Headlines of the Day


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

GOP Massive and Effective PR Machine: The Big Lie and Fear

This post is based on this Headlines from the NY Times following the recent release of the SSCI CIA Torture report and fallout since:

I begin with these two reminders: LIES work, and FEAR sells.

This is especially true when lies and exaggerations are coupled to and linked to peddling FEAR. That is constantly selling the myth that: “Torture works. We have to continue it because it keeps us safe.”

Recall Hitler’s definition of the Big Lie (which appeared in his infamous Mein Kampf (in 1925) book. He referred to a lie which is “…so colossal that no-one would believe anyone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously and which would therefore, paradoxically, be accepted as true.” Ergo: a big lie sticks as truth.

Then Joseph Goebbels put forth a slightly different theory which has come to be more commonly associated with the expression “Big Lie.” He wrote the following paragraph in an article dated January 12, 1941, some 16 years after Hitler first used that phrase. The article, titled Aus Churchills Lügenfabrik (English: “From Churchill's Lie Factory”) was published in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel.

“The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

Back to the headlines story:  Americans, on balance, think the CIA was justified in its aggressive interrogation of terrorism suspects after the September 11 attacks, according to three national polls conducted in the wake of the release last week of a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The polls, conducted by CBS News; the Pew Research Center; and ABC News/Washington Post. They all found agreement among most Americans that the interrogation and detention techniques were successful in gaining information from terrorism suspects. The Senate report reached the opposite conclusion.

Deep partisan divides were seen in all three polls on the issue of whether torture was justified, with strong majorities of Republicans and fewer than half of Democrats saying it was.  The wording of the questions varied slightly between the polls, producing somewhat different results. The CBS News question, which referred to water boarding, found fewer Americans saying the methods were justified.  CBS News also asked about several of the specific interrogation methods that were detailed in the Senate report, including water boarding, sleep deprivation and threats against family members.

Majorities of Americans across party lines agree that each is a form of torture. A logical reason for this, in my view: the massive and yes, effective GOP/FOX/Rightwing Talk Radio daily 24/7 verbal attacks with limp wrist weak justification for torture … it sold and once proves to me that type of PR blitz is effective as intended. That takes us back to the top: LIES WORK and FEAR sells.

Dark Dick (Cheney): The SSCI Torture Report is Crock of Crap

157473 600 Following Disorders cartoons
Cartoons robbed from from Cagle Cartoons.com

A look back can't hurt, can't it ... oops. I will note that the truth does have a tendency to hurt at times vis-á-vis in our system of government and democracy, so, sorry about that, Mr. Cheney. Continue please:

On September 16, 2001, then Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney, appeared on NBC's Meet the Press (apparently his favorite network next to FOX that is) where he talked about what it will take to deal with the terrorism threat, saying in part:

“…we have to work the dark side, if you will. Spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion.”

At this site (PBS’s FRONTLINE) intelligence officials and others offer their thoughts on Mr. Cheney's use of that phrase “Dark Side” as well as the impact of 9/11 on the vice president and everything since.

Enjoy it. Stop back by later. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Senate Torture Report is Out: FOX Leads Advocate Field

These two CIA consultants, neither had ever conducted an interrogation,  
said "Water boarding" was safe
(Then the CIA ran with it)

Update from here – this introduction: FOX News hosts rushed to minimize the severity of interrogation methods used by the CIA during the Bush administration in the wake of a Senate report outlining the agency's brutal techniques. Here are some of the network's worst attempts to trivialize torture. 

                The Five Worst Examples of Fox News Hosts Trivializing Torture

ORIGINAL POST STARTS FROM HERE: However, take it from a man who knows torture first hand and suffered from it for many years as a POW in North Vietnam. Ask him about torture. No, wait – why not listen to him in this short (8 minute) speech he made on the United States Senate floor right after the Senate released the report on torture.  

I give you Sen. John S. McCain (R-AZ) former POW in VN who was tortured ... watch and listen carefully:

Now you can or may read (e.g., NY Times synopsis) the 6,000-page Senate report  (released December 9, 2014), or heck, even watch and listen to FOX try to justify torture, or follow all the rabid Rightwing Talk Radio you can handle, or read the many OpEds and forum posts to follow, but the raw facts remain, and just as Sen. McCain says and I totally support on this Blog: We tortured and “it was ineffective and stained our national honor.”  I would add: possibly stained forever.  

Thanks for stopping by. Sen. McCain, the floor is all yours.

Close Gitmo but Make Room for Justice Antonin Scalia

USSC Justice Antonin Scalia

Quick Update on the following post (I just found this source after I made the post).... from here – highlights from 60 Minutes interview:

LESLEY STAHL: “If someone’s in custody, as in Abu Ghraib, and they are brutalized, by a law enforcement person — if you listen to the expression “cruel and unusual punishment,” doesn’t that apply?”

