!” Response was extremely polarized.

While the banquet hall itself was on Hilton property and inaccessible to protesters, the entrance was only a short way from the street and attendees couldn’t have missed hearing the chants. Also, two UH students managed to get into the venue to scope it out and reported that the protest was being talked about by people inside.

If Karl Rove expected to escape protesters in Hawai’i he was in for a big surprise. Activists said afterwards that they not only thought THIS protest a great success, but that it was really heartening to know that we had been part of a growing effort to confront these war criminals wherever they go!

To check out some of the other protests that have been meeting these war criminals, be sure to go to War Criminals Watch. Click on their Facebook to get the latest -- including a video of the demo against Rove at Santa Barbara the night before ours. There the students managed to REALLY confront him, causing him to flee the area. Having student fees pay for a talk by Rove on the UC Santa Barbara campus was obviously enough to motivate hundreds of Santa Barbara students to this protest! Following are more pictures of our demo.

George Carlin: "You Have To Be Asleep To Believe The American Dream"

On the off chance that someone here doesn't know who George Carlin was, I'll say this clip contains graphic language.

Provided courtesy of Organizations Associating for the Kind of Change America Really Needs. Check them out!

New Heroine Sparks a Movement

Harry Hanbury has a story that any videographer or blogger would love. He created a video of Congresswoman Donna Edwards taking steps to amend the Constitution to restore our democracy following assault by the Supreme Court. A woman you've never heard of named Jessica Sharp saw the video and decided to take action herself. She had never organized a rally or even attended many, but she put together an event at the state capitol of Maryland that inspired every interested activist group and state legislator to join in. Jessica has sparked a movement in Maryland that is inspiring others around the country. So, Harry made a new video, about Jessica:

Corporations are People Too

By Ben Manski and Lisa Graves, In These Times

In Citizens United v. FEC, five justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have decided that corporations are free to invest in the outcomes of elections, and that the federal government must shelter them against the will of the people.

As far as those five justices are concerned, their decision is final. It is not. There is a higher authority on whose bench every U.S. citizen serves: We the People. The Constitution is our national charter and belongs in our stewardship; the courts, corporations, and all the instruments of government must give way to the American people.

The Citizens United majority clothed its decision in the language of our First Amendment: Corporations belong to a class of "disadvantaged persons" entitled to free speech rights.

The use of the word "person" could not have been more deliberate. The purpose of our Constitution "is to keep the government off the backs of the people," according to the great 20th century defender of free speech, Justice William O. Douglas. When corporations are accorded the rights as people, they cross into a realm the government may not easily enter.

Read the rest.

The Torture Gang: The Entire Bush Administration


The Torture Gang: The Entire Bush Administration
By emptywheel | FireDogLake

One of the defenses that John Yoo and Jay Bybee made in response to the OPR Report with which I’m sympathetic is the argument that, if they are going to be held accountable, so should all the other Executive Branch lawyers who approved of torture. Jay Bybee even included a pretty little graph of all the other lawyers who approved torture (I’ve excerpted the list at the end of the post).

To support his case that everyone in the Bush Administration signed off on this torture, Bybee included extensive descriptions of the approval top Bushies gave to torture (though he admittedly seems to have forgotten to include Cheney and Addington–maybe that has something to do with the defense fund that got set up around the time this letter got drafted). Read more.

Dodd Abandons Efforts to Create Consumer Financial Protection Agency

Dodd Abandons Efforts to Create Consumer Financial Protection Agency | Democracy NOW!

Senate Banking Committee Chair Christopher Dodd has abandoned efforts to create an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency. President Obama had proposed creating the agency to protect consumers against abuses in mortgages, credit cards and other forms of lending. In its place, Dodd is expected to propose the creation of a Bureau of Financial Protection inside the Treasury Department. Dodd’s proposed bureau will have far less power and would not be allowed to enforce rules on banks with less than $10 billion in holdings or enforce rules against non-bank financial operations, such as payday lenders. Dodd’s decision is seen as a victory for Republicans and many business groups who have campaigned against forming a new agency to protect consumers.

