A New York judge rules the CIA can torture, destroy the video tape evidence of it whenever they want, and there's nothing any American citizen can do about it, apparently. Are we now the USSA?
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A New York judge rules the CIA can torture, destroy the video tape evidence of it whenever they want, and there's nothing any American citizen can do about it, apparently. Are we now the USSA?
During my interview last night with 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern on the Mike Malloy Show (which I've been guest hosting all this week), the man who used to personally deliver the CIA's Presidential Daily Briefings to George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan, among other Presidents, offered an extraordinarily chilling thought --- particularly coming from someone with his background.
In a conversation at the end of the hour (audio and transcript below), as I was trying to pin him down for an opinion on whether or not he felt it was appropriate for CIA Director Leon Panetta to have reportedly attempted to block a lawful investigation into torture and other war crimes committed by the CIA, McGovern alluded to a book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and noted he felt it likely that both Panetta and President Obama may have reason to fear certain elements of the CIA.
"Let me just leave you with this thought," he said, "and that is that I think Panetta, and to a degree President Obama, are afraid --- I never thought I'd hear myself saying this --- I think they're afraid of the CIA."...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Former U.S. Attorney and Rhode Island Attorney General Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) recently wrote in National Law Journal:
The only exceptional thing is the parties involved: the former vice president of the United States, his counsel David Addington, Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) lawyer John Yoo and their private contractors Bruce Jessen and Jim Mitchell, psychologists who designed the torture program.
During a Sept. 2, 2009 segment of MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbermann interviewed Whitehouse about his National Law Journal piece (video below) and quoted former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who praised Attorney General Eric Holder's appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate CIA employees who exceeded the guidelines contained in the infamous Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) torture memos.
Olbermann's interview included a Fox "News" segment in which Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) was cut-off by a Fox anchor while making the following crucial point...
From RAW's coverage of Cheney's upcoming "interview" on Fox in which the war criminal continues his public defense/deception on his use of illegal torture against detainees [emphasis ours]:
Just prior to that moment, according to the transcript, Cheney also says: "The fact of the matter is the lawyers in the Justice Department who gave us those opinions had every right to give us the opinions they did. Now you get a new administration and they say, well, we didn't like those opinions, we're going to go investigate those lawyers and perhaps have them disbarred."
I don't believe I've seen any noteworthy discussion about disbarring any torture lawyers in the public domain other other than from VelvetRevolution.us' DisbarTortureLawyers.com campaign [Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is co-founder of VR], and certainly not from the Obama Administration, with which we have no relation...not by a long shot.
So, unless I'm wrong, it seems we (VR) have succeeded in getting Cheney's attention, at least.
Good. Let's hope they're all disbarred for the shameful example they've proven to be to both their country and their profession.
But disbarring Cheney's torture attorney stooges is hardly enough, of course. And no doubt, that's why he's kicking back into full save-his-ass mode this weekend, in light of Holder's announced torture probe following the release of the CIA Inspector General's devasting torture report [PDF] and more CIA docs said coming on Monday. Yes, it's another full media blitz from the Cheneys, as both he and
Mary Liz will be making appearances on the Sunday Shows this weekend where Republican Insiders are allowed full, unfettered access to our public airwaves, allowed to lie with impunity, with the assurance that nobody will counter or fact-check them, and where they will even be able to refer to stories they've previously planted in major papers via "anonymous sources" as proof of the case they will make. (See both Greenwald and Wheeler today on how WaPo has now completely discredited itself, Judith Miller-style, once and for all).
So with Cheney defending his stooge lawyers, and on full-throated Orwellian attack yet again against Team Obama's so-far pathetic baby step towards accountability, I'm reminded, for some reason, of the scene from Rambo in which he's been captured, detained, tortured, and shackled, before being allowed by his captors to radio back to his base to prove he's being held by the enemy, but is still alive. With everything absolutely stacked against him, he asks to speak to the man on his own team who, as it turns out, turned traitor to allow him to be captured in the first place, leading to one of the great twists in 80's action film history.
The quick scene follows. Replace "Murdock" with "Cheney," and Rambo with me, and that's a little bit of how I'm feeling this afternoon...
[Message to Secret Service: No, that is not a threat of violence. Thank you.]
I have come to see very little difference between CIA chief Leon Panetta's reported attempts to intercede in a Dept. of Justice investigation into Bush/Cheney Era war crimes and illegal torture by members of the CIA, and the reported attempts of folks like former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and former Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) to similarly inject themselves into a DoJ investigation (in their case, to force one over phony "voter fraud" allegations and other politically-based investigations of Democrats) leading up to the U.S. Attorney Purge under George W. Bush.
Why should the Director of Intelligence have any say within the DoJ and/or White House administration, over what and who is investigated when crimes have allegedly been carried out?
The fact that he has been attempting to do so --- as reported recently, including as late as today by the New York Times --- seems clearly inappropriate, and should lead to his immediate dismissal or resignation as far as I'm concerned...
In an update to his story detailing some of the most disturbing revelations about illegal and unconstitutional methods of torture used by our own government, in our own name, as revealed in the less-redacted 2004 CIA Inspector General's report [PDF] released on Monday, Glenn Greenwald replies to those who'd written in support of such illegal behavior as follows [emphasis his]...
