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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.”

4. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.

5. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.

6. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.”

7. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.”

8. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.”

9. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.”

10. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.”

11. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.”

12. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.”

14. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.

15. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.”

16. MEMO DATE and SUBJECT:
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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Senate Torture Report Could Derail or Hamper Detainee Trials

/s/ Team Dubya 

Major update on this subject from here:

[Detainee’s] Defense attorneys in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are eagerly awaiting the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program, hoping its revelations will help the accused terrorists they represent at military commissions on the island.

President Obama said bluntly earlier this month that the CIA “tortured some folks,” and the long-awaited report is expected to describe that torture in detail. That could be good news for the five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks and one accused of the USS Cole bombing. All have been in pretrial proceedings for years now at Guantanamo and were in CIA custody before that.

“It’s going to have an effect on the way everything is perceived,” said James Harrington, attorney representing one of the accused 9/11 plotters: Ramzi bin al-Shibh.  

The Guantanamo prosecution team decided back in 2006 not to use any evidence obtained while the detainees were in CIA custody and subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” like water boarding. They believed they had enough evidence from other sources, including statements that the detainees made to the FBI’s “clean team of interrogators, who questioned the detainees” without the use of methods that meet international definitions of torture — after they were moved from secret “Black Sites” in foreign countries to Guantanamo.

But the Senate report revelations could call into question the clean team’s findings, defense lawyers believe. Harrington for example said he’s planning to argue that “these interviews should be just as inadmissible as the CIA’s findings, since his client was too psychologically damaged by the earlier interrogations to be questioned fairly.”

The Senate report could also be useful to the defense if and when the lengthy proceedings — which have been stuck in pretrial motions for more than two years — get to the sentencing stage.
Attorney Harrington also plans to argue that the torture his client suffered is a mitigating circumstance that means he should not be put to death if found guilty.

Related Stories:
Original Post: One huge gap here folks from a supposed "interrogator" in the early days of the Iraq war, saying in part (this appears in the pending Senate torture report, too, BTW): 


“Interrogators were being pressured about — You have to get info from these people — there was no consideration that the person we were interrogating may not know. That was always seen as a resistance technique. They, the detainees, must be lying! There was pressure on us from above to produce what they wanted. Not a single person I worked with knew how to conduct an interrogation or [had] ever conducted an interrogation.”

From an article written the Army General (Maj Gen. Taguba) who conducted the Abu Ghraib prison torture case (remember those days) ... 
Image result for Abu Ghraib

“A few months after I completed the investigation, I was reassigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where I could be closely monitored. Then, in early 2006, I received a telephone call from Gen. Richard A. Cody, then the Army’s vice chief of staff, who said, “I need you to retire by January of 2007.” No explanation was given. But none was needed.”

Accountability, right? I doubt most in office at the time and a few even still today actually know a thimble full of anything about interrogation. That quote above proves the point and makes that aspect clear.

Stay tuned - this is going to get a lot nastier.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Richard Bruce Cheney: Only One View of Him We Need to See


How Cheney and Wife and Daughter View Him
(But mostly how he sees himself)

Most Outrageous Statement of All Time

The Only Thing Befitting Cheney

The man is totally out of touch with reality and I am beside myself wondering why the media or any forum sponsor gives this man the time of day let alone a stage for public consumption ... his version of history redux, redux, and redux for a third, fourth and fifth time or more.

This is not just him expressing his free speech right – that is a given. But, the man is a textbook case for being a psychotic that according to the National Institute of Mental Health is a person who is out of touch with reality.

His actions and words cannot be disputed and are carefully chosen and expressed as heard in the segment. They belong to him and it shows. But, given his record later when he is quoted, I am sure he will say, “people are taking me out of context.”

Clearly in this segment even more so shows how out of touch he is, he cannot come to grips with reality and it shows


The man is a total disgrace to the former office he held and now to himself and his family and indeed the country. But, sadly he has not once of remorse or regret. In fact, he displays a raw arrogance not seen in modern times and especially in American history that comes even close to his display of stupidity … and, the fact that he believes the things he does and the way he clings to them with such vigor and no shame should give us all pause to reflect on exactly what common sense and decency in our elected officials means or at least should mean. 


