Sunday, August 13, 2017

Q & A: Was Enhanced Interrogation Program Controlled Human Experimentation

Studying Detainees During Various Stages of Torture


What follows is an extract from this very thought-provoking article that ties in with those other posts below about Mitchell and Jessen – it asks this explosive question by this author of the piece – Gregg Bloche (@greggbloche), a psychiatrist, who now teaches law at Georgetown and is the author of “The Hippocratic Myth.”

The question:

Was the CIA enhanced interrogation program an instance of human experimentation?

 (I Note: Keep in mind that the word: “enhanced” is a fancy buzzword for torture).

Related to the topic is here – Subject: “The 30 most disturbing human experiments in history.”

A Word of Caution: Some may find the article and images disturbing – so, read at your own risk accordingly.

Recently declassified documents raise this explosive question. The documents were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in connection with a federal lawsuit scheduled for trial next month. The case was brought on behalf of three former detainees against two psychologists who developed the CIA’s program. I reviewed some of the documents in a recent article in The Texas Law Review.

Internal CIA records indicate that the psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen (Note: The next 4 posts after this one address Mitchell and Jessen and the work they did for the CIA in our name) anticipated objections that critics would later level against the program, such as that coercion might generate unreliable information, and contracted with the agency to design research tools that addressed some of these concerns.

I Note this Important Point: Redactions in the released documents (and the CIA’s withholding of others) make it impossible to know the full extent, if any, of the agency’s data collection efforts or the findings they yielded.

At their depositions for the ACLU lawsuit, each of the psychologists denied having evaluated the program’s effectiveness. But the CIA paid the two psychologists (some $80 million) to develop a research methodology and instructed physicians and other medical staff members at clandestine detention sites to monitor and chart the health conditions of detainees.

In response, the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights has charged that the program was an unlawful experiment on human beings. It calls the program “one of the gravest breaches of medical ethics by United States health professionals since the Nuremberg Code.”

Those were the ethical principles written to protect people from human experimentation after World War II mostly conducted by the Nazis. In its lawsuit, the ACLU is pressing a similar claim.

These claims are a bit of a reach since in “a true experimental study, the CIA would have had to test its interrogation strategy against one or more standard interrogation methods, using experimental and control groups of captives.”

There’s no evidence that the CIA did that.

(I Also Note: In 2010, the CIA first denied it conducted “human subject research on any detainee or group of detainees”).

Story continues at the link above – worth reading.

Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mitchell and Jessen Trial Hearing Set for August 4 in Spokane, WA

Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell


This story is about Mitchell and Jessen (photos above, and cited in below posts) re: their upcoming hearing outlined in this report

They are apt to say: “We were just following orders” (just like those Nazis claimed at Nuremberg in 1945-46).

More likely today those two are claiming:We were just following the government’s contract specs – yes, we did modify it later and watched and yes, we even participated in some of the “enhanced methods we developed and refined them, too, but we did our duty by fulfilling the contract, and yes, we were paid some $80 million) – so what – we were just following orders.”

(Note: “Enhanced” is a buzzword for torture)

Whoa – stop the press – hold it a darn minute for this short edit. Let’s be clear here shall we – “Just following orders” ain’t gonna hack it for Mitchell and Jessen.  

It didn’t work in 1945-1946 for the Nazis on trial for war crimes, and it won’t fly today, either. The heart of the defense’s case argument in their motion to dismiss a lawsuit from former detainees outlined in the article, are the points below:

1.  The two, Mitchell and Jessen (both former Air Force psychologists who helped craft the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques known as “enhanced” (again the buzzword for “torture”) should be as free from liability as a worker for a company that supplied the Nazis with poison gas used in concentration camps in WWII.

2.  Like the gassing technician who was acquitted on charges of helping the Nazis, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were independent contractors who lacked authority to “control, prevent or modify” the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

The ACLU challenges that defense claim, saying the psychologists should be held accountable for the methods they designed following the September 11 terror attacks – wherein those methods included waterboarding, beatings, and worse.

