Saturday, July 14, 2018

Gitmo Population Dropped from 41 to 40: Trump Released One Back to Saudi Arabia

Detainees now sole property and responsibility of Donald J. Trump
(He vowed not close it but to expand it)

This release date story is a bit behind but applicable nevertheless in view of Trump's view on detainees and torture, etc. Recall this from then-candidate Trump:

Very short article but important overall, too:

WASHINGTON (May 2, 2018) — The Pentagon has transferred a Guantánamo Bay prisoner to the custody of Saudi Arabia. The handoff is the first time a detainee has left the wartime prison under Trump, who vowed to fill it back up but has now instead overseen a reduction in its population (see video clip above).

The prisoner, Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi, is unlikely to be set free soon while under their custody however.

American officials intend for him to serve the roughly nine years remaining in a 13-year sentence he received after pleading guilty before a military commission to terrorism-related offenses involving a 2002 Qaeda attack on a French-flagged oil tanker off Yemen’s coast.

Thanks for stopping – sorry for this backdated article, but as I said still an important issue.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

He's Baaaaack: “Dark Dick Cheney” on FOX Advocates, Defends, and Justifies Torture

Operated in the dark and shadows doing illegal crap
(Hence the nickname Dark Dick)

Of course, on FOX spewing his garbage that torture works
(A nasty mean evil totally despicable man)

Astonishing appearance from Richard Bruce Cheney, former Vice President of the United States and of course, as always on FOX from Media Matters, here in part with a 4-minute video posted by FOX on Youtube below as a way of introduction:

Historical Background: The torture program set up by the George W. Bush administration in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks was a brutal, illegal, and slipshod travesty for which there has been no reckoning

All of the people who designed, implemented, and justified the brutal and useless interrogations of terrorism detainees have successfully ducked accountability for a variety of reasons: (1) Republicans actively support torture; (2) the Democrats voluntarily abandoned their opportunity to impose accountability for the program, and both parties are apt to excuse flagrant abuses committed in the name of national security.

This is why we have the grim spectacle of President Donald Trump (whose stated position on torture is that it should be used as sadistic punishment) nominating as CIA director Gina Haspel, who oversaw the torture of detainees and later led the effort to destroy videotaped evidence of interrogations.

It’s also why the former Vice President can go on cable news and give lie-filled defenses of the horrific interrogation program he shepherded into existence.

Cheney sat down with FOX Business host Maria Bartiromo (Irony: FOX– the GOP’s respite for spewing garbage and Bartiromo – the FOX “Intelligence” expert, um).

Cheney oozed out a series of falsehoods about his torture program – lies that elicited precisely zero challenges from Bartiromo as seen in the video above.

Note: The whole story continues at the Media Matters story linked above and is chocked full of Cheney’s many and misleading claims and outright BS defense of his shameful legacy and this awful black mark on America’s values and honor.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trump Choice as CIA Director: Torture Guru; Destroyed Tapes Advocate; Deceptive

Trump and Like-Minded Supporter for Torture Policy
(Gina Haspel: She Thinks Just Like Trump) 

Updated (May 10, 2018) - from her Senate nomination hearing:

My take away thus far on her nomination: She may have supported and run the programs of torture, but who in the CIA was against it? I’d like to know and here from them.

Torture (the so-called enhanced interrogation program) is simply a buzzword for torture and yes, waterboarding is torture and a war crime. It has been classified as torture for centuries and more currently by the U.S. and UN and Geneva Convention Articles on Torture (International rules for decades and which the U.S. agreed and signed onto).

Now Ms. Haspel says: “We followed the wrong moral compass” – Ho Lee Sheet statement – watch this short video clip here.

The whole senate coverage of the testimony follows:

Total of some 160 minutes

The original post follows from here:

This update from is also critical to this issue of Trump's nominee story – re: CIA director nomination and conformation from Politico here:

Senate Republican leaders and White House officials are confident they will be able to confirm Gina Haspel to lead the CIA by the end of the month, barring any explosive revelation at her confirmation hearing this week. The Republicans believe they can get a handful of other Democrats to push Haspel across the finish line to get the 50 votes needed to confirm her.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is considered highly likely to support her. He is a moderate up for reelection this year and he posed for a photo alongside Haspel after a private meeting and he later said: “Appreciated it so much, Gina coming and speaking with me.”

Sen. Tom “Hates the Iran Nuke Deal” Cotton (R-AR) said: “Gina Haspel will be voted out of the Intelligence Committee on a bipartisan basis and she will be confirmed by the full Senate on a bipartisan basis. I hope that will happen, and will happen before Memorial Day so she can get down to the serious business at hand.