Monday, July 7, 2014

Place Your Bets: What Are The Odds They Will Get Their Wish

Detainees Held at Gitmo

Barbed Wire Can't Stop Prayer, Can It

This update (July 7, 2014) comes from Talking Points Memo here. So, does anyone think the detainees at Gitmo are not Internet savvy and know how to play the game of “due process and equal justice under law?” Ha, well, think again.

The story: Attorneys for two Guantanamo Bay detainees are now citing the recent Supreme Court 5-4 decision in the Hobby Lobby case in briefs arguing for their clients and their religious rights to perform extra prayers during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Al-Jazeera America reported on the motions filed in a Washington, DC district court on behalf of Emad Hassan of Yemen and Ahmed Rabbani of Pakistan. 

Their lawyers say in part:  “Hobby Lobby makes it clear that all persons — human and corporate, citizen and foreigner, resident and alien — enjoy the special religious free exercise protections of the Federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA), which is the center of law in Hobby Lobby case.”

In essence, the detainees want to perform additional prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, which began on June 28, 2014.

I wonder, then, should we grant them the extra time to pray or not? Um... hell, I say what harm can it do? It actually might have some positive benefits in our use of propaganda from our PR tool box.

Oh, yeah about the post title question: What are odd of them getting their request? I'd have to say: 5-4 (but maybe against?) .... wait and see.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Can't Hurt: Look Back, Re-Examine, Prosecute, Seek Justice

"Col. Jessup: Did you order a Code Red?"
"You G-damned right I did."
(Resulted in death of a Marine)
 
“Did you authorize torture, and keep in mind, sir, water boarding is torture?”
“Yes, I did, and I would again to keep us safe.”
 
The “Col Nathan  Jessup” quote was from a movie (“A Few Good Men”). It was a dramatic scene for sure, but still it was from a movie.  Short clip here, which was very good acting.
President Bush's admission to water boarding, and keep in mind, water boarding is torture. It has been illegal, unlawful, and a war crime for decades. In fact it dates back to the late 1800's. It is a nasty, ugly stain on our country and everyone should be ashamed. However, hard line GOPers, mostly conservatives who are the so-called “war hawks” can't get enough of it ... they advocate more of it as they try to justify torture all the time.
 
However, Mr. Bush's weak and arrogant quote is weak and this proves it.  A bi-partisan panel (full bios seen here) – released a 577-page report on torture after 2 years of study. The headlines of that report is stark: U.S. Practiced Widespread Torture, Torture Has “No Justification” and Doesn’t Yield Significant Information:” Nation’s Highest Officials Bear Responsibility...
 
This Blog has been dedicated to detainee handling and treatment and it is extensive with plenty of links and legal citations of past and current law regarding treatment of war detainees under U.S. control.  Across the board, top American military and intelligence interrogation experts from both sides of the aisle have conclusively proven the following 10 facts about torture:
1. Torture is not a partisan issue.
2. Water boarding is torture.
3. Torture decreases our national security.
4. Torture can not break hardened terrorists.
5. Torture is not necessary even in a “ticking time bomb” situation.
6. The specific type of torture used by the U.S. was never aimed at producing actionable intelligence … but was instead aimed at producing false confessions.
7. Torture did not help to get bin-Laden.
8. Torture did not provide valuable details regarding 9/11.
9. Many innocent people have been tortured.
10. America still allows torture.
 
I just wanted to take this moment to review and keep this issue fresh.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GOPers Seem to Have Lost Sight of What Justice Means

GOP Gitmo Detainee Solution: Stay Forever and Rot Without Justice

GOP Sense of Justice

First the facts on civil trials vs. military tribunals — stark evidence (in RED):

  • 403 individuals have been tried and convicted of terror-related charges in 37 different states and most are serving life sentences.
  • 779: Total number of detainees who have been held at the Guantanamo Bay facility since September 11, 2001 attacks.
  • 600: Of the 779 detainees, roughly 600 were released without charges, many after being detained for years.
  • 155: Total number of detainees remaining at Guantanamo.
  • 76:  Number of the 155 detainees who the US has approved for transfer to home or third countries but remain at Guantanamo with no place to go.
  • 15:  Number under age 18 who have been imprisoned at Guantanamo
  • 9:  Number of Guantanamo detainees who died while in custody, six by suspected suicide.
  • 7:  Number of those convicted in the military commissions after trial or plea bargain.
  • 6:  Of the 155 detainees that remain at Guantanamo only six, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and the September 11, 2001 co-defendants face any formal charges. 
Note:  Also there are a lot of confusion and a disconnect about the exact number of detainees released and “returned to the battlefield.” The numbers all over the place -- take look here.

