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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
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Nearly 1 in 4 Detainees Kidnapped and Tortured by CIA Did Nothing At All

The Senate Democratic staff members who wrote the 6,000-page report counted 119 prisoners who had been in C.I.A. custody. Of those, the report found that 26 were either described in the agency’s own documents as mistakenly detained, or released and given money, evidence of the same thing.

The C.I.A. told the Senate in its formal response that the real number of wrongful detentions was “far fewer” than 26 but did not offer a number. Human rights advocates who have tracked the C.I.A. program believe that considerably more than 26 were wrongfully detained.


Mohamed Bashmilah, left, in 2008. A Senate report acknowledges Mr. Bashmilah’s 19 months of detention as wrongful.

The CIA held Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah in several different cells when he was incarcerated in its network of secret prisons known as “black sites.” But the small cells were all pretty similar, maybe 7 feet wide and 10 feet long. He was sometimes naked, and sometimes handcuffed for weeks at a time. In one cell his ankle was chained to a bolt in the floor. There was a small toilet. In another cell there was just a bucket. Video cameras recorded his every move. The lights always stayed on — there was no day or night. A speaker blasted him with continuous white noise, or rap music, 24 hours a day.

The guards wore black masks and black clothes. They would not utter a word as they extracted Bashmilah from his cell for interrogation — one of his few interactions with other human beings during his entire 19 months of imprisonment. Nobody told him where he was, or if he would ever be freed.

Bashmillah wasn't "freed." After the Americans brutalized him he was he was transferred at the U.S. request to Yemen, where he was "convicted" on a trumped up charge of forgery (the allegedly "forged" document was never produced). He was sentenced to nine additional months but released based on "time served." In the meantime, Bashmilah learned that his father had died during his imprisonment, never knowing whether his son was alive or what was being done to him.

As the Times article shows, Bashmilah's case is in no way unique. The incompetent and overzealous CIA would imprison the wrong people with the same last name, or, more often, based on "friendly" but notoriously unreliable intelligence agencies. One unfortunate man “was subjected to ice water baths and 66 hours of standing sleep deprivation before being released because the C.I.A. discovered he was not the person he was believed to be.”

And there were many more:

The U.S. Will Torture Again—and We’re All to Blame

Have we learned from our great moral failure? Don’t bet on it.


If there is another terrorist attack on the U.S. mainland, the odds are strong that we will reenact this grim tragedy from start to finish, if a neoconservative regime happens to be ensconced in the White House.

As for the political class, I doubt I need to give you a very hard sell on its failure. It was thoroughgoing and bipartisan. The timorous Democrats, with a few noble exceptions like Robert Byrd, largely bought into the global war on terror. The Republicans, well, you know about them. The foreign-policy establishment of Washington and to some extent New York lined up behind the administration on nearly every important question. The urge among this class is always to swim with the tide: In 2003, when the Council on Foreign Relations was casting about for a new leader, it settled on Richard Haass, who had been in Bush’s State Department. He has said since that he was 60-40 against the war, but one would have been hard pressed to know that then, back when his boss, Colin Powell, was warning us about those weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. On the torture question, this class was outraged when it was easy to be outraged, like when the Abu Ghraib story broke, but the outrage was never sustained.

Among the media, there were to be sure many brave journalists—Jane Mayer, Robin Wright, many others—who broke story after story about torture. We’re in their debt. But their great work was more than balanced out by the equivocation caucus—well, we can’t really be sure it’s torture. And then there was the segment of the media that actively cheered it all on. More broadly, the media as a whole were afraid to break ranks. I have had a number of conversations with prominent media people—in TV and radio, names you’d know—who, by way of trying to defend their lack of zeal and confrontation in those post-9/11 days, tried to explain how many furious emails they got when a report diverged modestly from the accepted line.

And the legal system? Again, there were some courageous judges who tried. A Virginia federal judge named Gerald Bruce Lee ruled in 2009 that four Abu Ghraib detainees could sue CACI, the private military contractor in Iraq. But overall the legal system has done little to say “this was against the law.” Much of the fault for that, of course, lies with Barack Obama, who chose early on not to seek prosecutions of Bush administration officials. And even now, in the wake of this report, what is your level of confidence that anyone will be prosecuted as a result of the release of this report? I thought so.

Failures top to bottom. Now, one would like to say that we as a society have learned the lessons of these failures and would not permit this to happen again. Don’t count on it. If there is another terrorist attack on the U.S. mainland, the odds are strong that we will reenact this grim tragedy from start to finish, if a neoconservative regime happens to be ensconced in the White House. The people would respond with the same fear, which would give license to the same behavior, and the political class and the media and the courts would probably go along.

So yes, it’s a moral horror that Cheney says he’d do it all again. But it’s also all too likely that a future Cheney could do it all again. That’s the far greater moral horror, and the one we don’t want to face, because it implicates us.


