During my recent interview with FBI translator-turned-whistleblower Sibel Edmonds on the Mike Malloy Show, a caller had asked her opinion on whether she believed 9/11 to have been "an inside job."
Edmonds replied by first specifying "As I have done for the past 7 or 8 years, I have basically stuck with what I know, first-hand, directly, my own knowledge, based on my own experience, based on what I obtained, which is not a lot, but it is extremely important."
After explaining the difference between what she does and doesn't know first hand, she went on to explain: "I have information about things that our government has lied to us about. I know. For example, to say that since the fall of the Soviet Union we ceased all of our intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban - those things can be proven as lies, very easily, based on the information they classified in my case, because we did carry very intimate relationship with these people, and it involves Central Asia, all the way up to September 11." ...
Since I signed off the syndicated Peter B. Collins radio show in March, I've been able to zoom out from the close-up view of day-to-day political combat.
On a daily basis, I reflect on the "change we can believe in" that candidate Obama promised us just a year ago. Certainly, the new administration is better than the Bush/Cheney gang on many fronts; and Bush left Obama an economic meltdown and other serious problems that need attention.
we still have 135,000 troops and even more contractors in Iraq, with no clear plan or timeline for our exit, just vague promises and the hope that the Iraqis will kick us out next year. Most of the US troops that have left Iraq went to Afghanistan;
the escalation of our presence in Afghanistan is very dangerous, and contradicts some of Obama's own statements about the prospects for "success" there. He had the chance to reverse direction after the election, but chose to double down on the "good war";
the massive interception of domestic electronic communications continues, and the Obama Justice Department has reinforced and expanded on the bad legal precedents set under Bush/Cheney. Most Democrats are silent on this issue, and I see no effort to restore our privacy rights.
Remember how they dubbed Ronnie Reagan the "Teflon president"? Obama seems to have a new and improved coating, I call it "Leftlon," protecting him from challenges from the progressives who helped him beat Hillary for the nomination.
He keeps reaching out to GOP nuts who want to scuttle his tepid health care "reform," refuses to allow investigations while Cheney spits at him regularly, and expects us to trust the Goldman Sachs Alumni Association to fix the economy that they continue to plunder.
When will Obama deliver for the progressives who got him elected?
Here are two fresh programs I'd like you to check out. You can download each and/or listen online below. One is co-hosted with me by FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, featuring NSA expert James Bamford as guest. The other is my exclusive interview with Mark Klein, former AT&T technician turned NSA surveillance program whistleblower...
Salon's Glenn Greenwald (whom I interviewed last night on the Malloy Show on somewhat related topics, audio archive now here), covers this morning's latest "entirely unsurprising" news that Cheney tried to deploy the U.S. military on U.S. soil against U.S. citizens following 9/11. And unaccountable-DoJ-attorney-for-all-illegal-unConstitutional-seasons John Yoo was happy to supply a "legal" memo for him, describing how the U.S. Constitution could be entirely ignored by any President at any whim.
Greenwald begins this way [emphasis in original]...
"We pick up a suspect or we arrange for one of our partner countries to do it. Then the suspect is placed on a civilian transport to a third country where, let’s make no bones about it, they use torture. If you want a good interrogation, you send someone to Jordan. If you want them to be killed, you send them to Egypt or Syria. Either way, the US cannot be blamed as it is not doing the work." - Former CIA officer Robert Baer [PDF]
In Part I of this now-five part series, I took care to distinguish the post-9/11 application of torture techniques by the U.S. military from the role played by the CIA and demonstrated how the Bush/Cheney decision to torture predated the quasi-legal Justice Department memos. In Part II, I covered the CIA's dark beginnings, including links not only to former Nazi war criminals but to those Americans who provided financial support to Hitler's Germany, including the late Senator Prescott Bush, George W's paternal grandfather. I also demonstrated how academic studies, performed as part of the CIA's maniacal quest to crack the code of human consciousness, culminated in KUBARK, the CIA's 1963 torture manual. In Part III, I showed how the KUBARK torture techniques, applied by US-trained foreign surrogates, became an essential component of the covert dimension of a US-led corporate Empire --- a means for exerting control over populations resistant to the injustice of a system that values the obscene wealth of a few over the needs of the many.
I had intended this to be the final chapter of a Four-Part Special Series, but length, complexity and new revelations necessitate further division into Parts IV & V.