Sticking points that should stick, and rightly so, but may not stick:

·     Haspel faces tough questions over her role in overseeing the use of harsh interrogation the “so-called enhanced techniques that included waterboarding.

·     And then she supervised the destruction of videotapes documenting those act.

·     She had the power to declassify information as acting CIA director but did not and declined publicly to disclose more material about that controversial period of her career.

Story continues at the two links above Politico and Vox above.
From Vox a very key part re: is torture and waterboarding effective? Short answer: No, never, case in point:
From Vox a very key part re: is torture and waterboarding effective? Short answer: No, never, case in point: 
Two of the most brutal interrogations — that of two suspected al-Qaeda operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri — took place at Detention Site Green that Haspel managed and although there has been much confusion on that point, it now appears, according to ProPublica (Haspel oversaw the interrogation) only of the latter.
Related and noteworthy:
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.”

My 2 Cents: Based on my many years and experience and training as an interrogator all around the globe, I have said this constantly and consistently:
She is very poor choice for so many reasons that I could type all day – suffice it to say just a couple of items background:
Haspel is flat out wrong as well as anyone else who falsely believes that “torture works and that waterboarding is not torture,” torture DOES NOT work and yes, waterboarding is torture by any definition. Now Trump says “we'll do more than waterboard – it works.”  No, sir it does not. Please allow me to demonstrate on you okay?
Haspel's excuse:  “I was just following orders.
So, you decide: Is Donald J. Trump wrong or not about torture and it works and he wants more? 
If you support Trump on this issue, then is he on the verge of advocating a serious war crime in advance? Is he worthy to be our President? Above the law, um? I see, I see.
The John Yoo & Jay Bybee memo — 81 pages says in essence that enhanced enhanced interrogation (buzzword for torture) has OLC's blessings which was approved by Bush-Cheney, et al in essence changed the law...
Haspel now citing that excuse failed at Nuremberg for Nazis in 1945, and now fails once again here in 2018. Haspel and all others were obliged to say no – they should have known the rules and law – not plead ignorance or the Nazi excuse.
They did not and they should have been brought up on charges.
This is a total disgrace for our country and it will not go away – ever.
Stay tuned … see whose side this GOP is really on: standing for or against torture – that is the test for them.
Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Commander-in-Chief (CINC) Trump: Can't Get Gitmo Detainee Release Data Right

Smartest Man Ever; Best Education; Best Vocabulary; 
Knows More than Anyone
(And can't even count)

Quick background review for this post: Apparently Mr. Trump thinks no one does research except him - here is short video:

A simple mistake or another lie added to 3,000 lies to date?
(The answer is simple)

MIAMI (AP) via Talking Points Memo here — The Pentagon says a prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention center has been sent to his native Saudi Arabia to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

His name is Ahmed al-Darbi and he is the first prisoner to leave Gitmo since President Trump took office.

Al-Darbi is returning to Saudi Arabia as part of plea deal. He pleaded guilty before a military commission in 2014 to charges stemming from an attack on a French oil tanker and he has about nine years left to serve.

The U.S. agreed to send him to a Saudi rehabilitation program in exchange for what prosecutors say was “invaluable” testimony against other prisoners held at Guantanamo.

(More on the al-Darbi's value later, I suspect as details are known, so stay tuned for any updates. I will provide updates).

The Pentagon announced his transfer Wednesday. There are now 40 men still held at Guantanamo.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Major Update: Trump Nominates "Torture" Advocates for Top State and CIA Slots

Musical Chairs: Trump wants people lockstep who agree with him
 (Always 100% on all issues and policy)  

This case proves that torture does not work 
(See more below)

1st Major Update (as I expected and hoped for) from here – highlights and headline:

“Senate confirmation fights ahead on Trump's State
and CIA picks”

Senate Democrats — and some top Republicans — are slow-walking the process amid fresh questions over the Trump administration's stance toward Russia and revived inquiries into the CIA's dark history of torture.

There are a lot of unanswered questions,” says DEM Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Also, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced that he would oppose both nominees — Mike Pompeo for State and Gina Haspel for CIA — over their views on waterboarding, which he says: Sends a terrible message to the world” — as well as his concerns that Pompeo will advocate for regime change in Iran that could lead to military action. I want to do everything I can to block them. This is a debate that's really worth having.”

Trump will nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo (R-KS) to replace Tillerson. 

More on Pompeo’s replacement, CIA Dep Director, Gina Haspel, follows in the timeline below:

First this clip from Tillerson about being fired by Trump:

This post for today:

February 8, 2017: Haspel was appointed by Trump as the Deputy Director of the CIA.

