Sunday, February 7, 2016

Trump Borders on Megalomania With Superiority Complex and Utter Stupidity

                                            One Side                                        Another Side

                                       Still Another Side                    Finally this Side

Trump doubles down on use of torture. I have posted on this subject going way back and very extensively. Trump now says he would bring waterboarding back and even more since it works. He would advocate for more torture, to coin an old Dick Cheney phrase: “It would be big time.”

Here is what Trump said post-debate on ABC News about his statement on waterboarding:

Links to previous posts related to torture:  
  3. not.html
Trump’s statements on waterboarding and torture from other sources:

I want to reemphasize for Mr. Donald J. Trump that waterboarding is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime and has been for decades.  

Trump implies if he were President that another White House OLC memo to him that says: “Waterboarding is not torture and thus we say it is okay, so go ahead” would cover his ass like it covered George W. Bush’s and that would be just fine and dandy, or so it seems.  

Proven facts by numerous interrogators is simple: Torture does not work, and yes, waterboarding is torture. It only works for its intended purpose: To inflict pain; not to gather critical military information.

That’s it for now. But, I suspect this issue is not over yet. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Major Legal Ruling That Impacts Gitmo Detainees and Rebukes Military Tribunals

Properly Overturned Conviction 
(image grabbed from Golden Cosmos)

Maybe the Sun Will Finally Set on Gitmo

The following is from this fine NY Times Story and my take on it for this posting - a topic that greatly interests me:

Here's the bottom line on Gitmo detainee justice — even if there is a bottom line as they say on justice for them.  
  • It still holds 116 men, even 13 years after it was opened, and nearly half of them long been cleared for release (except with no place to go). 
  • Keeping them locked up there costs American taxpayers about $2.7 million per head for one year of imprisonment. 
  • It is by all legal and constitutional precedence a black hole that dishonors every American principle of justice and due process. 

Recall that President Obama (even as candidate Barack Obama) promised to close it the moment he became president. However, despite all his efforts, this all-GOP run Congress has stubbornly refused to let that happen. It appears they not only greatly distrust Mr. Obama, but apparently our entire very effective Federal court and prison system.

However, after a recent court ruling (see below) and pending release of 17 detainees, almost none will remain who can be prosecuted by the military tribunals down there.

The GOP didn't things to turn out this way, but hey, can't trust our own courts, who can they trust, right (smile). Had most of them been handled by the Federal courts, who knows, perhaps more would have locked up for life, or maybe even a few would have gotten the death penalty.

The GOP should be ashamed - but I doubt they are.

That case in a nutshell:

In 2008, Ali al-Bahlul, a propagandist for al-Qaeda who had been held at Guantánamo since early 2002, was convicted by the military tribunal there and sentenced to life in prison.

At the time, American officials had no evidence that Mr. Bahlul was involved in any war crimes, so instead they charged him with domestic crimes, including conspiracy and material support of terrorism. Now, 8 years later, a Federal appeals court in Washington, DC has reversed Mr. Bahlul’s conspiracy conviction because, in their words: “The Constitution only permits military tribunals to handle prosecutions of war crimes, like intentionally targeting civilians.”

 (Also note: The court previously threw out the other charges on narrower grounds).

The 2-1 decision was read by Circuit Judge Judith Rogers. This is a major rebuke to the government’s persistent and misguided reliance on the military commission tribunals, which clearly by this ruling, seem to operate in a legal no man’s land, unconstrained by standard constitutional guarantees, and rules of evidence that define the functioning of the nation’s civilian courts. That then become one huge black mark on our entire legal system.

So, let’s hope this proper and legal route is followed that will somehow in small way help correct the damage to many lives or properly try, convict them, and if necessary, lock them forever. 

Stay tuned … because I am nearly 100% sure that this all-GOP run Congress will not see it the same way and go quietly in the night as they say. You know, they, the party of Constitutional properness. Oops…

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Old Sheet of Music Same GOP Tune: Trust Gitmo Trials Not Federal Courts

Effective or Not: Not ....