Here, I will explore the arrogant application of overseas surrogate torture through "extraordinary rendition." The direct application of KUBARK techniques to a "floating population" of "ghost detainees" at CIA black sites will be covered in Part V. In both segments, I will demonstrate how torture was applied not to protect the American people but to help produce doctored intelligence that would provide cover for imperial conquest. I will end with the disturbing yet still unresolved questions as to how many victims of the Bush/Cheney torture regime remain amongst "the disappeared;" how many of those victims are now deceased...
Following up on Saturday's NEWSWEEK scoop that Attorney General Holder "may be on the verge of" appointing a prosecutor to investigate Bush/Cheney-era torture, Digby notes how the chuckling dinosaurs of ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday snickered their way through a discussion of prosecution for torture by the Bush/Cheney regime (in our name!) as if they were wise-cracking about any old political brouhaha from inside the Beltway. (Video/transcript here, courtesy of C&L.)
Note to Stephanopoulos: How about featuring some actual journalists and bloggers who've actually been covering this issue for months (years?) before you eventually come to wonder why your show has gone the way of all the dead trees in the newspaper publishing business. Greenwald, Scahill, Wheeler, Horton all come to mind. It might bring your show up to date...or at least, up to 2006 or so.
The serious folks out there, several mentioned above, took a look at Saturday's NEWSWEEK report with the grim sobriety and analytical acumen that it deserves, while in largely shabby followups Washington Post, New York Times, and Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal all seem to float anonymously sourced trial balloons, averring the notion that only low-level rogue interrogators who exceeded the boundaries of the DoJ's illegal torture justification memos would be targeted by such an investigation.
On that point, while Glenn Greenwald charges such an approach would be arguably "worse than doing nothing," as it would "actually further subvert the rule of law rather than strengthen it," he also notes:
It's worth emphasizing here that all of these reports are preliminary and from anonymous DOJ sources, so it's a bit premature to get too worked up over a prosecution approach which Holder hasn't even announced yet. Still, given how many DOJ sources went to multiple newspapers at the same time to disclose Holder's plans, it seems clear that this was a coordinated, approved effort to disseminate Holder's intentions as a "trial balloon" to gauge public reaction.
Scott Horton's reporting counters the indications from anonymous sources in the increasingly obsolete WaPo, Times, and WSJ coverage which suggests focus on only low-level agents and contractors, rather than policy makers, by reporting that his sources at DoJ indicate just the opposite [emphasis ours]...
In a long article from NEWSWEEK's Daniel Klaidman today, it's reported that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is weighing the appointment a special prosecutor to investigate Bush/Cheney-era torture policies, and may now be "on the verge" of finally doing so...
Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."
The detailed story explores the tensions between the White House and an independent AG --- a tension that is ever present in any WH/DoJ relationship --- and how Holder seems to be fighting to maintain that independence, while remaining in good stead with the White House where, it seems, Rahm Emmanuel may be the one calling the shots in Obama's ill-considered (or, at least, politically-considered) "look forward not back" policy...
"The thing I have to watch out for is the desire to be a team player," [Holder] says, well aware that he's on the verge of becoming something else entirely.
The report goes on to note that Holder began reviewing the former administration's torture policies "in April," and "became increasingly troubled" as he did.
To connect a dot or two here, that would be around the same time --- April 24th of this year --- when Holder told anti-torture protesters, off mic, after a Congressional hearing at which he testified, that they would "be proud of [their] country" in response to their demands for investigation and prosecution of those policies.
Though we noted what protester David Swanson had reported as a "promise" at the time, few others took any notice of what we'd regarded as a very positive, if quiet, sign that he had intended to do the right thing here...
Imagine --- just imagine --- the outrage we'd be hearing from every side of the Rightwing blogo-mediasphere if the report [PDF], just out today from the Inspectors General of five different U.S. intelligence agencies, found that President Obama was carrying out a clandestine "Presidential Surveillance Program" that only he, a handful in the White House, and just two or three officials at the DoJ were aware of.
They would, of course, be appropriately outraged (for a change), and even justified in calling for Obama's impeachment over an apparently unprecedented, illegal intrusion into the private lives of American citizens, justified only by a single "legal finding" of one low-level attorney at the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel.
But will the wingnuts say a word about the report out today showing that Bush/Cheney's criminal outfit did exactly that? Will those who have found our site of late, having come here to justify crazy Sarah Palin's decision to abort in her first term, condemn Bush for any of this, as they surely would had it been found that Obama had been doing the exact same thing? We'll see.