JUSTICE SCALIA: “No. To the contrary. You think — Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don’t think so.”  

Justice Scalia’s parsing of the 8th Amendment blindly ignores reports showing that the abuse at Abu Ghraib was about humiliation and punishment, not information-gathering. In 2004, the Washington Post reported MPs involved in the abuse “said detainees were beaten and sexually humiliated as punishment or for fun.” 

ORIGINAL POST STARTS HERE:  I have heard some pretty stupid and bizarre and quite frankly outrageous statements by a lot a people weakly trying to justify torture following the release of the Senate's "CIA Torture" report. However, Justice Scalia's remarks in this article just about top them all ... posted here in it's entirety. I have highlighted the parts that I consider totally insane, and I cannot believe Justice Scalia believes that or would even say it:

In an interview with Radio Television Suisse this week following the release of Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said he doesn’t “think it’s so clear at all” that the U.S. Constitution prohibits torture, especially in the “ticking time bomb” scenarios so often cited by defenders of the “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Justice Scalia said, in part: “Listen, I think it’s very facile for people to say: Oh, torture is terrible. You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people. You think it’s an easy question? You think it’s clear that you cannot use extreme measures to get that information out of that person? I don’t know what article of the Constitution that would contravene.”

As the Associated Press Mark Sherman recently reported, Justice Scalia has previously invoked the fictional Jack Bauer character from the television series 24 to make a similar point about torture, saying in part:

Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial? Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so. So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes.” (Reference: Scalia at an Ottawa legal conference in 2007). 

Ticking Time-Bomb Fallacy – click here for good article – well-documented.

My point: If any ever wanted to impeach anyone then may I suggest starting with this raving lunatic. I am totally convinced that Justice Scalia has lost his marbles as they say – he has to go – his views are not only silly, but in the verge of being insane, and from a Supreme Court Justice no less.

F/N: 24 happens to be my all-time fav TV show ... but Justice Scalia is 100% wrong and his words are strikingly sick and disgusting and certainly not for a Supreme Court Justice to advocate.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What is Torture: Blocking Senate Torture Report for Starters

Keep Things Polished — Not a Speck of Dirt
(That which the public might read about)

Most-Basic Factual Message

He Bragged About Water Boarding and Said: "It's not torture"
(I'd Do It Again - It Kept Us Safe)

FLASH UPDATE (late today) from here:

The White House has backed the release of a long-anticipated report on the CIA's interrogation techniques, despite warnings from within the administration and from lawmakers that it could lead to a backlash against Americans around the world. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration has been preparing for months for the release, which is expected late Tuesday (December 9, 2014) morning. 

In the release, the White House says: “There are some indications ... that the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to U.S. facilities and individuals all around the world, so the administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place at U.S. facilities around the globe.” Earnest went on to say that the administration still “… strongly supports the release of this declassified summary of the [Senate] report.”

Meanwhile from the GOP worrywart fear-mongering side of Town this snippet: “I think this is a terrible idea. Foreign leaders have approached us and have said, “[If] you do this, this will cause violence and deaths.” And, our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause “violence and deaths,” said GOP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) this past Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”  

Thus, based on this breaking news, I suspect Rep. Issa (R-CA) or someone like him will be cranking up the old GOP "got cha' machine" or look alike “Benghazi Panel” thingy and get it all prepped for the fall out and another way to blast Mr. Obama (that they so much want) and anyway possible. So, stay tuned. I am sure it will get very nasty and very bumpy, and for goodness sake, hang on tight.

Major update on the following recent post (with two major links) (following this update):

First, this reminder about what former President George Walker Bush said about torture: In his recently released memoir Decision Points, Mr. Bush admitted that he enthusiastically authorized that certain detainees be water boarded – or tortured, which is a crime under domestic and international law. When asked if he would authorize the torture of detainees, the former president declared “Damn right!”

The release of his memoir coincides with reports that no one will face criminal charges for the destruction of CIA videotapes which contained interrogations using water boarding (since President Obama said, “We need to look forward, not backward.” (sic) here on Youtube - his words.

The Bush clip is here on Youtube and also is in his own words about why he said okay to water boarding ... it is perhaps the weakest excuse in American history ranking up there with former Army Lt. William Calley who said about his ordering of the My Lai massacre, “I was just following orders.” (Mr. Bush apparently was just following his lawyers). 

Now the First Major Link on the following story about blocking the Senate Torture Report which as I said, follows this update. It comes from the NY Times here: Noteworthy is that former intelligence officials (all under Bush) are seeking allies against the potentially damaging Senate report. They have privately reassured the Bush team recently that they did not deceive them and have lobbied the former president’s advisers to speak out publicly on their behalf. The defense of the program has been organized by former: CIA leaders like George J. Tenet and Gen. Michael V. Hayden (two former directors), and John E. McLaughlin, a former deputy CIA director who also served as acting director.