Notes: (1) The Nuremberg tribunals that judged the Nazis and their enablers after World War II established the opposite rule re: innocent contractors who developed the gas saying in part: “Private contractors are accountable when they choose to provide unlawful means and profit from war crimes.” 

(2) And, the owner of the company that developed the poison gas for the Nazis was executed after World War II.

(3) Even for countries that never signed “The Rules for War or the Geneva Accords, etc.” please note: Following World War II, jurists at the Nuremberg Trials and the Tokyo Trials ruled that by 1939 the rules for armed conflicts, particularly those concerning belligerent and neutral nationals, had been recognized by all civilized nations and thus could apply to officials even of countries that never signed the Hague Conventions.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Historical Notes from the Nuremberg Tribunals:

1.  “Following orders that are illegal, unlawful, and a war crime” are punishable by law and in the case of many of the Nazis – that was the death penalty.

2.  Most of the Nazis used the so-called “Superior orders plea.” That was regarded as the complement to command responsibility.

Superior orders, often known as the Nuremberg defense, lawful orders or by the German phrase Befehl ist Befehl (“Only Following Orders”) literally “An order is an order”) was a plea in a court of law that a person — whether a member of the military, law enforcement, a firefighting force, or the civilian population — not be held guilty for actions which were ordered by a superior officer or an official.

Both sides in this case plan arguments on August 4 in in Spokane. The outcome will determine whether the lawsuit will go to trial, set for September 5, 2017.

The judge could decide that the psychologists are guilty of aiding and abetting torture and no trial is needed, or he could dismiss the suit or limit what claims can be pursued.

My View: Both Mitchell and Jessen, were neither trained or experienced interrogators. They were in it for the money and they knew the plan and they went along with it and made adjustments in the overall techniques… 

Seems to me that they are using a weak excuse of following orders (or in this case, the government contract specs) and in turn, the CIA will duck and say that’s what we paid them for. 

This is an important phase in the long-term damaging event in American history and still today, and there are still 41 detainees at Gitmo, some who went through the same set of techniques (namely KSM). 

Note Insert: The Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA program, released in 2014, under a section titled “The CIA Waterboards KSM at Least 183 Times,” says that “On March 10, 2003, KSM was subjected to the first of his 15 separate waterboarding sessions” 

(Note: One procedure in each session was counted and thus equaled the total of 183 times for the entire 15 sessions).

Let’s hope that justice does not escape from in this tragedy.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Showtime: “Wannabe Interrogators” Heading for Trial Re: CIA Torture Program

“Enhanced” Interrogation: Illegal, unlawful, a war crime

Inexperienced and unqualified “Interrogators” 
(except in their own minds)

A federal court judge has refused (July 28th) to drop a lawsuit against two psychologists who devised the CIA’s interrogation program after the September 11 terrorist attacks and this now clears the way for the case to proceed to a trial in September.

(My Notes: Mitchell and Jessen BTW neither have any interrogation experience – not one day. Also, they were paid over $80 million. 

The suit is one of the few attempts to hold people accountable for harm caused by the CIA “enhanced” interrogation program in the years after the 2001 attacks.

(My Note: “Enhanced” is a fancy buzzword for torture – believe me, I know from my over a dozen years in that business).

The three plaintiffs had argued that they were detained and tortured in secret CIA prisons using techniques designed by the two former military psychologists. Most of the techniques used against the detainees have since been banned by the United States government.

At a hearing in United States District Court in Spokane, WA, Judge Justin L. Quackenbush said he would deny motions by both sides to rule summarily in their favor in advance of a trial. However, he said he would issue a written ruling as to whether the case could go forward on behalf of two of the plaintiffs, who never came into contact with the defendants.



