Cheney’s So-Called Recidivists

There’s a number of impressions I get from the DOD "report" on the number of Gitmo detainees who have joined terrorists groups, including al Qaeda, since being released. First, while it appears to be what ABC billed it as–the report showing 14% of the people freed from Gitmo purportedly returning to the fight, the one that was used to scare the Senate into refuse funding for Gitmo–it looks fairly laughable. This is a DOD document, mind you, that has no originator or tracking information, and not even headers and footers. It sure doesn’t look to me like a finished report–it looks like some guys’ notes.

Then, look at the dates. The list confirms a point Lawrence O’Donnell made when he was debating Liz Cheney. If anyone is responsible for freeing these guys, it’s Dick Cheney and his buddies. The sole 2009 date I see is this one:

Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shihri–repatriated to Saudi Arabia in November 2007, and Mazin Salih Musaid al-Alawi al-Awfi–repatriated to Saudi Arabia in July 2007. On 24 January, a 19-minute video was released wherein al-Shihri and al-Awfi announced their leadership within the newly established al-Qaida in Arabian Peninsula.

Call me a cynic, but any video released just days after Obama became President and two days after he signed an order to close Gitmo ought to be treated with caution.We’ve seen way too much explicit propaganda in the last eight years to take this as face value.

Also note the standards involved. The report tries to refute a criticism made of it–that among the so-called recidivists included is a guy, Mohammed Ismail, who made a critical comment about the US. In its definitions section, the report says:

For the purposes of this definition, engagement in anti-U.S. propaganda alone does not qualify as terrorist activity.

Oh, okay. In the case of Ismail, the report claims he engaged in an attack on US forces in Afghanistan and was carrying a letter "confirming his status as a Taliban member in good standing."

Which brings us to another point. A number of these so-called recidivists joined not al Qaeda, but the Taliban, upon their return. That’s different than al Qaeda membership, and I challenge it as a designation of "terrorist" membership. Anti-US, certainly (at least before we entered into talks with the Taliban), but strictly speaking not a terrorist organization.

Finally, there’s the question of how these classifications of confirmed and suspected were collected. The report is based on "DIA assessments and analysis," which places it in a particular position in our own intelligence community and the foreign intelligence services we partner with. DIA, of course, did not have the lead on interrogating these people while at Gitmo; either CIA or (more likely) DOD’s interrogators did. While a number of these so-called recidivists were killed, suggesting confirmation was made using DNA analysis, and a number of other ones were recaptured, a still significant bunch are necessarily based on intelligence reporting. To be designated a "suspected" so-called recidivist, the DIA would need only "unverified or single-source, but plausible, reporting." Presumably, the bulk of those the author of this report did not list specifically came from such sources.

Some of this intelligence is no doubt very good. Some of it, though, may well be the same kind of "intelligence" that got these men thrown in Gitmo in the first place.

116 replies
  1. rapt says:

    “A number of these so-called recidivists joined not al Qaeda, but the Taliban, upon their return. That’s different than al Qaeda membership…”

    My question has been, What basis do we have to designate al Qaeda as terrorist? I mean besides the standard propaganda. So far all “evidence” I’ve seen indicates that it is a creation of US and Israeli black agencies as a convenient enemy.

    If the basis is 9/11 + WTC + hijacked planes = al Qaeda, I’ve not seen (decent) evidence for that either, unless perhaps one were to consider al Qaeda as an operating arm of the true perps in that case.

    Help me out here; does someone in fact have true evidence or not?

      • ghostof911 says:

        How is the comment not relevant? The entire issue of there being a realistic means of approximating “recividism” is a farce. It’s a piece of red meat tossed out solely to divert the focus from the actual perps. Only a superior hound will stay on the scent of the true game.

    • freepatriot says:

      yer in the wrong places with that comment, pal

      If the basis is 9/11 + WTC + hijacked planes = al Qaeda, I’ve not seen (decent) evidence for that either, unless perhaps one were to consider al Qaeda as an operating arm of the true perps in that case.

      let’s put it this way:

      I’m a fookin idiot, but I can explain the design flaws inherent in a 1000 foot tall palisade. I’m not gonna do that here, cuz after 7 years, if you’re still spouting conspiracy theories, and continually and habitually failing to research the situation to learn what really happened, you are obviously a fucking idiot who has no ability to think or do any real research. So inteligent and logical discourse has no effect on you

      subscribe to plunger, an keep your crazy delusional shit OUT of Marcy’s threads

      or me an you are gonna have a problem

      thanks for your support


      the topic here is GITMO detainee recidivism

      got anything to say about that ???

      if not, SYFPH

      • rapt says:

        O I see, it is design flaws now, is it?

        I’m sorry for the anger and discomfort freepatriot; it is apparent that we have opposing opinions on this issue but I would ask that you not call me an idiot for asking a question that is pertinent to any and all discussion of state crimes: where is the evidence and can it be verified.

        My apologies for going OT so early in the discussion; I consider that question re evidence quite important and it has not been answered yet.

        • ncaleb says:

          I agree with rapt. You don’t have to be a whacko to think the explanations about 9/11 are incredibly weak. In fact, the refusal to accept an answer because it is easier to fit with a desired world view is exactly what you want in investigative research. It’s why we all love Marcy’s work so much; she keeps asking hard questions.

          Problem with the 9/11 truth movement (or similar groups) is that it is too effing complicated to follow and there are a lot of whackos and liars participating. At least let’s put a placeholder in that point in history and acknowledge that we don’t know what happened and not discourage good faith efforts at finding answers. In my opinion, acknowledging what we don’t know is a good place to start when deciding where to go.