The Second Major Link relating the same subject is this 2009 reminder from Think Progress re: “Why Bush's Enhanced Interrogation Program Failed.” There are numerous and excellent links therein with easy-to-understand and valid, legal points. Check it out.

Keep in mind as you read more on this topic that it is very complex and an extremely legally-entangled subject dating back to Abu Ghraib right up until today.

The overreaching tactic and trick remains: to prolong the subject by talking it to death, bash it whenever possible, oppose it as at all costs, try to justify it anyway possible, and then hope it just goes away and that the public will simply be sick and tired of the word “torture.”

Perhaps it will go away as an issue on the front pages, but the stain on America will last forever.

The truth of the matter must come out however painful it surely is while keeping in mind what Mr. Bush said, “Yes, water boarding was legal 'cause the lawyers told me it was and I trusted them.”  

Further, and naturally as both Mr. Bush and Dark Dick Cheney have said numerous times: “Enhanced interrogation is not torture.”

As a former Marine interrogator and highly skilled and professional I can say with absolute certainty that water boarding is torture and that there is nothing legal about the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” either.

Torture has but one single purpose (dating back thousands of years): “to inflict pain and agony and gain a false confession about a crime…”

The purpose of legal, lawful, and skillful interrogation is to glean valuable military or intelligence information that actually saves lives. 

Enjoy the rest of your reading on this subject. I have many links at this blog below. Thanks for stopping by; come again.

The original post starts from here.

New wrinkle in this saga from this headlines: 
            "John Kerry is Trying to Stall the Release of the CIA Torture Report"
Secretary of State John Kerry is pleading with the Senate to delay its imminent release of a landmark investigation into the George W. Bush administration's controversial torture and rendition practices.

Kerry called the Senate Intelligence Committee's chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Friday morning (December 5, 2014) with his concerns that the report could jeopardize fragile U.S. security interests in the Middle East (Bloomberg View) first reported.

Kerry is not seeking to block the report's release indefinitely, according to the Bloomberg report, but wants to wait because he says the timing could pose threaten U.S. personnel and facilities abroad.

My view: that “reason (which is important, but no under this long period of time)” is shallow now. That line of “reasoning (if one could call it that)” could be used forever to stall release of that report.

Then this angle comes from the New York Times:

Ms. Feinstein had planned to make the report public next week, but it is uncertain whether the call from Mr. Kerry would affect that timetable.

The exchange between Mr. Kerry and Ms. Feinstein is just the latest turn in the protracted dispute over the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the detention and interrogation of C.I.A. prisoners during the Bush administration, an investigation that set out to examine the efficacy of the brutal interrogation methods.

The committee voted this year to release the 6,000-page report’s executive summary, but the release has been held up for months because of tense negotiations between the committee and the Obama administration over how much of the report would be declassified.

It is unclear why Mr. Kerry waited until just before the report was scheduled to be released to sound alarms, since there has long been concern within the American intelligence agencies about the potential global impact of the report’s findings.

Finally, a real concern that should not be, but probably will be:

With control of the Senate about to change hands, there has been rising concern among Democrats that the report’s Republican opponents could move to shelve it once they gain control of the Intelligence Committee in January. This has given new urgency to the push by Ms. Feinstein and other Democrats to finish negotiations with the Obama administration and make the report public. 

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fact: Torture (or whatever we choose to call it) Does Not Work

Sorry Boss: We Worked on Him forever. He Never Broke. 
He Never Gave Up One Drop of Info

Here we go again and here we are again. Right back at the starting point on this nasty story of torture by Americans and the awful stain on the country. This lingering and lopsided story we have all heard so much about since 9/11 seems to have no positive resolution. 

Two updates follow regarding the release of the so-called Senate Report on CIA Torture and the sustained stalemate between the CIA, GOP, DEMS, White House, and the public's right to know and decide for itself. A sure case of open government, right — ha. Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the updates.

The first update is from the NY Times.

BACKGROUND ON HOW WE GOT HERE: The Senate Intelligence Committee spent five years working on the 6,000-page report. It is said to to contain grim details about the torture of detainees in CIA prisons and “Black Sites” all during the Bush administration. They further describe the persistent effort by CIA officials to mislead the White House and Congress about the efficacy of its interrogation techniques back then. The committee voted this year to declassify the report’s executive summary, numbering several hundred pages, but the fight over redactions has delayed the release has reached this fervor.

The protracted battle over the detention and interrogation report led to a separate dispute between the Intelligence Committee and the CIA after senators accused the agency of spying on committee staff members working on the investigation. An inquiry by the CIA IG found that several agency employees penetrated a computer network used by the Intelligence Committee and read the emails of the Senate investigators.

The findings of the CIA IG led CIA Director John Brennan to apologize to Senator Feinstein, who is chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee. Brennan also set up an internal accountability board to review the matter and possibly recommend disciplinary action against the CIA employees.