Despair for Number Cleared for Release
(Plus, GOP doesn't trust our Federal prisons, either)

Entire article is here … worth reading – here is my condensed version for this posting.
Even if Mr. Obama manages to transfer all low-risk detainees to other countries, closing Gitmo won't be easy. Why?
Several dozen prisoners considered too dangerous to release would have to be imprisoned in the U.S., which is a critical step Republicans in Congress adamantly oppose because, they say, it would endanger American lives.
My note: So GOPers in Congress do not trust the Federal prison system? Who is in holding in some them (i.e., Supermax in Colorado)”
1.  Ramzi Yousef, the man convicted of leading the 1993 World Trade Center attacks. Ironically, he has claimed that his restrictions at the Colorado Supermax are “just plain unfair.”
2.  Terry Nichols, partner of Timothy McVeigh, was convicted of carrying out the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal office bombing (McVeigh was later executed) – Nicholas is serving several life sentences. 
3.  Ted Kaczysnki, better known as the “Unabomber,” is serving a life sentence for a mail bombing spree that lasted more than 20 years.
4.  Robert Hanssen, a former FBI agent, is serving a life sentence for passing classified information to the Russians.
5.  Eric Rudolph, member of the extremist group Army of God, guilty of four bombings, including an abortion clinic is serving a life sentence.

In 12 years, the military commissions have convicted only seven individuals. One conviction, of Osama bin-Laden’s driver, was reversed on appeal. It was overturned for exactly the same reason that a conviction in the Abu Ghaith case would likely be reversed if it were brought in a military commission.  Salim Hamdan, the driver, was convicted for “material support for terrorism” – not traditionally considered a war crime. Since the military commissions only have jurisdiction over war crimes.

Further, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the commissions didn’t have the authority to convict Hamdan. Why not? Conspiracy has never before been considered a war crime. So any conviction on that charge by the commissions would likely face the same fate in an eventual appeal.

In a press conference earlier this month, Obama said he still hoped to strike a deal with Congress. He added, however, that he reserved the right to move the prisoners to the U.S. under his executive authority.

The Bush administration faced no political opposition on transfers and was able to move 532 detainees out of Guantanamo over six years, 35 percent of whom returned to the fight, according to U.S. intelligence estimates. 

The Obama administration has been able to transfer 131 detainees over seven years, 10 percent of whom have returned to the fight.

What is amazing is that our Congress has no trust in Mr. Obama and by extension they say they can’t trust the Federal judicial system also. What does that say about our entire judicial system if Congress doesn't trust it? Kinda pathetic and ironic at the same time.

Someone is woofing someone – my hunch is that the public is being taken for a ride based on petty GOP political pandering and vote seeking. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Trump Joins Fiorina: Most Dangerous Insane Duo in Politics Today Perhaps Forever

Donald J. Trump and Cara Carleton “Carly” Fiorina
(more like an awe shit moment)

Seems Trump is now teamed up with Fiorina vis-à-vis their position on torture (i.e., water boarding) and yes, water boarding is torture and it has been unlawful, illegal, and a war crime for decades. (See my earlier post about Fiorina on the same subject).
While it’s important that we keep listening to what Trump is saying we must at the same time call it out for what it is: hateful, vicious, vile rhetoric that is morally reprehensible and has no place in American political discourse, and we all should work to stop it and not allow it to go unchallenged – not in a critically important presidential race. Case in point.
Trump spoken several times about how he would bring back water boarding if elected president. However, at an Ohio rally just last month, he went much further than merely endorsing water boarding (Washington Post link) he actually said in answer to a question about bringing it back, this:
“You bet your ass I would [bring it back] – in a heartbeat.” [His crowd cheered loudly during that rally at a convention center that attracted thousands.] 
“And I would approve more than that. Don't kid yourself, folks. It works, okay? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn't work,” he also said.
Not only is Trump saying that he would bring back water boarding (as I said, to the cheers of his supporters, but he went on to say he would also approve “more than that.”  He wasn’t specific about what other kinds of torture he’d institute, but one doesn’t need a very active imagination for that statement to scare the crap out of them. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, he went on to say:
“It (water boarding) works” he said over and over again, adding: “Believe me, it works. And you know what? If it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway, for what they're doing. It works.”
So, not only is Trump saying that he’ll bring back water boarding, but that he would institute other methods of torture if elected and he doesn’t care if it yields any useful intelligence information or not because the people being tortured deserve to be tortured.
Those are the words of a sadist – pure and simple. This is a man who looks forward to inflicting pain and suffering on others because he believes they deserve it, and worse, he boldly admits it to the cheers of his supporters.
T-rump needs to be called out for what he is: a hateful, vile man who spews ugly and nasty rhetoric and who insults anyone and everything almost in every breath he takes, and when called on it professes “the media is out to get me…” Worse, is that a large and growing portion of the GOP seems to support what Trump says, and that too needs to be called out. Call it what you choose: I call it un-American.
It astonishes me that Republicans say they stand for justice, the law, and the Constitution, and yet openly advocate torture of detainees in our custody. Truly astonishing – worse: Many people follow their line of thought on this subject – and that my friends is the scariest part of all.

