Archive for CIA

Torture worse than waterboarding: Inside the Senate report on CIA interrogations

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Did you know that waterboarding was the "least worst" method of torture used on high-value detainees by the CIA under the Bush administration's watch?

My dear friend and one of the best investigative reporters out there, Jason Leopold, went on Nicole Sandler's radio show just before my weekly spot. He's a tough act to follow, especially when he reveals what the corporate "news" media won't touch with a ten-foot ad buy. Which is why you haven't heard about the "not legally authorized" torture "techniques" that will likely turn many American stomachs once details are finally (if ever) made public.

Now, because Jason has made such good and plentiful use of the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), he is being called a "FOIA terrorist" and has had to deal with considerable blowback from some very powerful people in very powerful places. IMHO, the reason they feel so "terrorized" is that they're scared to death of Jason's reporting and the truths he brings to light.

Here are a few excerpts from Jason's Al Jazeera America piece:

A still-classified report on the CIA's interrogation program established in the wake of 9/11 sparked a furious row last week between the agency and Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. Al Jazeera has learned from sources familiar with its contents that the committee's report alleges that at least one high-value detainee was subjected to torture techniques that went beyond those authorized by George W. Bush's Justice Department.

Two Senate staffers and a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information they disclosed remains classified, told Al Jazeera that the committee's analysis of 6 million pages of classified records also found that some of the harsh measures authorized by the Department of Justice had been applied to at least one detainee before such legal authorization was received. They said the report suggests that the CIA knowingly misled the White House, Congress and the Justice Department about the intelligence value of detainee Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah when using his case to argue in favor of harsher interrogation techniques. [...]

Even before accessing the documents, committee staffers received crucial information in a briefing from former FBI agent Ali Soufan in early 2008, according to Al Jazeera’s sources. Soufan — who now runs a private security and intelligence consultancy — told the staffers that he had kept meticulous notes about the methods used by a psychologist under CIA contract to interrogate Abu Zubaydah at a CIA black site in Thailand after his capture in Pakistan in March of 2002. Soufan's account, the staffers say, shows that torture techniques were used on Abu Zubaydah even before some had been sanctioned as permissible by the Bush administration. [...]

Two Senate staffers told Al Jazeera that the Panetta documents question the Bush administration claims about the efficacy of Abu Zubaydah’s torture, and the staffers noted that some of the techniques to which he was subjected early in his captivity had not yet been authorized.

Jason explained that the previously undisclosed torture methods made waterboarding seem like the least ghastly practice by comparison... and perhaps that's why the public focus was (intentionally) on waterboarding. See the shiny, inhumane keys? Now move along.

You can hear Jason talk about these revelations in his own words here (podcast). And please read his entire Al Jazeera post here. Where you will not read, hear, or see any references to Jason Leopold's reporting is in the corporate "mainstream" media. Maybe we can all use our social media skills to force the press into covering his work. Wouldn't that be novel?

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"Well, Senator Feinstein, how does it feel?"

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Today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, Senator Feinstein Hypocrisy Edition, because our voices matter:

Re "CIA denies Senate spying claim," March 12

Anyone who fails to appreciate the supreme irony of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) righteous indignation over the CIA's alleged spying on and undermining of the Senate Intelligence Committee (of which Feinstein is chair) has not been paying attention.

For years, she has been one of the intelligence community's most steadfast champions, deflecting criticism of the surveillance state, attacking whistle-blowers and justifying nearly every abuse. Her tenure at the spy community's ultimate oversight body, tasked with safeguarding the public interest, has seen that institution perform as something between a star chamber and a cheerleading squad.

Only when the monster she helped create might have turned against her does she seem to remember something called the Constitution. Is it any wonder that Congress is held in utter contempt by the people?

Mark McCormick

Los Angeles

***

In January, a Times news article described Feinstein as "a key defender of the National Security Agency's data tracking program." Now, just two months later, Feinstein is riled up about the national security apparatus, but only because she believes it turned a jaundiced eye on Senate staffers.

Well, Senator Feinstein, how does it feel?

Frankly, I believe she and her supporters should be ashamed of her hypocrisy. Of course, this includes The Times, which endorsed Feinstein in 2012, stating clearly that "endorsing her for another term is an easy call."

Paul Marsden

Garden Grove

***

Feinstein's committee found documents showing that President Bush's torture program was far more barbaric than previously revealed and far less effective than claimed. This controversy is really about the CIA hiding potential crimes from Feinstein's committee.

CIA Director John Brennan endorsed torture and rendition under Bush. As director, he has kept the lid on the truth. He should be fired.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report needs to be declassified, and if the U.S. won't pursue possible war criminals, the International Criminal Court should.

But under Bush, the U.S. refused to be under the court's jurisdiction. The Obama administration has since renewed a relationship with the court, but Senate ratification is needed for the ICC to do what no one in this country has the stomach to do.

It is the president's job to ask the Senate for ratification. Shame on us all if he does not.

Richard Green

San Clemente

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Maddow Demonstrates How Clueless The CIA Really Is

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When there's something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Well if you're in the real world. it's not Ghostbusters. And it's certainly not the CIA. You'd have more luck turning on CNN or MSNBC.

Last night Rachel Maddow eviscerated the CIA for a number of hugely important blunders -- their ignorance of major events that affected our nation and our security. In case you missed the royal Rachel M. dress-down, here's a sampling:

It's hard to believe this organization whose middle letter "I" stands for intelligence could be so inept. So out of the loop. So totally ineffective. Oh, and did I leave out, so costly. For 2013, the CIA alone was budgeted for $14.787 billion.

From Rachel's report, it would have been cheaper by $14.787 billion to just turn on CNN. What's that cost, 30 bucks a month as part of basic cable?