THE WHITE HOUSE: An Obama spokesman says: “The president has been clear that he wants the executive summary of the committee’s report to be declassified as expeditiously as possible. We share the Intelligence Committee’s desire for the declassified report to be released, and all of the administration’s efforts since we received the initial version have been focused on making that happen while also protecting our national security.”

THE DEM STANCE: A group of Senate Democrats accused the White House of trying to censor significant details in a voluminous report on the use of torture by the CIA in a tense White House meeting recently. The senators say that the White House is siding with the CIA and trying to thwart negotiations over the report’s release. The negotiations have dragged on for months because of a dispute over the CIA’s demand that pseudonyms of agency officers be deleted from the report.  Senate Democrats are worried that whatever leverage they have in having the report declassified on their terms is dwindling. Republicans will take control of the Senate in January, and the Intelligence Committee’s new leadership could choose to drag out the report’s release even longer.

THE GOP STANCE: Most Republican members of the committee have long been opposed to the investigation — which they have said is a partisan attempt to discredit the Bush administration — although several committee Republicans voted in favor of declassifying the report’s executive summary. They are supported by the White House and both say that even without using the real names of the officers (even only use their pseudonyms) that their identities could still be revealed. 

At the recent meeting, although civil in tone, neither side gave ground, and it ended without resolution. The report is said to provide grim details about American approved torture of detainees during the Bush administration. Further it describes the persistent effort by CIA officials to mislead the White House and Congress about the efficacy of the techniques. 

The second update is also from the NY Times: Republicans take over the Senate in just a few legislative days. And when they do, they will probably snuff out the last possibility of releasing a huge report on the use of torture by the CIA during the Bush-Cheney Administration. Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee prepared the report over the course of five years. Many of them are increasingly desperate to release it to the public. They know that, like most Republicans, the incoming chairman of the committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), thinks the report amounts to a political hit job on the Bush years.  

My View: This is a horrible stain on the country – one who prides itself, supposedly on the rule of law – but this aspect of the two long wars (one still on going and apt to get worse and Iraq about to crank back up it seems and drag us back in) will linger forever.

It is patently clear that the GOP subscribes to torture by any name and their stance on this report, which the public has a right to know, is disgusting. If they support torture so strongly, then let the public see, scratch out the CIA officers names, but release the data and then see how the public reacts. Perhaps we can heard from a few of our former POWs from the Vietnam War or from others who have ever been held captive — i.e., like like Sen. John McCain.

Keep in mind one golden rule and aspect of this whole mess for surely it is a huge mess, and that is to remember what the difference and purpose is between interrogation and torture.

Interrogation has one purpose and that is to gain valuable intelligence information for field commanders. The purpose of torture is to inflict pain and hope of the best. Torture seldom, if never produces positive results or good information.

P.S. Torture DID NOT lead to finding, raiding the location, and killing of bin-Laden, either. Period.

Playing politics on this issue that see once again is disgusting just like the ton of lies about WMD and Nukes in Iraq led to that invasion all that has transpired since.

In short: the public pays the bills, sends their sons and daughters and other loved ones to make the most sacrifices in time of war, and now witness the nasty, ugly politics in play on about torture and the release of the report that they have a right to read and know for themselves is, well in a word: totally un-American.

The hard nose approaches we see again on full display about the issue of torture must not be allowed to stand, As we like to say (but maybe do not practice) WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT.

Torture goes against everything we say we strand for. Let's prove it — release the report and do right for the country – not for narrow selfish political point making.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Detainee Release: GOP Goes Bug-f**ked - Justice Be Damned

The Sunset of Justice Seldom Sets on Gitmo Detainees

American POWs on Flight from Hanoi
(IAW 1973 Paris Peace Accords, 591 POWs were returned to American soil)

That photo of our men coming home brings back memories ... I was still on active duty at the time and had already served two infantry tours in VN.

The main point: A Kuwaiti man was released (November 5, 2014) from Gitmo after being held for nearly 13 years without trial at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

That point comes from this story and it follows others on this same topic: The release of detainees at Gitmo, many of whom have already been  cleared for release but no place to go and all the while the GOP plays games and throws up more roadblocks about not using Federal trials vs. military tribunals (which are basically non effective).

Let's ask this man about holding detainees like this without due process, shall we?

Sen. John S. McCain (R-AZ)
(about to take over the Senate Armed Services Committee)

This continues to be a huge stain on our country - a country we say stands for law and justice ... 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Gitmo Detainee Forced Feeding: Torture or Medical Protocol

Behind the Wall and Doors at Gitmo
(Who cares what goes there, right)

Volunteer and Controlled Test Environment
(forcing him to take nourishment)

Mulard Duck Forced Feeding
(to fatten its liver for larger foie gras)

Back in the spotlight at Gitmo is the issue of detainee forced feeding: It asks the question once again: “Is it a form of torture or not?” Two parts follow:

The UK human rights organization “Reprieve” released a video in which Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, a well-known and critically acclaimed American hip-hop artist and actor, underwent (or attempted) the force-feeding procedure undergone by hunger strikers imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. 

