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Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
Number of posts: 20,830
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From Democracy Now, video at link, transcript will be posted as soon as available.
As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence feuds with the CIA over the declassification of its 6,000-page report on the agency’s secret detention and interrogation programs, we host a debate between former CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo and human rights attorney Scott Horton.
This comes as the United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the Obama administration for closing its investigations into the CIA’s actions after September 11. A U.N. report issued Thursday stated, “The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives." Rizzo served as acting general counsel during much of the George W. Bush administration and was a key legal architect of the U.S. interrogation and detention program after the Sept. 11 attacks. He recently published a book titled, "Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA." Attorney Scott Horton is contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine and author of the forthcoming book, "The Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy."
Posted by Jefferson23 | Fri Mar 28, 2014, 10:15 AM (0 replies)
In the months following 9/11, it seems Washington just couldn’t say “no” to the CIA. The agency’s budget shot through the ceiling. Suddenly the CIA not only commanded private armies, it even had a state-of-the-art air force! Between 2006-2007, the CIA drove a proxy war, mobilizing Ethiopia’s army to invade Somalia. It was perhaps the most audacious war the CIA ever triggered. But it hardly raised a stir in Washington, where reinvigorated secrecy ensured that hardly anyone knew about it—and where to this day few analysts even understand what the CIA’s little war, in which thousands of innocent civilians perished, was about. The CIA also bore core responsibility for a nine-year-long drone war in Pakistan: 300 strikes with more than 3,000 fatalities, almost all of this in an area that U.S. military strategists describe as the core of the battlefield in the current war. It also ran, jointly with the military, drone campaigns in Yemen and Somalia. None of this is what the authors of the National Security Act had in mind with the words “covert operation.” In fact, virtually the only people in the world from whom these activities were kept secret were American voters.
Throughout this period, the dapper and good-natured John Rizzo was the CIA’s senior career lawyer. One would hope to find in his memoir a deep account of the policy battles that led to the CIA’s transformation, and particularly the legal issues. There is no other time in American history when the public has been riveted by legal policy issues as luridly appealing as those that emerged in 2004-2007. Gruesome accounts of homicide and torture in secret prisons run by the American government rocked the world. The scandal opened with now-iconic photographs from Abu Ghraib, and spread as stories emerged from Bagram, Camp Nama, the CIA’s Salt Pit prison north of Kabul, its secret prison near Rabat, Morocco, and Guantánamo. President Bush insisted that “we do not torture.” But an avalanche of secret U.S. legal documents quickly showed otherwise.
John Rizzo was at the center of this storm.
Company Man offers an interesting collection of vignettes from a 35-year career in the agency, but its essence is a rationalization of the CIA’s decision to operate black sites and use torture. Rizzo chronicles the steps that led to these decisions and then to back away from them. We discover, for instance, as John Kiriakou first revealed, that the key decisions about the use of waterboarding, mock burial, the cold cell, longtime-standing, sleep deprivation and similar techniques, were taken by the CIA both to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and to the White House. They were ultimately reviewed and approved by the National Security Council (NSC) Principals Committee (consisting of key cabinet officers, the national security advisor, the president and vice president). Only two members of the NSC openly voiced reservations: Condoleezza Rice didn’t like enforced nudity. Colin Powell objected to sleep deprivation. (Kiriakou, a former CIA case officer and analyst, is currently serving a prison term for what he revealed.)
Donald Rumsfeld, who once stormed out of a party when asked about war crimes, didn’t want to be in these meetings. John Ashcroft was “mostly silent.” But Dick Cheney stood tall for torture and was a forceful dissenter from President Bush’s late 2006 decision to eliminate it. One curiosity: in his recent biography, Bush proudly took responsibility for the use of the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but Rizzo doesn’t recall that Bush was ever actually briefed on them.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Fri Mar 28, 2014, 09:04 AM (0 replies)
* Just what they need.
By Shaun Heasley
March 25, 2014 Text Size A A
A program that places recent college graduates in teaching positions across the country after just weeks of training says it will beef up its focus on special education.