Finally, we're beginning to receive some details on what former Deputy AG James Comey's incredibly dramatic Congressional testimony (video here, transcript here)-- describing his late-night sprint to Ashcroft's hospital bedside to intercept White House officials (Gonzalez and Card) coming over to strongarm him into signing an extension for the still not-fully-disclosed spying program --- was all about.
On the road for the moment, so you're on your own here for a bit. Dig in...
Several weeks ago, VelvetRevolution.us, in coalition with a number of other accountability groups, filed bar disbarment complaints against 12 different Bush Administration attorneys in four states and the District of Columbia in regard to their approval of banned torture techniques used during detainee interrogations.
In a press conference today we (Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is co-founder of VR) added two more to that list, both top CIA attorneys who continue to serve at the agency under the Obama Administration.
A grassroots coalition will file complaints today with the Washington, D.C. bar against two Central Intelligence Agency lawyers for their involvement in authorizing the use of controversial interrogation techniques against detainees in US custody.
Velvet Revolution, a coalition of over 150 grassroots groups, will register complaints against CIA lawyers Jonathan M. Fredman and John A. Rizzo. Fredmen, who is currently counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, served as the Associate General counsel for the CIA from 2001-2004. Rizzo is the current Acting General Counsel for the CIA but is retiring this month. His nomination to become full General Counsel has been held up for years over his alleged role in enabling the CIA’s controversial interrogation program.
DC lawyer and activist Kevin Zeese, along with a former Reagan administration Associate Attorney General Bruce Fein, held a press conference this morning at the National Press Club in which they discussed the complaints they will be filing later today.
“We call for dismissal of two torture architects still working in the Obama administration,” said Zeese. “The United States must face the reality of the extent of the torture program under the Bush-Cheney administration. War crimes were committed. The toxic poison of torture will not be removed from the body politic unless the rule of law is applied.”
Please see Alexandrovna's coverage today for details of revelations discussed at the presser this morning (eg. the "crucifixion" of a detainee who "died from asphyxiation after having been hung by his arms, in a hood, and suffering broken ribs" and details on, and links to, the new complaints against Rizzo and Fredman, both of whom still serve in the CIA today, incredibly enough).
More information on the campaign, including all of the complaints filed, is available at VR's DisbarTortureLawyers.com campaign. A quick video of Zeese's announcement, summarizing the complaints after today's press conference follows below...
Remember, these are 'the worst of the worst,' right?
Mohammed El-Gharani, the youngest prisoner at Gitmo, just 14 when he was captured in 2001, is finally being "freed five months after a U.S. federal judge ordered him released having reviewed the evidence against him and ruled that there was nothing to suggest he was ever an 'enemy combatant.'" El-Gharani has never been charged.
Andy Worthington, the man who literally wrote the book on the Guantanamo travesties, offers the sad background on the breaking news of the release of “Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child,” including details of alleged abuse such as being hanged by his wrists, and scissors held to his penis with threats of cutting it off. But we're supposed to look forward, not back, right?...
"George Tiller’s clinic will close in the wake of the Wichita abortion provider’s shooting death, lawyers for the Tiller family said today," the Wichita Eagle is reporting. "Lee Thompson and Dan Monnat, the family’s lawyers, said in a statement that the clinic, Women’s Health Care Services, will be permanently closed, effective immediately."
Waytago anti-choice terrorists! You're winning!
Even Tiller's accused murderer, Scott Roeder is celebrating, telling CNN that closure is "a victory"!
On Sunday, the assassin of the man Bill O'Reilly repeatedly described as "Tiller the Baby Killer," told AP "there are many other similar events planned around the country," prompting Keith Olbermann to wonder, appropriately: "Why is the far right not calling for him to be waterboarded to tell us against whom the next gun or bomb will be directed?"
Good question, though Dick Cheney could not be reached for comment.
"In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill...we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one." --- Plato
During the campaign, amid their state of elation, many disregarded Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama's past record and took any criticism of these past actions as partisan attacks deserving equally partisan counterattacks. Some continued their reluctant support after candidate Obama became grand finalist and prayed for the best. And a few still continue their rationalizing and defense, with illogical excuses such as 'He's been in office for only 20 days, give the man a break!' and 'He's had only 50 days in office, give him a chance!' and currently, 'be reasonable - how much can a man do in 120 days?!' I am going to give this logic, or lack of, a slight spicing of reason, then, turn it around, and present it as: If 'the man' can do this much astounding damage, whether to our civil liberties, or to our notion of democracy, or to government integrity, in 'only' 120 days, may God help us with the next [(4 X 365) - 120] days.