          • plunger says:

            Acknowledging what we do know for a fact is an even better place to start.

            Two planes hit two buildings, yet three fell down.

            What more do we need to know?

            Can it get any less complex?

            • ncaleb says:

              That’s it? It doesn’t matter who did it? I’m not even talking building dynamics and the science involved. I’m not an engineer and certainly not qualified to even start answering those sorts of questions. Nor do I really care. Act happened, yes.

              It DOES matter who did what and why–and to that question, “they hate our freedoms” is insufficient. Motive. A history lesson about Afghanistan and U.S. intervention gets us closer, but isn’t the complete answer.

              I don’t want to litigate this here either… for the record.

            • freepatriot says:

              What more do we need to know?

              Can it get any less complex?

              if you need it to be less complex, you do not have the brain pan to understand the issue. Any building is a complex machine, and these buildings were a bit more complex than most

              what more do you need to know ??? (warning, this isn’t a comprehensive list)

              let’s start with engineering, soil science, hydraulic flow dynamics, liquefaction, agregate concrete stress values and the seismic evaluation of the physical location of the building site. That will get you started on the foundation of the buildings, where the primary “flaw” was located (it wasn’t really a “flaw”, it is just a fact of quantum reality, one that all buildings are subject to. It’s more commonly referred to as “GRAVITY”)

              then you could study tensile steel strengths, and the effects that intense heat have in altering the tensile strength of steel

              Oh, an architecture, can’t forget architecture. That’s where you learn about the inherent weakness of a palisade (here’s a hint, the taller they are, the less stable they are)

              then we can discuss concrete again, cuz the floors were concrete. And we’re gonna be discussing flammability factors in the next paragraph. So we gotta discuss the effects of heat on concrete floors

              and about the flammability thing. It ain’t open for discussion. I understand that your pea sized brain can’t grasp most simple logic, but know these three rules:

              you can burn anything

              you can melt anything

              and you can make anything fly if you put enough thrust behind it

              that’s pretty basic quantum physics for dumbies. You don’t need to know it all. all you need to understand is that the buildings were full of flammable shit

              and finally you need to know the avionics, aerodynamics. payload capabilities, air speed capabilities and a million other factors about 4 different airplanes

              I haven’t studied any of that. But I got a middling understanding of it

              your desire for a “less complex” explanation indicates an extreme lack of intellectual abilities

              in fact, I think even my middling understanding of these subjects is beyond the abilities of your inadequate intellect

              you can’t understand this stuff because you ain’t smart enough to understand it

              and ya look like a dick headed fool when you come here, where people have a middling understanding of what exceeds your brain power, and continually display your ignorance, and make foolish and comic attempts to address your intellectual betters with your delusional and insane rants

              worse yet, you make US look like fools

              please stop

              this is the last time I’m gonna be nice about this

              I don’t want to hear your idiotic delusion fucking rants. you are an ignorant fool. shut the fuck UP

              grow a fucking brain or get on down the fucking road

              can you hear me now, you fucking MORON

              (sorry bout that, folks)

              • THATanonymous says:

                Marcy doesn’t need defending; she can take apart a commenter as well as anyone. However, she does it with facts and logic and insight.

                Lately, it seems there are several people who want to defend Marcy, or claim to be arbiters of what is and isn’t relevant on this blog. While I’m not defending anyone or anyone’s point of view, it seems that these self-appointed people are flaming instead of reasoning. Go ahead, try facts, try logic. If you’re dealing with a real idiot they will go away. What you presented over the course of several comments was a rant that proved nothing, disproved nothing and added nothing to the topic.

                In case you were wondering, I am mostly a fan of your comments, but not these.

                TA (the law is not logical, that’s why its the law)

                • freepatriot says:

                  Marcy doesn’t need defending; she can take apart a commenter as well as anyone. However, she does it with facts and logic and insight.

                  it doesn’t have anything to do with what Marcy is talking about

                  this nitwit isn’t talking about Marcy’s post

                  he’s posting his delusional fucking 9-11 conspiracy theories again

                  the stupid fucker has been told to stay on topic or shut his fucking pie hole

                  I don’t really defend anyone, I engage the trolls, expose the trolls, and then claim the trolls for my own

                  after that, nobody else responds to my trolls, and they die of neglect

                  plunger needs to hire a psychiatrist, and stop using the innertoobz as a replacement for the help he obviously needs

                  he’s a fucking idiot that thinks he knows something, and he is trying to punish us for not recognizing his brilliance

                  when a half wit like me can slap you down like that, most people with a hint of self awareness would get a fucking clue

                  what’s this now, plunger ???

                  three times that I had to hit you with the fucking clue stick ???

                  next time, I’m just claiming you

                  no explanations needed

                    • Rayne says:

                      The first breach was comment (1), which veered to a topic which is generally considered too volatile for most blogs to discuss civilly. Most sites would consider this a form of trolling.

                      freepatriot has typically handled any perceived trolling, although this thread has devolved into a flame war.

                      As a former community manager/mod several times over, I recommend we stay out of it and ignore it, while trying to salvage what’s left of the conversation. On that note…

                      MadDog (98) — That CVSA stuff is bizarre; have to wonder if this was another 1) experimental product/process being used on detainees, and 2) if this was another boondoggle used to launder DoD monies for other uses.

                    • MadDog says:

                      MadDog (98) — That CVSA stuff is bizarre; have to wonder if this was another 1) experimental product/process being used on detainees, and 2) if this was another boondoggle used to launder DoD monies for other uses.

                      Or both? Twofers are always better than Onefers. *g*

                    • plunger says:

                      Noting that comment #1 was not in fact my own, and that my comments were in direct response to those of many others, the absolutely vulgar and abusive language employed by Freep was a complete violation of civil discourse, and totally unwarranted.