This case is long overdue to remove this historical stain on the country. We must always demand justice in these cases. This hopefully will be that justice. Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

CIA “Enhanced Interrogation” Two Program Designers Speak With Other Morons

Torture is a “Black and White Issue not 50 Shades of Gray”


Updated story on the many people involved in torture with the two primary nitwits who developed the so-called “enhanced” interrogation program… their video testimony is painful to watch [click] here (about 10-minutes). 
More of that NY Times story here
Now a flashback to the days it all started and where we are today with Donald J. Trump in charge – whew boy. 
My advice, hang on tight. That piece of this story is here from Business Insider
Highlights re: Trump on Torture:
In an interview with ABC News awhile back, Mr. Trump said he would wage war against Islamic State militants with the singular goal of keeping the U.S. safe. Asked specifically about the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, Trump cited the extremist group's atrocities against Christians and others and said: “We have to fight fire with fire.”
Trump then said he would consult with new Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo before authorizing any new policy.
He also said he had asked top intelligence officials in the past day: “Does torture work?”
Trump once said (but Mattis and Pompeo both disagree): “And the answer was yes, absolutely.” Then he quickly added that he wants to do “everything within the bounds of what you're allowed to do legally.”
[Hint Mr. Trump: Torture is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime, Mr. Trump – period.]
In may be in for some very bad times (again) now with so many novices in charge under Trump - time will tell.
Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, June 5, 2017

MESSAGE FOR AMERICA: Turn Off—Stop Watching FOX & Friends and All FOX

The Lowest of the Low in Intelligence Work (Total Fraud) 
(Especially About Interrogation )

This man and his co-author and fellow designer of “Enhanced Interrogation” that the CIA and others used (illegally) is a total fake and fraud ... he has never been an interrogator and yet our CIA paid them both some $80 million to develop the program which by all standards is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime.

Watch this interview with him (it is about 8-minutes):


Now in his recent appearance on FOX and Friends to hawk his new book, the lead question by co-host Brian Kilmeade sustains a proven lie that “torture” lead to bin-Laden.



FACT (from NPR report): Torture (the so-called “Enhanced Interrogation” is just a fancy word for torture) did not lead to bin-Laden. That is a huge lie and it is disgusting and an excellent reason to shit can those kinds of FOX shows from the airwaves.

Here is positive proof about that lie: After an exhaustive three-year investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee came to the conclusion that those claims are overblown or downright lies.

Finally, at this blog I have always tried my best to stick with the facts, not FOX or Rightwing or one-sided GOP bullshit otherwise.

... Thanks for stopping by come any time.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Trump Pledged Transparency Now Wants to Hide the Truth and Historical Report

“Get in and shut up”

“Sit on this”

THIS HEADLINES GOT MY ATTENTION:

“Trump to hide possibly forever classified Senate report on CIA torture” 

– that story is here from the NY Times, in part:

WASHINGTON — Senators, spies and a president spent years in a pitched battle over how the history is told of one of the most controversial chapters of America’s campaign against terrorism, the detention and interrogation of prisoners in secret CIA sites (so-called “Black Sites”).  Recent moves by the Trump administration have increased the likelihood that much of what is known about the macabre humiliations that unfolded in those jails around the world will remain hidden from public view – perhaps forever.

Related coverage of this same story:

It took Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) over two years to get his wish and now with Trump in charge to hide the truth, that wish may come true. Just takes a lot of patience, um, Mr. Burr? Report on that is here from Crooks and Liars.

Also related are articles here from Newsweek, and here from Common Dreams and here from Digg.

FYI and way of background on the torture program is about these two inexperienced former Air Force hacks (their picture right hand side of this blog) who developed and the sold the so-called “enhanced interrogation program” (fancy word for torture that professionals know) to the CIA (*this extract about them comes from the Senate report. BTW: They were paid some $80 million reported on here from NBC:

* The two former USAF officers were CIA contractors who helped develop and operate the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that the agency used on terror suspects, including waterboarding, were paid more than $80 million, according to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA's interrogation program. The original contract was for more than $180 million, but the contractors had only received $81 million when their contract was terminated in 2009.