(1) The fact that we are not really bothered any more by taking helpless detainees in our custody and (a) threatening to blow their brains out, torture them with drills, rape their mothers, and murder their children; (b) choking them until they pass out; (c) pouring water down their throats to drown them; (d) hanging them by their arms until their shoulders are dislocated; (e) blowing smoke in their face until they vomit; (f) putting them in diapers, dousing them with cold water, and leaving them on a concrete floor to induce hypothermia; and (g) beating them with the butt of a rifle --- all things that we have always condemend as "torture" and which our laws explicitly criminalize as felonies ("torture means. . . the threat of imminent death; or the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering . . .") --- reveals better than all the words in the world could how degraded, barbaric and depraved a society becomes when it lifts the taboo on torturing captives.
(2) As I wrote rather clearly, numerous detainees died in U.S. custody, often as a direct result of our "interrogation methods." Those who doubt that can read the details here and here. Those claiming there was no physical harm are simply lying --- death qualifies as "physical harm" --- and those who oppose prosecutions are advocating that the people responsible literally be allowed to get away with murder.
Moreover, yesterday Greenwald took on Rep. Peter King (R-NY)'s outrageous and ignorant defense of torture and of breaking the law and disregarding the U.S. Constitution, along with the other pretend Thomas Paines out there (such as Glenn Beck), who appear to have absolutely no understanding or interest in the either the Rule of Law, the Constitution, or just how far afield they are from the actual words of Paine himself.
It's a must-read, though mostly for folks like Beck and King who likely won't be bothered by information that specifically undermines their own warped, twisted, sick, anti-American worldview.
[8/26/09: Updated at bottom of article.]
After many weeks of speculation, and embarrasingly bad media coverage, Attorney General Eric Holder has finally named a Special Prosecutor to probe the use of torture by the Bush/Cheney Administration. The announcement comes on the same day that a redacted version of a 2004 Inspector General's report [PDF] on the CIA's use of torture was also released. RAW STORY has a good backgrounder on the announcement.
The prosecutor, John Durham, a career DoJ attorney from Connecticut, has already been investigating the CIA's destruction of torture video tapes, and has been described by AP as "one of the nation’s most relentless prosecutors."
The IG's 122-page report details the beating and death of detainees, threats of violence, death and sexual assault to their family members, and other techniques used by U.S. government interrogators that were "inconsistent with the public policy positions that the U.S. has taken regarding human rights."
Shortly after the announcement today, U.S. House Judiciary chair John Conyers (D-MI) and subcommittee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released a statement applauding the appointment of the Special Prosecutor and calling for a 'broad mandate' to prosecute not just 'frontline personnel,' but also the 'policymakers and lawyers' who created the "conditions where such absues were all but inevitable to occur."
"Seeking out only the low-level actors in a conspiracy to torture detainees will bring neither justice nor restored standing to our nation," says Nadler in the statement (posted in full below)...
"This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors...
"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the...administration...committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account." Retired Maj. Gen. Anthony Tuguba, "Preface" to Report by Physicians for Human Rights.
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. 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. Part IV covered “extraordinary rendition.”
Here we will deal with the direct application of KUBARK techniques at CIA “black sites,” why we cannot rely on the government as a source of truth, death by torture and the disturbing yet unresolved question as to how many have joined the ranks of the “disappeared”...
From the sub-title used with the LATimes story over the weekend about AG Eric Holder's long-rumored, now reportedly "all but certain" plan to appoint a special prosecutor to examine torture during the Bush Adminstration:
So non-"excessive waterboarding" is now legal?
From the article itself...
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has called on Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation into the misdeeds of former president George W. Bush and former vice president Richard B. Cheney.
Holder, in turn, has now called on Conyers to open impeachment proceedings against former head of the Office of Legal Council Jay Bybee, now a judge in the Ninth Circuit.
Conyers, in response, has demanded that Holder open a complete investigation of 14 different areas of criminal enterprise and appoint an independent counsel, offering a list of eight possible candidates.
Holder, in reply, has insisted that Conyers reissue all of the subpoenas his committee has failed to enforce over the past two and a half years and use the Capitol Police to enforce them at once.
In response, Conyers' office has issued a new report on the need to weed out corruption and undo politically motivated prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice.
This morning, the attorney general remarked at a televised press conference, "Chairman Conyers proposed five months ago to extend to 10 years the statutes of limitations on crimes allegedly committed under the previous administration. Introducing a bill might be a way to begin making that happen. Just an idea. I'm no expert."
Surprisingly, John Conyers removed a large Easter bonnet that had been disguising him, stood up in the back of the room and shouted...
And on a "lighter" note, Colbert takes a look at the report that AG Eric Holder is "on the verge of" appointing a prosecutor to look into Bush/Cheney torture, and the media's dismal coverage (hello NBC's Chuck Todd!), contending that carrying out the Rule of Law against politicians --- apparently only Republican ones --- should be avoided, because politicians would debate about it on television...
Earlier this week I wrote about the ABC "News" chuckleheads, and their laff riot over the floated idea of a torture probe, "on the verge of" being announced by AG Eric Holder. They laughed and pooh-poohed the high-larious suggestion on last Sunday's Stephanopoulous.
And now MSNBC offers another egregious example of corporate media failure --- in this case, again, "inside the beltway" corporate media failure --- in their "coverage" of such a possible investigation/prosecution. Glenn Greenwald is, as usual, a must read here beginning this way on Wednesday...
As I say, Greenwald's analysis of how far off the rails such insider "journalism" has now gone; how far from what the nation's Founders intended; how completely and utterly out of touch these guys actually seem to be from the public, is a must-read. So please do.
"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:
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]...
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