In a five-minute video, Bey dressed in an orange jumpsuit like those worn by prisoners at Guantánamo Bay states simply that this is the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for force-feeding hunger striking detainees.

We see him shackled to a chair resembling those used at Gitmo. He is approached and held down by two people who attempt to insert a naso-gastric tube down his nasal passage way. The video shows Bey struggling against the tube, crying out, protesting, yelling for it to stop, and ultimately the force feeding is not carried out. The video is extremely emotional and difficult to watch. After the attempted force-feeding ends, Bey struggles to describe what it feels like, describing it as ‘unbearable’. 

Further, for more background, there are 166 detainees at Gitmo. Of those, 126 have been cleared for release as not posing any threat to U.S. national security, but they are still being held.

To protest their treatment and indefinite confinement prisoners have engaged in hunger strikes since the prison camp opened in July of 2002, the first wide scale hunger strike reached a peak in June 2005, when between 130-200 out of approximately 500 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay began refusing food.

While President Obama has recently renewed his pledge to close Guantánamo Bay, and a federal judge has even more recently stated that while she had no power to stop the force-feedings, Obama could himself order the force-feedings stopped.

Second Part: More on that legal aspect from the NY Times called simply “The Guantánamo Tapeshere. The bottom line on the legal wrangling is this, in part:

That federal judge mentioned above, who seemed most sympathetic to the detainees’ plight, Gladys Kessler, had concluded that she simply lacked the authority to rule on the conditions of their confinement, based on a 2006 law intended to prevent the prisoners from petitioning the judiciary and challenging their detention.

However, lo and behold, Judge Kessler as it turns out, is wrong. Earlier this year, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled, 2 to 1, that she did have jurisdiction. There are strict medical protocols for force-feeding hospital patients or prisoners. If the military violated those protocols — especially if detainees were force-fed in an abusive, punitive manner — then she could order them to stop.  

This ugly, very long saga continues, and it still remains an ugly blight on America against all that we say we stand for. This is as bad as the long-awaited Senate Report on Torture still held up by political nonsense. (I will update this topic later, too).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Close Gitmo: On the Table (Again) then Off the Table (Again)

Gitmo Detention Center (still open after 12 years):  Closure was in sight

President Obama was again looking for a way to close Gitmo ... a long road to that goal for him that the GOP keeps blocking.

First this short segment on that below:

Two key points:

Now the facts:

Republicans constantly vote to block closing the detainee prison camp at Gitmo, Cuba and they always tie any closure proposal (which President has pledged to do) to the annual DOD funding bills which causes the president to veto DOD spending or pass it and allow Gitmo to stay open.

The GOP claims that transferring detainees to the mainland for Federal trials don’t work and we must rely on the Military Tribunals.

Now, once again, the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) marks the 5th year in a row that Congress has blocked the closure of Gitmo (again). A bit more:

  1. Nearly 500 terrorists have been tried in Federal courts and most are serving life terms. 
  2. Only 8 have been tried by the Military Tribunals and only 3 of them remain in prison.
  3. Civil courts take away the label of a terrorist being a “warrior” by making them a “criminal.”
  4. Then the cost of detention … Gitmo is about $2.5 million per detainee and Federal prison is about $80,000 per inmate and none have ever escaped from a Federal facility.
Our civil courts have done an excellent job in prosecuting and locking up the guilty (most for life terms).

Key Question: Why are Republicans afraid of our Federal judicial system. They talk of American values, yet they are willing to turn a blind eye to this shame on the country and our values for decades to come.

Shame on them. But, let's face it; hypocrisy has no shame.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Is Torture Okay Outside U.S. Borders: A Pending Question

Officials Like These Have Said: "Hey, no big deal, it keeps us safe."

Whew boy. Say it's not gonna be true!!!

The focus of this post is based on a pending action as reported by the the NY TIMES here:

The Bush administration revealed in 2005 that it was secretly interpreting a UN treaty ban on “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” as not applying to CIA and military prisons overseas.  NOTE: That treaty has 33 Articles and a list of the countries that signed it on February 4, 1985. Also, note the list of countries who signed the treaty, but have not yet ratified it - "The Convention Against Torture.” 

Here is that list of signers who have not ratified the treaty:
  1. Belgium
  2. Bolivia
  3. Costa Rica
  4. Cuba
  5. Dominican Republic
  6. Gabon
  7. Gambia
  8. Iceland
  9. Indonesia
  10. Morocco
  11. Nicaragua
  12. Nigeria
  13. Sierra Leone
  14. Sudan
  15. United States of America

The current Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty. Now the President's legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view by considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, or not.  