Now the post for today from here:

Red Iraq for all the past bloodshed. Today, red hands for Dark Dick

A growing number of GOPers pretend to be legal experts, but they have not one ounce of legal training, let alone any common sense, or sense of justice. The story is from here:

The military commissions at Gitmo are not simply an alternate legal system for any Muslim accused of terrorism. Jack Goldsmith, a former Bush-era Justice Department official, wrote that Khattala isn’t covered by the 2009 military commissions act, which some of the lawmakers demanding Khattala be tried by military commission helped write.

“There are other complications here, but my first take is that the critics of the Obama administration’s choice of civilian court to incapacitate Abu Khattala don’t have a legal leg to stand on,” Goldsmith wrote.

John Bellinger, former State Department legal adviser under Bush, agreed with Goldsmith that military commissions “are not necessary or appropriate for prosecutions of terror suspects who — like Ahmed Abu Khattala — have clearly violated federal criminal laws and who are captured after a lengthy criminal investigation and careful collection of evidence by the FBI.”

Nor are Republican lawmakers unaware that the suspects in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi are not covered by the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, crafted to justify the use of lethal force and indefinite detention against suspected members of al-Qaeda and their allies.

The GOP goal seems to be just make up legal rules as they go along bitching and moaning and trying to figure out another way to harm President Obama.

I say: Based on the evidence as shown above, try Abu-Khattala in NYC or DC. Find him guilty and then sentence him to life plus 50. Even consider maximum hard labor served only piss and punk (Marine slang for bread and water while in confinement in a Brig). How's that?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

"Judge not, that ye be not judged" — Matthew 7:1

John S. McCain Held in North Vietnam
(Not Left Behind)
McCain Part of POW Homecoming 
(Meets President Nixon in May 1973)
American POW in North Korea
(Was Left Behind)
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (2010 photo)
( Taliban Captive: 2009-2014)
(Not Left Behind)

A lot of knives are out against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Some of the nastiness has even been directed towards his father, Bob Bergdahl, for his appearance. What is lacking in this saga, however, are the facts of the whole story. We have not heard it from Sgt. Bergdahl, and we need that story. It will come out for sure in the end but along the way here a few things we need to keep in mind right now:

1.  We do not know the precise reason or cause for him to have left his post (unit) in 2009.
2.  We do not know the frame of his mind or mental condition at that time, either (was he drunk, on drugs, or some other reason; who knows).
3.  We know he was help captive by the Taliban for 5 years and early report reveal he was kept in a cage under ground for weeks at a time. We have not yet heard about any other harsh treatment.
4.  The public will find out the facts, once the military has done their thing ... we have to put our trust in that system and for sure, we do not need this to be political in any sense.

Keep this in mind, too re: Sen. John McCain recently said (I paraphrase), in part: "We must not hold anything against Bergdahl for what he said or wrote while being held by the Taliban."


He was shot down on October 26, 1967, and released back to U.S. control on March 14, 1973:

Even after one year held captive, every two hours, one guard would hold John S. McCain while two others beat him. They kept it up for four days. Finally, he lay on the floor at place called “The Plantation.” He was a bloody mess, unable to move, badly injured leg swollen ever since he was shot down and an arm broken more than once.

A guard yanked him to his feet and threw him down. His left arm smashed against a bucket and broke again. McCain said later: “I reached the lowest point of my five years in North Vietnam. I was at the point of suicide.”

What happened next in that August of 1968, nearly a year after he was captured, is chronicled this way: 

McCain looked at the louvered cell window high above his head, then at the small stool in the room. He took off his dark blue prison shirt, rolled it like a rope, draped one end over his shoulder near his neck, began feeding the other end through the louvers. A guard saw what he was doing and burst into the cell and pulled McCain away from the window. For the next few days, he was on suicide watch. McCain's will finally wilted and broke under the torture and beatings. Unable to endure any more, he agreed to sign a confession.

McCain slowly wrote in part his confession:  “I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors.” 

He wrote in later years that he would never forgive himself.

Now here we are today with this from Sgt. Bergdahl in this story: Writing from a Taliban “prison,” Bergdahl urged his family and his government to wait until they had all the facts before judging him for leaving his base. Then Bergdahl explained, at least in part, why he left his fellow troops in 2009. 