                      This is precisely the type of behavior that characterized the Bush Administration where silencing differing opinions is concerned. Attacking the messenger – turning the community at large against him/her – is called Swiftboating. It’s a Rovian tactic.

                      Censorship takes many forms, all of which are repugnant.

                      This is not Argentina.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Look, free speech is free as in a free puppy, not free as in a free beer.

                      Anybody can say whatever they like on the internet — in their own blog.

                      It’s incredibly difficult for other people to work collaboratively on investigative work when they are derailed and in this case, immediately. By now you already should understand freep’s role in the community, which would be less disruptive if people stopped pointing to it and stayed on topic.

                      Mary (108) — and by now after all his abuse, how would we ever find out given Padilla’s broken mind whether he’d been subjected to torture, or if he’d been subjected to testing which was coincidentally torture. The description of some of the missing videos as “clinical” haunts me.

          • emptywheel says:

            Let me distinguish two things.

            1) Are there troubling details about 9/11, notably the CIA’s ties to the Saudis and because of that the non-discovery of the plot? Absolutely.

            2) Is al Qaeda an organization that by its own reckoning uses terrorist techniques, a terrorist organization.

            One can make a compelling argument that the mujahadeen–those non Afghan soldiers who fought the Soviets–are our terrorists. But they–and their offspring, al Qaeda–are definitely terrorists.

        • Petrocelli says:

          Man, you’re a glutton for punishment …

          The main points of my buddy Freep are A) This is not a forum for your views and B) If you have nothing to add to this topic, then SYFPH !

          … now, where’s that darn Hatpin ?

  2. behindthefall says:

    I’m quite surprized that only 14% of the people released from GITMO “return” (were they really involved previously) to anti-American sentiments or activities. I would have expected closer to 99%. Just what, in the GITMO experience, would have endeared the U.S. to a prisoner? You could probably take people off Main Street, put them through a few years sitting in wire cages and being insulted, and produce a bumper crop of “anti-Americans” where you had started with unquestioning patriots.

    What the H*** did they _think_ was going to happen!

    • lllphd says:

      you make a good ‘glass half full’ point. cheney’s recidivism rate is actually EXTREMELY LOW compared to recidivism in us prisons, where it’s actually about 67% (arrested and back in within three years of release)!!…..divism.htm

      not exactly a clean comparison, but good grief yeah, what DID they expect of these poor guys? that they’d become our finest ambassadors??

      and another important aspect of your point: if they HAD been al qaeda to begin with, why did we NOT see a near 100% recidivism rate??

  3. WilliamOckham says:

    [Sarcasm]Maybe Gates is correct in saying that GITMO is a model U.S. prison. The recidivism rate is certainly much lower than our stateside prisons.[/Sarcasm]

    Seriously, if “association with known terrorists” is all that it takes, I’d argue that more than 14% of the House Republican Caucus is guilty of that.

  4. Civlibertarian says:

    Omitted word? “The list confirms a point Lawrence O’Donnell [made?] when he was debating…”

  5. Nell says:

    More takedown of this little piece of propaganda at TPM. Main points: no names for most of the prisoners discussed, 5% “confirmed” participation in anti-U.S. activity (like EW, I won’t consider anything terrorism unless I know a hell of a lot more about the actions and context) and 9% “suspected”.

    Remember that in an earlier version of this kind of propaganda, an op ed criticizing Bush detention policies by three British former prisoners was counted as three acts of “return to the battlefield”.

    • MarkH says:

      Pathetic. First they imprison a lot of innocents and then they release some who really are anti-American and then they categorize talk as terrorism. Just pathetic.

  6. TomSullivan says:

    To whom it may concern:

    The bearer of this letter Mohammed Ismail is a Taliban member in good standing, with all rights and privileges pertaining. Please accord him every courtesy and as much 7.62×39mm you can spare.

    Mullah Mohammed Omar

        • Petrocelli says:

          I’m not sure what I enjoy more, your deep insights or your wit but am very glad to have both !

          • freepatriot says:

            the insight is great

            but it took me 15 munuts to write this post cuz I was on the floor laughing

            I can’t tell which is better, the well thought out zingers:

            if those Congress Critters just had more convenient names, like Abu Porter Jr., the records would have been kept correctly. Just don’t be surprised when you find out that they were briefing Abu Porter Jr. on EITs several months after he had returned to the battlefield.

            or the “henny Youngman” like one liners

            They get frequent fighter points for purchases of US armaments and ammo.

            all I know is in a battle of wit with Mary, most of us are dead men walkin …

              • freepatriot says:


                and people like me, who just got “Blunt Object” wit, are at a severe disadvantage

                I ain’t sure I know what “poignant” means …


                • Mary says:

                  Poignant is when your computer keeps telling you database error everytime you try to make a post and you go away and do other things and do real work and it STILL keeps telling you the same damn thing and so you have to kick something but you learned back a few years ago not to kick the computer, so you kick the wall instead and it hurts – not so much the wall, but you. And you sniff a little. And nothing better. And it’s sad.


                  fatster I have never kept good files and links and for the last two year I keep thinking “hey, I need to keep this stuff when I find it” but I don’t. SO I google and regoogle and sometimes it is odd the things that google won’t give you that it gave you before.

                  If you are keeping info in a more organized fashion, I’m going to give you another link. It’s one you might have already. I don’t go to this link that often, but whenever I do I get kinds of mesmerized, going through old interviews and shaking my head at what doesn’t get put on the 24 hour news shows.

                  Link to check out – the Talking Dog.