Teach for America said it will “strengthen” training that its participants receive on “ability-based mindsets and inclusive practices.”
snip* Due to shortages in the field, advocates say that special education is more reliant on alternative training programs than many other teaching specialities.
However, critics have voiced concerns about a lack of transparency in the level of expertise that Teach for America’s teachers have. Under current federal policy, rookie educators can often be dubbed “highly qualified” even as they work to complete their teaching certification.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Mar 25, 2014, 06:04 PM (12 replies)
March 20, 2014
Bob Ivry’s guide for tracking down the live villains and unburied bodies of the 2008 crash
By Andrew Cockburn
Back in February, Congressman David Camp (R., Mich.), chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, unveiled a plan to reform the U.S. tax code, clarifying and simplifying its infinite and tortuous provisions. One of his proposals was to levy a tax of .035 percent on assets exceeding $500 billion held by U.S. megabanks and insurance companies. This, he explained, would offset the advantage big banks enjoy in borrowing costs thanks to their implicit government-bailout guarantee as too-big-to-fail institutions.
It was a laudable enough idea, in a modest kind of way. Coming from a House Republican it certainly had the merit of novelty. But no one among the massed ranks of financial-industry hirelings on K Street and Capitol Hill took it seriously enough to plan a vigorous counterattack. Camp is due to step down from his chairmanship soon, and everyone in Washington is well aware of the banks’ invulnerability to attempts at prizing away even a sliver of their hoards. “Dead on arrival” was the common verdict.
That wasn’t the way JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Wall Street’s capo di tutti frutti, saw things, though. “He was calling everyone, from the Speaker on down,” one lobbyist reported to me in amazement. “He was frantic about the threat of Camp, as if anything was ever going to come out of that.”
The only interpretation the D.C. financial lobbying community could make of Dimon’s hysterical behavior was that they had done their work too well. “The banks have gotten absolutely everything they wanted, post-crash,” my lobbyist friend explained. The 2010 SAFE bill, through which Senators Sherrod Brown and Ted Kaufman attempted to break up the too-big-to-fails? Crushed like a bug in the Senate, 60–31. The Volcker Rule restricting banks from trading on their own account? Riddled with more loopholes than a yard of chicken wire. The Lincoln Amendment barring institutions from gambling with taxpayer-insured money? On its way out the door. “There really are no outstanding issues left for them to fight over,” my friend said, “so now even the semblance of defiance from any quarter is taken as a personal affront, and they move to crush it.”
in full: http://harpers.org/blog/2014/03/sins-of-the-fatcat/
Posted by Jefferson23 | Fri Mar 21, 2014, 09:57 AM (0 replies)
In the third part of his series, Patrick cockburn looks at the growing influence of Isis, al-Qa’ida’s force in Iraq, which dominates Sunni areas and is wreaking havoc among the Shia majority
Events in Iraq are not always what they seem: take two occurrences over the past year illustrating the difference between appearance and the reality in Iraq. The first event took place outside Fallujah after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, aided by tribal militias, took over the city in January. This was a body blow to the Iraqi government since Fallujah is only 40 miles west of Baghdad and was famously stormed by US Marines in a bloody battle in 2004.
But soon after Isis had retaken it three months ago, a reassuring video was circulated on Twitter and Facebook by government supporters. It had some narrative in Iraqi Arabic, was shot from the air and showed insurgents being targeted and eliminated by air-launched missiles. This was morale-raising stuff for the Iraqi government and to those loyal to it, but unfortunately it proved to be a fabrication and after a few hours someone noticed that the video had been shot in Afghanistan and it is of American drones or helicopters firing missiles at Taliban fighters. It is doubtful if Iraqi airpower is capable of carrying out such attacks.
But such deceptions are not all on the government side. In December 2012 the arrest of the bodyguards of the moderate Sunni Finance Minister, Rafi al-Issawi, by the government led to widespread but peaceful protests in Sunni provinces in northern and central Iraq, Sunni Arabs making up about a fifth of Iraq’s 33 million population. At first, the demonstrations were well-attended, with protesters demanding an end to political, civil and economic discrimination against the Sunni community. But soon they realised that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was offering only cosmetic changes and many stopped attending the weekly demonstrations.