Related: Other GOP candidates position on this same subject is here.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Candidate Donald J. Trump: Certifiably Insane, Crazy, Off His Rocker, Wack Job

"I get my orders from above, or make the rules and laws myself." /s/ T-rump

My post title may be a bit over the edge (some will say), but not as far over the edge as Trump with his latest most-asinine statement ever and now about torture ... he can be heard here in this short clip via ABC News.

Does Trump even know or care that water boarding is torture or that is has been unlawful, illegal, and a war crimes for decades. How can he compare that with beheading a person, or the drowning or burning alive of anyone that we have seen in the horrible ISIS videos? They are not the same thing – not even close.

Does he now advocate that we become and act like ISIS? Is sure seems like it to me by his words. As I said, this man need not be anywhere near the White House except maybe as a tourist on a guided tour.   

He is in a word: Totally certifiable.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

American Wartime Justice: A Firm Grip No Matter the Circumstances

American Talons of Justice - A Different Kind of Handcuffs

“To close Gitmo or not, that is the question,” and no, that is not a new opening phrase of a soliloquy from Shakespeare, either. 

Imagine for a minute that POWs were still being held in North Vietnam at the so-called “Hanoi Hilton” in that undeclared war – a war the North Vietnamese called “unlawful and illegal” and thus were labeled “war criminals.” Where would the American public stand on that? Let's ask Sen. John McCain shall we?

A vivid reminder about Gitmo (extracted and edited from here) and just updated here:
  • Open and in operation for almost 14 years.
  • Opened by President George W. Bush in the months following September 11 attacks.
  • Continues to have a powerful radicalizing effect.
  • By most standards continues to severely tarnish our standing as a nation of laws and justice.
  • Costs taxpayers more than $5.2 billion to date.
Also to date: 
  • 115 detainees remain out the original roughly 780 who have been detained there. 
  • 53 are held under the so-called Law-of-War Detention but have been recommended for transfer if certain security conditions can be met.
  • Nearly half of that 53 have indeed been cleared for release, but with no place to go. 
  • 10 have been convicted by the military tribunal, or have cases still pending there.
  • 52 who have never been charged with a crime but for whom there is currently no path to freedom or due process (the stain part). 
It is time to close the place and confirm them to one of our “Supermax facilities” with life sentences. And, BTW: our Federal justice system works just fine vis-à-vis those ineffective tribunals, to wit:

The military commissions are a legal farce and a practical failure. If the government wants to prosecute detainees, there is a well-established system in place: the United States federal courts. 

In contrast to the feckless commissions, federal prosecutors have won convictions in roughly 200 terrorism cases since the September 11 attacks, including that of a former Guantánamo detainee, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Africa.  

At the same time, this all-GOP Congress argues detainees should not be on American soil – anywhere – however, dangerous prisoners are not new to to counter that weak argument. The “Supermax” in Florence, CO, dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” already holds convicted terrorists, including the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski and Zacarias Moussaoui (the 20th hijacker on 9/11), and one of the conspirators. However, the GOP is unlikely to approve anything Mr. Obama puts forth as a plan, and that is very unfortunate.

Thanks for stopping. Related history on this topic is listed more below on this blog - enjoy.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

GOP: No Closure of Gitmo or Jailing Terrorists in Federal Prisons

Aerial View of Gitmo (Camps 5 and 6)

Looks Peaceful Doesn't It????
(116 remain out of 680 detainees held from 800 original number)


A total of 116 prisoners still remain in Guantánamo. It is important to remember that 44 of them, like the majority already released over the past several years have been cleared for release some five years ago by President Obama's Guantánamo Review Task Force.

A total of 779 prisoners have been held at Guantánamo since it opened on January 11, 2002. Of those, 653 have been released or transferred.

President Obama promised to close the facility ever since he was a presidential candidate back in 2008, saying it runs counter to American values to keep people in prison, many without criminal charges, or due process for this long.

