Tag Archives: torture

The Darker Side!

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President George W. Bush on the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture – June, 26, 2003 –

“The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example.  I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment. . . . Nowhere should the midnight knock foreshadow a nightmare of state-commissioned crime.  The suffering of torture victims must end, and the United States calls on all governments to assume this great mission.”

I am still shocked at all the relevations of torture and abuses perpetrated by the CIA and American military of detainees during this ridiculous War on Terrorism.  I think it has gone about as well as The War on Drugs and the War on Keeping Fat People Out of McDonalds.  But I have been troubled the last few days over President Obama’s refusal to release the rest of the alleged detainee torture photos.  His reasoning is sound stating that there is no need to further endanger American troops in Iran and Afghanistan.  I buy that argument under the premise that we were assured that the photos are no worse than the photos already released.

But logic dictates that that there is something faulty with the premise.  If the photos are no more malevolent than those previously released, then what is the problem of releasing them?  Retired Army General Antonio Taguba who investigated Abu Ghraib in 2004 told the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that the remaing photos show images of  “torture, abuse, rape, and every indecency.”  Two of the alleged photos are said to depict a male U.S. soldier raping a female prisoner while another has a male U.S. translator raping a male prisoner.  Other assaults are said to include a trucnheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Of course the Pentagon has denied these allegations saying that the Telegraph had misquoted General Taguba.  The alarm level was raised even furhter when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs went on to slam the reliability of the Telegraph.  My only question is what reason would a retired flag officer from the Army have to lie?  And why is the White House so vehemently trying to paint the Telegraph as some sort of National Enquirer.  The only answer is to release the remaining photographs.  The Obama Administration came in with a message of transparency.  My only hope is that they don’t become the Orwellian Ministry of Truth!  Winston Smith worked for the Bush Administration.

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Dick Goes Waterboarding!

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More Waterboarding!

 

Has anyone seen Sean Hannity?

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http://rawstory.com/blog/2009/05/conservative-radio-hosts-waterboarded/

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Obama Vice!

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Slate Magazine
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Send Him Back to the Bunker!

Dick Cheney’s dishonest speech about torture, terror, and Obama.

By Fred Kaplan

Why does anyone still listen to what Dick Cheney has to say?

This morning’s back-to-back speeches on torture and terrorism—first by President Barack Obama, then by the former vice president—could have been an opportunity to weigh competing arguments, examine their premises, and chart an agenda for a serious debate.

Obama’s speech did exactly that. He spelled out his logic, backed up his talking points with facts, and put forth a policy grounded—at least in his view—not just in lofty ideals but also in hardheaded assessments of national security. Those who disagree with his conclusions could come away at least knowing where their paths diverged—what claims they’d need to challenge in mounting their opposition.

Cheney, on the other hand, built a case on straw men, red herrings, and lies. In short, his speech was classic Dick Cheney, with all the familiar scowls and scorn intact. The Manichean worldview, which Cheney advanced and enforced while in office, was on full display. After justifying “enhanced interrogation methods,” as part of the Bush administration’s “comprehensive strategy” in the wake of 9/11—and noting that the next seven and a half years saw no follow-on attack—he said this:

So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions, and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event … and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort.

This is a blatant evasion. The debate—or one of the debates—is, in fact, over whether or not the war on terror required “tough interrogations,” as Cheney called them. Does he believe—should anyone else believe—that removing one chunk of this strategy would cause the whole edifice to topple? If these interrogations are so essential, why did President Bush stop them in 2004? And why haven’t we been attacked since?

Cheney’s evasiveness is more basic than this. He still refuses to acknowledge what nearly everyone else has: that these interrogations did amount to torture. “Torture was never permitted,” he said, even while conceding the occasional water-boarding. These methods, he noted, “were given careful legal review before they were approved”—ignoring that these legal reviews were conducted by his own aides and have since been discredited almost uniformly.

Still, he persists. To call this program “torture,” he went on, “is to libel the dedicated professionals”—the “carefully chosen” CIA personnel who conducted the interrogations—”and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims.” Of course, it does no such thing. Most of the criticisms, including President Obama’s, have been directed at the Bush administration’s top policymakers, not at those who carried out their orders. And nobody is claiming that the subjects of interrogation were “victims,” much less “innocent.” To decry torture does not imply the slightest sympathy for the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Cheney then dismissed the idea—hardly Obama’s alone—that the interrogation policies and the detention operations at Guantanamo have served as a “recruitment tool” for al-Qaida and other terrorists. This claim, he said, “excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left: We brought it on ourselves.”

This is nonsense on a few levels. Nobody is claiming that Osama Bin Laden and his crew would go away if we treated prisoners more nicely. However, it is indisputable that the reports of torture, the photos from Abu Ghraib, and the legal limbo at Guantanamo have galvanized al-Qaida’s recruitment campaigns. Everyone acknowledges this, hardly just “the Left.” It’s why many Republicans lamented the news stories and the photographs—because they might help the enemy.

Cheney’s next volley against Obama—for releasing the Bush administration’s legal documents that justified water-boarding and other harsh practices—was where the outright lying began. “President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation, should he deem it appropriate,” Cheney said. Yet, this authority would have little use because, thanks to the release of the documents, “the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against.”

This argument might make sense, except that Obama has not reserved the right to use enhanced interrogation. In fact, he has explicitly, repeatedly, and unconditionally banned the practice. In his speech this morning, Obama said there was no security risk in releasing the Bush documents precisely because they no longer reflect U.S. policy.

