Archive for torture is illegal

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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Military judge restricts more materials in 9/11 trial. UNclassified materials.

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Just now on MSNBC, Alex Witt said this (I'm coming in mid-sentence, but she was discussing the Zero Dark Thirty controversy): "...Enhanced interrogation techniques-- torture-- some will call it that."

SOME? Or anyone but the Bushies and their stellar, upstanding, patriotic Department of Justice that decided to call it something else in order to duck prosecution of Bush and the Waterboardettes? Torture is torture, and it doesn't work, it's illegal, immoral, and just plain wrong on every level.

Clear?

Witt casually tossed off the "some will call it that" as if it were an afterthought, not fact. "Enhanced interrogation techniques" is a Bushian euphemism for torture. That has been well established. Documented. End of story. It's about time everyone reports about it accurately.

Which brings me to the L.A. Times piece I read today:

The military judge overseeing the trial for alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others has ruled that lawyers cannot make public even unclassified materials.

The ruling by the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, follows an order on Dec. 6 in which he directed that any evidence or discussion about harsh interrogation techniques used against the five men also be kept secret. He issued the ruling despite accusations by human rights groups that the government was trying to hide the fact the men were tortured. [...]

In another development, President Obama this week signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which supports overall military operations but also puts on hold his plan to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay — a pledge he repeated in October during his run for reelection.

Of course, GOP debate audiences cheered waterboarding, which means they were cool with illegally torturing other human beings. So much for the "family values" "pro-life" crowd.

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here; That link includes one specific to only *Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here.

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you’d like to see ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

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"We seem to have reached the point where we are discussing the value of torture rather than its morality."

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Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Bin Laden movie heats up CIA torture debate," Dec. 14

With the arrival of "Zero Dark Thirty," a dramatization of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, we seem to have reached the point where we are discussing the value of torture rather than its morality.

We have moved from being a country that thrilled to James Cagney resisting Nazi torture to protect the secrets of D-day ("13 Rue Madeleine") to one that seemingly will embrace torture if it works. We were a country that condemned Hitler for the heinous invasion of Poland; just recently, we invaded Iraq on the pretext that we have a unilateral right to preemptive war.

And those who promote these new values claim the mantle of being the real Americans.

Robert Silver

Los Angeles

***

Questions: Does anyone dispute the fact the CIA has systematically tortured captives? Is there any reason to believe that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee had no knowledge of it? Hasn't torture long been a crime under both U.S. and international law? Why aren't those who authorized torture and the committee members who failed to stop it being prosecuted? And what's to prevent future cases of torture if today's perpetrators aren't prosecuted?

Jon K. Williams

Goleta, Calif.

***

I am deeply troubled that anyone would suggest there's a debate on the efficacy of torture.

In 1941, my father was waterboarded by the Japanese in Shanghai. He confessed that he was a British agent. It wasn't true, but at that moment, he would have signed anything to end his ordeal. Irrespective of whether the information garnered by torture turns out to be true, torture is a crime.

In 1948, the Japanese officer responsible for waterboarding my father was tried and convicted at a war crimes trials in Hong Kong. That same standard should be applied to the Americans who ordered or took part in waterboarding.

Ernest A. Canning

Thousand Oaks

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The Bush administration "torture memos" will be 10 years old this week

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It doesn't take a genius to understand that people were tortured during the Bush administration. They can use as many euphemisms as they want-- "enhanced interrogation techniques," the third degree, or even hopscotch for all I care-- but what they did to human beings was clearly torture. BushCo justified it in any number of ways, including writing law that they claimed made it all okay, but it wasn't okay. It was cruel, it was criminal, and it didn't work.

Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and now on the faculty of the Howard University School of Law, wrote an op-ed for the L.A. Times that he titled "Consign Bush's 'torture memos' to history."

If only those who were responsible would or could be prosecuted:

The Bush administration "torture memos" will be 10 years old this week. As the administration developed its interrogation policies, it concealed various forms of torture under the moniker "enhanced interrogation techniques." It consulted with the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice on the legality of these techniques, including waterboarding, walling (slamming detainees against walls), forcing detainees into stress positions and subjecting them to sleep deprivation. Ultimately, the OLC provided legal cover for the use of most of these techniques. [...]

[T]he Bush administration embraced it by renaming it enhanced interrogation techniques and claiming that it was necessary for our national security. Upon taking office, President Obama issued an executive order halting the use of torture.

Torture is counterproductive. Professional interrogators — Ali Soufan of the FBI, Matthew Alexander of the Air Force and Glenn Carle of the CIA — have said this clearly. Torture is always illegal [and] is also a moral abomination.  [...]

The Senate Intelligence Committee has undertaken an investigation into the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques allowed by the memos. It is essential that its findings be released to the public so that the American people can know the truth about what was done in their name.

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here; That link includes one specific to only *Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here.

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.

If you’d like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

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Senate investigation: Torture doesn't work

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There goes another right wing talking point. Reuters has an exclusive report of a years-long investigation that found that torture does. Not. Work:

(Reuters) - A nearly three-year-long investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats is expected to find there is little evidence the harsh "enhanced interrogation techniques" the CIA used on high-value prisoners produced counter-terrorism breakthroughs.

People familiar with the inquiry said committee investigators, who have been poring over records from the administration of President George W. Bush, believe they do not substantiate claims by some Bush supporters that the harsh interrogations led to counter-terrorism coups. [...]

One official said investigators found "no evidence" such enhanced interrogations played "any significant role" in the years-long intelligence operations which led to the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden last May by U.S. Navy SEALs.

GOP debate audiences cheered waterboarding, which means they were all for the illegal torturing of other human beings for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Family values, my ass:

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here; That link includes one specific to only *Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here.

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.

If you’d like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

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VIDEO: Zelikow memo re-exposes Bush to legal liability for torture

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

What does it take to go after BushCo for war crimes, already?

Added: In case anyone needs more convincing as to why Bush and his gang of thugs need to be investigated fully, follow some of these links:

*****

here; That link includes one specific to only *Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here.

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.

If you’d like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

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