Opponents have argued the detainees are essentially prisoners of war which is legally false — cite the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (dated: August 12, 1949 (GCIII) defines the requirements for a captive to be eligible for treatment as a POW.   

A lawful combatant is a person who commits belligerent acts, and, when captured, is treated as a POW. An unlawful combatant is someone who commits belligerent acts but does not qualify for POW status under GCIII Articles 4 and 5 (which is the term the U.S. uses since President Bush pushed that through Congress and the courts). More on those definitions are here.

This update is from the AP — it sheds still more light on the resistance to closing the place, including Congress, and now in several states where Federal officials wanted to jail them.  

I ask again as I have before: What if our POWs in the undeclared VN war were still held in Hanoi. Would the GOP still act the same way. After all, North VN said that war was illegal and our captured personnel were "war criminals." Maybe the GOP should ask Sen. John McCain one more time.

Finally, why is the GOP so distrustful of our Federal prison system?

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

UPDATE: Will Gitmo Close as President Obama Promised — Hell No Says GOP

Photo provided by the AP / the Toronto Star by Michelle Shephard

This is update of my June 18th post which posted this post question: Will the Sun Ever Set on Gitmo... that post follows this update as originally posted.

This update comes from two sources, both very good and with extensive details.

(1) The first update is here with a few highlights that also includes a link to the other source: (2) The Daily Beast, and a few highlights from there.

From Yahoo news: Gitmo became the holding place for individuals suspected of planning attacks against the United States. Since its opening, Gitmo has held more than 780 prisoners. Over the years, prisoners have been transferred or released. And now 116 still remain. Since its inception, the detention center has been controversial. Human rights activists have argued for its closure. Others believe that Guantanamo has been crucial in the war on terror. President Obama agrees Gitmo should go. 

In 2007, then-candidate Barack Obama made a promise to shut down Guantanamo saying, “Our legitimacy is reduced, when we’ve got a Guantanamo that is open, when we suspend habeas corpus. Those kinds of things erode our moral claims that we are acting on behalf of broader universal principles.”

But despite his best attempts — even in 2009 when he signed a directive to shut down the prison — he has faced a series of roadblocks. (The next source for this post)

(2) From The Daily Beast highlights: The White House wants to quickly cut the number of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. One man is standing in the way: President Obama’s Defense Secretary, Ash Carter.

Mr. Carter and the White House are increasingly at odds about how to whittle down the number of detainees held in Guantánamo Bay, hampering the administration’s push to close the detention center by the end of its term.

The White House believes that Carter is unwilling to be accountable for the transfer of Guantánamo detainees and their conduct post-release, even to the point of defying the president’s policy on the detention facility, a White House source told The Daily Beast.

Shutting down Gitmo remains a glaring, unfinished Obama campaign promise, and its closure goes through Carter’s office. Carter’s signature is needed for the release of 52 of the 116 detainees cleared for leaving the detention facility by several government agencies that have reviewed their files.

Current law bars federal funds from being used to transfer Guantánamo Bay prisoners to American soil, meaning that the administration has to finding foreign countries willing to take the detainees. 

The 52 cleared detainees have been approved for release through an extensive interagency process, which includes the Pentagon.

B/L in my view on this aspect: We, all of us, and I suspect many Congress, too about this issue are as “they say:” Want it both ways.

Regarding that view, I always say: Imagine if all those still held at Gitmo were Americans like those we had held captive in North Vietnam – because I remind everyone that even though those at Gitmo are not “POW’s” in the strict legal sense, North Vietnam did consider our captives at the time to be POW’s since North Vietnam always said we were at war, even though our Congress never declared that war to be a “real” war!!! 

How ironic and pathetic is that view? Ponder that thought as you read the original post that now continues from here. Enjoy.

ORIGINAL POST CONTINUES FROM HERE: A Republican-led Senate panel on February 12, 2015, narrowly approved legislation that would bar most transfers of terror suspects from our detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, That was a major roadblock in President Obama’s push to close Gitmo.

Now we are in June 2015, and face these two major developments relating to those remaining detainees there and closure of the facility – also, I might add, from a GOP-run Senate:

(1)  Some in the Senate push to limit CIA torture techniques (June 13, 2015):  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has joined a bipartisan team pushing to limit “enhanced or brutal interrogation techniques” rightly labeled torture techniques, such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and electric shock that the CIA can use on detainees. McCain along with and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the Senate that would prohibit the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” tactics and allow the CIA to only use techniques listed in the Army Field Manual (FM), such as deception, the silent treatment, isolation (and I add: the many others proven effective minus any torture). The amendment would make permanent the executive order signed by President Obama back in 2009 that limited interrogation techniques to those found in the Army FM.