Just as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said in part in a speech on the Senate floor in his remarks – if anyone knows torture, it surely is him:

But, the real question isn’t that about our enemies being inflamed or angry or whatever; it’s about us. Why won’t the release of this report inflame Americans, given it’s our government who has acted in our names.”

The Report’ Title: “Final Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Detention and Interrogation Program – Makes the Following Key Findings and Conclusions” (20 key findings). The report was approved on December 13, 2012, updated for release on April 3, 2014, and a declassified on December 3, 2014 (only a part).

THE 20 KEY FINDINGS:

#1: The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

#2: The CIA's justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

#3: The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.
#4: The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

#5: The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

#6: The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

#7: The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

#8: The CIA's operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

#9:  The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA's Office of Inspector General.

#10: The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.

#11: The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.

#12: The CIA's management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program's duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.

Key Parts of this Finding: The CIA's COBALT detention facility in Country XX began operations in September 2002 and ultimately housed more than half of the 119CIA detainees identified in this Study.  The CIA kept few formal records of the detainees in its custody at COBALT.  

Untrained CIA officers at the facility conducted frequent, unauthorized, and unsupervised interrogations of detainees using harsh physical interrogation techniques that were not — and never became — part of the CIA's formal "enhanced" interrogation program. The CIA placed a junior officer with no relevant experience in charge of COBALT. On November XX, 2002, a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor died from suspected hypothermia at the facility.

At the time, no single unit at CIA Headquarters had clear responsibility for CIA detention and interrogation operations. In interviews conducted in 2003 with the Office of Inspector General, CIA's leadership and senior attorneys acknowledged that they had little or no awareness of operations at COBALT, and some believed that enhanced interrogation techniques were not used there.

Although CIA Director Tenet in January 2003 issued guidance for detention and interrogation activities, serious management problems persisted. For example, in December 2003, CIA personnel reported that they had made the "unsettling discovery" that the CIA had been "holding a number of detainees about whom" the CIA knew "very little" at multiple detention sites in Country of XX.

Divergent lines of authority for interrogation activities persisted through at least 2003. Tensions among interrogators extended to complaints about the safety and effectiveness of each other's interrogation practices.

The CIA placed individuals with no applicable experience or training in senior detention and interrogation roles, and provided inadequate linguistic and analytical support to conduct effective questioning of CIA detainees, resulting in diminished intelligence.

The lack of CIA personnel available to question detainees, which the CIA IG referred to as "an ongoing problem, persisted throughout the program.

#13: Two contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.

Key Parts of this Finding: The CIA contracted with two psychologists (Retired USAF officer Jim Mitchell and retired USAF enlisted man Bruce Jessen) to develop, operate, and assess its interrogation operations (as I noted above).

On the CIA's behalf, the contract psychologists developed theories of interrogation based on “learned helplessness,” and developed the list of enhanced interrogation techniques that was approved for use against Abu Zubaydah, et al. The psychologists personally conducted interrogations of some of the CIA's most significant detainees using these techniques.

They also evaluated whether detainees' psychological state allowed for the continued use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, including some detainees whom they were themselves interrogating or had interrogated. The psychologists carried out inherently governmental functions, such as acting as liaison between the CIA and foreign intelligence services, assessing the effectiveness of the interrogation program, and participating in the interrogation of detainees in held in foreign government custody.

In 2005, the psychologists formed a company specifically for the purpose of conducting their work with the CIA. Shortly thereafter, the CIA outsourced virtually all aspects of the program. 

In 2006, the value of the CIA's base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract's termination in 2009.

In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. The CIA has since paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement.

In 2008, the CIA's Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Group, the lead unit for detention and interrogation operations at the CIA, had a total of XX positions, which were filled with XX CIA staff officers and contractors, meaning that contractors made up 85% of the workforce for detention and interrogation operations.

#14:  CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the DOJ, and not authorized by CIA Headquarters.

#15: The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA's claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.

#16: The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.

#17: The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.