                  Currentish mesmerizing interview with a GITMO defense lawyer, Ramzi Kaseem


                  Old interview with Wilner


                  that has some interesting input on why so many seemingly normal people seem so complacent about GITMO.

                  As you know, there was a great National Journal piece on Guantanamo. And the Seton Hall reports. But the U.S. public is continually told “these are dangerous people” and stops thinking about it. Two and a half, three years ago I talked to a social scientist at the University of Chicago about this, who concluded that overall psychological conditions are kind of like during the rise of Nazism… people are afraid, and don’t know what to do…. They suspect some things are being done that aren’t right, but think maybe they’re necessary … and they don’t want to know about it. For example, 60 Minutes was all set to produce a Guantanamo piece in 2002, but killed it as “too political”. The late Peter Jennings did a great piece on Guantanamo in 2004… but they buried it at 10 pm on a Friday night…
                  On my own reflections, as a Jewish boy growing up in this country, we like to think that things like this don’t happen, we have too many checks and balances. But all the checks let us down. As David Cole has said, the detainees at Guantanamo have no domestic constituency.

  7. MadDog says:

    …DIA, of course, did not have the lead on interrogating these people while at Gitmo; either CIA or (more likely) DOD’s interrogators did…

    EW, actually, from what I’ve remember reading, the DIA was in fact the lead agency for interrogations at Gitmo (as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan).

    I’ll have to Google around and see if I can find some irrefutable documentation.

    Btw, DIA is a part of DoD.

    • MadDog says:

      I promised to do the Google on DIA interrogations, so here’s some of what I’ve found:

      Documents Received from DIA/DOS/FBI

      In particular, see this document at the above link:

      Memorandum for Record from DIA intelligence officer [name redacted] to [redacted] re Report of Violations of the Geneva Conventions and the International Laws of Land Warfare (PDF).

      And then this from the ACLU’s website:

      Records about DIA interrogation policy and investigation of allegations of abuse.

      And then this: Report on DIA Destruction of Jose Padilla Interrogation Records (PDF).

      And you might want to check this website out:

      1. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Iraq — From October 2003 to January 2004, a representative of the National Institute for Truth Verification, the West Palm Beach, Fla.-based company behind CVSA®, deployed to and supported truth verification operations in Baghdad. He conducted approximately 50 CVSA® examinations during this period to include a number of the “top ten” most-wanted former Iraqi leaders. Through the use of the CVSA®, the NITV representative was able to acquire and verify information from these detainees that no other U.S. government agency was able to obtain…

      …4. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — From 2005 to 2006, NITV deployed a CVSA® expert to the U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay to support the interrogation operations of DIA and the U.S. military. The CVSA® was used more than 100 times and reportedly had a success rate of greater than 90 percent, whereas the polygraph had totally failed at Guantanamo Bay. In this case, “success rate” is defined as developing new, previously-unknown intelligence which was independently confirmed, or confirming existing information that otherwise could not be verified. The CVSA® enjoyed an excellent success rate and reputation at GITMO, and was used regularly until the chief of the DIA interrogation unit, Stephen Rodriguez, was reassigned. Within one week of his reassignment back to DIA headquarters, DoD polygraph leaders flew to Guantanamo Bay, had the use of the CVSA® canceled, and also had NITV’s support contract canceled. A senior interrogation official at GITMO was so disturbed that he wrote the following in a “To Whom It May Concern” letter: “My opinion based upon my observation is that CVSA is superior to the polygraph when used as a tool in the interrogation process. Consequently, I conclude that those who wish to remove CVSA from the “interrogator’s tool box” are more interested in protecting their turf than they are in gathering intelligence that protects the American people.”

  8. azportsider says:

    Why do they have to be ‘recidivists,’ ‘returning’ to their evil terrorist ways after leaving Gitmo? I know damned well that if an invading military force kidnapped me, detained me without charges, tortured me, and then let me go, I’d be pretty pissed, especially if I’d done nothing to warrant such treatment. It strikes me that, while some may have been radicals and terrorists in the true sense of the word before they got to Gitmo, others certainly were not, at least until we made them hate us to the point that, once free, they’d join up with any organization that looked like it had a shot at damaging the US.

  9. BillE says:

    Slightly OT – A couple of months ago, Rachel had a guy from a law school on who was digging into the previous story line of something like 57 had returned to the battlefield. Most of the debunking originates from this guy and his groups work. Does anyone remember who that was and have a link to his work?

      • Mary says:

        I missed that Rachel had one of the Seton Hall “kids” on. That’s great – they have plugged away in that project so hard and got so little recognition. Regency grads get absolutely feted in DC, while smart kids who do real work based on facts and real world difficult problems got almost no recognition.

    • lllphd says:

      theraP, thanks so much for highlighting the lawsuit! and sure, that suit – coupled with the guilty pleas on the nigerian front – would be serious wakeup calls. with the lawsuit in play, he can’t very well go on a media attack on that front, so his only option is to defend himself on the other, TORTURE, front.

      it will be perversely delicious to see the big dick and his women forced to slink off in disgrace, hopefully to the slammer.

  10. BoxTurtle says:

    I have no problem with believing that number, if anything it seems low to me. We release rapists back into the general population and their rate of reoffense is much higher.

    Nevertheless, we must follow our laws. If we don’t have evidence that will hold up in court, the suspect is freed. If the evidence holds, we lock them up. If the suspect reoffends, we hunt him down and lock him up again. Just like what we do with child rapists.

    BushCo botched the prosecutions. I’m not sure that ANY case out of Gitmo will pass constutional muster. And the constitution DOES apply.