I know there are those who have been tackling President Obama's changes on change; they have been challenging his flipping, or rather flopping, on issues central to getting him elected. While some have been covering the changes comprehensively, others have been running right and left like headless chickens in the field - pick one hypocrisy, scream a bit, then move on to the next outrageous flop, the same, and then to the next, basically, looking and treating this entire mosaic one piece at a time.
Despite all the promises Mr. Obama made during his campaign, especially on those issues that were absolutely central to those whose support he garnered, so far the President of Change has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor. Not only that, his administration has made it clear that they intend to continue this trend. Some call it a major betrayal. Can we go so far as to call it a 'swindling of the voters'?
On the State Secrets Privilege
Yes, I am going to begin with the issue of State Secrets Privilege; because I was the first recipient of this 'privilege' during the now gone Administration;
"The widespread abuse of prisoners is a virtually foolproof indication that politicians are trying to impose a system --- whether political, religious or economic --- that is rejected by large numbers of people they are ruling. Just as ecologists define ecosystems by the presence of certain 'indicator species'..., torture is an indicator species of a regime that is engaged in a deeply anti-democratic project, even if that regime happens to have come to power through elections." - Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (2007)
In Part I of this five-part series, I took care to distinguish the post-9/11 application of torture techniques by the U.S. military from the role played by the CIA and demonstrated how the Bush/Cheney decision to torture predated the quasi-legal Justice Department memos. In Part II, I covered the CIA's dark beginnings, including links not only to former Nazi war criminals but to those Americans who provided financial support to Hitler's Germany, including the late Senator Prescott Bush, George W's paternal grandfather. I also demonstrated how academic studies, performed as part of the CIA's maniacal quest to crack the code of human consciousness, culminated in KUBARK, the CIA's 1963 torture manual.
Here, we will explore how those KUBARK torture techniques became an essential component of the covert dimension of a US-led corporate Empire --- a means for exerting control over populations resistant to the injustice of a system that values the obscene wealth of a few over the needs of the many...
Today, VelvetRevolution.us announced our new campaign calling for the disbarment of 12 of the Bush-era torture lawyers in four states and the District of Columbia. The campaign, whose VR homepage is at DisbarTortureLawyers.com (where you can sign on yourself, read the complaints, etc.), calls for action to be taken by the state bar associations to revoke the law licenses of attorneys John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Michael Mukasey, Michael Chertoff, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, Douglas Feith, David Addington, William Hayens, and Timothy Flanigan in NY, CA, TX, PA and D.C., following their exceedingly irresponsible and inappropriately liberal interpretation of U.S. law.
My colleague Kevin Zeese, an attorney himself, as well as executive director of VotersForPeace.us and a board member at VR, signed the complaints delivered to the appropriate boards for all 12 Bush attorneys. He announced the launch of the initiative at a press conference in D.C. this morning. His published statement, released today with the press conference, is posted in full here.
So far, the coverage in the corporate mainstream media today has been surprisingly decent and fairly widespread. We've seen reports from NY Times, CNN, LA Times, WaPo, Bloomberg, AP and others.
AP's coverage has been interesting, and instructive, to watch. When they first reported on the initiative early today, the lede on their story was [emphasis mine]:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two outside groups want Bush administration lawyers linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees to lose their licenses to practice law.
Their updated version, which included a few more details, but the same headline, "Complaint seeks disbarment of Bush lawyers," had this as its lede [emphasis mine]:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of liberal groups filed petitions Monday seeking disbarment of Bush administration attorneys linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees.
Not sure what makes calling for a strict, conservative interpretation of the Rule of Law, versus the wildly liberal interpretations of the Bush Administration (and that's putting it mildly), a "liberal" cause, but that's what I guess we must come to accept from the news organization --- sorry, let me update that --- rightwing house organ that AP has become.
UPDATE: As I've been asked by a number of media folks for a comment on today's initiative, as co-founder of VR, I've been happy to offer them this statement:
"The wildly liberal interpretations of the rule of law by the Bush administration attorneys, in order to justify their torture schemes, should be offensive to the core, to anyone who believes in a strict, conservative interpretation of decades of established U.S. law on the matter, including treaties signed, on behalf of the U.S., by such conservatives as Ronald Reagan."