The administration must decide on its stance on the treaty by next month, when it sends a delegation to Geneva to appear before the Committee Against Torture. That committee is a United Nations panel that monitors compliance with the treaty. 

1.  State Department lawyers are said to be pushing to officially abandon the Bush-era interpretation. Doing so would require no policy changes, since Mr. Obama issued an executive order in 2009 that forbade cruel interrogations anywhere and made it harder for a future administration to return to torture.  

2.  Military and intelligence lawyers are said to oppose accepting that the treaty imposes legal obligations on the United States’ actions abroad. They say they need more time to study whether it would have operational impacts. They have also raised concerns that current or future wartime detainees abroad might invoke the treaty to sue American officials with claims of torture, although courts have repeatedly thrown out lawsuits (cite: Padilla v. Rumsfeld, et al) brought by detainees held as terrorism suspects.

FYI: I called the White House and left comments for the President asking him to stay with the treaty, then I sent a extensive email follow-up to him as well. Hopefully, he will listen.

We shall see. Stay tuned and check back later. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Gitmo Detainees: The Numbers in Case You Wanted to Know

 Sunset at Gitmo - Another Day - Ho Hum

Gitmo by the Numbers

▪  Number of detainees: 149 (from 19 countries).

▪  Youngest: age 28 or 29 (Name: Hassan bin Attash from Yemen).

▪  Oldest: age 67 (Name: Saifullah Paracha from Pakistan).

▪  Designated as indefinite detainees: (without formal charges or trial): 37.
▪  Approved for transfer or repatriation to their homelands (some with conditions):  all but three since January 2010 (if not earlier): 79.

▪  Pentagon personnel assigned to operations: A total of 2,268 as of April 15, 2014 up from 2,127, as of Nov. 6, 2013 (before camp imposed information blackout). Of that total, about 300 are civilians (various contractors). Majority of U.S. military are from the Army. Navy prison hospital staff number: around 137.

▪  Total number of residents (as of June. 23, 2014 and by Navy base estimates): 5,778.

▪  Number of detainees who graduated from base high school in 2014: 15

▪  Cost to house one detainee/one year:  By Obama administration 2011 estimate: $800,000. New Congressional estimate in 2013 put the cost at $2.7 million (based on DOD numbers).

▪   Detainees who died in custody: Nine.

More from here (original source). Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

C. I. A. = Censoring in America (possible new name forthcoming)

Will this prove to be true or not? Wild guess -- you bet it will...

"We Didn't Torture, We Don't Torture, Prove It ..." 

Enhanced Interrogation Kept Us Safe
(GWB: "Yeah, we water boarded KSM, and I'd do it again to save lives.")

Quick Major Update: The top graphic and this short statement: Senate intelligence committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) expects the executive summary of her staff’s long-awaited report on the torture of American detainees to be ready for public release before the end of September, she said in a segment of her “Meet the Press” interview (seen at the 10:25 mark in this video clip).

The original post follows:

Everyone is waiting on this report ... but most of it, I suspect, will be heavily redacted. Why? Admitting to torture would be an official admission and strong basis to pursue war crimes.

Forthcoming is the 6,300-page Senate report about the CIA's “so-called enhanced interrogation” program. It will surely renew criticism that the U.S. engaged in torture as we questioned terrorist suspects after the 9/11 attacks in places all over the world.

The report summary is expected to be made public in the coming weeks. It will conclude that the CIA used brutal techniques on detainees, but that they failed to produce life-saving intelligence that many profess it did. Then the CIA misled Congress and the Justice Department about the interrogation program.

Current active and former CIA officials and some Senate Republicans, hotly dispute the conclusion that the techniques, included water-boarding (which has been illegal, unlawful and a war crime for decades) ailed to produce crucial information. The report does not draw the legal conclusion that the CIA's actions constituted torture, although it makes clear that in some cases they amounted to torture by a common definition (two people who have read the report have said).

What is ironic to me is at that President Bush admitted in a speech in Iowa that, “Yes, we water-boarded and I'd do it again – it kept us safe.” Just recently, President Obama just in a speech that, “We tortured some folks.”

How can that crime, or any crime be so easily brushed aside. It is tantamount to hearing someone say, “Yeah, I robbed the f**king bank. I needed the money.” Or worse, “Yeah, I shot and killed the SOB, so what?”

This article was drawn from here.

Original Post is from Here: “State Department Endorses Conclusions of Senate that CIA Misled Congress and Brutalized Suspects”  Authored by Jonathan Turley (July 31, 2014). 

Short Synopsis: “We didn't torture per se since the White House lawyers and others told Mr. Bush in a series of memos that “We don't and can't torture, but “enhanced” interrogation techniques are just fine and dandy” and that apparently included being pretty damn brutal. Wow ... oops...