Let’s face it, there is a lot more to this story, yet today in American society with the instant news and 24/7 cable-to-cable constant repetition,  coupled with the ugliness driven mostly by FOX along side rampant Talk Radio ripe with opinions minus the facts, I see that it appears we have reached back in time to the old West and readopted this slogan regarding early justice: “Bring the guilty bastard in, give him a fair trial, and then hang him.”

If facts matter and they should in all cases like this, then we need to get all of them before we judge Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and hang him. Imagine he were your son, or you were standing in his shoes?

Friday, June 6, 2014

86 Cleared for Release: Could Have Been Swapped for Bergdahl

Trials at Gitmo: Scarce, Ineffective, Wasteful, and Not Due Process 

You are Cleared for Release — No Charges Filed


Lengthy Update on the Following - Lot's of Numbers and Data:

Gitmo Facts and Figures:

  • 403:  Individuals tried/convicted of terrorism in 37 states; most serving life.
  • 779:  Detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay since September 11, 2001.
  • 600:  Roughly 600 released without charges, many after many years.
  • 155:  Number of detainees remaining at Guantanamo.
  • 86:  Number of the 155 detainees approved for transfer but remain at Guantanamo.
  • 15:  Number under age 18 who were imprisoned at Guantanamo
  • 9:  Number at Guantanamo who died while in custody; six by suspected suicide.
  • 7:  Number convicted by military commissions after trial or plea bargain.
  • 6:  Of 155 only six: Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and 5  9/11 co-defendants face charges. 
Note:  There also is a lot of confusion and a disconnect about the exact number of detainees released and “returned to the battlefield.” The numbers all over the map — take look here ...  The numbers range from 6 or so to a few dozen to who knows? A: No one knows for sure … too much confusion about names, spelling, and actual tracking since we don’t get their active duty roster or KIA reports.

Why there are no large number of prosecutions at Gitmo: First and foremost, blame Congress... cite:

Over the past two years, Congress has enacted legislation blocking the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo to the United States for civilian trial. One aim of the legislation is to compel the government to try terrorism suspects before military commissions at Guantanamo rather than in federal courts. While the rules governing military commissions have improved under President Obama, the system at Guantanamo remains deeply flawed, preventing fair trials. Meanwhile, federal courts have been far more effective at prosecuting terrorism cases.

FYI - Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, New York University's Center on Law and Security reports that 578 terrorism-related cases, inspired by Jihadist ideas have been prosecuted in US federal courts (FACTS AND FIGURES: 2001-2011). During that same period the military commissions in Guantanamo have completed only seven cases.

Now just imagine if North Vietnam had played by current GOP rules regarding prisoner swaps with our POW’s? Think seriously hard about that question.  The hard data follows.

The Detainees:

Total number of detainees ever incarcerated at Guantánamo: 779
Detainees released under President Bush: over 500
Detainees at start of Obama Presidency: 242
Number of 242 detainees approved for release: 126
Detainees transferred, repatriated or resettled under Obama: 72
Detainees transferred to US for prosecution: 1
Detainees who died in custody since January 2009: 4
Detainees currently held at Guantánamo: 166
Remaining detainees approved for release: 86
Detainees convicted by military commission before 2009 and still held at Guantánamo: 1
Detainees Obama designated for trial including those tried since January 2009: 36
Detainees Obama designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial: 46
Yemenis not included in above totals under conditional detention: 30
Number of countries that have accepted Guantánamo detainees: 52

Financial Costs:

Yearly cost to U.S. taxpayers of a federal prisoner: $25,000
Yearly cost to hold each captive at Guantánamo instead of federal prison: $800,000
Annual cost to operate Guantánamo: Approximately $150 million

Federal Courts & Challenges to Military Commissions:

Federal court convictions since 9/11 on terrorism-related charges: Nearly 500
Detainees convicted by GTMO military commission: 7
Detainees prosecuted in U.S. federal courts: 1 -- Ahmed Ghailani
Detainees federal courts have determined were being held unlawfully: 38
Detainees who have lost their Habeas Corpus petitions challenging their detention: 21
Times military commissions have been re-vamped: 3
Cases involving detainee rights that have gone before the U.S. Supreme Court: 4
Times Supreme Court Justices have sided with the detainees: 4

