Archive for John Brennan

Torture & Lies

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President Obama admitted the US tortured "some folks" following the 9-11 attacks.

Obama has used the word "torture" before to describe the harsh interrogation tactics used at CIA-run secret prisons during the Bush administration. But his words at a White House news conference were notably more direct than previous statements.

The comments reflect the line the president is preparing to walk as he gets ready for the release of a Senate committee report on the Bush-era rendition, detention and interrogation program.

According to the president, torture is not OK - but lying about torture is acceptable, as long as you apologize for it. Why do I feel like he learned this strategy by parenting pre-schoolers?

Marcy Wheeler joined in for the last segment of today's show, and she hit the nail on the head with her aptly-titled post, "But Brennan Didn’t Fuck His Biographer!"

Amidst calls for Brennan’s firing, Obama basically responded, “Sure, we tortured some folks, but I still have confidence in the guy who found the waterboard and black sites at which to torture.”

But I’m not sure why folks are so surprised by Obama’s reluctance to criticize Brennan for lying about hacking the SSCI. Aside from the mutual complicity — Brennan was personal witness to each and every drone strike Obama approved that violated international law, after all — CIA Directors don’t get fired for lying.

They get fired for fucking their biographer.

In the first hour of the show, Howie Klein was on for our weekly "Steve Israel Hour." We touched on the torture and lies problem, and both admitted to having the same scary thought: that once a president is sworn in and sits at the Oval Office desk for the first time to read the letter left by his or her predecessor, they find out just how limited their power really is, and that the CIA and NSA are the ones calling the shots.

Howie wrote "If You Let Criminals Off Lightly, You Guarantee One Thing: More Crime" about the problem with Obama's thinking in excusing Brennan's role in all of this.

We also talked about some important Senate races (Tom Udall who was the first to call for Brennan's ouster after his "apology" and is facing a very tough re-election. Plus Shenna Bellows, Jeff Merkely, Brian Schatz and a few others.) Blue America has a Senate page for donations here.

We also talked about some gubernatorial races up for grabs, including a tough re-election campaign for Illinois' Pat Quinn and his "sleazy billionaire sociopath" challenger. They also have a gubernatorial page here... 

And we called out another World's Biggest Asshole today, Iowa Congressman Steve King who we remember as the one who claimed that for every valedictorian among the Dreamers, there are 100 who have calves the size of cantaloupes from smuggling marijuana across the border. Yeah, that guy. He's back...

During a conference call last month with the National Emergency Coalition, Rep. Steve King said that the U.S. needs to crack down on immigration because our nation’s borders were established by God. Disrespecting the borders, the congressman suggested, is disrespecting God’s will.

He also blamed the child migrant crisis not on drug-war-related violence in Central America but on President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or as he calls it, “deferred action for criminal aliens.”

- via

As if that wasn't enough, he went of Fox "news" Sunday to threaten impeachment if President Obama dares to issue another Executive Order dealing with the issue of immigration:

How we've managed to survive this long is beyond me!

A big show is on tap for tomorrow, with Congressman Alan Grayson joining in at the beginning of the show (so get here at 10ET sharp!), and @GottaLaff in hour two.. Radio or Not!

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News, Views & Muse

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I was a bit worried that there might not be enough news to talk about with Congress going on a 5 1/2 week recess but, then again, it's not like they do anything when they're in session.

But the drama that unfolded yesterday as they all attempted to leave DC was the perfect snapshot to illustrate the comedy of errors that the 113th Congress is. Adding to the absurdity of it all was Boehner's contention that President Obama, against whom the Speaker is filing a lawsuit over his use of executive orders, should use his executive powers to do something to fix the "crisis" at the border that the House is too gridlocked to do itself!

As Steve Benen explains,

The new House Republican leadership team held a brief press conference yesterday following a closed-door caucus meeting, fielding a few questions, all of which related to the humanitarian crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. One exchange between a reporter and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stood out for me.

QUESTION: Just a follow up on that: are you still committed to having a vote before you leave? And, given the concerns within your own conference about the costs of this border bill, can you pass something?