(2)  Over White House objections, the Senate (June 18, 2015) passed a $612 billion defense policy bill that calls for (1) arming Ukraine forces against Russia, (2) prevents another round of base closures, and (3) makes it harder for President Obama to close the prison Gitmo for terror suspects still detained there, some 116 or so. The Senate vote was 71-25 that approved the bill, which Mr. Obama has threatened to veto, and yet must be reconciled with the House version passed earlier.
In addition to that, the White House opposes the provisions that would make it harder for Obama to transfer the remaining 116 detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so he can make good on his pledge to close the military prison.  So, it stays open and there get no justice – which used to the American way … Imagine Americans still held in Hanoi – ouch.
Now, this latest on detainee release from The AP via Yahoo news in part: At least two Guantanamo Bay detainees are using President Obama's own words to argue that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is over — and therefore they should be set free.  
The court cases from detainees captured in Afghanistan ask federal judges to consider at what point a conflict is over and whether Obama, in a written statement last December, crossed that line by saying the American “combat mission in Afghanistan is ending.”  The questions are important since the Supreme Court has said the government may hold prisoners captured during a war for only as long as the conflict in that country continues.
“The lawyers for the detainees are asking the right questions,” says Stephen Vladeck, a national security law professor at American University, “And what's really interesting is that the government can't quite seem to figure out its answer.” 
The DOJ opposes the detainee challenges, arguing that “… the conflict in Afghanistan has clearly not concluded and the president didn't say that all fighting had ended.” (Or words to that affect). 
As I always say: "Stay tuned – "... or "It aint’ over till it’s over" as Yogi Berra would say. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bush III: Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot, Hawks War and Old Lackies, A Happy Lark

Leaves Door Open to Reinstating Torture as National Policy if Elected

Wolfie: "I stand behind you, bro."
JEB: "Likewise, buddy."

Updated (August 16, 2015): Based on this story (which I think is an excellent piece) and the following I posted yesterday, I wanted to add a few tidbits from Bush's flubs, that I hope will stick and end up dooming his effort to win the W/H as Bush III.

This score sheet of his flubs should doom him and his campaign, but for the right reasons, not because I think he is unfit to be president although those things do kind of mix (or collide) and show he is unfit to be the CINC. I wonder, however, when will Dark Dick Cheney get the call to come back and serve?  That would not surprise me one bit.

This latest gaffe should haunt Jeb until whenever, since it sure haunts me. That is his latest foot in mouth disease remark that: Taking down Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.

A "pretty good deal" …!!! More like a WTF moment. Deal as measured how, Mr. Bush?
  • In the body count of our dead and wounded troops.
  • In the shear billions wasted (yes, billions wasted).
  • In the number of Iraqis killed and homeless.
  • In the tens of thousands of innocents left dead and ruined across that region.
Please enlighten us about why it was “pretty good deal.”

In fact to the GOP is probably was a “pretty good deal” since the cost was not as high as GOPers would admit (at least publicly). 

Or a “pretty good deal” since it created jobs, which is always the centerpiece for any GOP campaign slogan. 

So, pick the deal, any deal you want Mr. and Mrs. GOP and cast your vote for Bush III.

Continue the article at the Salon link – it really is good. 

Original post is from here: This post continues to highlight the insane and sick Bush policy on the topic of torture. Once again a new Bush tries to soft sell torture with the same old weak reasoning. I am totally convinced that the Bushes are a pack of insane losers with more than one loose screw.  This is the latest headline from JEB Bush:

JEB Bush leaves door open for use of torture by government

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — JEB Bush said in an answer to a question about torture the following, while also declining to rule out resuming the use of torture under some circumstances by the U.S. government. 

(I insert a note here as I have stated a million times in the post on this subject as clearly as I can: Torture of any kind is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime, but more importantly of no military or tactical value. Doing it in our name as for “We the People” is utter insanity and no candidate from either party should ever be allowed to serve in elected office with that view and those who support them on that view all I can say – “hand them over to me” and I'll show them a thing or two about torture).

JEB Bush’s Answer: “
I don't want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement. This is something that I'm actually struggling with because I'm running for president ... and when you are president your words matter." 