Key Part of this Finding: CIA officers and contractors who were found to have violated CIA policies or performed poorly were rarely held accountable or removed from positions of responsibility.

#18: The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

#19:  The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.

Key Parts of this Finding: The CIA required secrecy and cooperation from other nations in order to operate clandestine detention facilities, and both had eroded significantly before President Bush publicly disclosed the program on September 6, 2006.

From the beginning of the program, the CIA faced significant challenges in finding nations willing to host CIA clandestine detention sites. These challenges became increasingly difficult over time. With the exception of Country XX the CIA was forced to relocate detainees out of every country in which it established a detention facility because of pressure from the host government or public revelations about the program.

Beginning in early 2005, the CIA sought unsuccessfully to convince the DOD to allow the transfer of numerous CIA detainees to U.S. military custody. By 2006, the CIA admitted in its own talking points for CIA Director Porter Goss that, absent an Administration decision on an "endgame" for detainees, the CIA was "stymied" and "the program could collapse of its own weight."

Lack of access to adequate medical care for detainees in countries hosting the CIA's detention facilities caused recurring problems.  The refusal of one host country to admit a severely ill detainee into a local hospital due to security concerns contributed to the closing of the CIA's detention facility in that country.

The DOD also declined to provide medical care to detainees upon CIA request.

In mid-2003, a statement by the president for the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and a public statement by the White House that prisoners in U.S. custody are treated humanely" caused the CIA to question whether there was continued policy support for the program and seek reauthorization from the White House. In mid-2004, the CIA temporarily suspended the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques after the CIA inspector general recommended that the CIA seek an updated legal opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

In early 2004, the USSC decision to grant certiorari in the case of Rasul v. Bush prompted the CIA to move detainees out of a CIA detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In late 2005 and in 2006, the Detainee Treatment Act and then the USSC decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld caused the CIA to again temporarily suspend the use of its enhanced Interrogation techniques.

By 2006, press disclosures, the unwillingness of other countries to host existing or new detention sites, and legal and oversight concerns had largely ended the CIA's ability to operate clandestine detention facilities. After detaining at least 113 individuals through 2004, the CIA brought only six additional detainees into its custody: four in 2005, one in 2006, and one in 2007.

By March 2006, the program was operating in only one country. The CIA last used its enhanced interrogation techniques on November 8, 2007. The CIA did not hold any detainees after April 2008.

Last Key Finding - #20:  The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States' standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.

Key Part of this Finding: The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program created tensions with U.S. partners and allies, leading to formal demarches to the United States, and damaging and complicating bilateral intelligence relationship.

The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures – (I Note: The new Obama team has failed to prosecute anyone by saying: “We need to look forward, not back.”).

The UN’s Special Rapporteur, Juan E. Mendez, said in a statement) reinforcing the U.S. obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture, which requires the investigation and prosecution of those who were responsible for ordering, planning or implementing the C.I.A. torture program:

“The example set by the United States on the use of torture has been a big drawback in the fight against such practice in many other countries throughout the world. The Bush administration aggressively and repeatedly rejected the principles of transparency and accountability and maintains the pattern of denial and defense.

As a nation that has publicly affirmed its belief that respect for truth advances respect for the rule of law, and as a nation that frequently calls for transparency and accountability in other countries, the United States must rise to meet the standards it has set both for itself and for others.”

The UN Convention citation is clear: “… it lets no one off the hook — neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders.”

Four Key Supreme Court cases tied directly to detainee handling and treatment:

1.  RASULv. BUSH (June 28, 2004) – “All detainees have habeas corpus protection.”

2.  RUMSFELDv. PADILLA (June 28, 2004) – “U.S. Citizen under MCA as enemy combatants other than as in civil custody (civil rules the day).” 