BOEHNER: Listen, I, I’d like to act. We’ve got a humanitarian crisis on the border, and that has to be dealt with. But the president clearly isn’t going to deal with it on his own, even though he has the authority to deal with it on his own.

Wait a second. Hold on. Boehner has spent months shouting, sometimes literally, about President Obama’s out-of-control power grabs. As the Speaker and his caucus see it, Obama no longer gives a darn about separation of powers, and he’s embraced a tyrannical model in which the president is king. Boehner is so outraged by Obama’s willingness to act unilaterally that the Speaker is literally going to take the White House to court.

Hypocrisy is the definition of today's Republican Party!

Liar is the word that comes to mind when I think of CIA director John Brennan. Back in March when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein took to the floor to declare that the CIA had hacked into computers used by committee staffers, Brennan denied it vehemently, saying

"As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn't do that. I mean, that's that's that's just beyond the, the uh, the scope of reason."

Liar! Cue the New York Times.

An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to prepare its damning report on the C.I.A.'s detention and interrogation program.

The report by the agency’s inspector general found that C.I.A. officers created a fake online identity to gain access on more than one occasion to computers used by members of the committee staff, and tried to cover their movements as they rooted around the system, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation’s findings.

A statement issued Thursday morning by a C.I.A. spokesman said that John O. Brennan, the agency’s director, had apologized to the two senior members of the intelligence committee and would set up an internal accountability board to review the issue. The statement said that the board, which will be led by former Senator Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, could recommend “potential disciplinary measures” and “steps to address systemic issues.”

Brennan apologized. How nice! A resignation would be better.

But the saddest news of the day comes from the Middle East where Israel and Hamas are battling it out, and the Palestinians trapped in the Gaza strip are paying dearly with their lives. A 72-hour cease fire was agreed on yesterday, and the peace held for a couple of hours before rockets began flying again. Both sides blame the other.

Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian American, a comedian and my friend, and she joined me on the show this morning to talk about the mess. Although we agreed that the horrific pictures emerging from the burned out buildings in Gaza are turning hearts and minds against the Israeli tactics, Maysoon suggested checking out Humanize Palestine instead, as every one of those approximately 1500 Gaza civilians who've been killed in recent days was a living, breathing person with families and friends who loved them. They're not just numbers, they're human beings. And the killing has got to stop.

Maysoon is doing a show Thursday, August 7 at the Comic Strip in NY, with the proceeds from this show being donated to the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund .

It's the Big Brown Comedy Hour is back featuring NYC's top Arab, Indian, Iranian, Pakistani and other "Brown" comedians. This is a VERY special spot! I will be filming my spot for a huge TV special AND *The proceeds from this show will be donated to the PCRF - Palestine Children's Relief Fund

This show features Dean Obeidallah, Maysoon Zayid, Ramy Youssef , Sabrina Jalees, Eman Morgan, Nader Uthman, Manvir Singh, Atheer Yacoub, Ashwin Bhandari, Feraz Shere, Tony Dabas and more.
All the Big Brown Comedy Hour's have sold out in the past, so don't wait to purchase your tickets! It will be a great night of Brown comedy.
Thursday, August 7, 8:00 PM at The Comic Strip Comedy Club
1568 2nd Ave at 82nd Street
New York, NY 10028
Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/761447 or call 800-838-3006

 

After all the talk of war and bombs, I needed some music to soothe the savage beast. Good thing it's Friday, as we wrap up each week with a blast from the past for Flashback Friday! Today, we had a double-header.

I'd already planned on playing back the January 1997 interview I did with Patty Griffin. It was her first LA radio appearance, as she had just released her debut album, Living With Ghosts. The radio station was KSCA fm 101.9 in Los Angeles, and it would be on the air for only about a month longer, as Gene Autry was getting ready to sell it. I wanted to get Patty on the air before then, so she came in for an interview and performance while in LA to film a music video. What a treat that was!