    Boxturtle (It’s time for Obama to stop protecting BushCo)

  11. Mary says:

    OT but related – Horton has a piece up at Daily Beast

    The Daily Beast has confirmed that the photographs of abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, which President Obama, in a reversal, decided not to release, depict sexually explicit acts, including a uniformed soldier receiving oral sex from a female prisoner, a government contractor engaged in an act of sodomy with a male prisoner and scenes of forced masturbation, forced exhibition, and penetration involving phosphorous sticks and brooms.

    A little info on Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman is included.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      Were any of the “few bad apples” charged with rape?
      If not, Obama should tell his Pentagon pals to re-investigate.
      This is a huge cover-up.

    • fatster says:

      This, too:

      New report appears to directly contradict White House denial on abuse photos

Published: May 29, 2009 
Updated 1 hour ago

      “A new report appears to directly contradict denials by the White House and the Pentagon that abuse photographs the Obama administration has withheld are worse than previously known.

      . . .

      “If true, the images also would seem likely to enrage key constituencies of the Middle East — and be particularly offensive to Muslims. One picture, Horton says, shows a female prisoner “assuming sexually suggestive poses in a chair.” Sexual humiliation is seen as particularly degrading in many Muslim countries, particularly when it involves women.

      “Horton’s account does not include allegations floated by New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh, who said in 2004 that the Pentagon has video of children being sodomized at Abu Ghraib.”…

  12. BayStateLibrul says:

    On Joe Scar, this morn, Carl Bernstein intimated that Cheney is
    dealing with an anger issue. The fucking guy is unhinged.

  13. fatster says:

    Back to Dick “Dick” and the classified docs:

    Levin: CIA Torture Documents Cheney Wants Don’t Prove Squat

    “Specifically: Levin confirmed that he’d seen the classified CIA documents that Cheney has been asking the CIA to declassify and release — and said that they don’t prove Cheney’s claim that torture worked by any stretch.”


    • skdadl says:

      Didn’t Obama say at one point that he had read the memos Cheney was asking for? I don’t remember whether Obama went on to say in so many words that there was nothing there, but that seemed the implication to me.

      And a PS: I usually come from the school of publish and be damned, and I don’t see any reason yet not to stand there on both the photos and the memos.

      • fatster says:

        Is this what you were seeking? If not, I’ll try again. Although written only a month old, the whole thing is kind of interesting reading in retrospect.

        Apr 30, 12:14 AM EDT

        Obama says waterboarding was torture

AP White House Correspondent

        “Obama told reporters he has read the documents Cheney and others are referring to but said they are classified and declined to discuss their details. In a White House exchange with House Republican leader John Boehner last week, Obama said the record was equivocal.”…..#038;gl=us

        • skdadl says:

          That’s the story, if not the exact source — it was the debate that followed the release of the memos.

          I can’t quite figure out what Obama (or the reporter?) meant by that use of “equivocal.” It’s sort of, well, equivocal …

            • skdadl says:

              Good Lord — I had no idea this was happening.

              We let George Bush into the country again?! And what is Clinton doing, dignifying the guy by debating him?

              Look what’s going on at the same time in the same area — a Tamil support march, the Bush protest, a bike race, and the Red Sox are in town!

              I had a very veterinary morning, so I’m not quite up to a protest on short notice. I’m sorry to miss the ball game, though.

              • BoxTurtle says:

                I don’t mind Bush visiting other countries…I just keep hoping one of those countries will present him with an arrest warrant.

                But why on earth would Bush agree to debate Clinton? He’s outgunned, outclassed and in neutral territory.

                Boxturtle (Clinton did it because he LIKES shooting fish in a barrel)

              • Petrocelli says:

                AFAIK, Bill is getting lots of moolah for this appearance and he gets to look even more brilliant when compared to GWB, so win-win ! *g*

                It’ll be interesting to see if Bill lectures the protesters and praises Dubya …

          • fatster says:

            And I meant ‘ago’ rather than ‘old’, so you probably couldn’t quite figure out what the heck I meant, either. Tee hee. Freudian slips tend to help us move along, assuming we catch them.

  14. Raven says:

    “There’s some important news about Dick Cheney and torture in a speech that Senator Carl Levin gave before the Foreign Policy Association this week.

    Specifically: Levin confirmed that he’d seen the classified CIA documents that Cheney has been asking the CIA to declassify and release — and said that they don’t prove Cheney’s claim that torture worked by any stretch.

    Levin’s comments are highly newsworthy because they give us the most detailed picture yet of what’s in the documents Cheney wants. You can watch Levin’s speech right here at TPM. This is what Levin said about the documents:

    Mr. Cheney has also claimed that the release of classified documents would prove his view that the techniques worked. But those classified documents say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of the abusive techniques. I hope that the documents are declassified so that people can judge for themselves what is fact and what is fiction.”

  15. Raven says:

    Sexual humiliation is seen as particularly degrading in many Muslim countries,

    cutting people’s heads off is seen as “particularly degrading” in others.

  16. Phoenix Woman says:

    Marcy figures it out:

    Call me a cynic, but any video released just days after Obama became President and two days after he signed an order to close Gitmo ought to be treated with caution. We’ve seen way too much explicit propaganda in the last eight years to take this as face value.

    And guess what? Looks like the people behind the videos are using their Pentagon moles to lie to and fool Obama on this issue:

    The immediate pushback against the Telegraph story from the Pentagon, coupled with the decision of White House press secretary Gibbs to chime in, suggests the sensitivity of the issue. The full-scale strike against the Telegraph, the leading conservative quality newspaper in Britain, broadened into an offensive against the whole of British journalism, suggesting the precariousness of the public-relations effort.