Federal Prisons Holding Terrorists:

  Convicted of terrorism-related charges being held in U.S. prisons: 355
 Convicted of terrorism and escaped from any federal prison system: 0

Deaths in Custody: Detainees who have died at Guantánamo: 9

Additional History:

First detainees brought to Guantánamo: January 11, 2002
Last known arrival: March 14, 2008
Last known departure: September 29, 2012
Military commissions first established: November 13, 2001
Bounties paid by Bush to anyone handing over possible terror suspect: $3,000 to $25,000

Original post starts here from the Washington Post one year ago: For 86 prisoners held at Gitmo, their plight is almost Kafkaesque in its cruel absurdity.

The United States believes these 86 should be released since they have been cleared for release years ago and since they have not been found guilty of any crime and are not an immediate threat. The reason: diplomatic and political hurdles are out of their control and used as roadblocks.

The Obama administration doesn't want to keep these prisoners locked up in Gitmo, which is both politically and diplomatically costly, not to mention antithetical to Obama's stated desire to close the prison. However, Congress has forbidden them from being transferred to anyplace on U.S. soil.

Although the Obama administration had searched for foreign countries to which the detainees could be released, it appears to have since given up, having closed the office responsible for finding those countries willing to take them - including their native countries.

This from a man who knows Gitmo, he asks: "Should we close Gitmo? Absolutely. It’s a blight on our history and I say this as a man who helped create it” said retired General Michael Lehnert, who 12 years ago was given orders to build cells at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, which the United States has “leased” from Cuba for more than 100 years. Gen. Lehnert now says that in the wake of the 9/11 attacks the opening of Guantanamo was understandable, but can now be seen to be a tragic mistake.

Just imagine if this were North Vietnam and they still held American detainees there ... would we tolerate such treatment? Very doubtful. Plus, the fact that the military tribunals at Gitmo have been very ineffective vis-á-vis civilian courts.

This is a huge stain on the country that is not apt to disappear anytime soon. Whose fault - check the nearest mirror, Mr. and Mrs. Congressional Member.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Evolving: Bowe Bergdahl Release Exchange — GOP Apoplectic

Older Picture (PFC) - Today Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
(CINC's Sworn Duty)

GOP's Perceived Sworn Duty
(Mike Luckovich nails it)


6th Update (June 4, 2014): About one aspect of this exchange - the requirement for the President to give Congress a 30-day advance notice before any detainee release or swap, this what I call a "bombshell information" moment for the GOP. To wit the below headlines. But, in this fast-moving 24/7 "info world" who and what can the public believe and trust?

One side says X; yet another side says Y; then still another side says both are wrong. 

"Bergdahl-Gitmo Detainee Plan Presented by W/H to Congress in 2011"

A WTF moment for sure.  More: The former Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said in a statement she issued today (June 3, 2014) that she said she was part of the 2011 classified meeting with the NSC, the CIA, State Department, and DoD where the plan to swap Guantanamo Bay detainees for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was the topic. (Note: She also appeared on a FL TV station seen this in this short 2-minute clip).

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

More specifically on her statement, which in some aspects is not clear: Her office noted that because the meeting was classified, she never spoke of it before now. Speaker Boehner (R-OH) acknowledged that the meeting took place. Ros-Lehtinen also had charged that the Obama administration had leaked the idea of a prisoner swap to the press back in 2011. She said she is “outraged” now that the administration quickly agreed to the swap despite congressional opposition, and without proper notification. House members have said they got five hours’ notice about the deal, not the 30 days’ notice required by law.

Okay, let’s be clear here, if that's humanly possible with this "out for Obama's head GOP crowd" shall we and call this, well, sort of like another Rick Perry “Oops” moment shall we – I’d have to say that the 30-day mandatory notification of the possibility of a release in the making was not met (the 5 hours she noted was) due to fast-moving events. If a 30-day notice had been given I guarantee you that this Congress would have left Sgt. Bergdahl rot in captivity rather agree to the release.

5th Update (June 3 2014): This story is moving so fast that it's hard to keep up. But, it's an important story and a page in military history yet to be written - certainly not completed. But, the the GOP outrage is any indication and they somehow get their way, then Sgt. Bergdahl is ready for the hangman's noose. Just skip the investigation, charges (if any), just bring the "guilty bastard in, give him a fair trial and then hang him."