Several members of the Senate intelligence committee at that time, urged Trump to reconsider his appointment of Haspel as Deputy Director, and resistance is expected for her appointment as Director this time as well.

For example, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) quoted colleagues Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) who were also on the committee by saying:

I am especially concerned by reports that this individual was involved in the unauthorized destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes, which documented the CIA’s use of torture against two CIA detainees. My colleagues Senators Wyden and Heinrich have stated that classified information details why the newly appointed Deputy Director is “unsuitable for the position” and have requested that this information be declassified. I join their request.”

March 13, 2018: Trump announced via Twitter that he will nominate Gina Haspel to be the Director of the CIA, which would make her the first female permanent CIA director. She is now a Deputy Director at the CIA.

Who is Haspel: She has been in the CIA for 33 years (joined in 1985) – a lot of years of experience for sure, but what kind of experience – what has been the impact of her experience and where – in short, what is her record?

One aspect stands out vividly: The way she handled the harsh or so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” which is simply a buzzword or euphemism for torture.

BTW: Torture does not work – it is not effective, hell, just ask Sen. John McCain, but don’t ask Trump or his son Eric Trump, who once said waterboarding is no worse than “what goes on in a college frat prank” that stupid quote is here

Now this historic example – one of many of high profile torture cases: Declassified CIA cables specify that Abu Zubaydah was “waterboarded 83 times in one month, was sleep deprived, was kept in a large box, had his head slammed against a wall, and he lost his left eye.” Later, Zubaydah was deemed by CIA interrogators to not be have been or in possession of any useful intelligence.

Note: More on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah from the FBI Special Agent who first interrogated Zubaydah – Mr. Ali Soufan – that follows this rundown on Ms. Haspel.

More background on Haspel: As Deputy director of the National Clandestine Service she had operated the so-called black site CIA prison located in Thailand in 2002. The site was codenamed “Cat’s Eye” and it held suspected al-Qaeda members Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah for a time.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture specifies that during their detention at the site they were waterboarded and interrogated using no-longer-authorized methods. Haspel later was the chief of staff to Jose Rodriguez, who headed the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. In his memoir, Rodriguez wrote that Haspel had “drafted a cable in 2005 ordering the destruction of dozens of videotapes made at the black site in Thailand.” Noteworthy in that regard: Haspel was denied the permanent CofS position due to the criticism about her involvement in the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program.

Mr. Ali Soufan (Lebanese-American) was a FBI special agent who was part of the original team that interrogated Abu Zubaydah from March to June 2002 after he was captured in Pakistan.

That was before the harsh techniques were introduced in August 2002 by the CIA.

Those techniques and the flap over the years are due in part to the go-ahead from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) occupied at the time by Jay Bybee and John Yoo, who wrote the infamous “torture memo” in essence saying harsh interrogation techniques were okay and authorized, which was precisely what the Bush team wanted them to say.

Soufan stated that an iterative, rapport-building approach yielded “important actionable intelligence” including the imminent arrival of JosePadilla, the so-called “dirty bomber” back to the U.S., but more importantly, it yielded information and the ID and role of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM), the so-called architect of 9/11.

Soufan also told anyone who would listen that in his counterterrorism career he has proven time and time again that traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives; and not harsh treatment.

Defenders of the harsh techniques, including water boarding which is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime, all have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to KSM, and American also interrogated harshly, Jose Padilla.

All that is flatly false.

The information that led to Shibh’s capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods.

As for Jose Padilla, the dates don’t match, e.g., the harsh techniques (so-called enhanced interrogation) were first approved in the memo of August 2002 – Padilla had been in May of 2002. That type of BS is part of the larger sell that “torture works” it does not – never has and never will. Just ask Sen. John McCain and others who have been tortured… a man will say anything to stop the pain – seldom giving up valuable info, however.

Related to this forthcoming realignment:

From Trump: “Keep Gitmo open and full and busy…”

From Trump: “And okay to put Americans in Gitmo, too.”

My 2 cents: From what I have seen and heard and have read about Mr. Trump regarding all the dismissals, firing, and White House and Cabinet changes (yeah, the chaos part) I have reached the conclusion that Trump is acting more and more like a dictator – dismissing people who are not in harmony all the time with him … he hates those who disagree with him – he wants to be a “one-man show.”

Take this firing of Tillerson – who found out like Comey did – from a news flash while overseas in another state who were not directly approached by Trump to be fired. Apparently Trump has a coward streak about confronting people head one to fire them. He lets the media (which he says he hates) make the announcement for him.

Now once again Trump is falling into that same trap with his stated belief that torture works and is always needs. No, Mr. Trump, it does not work and it is unlawful, illegal, and a war crime. Advocating that (again) with these new appointments is truly astonishing.