    The Pentagon spokesperson, Bryan G. Whitman, who came to prominence during the Bush administration, has drawn on standard operating procedures honed during the Rumsfeld era. Instead of offering correction of supposed factual inaccuracies, he has slammed the credibility of the publication itself. Yet his statement is both sweeping and extremely vague, and the claim that none of the photos reflect the descriptions in the article is immediately belied by an examination of the photos that have already been leaked.

    Whitman has used this sort of bludgeoning attack on news organizations before. Ask Michael Isikoff at Newsweek. When Newsweek’s April 30, 2005, issue ran a brief Periscope piece referring to an internal report’s description of an incident in which a Quran was thrown down a toilet, Whitman launched a dramatic attack on the publication, pressuring it to retract and apologize. The report had, it later turned out, been correct. In 2007, the ACLU secured, through a Freedom of Information Act request, a copy of a 2002 FBI report which documented a prisoner’s charge that his Quran has been thrown in the toilet; five other cases of mishandling Qurans were reported, although the Pentagon insisted that none of them amounted to desecration.

    The most prominent victim in the past of Whitman’s disinformation may have been none other than Barack Obama. On the campaign trail, in Austin, Texas, candidate Obama said he had gotten a message from an Army captain in Iraq who described how his unit had been shorted in munitions and equipment. I learned from reporters that Whitman started a whispering campaign with the Pentagon press corps telling them (not for attribution) that he didn’t believe Obama’s claims were true. Whitman’s game, however, was stopped by ABC reporter Jake Tapper, who tracked down the captain, interviewed him and fully verified the account.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      When will Obama dump Gates and put his own folks in at Defense.
      Defense will double cross Obama in a sec…
      He is learning the hard way.

      • Jo Fish says:

        Agreed. Obama needs a housecleaning of the DoD senior political appointees, especially Gates. Gates may be a fine, upstanding guy in all ways, but his connections and loyalty to La Famiglia Bush and Poppy in particular trumps all that.
        Sounds waaaay trite, but for a clean start we need a blank slate.

      • hackworth1 says:

        The question is, is is our President learning? Or is he asking the playground bullies to pull his gym shorts down around his ankles every day?

        For Krice sakes, clean house and be done with it. Nobody at CNN is gonna spin anything your way anyway, ever, Mr. President.

  17. Mary says:

    Isn’t it amazing that the US and Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan can never come up with even relatively close figures and information about the dead from bombings and the Pentagon gets the number of juveniles it held at GITMO routinely wrong, and most of the case files can’t be cross referenced bc they did such a crappy job on names and identification, but they can release these definitive “return to the battlefield” reports that get religiously reprinted as unquestioned front page news.

    • hackworth1 says:

      Incredibly amazing. If one didn’t know better, one would think that the Pentagon, thru Cheney, Rummy and down the line, were intentionally bullshitting the public.

      • freepatriot says:

        If one didn’t know better, one would think that the Pentagon, thru Cheney, Rummy and down the line, were intentionally bullshitting the public.

        me think hackworth 1 is right

        white man speak with forked tongue

        that’s my other offense stereotypical Native American impersonation


    • freepatriot says:

      Isn’t it amazing that the US and Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan can never come up with even relatively close figures and information about the dead from bombings and the Pentagon gets the number of juveniles it held at GITMO routinely wrong, and most of the case files can’t be cross referenced bc they did such a crappy job on names and identification, but they can release these definitive “return to the battlefield” reports that get religiously reprinted as unquestioned front page news.

      that’s not the amazing part

      the cia can’t keep accurate records of which fucking congresscritters were briefed in accordance with United States Law

      and the President still relies on the cia for information that puts American solders at risk

      if I had an employee who could not provide an accurate record of MANDATORY MEETINGS, I sure the fuck wouldn’t trust that employee with my most valuable resourse

      so there’s that …

      • Mary says:

        Now now, if those Congress Critters just had more convenient names, like Abu Porter Jr., the records would have been kept correctly. Just don’t be surprised when you find out that they were briefing Abu Porter Jr. on EITs several months after he had returned to the battlefield. *g*

        It is really worrying that he’s surrounded himself with the same Bushie cartel for advice when you have stakes like Pakistan and US soldiers’ lives and lots of civilian children. The guys who want to cover up the “let’s disappear people” program were directly tied to destabilizing Pakistan – it’s hard to see how he thinks they have the little red shoes for him to strap on to get him back to Kansas.

    • MarkH says:

      When, in a Global War on Terror, the whole Globe is the “battlefield” even prisoners are on the battlefield. Returning to it is merely redundant.

      Of course, during the Obama administration there is no GWOT, so now there is 0% recidivism. Ha!

  18. OsborneInk says:

    This is just more Judy Miller bullshit. Haven’t the NYT or the MSM learned anything?

  19. wigwam says:

    First, while it appears to be what ABC billed it as–the report showing 14% of the people freed from Gitmo purportedly returning to the fight […]

    Objection. They were released because we have no evidence that they’ve ever been combatants against the U.S. How can we say they’ve “returned” to a place we have no evidence they’ve ever been?

  20. freepatriot says:

    Let’s take cheney and the pentagon at their word

    they released 75 enemy soldiers to fight against America

    that would be “Providing aid an comfort to the enemy during time of war”, would it not ???

    cuz there’s a name for that

  21. Watson says:

    Suppose we were seeking the release of a US soldier, special operator, or merc who was a prisoner of the Taliban or AQ.

    Would we accept that s/he would have to change his/her ideology? And be barred from returning to active duty?

  22. Rayne says:

    “repatriated to Saudi Arabia”

    That bit, right there, is enough to give me pause.