UPDATE 5/19/09, 8:44pm PT: AP's short video coverage of Kevin Zeese at the presser yesterday is here. But a more complete version of his statement follows below. Also, a big congrats to our Kevin for being honored with the prestigious BuzzFlash "Wings of Justice" award today for his tremendous effort on this campaign!
Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did a bang-up job in detailing/summarizing "our story so far," as we know it, in regard to the use of torture by the Bush/Cheney Regime. Her report goes on to include interviews with Bush's Iraq WMD inspector, Charles Duelfer, and journalist Robert Windrem, who yesterday detailed the push by "the office of Vice President Cheney" to use torture on Saddam Hussein's security goon, who had been talking and cooperating just fine after being captured in the fall of Baghdad. But he had not been saying the things the OVP wanted him to, so waterboarding was recommended.
We've now officially moved from the imaginary bad Hollywood movie realm of the use of illegal torture to stop 'ticking time-bomb' attacks against Americans, to its use in a desperate attempt to stop 'ticking political-bombs' --- such as no Iraqi WMD and no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda --- against the Bush/Cheney Regime itself.
This video should bring you largely up to date with the latest known-knowns in the torture time line, and the cynical, realpolitik motives thereof...
(And remember, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the CIA detainee who is reported to have just "committed suicide" in a Libyan prison is known to have been tortured into "confessing" a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the precise thing that the OVP reportedly sought from Hussein's captured goon. Al-Libi's forced "confession" was subsequently used over and over again by Bush/Cheney/Powell in the march to war, and thereafter found to have been completely made up by al-Libi to help put an end to his torture. When al-Libi recently turned up dead, he was in the process of being reportedly sought by prosecutors in regard to torture allegations against the Bush/Cheney Regime. Dots connecting yet?)
Andy Worthington, who largely broke the story of the reported 'suicide' of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi in a Libyan prison, into the English-language press on Sunday (as we helped that night), picked up last night on our followup to the original story, decrying the paucity of coverage of the disturbing report in the U.S. corporate mainstream media.
Al-Libi was, after all, the 'ghost detainee' who had offered a false link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, used loudly by the Bush Administration before the war as a key justification for it, after being tortured by the CIA and Egypt, where he'd been secretly renditioned from U.S. custody at Guantanamo. He would later recant his false 'confession,' explaining that it had come about only after 17 hours of 'mock burial,' and a session of brutal beatings by his captors which followed it.
Newsweek describes the al-Libi affair today as "one of the biggest intelligence fiascos of the run up to the Iraq War" and "a major embarrassment for the Bush administration."
Worthington asked why the initial "media silence," before noting that while U.S. outlets have finally begun to cover the story, one of the better initial reports, from Peter Finn at Washington Post fails to follow up on the paper's own previous coverage of 'ghost detainees,' which included al-Libi, who had disappeared, at some point, from the Bush Administration's long list of suspected 'terrorists' captured following 9/11.
Al-Libi was one of those captives previously reported on by WaPo. His re-emergence in Libya --- where he was spotted by Human Rights Watch at the Abu Salim prison in late April, in apparent good health, but refused to be interviewed, reportedly saying only "Where were you when I was being tortured in American prisons?" --- was punctuated, just two weeks later, by the surprising news of his reported 'suicide.'
But where WaPo covered some of the points mentioned in a press release on al-Libi's death from HRW, they failed to mention any of the other 'ghost detainees' mentioned in the very same press release, whose whereabouts had been a mystery up until now. That, even though WaPo had previously reported the 'missing' status of those same detainees!
Given the disturbing fate of al-Libi --- who, HRW's Tom Malinowski charges, "was missing because he was such an embarrassment to the Bush administration. He was Exhibit A in the narrative that tortured confessions contributed to the massive intelligence failure that preceded the Iraq war" --- it's disappointing that the paper has so far failed to connect dots that could, in this case, help shine a spotlight on growing concerns about some of those other detainees: A spotlight which may help keep them alive, at this point.
There is certainly good reason to question both the timing, and reported means, of al-Libi's death, not the least of which is the point made in several media reports, including AP's, where some have "expressed doubts that al-Libi killed himself, saying al-Libi was a 'true Muslim and Islam prohibits committing suicides.'"
Yet, as Worthington notes, the Post failed to even mention the current status of the other detainees HRW discovered in the Libyan prison, even as they had similarly been sent there by the CIA following claims of abuse and torture at the hands of the U.S....