3.  HAMDANv. RUMSFELD (June 29, 2006) – “UCMJ & Geneva Convention Cover Detainees.” 

4.  BOUMEDIENEv. BUSH (June 12, 2008) – “Detainee 5th Amendment and Due Process Protection.”

Finally, I conclude that President Donald J. Trump today apparently wants to have this key historical report buried in some deep dark hole out of sight forever and alongside all the bodies and the truth, perhaps forever.

I guess it’s a matter of what, Mr. President: Draining the swamp or merely putting more junk in the same swamp (this time your junk), or is it simple transparency that you also promised, um? Pick and choose honesty I guess?

Hope this review helps, and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Trump Updates: Gitmo Detainees and “Pot” Legalization (Two Connected)

Another Trump Whopper and Not From Burger King

More Political Smoke from Trump or Personal Hobby

President Trump recently told Congress these two key things:
(1)  That he might release detainees held at Gitmo despite legislation that prohibits transfers of prisoners.
(2)  That he is bound by a restriction in a new spending law that prohibits spending money to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal for medical purposes.
Trump noted that the spending bill Congress recently passed contained restrictions on transfers of Guantánamo detainees to CONUS and other countries, but provided no exceptions for when a court orders a detainee’s release.
Trump said in a statement to Congress: “I will treat these, and similar provisions, consistently with my constitutional authority as commander in chief.”
He made a similar observation about the limit on enforcing federal marijuana laws, saying:  “I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but 28 states permit its use as medicine.
Interestingly is this Related from then candidate Donald J. Trump on legal use of MJ.
Wow, what a reversal on both issues … hopefully no Gitmo detainees need or now take MJ for medical reasons – LOL LOL… otherwise it could be double jeopardy for them as it were in any court and especially to any country they are released to that does not allow MJ in any circumstance … in that case they might elect to stay in the U.S. – you think?
Stay tuned… both subjects interesting to say the least.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

UPDATED: Now USSC Justice Neil Gorsuch Views on Gitmo Detainees and Torture

Supreme Court Today: 8 of 9 since Justice Scalia's Death


Filling Justice Scalia's vacant seat
(story here (LA TIMES)


The headlines of this story below caught my eye since it ties in directly to the subject of this overall blog. That headlines is: 

Judge Neil Gorsuch helped defend disputed Bush-era terror policies
That is from this fine NY Times article, in part below:
(Note: Judge Gorsuch (bio here) was in the Bush administration at DOJ starting in June 2005 where he served as the principal deputy associate attorney general. That position put him as the top aide to the No. 3 official at DOJ. He left in August 2006 when Mr. Bush appointed him as a judge on the Federal Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver).
WASHINGTON (NY TIMES) — In December 2005, Congress handed President George W. Bush a significant defeat by tightening legal restrictions against torture in a law called the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA). Soon afterward, Neil M. Gorsuch — then a top Justice Department official — sent an email to a White House colleague in case he needed “cheering up” about the administration’s setback.
(I NOTE: That action — saying the setback was bad — implies to me that Judge Gorsuch did not approve of the DTA that Congress passed - interesting).
The email from Judge Gorsuch, nominated by President Trump to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court caused by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, linked to articles about a less-noticed provision in the act that undercut the rights of Guantánamo Bay detainees by barring courts from hearing their habeas corpus lawsuits.
“The administration’s victory is not well known but its significance shouldn’t be understated,” wrote Judge Gorsuch, who had helped coordinate the Justice Department’s work with Congress on the bill.
The email about the court-stripping provision — which the Supreme Court later rejected — is among more than 150,000 pages of Bush-era Justice Department and White House documents involving Judge Gorsuch disclosed by the Trump administration ahead of his Senate confirmation hearings next week.
Key parts for me on the issue of “torture – the so-called “enhanced interrogation” methods is this from the article:
The files have not yet been systematically examined, and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have complained that they appear to be incomplete. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the panel’s ranking Democrat, sent a letter to Judge Gorsuch this week saying that the committee needs additional documents by 5 p.m. on Thursday (March 16).
For example, her letter noted, one document in the tranche indicated that Judge Gorsuch made a “proposal for a seminar on torture policy” to the Council on Foreign Relations, but the proposal itself was not included in the documents given to the committee. Sen. Feinstein wrote in part: “Please provide to the committee any materials related to any involvement you had in the issue of torture (including so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’), including this proposal (proposal for the CFR seminar – my emphasis added for clarity).”
So, will he be confirmed? Probably. By a close vote or vast majority in the Senate? Uncertain. Hearing starts next week (March 20 – also, the 1st Day of Spring).