This is very good insight as if no one is keeping track as the GOP has kittens.


4th Update (June 2, 2014) re: GOP outrage about this exchange deal, or should I say misplaced outrage. Allow me to continue.  

First: this on Bergdahl and the GOP nastiness, which I also call craziness: I ask everyone of them: “Imagine this were your only son.”

I also contend that the other GOP argument is weak. It regards them saying that the five Taliban detainees released will return to the fight - that is patently bizarre fiction. The I would ask them: “Would John McCain have returned to flight status and the bombing war against North Vietnam if he'd had the chance after his release as a POW?”

Then these historical facts:

In 1982, Democrats had control of Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which restricted CIA and Department of Defense operations in Nicaragua specifically.

In 1984,
 a strengthened Boland Amendment made support almost impossible. A determined, unyielding Reagan told National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, “I want you to do whatever you have to do to help these people keep body and soul together.”

What followed would alter the public's perception of the president dramatically. How "Iran" and "Contra" came to be said in the same breath was the result of complicated covert activities, all carried out, the players said, in the name of democracy.

That happened before this historical fact:

In 1985, while Iran and Iraq were at war, Iran made a secret request to buy weapons from the United States. McFarlane sought President Reagan's approval, in spite of the embargo against selling arms to Iran. McFarlane explained that the sale of arms would not only improve U.S. relations with Iran, but might in turn lead to improved relations with Lebanon, increasing U.S. influence in the troubled Middle East. Reagan was driven by a different obsession. He had become frustrated at his inability to secure the release of the seven American hostages being held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon.

As president, Reagan stated that he felt that “he had the duty to bring those Americans home.”

The arms-for-hostages proposal divided the administration. Longtime policy adversaries Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz opposed the deal, but Reagan, McFarlane and CIA director William Casey supported it. With the backing of the president, the plan progressed.

By the time the sales were discovered, more than 1,500 missiles had been shipped to Iran. Three hostages had been released, only to be replaced with three more, in what Secretary of State George Shultz called “a hostage bazaar.”

Now here we are today with more current and sustained GOP wackiness.

3rd Update (June 2, 2014): Comments related to this prisoner exchange are getting more frequent and nastier, but I totally agree with this statement by National Security Adviser Susan Rice on TV Sunday: “Had we waited and lost him, I don't think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.”
  • One GOPer called it a troubling precedent — another GOPer called it shocking.
  • Sen. John  McCain (R-AZ), said of the five Guantanamo detainees exchanged: “These are the hardest of the hard core.”
  • Other Republicans are pressing hard, too. “Have we just put a price on other U.S. soldiers?” asked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “What does this tell terrorists, that if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists?”
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said, “I'm going to celebrate him coming home, but the release of five mid- to high-level Taliban is shocking to me, especially without coming to Congress.”
  • The Afghan Foreign Ministry weighed in calling the swap “...against the norms of international law if it came against the five imprisoned Taliban detainees' will," and then adding: “No state can transfer another country's citizen to a third country and put restriction on their freedom.”  The five detainees left Guantanamo are to be banned from leaving Qatar for at least a year.
2nd Update (June 1, 2014):  Events on this story are moving fast and now as indicated, very disturbing. The first update follows this update. I suspect more will develop and follow on this story. But, as I said, this one is particularly disturbing.

The GOP supports the military, combat Vets, and others right? Büllshït ... just ask GOP House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers (R-MI) who came out as the harshest critic of the decision, saying on CNN as correspondent Erin McPike read a statement from Rogers on the air:

“I’m extremely troubled that the United States negotiated with terrorists and agreed to swap five senior Taliban leaders who are responsible for the deaths of many Americans. This fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S. hostages.”

He also said he believes the decision will “threaten the lives of American soldiers for years to come.” 

Rep. Rogers: Sir, you are a first rate ässhølë (FYI: Rogers served in the Army from 1985-89, then with the FBI). I hate to sound harsh or nasty, but he has earned my wrath on this subject with this words.

I wonder: What if Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl were his son and been held by enemy forces since 2009 and now had a choice to come home? Would Mr. Rogers have the same view and comments? I doubt it.

1st Update (June 1, 2014):  As I said, it is quickly developing into bigger story than just Sgt. Bergdahl's release in this exchange ... now the GOP is seeking to stain the President. Cite the following:

Throughout military history we have had prisoner exchanges. Some Americans, like Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) fail to recognize or remember any of them, and now add Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) to the list of worry warts (see story below).