Finally, Cheney pounded Obama for wanting to investigate and possibly prosecute, on criminal charges, those who approved and conducted the enhanced interrogations. Or, rather, he employed semantic sleight of hand—another long-standing Cheney technique—to suggest that this is what Obama wants. At first, Cheney said, “Over on the left wing of the president’s party … some are … demanding” such prosecutions. In the next sentence, he said, “It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent … than to have an incoming administration criminalizing the policy decisions of its predecessors.” (Italics added.)

By conflating “the left wing of the president’s party” with the “incoming administration,” Cheney aimed to leave the impression a) that Obama is left wing and b) that he is pushing for show trials.

This isn’t just sneaky—it’s wrong. First, as many left-wing Democrats have begun to discover, Obama is no leftist. Second, in his speech today, Obama clearly rejected the idea of prosecutions. Decrying “a return of the politicization of these issues” on both sides of the spectrum, Obama said, “I have no interest in spending our time relitigating the policies of the last eight years.”

However, in the course of inveighing against official inquiries (perhaps because, if they ever took place, he would certainly find himself in the docket), Cheney also condemned an idea that—if he is telling the truth—would serve his interests. This is the idea of convening a “Truth Commission,” and it may be the one idea that might settle the only legitimate question that Cheney raised in his speech: Does torture work? Or, to put it another way: Should a president take the option of torture irrevocably off the table? Are there circumstances under which he might want to put it back on?

Cheney’s main point, in his speech and in other recent statements, is that torture (even if he doesn’t want to call it that) works; that it squeezed important information out of the few “high-value” terrorists on whom it was inflicted; that this information saved thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of lives; that there are documents supporting this claim, and that Obama should declassify and release them.

Obama disputes this point. “As commander-in-chief,” he said in his speech this morning, “I see the intelligence … and I reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation.”

The preponderance of available evidence supports Obama’s side of the argument: that torture does not work; that, to the extent it does get someone to talk, what he says is often untrue; that some al-Qaida terrorists were water-boarded several times a day, for up to a month, and still didn’t provide the information that top Bush officials wanted them to say; and that the most useful information was gained through more creative, less violent means.

But look: We—meaning those of us who don’t have special, compartmentalized security clearances—don’t know, can’t possibly know, the full story. Were there cases in which CIA interrogators learned a lot by torturing a prisoner? Did those revelations save lives? Could the information have been acquired through other means?

The objections to torture—expressed not just by President Obama, but by many others, including Sen. John McCain and nearly every senior U.S. military officer who has spoken out on the subject—may well hold, even if it happens that torture did “work” on a few occasions.

But this debate is far from over. Today’s two speeches are more likely to intensify than settle the controversy. What’s wrong with assembling a truth commission, an independent body empowered to examine all the documents and subpoena witnesses, behind firmly closed doors? Cheney said at the start of the speech that his successors’ policies should be based on “a truthful telling of history.” Let the telling begin.

http://www.slate.com/id/2218762/pagenum/all/#p2

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Sleep Deprivation!

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Just when you thought that the barbaric practice of water boarding was at the top of the torture list; along comes the Los Angeles Time with a headline grabbing story about sleep deprivation.  Given the details of the story, I think that I would opt for water boarding everyday of the week and twice on Sundays rather than be deprived of sleep shackled and chained for up to eleven days at a time.  Read the story here

This story is part of a larger picture that is being painted by Jane Mayer in her book The Dark Side.  The Holy Grail of presidential power does not reside inside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue but rather in The Office of Legal Counsel within the Department of Justice.  If you want to know more I suggest that you buy the book or borrow it from your local library.  It really is a must read.

Through this office Dickless Cheney and his War Council manged to circumvent the United States Constitution, The Geneva Conventions, United State’s laws against torture, The Uniformed Code of Military Justice, and over 200 years of U.S. military etiquette.  This group of rogues also broke long established protocols between inter-agency cooperation.  There is a reason that Dickless Cheney is taking the point on this issue.  All illegal roads taken, point back to him.

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The C.I.A. Exposed by Jane Mayer!

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After 9/11!

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One of the most horrific events of our time occurred in the morning on September 11, 2001.  It’s the day that America stood still.  It’s one of those events that each and every American will remember where they were and what they were doing.  The idea that we we were protected by two oceans was forever lost.  What else that was lost in the proceeding days, by a handful of government lawyers and Dick Cheney, were the very ideals upon which this country was founded and operated on.  In those days, were the days, when the gloves came off.

Our circle has been having a fascinating debate on the treatment of detainees in the aftermath of 9/11.  You can follow the threads here on Fakename’s blogs The Torture Memos and Torture-Why Not?  There’s more on my blog Dickless Cheney.  Whichever side you come down on the torture issue, there is an incredible article by Christopher Hitchens on Slate concerning the British treatment of Nazi prisoners during World War II.  I encourage everyone to read it.  It will certainly give you perspective as to the merits of humane vs. inhumane treatment.

One of the main arguments against the inhumane treatment of prisoners is that it serves as a recruiting tool for the enemy.  I have no way of confirming the veracity of this claim.  However, I do know that it is not a good thing.  When we result to using the tactics of those who would do us harm makes us no better than them.  And when we become no better than the enemy that we are fighting we cease to live up to the American ideal and therefore, this experiment, this thing that we call America becomes a lie.

We cannot check our American identity at the door during a time of crisis.  One of the things that we hold most dear is that we are the beacon of freedom for the rest of the world.  This has been our identity since the country was founded.  I volunteered and served my country even though I hated being subjugated to anyone or anything.  But when I volunteered to serve it wasn’t because my father didn’t give me many options, but I truly wanted to participate and be a part of something that was larger than myself.  That’s what America is…. a place that is larger than anyone of us.  I love being an American, but right now, I am not really proud of being one.  And for that, I blame Dick Cheney and a handful of misplaced government lawyers.

More to come later…

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