(I insert another note here and say, yes, words do matter, but has harmful as when those words are turned into national policy).

JEB Bush proved provided that weak-ass answer to an audience of Iowa Republicans when he was asked whether he would keep in place or repeal President Barack Obama's executive order banning so-called enhanced interrogation.

(I insert another note here clearly saying that using the term "enhanced" when talking about any interrogation technique is a fancy buzzword with no meaning except as a substitute for using the word torture).

JEB Bush went on to say that he believes torture is inappropriate.

(I insert again, that no, Mr. Bush, it is far more than inappropriate – it is illegal and unlawful).

Recall the Senate report released last year (528 pages in .pdf) wherein they cited CIA records in concluding that the techniques were more brutal than previously disclosed, and that the CIA lied about them, and further that they *the “enhanced interrogation techniques* in fact, failed to produce unique, life-saving intelligence of any value.

The CIA and its defenders take issue with the report.

JEB Bush further said he believes that the techniques were effective in producing intelligence, but that “now we're in a different environment.”

(I insert a loud “Ding” – No, that statement is 100% false and insane and has been proven so on many levels to be fake and false reporting to the public to somehow justify torture).

JEB Bush also suggested there may be occasions when brutal interrogations were called for to keep the country safe. 

(I insert another note: Nope not ever or for any reason ... all the “reasons given in the past” as I said have proven to be fake, bogus, and factually unfounded and quite simply - silly).

JEB Bush summarized: “That's why I'm not saying in every condition, under every possible scenario (it can be used).”

(My last insert here: As we all know that JEB Bush has been walking a careful, clever path seeking to disassociate himself from some of the unpopular aspects of his brother's legacy while praising him and leaving the door open for is elected he can say, “I kind of said that way back in Iowa in August 2015 for anyone who paying attention). Or words to that effect. 

A Personal Memo for Mr. JEB Bush: I pay attention on this subject, damn close attention. For you see sir, I was a professional and highly-skilled interrogator for nearly 12 years (Marine Corps and as DOD civilian). I know what I am talking about and you, sir, quite frankly, do not.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Torture: May Get Criminal Confession, Not Good Military Intelligence

Early Torture Did Not Work and Does Not Now: Produces Pain, but Lousy Info

First some background and review (main post at the end).

FBI documents from Guantanamo Bay show that some military intelligence officers wanted to use harsher interrogation methods than the FBI were using.  As a result every time the FBI established a rapport with a detainee the military would step in and the detainee would stop being cooperative – Abu Zubaydah example (FBI special agent/supervisor, Ali Soufan vs the CIA).  Mr. Soufan got key info about who KSM was from Zubaydah and he did not once inflict pain on Zubaydah or use the so-called “enhanced techniques by any other name is torture.

However, when the CIA came and took over, they water boarded Zubaydah many times and as they did, he clammed up and in some cases even reversed himself and told them he had been lying all along about KSM.

Even after the capture of KSM and his waterboarding, he too admitted that much of the information he had and was providing was made up, or either lies or false info – most of which was not actionable (that is valuable intelligence, which BTW is the purpose of good effective interrogation – not to inflict pain, but to gather valuable information for the commanders in the field in time of war).

Sadly, the most-interesting question is not whether torture works, but why so many people in our society believe (falsely) that it works.

The myth making the rounds even today long after Abu Ghraib and Gitmo stories and Congressional reports show otherwise, goes something like this: 
  • Radical terrorists will take advantage of our fussy legality, so we may have to suspend it to beat them.
  • Radical terrorists mock our namby-pamby prisons, so we must make them tougher.
  • Radical terrorists are nasty, so to defeat them we have to be nastier.
  • That may appear to be reassuring by telling ourselves that torture of some new form of “enhanced toughness” is needed and works.
  • Unfortunately, that toughness is self-deceptive and self-destructive, and ultimately it will be self-defeating as well. 

Even as far back as WWII, we learned that the Japanese were not strangers to torture and even their field manuals found in Burma described torture as the clumsiest possible method of gathering intelligence, but they still used it. Like most “sensible torturers,” the Japanese preferred to use torture for intimidation, not to glean valuable information.

Proven facts about torture: Any person being subject to harsh pain and suffering will say just about anything while being tortured to get it to stop. Some might lie under torture, but wouldn't they also lie if they were being interrogated without coercion others say? Maybe, perhaps – but that is not the object to see or prove a lie.