Nicole Sandler and daughter Alison with Patty Griffin in 2008

Nicole Sandler and daughter Alison with Patty Griffin in 2008

Earlier this morning, I saw a piece on MSNBC about a developer's purchase of the Nashville building that houses the legendary recording RCA Studio A, and their plans to tear it down to build condos. I learned that Ben Folds has held the lease on the studio for about a decade, and thought today would be good time to also play Ben Folds Five's first Los Angeles radio appearance - at that same station with me in late 1995, just after the release of their self-titled debut album.

Ben Folds Five with Nicole Sandler at KSCA/Los Angeles c. 1996

Ben Folds Five with Nicole Sandler at KSCA/Los Angeles c. 1996

Here's the segment about the studio. I hope he's able to keep it open.

So, it was a double header for Flashback Friday today. That's ok, as there are lots of savage beasts to soothe these days. Hopefully, that'll hold us over for the weekend.

I'll be back to take on a new week on Monday, radio or not...

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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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Candidate to lead CIA Clandestine Service ran secret 'black site' prison, later approved destruction of torture videos

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lather-rinse-repeat

Oh goody! Just what we need! Go Brennan!

L.A. Times:

The acting chief of the CIA's operations wing ran a secret "black site" prison overseas after the 2001 terrorist attacks and later signed off on the decision to destroy videotapes of brutal interrogations, according to current and former U.S. officials. The woman, who remains undercover, now is one of several candidates that CIA chief John Brennan is considering to head the National Clandestine Service, which conducts espionage overseas and runs the agency's paramilitary operations. [...]

The CIA is preparing to dispute the report's conclusions, sources said.

Via Salon:

[From] Brennan’s December 5, 2005 appearance on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, in which he vehemently defended the Bush administration’s use of rendition — one of the key tools to subject detainees to torture:

JOHN BRENNAN: I think it’s an absolutely vital tool. I have been intimately familiar now over the past decade with the cases of rendition that the U.S. Government has been involved in. And I can say without a doubt that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has saved lives.

[...]

In November, 2007, Brennan — in an interview with CBS News’ Harry Smith — issued a ringing endorsement for so-called “enhanced interrogation tactics” short of waterboarding:

Mr. BRENNAN: There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists. It has saved lives. And let’s not forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the deaths of 3,000 innocents.

When in doubt, revive and aggravate existing anger over egregious actions (the now-discredited CIA detention and torture programs) by sticking by and promoting those who were a part of them. That's the way to move forward, everyone knows that.

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Senate Confirms John O. Brennan as C.I.A. Director

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Via a New York Times news alert:

The Senate on Thursday afternoon approved John O. Brennan’s nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency by a vote of 63 to 34. The vote followed a filibuster by Senator Rand Paul, who spent nearly 13 hours on the Senate floor in pursuit of more information about the administration’s domestic drone policy.

After receiving a brief letter from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. assuring him that the president does not have the “authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil,” Mr. Paul declared his effort a success, and ultimately voted to end debate (though against the nomination), bringing the total votes in favor of cloture to 81 over 16 against.

Just FYI.

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Welcome to my world: "#WhyRepublicansNeedToGo -- Whoever created this ignorant hashtag is on food stamps."

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Every now and then on Twitter, I get a notification of an impending "Twitter bomb." That means that at a specified time, as many people as possible organize to tweet a certain hashtag (#) so that a message will be sent out in large numbers, simultaneously, get a lot of attention, and hopefully trend.

Last night I got word that #WhyRepublicansNeedToGo would be the hashtag du jour. I decided to jump in for the heck of it and posted a couple of tweets like (if I remember correctly): "#WhyRepublicansNeedToGo Two words: Eric Cantor. Two more: Paul Ryan" and "#WhyRepublicansNeedToGo Gay rights, civil rights, women's rights, voting rights, and that's just for starters."

I mentioned nothing about Rand Paul (who delivered the ninth longest filibuster in U.S. history), other than to retweet breaking news updates. I didn't say whether I agreed or disagreed with him or with the speaking filibuster or with his efforts to block John Brennan's confirmation. I offered no opinion one way or the other.

However, had anyone bothered to ask, which nobody did, I would have said that I support a speaking filibuster (and oppose incessant GOP obstruction), I am not thrilled with Brennan, I am against the use of drones to target Americans, I am for major oversight of the use of drones by any president, I am for due process, getting a fair trial in a U.S. (civilian) court of law, and against assassinating Americans and denying them the option to give themselves up.