Original Post Starts from Here: It is based on this developing event cited in this story

WASHINGTON (July 25, 2014) — Just after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted in April to declassify hundreds of pages of a withering report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program, C.I.A. Director John O. Brennan convened a meeting of the men who had played a role overseeing the program in its seven-year history.

Thus this review seems to be in order to see the trail of torture: Where did it begin and where will it lead?

1. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT: September 14, 2001 - President Bush declares national emergency after 9/1 [click here].

2. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT: 2002 letter from Amnesty International Letter to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld [click here]. 

The most-critical memos follow:

3. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT: September 25, 2001 – “The President's Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorist and Nations Supporting Them”

AUTHOR: John Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel. This memo [click here] - lays out an expansive vision of presidential power, arguing that Congress cannot “place any limits on the President's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make.”

November 13, 2001 – “Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War on Terrorism”

AUTHOR: President George W. Bush. This military order [click here] declares the Commander-in-Chief's unilateral authority to hold prisoners in the war on terror indefinitely.

December 28, 2001 – “Possible Habeas Jurisdiction over Aliens Held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

AUTHORS: John Yoo & Patrick Philbin, Deputy Assistant Attorneys General, OLC.  This memo [click here] concludes that federal district courts would lack jurisdiction to accept habeas petitions from prisoners who were held at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

January 9, 2002 – “SUBJECT: Application of Treaties and Laws to Al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees”

AUTHOR: John Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel.  In this memo [click here] Yoo writes, “We conclude that these treaties, including
Geneva, do not protect members of the al-Qaeda organization. We further conclude that that these treaties do not apply to the Taliban militia.”

January 11, 2002 – “Your Draft Memorandum of January 9th”

AUTHOR: William Taft IV, Legal Adviser to the State Department (to John Yoo). 
Taft’s 40-page memo [click here] - describes Yoo's legal analysis as “seriously flawed,” and the memorandum also warns that “this raises the risk of future criminal prosecution for U.S. civilian and military leadership and their advisers.”

January 19, 2002 – “Status of Taliban and al-Qaeda”

AUTHOR: Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense. Rumsfeld declares in this memo [click here] that “The United States has determined that Al Qaida and Taliban individuals under the control of the Department of Defense are not entitled to prisoner of war status for purposes of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.”

January 22, 2002 – “Application of Treaties and Laws to Al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees”

AUTHOR: Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC.  Bybee in this memo [click here] signs off on John Yoo's January 9th draft memo [above], and sends it in its final form to Pentagon General Counsel Jim Haynes and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. The memo explains that “certain deviations from the text of Geneva III may be permissible, as a matter of domestic law, if they fall within certain justifications or legal exceptions, such as those for self defense.”

January 25, 2002 – “Application of the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War to the Conflict with al-Qaeda and the Taliban"

AUTHOR: Alberto Gonzales, White House Counsel. This memo for President Bush [click here] outlines the benefits of opting out of the Geneva Conventions and lists the benefits of such a finding. Gonzales notes that non-compliance with
Geneva “would create a reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 [War Crimes Act] does not apply, which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution.”

January 26, 2002 – “Draft Decision Memorandum for the President on the Applicability of the Geneva Convention to the Conflict in Afghanistan

AUTHOR: Colin Powell, Secretary of State. Powell warns in this memo [click here] of the consequences of opting out of the Geneva Convention. “It will reverse over a century of
U.S. policy ... and undermine the prosecutions of the law of war for our troops...” He adds, “it may provoke some individual foreign prosecutors to investigate and prosecute our officials and troops.”

February 1, 2002 - N/A

AUTHOR: John Ashcroft, Attorney General. Ashcroft concludes in this memo to President Bush [click here] that opting out of
Geneva “would provide the highest assurance that no court would subsequently entertain charges that American military officers, intelligence officials, or law enforcement officials violated Geneva Convention rules relating to field conduct, detention conduct or interrogation of detainees.”

13. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT: February 7, 2002 – “Status of Taliban Forces Under Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949”

AUTHOR: Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC. In this memo to Gonzales [click here] Bybee states that the President has the power to ignore
Geneva's requirement that prisoners be given “Article 5” hearings to establish their status as POWs. “The President may use his constitutional power to interpret treaties and apply them to the facts, to make the determination that the Taliban are unlawful combatants. We therefore conclude that there is no need to establish tribunals to determine POW status under Article 5.”

February 7, 2002 – “Humane Treatment of al-Qaeda and Taliban Detainees"

AUTHOR: President George W. Bush. Mr. Bush in this memo to Cheney, State, DOD, AG, JCS, and others [click here] declares that the United States will not be bound by the Geneva Convention's protections for prisoners of war.