    Um, what’s Saudi Arabia’s position on terrorist activities by fundamentalist Islamists? Whose side is Saudi Arabia on these days (and yes, there’s always been more than “with us” and “against us” in terms of “teams”)?

    Why wouldn’t Saudi Arabia have been all over these guys before they could organize with al-Qaeda?

    • BoxTurtle says:

      There are dozens of Saudi princes, each with their own view of the world and each with quite a bit of extralegal power.

      Get the right prince on your cellphone, and you could disappear before the plane offically lands.

      I remember a story early on where an AQ prisoner was made to think he had been rendered to Saudi Arabia for them to interrogate. He was actually relieved, gave his “Saudi” questioners a cellphone number and said “Call this, he’ll make everything right”. The number was the private number of an unnamed Saudi prince.

      Boxturtle (How many princes want to be king?)

  23. fatster says:

    Does anyone know where I can find the Seton Hall report on how many detainees actually were ”the enemy”? I can’t find the report any more and I did not save it when I had the opportunity Thnx.

    • Watson says:

      Yeah, the reports used to be on Seton Hall Law School’s website, but they’ve been removed. The investigation was supervised by Prof Marc Denbeaux. His contact info is on the school site.

    • Nell says:

      It’s linked at the wikipedia entry for ‘Seton Hall reports‘, in footnote 3. There are a bunch of additional and useful ones.

      Pace Watson, the reports are still on the Seton Hall site, but they can’t be found by searching, only with the direct links (e.g., those in the wiki entry).

      • skdadl says:

        Yes, the wiki entry is interesting — it has a chart listing various versions of the study that Debeaux et al. have done. I think we could catch him, eg, testifying before the SJC in December 2007 at the C-SPAN archives.

        • Nell says:

          We could if the C-SPAN video archives went back further than 90 days…

          Unless something has changed in the last year or so at C-SPAN’s site, that’s the sad situation.

          • selise says:

            is this the one?

            “The Legal Rights of Guantanamo Detainees: What Are They, Should They Be Changed, and Is an End in Sight?”

            Senate Judiciary Committee
            Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security

            DATE: December 11, 2007

            on the sjc website there is a realplayer link to an archived webcast:


            at cspan, the archive is:



            just a quick drive-by, so apologies if i’m off track. but i did want to mention that cspan archives go back many years (i’ve watched senate and house floor debates from 2000)

      • fatster says:

        Thank you ever so much, Nell. It’s now in my files here. And as skdadl has just noted, the entire wiki article is very worthwhile. Again, many thanks.

    • Mary says:

      I’m having a heck of a time responding on this – so I’m trying this with no links just to see if I can get anything to go through.

      • fatster says:

        Oh, thank you thank you thank you. Barring a devastating computer crash, that report is now permanently in my clutches!

  24. plunger says:

    ”That’s it” means the official theory is totally disproven by the simplest of observable and admitted facts.

  25. Rayne says:

    Watson (51) — sorry, fatally flawed analogy.

    – detainees are not soldiers of nations/states, but civilians;
    – some were civilians of what could arguably be failed nation/state, but still not uniformed soldiers;
    – until evidence is presented to prove otherwise, we have no reason to believe most were not actually involved in criminal activity;

    We would expect any repatriated persons to resume their lives and avoid illegal activities; we’d also expect their governments to enforce all appropriate laws.

    Expectations about returned, repatriated soldiers who are prisoners of war is an entirely different matter, although ultimately they are also expected to resume life within the law.

    • Watson says:

      You have a point, but I think that it is overly technical.

      So it would be OK to waterboard our mercs and special operators?

      The Geneva Conventions do speak in terms of “uniformed soldiers”, but the spirit of the laws of war is more about limitations on the behavior of the captor, rather than on the status of the captive.

      Also, the Taliban was a government (with whom the Clinton and Bush administrations were conducting pipeline negotiations), and you’ve flipped the presumption of innocence, which is particularly inappropriate given the work of the crew at Seton Hall, who documented that many of the prisoners were simply sold for a bounty.

      (Thanks for the cite, Nell.)

        • Watson says:

          I’m saying that the continued incarceration of these prisoners can be justified only by their conviction of a crime after a fair trial, not by their alleged potential for “recidivism”.

          • Rayne says:

            Would have been clearer to say that the first time around.

            We have no way of knowing exactly what these detainees were actually guilty of, and the very few who appear on the face of it to be up to their ears in terrorist activities are now broken to the point where the truth won’t be discovered.

            Or they are dead, as in the case of al-Libi. Absolutely no chance of recidivism there, and perhaps that’s what they were aiming for, among other things.

  26. behindthefall says:

    The government has gotten itself into quite a pickle, because I find myself not having a smidgen of trust in anything said or done by them (or is it an “it”?): I’m willing to be convinced of good intentions, but I have little or no a priori belief left. I’m sure I can’t be alone in this.

    That said, TheraP led us to Leo Strauss’ political philosophy the other day, and part of that implied (may actually have said, but I don’t remember) the utility of never-ending war as a tool to keep the Ruled quiescent.

    Putting those two thoughts together, I arrive at the notion that a 14% rate of (re-)enrollment in anti-American activities would be regarded as an abject failure of the detention program by a Straussian. If I were running a program with the idea of seeding the fringes of the extended Homeland with foreigners to fight, I’d be aiming in the high 80 percents at least. Yet another reason to doubt that 14% figure. (*groan* My thoughts are going off on tangents. Next thing you know, I’ll be thinking about that hole in the Pentagon which was not at all what I would have expected the outcome of a plane crash to have looked like … but we shall not go there.)

    • TheraP says:

      Yes, Perpetual War,“war as a virtue” is one of the cardinal principles neocons derived from Leo Strauss.