Mitt Says Jeb Would Be Toast

According to Politico, individuals close to Mitt Romney say he’s become open again to the idea of running for president in recent days. The reason, they say, is that he sees a weak GOP field. In particular, Romney reportedly thinks Jeb Bush would get wrecked by his business dealings with Lehman Brothers, Barclays, and private-equity firms. Romney has reportedly talked to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who pumped tens of millions into Newt Gingrich’s campaign against Romney in 2012. According to one executive who met with Romney, “He does not think much of the current field and does not think it is jelling. He still views himself as the leader of the establishment wing of the Republican Party. He does not feel he owes the Bushes anything and does not think Jeb is the de facto leader of the establishment GOP.”


Cheney's Argument Full Of Holes...

Cheney does not even understand why somebody would look away. His soul is a cold, black void.

The Torture Party: Why Republicans Defend the Most Sadistic Government Program in Recent History
By Jonathan Chait Follow @jonathanchait


The failings of the torture regimen were, in fact, every conservative nightmare of a failed, out-of-control government program come to life. Through banal bureaucratic dysfunction, the torturers stumbled into a practice that lacked any sound empirical basis. (The CIA—which simply reverse-engineered the resistance training its own elite soldiers underwent, which taught them to withstand torture from communist regimes attempting to solicit propagandist false confessions—never considered that a practice designed to elicit false confessions is poorly suited to drawing out true ones.) Officials covered up their own mistakes; soldiers carried out practices haphazardly—some subjects were tortured for weeks before being interrogated. These are all acts of cruelty that Republicans would surely find terrifying—evil, even—if enacted by foreign governments, or Democratic administrations. And yet a fixation on evil abroad rendered invisible the most egregious abuses of government powers at home.

The most important evidence of the Bush administration’s disposition toward torture may have come not from the Senate report but from Cheney’s second and more carefully considered reply. Appearing later that night on Fox News, the former vice-president was no longer merely dismissing the report’s conclusions out of hand. Nor was he retreating to the slick evasions or complaints about George W. Bush’s feelings that so many of his fellow Republicans had relied upon.

The host, Bret Baier, asked Cheney about Bush’s reported discomfort when told of a detainee’s having been chained to a dungeon ceiling, clothed only in a diaper, and forced to urinate and defecate on himself. “What are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks and say ‘Please, please, tell us what you know’?” Cheney said. “Of course not. We did exactly what needed to be done in order to catch those who were guilty on 9/11 and prevent a further attack, and we were successful on both parts.”

Here, finally, was the brutal moral logic of Cheneyism on bright display. The insistence by his fellow partisans on averting their eyes from the horrible truth at least grows out of a human reaction. Cheney does not even understand why somebody would look away. His soul is a cold, black void.


stocking stuffer


Supreme Court Justice Scalia: The Constitution doesn't prohibit torture

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia weighs in on whether it's legal for America to torture prisoners.

Scalia tells a Swiss radio network that American and European liberals who say such tactics may never be used are being self-righteous.

Scalia says nothing in the Constitution appears to prohibit harsh treatment of suspected terrorists.


Maxine Waters: POTUS & JP Morgan whipped House Democrats on CROmnibus yesterday

In a sign of the importance of the issue to Wall Street banks, JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon telephoned lawmakers on Thursday urging them to support passage of the spending bill, according to a person familiar with the calls.

“I think after the president and Jamie Dimon started calling, some people gave in,” Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee who voted against the bill, said after the vote.


"a cash award of $2,500 for consistently superior work."

A prosecutor’s Eureka moment: I never got specifics because they didn’t exist

I spent five years prosecuting war crimes cases at Guantánamo Bay. While we could not use evidence in court derived from torture or abusive treatment, I questioned why maltreatment was used in the first place. The answer was always this: “Torture works. Torture saves lives.” As a prosecutor, I was never provided with any specifics. After reading the Senate’s report, I now understand why: they didn’t exist. No terror plot was stopped due to abusive interrogations. This was my Eureka moment after reading the report.

The very first Senate finding I stumbled across was right there on Page 9 – and it completely refutes the official justification for using torture. “o intelligence while in CIA custody”? It is the first finding, and it is a blockbuster. If torture does not lead to actionable intelligence and does not stop terrorist acts, then why use it at all? Shouldn’t we have used traditional, rapport-based interrogation techniques such as the FBI agents who questioned Abu Zubaydah? The suspect was cooperating until the CIA’s contractors started waterboarding Abu Zubaydah in detention for 17 days, until he became “completely unresponsive”.


This is a particularly despicable and illuminating look into how the CIA treated its officers who were carrying out torture techniques. After a detainee, Gul Rahman, was chained, nearly naked, to a concrete floor for an extended time and then froze to to death, no officer on-site nor at the CIA was disciplined – let alone prosecuted. In fact, the CIA officer in charge of the detention site was recommended to receive a bonus of $2,500 for his “consistently superior work”. Five pages earlier in the report, we are told that this particular CIA officer was already known for dishonesty and lack of judgment when he was sent on his first overseas assignment to head this detention site. Eleven years and one page in the report later, the CIA acknowledged it “erred” in not holding anyone accountable for Rahman’s death.

Eleven years.

from a few days ago, read it in a fresh light:

Money doesn't talk, it swears.

Democrats who voted for the CRomnibus have received twice as much money from the finance industry as the ‘no’ voters

here is the vote. find your dem:
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