February 26, 2002 – “Potential Legal Constraints Applicable to Interrogations of Persons Captured by U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan

AUTHOR: Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC.  In this Bybee memo [click here] and in the wake of the capture of the so-called “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, questions about the rights of American citizens captured in the war on terror became a new issue. In conclusion, Bybee notes to Haynes, “even if the Government did in fact violate Rule 4.2 by having military lawyers interrogate represented persons (including Mr. Walker) without consent of counsel, it would not follow that the evidence obtained in that questioning would be inadmissible at trial.”

August 1, 2002 – “Standards for Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340 - 2340A (Note: This from Cornell Law. It is the official legal definitions according to current U.S. law [click here]).

AUTHOR: Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC.  In this memo to Gonzales [click here] what has become the notorious “torture memo,” Jay Bybee signs off on an opinion authored by John Yoo. The memorandum systematically dismisses numerous
U.S. federal laws, treaties and international law prohibiting the use of torture, essentially defining the term out of existence.

17. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT: August 1, 2002 - N/A.

AUTHOR: John Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, OLC.  Yoo in this memo to Gonzales [click here] warns of potential threats of international prosecution regarding the administration's interrogation policies. Yoo notes that “Interrogations of al-Qaeda members ... cannot constitute a war crime” because of the Presidential determination that Geneva's protections do not apply. (Note: The memo(s) they were asked to write).

18. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT: August 1, 2002 – “Memorandum for [REDACTED] Interrogation of [REDACTED]”

AUTHOR: Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC.  This memo from Bybee was sent to the CIA [click here] is heavily redacted. It was released to the ACLU in 2008. It details “advising the CIA regarding interrogation methods it may use against al-Qaeda members,” and in one un-redacted portion, argues that “to violate the statute, an individual must have the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering. Based on the information you have provided us, we believe those carrying out these procedures would not have the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering.”

19. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT: September 27, 2002 – “Trip Report, DOD General Counsel Visit to GTMO”

AUTHOR: Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.  A one page summary [click here] of Pentagon General Counsel Jim Haynes and Vice President Cheney's legal counsel David Addington trip to Guantanamo on September 25, 2002. The report notes that their stated purpose was to “receive briefings on Intel successes, Intel challenges, Intel techniques, Intel problems and future plans for facilities.”

20. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT: October 2, 2002 – “Counter Resistance Strategy Meeting Minutes”

AUTHOR: Email author: Mark Fallon. In this memo [click here] a senior CIA lawyer meets with military officials at Guantanamo. He states that laws banning torture are “basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong.” The Pentagon's top legal adviser at the camp responds, “We will need documentation to protect us.” When the military's top criminal investigator reads the minutes, he forwards them to other senior personnel, noting, “This looks like the kind of stuff Congressional hearings are made of. Water boarding, for example, would shock the conscience of any legal body looking at the results of the interrogations or possibly even the interrogators. Somebody needs to be considering how history will look back at this.”

The remaining memos (numbers 21 –34) that relate to this history of the issue can be found and read at the main site [click here] then open link: “Read the Key Documents.”

Sunday, August 31, 2014

U.S. Getting Ready for More War and All That Entails

ISIS Extends from Northern Syria into Northern Iraq then South

The Image the World Sees 
(Cold, callous, cruel, bloodthirsty) 

Yes, the image the world sees, and warnings practically daily about what to do and who should lead beyond what we are already doing: U.S. led bombing in Iraq that is somewhat effective. That is certainly not enough. Then the image of that awful execution of American journalist James Foley and now recently that of a captured soldier from Lebanon by ISIS. They continue to make more threats. 

Added to that are warnings from everyone everywhere almost daily that includes the King of Saudi Arabia telling us: "ISIS will come to the U.S. if action is not taken now to stop them." Chilling remarks to say the least.

So, what can we do? What should we do? What must we do? This from Secy of State John Kerry. It is something I have advocated all along: We need to get the angry free world behind the effort and wipe ISIS off the face of the planet once and for all. Mr. Kerry says: "... we need a global coalition..." Yes, we do since this is global problem, it needs a global solution that all freedom-loving people can get behind.

Additionally, Congress needs to come back to DC and wade in and get behind and support the CINC (Mr. Obama) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their recommendations for a course of action. They need to return to work now - not wait until their 5-week vacations are over all the while screeching from the sidelines or on FOX about our inaction or what to do next. This by all accounts is the most-serious threat we have ever faced since WW II and possibly during the Cold War years and certainly since 9/11.

We have to get off our hands and in unison to act with with everyone in total agreement as well as having the complete support of the public, whom I think will stand shoulder to shoulder on this one. It is real and not a fake issue like WMD's in Iraq. As they say "this is the real deal." 

I am like President Eisenhower who once noted: “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” However, there are times when it is necessary for all free men to stand up against aggression and madness like see now. Now is not the time to blink or look the other way. 

Right now the case is clear and the mission is obvious - the how and when remain. When we do act, we must with a focused and concerted coalition effort that is as strong as possible and ready to engage and end this rein of terror once and for all.

Stay tuned.