In the Sunni city of Tikrit, capital of Salah Ad-Din province, 10,000 people had come to rallies at first, but then the number sank to 1,000. A local observer says: “It was decided that all mosques should be shut on Fridays except for one, forcing all the faithful to go to the same mosque for Friday prayers. Cameras eagerly filmed and photographed the crowd to make it look like they were all protesters and would beam the images back to the Gulf, where their paymasters were fooled (or maybe they weren’t) into thinking that the protests were still attracting large numbers.” The eyewitness in Tikrit cynically suggests that the money supposedly spent on feeding and transporting non-existent demonstrators was pocketed by protest leaders.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Mar 18, 2014, 05:33 PM (2 replies)
Mr. Porter tells Paul Jay that the American security state was and is against war with Iran, but if Obama doesn't break with the false narrative about Iran's nuclear program, he may not be able to sell a deal - March 18, 2014
GARETH PORTER, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Thank you very much, Paul.
JAY: So Gareth is a historian. He's an investigative journalist. He covers U.S. foreign and military policy. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.
So we're going to pick up where we left off. And essentially at the end of the last segment I was asking the question, if, as it seems true, that Dick Cheney, vice president, and President Bush were fairly intent on attacking Iran—and in earlier segments we talked about a document called Project for the New American Century, written and signed by many neocons who made up the Bush administration, and it clearly laid out it's time to assert American power—Iraq, Syria, and with the real prize being regime change in Iran and the need for a manufactured narrative to rationalize all of this, get American people on board, especially after a failed Iraq War—how do you get people ready for another one? Well, I guess you need a mushroom scare.
Gareth, I guess that more or less says it, does it?
So why didn't they get their war?
PORTER: They didn't get their war, because there was very strong built-in resistance on the part of the national security state in the United States, particularly the military and the Pentagon, to getting into a war with Iran. And I think this reflects the reality that Iran really is capable of doing damage to U.S. military assets in the region.
U.S. bases in the Middle East are extremely vulnerable to an attack by the Iranians. Particularly, U.S. naval vessels in this narrow gulf that they have to go through are vulnerable to—.
JAY: And, at the time, tens of thousands of American troops in Iraq.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Mar 18, 2014, 05:00 PM (3 replies)
On Reality Asserts Itself, Mr. Porter tells Paul Jay that by the end of the Vietnam War, he understood the US government and military could do terrible things - March 16, 2014
Gareth Porter is a historian and investigative journalist on US foreign and military policy analyst. He writes regularly for Inter Press Service on US policy towards Iraq and Iran. Author of four books, the latest of which is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.
Our next guest believes that the U.S. and Israeli officials have created a false narrative. It says that Iran has been using their nuclear energy program as a cover for a secret nuclear weapons program. This--according to our guest, this is based off weak or no evidence from suspect sources in order to achieve political strategic objectives that are not being presented to the public.
That next guest who believes all of these things is Gareth Porter, investigative journalist, who now joins us in the studio. Gareth is a historian and investigative journalist. He covers U.S. foreign and military policy. He writes regularly for Inter Press Service. He's the author of five books, and the latest of which and one of which we are going to talk a lot about in this interview is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.
Thanks for joining us, Gareth.
GARETH PORTER, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Thank you very much, Paul.
JAY: So, as most people know who watch Reality Asserts Itself, we usually start with some personal back story of our guest, and we're going to do that with Gareth. And then we're going to dig into the Iranian-American nuclear issues.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sun Mar 16, 2014, 12:44 PM (0 replies)
by DAVID MACARAY
It’s a broad generalization, and reeks of cynicism, but it’s true: Many (most?) good things get done not as the result of being conspicuously seen as the “right” thing to do, but as the result of pressure being applied to get them done. Conversely, in the absence of pressure being applied, the “right” thing often doesn’t get done. In other words, it’s more about “muscle” than “morals.”
Take the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, for example, one of the harshest anti-immigration measures in U.S. history. After a significant number of Chinese workers had emigrated to the U.S., lured here by the California Gold Rush (1848-1854), and later, by jobs on large works programs, such as the Transcontinental Railroad, America decided it didn’t want any more of them. We had enough Chinamen.
