Archive for national security

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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Senator Feinstein Dianne Feinstein CIA

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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Did Police Let TSA Agent Bleed To Death With Paramedics Standing By?

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LAX shooting 2

I have to say that I'm shocked and feel deeply for the family and friends of TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez. Details emerging from the LAX shooting earlier this month indicate police could have, but refused to let paramedics enter the terminal to save this wounded officer's life.

AP:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An airport security officer lay helplessly bleeding after a gunman opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport as paramedics waited 150 yards away because police had not declared the terminal safe to enter, according to two law enforcement officials.

It would be 33 minutes before Transportation Security Administration Officer Gerardo Hernandez, who was about 20 feet from an exit, would be wheeled out by police to an ambulance, said the officials, who were briefed on the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe was still ongoing into the Nov. 1 shooting.

For all but five of those minutes, there was no threat from the suspected gunman — he had been shot and was in custody, they said.

So the picture is this -- the police were dumbfounded and confused. They let a victim bleed to death rather than assess the risk and allow paramedics to pull the wounded man to safety and possibly get him to a hospital in time to save his life.

The level of the threat had already been determined -- it was over. They had their one man. They may have suspected there could be accomplices but there wasn't a scintilla of evidence to indicate that. What there was was a dying victim who they totally ignored. The police had every obligation to see to it that the wounded officer was tended to. If this was a shooting out on the street involving one of their own, you can rest assured that some brave cop would have made his way, guns blazzing to provide him cover until he reached his fallen comrade and pulled him to safety.

TSA Agent HernandezTSA Agent Hernandez

But this wasn't the case here. The paramedics were refused entry until it was certainly far too late for Hernandez.

It's time to do some internal investigation. Nothing will bring the TSA agent back to his loved ones, but policy review must be undertaken to save lives in the future on risk assessment for paramedics. The shooter had already been apprehended. Hernandez could and should have been evacuated much sooner.

Look where the suspect was shot and look at where Henandez was shot. There was plenty of room and access for the paramedics to pull the TSA agent out. He was lying, bleeding to death, a mere 20 feet from an accessible exit.

LAX Shooting map

Would it have saved his life? We won't know for sure. But this is a conversation we should never need to be having.

Is it too much to ask that someone gets reprimanded at the very least for this? For the Hernandez family, I hope so.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @Linzack

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Pres. Obama promises to increase intelligence support, provide new weaponry to Iraq

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back to the future

Here we go again. Hello Iraq.

It's understandable that President Obama would feel it necessary to go back to Iraq if it means eliminating or at least containing an increasingly out of control Al Qaeda, but America no longer has the stomach for it. I know I don't.

And this puts the president in the tough position of sticking to withdrawal from Iraq while feeling obligated to counter a growing problem that threatens our national security. But to put it in the simplest terms possible: Oy vey.

The Los Angeles Times has a lot more, but here are the bare bones:

Facing a deadly resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, President Obama signaled Friday that he would begin increasing U.S. military support for Baghdad after five years of reducing it.... Administration officials said this would include growing intelligence support and new weaponry. [...]

And the Obama administration, despite a deep reluctance to become more entangled in the Middle East, believes it cannot afford a further strengthening of the Al Qaeda affiliate, which is also called the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant. [...]

Maliki, who had not visited the White House for two years, spent the week in Washington lobbying administration and congressional officials for more arms, intelligence help and training.

Iraqi officials said they did not ask for special forces or CIA advisors, but were not ruling out such things.

American drone strikes, carried out with the support of Maliki's government, are another option.... But Maliki's aides said Iraq could turn to other world powers if the United States turned down its request.

Back to the future...

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