The problem about torture does not stem from the prisoner who has information; it stems from the prisoner who doesn't.  Such a person is also likely to lie, to say anything, often convincingly to stop the pain of torture – that is a fact.

The torture may also generate no more lies than normal interrogation, but the torture of the ignorant and innocent overwhelms investigators with misleading information and wastes valuable time – in many cases in combat where time is a truly a life saver. However, in all these cases, nothing is indeed preferable to anything. Anything needs to be verified, and the CIA's own 1963 interrogation manual explains something along these lines about that: “[it is] a time-consuming delay trying to figure out the difference between a lie and the truth and false results can hardly be considered useful when every moment matters (sic).”

Finally this from an old pro (that BTW: I am): 
  1. When civilian police officers interrogate, torture or not, they already know what the crime is. What they seek is a confession from the detained person, which even a common practice and goal in days centuries ago. 
  2. When intelligence officers interrogate, they are trying to gather vital information about what they don't know and torture only sets up a very slippery slope that hinders that hunt for valuable and actionable intelligence. 
So, how does all this tie into this post. Hopefully the following will make it perfectly clear to the readers who follow this subject at this blog – at least I hope so. This update is from the NY Times here with this simple lead-in (and it ties in the subject at posts below):

WASHINGTON — The board of the American Psychological Association plans to recommend tough ethics rules that would prohibit psychologists from involvement in all national security interrogations, potentially creating a new obstacle to the Obama administration’s efforts to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects outside of the traditional criminal justice system.

Continue the story at the NY Times link above.

I conclude with this: Professional interrogators (like in the military that I served with for over a dozen years, FBI agents like Ali Soufan, and professional CIA officers) who are truly professional and not hotheads with silly ideas about fancy interrogation tricks and torture that they see on TV, or for a small number who enjoy torture that our government has contracted with who have little or no experience in that art – for surely it is a both an art and science. We do not need more contractor interrogators unless they are former pros like I just mentioned, or for sure no “rental interrogators or novices who want big money and have little or no experience like the two mentioned in the following post who were paid big money to give advice without practical experience to back it up.  

Best of all, thanks for stopping by. Come again.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Forever in the Spotlight: Prison Would Be Better Fit for Many

CIA Two Torture Contractors: "Experts" Who Never Conducted an Interrogation
(their story will not go away, and rightly so)

GOP Choice to Conduct Interrogations

All the Cleaning in the World Can't Erase the Stain

Former FBI Supervisory Special Agent
(the man who first broke Abu Zubaydah)

First watch this 22-minute interview of Mr. Soufan to gain extensive background (if any is needed at this point).  It can be seen here.

2nd Update related to the 1st Update next:

Three to Leave Jobs Over Psychologists’ Involvement in Bush-Era Interrogations
WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists announced a management shake-up on Tuesday. The action came days after a scathing report concluded that top officials of the group had colluded with government officials during the George W. Bush administration to assure that the organization’s ethics rules did not bar psychologists from involvement in harsh interrogations about terrorist activity.

The board of the organization, the American Psychological Association, said that three top officials, including the chief executive, Norman Anderson, were leaving the group. Another senior official was forced out last week, just before the report on the group’s involvement with the Bush-era interrogations was released. All of the officials who are leaving the organization were named in the 542-page report.

The report, the result of a seven-month investigation by David Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, broadly examined the role of psychologists in the Bush-era interrogation programs conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon.

1st Update: Major and Significant — Three Related Articles (July 13, 2015):

1.  U.S. “torture doctors” could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 collusion | July 10, 2015: The largest association of psychologists in the United States is on the brink of a crisis, the Guardian has learned, as an independent review prepares to reveal that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, creates the potential for leadership firings, loss of licenses and even prosecutions. For more than a decade, the American Psychological Association (APA) has maintained that a strict code of ethics prohibits its more than 130,000 members to aid in the torture of war detainees/or “prisoners” while simultaneously permitting involvement in military and intelligence interrogations. The group has rejected media reporting on psychologists’ complicity in torture; suppressed internal dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of wrongdoing; and portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse. Now, a voluminous independent review conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, is said to undermine the APA's denials in full -- and vindicate the dissenters.