While the reasons for passing the Exclusion Act were a mixed bag of xenophobia, racism, and economic worries, what is most revealing is how simple it was to get this remarkable legislation passed. It was easy. Basically, some people got together and decided no more Chinese should enter the country, and then went out and passed a law to make it so. And the reason it was so easy was because there was no meaningful resistance.
The 1882 Exclusion Act was supposed to stay in effect for ten years. But in 1892, it was extended for ten additional years, and in 1902, it was made permanent. Incredibly, that law stayed on the books until 1943, when it was repealed by the Magnuson Act. And what precipitated its repeal in 1943? Following Pearl Harbor, the Chinese had become the good Asians, and the “Japs” had become the bad Asians.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sun Mar 16, 2014, 09:06 AM (24 replies)
An unhappy anniversary: Why the end of Bashar al-Assad is as far away as ever and how Syria’s rebels
lost the plot.
Today marks three years since Syrians rose up against their President. In the time since then, unwavering support for the status quo from Russia and Iran, the unwillingness of the West to intervene, and the increasing disarray of the anti-government factions have all combined to ensure that they may never succeed, writes Patrick Cockburn.
As the first wave of the Arab uprisings broke in early 2011, President Bashar al-Assad sounded confident that Syria would be immune to the turmoil. He was not alone: at a meeting of 10 foreign ambassadors in Damascus in February that year the diplomats without exception dismissed suggestions that the revolutionary turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia might spread to Syria.
The conviction that Syria was more stable than other Arab states was rooted in the belief that Mr Assad was relatively popular; Syria’s long opposition to Israel and the US gave it powerful nationalist credentials; abject poverty was less than in Egypt and Yemen. Yet, within a month of the ambassadors’ meeting, protests began to gather pace and the government responded brutally and with extreme violence, treating dissent as a revolutionary attempt to overthrow the state, similar to the Muslim Brotherhood insurgency of 1979-82 which concluded with the slaughter of some 20,000 people in Hama. Many believe that it was the government’s overreaction that turned protests into an insurgency. The government claims that from the beginning it was facing an armed Islamist revolt funded and supplied by the Gulf monarchies allied to Western intelligence services.
With what, in retrospect, seems like embarrassing speed, foreign governments – and many Syrians – swung from saying nothing would happen to treating the departure of President Assad as a foregone conclusion.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sat Mar 15, 2014, 03:09 PM (2 replies)
Elizabeth Goitein: President Obama is protecting senior CIA officials and himself
March 14, 2014
Elizabeth (Liza) Goitein co-directs the Brennan Center for Justices Liberty and National Security Program, which seeks to advance effective national security policies that respect constitutional values and the rule of law. Before joining the Brennan Center, Liza served as counsel to Senator Russell Feingold, Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and as a trial attorney in the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. Her writing has been featured in major newspapers including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as prominent outlets such as Roll Call, the National Law Journal, Salon, POLITICO, Time, and the Huffington Post. She has appeared on national television and radio shows including the The Rachel Maddow Show, The Today Show, All In with Chris Hayes, Up with Steve Kornacki, PBS NewsHour, and National Public Radios Morning Edition and On The Media. Liza graduated from Yale Law School and clerked for the Hon. Michael Daly Hawkins on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.
In January, according to Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the head of the CIA, John Brennan, came to her and told her some of her staffers may have broken the law by getting access to secret documents that had been revealed to Senate investigators but, according to Brennan, shouldn't have been shown to Senate staffers, and that might be illegal. Why did he make this trip? Why did he tell Dianne Feinstein this? Because it led to Dianne Feinstein coming to the conclusion and finding out that the CIA had actually been spying on Senate computers, and had even removed records from those--and files from those computers.
Now joining us to give us some background and discuss all of this and joining us now from New York is Elizabeth Goitein. She's codirector of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.
Neiman Foundation for Journalism at
Posted by Jefferson23 | Fri Mar 14, 2014, 11:08 AM (0 replies)