      I promised perris yesterday to repost that at Oxdown, which I will, but got side-tracked by this connection between the lawsuit naming cheney (and others) for corporate malfeasance at Halliburton/KBR by a pension fund in Detroit. And my unified theory of why he’s become a fanatical media attention seeker. (Apparently just this morning they were speculating today on Morning Joe about what’s behind cheney becoming deranged right now. And I think I stumbled on it in EW’s last thread!)

  27. Mary says:

    Another older interview (that site always does this to me) with a former GITMO Army linguist

    Saar, who has some pretty interesting info on the role of the linquist in the interrogations at GITMO

    The Talking Dog: Let me ask you about your training in the Army Field Manual 34-52 on interrogations, which I understand contains limitations consistent with the Geneva Conventions…

    Erik Saar: Let me stop you there, because this is a critical point that isn’t discussed much. I was NEVER trained in the Army Field Manual on interrogations. Indeed, no Army linguists as far as I know were trained in interrogations. Linguists were ordered NOT to question what they saw. Military interrogators and linguists were supposed to “balance” each other. Of course, linguists had a conflict. This was especially so among civilian contractors, who would frequently tell interrogators that what they were doing was outside the custom and norm of the culture of the detainee, and hence, likely to be counter-productive.

  28. plunger says:

    “this is the last time I’m gonna be nice about this”

    I’ve never known you to be nice – and that certainly was not.

  29. Nell says:

    @ 85 – ‘reply’ working only intermittently.

    Thanks for that, selise; I was just coming back here to acknowledge how wrong I was about the C-SPAN archives. It must have been a while since I’ve visited there, because back when I was last paying attention they only were available for 90 days. Might even have been 2005; yikes, it seems like only yesterday.

    Now if I’d just get around to getting a router so I could share my partner’s fast connection, I could be tempted by yet another couple of time sinks… ;>

    • skdadl says:

      I was just about to write to Nell when selise popped up @ 85. I don’t know the archives well at all, but I have been able to watch the first of the SASC hearings on SERE/etc from last year fairly recently (one of the classics, for anyone who’s interested). I’m glad to know that so much is still there.

      PS: Oh, and then my computer, which seems to be a near relative of Mary’s, crashed, so it took me a while to return.

  30. Nell says:

    The archive of interviews by the Talking Dog (lawyer Seth Farber) is really a treasure at this point, and an important resource for anyone looking into the ‘waronterra’. It’s been instructive to watch the TD’s radicalization over time; he’s become a regular and very acerbic commenter at Andy Worthington’s blog.

  31. selise says:

    cspan archive (video library) search page:…..anced_page

    pretty easy to find stuff if you know the date. names, etc usually work well too. transcripts are usually very rough, but when in good shape can be very helpful in finding a specific clip.

    definitely a time sink. *g*

  32. fatster says:

    O/T, or Jelly Jay strikes again.

    Rockefeller bill allows President to shut down Internet

    by Eternal Hope

    “The bill in question is SB 773, which would radically expand the Unitary Executive powers far beyond anything George Bush dreamed of doing. First of all, it would allow the Secretary of Commerce, without a warrant, to pry into anybody’s server when he deems that there is a national cyberattack.”…..n-Internet

  33. fatster says:

    Hope this isn’t a dupe:

    U.N. calls U.S. human rights record “deplorable”
    A new report suggests the U.S. may have committed war crimes — and endorses the formation of a truth commission.

    By Mark Benjamin

    May 29, 2009 | “The United Nations has released a new report on accountability for human rights abuses by the United States, focusing mostly on transgressions during the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror. In a word, accountability in the U.S. has been “deplorable.”

    . . .

    “Here is what Alston says about at least five detainee deaths at Guantánamo: “The Department of Defense provided little public information about any of the five detainee deaths.”

    “He calls wrongheaded the failure of the United States to track civilian casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan, and he thinks that with a few rare exceptions, the military has done a pitiful job holding soldiers — or even more so, their superior officers — accountable for unlawful killing in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . “It appears that no U.S. officer above the rank of major has ever been prosecuted for the wrongful actions of the personnel under his or her command.”

    “He notes “credible reports” of at least five deaths caused by torture at the hands of the CIA. Except for one case of a CIA contractor, however, “No investigation has ever been released and alleged CIA involvement has never been publicly confirmed or denied.”‘…..un_report/

  34. THATanonymous says:

    Raw story just posted this:
    Petraus says “US violated Geneva conventions” at the end of which he says

    …One has to have a degree of confidence that individuals that have conducted such extremist activity would indeed be found guilty in our courts of law.

    Someone testing the waters or just raising false hopes?

    TA (sometimes the law is the exception to the law)

    • Mary says:

      he means KSM from the context, on the hoping they would be found guilty.

      And that’s pretty much what the case law is making thing ripe for – from Padilla to several other cases where hooded torture guys gave evidences without court objections

  35. lurkinlil says:

    In response to THATanonymous @ 106 and Mary @ 109

    One has to have a degree of confidence that individuals that have conducted such extremist activity would indeed be found guilty in our courts of law.

    So does his statement include those who dreamed all this up and twisted the law to justify it? Or is he saying that only those who actually committed the acts of torture?

    In addition: The ICRC report says we tortured, the recent U.N. report says we probably committed war crimes, and now Gen.Pet. says we violated the GC.

    I wonder when, if ever, our government is going to do something about it?

    • skdadl says:

      We have to be glad that Petraeus is not a judge, yes?

      Wow, but I find that sleazy. Trying to present himself as a noble guy who recognizes the GCs, but then winking and nudging his listeners into agreeing that the terrists should be convicted anyway.

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