1.  Operation Little Switch was an exchange of sick and wounded prisoners during the Korean War in April and May 1953. The U.N. released 6,670 Chinese and North Korean prisoners, and the Communist forces returned 684 U.N. coalition prisoners (including 149 Americans).

2.  Operation Big Switch began in August 1953 and lasted until December. 75,823 Communist prisoners (70,183 North Koreans and 5,640 Chinese) and 12,773 UN prisoners (7,862 South Koreans, 3,597 Americans, and 946 British) were returned. Over 22,600 Communist soldiers, the majority of whom were former Republic of China soldiers who fought against the Communists in the Chinese Civil War, declined repatriation. Much to the surprise of the UN forces, 23 Americans and one Briton, along with 333 Korean UN soldiers, also declined repatriation.

3.  In our own Civil War, Union and Confederate forces exchanged prisoners sporadically, usually as an act of humanity between opposing field commanders. Throughout the initial months of the Civil War, support for prisoner exchanges grew in the North. Petitions from prisoners in Southern captivity and articles in Northern newspapers increased pressure on the Lincoln administration. On December 11, 1861, Congress passed a joint resolution calling on President Lincoln to “inaugurate systematic measures for the exchange of prisoners in the present rebellion.”

WASHINGTON (AP) – Two Republican lawmakers on Saturday accused President Obama of breaking the law by approving the release of five Afghan detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for a U.S. soldier believed held by Islamist insurgents for five years. The White House agreed that actions were taken in spite of legal requirements and cited “unique and exigent circumstances” as justification.  Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon of California and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said in a statement that Mr. Obama is required by law to notify Congress 30 days before any terrorists are transferred from the U.S. facility. Story continues at the link.

Based on my further research and opinion about the remarks from GOP: Rep. Mike Rogers, Buck McKeon, and Sen. Inhofe, I offer the following:

I logically conclude that they greatly dislike prisoner or detainee exchanges based. I further conclude that they prefer to see both side's POW's/or detainees, et al, serve out their time in a camp behind barbed wire in a small cell until the war and fighting is over. Then they can be released to return to their homes. I surmise they follow the format used at the end of our own Civil War with prisoners like this Union soldier (pictured below) was released from the Andersonville (GA) POW camp in May 1865? What a sick attitude to hold by anyone in trusted office.


Immediate update from today:  More details here on the following story:  Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was exchanged today for five Taliban detainees who had been held at Gitmo. It looks like it was a pretty steep price to pay for his release.

All five of them are believed to have been the most senior Afghans held at the prison, they are:

—  Abdul Haq Wasiq: Served as the Taliban deputy minister of intelligence.

—  Mullah Norullah Nori: A senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif when the Taliban fought U.S. forces there in late 2001.

—  Khairullah Khairkhwa: Served in various Taliban positions including interior minister and had direct ties to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.

—  Mohammed Nabi: Served as chief of security for the Taliban in QalatAfghanistan, and later worked as a radio operator for the Taliban's communications office in Kabul.

—  Mohammad Fazl: A person Human Rights Watch says could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001, at the time the Taliban was seeking to consolidate their control over the entire country.

Original Story Starts From Here — Background: America's only known captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was released today (May 31, 2014). He hails from HaileyIdaho. He been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009.

Note on this picture: Uncredited/AP — File image provided by Intel Center on December 8, 2010.
 Frame grab from a video released by the Taliban of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

The story from here and here — The only American solider held prisoner in Afghanistan has been freed and is back in U.S. custody after nearly five years of captivity, U.S. officials said Saturday. The officials said the Taliban agreed to turn over Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The transfers happened after a week of intense negotiations mediated by the government of Qatar, which will take custody of the Afghans.

President Obama said Bergdahl's recovery “is a reminder of America's unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield.”

His debrief will be most interesting I am sure. A lot of questions remain to be answered regarding the circumstances of his capture, life and treatment in their custody, and whether or not he has any valuable intelligence (Taliban leadership, camps, other locations, etc.). It will take weeks to conduct that. It will be interesting and should be very revealing. A key question in that regard will involve his treatment in comparison to the treatment of those we have held and still hold. 

The world will be watching as they say with bated breath for answers and comparisons. Stay tuned.