2.  Former chair of Oregon Health & Science University psychology department worked with CIA on torture - report | July 11, 2015: A prominent retired Oregon Health & Science University psychology professor served on a CIA psychology advisory committee and played at least a limited role in helping the agency develop the so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques (actually classified as torture) post 9/11 program, according to an exhaustive new report commissioned by the American Psychological Association.  After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Joseph Matarazzo, former chair of the OHSU medical psychology department, exhorted his fellow psychologists to use their expertise to help the U.S. government force information out of detainees, according to the new report. “In this environment, things are different, and the CIA is going to need some help,” Matarazzo reportedly told another psychologist at a 2002 conference in Singapore, adding (almost in Dick Cheney-like words): “Things may get harsh. We may need to take the gloves off.” (Recall that former VP Dick Cheney once said (this from a NPR source): We've got to spend time in the shadows. We have to work toward the dark side, if you will.”  I surmise Cheney meant like Luke Skywalker’s father – words and intent, even if that meant breaking the law and dragging the country into the sewer, which BTW is did).

3.  Psychologists and CIA Torture | July 10, 2015:  A 542-page report concludes that prominent psychologists worked closely with the CIA to blunt dissent inside the agency over an interrogation program that is now known to have included torture. It also finds that officials at the American Psychological Association (APA) colluded with the Pentagon to make sure that the association's ethics policies did not hinder the ability of psychologists to be involved in the interrogation program.

Original Post Continues Here: Background:  Abu Zubaydah was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. He has been in U.S. custody for more than twelve years, four-and-a-half of them in the CIA secret prison network. He was transferred among prisons in various countries as part of the U.S. rendition program. 

During his time in CIA custody Zubaydah was extensively interrogated. He was water-boarded 83 times and subjected to numerous other torture techniques including forced nudity, sleep deprivation, confinement in small dark boxes, deprivation of solid food, stress positions, and physical assaults. While in CIA custody, Zubaydah lost his left eye. Videotapes of some of Zubaydah's interrogations are amongst those destroyed by the CIA in 2005.

After Abu Zubaydah was captured, the plans originally called for a joint FBI and CIA interrogation of him. However, two FBI agents, Ali Soufan and Steve Gaudin, arrived first at the black site in Thailand where Abu Zubaydah was being held. Their interrogation started with standard interview techniques and also included cleaning and dressing Abu Zubaydah's wounds.  Ali Soufan stated at the time "... that we kept him alive. It wasn't easy, he couldn't drink, he had a fever. I was holding ice to his lips." 

The two FBI agents attempted to convince Abu Zubaydah that they knew of his activities in languages he understood: English and Arabic. Both FBI agents believed they were making good progress in gathering intelligence from Abu Zubaydah, including the fact that he revealed the name and location of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as "Mukhtar" (now called: KSM) to Abu Zubaydah, who was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and that American José Padilla wanted to use a "dirty bomb" in a terror attack on New York City. 

Then a CIA interrogation team arrived a week or two later after the FBI team, and they concluded that Abu Zubaydah was holding back information and that harsher techniques were necessary. The CIA team was led by CIA contractor and former Air Force psychologist James Mitchell, who ordered that Abu Zubaydah answer questions or face a gradual increase in aggressive techniques (waterboarding at the time was the first). 

In 2009, Soufan testified before Congress that his FBI team was removed from Abu Zubaydah's interrogation multiple times, only to be asked to return when the harsher interrogation tactics of the CIA proved unsuccessful. Soufan was alarmed by the early CIA tactics, such as enforced nudity, cold temperatures, and blaring loud rock music in Zubaydah's cell. Soufan reported to his FBI superiors that the CIA's interrogation constituted “borderline torture.” 

He was particularly concerned about a coffin-like box he discovered that had been built by the CIA interrogation team. He was so angry he called the FBI assistant director for counter-terrorism, Pasquale D'Amaro, and shouted, “I swear to God, I'm going to arrest these guys!” Afterward, the two FBI agents were ordered to leave the facility by FBI Director Robert Mueller. Mr. Soufan left, but Steve Gaudin stayed an additional few weeks and continued to participate in the interrogation.

Now the result of all that based on these two stories: (1) from the NY Times editorial board here and an extensive NY Times article here from a top notch reporter on this story (James Risen).

This NY Times summary (or bottom line if you like) is spot on and I have said so for years:The Obama administration has so far refused to prosecute the torturers. As more evidence about this program comes to light, that position becomes increasingly indefensible.

A series of posts related to this subject follow further on this blog. Enjoy your research.