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Duck, What Duck?? Twitter Attack by “The Mad Tweeter” @realDonaldTrump

Gitmo Detainee Center: Looks like nice marble flooring
(Lights Out)

WASHINGTON (NY TIMES) — President Trump recently Twitted that “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!”
Whoa, at first blush, we need to call back Mr. Obama then “lock him up (alongside Hillary Clinton), and then consider giving them a fair trial and due process, right Mr. “T?”
Q:  Is Trump’s tweet true?
A:  No, what Trump tweeted is false.
So, what is true?
According to the Office of the DNI (Director of National Intelligence)  of the total 714 former Guantánamo Bay detainees who have been transferred to other countries as of January 15, 2017, and that dates back to when the George W. Bush administration first opened the prison January 2002, only 121 have been “confirmed to have engaged in militant activity after their release.” So, Trump’s 122 vicious number of off by one vicious number. Then consider this:
The overwhelming majority of those 121 (113 to be factual) were transferred on the Bush watch, not on Obama’s. And, on that note and also factually, about half of them are deemed recidivists who are already dead or back in custody. Why is Trump writing about Guantánamo recidivism today?
Simple, really, because on the Pentagon had announced about our airstrike in Yemen, which targeted a former detainee serving with al-Qaeda in the Yemen branch. He was killed and was known as “Mohammed Tahar” at the time (2007) he was imprisoned in Cuba. He had been repatriated to Yemen in December 2009, under the Obama administration. So, Trump took that little bit of info and ran with it, or in this case, tweeted with it.
So, why did most of the so-called recidivists come from Bush-era releases?
First, most of the former detainees captured in the world departed under Bush; that is 532 of the 714 former detainees who left the prison alive departed under Mr. Bush.
Second, Mr. Bush decided in his second term that, as he wrote in his memoir, “The detention facility had become a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies.” Thus he started trying to close it, but never succeeded.
It is true that in terms of shear percentages, Bush-era releases have been more likely to cause problems than Obama-era releases. For example, about 35 percent of Bush-era transfers are confirmed or suspected of causing problems, while about only about 12 percent of the Obama-era transfers’ fall into one of those two categories, according to the DNI.

My summary: Mr. Trump continues to show he is not fit to be in the office, and especially with his sustained outlandish string of tweets that turn out to be 100% false and in some cases border on legal questions about his defamation of Mr. Obama’ time in office. 

Ergo: Donald J. Trump is a habitual liar. He is not held to account for anything he says or does, and especially by those close to him. Thus they all engage in one huge Trump philosophical game of CYA — their coat of arms:


Hence, he feels free to move on to the next tweet, lie, gross exaggeration, or false accusation.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Back in the National Spotlight: Not Where It Belongs at This Time (Again)

Waterboarding =Torture: Illegal, Unlawful, and War Crime for Decades

A Bright Red Line Trump is Willing to Cross
(Not so for Sen. John McCain)

Update: Awe damn. Here We Go Again: Trump Wants to Bring Back Torture and Waterboarding (and yes, waterboarding is torture):

BACKGROUND (references linked in the below post): At a rally last November in Columbus, Ohio, Trump promised to reinstate waterboarding and perhaps other methods of torture beyond it. He said: “Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would — in a heartbeat” (Trump said as the crowd cheered). “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 went on to repeat “It works” multiple times, then concluded: “Believe me, it works. And you know what? If it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway, for what they're doing. It works.”