That said, I got an onslaught of trolls, all of them Rand Paul devotees, sending inane, nasty, baiting, and/or stupid tweets last night shortly after Twitter Bomb Thirty.

I'm sharing a few of them with you because 1) I've been meaning to do expose you to some of the extreme comments I get for awhile now to show you what many of us deal with on a daily basis, and 2) to point out the mentality of most of the tweets I get from Republicans and Libertarians. They always initiate these direct "conversations," I never do.

What concerns me is not so much the infantile nature of the tweets, because that's easy enough to ignore, but that so many people (or perhaps bots, accounts created solely for this purpose) have such hostility, anger, misinformation, ignorance, and feel the necessity to repeatedly direct it at those with whom they disagree. Even after I inform trolls that they are being blocked, they continue to obliviously tweet me as if I can see their tweets (there are ways to see them, which is how I know they do this).

Their irrationality and rage infects nearly every tweet.

Republicans, be careful what and whom you rile up, incite, and embrace. As the Southern Poverty Law Center is warning, this is fast becoming another Oklahoma City bombing waiting to happen:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Below are a few samples of what I was bombarded with last night. Notably, a recurring theme is that, after they enter my stream with intentionally provocative tweets and/or misinformation and I choose to block, they default to phony outrage. They get huffy and whiny over being deprived of their First Amendment rights, which of course, pertain to government censorship, not Twitter's option to block tweets:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Welcome to my world:

@CreepySteveEnt (Bio: "game dev hobbyist"):

Keep drinking the blue Kool-aid. If this was a Democrat in 2006, your panties would have been wet.

if you were a dude, I'd have replaced that last part about with "jerking off." Not everything that references sex is sexist

but, I guess its easier to just yell "sexist" than try to understand why people think you are an idiot.

Not every mention of skin color is racist. Not every reference to vaginas is sexist. Get over yourself

 u r fucking braindamaged. "You'd be jerking off about a Democrat doing the same in 2006" wouldn't be called sexist

But, because I was referencing a girl... Completely different. Typical liberal victim syndrome.

People don't say mean things 2 u because of ur sex. They say mean things 2 u because you have your head up ur ass.

 @GOPMommy:

I didn't know that I lacked rights as a woman. Are you referring to little women in the womb? (I remember commenting about how developed the fetus must be if she's referring to it as a little woman)

Another liberal that hates free speech if it means having a different opinion: @GottaLaff who blocks people she's too ignorant to debate.

@JustinYoung30 (who apparently thinks teachers are worthy of disdain):

@GottaLaff no shit you're not a republican. That's your problem. I'm gonna guess you're a teacher or leaching the system 

@goodolick (3 followers, and please note the spelling of "you're" from the account who called me stupid.):

@GottaLaff your a special kind of stupid aren't you?

@ItsTheGrumpyCat ::

#WhyRepublicansNeedToGo Whoever created this ignorant hashtag is on food stamps. 

@KicheMalko (Bio: hard and raw with no regard for the law): 

@GottaLaff "civil rights" like letting illegal immigrants live have welfare and food stamps? "voting rights" like let illegals vote?

@GottaLaff i dont know how im being rude but i think you need to be a little more educated on something called the constitution (I believe I reminded Malko that civil rights are indeed constitutional and that nobody has ever suggested that anyone should be allowed to vote illegally.)

What is the cause of all their anger? Why do they feel so afraid? Is it our African American president? Is it that whites are becoming a minority? Is it that they have an unhealthy reliance on firearms and solving problems with violence, so they feel common sense gun safety measures are a threat? Is it the "civil war" within their own party that makes them uneasy? They're feeling powerless, so they have to dominate in inappropriate and dangerous ways?

Whatever it is, it is not good for this country, and they need to start listening more, agree to disagree, grow up, read and become aware of facts instead of relying solely on sources like Fox for their talking points, educate themselves, research, become more willing to hear opposing views, try using some civility, empathize, and realize we're all in this together.

troll

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