How we spend our tax money is important. And what we do in the name of national security is paramount. So this report of incompetence is shocking.

And so is this little tidbit that was reported this morning on Talking Points Memo:

The CIA has launched an internal review after members of Congress complained that the CIA may have been monitoring Senate Intelligence Committee staffers who worked on a report about the agency's detention and interrogation program, according to reports.

This review by the CIA of a review by Congress reminds me of this classic moment:

I'd like to reassure those congressional members who think the CIA has been spying on them that even if they are, Congress has nothing to worry about. It's the same CIA who's been failing at competency reviews for years. They're more Casablanca's Inspector Renault than TV's Inspector Columbo. Now if it was CNN or MSNBC's Rachel Maddow who was running a congressional investigation, perhaps then they should be shaking in their boots.

The GOP have a new catchword, one they're using about Obama and his foreign policy. It's "feckless."

feck·less: lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible; "a feckless mama's boy"
synonyms: useless; worthless; incompetent; inept; good-for-nothing

Maybe the GOP neo-cons and their puppets are using the right word, but just in the wrong context.

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James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, As Angry As The Birds

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"When pigs fly," so the expression goes. That's when something greatly anticipated will happen. Is it that time now?

It may be right around the corner, according to U.S. National Intelligence Director, James Clapper. In case the name isn't all that familiar, he's the guy who lied to Congress on whether or not the NSA was spying on all of us. Still need a little more intel on Director Clapper?

Washington Post:

"Director Clapper continues to hold his position despite lying to Congress under oath about the existence of bulk data collection programs in March 2013," the letter reads. "Asking Director Clapper, and other federal intelligence officials who misrepresented programs to Congress and the courts, to report to you on needed reforms ... is not a credible solution."

Sometimes you just don't know who you can trust. I have been a fan of the game, Angry Birds for a few years now.
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I love that game. I find it's addictive. In case you haven't tried it, the app is simply you launch angry birds via slingshot to topple the structures that house the pigs. Kind of like the Tea Party launching their assaults on human rights housed within the confines of Capitol Hill.

Sadly though, whether we like it or not, Director Clapper is looking for a scapegoat for his incompetence on the job. After all, on his watch, Edward Snowden took off with millions of data bits on US spying. And Clapper doesn't want to bear the brunt of his failure and the breach on his watch, so he's tossing around a few Angry Bird bombs on his own, trying to take down the pigs around him.

His latest Angry Birds? He's livid that Edward Snowden revealed this cockamamie scheme by the NSA to perform unwarranted spying on us through a smartphone game.

So self-admitted liar Clapper has gone on the offense. Instead of copping to the infringement on our personal lives that most certainly has no justification (unless it's mandatory for all spies, foreign and domestic to play Angry Birds) the Dapper Mr. Clapper has proffered this, according to The Daily Beast:

Thanks to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, the world now knows that America’s intelligence agencies snoop on people through smartphone apps like Angry Birds. The U.S. intelligence community is now saying that this story, along with another disclosure of the U.S. “black budget,” has placed spies in grave danger.

So, the prevaricating NSA director expects us to rise up in arms and become angry with Snowden -- kind of his attempt to make us angry birds for the intelligence community. All this because some hotshot at the spy agency sold Clapper and his cohorts on a scheme to spy on us via a playful video game.

Clapper is taking this distraction from his own truncated dance with the truth quite seriously. He's sounding the "call to arms" by all the Angry Birds.

During a Senate hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asserted that the damage done by Snowden “includes putting the lives of members or assets of the intelligence community at risk as well as our armed forces, diplomats, and citizens.” He made this claim in his opening statement on behalf of the leaders of the CIA, the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Counter-Terrorism Center.

I think the only one hurt by this reveal could be Rovio -- the company that made billions when producing this game. But that hasn't stopped the Director from pulling back his slingshot, loading it with an angry bird and firing it at the pigs.

Clapper provided no evidence or specifics to back up the charge in his public testimony. But a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast that two specific Snowden disclosures led to the new assessment. This official pointed to the documents published this week by the New York Times about the NSA’s efforts to hack into popular smart phone apps like Angry Birds.

So, perhaps the alarms that Clapper's sounding off are just distractions. Or even worse, he's actually telling the truth. But sadly, once you lie before Congress, it's very hard to be taken seriously -- especially when you're dealing with Angry Birds, feisty pigs and a director who looks much more like the latter and is behaving like the former.

Do we believe him?:

James Clapper

 

Or him?:

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Former Defense Secretary Gates Admits To CNN On His Drinking And Psychotic Issues

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Robert Gates admits to being greatly incapacitated during his later tenure as Defense Secretary under Obama. In his interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN about the former CIA chief's recently released tell all book, Gates admits to an alcohol problem - drinking heavily every night in order to get through his job. He also confesses to being afflicted with and struggling with a severe form of post traumatic stress disorder.

It's sad that this dedicated civil servent even now plays it down and refuses to seek professional help. This turns out to be all too common with returning veterans who have these afflictions, but live in denial. Gates claims he doesn't need professional help with either his drinking or his stress situation, but then you look at him with the neck brace and can't help wonder if his recent "fall" which caused him vertebrae damage wasn't the result of a drinking incident or blackout. I wish him all the best but  hope he'll seek the professional help he so obviously is crying out for in his book and his CNN interview.

Here's the confession. It begins at 07:28 of this piece and runs through 08:56. Blizter asks him point blank about his mental capacity during his final months in his secretary-ship. It's quite frank and honest, yet scary.

This hard drinking, confused and psychotic man was going through such inner turmoil while entrusted with advising our president on defense issues, it's a wonder he didn't start another war.

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