Leahy: Bush Era Memos Justified Torture

Leahy: Bush Era Memos Justified Torture
Senate Committee Says Harsh Interrogation Tactics Were "Means to an End"
Associated Press | CBS

"Mr. Margolis decided this matter without interference from the attorney general, the deputy attorney general or any other department official, and his decision represents the department's final action," Grindler told the committee. "No attorney general or deputy attorney general has ever overturned the conclusion of the career official in such circumstances."

Two lawyers in the Bush Justice Department were justifying torture when they approved harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Friday.

That advice "was designed to achieve an end," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said at a hearing where lawmakers for the first time received detailed testimony from a Justice official about a department inquiry that found the lawyers showed bad judgment but committed no misconduct.

Defending the investigation, acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler told the committee, "Although some may disagree with our conclusions, we are confident that the department followed an appropriate process." The No. 2 Justice official was the lone witness. Read more.

The Twelfth Torture Technique: Mock Burial

The Twelfth Torture Technique: Mock Burial
By Andrew Sullivan | Daily Dish/Atlantic Online

Marcy Wheeler, the best torture-blogger out there, finds the following in the OPR:

As I pointed out last week, PDF page 178 of the First Draft includes an unredacted reference to the technique.

Goldsmith viewed the Yoo Memo itself as a “blank check” that could be used to justify additional EITs without further DOJ review. Although Yoo told us that he had concluded that the mock burial technique would violate the torture statute, he nevertheless told the client, according to Fredman and Rizzo, that he would “need more time” if they wanted it approved. [my emphasis]

The twelfth technique–which Mitchell and Jessen wanted approved but which Yoo excluded because of the rush to approve waterboarding–is mock burial. Read more.

Defender of Waterboarding Hears From Critics

Defender of Waterboarding Hears From Critics
By Mark Oppenheimer | NY Times

There’s nothing unusual about partisans of the Bush administration defending waterboarding as a useful form of “enhanced interrogation.” Others will go even further, calling the technique “torture,” but saying it may be a necessary evil. What is a bit unusual is the case being made by Marc A. Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

In “Courting Disaster: How the C.I.A. Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack,” Mr. Thiessen, a practicing Roman Catholic, says that waterboarding suspected terrorists was not only useful and desirable, but permitted by the teachings of the Catholic Church.

This does not square, to put it mildly, with the common understanding of Catholic teaching. In the past month, Catholic bloggers and writers from across the political spectrum have united to attack his views, and to defend their own: that waterboarding is torture, and that Roman Catholics are not supposed to do it.

Mr. Thiessen makes two basic arguments. First, he says that waterboarding, the simulated drowning technique used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, and others, is not torture. “I didn’t get into the Catholic theological stuff of it until I sat down to write the book,” Mr. Thiessen said in a phone interview. So when Mr. Bush asked him, in 2006, to write a speech explaining the C.I.A.’s interrogation program, Mr. Thiessen asked himself other kinds of questions.

“There’s a standard of torture in civil law,” he said, “which is severe mental pain and suffering. I also have a common-sense definition, which is, ‘If you’re willing to try it, it’s not torture.’ ” Read more.

Congressional Democrats Nix Anti-torture Measure

Congressional Democrats Nix Anti-torture Measure
Written by Thomas R. Eddlem | New American

House Democrats have caved in to Republican pressure, removing an anti-torture provision from the Fiscal 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 2701). “The controversial provision,” the Washington Post reported February 26, “would have subjected intelligence officers to up 15 years in prison for interrogations that violate existing anti-torture laws, including the use of extreme temperatures, acts causing sexual humiliation or depriving a prisoner of food, sleep or medical care.”

While federal law already provides up to a 20-year penalty for inflicting torture, the Democratic measure would have expounded upon the definition to include specific forms of torture (but did not expand the overall meaning of torture) previously approved by Bush administration Justice Department lawyers. The felony torture statute already on the books merely describes torture as “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.”

Ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee Pete Hoekstra of Michigan opposed the more detailed prohibition on torture because, in his words, the "annual intelligence bill should be about protecting and defending our nation, not targeting those we ask to do that deed and giving greater protections to terrorists." Of course, it is a matter of established fact that many of those tortured under the Bush administration were not terrorists, but instead innocents picked up by greedy bounty hunters (or sold by the Pakistani government).

Perhaps the Democrats were willing to remove that provision from the bill because they had long approved of the Bush administration torture program. A recent Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch revealed that — despite past denials by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the CIA had briefed leaders of both parties on its torture program frequently. “According to the documents, previously marked 'Top Secret,' between 2001 and 2007," Judicial Watch reported, “the CIA briefed at least 68 members of Congress on the CIA interrogation program, including so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'” Read more.

Reuters’ Unbelievably Bad Reporting on the Ghost Detainee FOIA


Reuters’ Unbelievably Bad Reporting on the Ghost Detainee FOIA
By emptywheel | FireDogLake

I wasn’t going to respond to this unbelievably bad reporting from Reuters on the Ghost Detainee FOIA release the other day. But just in case anyone wants my 2 cents, here it is.

As I’ve shown, the packet of information makes it crystal clear that when Michael Hayden testified before SSCI on April 12, 2007, he lied. Lied about information he had received, in preparation for the briefing, the day before. Lied about precisely whom in Congress had been briefed.

He also lied about important details of the torture program–both why they did it and when.

Yet instead of reporting that–instead of looking at Hayden’s briefing critically–Reuters reports some of the details in the briefing unquestioningly, without noting they have already been debunked. Read more.

The Shameful Sixty-Eight: CIA Papers Reveal 68 Members Knew of Torture Program

The Shameful Sixty-Eight: CIA Papers Reveal 68 Members Knew of Torture Program
By Jonathan Turley | Jonathan Turley's Blog

Ever wondered how many members it would take to be told about torture before anyone went public or cried foul? Well, we now know it is somewhere above 68. The CIA has revealed that at least 68 U.S. lawmakers between 2001 and 2007 were briefed on torture. That obviously included many Democrats who later worked to avoid investigating torture and have been relatively silent as the Obama Administration has blocked any prosecution for torture or war crimes.

Judicial Watch has the credit of forcing the documents into the open. Read more.

Mind Control and Understanding Shutter Island

Mind control and understanding Shutter Island
By Bob Fitrakis | Online Journal

To understand Martin Scorsese's well-crafted psychological thriller Shutter Island, viewers should do an Internet search on the following three terms: MK-Ultra, Manchurian candidates, and Operation Paperclip. For the extended value-added search, throw in the combination of "CIA" and "LSD."

Shutter Island is being released at a very propitious time. Just look at last Saturday's front page of the New York Times. Above the fold we have two related stories, the first, under the inaccurate headline "A new report, a new verdict, in terror fight." A more accurate title would read "U.S. government and Obama administration reaffirm Bush administration commitment to torture."

The post-World War II U.S. administrations and its rising security-industrial complex covertly embraced torture and secret dosing of unsuspecting people with psychedelic drugs to control their behavior and create assets and assassins during the Red Scare. Now, overt torture done in the name of "fighting terror" has been embraced by the administration of Mr. "Hope and Change."

The Times announced that the recent government report that exonerated " . . . the lawyers who gave justification to the Bush administration's brutal interrogation tactics "officially . . . brings to a close a pivotal chapter in the debate over the legal limits of the Bush administration's fight against terrorism and whether its treatment of Qaeda prisoners amounted to torture."

This means the first modern nation that banned torture in its Constitution now officially endorses torture by redefining "cruel and unusual punishment."

J.S. Bybee, now a federal judge, and John Yoo, now a professor at the University of Califormia, Berkeley, serve in the renewed roles of Operation Paperclip Nazi war criminals brought to the United States following World War II. There is little difference between Bybee/Yoo and von Braun/Strughold. Read more.

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