It is also very obvious to me that Trump is taking us “Back to the Future” but without a DeLorean and Doc. Brown. He now seems to be longing for previous illegal and crazy days of approved torture. Pompeo supports Trump views and stance on torture and most other policy positions with some sort of blind obedience which seems to be “the more torture, the merrier”).

And, replacing Pompeo with Haspel whose record is dark and full of torture as outlined above.  

This all reminds of the Dick Cheney days: “We need to operate in the shadows on the dark side if you will.” (sic). Hence his nickname: “Dark Dick” is alive and well and I suspect we’ll hear his comments soon on this next White House shift.

The ones we need to clearly hear about is the Senate who should vote to turn down Pompeo and Haspel nominations and the sooner the better. This is in no way good for the country – not one bit.

Dark history is on their side and it’s not pretty.

Stay tuned to watch this new Trump horror show, part what? I’ve lost track.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trump Announcement Via EO: “Gitmo Now All Mine and Will Remain Open Forever”

Trump at campaign stop in Sparks, NV said: “We are keeping it open and we're gonna load it up with some bad dudes – believe me.”

Trump's newest Real Estate deal: Sole owner of Gitmo -- it's all his from now on lock, stock, and barrel – the story and headlines from the Toronto Star below:

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order announcing his intent to keep the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo (Gitmo) Bay, Cuba open (White House announced on January 30).

Trump made it clear during his 2016 campaign for president that he wanted to keep Guantanamo open and “load it up with some bad dudes.” But the White House announcement came just before his first State of the Union address, and it marked a formal reversal of former president Barack Obama’s eight-year effort to close the detention center and the effort of Geo. W. Bush to also shut it down.

Trump’s EO says the U.S. maintains the option to detain additional enemy combatants there when necessary. It requires the Defense Secretary (James Mattis) to recommend criteria for determining the fate of individuals captured by the United States in armed conflict, including sending them to Guantanamo Bay.

The White House announcement continued: “The executive order preserves a vital tool to protect the United States and its citizens from continuing significant threats. The detention of enemies captured in an armed conflict is a lawful and necessary tool of warfighting that must continue to be available to the United States.”

Short history of Gitmo: It was opened by former president George W. Bush in January 2002 for express purpose to hold and interrogate suspected enemy combatants.

It reached a maximum population of about 800 by the summer of 2003. 

1.    Mr. Bush went on to transfer out about 500 he left office in January 2009. 

2.  Mr. Obama transferred out 197 detainees thus leaving 41 there today – including five that have been cleared for release but to date are still in holding there. 

3.  Mr. Trump to date has not sent any new detainees to the prison or transferred any out.

Stay tuned. 

Trials are still pending a start date for a half-dozen or so including KSM.

More on this very important issue follows below from many of my previous posts here. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"Forever Prisoners at Gitmo" 100% Trump's Property How Long is Unknown

Mine, they're all mine to do whatever I choose to do 
(Even More Torture if I say so)

Interesting story here from the NY Times: Now called the the “forever prisoners at Gitmo.”  

Background: Even before he took office, Trump made it clear that no one would be getting out of the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on his watch. Trump said: “They were extremely dangerous people,” and it didn’t matter how long they had been locked up or whether they had been charged with any crimes. They should give up any hope of release – hence the label “forever prisoners.”

Trump wasn’t just walking away from the efforts of his two predecessors to shrink the population of the prison and, eventually, to close it. He wanted to make it bigger — to load it up with some bad dudes as he said.

The status of Gitmo detainees today:

Thirteen either have active cases in the military commission system or have been convicted.

The rest have been held as enemy combatants, but without charge, some for up to 16 years, and five of those have been cleared for transfer, meaning that the Pentagon, the White House, and intelligence agencies long ago agreed that they pose no security threat.

Many of those were arrested under questionable circumstances; and, some were tortured, either at CIA black sites or at Guantánamo.

Eleven of these “so-called forever prisoners” filed a habeas corpus petition in the US District Court in Washington, DC. 

Those 11 are all foreign-born Muslims, and they say their continued detention violates the Constitution’s guarantee of due process and that the 2001 law that gave presidents the power to send enemy combatants to Guantánamo.

One of the plaintiffs, prisoner No. 893, a 45-year-old Yemeni named Tolfiq al- Bihani, has been held at Guantánamo for nearly 15 years. He was cleared for conditional release in 2010. Even the Saudi government agreed to accept him in 2016, along with nine other Yemenis. 

Those nine were in fact all transferred, but Mr. al-Bihani remains locked up at Guantánamo without any explanation.