Then a few months later, Trump doubled down on that pledge at another rally in SC, as well as in several interviews throughout the campaign, saying in essence the very same things. Then in an interview on ABC's This Week show earlier this year, when asked if he would authorize torture, Trump said: “I would absolutely authorize (it) and something beyond waterboarding.”

Now, recently and in response to the Trump pledge, John McCain said: “I don't give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do or anybody else wants to do. We will not water board. We will not do it.” (Those remarks were made to applause during a panel discussion at the Halifax International Security Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia). 

Recall that McCain was subjected to torture as a POW in Vietnam for 5 years.  McCain went on to say that waterboarding, sanctioned under the administration of President George W. Bush as an “enhanced interrogation technique,” doesn't work and is banned under U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions. Then McCain added in in conclusion to his statement:  “My God, what does it say about America if we're going to inflict torture on people?”

Now we have loyal dog, VP-elect Mike Pence, saying on CBS Sunday Face the Nation just recently: “A Trump administration would not rule out a return to waterboarding.” Then he added: “A President Donald Trump is going to focus on confronting and defeating radical Islamic terrorism as a threat to this country. We're going to have a president again who will never say what we'll never do.”

More up to date facts: Trump will be hard pressed to find military support for a blatant return to torture and I say again and again, “Waterboarding is torture and has been illegal, unlawful, and a war crime for decades.” Trump takes a hard-nose stance against the current CIA Director (John Brennan).

Do you want firsthand experience about torture, specifically, waterboarding: … Here is a great resume from a man who knows – and believe me, you will want to read this.

Related: Any move to return to waterboarding would likely face opposition from the uniformed military leadership. Methods defined as enhanced interrogation techniques could subject service members to prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, for example:

Last March, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine General Joseph Dunford indirectly but strongly rejected Trump's “torture works campaign statements.

Dunford said he could not comment on politics but gave a general answer to questions in which he suggested that torture and waterboarding went against the “values cherished by the American military,” adding: “One of the things that makes me proud to represent this uniform is that we represent the values of the American people. When our young men and women go to war, they go with our values. And, when we find exceptions, and see U.S. troops abuse prisoners, you can see how aggressively we address those exceptions under the UCMJ. We should never apologize for going to war with the values of the American people. That's what we have done historically; that's what we expect to do in the future. And again, that's what makes me proud to wear this uniform.”

Now Trump’s leading candidate for Secretary of Defense, retired Marine general, James Mattis, whom Trump calls the “real deal” is at odds with Trump about bringing back waterboarding and Trump said he was surprised to hear the general say that. Wow – Trump is surprised to hear the general say that? Ha…  Give me a break, Mr. Trump. 

You are the one who should be surprised at anyone and especially while looking at yourself in a mirror, who would advocate torture as national policy.

My view as an old Interrogator on this subject: I do not believe that Donald J. Trump should not be allowed to take office on January 20, 2017. For him to advocate breaking U.S. and International law in the support of torture and in advance like this is unheard of in my lifetime. Therefore, I strongly believe that he is not suited for nor fit to be president of anything except maybe his newest golf resort.  

This is a big issue with major impact. I am amazed to see anyone cheer Trump when he suggests using torture as national policy. I am astonished about Trump saying that, and saddened to hear anyone support him. I am in accord with John McCain who said above: “My God, what does it say about America…”


(1)  “Torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control, 
(2)  “Severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from —
(A)  The intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B)  The administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C)  The threat of imminent death; or
(D)  The threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.


Some 92 video tapes were destroyed by the CIA in November 2005 after a report by CIA IG John L. Helgerson’s office, had determined that they depicted “… cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, as defined by the International Convention Against Torture.”

So, you decide: is Donald J. Trump wrong or not? And, if so, is he on the verge of advocating a serious war crime in advance? Is he worthy to be our President?

Pretty sad, either way, isn’t it. Thanks for stopping by and as I outline in my main detainee/torture site here, this is an ugly issue that just will not go away.

Stay tuned.