For the record:

Former President George W. Bush may be guilty of creating the constitutional calamity that is Guantánamo today, but at least he made an effort to empty it of men who clearly posed no threat to the United States. He released 532 detainees by the end of his second term.

Then former President Barack Obama, who was blocked by Republicans in Congress from keeping his campaign promise to close the prison, established regular reviews of each inmate’s case and worked intensively to negotiate the transfer of those who could not be returned safely to their home countries. In the end, he managed to release 197 detainees.

But, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump bragged that he would “absolutely authorize torture techniques like waterboarding, on the ground that terrorism suspects deserve it anyway.” 

And, of course not release any more.

The remaining Guantánamo prisoners appear fated to stay locked up but not based on an individual assessment of their cases — there will be none of those under Trump. Why? Because they serve as convenient symbols of the aggressive anti-terrorist and anti-Muslim platform he ran on.

Yet those men there continue to make a straightforward case for their release. 

The Supreme Court has ruled that prisoners at Guantánamo must have a meaningful opportunity to challenge the legal and factual grounds for their detention, which means that the federal courts have the power to review those claims and grant any appropriate relief. 

So, if our Constitution stands for anything, the plaintiffs argue in their suit, which was filed on their behalf by the Center for Constitutional Rights, it must stand for the proposition that the government cannot detain someone for 16 years without charge. 

The new legal challenge represents the sharpest test yet of America’s commitment to its most important founding principles — the guarantee of due process and the right to habeas corpus, — even for those at Guantánamo.

My 2 cents: So, will we continue to tolerate locking up more than two dozen men there, without charges, forever? That is the $64,000 question isn’t it? 

Now just imagine for a moment if we still had dozens or more of our POW’s locked held and locked up in North Vietnam at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” like Sen. John McCain was for over five years after he was shot down in October 1967. 

Yeah, just imagine that over the past 51 years. 

Even North Vietnam (at the time) considered that to be “an undeclared war” and yet they labeled our POWs as “war criminals.

Thanks for stopping – these updates are slow and wide apart, but still a timely issue.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Trump May Rewrite History: Repeats Himself (Again) Saying Torture Works

January 2009: Obama Signs EO to Close Gitmo and Stop Torture

Trump's Next EO: “Keep Gitmo Open and Sustain Torture”

In one of his first acts as president (photo above) former President Obama signed executive orders closing this country’s secret prisons overseas, banning torture and authorizing an end to the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba – this story from here (NY Times).

Standing behind Mr. Obama in the above photo (in the Oval Office on January 22, 2009, were 16 retired generals and admirals who had his back, figuratively as well as literally. They were hardly soft-on-terrorism types). 

A few of them were lifelong Republicans. But these military men, working with Human Rights First, felt a moral imperative to oppose torture. They were convinced that it not only trampled core American principles, but also produced useless intelligence while potentially endangering United States troops who might fall into enemy hands.

A leader of that group was James Cullen, a retired brigadier general who had begun Army life as a private during the Vietnam War. He became a lawyer, serving for many years in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and later in private practice. In alliance with the human rights group, he and his once-uniformed colleagues lobbied major politicians to support a ban on coercive interrogations. General Cullen died recently in Scarsdale, NY at age 72. His death is a reminder of how former military men and women of conscience and courage can provide helpful support for the civilian leadership — and, if necessary, be a bulwark against the worst instincts that at times grab hold of it.

Now today: Obama didn’t fully get his way since today Guantánamo, though reduced to a few dozen prisoners, is still operating, but Trump more than once has expressed full faith in the harsh methods described euphemistically as enhanced interrogation techniques (which is the buzzword for torture).

Trump during one of his 2016 presidential debates said: “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works.” 

No, Mr. Trump, torture does not work!!! Period.

Call his remarks and such as a WTF moment in our history with a president whose respect for the rule of law is meager and whose expressed affinity for example: waterboarding and even in his own words: “A hell of a lot worse” is needed. 

Now Trump has surrounded himself with retired generals, and many Americans are counting on them to restrain his most reckless impulses. The endless barrage of insults and threats from the tweeter in chief — plus decisions running counter to sound national security policy — shows that efforts to rein him in have been mixed at best.

My input: I wonder how many times I and other professional interrogators like me have to say in no uncertain terms that “torture does not work – never. Plus, it is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime.”

Just don’t try and tell that to Trump – the novice-in-chief, or so it seems
So, what’s next? Maybe he will write another of his famous EO’s and cancel Mr. Obama’s order to close the place. Let’s face it, we have seen by Trump’s actions that he wants to erase everything/anything attached to Mr. Obama.

Thanks for stopping by.